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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Date published:
September 21, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Hesjedal satisfied with consistent season

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) celebrates teammate Thor Hushovd's victory as he crosses the finish line two seconds later.
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 11:05 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Canadian already thinking about 2012

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) failed to land an individual win this season but he is pleased with his consistency throughout the year.

    The Canadian picked up top ten placings at Paris-Nice, Criterium International and Pais Vasco. He finished 18th in the Tour de France, where he also shared in the team's success in the team time trial. Despite being hampered by a crash, he worked hard for the teammate Tom Danielson, while also making sure Garmin-Cervelo secured the team prize.

    However despite that consistency, Hesjedal missed out a big win, something that looked possible after a breakthrough season in 2010.

    "It was always going to be a tall order to keep the moment from 2010 but I think I did that. I think what I did this year was show consistency. I'm happy with my season even if my results weren't the same as 2010," he told Cyclingnews.

    "Results don't always tell the story. I don't think anything was missing, things just have to work out. The more times you're up and trying to get the result, the more chances there are of things not coming off. I did everything I could to be better in the spring and I had much better results at the start of the season. I was really strong at Pais Vasco."

    Team success at the Tour de France

    Despite strong early season form, Hesjedal failed to show his true colours in the spring classics and struggled with stomach problems and then allergies. His Tour de France performance though epitomised his season. Coming into the race he had strong legs but a crash in the opening stages cost him time but more importantly left him with a damaged back and ribs. He could hardly walk, let alone breathe.

    Although a repeat of a top ten finish was out of sight, he carried on and finished 18th, but most importantly he helped shepherd Tom Danielson to...

  • Worlds: Freire anxious about weather conditions

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) in Southern California, where he can speak his native Spanish everywhere.
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 13:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Three-time world champ confident in road race sprint finish

    Rabobank's Oscar Freire is amongst those fast men who could be contesting a sprint finish next Sunday at the UCI World Championship road race in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Spaniard, who could be winning his fourth rainbow jersey, is confident the race will come down to a sprint, but is anxious that the Northern European weather could make life difficult for the Spanish contingent.

    "I took part in the Tour of Denmark this year to check out the road race course," Freire told DHnet. "I saw that it was easy. There's only one climb, and that the finishing straight. So it could be a sprint finish."

    After 260 kilometres, only the strongest sprinters will stand a chance of victory, and as usual the weather conditions will also have an impact on the outcome. Freire admitted that he "would have preferred a harder route, but I'll adapt. I'm just fearful of the weather. In Spain, it's still very warm, but if it's cold in Denmark, then it could get really difficult. Apparently, if the weather gets bad in Denmark, then it gets really cold! That won't be ideal for us Spaniards, especially as it's a very long race."

    At the moment, the local forecast for this weekend predicts sunny skies with only a few scattered clouds, but maximum temperatures of 16°C. The race should thus take place in rather chilly but dry conditions, as the risk of rain is estimated at only 20 percent.

    In terms of competitiveness, Freire was "confident" in his capacities, even if he finished the Vuelta a España after only one week of racing. Since then, he 35-year-old has reaced only the GP de Wallonie, won by Philippe Gilbert, where...

  • Wurtz Schmidt delivers gold for Denmark

    Hail the new world champion: Mads Wurtz Schmidt
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 14:29 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Surprise world championship in junior men's time trial

    After yesterday's silver medal in the UCI World Championships under 23 men's time trial, Danish national coach Morten Bennekou had hinted that the country's medal tally could be complete. However, one event later and the Danes find themselves on the crest of a wave after 17-year-old Mads Wurtz Schmidt stunned all with a sensational gold medal-winning ride in the junior men's time trial.

    The young Dane came into the event as a total unknown and Bennekou admitted to Cyclingnews that the team had placed their hopes on Casper Von Folsach coming into the race.

    "Actually we hoped for a top five but with another rider. Mads is a first year and he's young. It's sensational by anyone's standards. We'd hope for a top-10 with him but he did an amazing race. He'd only seen the course once but his technique was fantastic," Bennekou told Cyclingnews.

    Schmidt's ride may have been a surprise but there was no questioning his dominance. He posted the fastest times at each of the intermediate time checks, beating more established and experienced riders in the process, and despite an anxious wait at the finish, he hung on for the biggest win of his life.

    "I held him back for the second half of the race, holding his rhythm, and when he caught a Belgian rider I just told him to relax, even though the Belgian rider was sitting on his wheel. With five kilometres to go, I told him to give it everything, because I knew that the final two kilometres were so technical that it wouldn't really matter if he blew a bit in the finish.

    "He's a new talent, for us too, but if you can win the Worlds at your first attempt then you're a big talent. Some of the Danish press has asked me what his limit is, but how can you set a...

  • Oram upbeat after silver in Worlds TT

     James Oram (New Zealand) on the podium
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 15:58 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Edwards takes bronze for Australia

    The Antipodean dominance of the UCI World Championships may have been interrupted in the junior men's time trial on Tuesday, but there was still a strong southern hemisphere presence on the podium thanks to the efforts of James Oram (New Zealand) and David Edwards (Australia).

    Oram was the early pace-setter after he set out among the first wave of riders, and he spent the bulk of the morning in the hot seat waiting to see if the later starters could better his time. Ultimately, he was pipped by local rider Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Denmark) by a scant four seconds, but in spite of that narrow margin of defeat, Oram refused to be downcast afterwards.

    "I'm over the moon actually," Oram said. "I came to the Worlds with the expectation that I would be extremely happy to finish in the top five. To be in the hot seat pretty much all day and still end up on the podium is amazing, I couldn't have asked for more."

    While the 17-year-old Wurtz Schmidt's victory was a surprise even to the home crowds in Copenhagen, Oram touched upon one of the beauties of the junior world championships – the bulk of the riders are competing against one another for the first time.

    "To be honest, I've only raced in America and Australia, so any European rider for me is a bit of an unknown," he said. "It's always a question of who is going to be the one on the day. Obviously the strongest rider won, so big ups to him."

    Part of the Pure Black Racing set-up in 2011, Oram was among the pre-race favourites following his assured victory at the prestigious Tour de l'Abitibi in Canada in July. "At Abitibi, I got fourth in the time trial there so it was sort of a mental thing trying to find those extra seconds," he told Cyclingnews.

    Although Oram will be the star attraction in...

  • Shaw satisfied with Worlds debut

    Julia Shaw (Great Britain) races to a 17th place in the women's time trial at the Copenhagen World Championships.
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 18:33 BST
    Daniel Benson

    British rider a solid late addition

    Julia Shaw (Great Britain) was a late addition to the UCI World Championships but the Brit put in a ‘satisfying performance’ on her way to 17th in the women’s time trial. In her first Worlds appearance Shaw briefly held a spot in the top three but could only watch as the race favourites knocker her further down the ladder.

    "It was quite tough really, especially the second lap when it rained. The corners were challenging when it rained, but I gave it my all and rode really hard on the straight sections in order to make up for the cornering. There was a headwind at one point too and I’m not sure I got the pacing right there and it was a bit scrappy," she told Cyclingnews.

    The 46-year-old from Hampshire had an imperfect lead-up to the race after being named as a late addition to the British squad just days prior to the event. There wasn't much time for Shaw to preview the course as a result. "We went around this morning, a couple of times, but the trouble was we weren’t able to ride it fast because there were commuters everywhere."

    Shaw’s place in the team, that consisted of just Emma Pooley, was far from certain. Heading into the race and with just a week to go, selectors had only named Pooley in the squad, despite Shaw and another rider being on the initial long list. A strong performance from Shaw in the Chrono Champenois, where she placed 8th, put pressure on the management of Great Britain team. "I knew there was going to be a call made about the time of Chrono Champenois," she said.

    "But with so much going on in the last week with the Tour of Britain the decision got delayed and delayed and at one stage I wasn’t going."

    "I sort of asked a few questions why and I just made it clear that I wanted to go and I thought I could ride well here. And in the end I got the call to come."

    On reflection the Commonwealth bronze medallist was satisfied with her performance,...

  • Radio-free Arndt seals rainbow jersey in Copenhagen

    Judith Arndt smiles after finally winning a TT gold
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 19:18 BST
    Barry Ryan

    German eyes team time trial title in 2012

    Judith Arndt has seen it all in her lengthy career, and the veteran German was keen to keep distractions at a minimum during her winning ride in the women's time trial at the UCI World Championships in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

    While the radio earpiece has become a seemingly de rigueur piece of time trialling kit in recent years, Arndt opted to go without and focus on the road in front of her rather than the gaps to those behind.

    Her rationale? "I try to concentrate on my race without anything from the outside. I try to have a perfect race and concentrate on myself. This works for me and I know a lot of riders like the radio, but I don't."

    Arndt's ability to dose her effort over the 27.8km course proved to be flawless. Given the sinuous nature of the circuit and the steady rain that washed the streets of the Danish capital throughout the afternoon, she was cautious through the corners on her opening lap, before opening the throttle over the second half of the course.

    "I had no radio so I had no idea about my time," she said afterwards. "I just was a little bit careful on the first lap because I wasn't sure how the corners were in the rain, so I tried to find that out. Then on the second lap, on every corner you could go full-on except for two, so I did better on the second lap."

    The German hit the midway point in third place, just over one second down on Clara Hughes (Canada). After catching a quick glimpse of her time on the big screen at the start-finish line, Arndt knew that she was on course to take the rainbow jersey.

    "When you pass the finish line, you see the times, so I knew that I was not so bad," she said. "My plan was to do the second lap really full-on and full-on at the corners too."

    Arndt's first medal in the Worlds time trial, a bronze, came all of 14 years ago in San...

  • Video: Pooley optimistic for Olympics after bronze at Worlds

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain) was pleased with bronze in the time trial
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 21:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Flat Copenhagen course similar to London

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain) pulled out a strong ride in the UCI World Championships to secure a bronze medal in the women's time trial. Although she fell short of defending her rainbow jersey, she admitted that she was satisfied with a ride that was run over a similar route to London's 2012 Olympic course.

    "For me I'm pleased because London isn't mountainous and this shows to me and gives me a positive boost that I can get a result. Nothing is in the bag but potentially if I'm selected, it's something I can do," she said at the post-race press conference.

    "The Olympics are huge, especially for women's cycling because we don't have a Tour de France, it's the biggest event in the world for us."

    Pooley has had another successful year on the road, tallying up eight victories, all despite missing a chunk of the season through injury, and the fact that several women's races have been slashed from the international calendar.

    "I'm very pleased to be on the podium," she said.

    "This time last year I would have been very lucky to have been in the top 10 on this course so maybe it looks like a worse result but last year the course was hilly and that broke it up. I think I've improved my time trialing and done better on a course that doesn't really suit me."

    "The result isn't as good but I'm pleased. You can't change your physiology."

    Pooley will headline the women's road race on Sunday but with another flat course on the menu the likelihood will be a sprint finish, something she isn't suited to. However, she stressed that despite the course she would be a more than willing teammate for one of Great Britain's sprinters.

  • Focussed Porte eyes time trial podium in Copenhagen

    A wet but very, very successful day for Richie Porte (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 23:38 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian looks to better 2010 fourth place

    A well-earned rest following both a Giro d'Italia and Tour de France campaign has allowed Richie Porte to focus specifically on his preparation for the UCI Road World Championship elite men's time trial event in Copenhagen today. The 26-year-old will line up with Jack Bobridge for Australia on the 46.4 kilometer course.

    Porte struggled through the early part of the season with allergies before taking on the grand tours and then the Tour of Denmark and Paris – Bruxelles for around 80 days of racing while Bobridge sits at half that, with his last appearance in Denmark in August. With the pair due to leave their respective teams at the end of the season, racing opportunity has waned, but Australian Men's Road Coordinator Matt White explained he had to treat the situation as a positive.

    "Both of them have been able to prepare very specifically," he optimistically told Cyclingnews. "I expect some really good things, especially out of Richie. Taking Jack to the worlds as a second TT guy is an experience and this is another step up. Down the track we're expecting that it's possible for him to get medals out of it in a few years time. He's still young, but I wanted to take him to the worlds. He was very motivated."

    Over the past month, Porte has been on the time trial bike motor pacing in the mountains behind Nice in order to prepare for the two-lap, flat course around the heart of Copenhagen.

    "It has been quite specific and something I haven't really done ever before so it will be interesting to see if it pays off," he said of his preparation.

    While the parcours suits the talented Tasmanian technically,...