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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, September 24, 2011

Date published:
September 24, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Sagan plays down Worlds chances

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) wins the stage
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 5:06 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Slovak not convinced race will come down to a bunch sprint

    Slovak Peter Sagan heads into Sunday's elite men's road race at the 2011 UCI World Championships as one of the favourites, tipped by the peloton and pundits alike, however the 21-year-old is keen to steer clear of such mantles.

    "It's nice that people talk about me as a favourite, but I know it will be very hard for me Sunday," Sagan told assembled members of the media on Friday. "I will fight with all the best riders of which many, like me, will be able to take advantage of the course in the best possible way."

    When it comes to race wins in 2011, only Belgium's Philippe Gilbert has done better with Sagan striking 15 times so far. In terms of form, Sagan arrives at the top of his game having won three stages of the Vuelta a España at his first grand tour attempt and then last week, 'testing his legs' with victory at the GP Industria & Commercio di Prato.

    Speaking of his stunning success this season, Sagan paid tribute to his Liquigas-Cannondale teammates explaining, "When you are well supported and you are on top form, everything is easier." Therein lays perhaps the crucial element that Sagan could be missing on Sunday, with only Martin and Peter Velits at his service.

    "We are only three Slovaks at the start, so I could not really have the support of a team like others," he suggested. "Everyone talks about a sprint but I'm not so sure. There will be lots of attacks. The weather could also play a role. Whoever wins will be very strong in his legs and his head. "

    Another factor is experience – with Sagan a DNF in last year's event in Geelong.

    "I know the course suits me well but it's more complicated than that," he said of the uphill finish which could eliminate some of the pure sprinters. "I do not want to create too many expectations around me."

  • Boasson Hagen, Hushovd give Norway a fighting chance

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) in the points classification leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 7:17 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Pair aiming to steer clear of early attacks

    Norway may be lining up with just four riders in Copenhagen for the UCI World Championships but in Edvald Boasson Hagen and defending champion Thor Hushovd they have two of the race favourites.

    At a press conference on the outskirts of the Danish capital the two leaders held court over a mainly Norwegian press corp to discuss their chances.

    Both riders share a number of similarities: they both have fast finishes, both won two stages in this year's Tour de France, and crucially, both have made public remarks that they'll work together in Sunday's road race.

    "I feel quite good so we will see on Sunday how strong I am. I've been feeling good since the Tour de France and hopefully the form is as good [as it was then]," Boasson Hagen said, before quickly pointing out that, "Me and Thor are going to support each other and ride for the guy who is the strongest. So we will help each other and go in attacks at the end if needed so the other one can save energy. So, yeah we have quite similar roles."

    Whether or not such team work plays out remains to be seen. Hushovd is the defending champion, after all, and unlike Boasson Hagen has proven himself in the Worlds road race. However both riders know that they will be unable to mark every move and therefore the initial, or at least public plan, will be that they will take it in tandem to respond to moves.

    There was a hint in Hushovd's answer to one question that suggest he still holds the leadership card: "I'm not afraid to say he is a bigger talent than me, not at all, but he just has to take his chances, do his job and think long term and he will win the races he would like to - more than I did."

    Kurt Asle Arvesen, the team's veteran who is riding in his final season, acknowledged that their numerical inferiority will mean they don't face the...

  • Team GB's Wiggins warns of war for the peloton in the Worlds

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is enjoying life as British champion.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 8:52 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Says Cavendish needs "the ride of his life" to win

    Bradley Wiggins believes victory for Mark Cavendish at the UCI World Championship road race on Sunday would be the best of the Manxman's career, although he warned the race would be war for the peloton.

    Speaking after the finale to the men's U23 race, Wiggins, part of an eight-man Team GB squad, believed the race would end in a sprint and one in which Mark Cavendish would have to produce "the ride of his life" to emerge victorious.

    "It's going to be a war out there," said Wiggins, "and I think if we get one guy to that last corner with Cav, I think we will have been successful."

    Wiggins, who won silver in the time trial earlier in the week, said he was personally relaxed but he spoke passionately about the challenge that lay ahead of the team and its star sprinter.

    "[Cavendish is] going to have to do the ride of his life, and he has only ever done one ride of his life before and that was Milan-San Remo. Everything else he's won, he won easily. If he's ever going to do it with this team, with the form he's got, on this course, I think it could happen on Sunday."

    He said the Manxman's form was good despite him pulling out of the Vuelta a Espana on stage 4. Cavendish completed a training block with GB teammate David Millar in Spain before completing the Tour of Britain which yielded two stage victories. Wiggins believes the fast course and the tactics of other nations such as Germany and USA will ensure a final sprint.

    "The course is so fast. You can attack off the group that's doing 50-53km/h an hour but you've got to sustain 56-57km/h to get away, and it's just not going to happen.

    "I think our plan is not to put anyone in the break - it's a wasted man who could be doing the job later on - but at the...

  • Video: Cancellara talks form and RadioShack ahead of Worlds road race

    Fabian Cancellara waves to the crowd after taking the bronze
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 9:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Confirms he will ride for RadioShack in 2012

    His form might not be perfect, the parcours and weather might be against him but it would take a brave man to rule Fabian Cancellara out of contention ahead of this year’s UCI World Championships road race.

    The Swiss powerhouse has endured a mixed season and finished third in Wednesday’s time trial. It was his first World Championship time trial loss since 2005 (he didn't ride in 2008) and in a pre-race press conference on the eve of the road race he played down his chances but stressed that his form is still improving.

    “I came out of the Vuelta with high confidence. I’ve seen that my condition is getting better. That gives me confidence. In my situation, even when I look at the time trial, I know I still have good form because of the training I’ve done at home. Will that be enough for Sunday? I don’t know. Sport is like that though, you can be super good and still lose,” he said.

    Friday’s two road races – the junior women’s and men’s U23 – both ended in bunch sprints, something Cancellara and his team will hope to avoid on Sunday. The Swiss rider’s best chance may come in the form of a solo move but in San Remo this year, and even in the form of a sprint from a small group.

    During his press conference he was asked if he would wait until the final few kilometres and attack, a tactic that won him Milan San-Remo in 2008.

    “Well San Remo was a bit harder and this is 260 kilometers, not 300. We’re missing around 20K to make it that hard. With the weather we could make up for that if it’s raining and it’s cold. That might be enough to make a selection but if the weather is...

  • Nuyens primed for Worlds support role

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) is the happiest man in the world
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 10:44 BST
    Barry Ryan

    The 'Sniper' poised to strike if Gilbert is heavily marked

    All eyes may be on Philippe Gilbert in the run-up to the UCI World Championships road race, but the Belgian squad can count on a number of other strongmen to step into the breach should their leader be marked out of contention in Copenhagen. Chief among them is Nick Nuyens, a rider who quietly collected two classic wins this spring in a manner very much in keeping with his 'Sniper' moniker.

    After an impressive win at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Nuyens sprang a surprise at the Tour of Flanders by smartly outfoxing Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara in Meerbeke, and circumstances could yet see the man from Lier play a prominent role on Sunday.

    While television crews crowded around Gilbert at the Belgian team's press gathering on Friday morning, at the next table, Nuyens quietly talked Cyclingnews through his squad's approach to a wide-open Worlds.

    "I think it could be a strange race just because of the fact that it's not the most difficult parcours but yet also there is also something to it," Nuyens said. "I think a big group can go suddenly and take a minute or two minutes and the race might be over. And if you're in that group, then anything can happen."

    Nuyens reiterated that Gilbert's sensational string of victories in 2011 makes him the undisputed captain of the Belgian team, but he echoed his leader's own belief that the nature of the course and the tactical situation could yet mean that the likes of Nuyens and Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren are forced to play their own hand.

    "For sure with Philippe, he's our leader: that's clear from how he's raced in the past year. But there are other guys in the Belgian team who can do a nice final too and once you're there, anything can happen. I think we've seen...

  • Freire chases fourth world title in Copenhagen

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 13:54 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard to continue in 2012, still to decide team

    Oscar Freire (Spain) is perennially among the favourites to take the rainbow jersey at the UCI World Championships, and in Copenhagen on Sunday, he will be chasing an unprecedented fourth world road race title.

    History has been beckoning Freire for quite some time in this regard, of course, and his last world title was all of seven years ago in Verona. However while speaking to reporters at the Spanish hotel in Copenhagen's Sydhavnen quarter on Saturday, he laughed off the idea that he was somehow "cursed" and destined never to break the record he co-holds with Alfredo Binda, Rick Van Steenbergen and Eddy Merckx and so become the first rider to win the world title four times.

    "After the third win, I didn't do the following two world championships, I had physical problems," Freire pointed out. "After that that, the courses were a little too difficult for me and tactically we got it wrong a couple of times too. And then there are other guys racing as well, so it's not easy. Besides, there are plenty more riders who have never won a world championship. To win a fourth certainly won't be easy."

    Freire arrives at the Worlds with question marks over his form, after illness forced him to withdraw from the Vuelta a España at the end of the opening week. Given his track record of repeatedly pulling rabbits from hats on the grandest of stages, the ever-relaxed Freire was not overly concerned by his lack of racing miles in the build-up to the big day.

    "Right from the first day of Vuelta, I didn't feel well health-wise. I had a cold and afterwards, I found it hard to recover. After that, I stopped taking antibiotics and I took a lot of time to recover," he explained.

    "But it's not a worry ahead of Sunday. I've been in this...

  • Video: Rossi and McQuaid hold Worlds press conference

    UCI president Pat McQuaid.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 14:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    President and head of anti-doping on cheats, tests, passport and progress

    The UCI used the Copenhagen World Championships to declare that the war on doping in cycling is being won. At a press conference the UCI President Pat McQuaid introduced the media to Francesca Rossi, the body's head of anti-doping. It was a rare opportunity for the world's cycling media, as Rossi has been sheltered from the press since taking over duties from Anne Gripper last spring.

    Although the discussion would eventually turn to anti-doping measures and governance, McQuaid opened the press conference by praising the organisation of the Copenhagen Worlds, as well as the racing which has taken place over the opening five days.

    Role of the media

    McQuaid then explained a number of initiatives that the UCI have unveiled over the previous few days. They included an extension to use race radios in WorldTour races for another season and the introduction of an independent commission set up to analyse the need for radios beyond the 2012 season. The UCI president also talked about calender changes, with the Tour of Beijing moving to a week later next year, the Tour of Poland moving to July, all due to the Olympics.

    He then turned his attention to the fight against doping and stressed that the media had a significant role to play.

    "Bit by bit cycling's changing from a doping culture to a sport with anti-doping culture. I think cycling is seen as pioneer in many ways in the fight against doping. With that in mind, would like to see our media talk cycling rather than doping. In the coming months and years that UCI continues its work in anti-doping, catches cheats and gets them out of the sport. Unfortunately we've had some big dramas and scandals, but I don't see that continuing. Like with Kolobnev at the Tour, he was caught, thrown off the race, and there were no big media dramas."

  • Cooke forced to take initiative after crash at road Worlds

    Nicole Cooke (SC MCipollini Giordana) fights her bike on the steep section of "Hankaberg"
    Article published:
    September 24, 2011, 19:34 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Incident disrupted British Team's lead-out

    Team Great Britain's carefully planned lead-out train for an in-form Lizzie Armitstead unravelled just 1,500m from the finish in the elite women's road race at the UCI Road World Championships, following a crash which unhitched the young sprinter from wheels of her teammates.

    Speaking after the women's elite road race, fourth-placed Nicole Cooke, who initially was on lead out duties, said that when she realised Armistead wasn't going to make back after the crash 1.5km from the line, she readied herself to go for the win.

    "Over the top of the hill, I didn't do any attacking because we wanted it to come to a bunch sprint," she said at the finish in Rudersdal, north of Copenhagen.

    "Lizzie was going to call the shots. The team got her up to the front in position, I arrived a bit later and was ready for her, but she never came because she got caught behind that crash, so I had to ride for myself.

    "I heard the crash and you keep looking - you know she's got the team supporting her to get her to me, so it should be doable. She wasn't there, so I then had to do the sprint for myself."

    Armitstead finished in seventh place with the same time as the jubilant winner, Italian Giorgia Bronzini who successfully defended the world title she won in 2010.

    The 28-year-old Cooke, who won the world road race title in Varese in 2008, said she was positioned well for the final sprint and was feeling good until Vos and the subsequently herself, were boxed in by an accelerating Bronzini and Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.

    "Vos was able to reaccelerate - I did too - but neither of us got what we wanted," said Cooke at the finish. Last year Cooke, who rides for the Italian trade team...