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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 21, 2012

Date published:
September 21, 2012, 17:00
  • Illness puts Bronzini’s worlds preparation in doubt

    World champion Giorgia Bronzini still sporting bandages after her crash in the Exergy Tour
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 05:08
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Defending champion suffering from flu ahead of road race

    Reigning champion Giorgia Bronzini’s participation in Saturday’s women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships has been cast into doubt as the Italian has been suffering from flu since her arrival in Limburg two days ago.

    "Since I got here two days ago, I’ve been suffering from a cold," Bronzini said in Maastricht. "I think it’s a sort of flu really, but I hope to recover in time for Saturday."

    At the Italian team press conference in Maastricht on Thursday evening, team manager Edoardo Savoldi said that Bronzini would be free to delay a decision on her participation until late on Friday. Bronzini is automatically granted a berth in the race as defending champion, and would participate in addition to Italy’s original quota of six riders.

    "As Giorgia would not be taking the place of another rider in any case, we can give her a bit of time to make her decision, but we certainly hope that she can line up," Savoldi said.

    Even if she does eventually take the start, Bronzini is unlikely to complete a remarkable hat-trick of world titles on a Valkenburg course that is significantly more testing than the circuits she faced in Geelong (2010) and Copenhagen (2011). In revealing his roster, Savoldi acknowledged that the squadra azzurra would have its work cut out to deny Marianne Vos (Netherlands) the rainbow jersey on home roads. Remarkably, the Dutchwoman has never finished outside the top two in the Worlds road race throughout her professional career, although her sole triumph dates back to her first year as a professional in 2006.

    "We’re living through the extraordinary era of Marianne Vos, and on top of that, she is riding on home roads and has the added motivation of being the Olympic champion," Savoldi acknowledged. "It’s a perfect course for her too, but we’re not starting out with the intention of simply limiting our losses."

    The Italian team consists of Bronzini, Noemi Cantele, Francesca Cauz, Elena Cecchini, Tatiana Guderzo, Elisa Longo Borghini and Rossella Ratto.

    "There’s a lot of experience in there, but that’s been combined with some emerging riders," Savoldi said.

     

    Tags:
    World championships
  • Rasch joins Boasson Hagen at Sky for 2013

    Edvald Boasson Hagen and Gabriel Rasch in Norwegian colors
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 07:53
    By:
    Cycling News

    Norwegian breaks original IAM contract

    After having announced his transfer from FDJ-BigMat to the IAM Cycling Team just a month ago, Gabriel Rasch has reportedly broken his contract with the new Swiss project and signed with Sky Procycling for 2013. Rasch was not included in the 23-man IAM Cycling roster announced just recently.

    "I know pretty much all the support from my time in the Crédit Agricole and Cervélo. I think the role I want to get in there is something I can grow. I also see a future role in the team," Rasch had told Procycling.no a little over a month ago.

    Rasch has reportedly now signed a one-year deal with the British Sky team however, the intention is to remain with the squad for two seasons. It’s a promising sign for the former Garmin-Cervélo rider who found himself without a team at the end of last season until FDJ-BigMat came along.

    The 36-year-old domestique has endured a long season in which he completed both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España despite knee troubles earlier in the year. After being left off the national team for the Olympic Games he now finds himself lining up for Norway at the World Championships in Valkenburg for the men’s road race. Rasch is currently training with his Norwegian teammates Lars Petter Nordhaug and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    Having come out of the Vuelta in good shape, "Gabriel shows good and stable form. It is important for our two strongest cards to be able to rely on Gabriel," Norwegian Cycling Federation sports director, Steffen Kjærgaard told Procycling.no.

    "We are a small but exciting team. All results in recent weeks show that despite being small, we are dangerous in the championship. I guess that our competitors will monitor Nordhaug and Boasson Hagen. The race is open to both our strong points, but it will depend on the situation there and then if it holds, and who may run for the last few kilometers. It is also important to be aware that other nations are strong and more powerful than our trio," said Kjærgaard.

     

  • Nibali carries hopes as Italy faces new reality

    Vincenzo Nibali leads the Italian training ride
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 08:34
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Capecchi and Nizzolo named as reserves

    In a race where the final climb of the Cauberg is expected to be the ultimate arbiter, and with particularly compelling arguments anticipated from Spain and Belgium, a youthful Italian team may struggle to produce the kind of answers needed to secure victory at the UCI Road World Championships on Sunday.

    Yet even when they come more in hope than expectation, the Italians always travel to the Worlds in numbers, and a sizeable media presence gathered in Maastricht's rather soulless Forum district for the squadra azzurra's final press conference. Team manager Paolo Bettini admitted that without a reliably explosive puncheur in its ranks, his men will have to seek to upset the agenda rather than dictate it, a change from their traditional role.

    "We're living a different situation," Bettini acknowledged. "In other years, we had a very specific task to do, we were working to bring the right man to the right place, and then he would make his move. This year, it's a different national team, where we have six debutants. They have to go out and enjoy themselves."

    The worlds are always a very serious business in Italy, and Bettini quickly elaborated on what he meant, lest the polemica spark into life even before Monday morning's newspapers hit the stands. "Enjoying themselves means entering into the action in the knowledge that that there are other teams carrying the responsibility of keeping the race together until the foot of the Cauberg," he said. "We have different responsibilities and different opportunities."

    The inexperienced make-up of the team is due in part to the recent Italian federation directive barring riders under investigation for doping from selection, and president Renato Di Rocco reiterated his new stance, which prohibits many of the biggest names of the Italian gruppo of the past decade from riding at the worlds. "We will continue with in this direction," he said.

    Nibali

    The Italian team will thus be led by Vincenzo Nibali, who has enjoyed his best classics campaign to date this season, with podium finishes at both Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. While the Sicilian has the diesel engine necessary to win races in excess of 250 kilometres, he freely acknowledged that his lack of top-end speed will inhibit his chances against the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Joaquim Rodriguez on the Cauberg.

    "My limitation is that I'm not quick," said Nibali, whose eagerness to attack from distance has proved a mixed blessing in the classics. "If I feel good, I'll certainly try and put in a good attack, although in a race like this, you need to wait a little bit and not make any mistakes. After 250km your strength is a little bit limited so you can't afford to get anything wrong."

    Although the contenders are all familiar with the Cauberg from riding Amstel Gold Race over the years, Nibali believes that a circuit race like the worlds always constitutes something of an unknown.

    "A classic like Liège or Amstel is very different because you would already know it well beforehand," he said. "You know where it gets harder near the end, and you know where you need to be in front. At the Worlds it's different because we don't really know the route as well. We only really know the Cauberg but there are other factors. I mean, there's a lot of wind on the course too, and we don't know if it will pick up or not."

    Nibali and his teammates will reconnoitre the opening section from the start in Maastricht to the Valkenburg finishing circuit on Friday morning. "The race won't be easy, even at the beginning," Nibali warned. "The roads are twisting and they aren't the widest."

    While youngsters Diego Ulissi and Moreno Moser have been touted by Bettini as two riders who will enjoy a certain degree of freedom on Sunday, Nibali believes that the in-form Oscar Gatto may be the Italian best-suited to contesting a sprint in the event that a sizeable group remains intact after the final climb of the Cauberg.

    "For the finale, the more of us there are, the better it is," Nibali said. "Maybe I can try to attack, but then if one of the other guys is still there with me, then I could be the key for him. Gatto has shown that he's going very well and he's in form, and Luca Paolini's been riding well too."

    Bettini also confirmed his line-up for Sunday's race, with Giacomo Nizzolo and Eros Capecchi left on the sidelines as reserves. Nibali, Ulissi, Moser, Gatto and Paolini will be joined by Dario Cataldo, Rinaldo Nocentini, Matteo Trentin and Marco Marcato in the nine-man team.

     

    Tags:
    World championships
  • BMC re-sign four Swiss riders for 2013

    Michael Schar (BMC)
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 09:23
    By:
    Cycling News

    Kohler, Morabito, Schär and Wyss extend their contracts

    BMC Racing team manager Jim Ochowicz has announced contract extensions for four of his Swiss riders. Martin Kohler, Steve Morabito, Michael Schär and Danilo Wyss will continue to ride for BMC in 2013. Both Morabito and Schär have been selected for the Swiss World’s road team while Kohler, who lead this year’s Tour Down Under for two days missed out on the final selection.

    “We're extremely pleased with the roles they have played over the past year, whether it was leading the Santos Tour Down Under for a few days like Martin, finishing runner-up at the Tour of Austria like Steve did in July, or helping support our team leaders in races like the Tour de France," said Ochowicz in a statement from the team.

    Kohler turned professional with BMC in 2008 when it was registered as a Professional Continental team and has remained with the squad ever since, while Wyss began his career with Saunier Duval – Prodir in 2007 before joining Kohler in 2008.

    Morabito most recently finished the Vuelta a España in 35th place overall following his strong showing at the Tour of Austria where he finished second to Jakob Fuglsang. Both Morabito and Schär have been with the team since 2010.

    BMC have announced only minor roster changes for the 2013 season. Johann Tschopp is leaving to join IAM Cycling, George Hincapie has annuonced his retirement while Daniel Oss and Dominik Nerz will be making the move from Liquigas-Cannondale to BMC.

     

  • Cavendish rates victory chances as "non-existent"

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) won the Tour's final stage in Paris for the fourth straight year.
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 09:45
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Outgoing world champion prepares to say farewell to the rainbow jersey

    With a demanding finale on the Cauberg and many well-prepared Classics riders taking part in Sunday's World championship road race, defending champion Mark Cavendish has admitted that he will most likely have to say farewell to the rainbow jersey he won 12 months ago in Copenhagen. The British rider told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that he had no chance of defending his title.

    "The chance of retaking my world title is non-existent," Cavendish was quoted as saying by the paper. "Ten times the Cauberg is just too much for me. We have to be realistic."

    The nine-man Great Britain may thus have to follow a different race strategy in order to stand their ground against major nations such as Belgium, Spain and Italy. While the national squad still has to be officially confirmed, nine riders have been named: Mark Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Jon Tiernan-Locke and Bradley Wiggins.

    "I can't win, but I'm here out of respect for the jersey and because I'll be wearing race number one. I always enjoy racing in the colours of the national team. You're not doing it for money, but for your country - that is special," Cavendish said, before hoping that another rider of his Team Sky trade team could take the world title on Sunday: Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    "Boasson Hagen would be a nice successor. He'd deserve it. He's a great mate and a damn good rider," Cavendish said.

    Cavendish has worn the rainbow jersey with pride, knowing his sprint victory last year secured him an important place in cycling history.

    "Every rider who wants his name in the history books of cycling has to be world champion at least once. If you'd asked me on my 14th birthday if I'd rather win 23 stages of the Tour de France or become world champion, I'd have said: become world champion," he said.

    "The Tour means a lot to my career, but as world champion you wear the most beautiful jersey ever for a year. The rainbow stripes have something magical. All great champions have worn them."

    Tags:
    World championships
  • Tuscany 2013 world championship routes unveiled

    Paolo Bettini is the last Tuscan world champion
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 11:19
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hilly finishing circuit includes a 4.6km climb

    The routes of the 2013 UCI world road race championships in Tuscany have been officially unveiled with the elite men’s road race predicted to be the toughest since Bernhard Hinault won the rainbow jersey in Sallanches, France in 1980.

    The road races start in Montecatini Terme and Lucca before heading to Florence for a testing and twisting 16.6km finishing circuit that includes a 4.6km climb to Fiesole. The elite men’s race is over 279.6km, and includes several other climbs and a loop through the centre of Renaissance Florence before 10 laps of the finishing circuit. Elite women will race for 134.7km and cover five laps of the finishing circuit.

    Despite Tuscany being one of the historic strongholds of Italian cycling and the birthplace of Gino Bartali, Fiorenzo Magni, Mario Cipollini and Paolo Bettini, the central Italian region has never hosted the world championships. A stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia is expected finish in Florence in 2013 and the city hopes to host the start of the Tour de France in 2014 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gino Bartali.

    “We hoping for a grand slam of events that no other city else has ever achieved,” Dario Nardella –the vice-mayor of Florence said during the official presentation of the race routes in Maastricht. “The world championships will be the biggest sporting event in our history. We’ll also be introducing a bike sharing scheme to further promote the use of bicycles.”

    The racing will begin, like this year in Limburg, with the team time trial for professional teams, with the men’s and women’s races on Sunday September 22. The men’s race is over 50.3km, while the women face 36.6km. The elite men’s individual time trial is over a distance of 55.5km between Montecatini Terme and Florence. The road races events will be held on Friday September 27, Saturday September 28 and Sunday September 29.

    The organisers expect over a million people will see the racing from the roadside, with half a million expected to travel to Florence to see the elite men’s road race.

    Tags:
    World championships
  • Boonen and Gilbert show united front

    Tom Boonen leads the Belgian training ride
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 13:17
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Two leaders for two different scenarios for Belgium

    Pressed by reporters to sum up his feelings on sharing leadership of the Belgian World championships team with Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert insisted that it was a “win-win situation.”

    A few metres away, buried within another scrum of microphones and notepads at the Belgian team press event, Boonen was dutifully telling the Flemish media the same thing. But while Belgium’s two front men were singing from the same hymn sheet at the squad’s pre-race press conference in Vilt, they inadvertently revealed the potential for creative differences in their interpretations of the Valkenburg course.

    The final attacks of the race are expected on the Cauberg -a sharp climb ideally suited to an explosive puncheur such as Gilbert, and the Walloon has twice triumphed atop the climb at the end of the Amstel Gold Race. Yet the finish line is 1.5km after the summit of the climb and Boonen believes that attacks on the Cauberg are doomed to be swept up before the line.

    “If the finish was on top of the Cauberg it would be difficult for me but there’s still a kilometre and a half to go after the summit, and I think that’s plenty of time to recover well and concentrate on the sprint that follows,” Boonen said. “It’s a classic course, a hard course, but I’m not afraid of it.”

    Across the room, Philippe Gilbert was envisaging an altogether different final 1500 metres. “I don’t think that you can make up the ground in a kilometre and a half,” he said. “Personally, I think that the gaps at the top of the Cauberg will stay more or less the same until the line.”

    After a listless opening half to the season that saw Gilbert ride in pale imitation of his dominant 2011 self, the BMC rider has gradually found some form in the weeks leading up to the Worlds. Two fine stage wins at the Vuelta a España put a rosier hue on his season and prompted Belgian teammate Bjorn Leukemans to tell the local press that nobody would be able to live with Gilbert on the final reckoning up the Cauberg on Sunday.

    “I saw the headline but I don’t know if that’s realistic,” Gilbert said warily. “If I’m the big favourite, it’s maybe because I’ve won Amstel a couple of times and I come from nearby, but there are a lot of other riders to watch here too.”

    Regardless of what Gilbert, Joaquim Rodriguez et al can conjure up on the Cauberg, Boonen believes that the Ardennes classics specialists will encounter an unwanted surprise when they crest the summit: a stiff headwind that might just as well have been imported from west Flanders for the occasion.

    “We rode the course yesterday and I think the wind will be the same on Sunday, which means that it would be a headwind after the Cauberg,” Boonen warned. “That will make it hard to stay out in front.”

    Boonen is convinced that after 267km of racing, he will have enough in the tank to stay within striking distance over the top of the Cauberg and then be able to fight for the rainbow jersey in a sprint.

    “I hope I’m still there with three or four teammates,” Boonen said. “Going up the Cauberg normally isn’t a big problem and after the top, you can organise yourself well for a sprint.”

    Balanced circuit

    Gilbert and Boonen’s differing predictions for the race are a firm indication of the intriguing balance of the Valkenburg circuit. Their respective characteristics means the Belgians hold two very different cards ahead of the finale, while the strongly-fancied Spanish team could risk playing the same hand three times on the Cauberg.

    “I think that it will be hard for the Spanish to work out a good tactic. If it was up to me, I’d ride for Oscar Freire, because it’s hard to attack with four or five riders on the Cauberg,” Boonen said.

    On a course that has stoked the enthusiasm of Ardennes specialists and cobbled classics riders alike, Gilbert and Boonen are – in theory – an ideal combination to deal with all eventualities. The Walloon and the Flandrian both easily swapped between Dutch and French throughout the press conference, and coach Carlo Bomans must hope they show similarly fluid understanding on Sunday.

    “It’s a real advantage for us to have two real leaders,” Gilbert said. “If we get to the finish with both Boonen and me up there, I think that we could be a smokescreen for one another. I can lean on him and he can lean on me. It’s a win-win situation, and I think that’s interesting for the two of us and for the team.”

     

    Tags:
    World championships
  • Dwaars door Vlaanderen moves to 1.HC status in 2013

    Terpstra's solo effort in the closing stages left the spectators breathless
    Article published:
    September 21, 2012, 15:35
    By:
    Cycling News

    Upgrade for Flemish classic

    Dwaars door Vlaanderen, the traditional opener to the Flemish Classics, has received an upgrade as part of the 2013 UCI calendar. Next year, it will be categorized as a 1.HC race.

    "Obviously we are very pleased with this update of our competition," said race organizer Carlo Lambrecht in a statement posted on the event's website. "Indeed, this is a confirmation that Dwaars door Vlaanderen on the right track."

    He added that the move came to the "great satisfaction for our board, staff and sponsors".

    Dwaars door Vlaanderen, which began in 1945 as a stage race, joins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Scheldeprijs, De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne at the 1.HC level.

    In 2012, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) won in a solo break.

    "Some will say that winning here is not a big fish but to me it's a nice greasy fish," Terpstra said.