Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Orica-GreenEdge rider to prepare for world championships
Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), 106th on the general classification at the Vuelta a España after 15 stages has withdrawn from the remainder of the grand tour ahead of the UCI Road World Championships.
Late last week, Meyer claimed his best-ever finish in a stage of a grand tour, finishing second behind BMC's Steven Cummings on Stage 13.
"Cam is an integral part of the Worlds team time trial squad, and he leaves Spain to counter accumulated fatigue ahead of this important late season goal," said the team in a statement.
Meyer spent a number of months preparing specifically for the three-week race, completing a number of high altitude training camps and back-to-back days behind the scooter in the mountains of Spain but the Australian quickly realised he needs more time before being a true general classification contender.
Orica-GreenEdge's best-placed rider with six stages left to race is Simon Clarke in 80th, 1:20:59 behind overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha Team). Clarke is also leading the KOM classification.
Meyer has also been named on the long list for Australia for the world championships, with nine riders selected for the road race an two for the individual time trial.
New Spanish ‘super-climb’ concludes the Vuelta’s single hardest day
The new Cuitu Negru climb which concludes the 2012 Vuelta a España’s single hardest day would not look out of place on a major Alpine stage in the Tour de France. But then, neither would what comes before.
A total of 4,500 metres of climbing awaits the peloton today, starting off with the third category Cabruñana, followed by the first category San Lorenzo and La Cobertoria climbs and culminating with Cuitu Negru, the eighth and potentially the most decisive of all the Vuelta’s ten summit finishes.
"There's no time for recovery on this stage," warns race director and 1998 Vuelta winner Abraham Olano, "so a lot of people are going to have problems. There's no real time to eat anything solid, maybe an [energy] gel, but nothing else. It's not going to be easy to eat."
It's been repeated by more than one of the top race leaders that “whoever leads the race at the top of Cuitu Negru has a a strong chance of taking the lead all the way to Madrid.” Their reasoning being that there are ‘only’ two summit finishes, at Fuente De and the Bola del Mundo, on the Vuelta menu after the Cuitu Negru and by that point in the race, in the third week, everybody is running on empty and will not have the energy for an all-out attack. Cuitu Negru is, therefore, the watershed for the race.
And the 23.5 kilometre-long Cuitu Negru is a monster climb in anyone’s book. The first 21 kilometres have been used five times in the Vuelta before as the ascent to the summit finish at the Pajares ski station. The last time was in 2005 when Roberto Heras staged a successful assault on Denis Menchov’s lead, although the Spaniard was then stripped of his title for EPO use.
The new part of the climb is the 2.8 kilometre track that takes the race away from the summit of the usual mountain pass and even higher. Quite apart from sections of 24 or 25...
AG2R rider finishes third in Vuelta HC summit finish
Lloyd Mondory, usually more know for his fast finishing speed, showed in Sunday's Vuelta a Espana stage 15 to Lagos de Covadonga that he is able to surge to the line not only on flat terrain, but also on a HC mountaintop finish. By taking third place on the stage, the AG2R La Mondiale sprinter - whose palmarès is a modest one - proved that he could be more than a little-known fast man, and this may change his race startegy and objectives in the future.
The Frenchman was part of a nine-rider breakaway which went up the road after 50 kilometres of racing. He held out until the finish and managed to take third place, behind the winner Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural) and second-placed Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
"I'm happy with this third place, especially on a stage like this, at the start of the last week," Mondory said after the race. "I hope that now people will see me in a new way and not only as a sprinter."
The 30-year-old explained that after failing to make it to the absolute top level of international sprinters, he would like to expand his target range in order to score more victories. "I still believe in my chances to win a stage in a Grand Tour either in a sprint or in a mountain stage. In a three-week race, some riders recover better than others. I've always proved that I have a good resistance in the Grand Tours and I don't hesitate to get in breakaways, even on difficult stages."
But the chances for success out of an escape group have been scarce at the Vuelta so far, also because of the race's different profile this year. "Breakaways are rare since the beginning of this Vuelta," Mondory agreed. "Today, there was a fight for 50 kilometers before that the bunch let a break slip away. It's been several days I...
Slovak heads for Canada
After spending much of the period since winning the green jersey at the Tour de France performing on the criterium circuit, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is turning his attention to the World Championships road race in Valkenburg on September 23.
Sagan’s last competitive outing was at the GP Ouest France-Plouay, where he failed to finish. The Slovak travels to Canada later this week to ride the GP Québec and GP Montréal, two WorldTour races which form an important part of his preparation for the Worlds.
“Races are good for getting your rhythm,” Sagan told Sporza. “I’ll go and do those two races in Canada. They could be good for preparing for the Worlds, we’ll see.”
The Worlds circuit includes the climbs of the Bemelerberg and Cauberg, which both feature on the route of the Amstel Gold Race. Sagan finished third after fading in the finishing sprint atop the Cauberg on that occasion, but he is hopeful the experience will stand to him in September, when the summit of the Cauberg comes 1.7km before the finish line.
“My preparation is still a bit off but I have experience of the climb,” Sagan said. “I’ve done Amstel Gold twice now, so I know the climb. If you’re going well there, that’s where you can make the race.”
A wide cross-section of riders will fancy their chances on such a well-balanced course, but on the evidence of the ongoing Vuelta a España, Sagan has identified two stand-out favourites – Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
“Gilbert has won a stage of the Vuelta and he could be the favourite if he manages to hold that condition,”...
Targets Canadian WorldTour races to gauge form
Even if French team selector Laurent Jalabert has not yet officially announced the line-up for the Limburg Worlds later this month, L'Equipe has already alleged that Thomas Voeckler will be the leader of the nine-man squad, with Sylvain Chavanel an additional card to play depending on race circumstances. Reportedly, Voeckler has asked Jalabert to nominate his Europcar teammates Yohann Gène and Vincent Jérôme into the national squad for his support.
The 33-year-old, who won two stages of the Tour de France this year as well as the overall best climber's jersey, returned to serious racing on August 18 in Italy. He rode at the Tre Valli Varesine, helping teammate David Veilleux win the race, before finishing ninth in the chase group. He then completed the Tour du Poitou-Charentes stage race in France, finishing a close second on the final stage.
Voeckler's next goals are the GP Québec on September 7 and the GP Montréal in Canada on September 9. Voeckler won the GP de Québec in 2010. These UCI WorldTour races will give him confirmation of his fitness a few weeks ahead of the World Championships road race on Sunday, September 23.
"The two Canadian races will give me a clear indication of my form. I've got a plan in my head and hope it all comes together," he said in a recent interview on the website of Colnago, the team's bike supplier.
The parcours of the event held in and around Valkenburg could suit him well, but the Frenchman was still cautious about his chances for success. "Even if I was fifth in the Amstel Gold race [on the same roads as the Worlds road race - ed.], it doesn't mean anything. There will be at least 100 riders looking to win. But I won't go to the world...
Sicilian prepares for Worlds at Giro di Padania
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is ready to lead the Italian team at the World Championships in Valkenburg in the wake of the news that the national federation (FCI) is to bar riders named in ongoing doping investigations and riders who have previously tested positive from selection.
When Cyclingnews spoke to Italian coach Paolo Bettini on the eve of Amstel Gold Race in April, he hinted that Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) would be among his leaders at the Worlds.
Nibali’s consistent form in the intervening period has catapulted him ahead of them in the list of potential captains, however, and the FCI’s rumoured selection policy now all but confirms that the Sicilian will be the outright leader on September 23.
“I’m enthusiastic about the idea of a young national team with me as the point of reference,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have a bit more experience [than the rest of the team] but in terms of spirit, desire and curiosity, I feel very young.”
Though still only 27 years of age, Nibali looks set to be one of the elder statesmen of the Italian squad, but he is confident that he will be on the same wavelength as his younger companions. His Liquigas stablemate Moreno Moser is expected to get the nod for Valkenburg, along with double junior world champion Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD).
“Moreno Moser and Diego Ulissi, to name two of the guys mentioned by Paolo Bettini, are riders of real worth, Classics riders. They’re the two I know best,” Nibali said. “Enrico...
Three riders abandon, Van Den Broeck ends season
The Belgian Lotto Belisol team has lost three of its riders at the Vuelta a España over the weekend, due to what seemed to be a viral infection. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Jens Debusschere and Olivier Kaisen all abandoned the race on Saturday. While Van Den Broeck and Debusschere threw in the towel before the start of stage 14, Kaisen did not want to quit but finally had to get off his bike after 14 kilometres of racing.
All three riders suffered from diarrhea. "Jens (Debusschere) has had diarrhea for four days," team doctor Bohdan Wasj said. "I'm responsible for the health of the riders and even if Jens wanted to try and continue, as a doctor I had to intervene. Of course, he's disappointed, but as a team doctor it is also my task to protect the riders, especially the younger ones, which I thought was necessary in this case."
Van Den Broeck, whose body was tired from finishing fourth at the Tour de France in July and therefore even more sensitive to illnesses, had lost further time on GC on Friday's stage 13 and therefore had no reason to battle on. "My stomach hurts and I feel no energy whatsoever, a consequence of the virus that is going round in our team," the Belgian climber told Het Nieuwsblad. "I just couldn't continue."
Van Den Broeck has decided to put an end to his season. "I don't want to jeopardize my winter build-up by continuing to race now. I've been busy since the Tour of Algarve mid-February," he added.
His teammate Kaisen, who was racing his tenth Grand Tour - having completed all nine before this Vuelta - ultimately had to abandon as well even if he still took the start. Lotto Belisol is thus down to six riders for the last week of the Vuelta.
Italian wins on race's toughest day
A winner of a brace of stages in the Tour de L’Avenir in his rookie year back in 2007 (where he also won the points jersey and the King of the Mountains) and overall winner at the under-23 Giro in 2006, Cataldo’s career has been a little patchy, with impressive wins like the GP Beghelli but long stretches without top results as well.
A keen painter (the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team bus is apparently full of drawings and painting materials whenever he’s on a race), 2012 has been anything but a blank canvas for the Italian. Twelfth in the 2012 Giro, his best Grand Tour result to date, and victory in the Italian national time trial championship has now been followed up with a stunning win in the toughest single stage of the 2012 Vuelta after a 130 kilometre-long break over three mountain passes.
“It was a very tough final kilometre and I did make one mistake for that final climb, which was to have a 26-tooth sprocket on the bike when I should have had a 28.”
“But even if that made it a bit tougher than I’d have liked, I still got through it. It’s another landmark for me in what’s been a great year.”
His early attack with De Gendt was, he said, something he later came close to regretting, “because I heard early on the last climb that Saxo Bank were giving it some stick behind and I was worried I wouldn’t have the strength to stay away.”
His objective in the Vuelta, he said, “had always been a stage win, I’d never thought...