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
Sagan is the favourite according to road captain
Chris Horner (United States of America) has achieved a lot in his career since he turned professional in 2005. He’s won the Tour of California (2011), ridden five Tours de France, three Vuelta’s, a Giro and yet this will be the first time he’s been included in the national team for the Olympic Games. It’s fair to say, this is one of his biggest achievements to date.
"It's unbelievable," Horner told The Oregonian. "I've been trying to be part of the Olympics since '92. I went to my first Olympic trials in Altoona, Pa. I was quite young then, I think maybe 19."
Horner is by far the most experienced rider in the team and will be joined by Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Taylor Phinney (BMC) for the 250km road race.
"It's a pretty grand thing to see the size of it and the scope. Everybody walking around in it is an athlete. That's when I really I started to realise I was at the Olympics," Horner said.
Horner is ‘fresh’ from a 13th-place finish at this year’s Tour de France and the 40-year-old will be one of the team’s front-runners in the 250km race. Horner and the Tour's Youth Classification winner, Tejay Van Garderen will be charged with staying with the front group for as long as possible.
"I didn't really believe there was time in your 40s to still be making it [to the Olympics]," said Horner.
"If the group splits in half, it's not going to be my job or Tejay's job to stay with Farrar. Unless Farrar...
Budget Forklifts has options in first round of the Scody Cup
Mark O’Brien is riding a wave of success after winning the first three rounds of the Australian National Series. He’s shown in each tour - Mersey Valley, Toowoomba and North Western - that he’s the man to beat when the course head upwards and his Budget Forklifts team has been more than capable in supporting their team leader. It’s a fantastic run of results which O’Brien believes is largely due to his return to Australia.
"I’m supper happy being with my friends, family and girlfriend, I can do whatever training I want and when I want because I know all the roads. It’s much easier on the head when you’re not away from everyone," he told Cyclingnews.
"I’m definitely riding at a higher level than last year. Last year I had a pretty mediocre season to say the least, nothing really clicked all year but this year I’ve lost a little bit more weight, maintained the same power and the main thing is just happiness and confidence."
O’Brien attributes much of this season’s success to his Budget Forklifts team which, since late last year has really stepped up to a level necessary to rival the best teams in the NRS. The team recruited new riders and focussed on developing a winning mentality within.
"I think they’ve achieved this, we’re all really good mates and we’ve had some team camps which is great. But it’s just that general belief within the team that we can be winning, we can be good enough. There are 12 other guys and all of them are incredibly strong but as I was saying I’ve had...
Dane looking first to do well in Olympic road race
Matti Breschel still doesn't know where he will sign for next season, although it looks like he is leaning towards a return to Bjarne Riis. First, however, the Dane hopes to get a medal at Saturday's mens' road race in the London 2012 Olympics, which would certainly help him with a new contract for 2013.
He has it good at Rabobank now, he said, although he was disappointed to have not been named to ride the Tour de France. “But it also happened to me at Saxo. He (Riis, ed.) will have a strong team next year. But we will see.”
One reason he was sorry to have missed the Tour is that the race is a good place for contacts and negotiations. “It's where it all happens. Different managers have closed the shutters during the first days after the Tour. But I have no stress. There is probably nothing in place until after Saturday.”
Saturday is, of course, the Olympic road race, where he will be on the four-man Danish team. “It is clear that if we do something big, it will create a focus and a lot of talk about my person in the media. It's always nice as a cyclist.”
London calling for Cavendish, Greipel, and Sagan
After Friday evening’s spectacular opening ceremony, it was time for the athlete to centre stage with a number of events getting underway in the London Olympic Games. And on The Mall, in central London, the men’s Olympic road race kicked off this morning.
250 kilometres of racing, with nine ascents of Box Hill, before a flat run in to The Mal, willl see the course head from the county’s capital and into some of the most scenic parts of the south of England.
Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) lines up as the race favourite and with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome among his support, Great Britain will be looking to set up a sprint finale similar to last year’s Worlds. Cavendish won't be alone in his desire for a sprint. Matthew Goss, Andre Greipel, Tom Boonen and Tyler Farrar will have their fingers crossed for a similar outcome. The Spanish, led by Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde, will sense their opportunities will come from a break, while Peter Sagan, the one man team from Slovakia, could look to win from either a break or a sprint.
French track sprinter a controversial inclusion
Frenchman Mickaël Bourgain has apologised to the other members of his Olympic team for pulling out as planned after several kilometers of Saturday's men's road race.
Bourgain, a track sprinter, was added to the French squad under UCI rules which allow the addition of riders from another cycling discipline to the track events. The country had already used its allotment to field its individual sprinter and team sprinters, but chose to sacrifice one spot in the road race to include Bourgain for the keirin, where he is a medal contender.
It was a move which drew harsh criticism from 2008 Olympic pursuit gold medalist Bradley Wiggins, who said his inclusion made "a mockery of our event and our profession.
"I wouldn't dare go up in a sprint against those guys just for the hell of it," he said according to the Associated Press.
Bourgain sent his regrets to France's remaining road race participants, Sylvain Chavanel, Arnaud Demare and Tony Gallopin before the start. "I cannot do anything to help my countrymen. Of course, it is a disadvantage for them to have me in their team, they will be only three. I'll just start the race, do one or two kilometers to stop," he said, according to L'Equipe.
Arndt, Teutenberg, Worrack and Becker go for the medals
World time trial champion Judith Arndt is looking for a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics time trial on Wednesday, but will also seek her chances in Sunday's road race. Arndt, Trixi Worrack, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Charlotte Becker will represent Germany in the race, with the final selection having been made Saturday.
“My main attention is on the time trial on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean that I won't work tomorrow,” Arndt said Saturday on the German cycling federation's website. Arndt won silver in the road race in 2004. “I look forward to the race. The course is good for me.”
“With Ina, we have one of the world's best sprinters at the start, have further options to play with Judith and Trixi, and Charlotte Becker will provide the right tempo,” according to national trainer Ronny Lauke.
The women for the road team watched Friday night's opening ceremony on television. “Two days before the race, we couldn't be there live, unfortunately, “ Lauke said. “But we felt the atmosphere, the stadium isn't far away from the Olympic village.”
The track riders were able to attend, since their sprint events don't start until next Thursday. “It was unbelievable. That is something I will remember all my life,” said team sprint world champion Miriam Welte.
Communication difficult without radios
Tom Boonen skipped all three Grand Tours to focus his second half of the season on the Olympic Games and world championships, but came up empty handed in London after puncturing out of the dejected peloton with 10km to go.
The Belgian tactics, he said, were played out perfectly but depended on Great Britain chasing down any breakaways for sprinter Mark Cavendish. However, the catch failed to materialize after the home team ran out of fuel on the trip back into London.
"We did everything we planned, I felt better than the results show. I'm a little disappointed I didn't get a medal," Boonen said at the finish line on The Mall. He blamed the lack of Belgians on the final podium on the difficulties in communicating without radios on a narrow course with thousands of screaming fans.
"It was so hard to communicate. You had to stick with your first plan because you can't tell anyone anything. The moment the break is gone, it's finished, you have to stick with the tactics you planned and can't say I feel good so wait for me. That's what changed the race I think.
"We planned everything the way it went, the only thing that went wrong was that Great Britain didn't close the gap," Boonen said. "Everyone was waiting. It looked like they had situation completely under control and then everyone fell a little asleep I think."
On the nine laps of the 15.5km Box Hill circuit, the peloton seemed to be whittling down the lead of the 12-rider breakaway, reducing it from six minutes to less than one in the closing laps, but Boonen said they couldn't finish off the job.
"When we came the last time on the climb it was 50 seconds and it looked like they would close it any minute. Then we turned back here and it was a little bit of a headwind, and [Great Britain] are only human. If you pull like that for 200k, you get...
No help for Great Britain from the Australians
Mark Cavendish and the British team came up short in the men's Olympic road race after Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) roared home to take the gold medal on The Mall in London on Saturday afternoon.
Cavendish, who dubbed the squad as a "dream team" before the event, finished the race in 29th place after a group of 33 riders escaped British clutches on the top of the final ascent of Box Hill.
Great Britain had aimed at repeating its performance from last year's Worlds when Cavendish and his teammates controlled the peloton throughout.
However, the home nation was unable to control the escape group, with the Swiss, Spanish and Belgian teams having numbers in abundance in the front group. In the closing stages, Vinokourov broke clear with Rigoberto Uran (Colombia), with the Kazakhstan rider taking gold. Alexander Kristoff (Norway) won the sprint for bronze.
At the finish, Cavendish was full of praise for his teammates, who set the pace at the front of the peloton for the vast majority of the race. However he also singled out the Australians for their race tactics. The Australians had Stuart O'Grady in the early break and never looked like joining forces with the sprinters' teams in a bid to set up their fast man Matthew Goss.
"The guys all sat there in the tent absolutely spent," Cavendish said at the finish.
"We did everything we could. The crowd was tremendous the whole way around, but the Aussies just raced negatively. The team were incredible. They left everything out on the road. I am so proud of them. We didn't expect any help. We rode the race we wanted to ride. We couldn't pull the group back on Box Hill. Other teams were content that if they didn't win, we wouldn't win. We expected it. If...