A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
More than a consolation prize for Vuelta's "dinamiteros"
Later today the UCI will release its latest world rankings following the Vuelta a España but Joaquin Rodriguez has already done the maths and is happy with the outcome. "With the results of the Vuelta, I'm gonna be the world's number one rider and I don't think that will change by the end of the cycling season," Rodriguez told Cyclingnews at the start of the Vuelta's last stage in San Sebastian de los Reyes.
The Katusha rider has based his prediction on the fact that "we're close to the end of the season and Alberto Contador won't race anymore [this year]."
In the current official rankings, released on September 13 after the Canadian ProTour races, Contador was leading Rodriguez by 54 points but the latter's fourth place at the Vuelta allocates 90 points, with additional points on offer for taking a top four spot in stages of the race.
With more than 500 points, Rodriguez will be out of reach for Cadel Evans, who is currently third with 390 points, as the only race remaining on the world ranking calendar after the Vuelta is the Tour of Lombardy, whose winner will score 100 points. The world championship road race and Paris-Tours aren't part of the world calendar.
"This is a great result for me," said Rodriguez. "It shows how good I've been this year." His consistency can be seen in his haul of results in 2010: sixth at Paris-Nice, he won the Volta a Catalunya on home soil, the GP Miguel Indurain and stage five of the Vuelta ai Pais Vasco (where he finished third overall).
He also finished second to Evans at the Flèche Wallonne, ninth at the Tour de Suisse, eighth in the Tour de France with a win on stage 12 to Mende and fifth at the Clasica San Sebastian prior to riding the Vuelta a España very aggressively.
He led the world rankings after the Ardennes classics, taking the top spot from countryman Luis Leon Sanchez until Alberto Contador passed him after the Critérium du...
Rejects Boonen's criticisms of not re-signing friends
Patrick Lefevere says he has strengthened Quick Step for the coming season and rejected Tom Boonen's criticism of the transfer decisions. “I am building a team with a solid base for the future,” said the experienced team manager.
Lefevere admitted to having difficulties because his "sponsoring contract expires after next season” and he is only offering one-year contracts. “As long as I have no certainty about what is possible after 2011, my options are limited," he told Het NIeuwsblad.
Boonen criticised the fact that Lefevere had not re-signed his close friends Jurgen Van De Walle and Maarten Wynants but the manager admitted that the one-year contracts he was offering were a major part of the problem.
"I'd like to keep Wynants and Van De Walle. But I can't hold a gun to them and demand that they sign for one year with an option. Other teams apparently gave them contracts for two years,” he explained.
Lefevere added that he "asked everyone on the team (including team leaders and doctors) to make a list of tips for attractive, well-priced riders. The Italians came away with some Italians. And yes, Cancellara, Contador and the Schlecks were also often mentioned, but I can still think of them myself.”
However, “From Boonen I know I got no suggestions. It is brave to stand up for your mates, it's nice to make friends with your teammates. But now the former world champion must cope with the fact that they have left his team," Lefevere said.
He is making the best of what he has, and noted that “We are not a Belgian, but a European team.” Newcomers for 2011 include Dutch national road champion Niki Terpstra, Belgian Andy Cappelle, German Gerald Ciolek and Italian Francesco Chicchi.
Australian team signs Knees and Klimov
Pegasus Racing, which is hoping to ride in the ProTour in 2011, has joined the list of teams hoping to sign three-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara. In the meantime, the team has announced two more signings, Christian Knees and Sergey Klimov.
It was announced Saturday evening that Cancellara's contract with Team Saxo Bank for 2011 had been torn up, a move which had long been rumoured.
Chris White, Pegasus CEO confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that he would pay market price for the Swiss star, and that the team can offer more than just money.
“Will we be able to provide him with the support that he will need to achieve his primary objectives of the year, which will be the one-day classics like Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders, which he won this year. Our answer to that last week was yes. And it still is now.”
Two more ProTour riders are joining the Australian team, Knees, 29, is the reigning German national road champion. He has ridden for Team Milram since 2006. His biggest wins are Rund um Köln in 2006 and the overall victory in the Bayern Rundfahrt in 2008.
Klimov, 30, comes from Team Katusha. He is a strong time trial rider with an extensive and successful track background.
Pegasus has already announced the signings of Australians Robbie McEwen, Luke Roberts and Trent Lowe, as well as Canadian Svein Tuft. More signings are expected before the world championship road race on October 3.
Belgian hoping to carry Vuelta form to Australia
Fresh from a wonderful Vuelta a España, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has his sights set firmly on the world championships in Geelong and accepts that his form in Spain means that he is the pre-race favourite.
“It’s logical that Bettini, Pozzato and others like Tchmil, McEwen and Evans are saying that I’m the favourite and that the Belgian team will have to carry the weight of the race,” Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. “That doesn’t frighten me, our team is strong.”
Gilbert took two very impressive stage wins at the Vuelta, including a fine victory on Friday in Toledo, where he distanced Worlds rivals Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) in an uphill sprint not unlike the finish in Geelong.
“I’ve worked a lot for the Worlds,” Gilbert said. “For the last four months, I’ve been living and working for this rendezvous, and I want to get there at 100%.”
Belgian coach Carlo Bomans echoed Gilbert’s comments on his team but pointed out that his line-up will not be the only one with a duty to ride on the front.
“We have a fine team and we’ll take on our responsibilities, but there are other favourites too,” he said. “The group will have to bring Gilbert to the finish as best as possible.”
Bomans also sounded a word of warning to Gilbert, who was very active throughout the Vuelta. “He was impressive in Spain and everybody knows he’s in good form,” Bomans said. “Now he must above all recover because he never saved himself in Spain, he raced without a break.”
No successes at all for Dutch team
The Vuelta a Espana did not turn out well for Rabobank: no one in the final top ten, no stage wins, and invisible for much of the race. “The final conclusion is not a happy one, but the disappointment is understandable,” said technical director Erik Breukink.
The Dutch team went into the race knowing that its two captains were vulnerable. Denis Menchov had a hard-fought Tour de France behind him, in which he had finished third overall. Sprinter Oscar Freire was recovering from nose and sinus surgery, which Breukink acknowledged was “necessary but not ideal”.
Menchov, who won the Vuelta in 2005 and 2007, lost all his chances when he crashed on the first mountain stage, injuring his knee. He felt better a few days later on the stage to Andorra, but was unable to keep up on the final climb, losing over five minutes. The team had done much of the chase work earlier in the stage, so the Russian's poor performance damaged the team morale.
Two Grand Tours in a row is just too much, according to Breukink. “The Vuelta is won by men who are fresh,” he said. “The top teams from the Tour are hardly seen here.”
While excuses were found for the captains, the same can't be said of their domestiques. In the last week of the race, “we tried too little. Were four riders who are leaving the team too many to have selected? Perhaps. Without looking to blame the riders, it is possible there was an unconscious psychological factor.” He continued, “I find it very disappointing that a few riders who had nothing to lose didn't attack in the last week.”
It was Menchov's last race for the Rabobank team, as he is leaving after six years for Geox. And although he finished only 41st overall, directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen praised his performance. “I give him credit, he still tried in the last week.”
Italian praises teammate's Vuelta victory
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) has praised his teammate Vincenzo Nibali’s Vuelta a España victory and insisted that the duo can continue work together as co-leaders of the team next season.
“I’d never be Nibali’s rival at the team because I’d be the loser from the start. In the next few years he is going to keep improving whereas I’ll be going downhill,” Basso admitted to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Vincenzo is the future of Italian cycling and I’m a fan of his. If he wants, I can help him.”
Basso also confessed that Nibali viewed him with a certain degree of distrust when he first arrived at Liquigas at the tail end of 2008. Basso joined the squad after serving a suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto, when he confessed to having “attempted doping” under the supervision of Dr. Eufemio Fuentes.
“I think [Nibali] had a very negative impression of me. He didn’t view my arrival well and felt I was out of place,” Basso said. “Then, little by little, our rapport changed. He began to trust me and we became friends. Mainly by talking. I noticed that he began to enjoy being around me, he would ask me questions and listen to my answers carefully.”
Basso first noticed Nibali’s talent by watching him on television during his suspension. “He was doing nice things, you could see that he had what it takes,” said Basso. “Then at the Tour last year, he really showed that he had balls.”
Noted for his fastidious attention to detail, the one chink Basso sees in his teammate’s armour is his altogether more relaxed attitude to the nuts and bolts of preparation. “He’s not very attentive to detail but he is improving in leaps and bounds,” Basso said. “For example, he needs to understand the importance of stretching and of nutrition: eating pasta in bianco or...
Plaza to ride road race as Gutierrez called up for TT
Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has withdrawn from the Spanish team for the world championships in Australia. He will be replaced in the line-up by Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne), who had previously been named to race the time trial event. Plaza's switch to the road team has seen his teammate Ivan Gutierrez earn a late call-up to ride the time trial and act as reserve for the road team.
"I was very excited about going to the Worlds but I've had a very full season," Rodriguez said on the Spanish Federation's website. "I've endured a lot of physical and especially mental strain at the Vuelta a España. In order to be honest with myself and my colleagues, I have to do what is right for the team and leave my place to a rider who can do better than me."
The Catalan wore the leader's red jersey into the Vuelta's final time trial, where he lost significant time on his rivals. He ultimately went on to finish the race in 4th place overall. Nonetheless, Rodriguez's Vuelta performance should be sufficient to see him top the UCI's individual rankings come the end of the season.
"It's quite a blow," Spanish manager José Luis De Santos said. "We're talking about a rider who is the world number one and has great experience in this type of event and he also contributes to a good atmosphere in the team."
De Santos had no qualms about adding Gutierrez to his time trial selection at such short notice. "He hasn't done any specific time trial training but I don't think it's necessary," De Santos explained. "At the races in Canada he showed himself to be in good moment of form and that's the most important thing."
Garmin-Transitions Irishman matures in 2010
Daniel Martin doesn't expect a mystery allergy that affected him during the early part of this year to compromise preparations for his late-season goal, the Giro di Lombardia.
The Garmin-Transitions rider withdrew from the Tour of Britain prior to stage six in order to attend an appointment with an allergy specialist in London. He is hopeful pending test results will shed light on the complaint that has affected his ability to reach his maximum heart rate for a number of years during the European spring.
"It's been more pronounced this year. It's the period between mid-February and mid-May; I've never really been in top form in that period, even since I was a junior," Martin told Cyclingnews. "We believe it's an allergy, but we're just trying to discover exactly what it is.
"The opportunity for an appointment with one of London's top specialists came up. It just so happened to be a day during the Tour of Britain. It was a bit of bad timing, but I'd had a couple of hard days and really enjoyed the race to that point."
Martin has competed at the Giro di Lombardia in each of his first two years as a professional. He finished eighth at the event last season and is confident a lighter race load this year will see him arrive fresh for the final event on the ProTour calendar on October 16.
"Lombardia's definitely the objective. Although it's also a bit of an unknown because last year I came into it from the Vuelta [a España], so this year with so little racing in September in my legs it's going to be different," he continued.
"It's a race that I love and I'm super motivated to do well, maybe because I've had quite a light block of racing since the Giro, really. I haven't really raced a hell of a lot and I still feel fresh in my head to give it everything until right up until mid-October.
"It's a beautiful race so...