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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 23, 2012

Date published:
September 23, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Horner: “Nowhere to ease back in this year’s Worlds course”

    Chris Horner (USA) competing in his first Olympic Games
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 13:18 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Veteran present in ’98 Valkenburg Worlds team

    A protected rider in the nine-strong USA team in today’s world championships veteran Chris Horner is certainly not lacking in experience when it comes to the road race. Indeed, Horner, 40, was part of the US team way back in 1998 when the World’s was last held at Valkenberg and with countless Amstel Golds under his belt, Horner knows the course like the back of his hand - and he warns it’s constantly undulating, technical nature makes it very hard to predict.

    “On a course like this, I’d expect a break to go maybe 75 or 60 kilometres from the finish,” Horner told Cyclingnews as he prepared for the start in Maastricht.

    “I’ve done this race before, of course in 1998, when it was rainier although not colder - although the rain made it feel colder than it is today - and I expect that the winning move will go before the last time up the Cauberg.”

    Back in 1998, Horner worked for Lance Armstrong, who took fourth following his fourth place in the Vuelta that autumn. “It was his big comeback, he did the Vuelta and then rode a fantastic race here. It was when we first knew that Lance was back to winning again.”

    Fast forward 14 years and now it’s Horner who’s one of the protected riders in the US team. “I’ve just got to see if the legs are good. I came off of a little break after Colorado [where he finished 13th - Ed.] and I’ve had three weeks training since the break, and that’s usually what I need to come really good again. Maybe it’ll be later in the week or hopefully it’ll be today.”

    “I’m well-rested after Colorado, I’ve been at altitude for a solid six weeks and now I’m coming down to sea level. I‘m familiar with this course, and I love being in Amstel [country] I did the Worlds in 1998 and my first Amstel in 1997. But the fans are very intelligent, enthusiastic and I...

  • Aldag expects Germany to gun for Degenkolb

    John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) takes his fifth stage win of the 2012 Vuelta in Madrid
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 14:24 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Germany banking on 50-strong bunch sprint?

    Sports manager Rolf Aldag says he expects Germany to play the John Degenkolb card in today's World Championships should it come down to a bunch sprint of around 50 riders - a widely predicted outcome to the 267 kilometre race at the start in Maastricht this morning.

    Degenkolb has won 15 races this season, as well as taking fifth in Milan-San Remo, thereby proving he not only has the speed, but can also go the distance.

    "I think he's proved he's strong after those five stage wins in the Vuelta, as well as taking that win last weekend at the GP d'Isbergues," Aldag told Cyclingnews at the start in Maastricht.

    Encouragingly for the German sprinter, Aldag, who raced in Valkenburg back in 1992, said, "It's not as hard as it looks this time, only ten laps [of the final circuit]. In 1998, it took a long, long time to fall apart even though it was tripping with rain and really bad conditions. Not so hard to hang on, because with that long, long downhill after the Cauberg, it's not so easy for a small group to get away and stay away. It's hang on, get back, hang on, get back.

    "For the Germans, they should not be visible throughout the whole race, they ought to just fly under the radar and wait for the finish, even if they get in a break.

    "They have to ride super-conservative, stay on wheels, and save energy. Because the bigger the group at the finish, the better it is for us.

    "If it really turns out to be aggressive, and falls apart, there are guys for us like Paul Martens, who's racing on ‘home soil' because he races for Rabobank, who could go in the moves."

    However, Aldag said, "If they have any chance of winning the title, then I think it's going to be with Degenkolb."

  • 2011 Champion Cavendish pulls out of Worlds

    Mark Cavendish (Sky) wins stage 8
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 14:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Briton works hard early on before abandoning

    After more than 120 kilometres of work on or close to the front of the main , defending World Champion Mark Cavendish opted to quit today’s Worlds race. The British rider had said that he had no chance of winning on such a hilly course and instead he opted to do his share for his teammates early on before pulling out, saying afterwards he was “satisfied.”

    “The race is going as I expected, in a sense it hasn’t started yet but you can see the big players are beginning to make their moves,” Cavendish said.

    Asked why the British had been so keen to control the race early on, Cavendish said, “that’s just the way we’ve always been in every team I’m in. There’s no point in sitting the race, you’ve got to take the race on to try and win the race.” His role, early on, he said, had been to help work for his team-mates who had worked so hard in the previous World’s and other races for him.

    As for possible winners, Cavendish said he “hoped a Briton. But there’s too many other favourites to name.” As for his predictions for the final result, he said “a group of riders” were most likely to decide the finish.

    Asked about what his options were for the future, given his comments that he wanted to leave Sky, and when he could reveal something about next year, Cavendish said “when I am able to.” He said he had no idea if the time that would take would be weeks, months.

  • Freire retires attacking division within Spanish team

    Oscar Freire (Spain) was emotional before the race
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 17:43 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Slates Valverde for not waiting on Cauberg

    If the Belgians were more than content with today’s Worlds victory for Philippe Gilbert, another strong squad, the Spanish, once more revealed the divisions that have cost them medals in the past.

    Former triple World Champion Oscar Freire pulled down the curtain on his career – he would only have continued racing had he won - with a verbal attack on teammate Alejandro Valverde for failing to wait for him on the Cauberg, as had been previously agreed.

    “None of my teammates were with me then,” Freire, who took tenth, said outside the Spanish team bus. “What was agreed was to ride for me in the last lap. We haven’t raced well.”

    “We lacked clear ideas, we needed to pull back the attacks. We’d said that if anybody attacked it didn’t matter they had to be with me on the last climb so we could bring it back.”

    “When Gilbert went, some teammates couldn’t make it, others didn’t want to. Valverde should have waited for me, he was going well, but he was alone.”

    “I think I did what I should have,” Freire - who sported two large cuts in his arm after he was knocked off his bike during the race but managed to remount - said, “but it really makes you angry, and what’s even worse is when something is decided and then it isn’t respected.”

    “Samuel [Sanchez, who worked in the final lap before getting dropped] was different, he wanted to work for me but couldn’t make it.”

    “If I hadn’t been able to ride well, then that would have been understandable and it would have been all my fault, but as it was Valverde who should have been with me. So I’m...

  • Gilbert emerges from gloom with Cauberg solo attack

    Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) shows off his gold medal
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 18:55 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian claims world title after a difficult season

    After a difficult season, Philippe Gilbert emerged to see the stars atop the Cauberg at the end of the world championships road race. The Belgian unleashed a fierce acceleration midway up the race’s final climb and when he turned to assess the damage at the summit, he saw his rivals scattered across the hillside.

    Even with 1.7km of false flat still to cover, there was already sense that it was a fait accompli. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) tried to get on terms, but with a tailwind at his back – and the frustrations of a difficult spring now behind him – Gilbert would not be caught.

    “I did the perfect climb. I attacked at the right time. I’ll watch the images ten times to engrain it in my memory but it was a great moment,” Gilbert said afterwards. “I went just after the steep part of the climb with 2.2km still to go. It was very long to the finish but also very fast. I just stayed focused on my effort until 200 metres to go, when I knew it was for me.”

    Cauberg history

    Gilbert and the Cauberg have history, and not only because he has twice secured victory at the Amstel Gold Race on its slopes. In the darkness of his travails this spring, Gilbert had one of his few glimmers of light on the cavernous climb. Though suffering with the reality that his magical form of 2011 had suddenly and mysteriously abandoned him, Gilbert attempted to summon up some of the vim of old by attacking there in the finale of Amstel Gold Race. But like Samson, the return of his powers would prove short-lived, and his hopes of a third successive won crumbled all around him.

    That was last April. By the time the world championships came around, Gilbert...

  • Nibali: Nobody had the strength to go with Gilbert

    Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) on the final ascent of the Cauberg with Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) ready to pounce.
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 20:50 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sicilian falls short on Cauberg at Worlds

    Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) was the only man to land some kind of a dig on the climb of the Cauberg before Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) delivered the knock-out blow to win the world championships road race on Sunday. The Sicilian’s forcing on the steepest section strung out the leading group, but when Gilbert roared past him 400 metres from the top, the destination of the rainbow jersey was already decided.

    On the 1.7km plateau to the finish, Nibali surrendered his personal ambitions and rode to peg back Gilbert so that his teammate Oscar Gatto could sprint for the medals. In spite of Nibali’s generous efforts, Gilbert was on a different plane. Nothing to be done.

    “He only made one attack and he made no mistake,” Nibali told reporters after wheeling to a halt at the finish. “In the finale we wanted to try with me and Gatto, but when Gilbert went, nobody had the strength to go with him.

    “After his attack, the group broke up a bit on the climb, then regrouped over the summit. I pulled hard because I wanted to try and lead out Gatto for a medal, but he had crashed early an opened a wound on his knee.”

    Rubbing grime from his face with a gloved hand, Nibali admitted that the explosive climb of the Cauberg was not best suited to his slower-burning talents. To that end, he had attempted to forge clear near the end of the penultimate lap in a bid to pre-empt Gilbert’s inevitable final reckoning.

    “The lap before, I tried to go clear on the Cauberg and bring a small group with me,” he said. “But with a tailwind over the top of the climb, and with the long descent at the start of the circuit, it was really hard to stay away.

    “In the end we decided to play...

  • Valverde defends himself against Freire's anger

    Bronze medalist Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 21:40 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Impossible to wait, said bronze medalist

    World championship bronze medalist Alejandro Valverde has defended himself from criticism by teammate Oscar Freire, saying "It was impossible to wait any longer and get a medal."

    Valverde was supposed to wait for Freire, according to team orders, on the final ascent of the Cauberg but instead launched out in a lone pursuit of winner Philippe Gilbert that netted the rider from Murcia his fourth visit of his professional career to the road race world championship podium, albeit never for gold.

    Freire strongly criticised Valverde for riding for himself, but Valverde responded by saying it was the only option he had.

    "We had talked about racing for Oscar, but when I saw Gilbert was getting a gap, I responded to that attack.

    "So we left him (Freire) alone? Gilbert was a long way off and we wouldn't have caught him even if we had started to chase. In fact, if I hadn't doubted for a while, I'd have gone with Gilbert, not after him. I should have chased after him straight way."

    Valverde agreed that the Spaniards had agreed pre-race to protect Freire - fourth in Amstel this spring, which finished on the Cauberg - in the last lap, "but if I had stayed with him, we wouldn't have got a medal.

    "I did the right thing trying to chase down Gilbert. Boasson Hagen and [Alexandre] Kolobnev [Russia] had already attacked. Bloody hell, it was bronze, but it could have been gold."

    By the time he reached the summit of the Cauberg, Valverde said, "Gilbert had a good distance, we weren't working together and we knew we...

  • Kimmage humbled by defense fund support

    Paul Kimmage
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 22:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    $11,000 raised in fight against UCI case

    Paul Kimmage has spoken about the defense fund set up in order to raise funds for his legal battle against Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen and the UCI.

    The sport’s governing body began legal proceedings against Kimmage earlier this year and the action stemmed from a body of work for The Sunday Times newspaper, which includes an extensive interview with Floyd Landis published in January 2011, and in response to criticism of the UCI that Kimmage expressed in an interview with L'Équipe. However, the UCI has not requested damages from L'Équipe or The Sunday Times, only from Kimmage. The Irishman left The Sunday Times at the end of 2011.

    The author of "Rough Ride" and former Sunday Times writer received a subpoena on Wednesday from the Est Vaudois district court, which is based in Vevey, near UCI headquarters at Aigle. The case is to be heard on December 12.

    However once the subpoena became public knowledge support for Kimmage sprung up and within a matter of hours a defense fund was set up on nyvelocity and cyclismas. So far the fund has raised over $11,000.

    “I had no say in it and I was really, really uncomfortable with the notion of people putting their hands in their pockets for me because there are a million better causes out there than this. Having said that, it’s one thing for people to say they support you, but when they put their hands in their pockets and put money up for you, that takes it to a completely new level and I’ve been blown away and absolutely staggered and humbled by it. So I can’t thank those people enough,” Kimmage told Cyclingnews.

    “Since I wrote "Rough Ride" in...