- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 03:36
- Cycling News
Spaniard building for second Vuelta victory
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) will make his return to the peloton today in the The Netherlands at the Eneco Tour. The seven-day stage race begins with a 203.9km route from Waalwijk to Middelburg. Contador has wasted little time getting back into competition as his ban only ended on August 6 - the day of the tour’s start.
Contador spoke with the media at a press conference prior to the start of the Eneco Tour, thanking his family and those close to him for their support during his suspension. He also graciously thanked the organisers and the people of The Netherlands for welcoming him back into his beloved sport.
"I do not know if relief is the right word, but I'm looking forward to competing because is what I like to do," he said.
"The whole last two years has been hard because they say everything about me without any limit. Luckily, I have my family and my friends. Thanks to them I did not need to seek help from any professional. They are the ones who have given me encouragement."
"[Today] is an important day and I'm happy to be back competing tomorrow, especially in a race as pretty as the Eneco Tour. Tomorrow I will be part of Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank officially so I'm happy, in addition to making my return in front of fans like these. There was no better place to start," he said.
While it has been just months since Contador raced at the Tour de San Luis in January, where he won two stages and finished second overall, he spoke of his difficulties of the past two years and believed his time away from the professional scene will make him stronger in the years to come.
"It is true that in some ways the illusion that I had eight years ago is gone. It has made me grow up and see cycling as a part of my life, but not my whole life. I have faced difficult situations which will help deal with stressful situations in the future.
"Those six months have been difficult and I’ll remember them forever. I did not want to stand, I changed my training places, there have been days of having more desire and others less, but I'm just as tired as other years at this time because I trained hard to get into good condition. I want to thank everyone who supported me on the road, in social networks and elsewhere because they have helped me to train every day," Contador said.
Contador has been officially announced in his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff's roster for the upcoming Vuelta a España where he is planning to win a second overall title. The third Grand Tour of the year begins on 18 August - one week following the completion at Eneco. It will be four years since Contador has raced in his home Grand Tour and his motivation to succeed will be undeniably high. He spoke of his return to Riss’ team and was thankful to other teams who also showed interest in signing the multiple Grand Tour winner.
"For me it was very easy to stay on this team. I am also very grateful to all teams who have called me. They respected my decision because what Saxo Bank and the other sponsors, with Riis at the front, have done for me is invaluable. I am indebted to them and never felt out of this team."
He touched briefly on his opinion on out-of-competition doping controls and was adamant that he believed in the system but would like to see changes being made which better reflect the modern times of the sport.
"I believe in controls and I continued to believe in them all along. I have passed several controls in recent months and I have never complained, but I certainly would like to see certain things changed and improved and for which solutions should be sought.
"What is clear is that this legislation is outdated and all relevant authorities know this, but do nothing to change it," he said.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 05:03
- Cycling News
Result sparks response from Australian rival Freiberg
Glen O’Shea was sitting in the perfect position coming into the fifth round of the six-race omnium at the London Olympic Games last night. O’Shea moved into the number one position following his ride in the 4,000m individual pursuit and the reigning world champion was looking good to capture Australia's second gold medal - to date.
"I can imagine there would have been hype. Australia is pretty starved of gold medals," he told AAP.
It was the 15km scratch race however, that his Olympic dreams collapsed as he found himself heavily marked throughout the race. When a strong group attacked off the front of the scratch race field, O’Shea was caught in the chasing bunch - along with most of those sitting at the top of the overall standings.
"I put myself right in the bike race but in the first ten laps to turn around and you've got four or five blokes just lining you up, trying to attack you, I guess that's just the way things go. In the end I didn't have the legs and the best person won," he told Fairfax.
O’Shea finished the scratch race a lap down on nine riders and crossed the line in 14th position, pushing him down to sixth overall and with only the Kilo to go he was unlikely to improve enough to take home a medal.
"All I could do was go out and give 100 percent and that's what I did. I was happy with the way I finished off. I didn't lay down.
"Lasse was unbelievable. He fell off in the scratch race and got straight back up and then in about two laps he had taken a lap. So he deserves the win. It's a credit to him," he said.
Olympic selection has been a heavily discussed issue during these Games and the omnium is no different. Australia’s 2011 world champion Michael Freiberg, was devastated to be looked over for the single spot at the London Games and with O’Shea falling short of expectation, he voiced his opinion via Twitter.
"And dam right I'm annoyed about the result of a race that just finished 2000km away," Freiberg said on Twitter.
"I know I am world champion but the omnium can be a mixed bag and I knew I'd be in the hunt. I knew I had good legs. It showed, I came fifth - it's not a bad result. I'm proud of what I have achieved," O’Shea told the ABC.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 07:03
- Alex Malone
Six months ago I never thought I’d ride or race again
It’s been less than six months since 26-year-old Will Walker announced his return to racing with the Drapac Professional Cycling team and he’s already captured his first victory at the Tour of Gippsland. Walker won stage eight into Metung on the way to the overall victory in the nine-stage Tour held over five days. Having spent the past two months in Italy, Walker was surprised but happy to be riding so well.
"I didn’t expect to be so good so early on. I only got back from Italy three days before the race. I probably just expected to do this race [Tour of Gippsland] as preparation for the upcoming tours, thinking this one was too flat for me," he told Cyclingnews.
"I was probably sprinting and going a little bit better than I expected. It’s pretty nice to be back on the winner’s podium straight away really - first race back with a target."
Unlike many of his Drapac teammates, who recently returned from a stint of racing in Belgium, Walker chose to spend the last couple of months with his fiancé in Italy. He trained in the mountains but admitted the opening criterium around San Remo was pretty tough.
"[I was] training in the hills and performed pretty consistent training. I actually hadn’t raced for quite a long time so the opening criterium in San Remo was a little bit...interesting."
Surprisingly, Walker hasn’t raced many of the Australian tours and this was his first time at the Tour of Gippsland. He spoke of the previous national series, the Tattersall’s Cup and was impressed by how far the National Road Series had grown and developed since he was racing in Australia.
"I did the Tats Cups series which was in 2004 and that was a different format to this. It was five individual one-day races, which I won overall but it was quite different, there was less depth and no teams.
"I think people discount it [the NRS] looking at results and they probably shouldn’t because it’s really solid racing. A lot of the young Australian’s look at trying to get into French teams but I think it’s probably harder to win here than there [overseas]," he told Cyclingnews.
Following his win at Gippsland, Walker will head to the Tour of the Great South Coast where he believes his Drapac team will be the strongest team in the race.
"We’ll go into [Great South Coast] it as probably one of the favourite teams and I think people have started to realise that even though Genesys [Wealth Advisers] and Budget [Forklifts] have dominated in the past, that our team probably has a little bit more experience and strength.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my teammates won Tour of the South Coast, like [Darren] Lapthorne who is climbing far above everybody else here. I think we can just let him go and take the win. That would be fantastic too," he said.
Walker says his team has been focused on achieving a number of goals throughout the year and the Australian NRS is a big part of this objective.
"The NRS has started to grow in size, you know, it’s pretty good exposure for the team and for Michael Drapac so I think we will focus all of our energies and put the best team forward we can all the way up until Tour of Tasmania and continuing all the way up to the Nationals in Buninyong."
While the young Australian is happy living in Melbourne, studying at University and training with his brother Johnnie, his ambitions to make it back to the top level of the sport still remain. He is however, willing to be patient, using this year and the next to gain results and exposure which will hopefully lead to his return to the WorldTour.
"Next year I’m happy to do the Asian races with Drapac, they are quite a good level and it’s really nice to experience and see the whole world too. I’ll probably try and win a few tours over in Asia - if I can.
"I’m happy doing my studies and taking cycling step by step for now. We’ll see how it goes. It’s everybody’s dream to be a pro cyclist. It would be awesome to get back. I’ve never ridden the Tour de France and of course that’s everyone’s dream but for now I’m happy racing the Tour of Gippsland. Six months ago I never thought I’d ride or race again. It’s pretty special just to be here," he told Cyclingnews.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 09:32
- Daniel Benson
Briton takes bronze in omnium
Ed Clancy has added his support to Mark Cavendish's desire to race on the track at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016. Clancy, who secured his second medal of the Games on Sunday in the omnium, came through the British Academy ranks with the sprinter before they both went their separate ways: Cavendish targeting the road and Clancy the track.
Cavendish failed to win the Olympic road race and expects the Rio road course in 2016 to suit non-sprinters. Realistically, his best chance of winning a gold medal at Rio would rest on the track, where he has secured world titles in the past. Last week he told Sky Sports News that he could target the track team for Rio, with a place on the team pursuit being his preference and best option of success.
"I spent a lot of time with Cav, I lived in Germany with him for a year and I spent two years on the (British Cycling Olympic) Academy with him. He hangs round in different circles to me nowadays, he's a superstar, but if he came back to the team pursuit that would make my day," Clancy said.
"When I spoke to Mark on the phone the first thing he said, he was talking about the team pursuit for Rio and I know Brad's been talking about that as well, so that's quite exciting. I don't know if these guys are just mulling it over. Cav's won everything in his career but he knows the one thing that's missing is that Olympic gold."
Great Britain's pursuit team will need rebuilding. Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh are set to direct their ambitions towards the road and Dan Hunt, the team's coach, told Cyclingnews that his role will also be looked at after London. Hunt also said he would welcome any rider with sufficient talent but made it clear that specializing on the track – as Geraint Thomas has done – would be paramount.
As for Clancy, he closes his 2012 Olympic Games with two medals. After securing a world record and gold in the team pursuit he turned his attention to the omnium over the weekend and won bronze. Dominant in the individual events, he lost his chance of gold during the sprint events with Lasse Norman taking gold and Bryan Coquard silver.
"I've never had to dig so deep in my soul to get up and race," Clancy said, having competed for four straight days while his pursuit teammates celebrated.
"Burkey (Steven Burke) was lying in a pool of sick in his bed yesterday morning. You just want to be there with them celebrating. But at the same time they've been great, Geraint (Thomas) has been here every day supporting me with the mother of all hangovers.
"I really put all my eggs in the team pursuit basket and I really didn't know how the omnium was going to go. I've won things in the past and I knew it was going to be hit or miss whether I could get a medal and at one point it looked like I was going to win, at another point it looked like I was going to get nothing."
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 10:46
- Cycling News
German can look back at five Olympics, multiple career wins and titles
Judith Arndt is winding down her 12-year career as a professional cyclist. The German has now participated in her last Olympics, coming away from London with a silver medal in the time trial. She will also ride in the World Championships next month in Valkenburg, Netherlands, before hanging her bike on the wall.
Arndt, 36, did not just ride on the road in her fifth Olympics. Together with Charlotte Becker and Lisa Brannier, she rode the team pursuit, finishing eighth, but setting a new German record. “I am very proud that we set a new German record. It was very hard,” she said on the Facebook page of the German Cycling Federation.
She got her start on the track, winning her first national titles in 1993. She won her first Olympic medal, a bronze, in the individual pursuit at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In that same discipline Arndt has been a five-time national champion and was world champion in 1997.
After an unsuccessful 2000 Olympics, she turned her concentration to road racing. Over the years she rode for Saturn cycling team, Equipe Nürnberger, T-Mobile Frauenteam, and HTC Highroad Women, before joining GreenEdge-AIS this season.
Arndt's palmares over the years include wins at the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen (three times) and the Tour de l'Aude (twice). This year alone she has nine wins, including the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Thüringen and both national titles.
On the road, she can claim two world titles, one in each discipline. Arndt won the road title in Verona in 2004 and the time trial title last year in Copenhagen. She also has two silver medals from the Olympics, with the first one being from the road race in Athens, where she famously gave a one-finger “salute” as she crossed the finish line.
While she didn't reach her goals at the Olympics this time round, she did not seem to regret it. “I am happy that it is now over and look forward to something new.” Arndt has not yet announced her post-riding-career plans.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 12:32
- Cycling News
Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider's participation dependent on hand injury
Tony Martin will ride the Vuelta a España as preparation for the world championships, where he will look to defend his time trial title. But until then, the German is enjoying some time off to recuperate in peace and quiet.
Martin, who won the silver medal in the Olympic men's time trial, is back home in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, “where the clocks run somewhat slower that in hectic London. The Games were a great experience. The atmosphere was gigantic,” he wrote on his personal website.
“But now I am also enyjoying the quiet,” he went on to say. “I am the kind of person who would rather avoid the hustle and bustle.”
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider hasn't avoided his work entirely, though. “In principle, I only took Friday off and now I want to hold my form for the next races.”
That next race will not be the Eneco Tour, but rather the Vuelta – hopefully. “The start is Spain is dependent on the healing process in my hand. I now have about 14 days for regeneration," Martin said.
Martin broke a bone in his left hand in a crash during the first stage of the Tour de France.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 13:17
- Cycling News
Gesink and Mollema warm up for Vuelta a España
The 2012 Tour de France was a largely disappointing one for Dutch outfit Rabobank and on completion of that race they immediately turned their focus towards the Vuelta a España, which is now less than two weeks away.
The team's two main general classification hopes for the season's final grand tour, Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink, both suffered injuries in crashes at the Tour de France and pulled out of the race ahead of the 12th stage alongside teammate Mark Renshaw.
Both Mollema and Gesink were on hand at the recent Vuelta a Burgos as part of their preparation for the Vuelta a España, which starts in Pamplona on August 18. While Gesink was satisfied with his sixth place overall there, Mollema was less so with finishing in 33rd position. The team as a whole performed well, taking victories on stage three (Matti Breschel) and stage four (Paul Martens).
Gesink, who injured his ribs in his stage six crash at the Tour, will also line-up for the Clásica de San Sebastián on August 14. Following his strong showing in Burgos he is confident of performing well there and at the Vuelta.
"This [the Vuelta a Burgos] was a preparation race," Gesink told De Telegraaf. "I still feel pain in my ribs, but it is ok to race. I am very satisfied with my level here. It must of course better for Spain, but we still have two weeks before the start. We will go to San Sebastián with a strong team. The intention there is to win. If successful, we have immediately put the finishing touches for the Vuelta a España."
Mollema's form is more worrying and in 2012 he has yet to hit the heights of last year, when he finished fourth overall at the Vuelta and was voted Holland's rider of the year. His finishing position in Burgos was outside the top 30 and he was more than six minutes behind the race winner Daniel Moreno (Katusha). Sporting Director Erik Dekker admitted that Mollema has plenty of work to do in the next two weeks to get in shape for the Vuelta.
"If you have two weeks before the start of the Vuelta are not good enough for the first 15 in a race like this, there is still much work to do," Dekker told De Telegraaf.
- Article published:
- August 6, 2012, 14:50
- Laura Weislo
Frenchman to put track on hold for road career
After winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the first-ever edition of the omnium, Frenchman Bryan Coquard confirmed he will leave track cycling for a time in order to pursue a road career with Team Europcar.
"I will leave the track to compete on the road for two years, but I will come back to track cycling because I love it, and because it has provided opportunities for me," Coquard said. "I lived some unforgettable moments on the track which ended on a high mark."
Twice a world champion at junior level in the omnium, Coquard nevertheless was only an outside hope for a medal. His top finishes at the senior level were two podiums at World Cups and two eighth places at the world championships.
"It's a dream come true. Even in my craziest dreams I couldn't imagine it. I thought of all the sacrifices I made to be here. This medal is the result of a four-year plan. I have been junior world champion twice, then it wasn't easy moving to the elite, but everything worked just perfectly."
In London, Coquard raced with the tactical acuity of a rider with more experience than someone just 20 years old. After posting the fifth fastest flying lap, he made both of the breakaways that lapped the field in the points race to finish fourth. The pinnacle of his mental sharpness came in the elimination race, which he won ahead of Italian Elia Viviani and the omnium world champion Glenn O'Shea (Australia).
His weak point has always been the timed events, with the pursuit a particularly challenging race. The 12th place he took in that event was made up for by another astute ride in the scratch race to finish third and a gutsy fourth place in the kilo.
"I'm one of the fastest in the sprint events, but in the endurance events I had some difficulties. After the world championships in March, I worked on it with my staff. I had five people just for me. I thank them all, it was the ideal omnium for me."
Expect to see Coquard back in action on the boards ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.