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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 26, 2012

Date published:
July 26, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Experience counts for Australian men's Olympic road team

    Gerrans, O'Grady, Goss and Rogers (Evans was still out training)
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 5:26 BST
    Laura Weislo in London

    Small teams, technical circuits biggest factors according to Rogers, O'Grady

    The 2012 Olympic Games is nearly upon us, and the Australian team has been hard at work scouting the circuit around Box Hill in Surrey, outside London, in preparation for the men's road race on Saturday.

    Narrow, twisting roads, speed humps, traffic islands, heavily shaded lanes and, of course, the climb of Box Hill will be the main selecting factors in the 248km men's road race. Getting through the nervous opening kilometres on a tricky run out from Westminster to the nine laps in Surrey unscathed will be of the utmost importance, and the Australians are relying on a combined half century of racing experience to get them through the tricky bits.

    "I think this is the best team Australia's ever brought to the Olympic road race," said Stuart O'Grady, who will compete in his sixth Olympic Games alongside Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Goss. "We have someone who's won the Tour de France and the World Championships [Evans], a three time road champion [Rogers], Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss have both won one-day classics, and I won Paris-Roubaix. I think there's an incredible amount of experience in this team and it's going to be a major factor in the race."

    O'Grady pegged the trip out to the Box Hill circuit as the trouble spot as far as crashes, and the circuits as the danger zone for unmanageable breakaways.

    "It's going to be tricky - we will have to be alert and keep out of trouble. On the circuit there are very small roads, and it's covered so it's...

  • Injured Tour de France rider Wout Poels finally heads home

    Wout Poels leaves the Tour de France in an ambulance on stage six with serious injuries
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 9:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Return to competition yet to be determined

    It’s been almost three weeks since Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) left the Tour de France after a dramatic crash on stage six from Épernay to Metz. Poels was one of many who went down that day but unlike many others, he was not able to continue. He abandoned the race and left in an ambulance.

    Poels’ injuries were serious and he was kept in intensive care following his ruptured kidney and spleen, a bruised lung and three broken ribs. He was in taken to a military hospital in Metz where he remained until he was stable enough to return to the Netherlands.

    He still has a long way to go before he is fully recovered but the Dutchman is now finally at home where he can continue his treatment and rehabilitation.

    "My tour lasted 2days longer! Finally home... Still a long way to go but bit by bit is the right direction... # home sweet home," he wrote on Twitter.

    His exact recovery time is not yet known but considering the severity of his injuries, it could be a while before we see Poels back in the peloton. Poels was considered one of the contenders for the young rider classification, won by Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), at this year's Tour.


  • Bettini’s Italian team ready for Olympic road race

    Paolino Bettini at the launch of the Italian men's Olympic squad in London
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 10:25 BST
    Cycling News

    “We aim to impress” says national coach

    Paolo Bettini and the Italian men’s road team arrived in London and are finialising their preparation ahead of Saturday’s 250km Olympic road race. It’s possibly not the strongest ever team to represent Italy at the Olympics but Bettini insists that while the team lacks a true leader, there’s plenty of talent to achieve a result.

    "I think we can count on a good team. We're perhaps lacking an individual leader but we have a motivated, strong and united team of experienced men who are joined by young talents. Each of them can make a major contribution to the team and the race," said Bettini to La Repubblica.

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) will headline the team’s five-man roster with Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Marco Pinotti (BMC) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) looking to support the recent third-place finisher at this year’s Tour de France.

    "The key man is, of course, Vincenzo Nibali. Not only did he do well at the Tour, he has done great things in one-day races on courses not properly suited to his characteristics, this demonstrates great maturity," Bettini said.

    Nibali will start the race as the leader but he’s not supported by simply a group of mere domestiques. Bettini is confident in each of the four others and has one more rider on call, track representative Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), if any fitness problems arise before Saturday.

    "Modolo was second behind Mark Cavendish at the test event...

  • Fuglsang may not race again in RadioShack colours

    Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack-Nissan) dons the leader's jersey in Tour of Austria
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 11:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Tour de Wallonie might have been Dane's last appearance for team

    Jakob Fuglsang finished yesterday's final stage at the Tour de Wallonie in 35th place in the general classification and the Danish rider revealed afterwards that the Belgian race was probably his last in the colours of RadioShack-Nissan.

    Fuglsang was left out of RadioShack's squad for the 2012 Tour de France last month and following the snub he immediately stated his intention to leave the team at the end of the season. RadioShack responded to his outburst by ruling him out of any remaining WorldTour events for the rest of the year and as a result Fuglsang now doubts that he will race again for the team.

    "I have no more races in my programme," Fuglsang told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. "I asked the team if I could ride the Tour of Colorado and some other races in the build up to the World Championships but they haven't responded.

    "At least I can ride the Tour of Denmark with the national team. The coach Lars Bonde emailed me and told me I could have a spot if I was unable to compete for RadioShack."

    Fuglsang's fall out with RadioShack has been one of the ingredients of what has largely been a disastrous season for the Luxembourg team. His overall wins at the Tour of Austra and the Tour of Luxembourg have provided some of high points on the road, but these have been offset by Johan Bruyneel's charges from USADA, Frank Schleck's irregular urine samples at Tour de France earlier this month and rumours of financial irregularities. Fuglsang has already opened preliminary negotiations with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank over a contract with them for next season. He rode for Team Saxo Bank...

  • Rough road to London Olympics for Shelley Olds

    Shelley Olds (AA Drink) wins stage 6 of the Giro Donne
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 12:41 BST
    Laura Weislo

    US sprinter overcomes untimely injury to make the team

    Team USA will field arguably its strongest women's squad to date when the 2012 Olympic Games road race begins on Sunday, and if the race comes down to a bunch sprint, Shelley Olds is a prime prospect for a medal. Although she is one of the fastest women in the world, getting onto the team was never a given for the 31-year-old from Massachusetts.

    The Olympic quest began on the track for Olds, but when the UCI removed the points race from the programme, she had to devote herself completely to transforming into a road sprinter, which she did to immediate success: her palmares include two national criterium titles, a Pan American championship, stages of the women's Giro d'Italia and Tour of New Zealand. But her crowning achievement to date, her first World Cup victory on Chongming Island in China in May, came at a extraordinarily opportune moment.

    At the start of the season, the United States had slipped out of the top five in the UCI's nations rankings, a designation which determines the size of the team for the Olympic Games. The entire team was devoted to gaining points: Evelyn Stevens won in La Flèche Wallonne, Amber Neben took wins in El Salvador and the PanAmerican Championships, Kristin Armstrong won stages in the Tour of New Zealand and Megan Guarnier followed up her break-out season of 2011 with a seventh place behind Stevens on the Mur de Huy.

    Olds, however, was sitting on her sofa with a cast on her broken wrist, watching her compatriots' successes and seeing her own chances of making the team slipping away.


  • Video: Phinney determined to win an Olympic medal

    First leader of the 2012 Giro d'Italia Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 15:05 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American in best shape of his life

    Taylor Phinney (United States of America) will race in both Saturday's Olympic road race and next week's time trial and the American rider is determined to leave London with a medal.

    Despite his tender age of 22, Phinney is competing in his second Games, having raced on the track in Beijing four years ago. That experience, in which Phinney missed out on a medal in the individual pursuit, has left the BMC rider hungry for Olympic successes.

    "Back then I was a little kid. I was way out of my element in 2008 and I almost got lost in the whole experience even before I'd competed. I came to realise that a lot of people ended up going to the Olympics just for the experience. In a way I forgot that I had to race my bike for four and half minutes. I did okay but it wasn't up to my capabilities but I took it for granted that I might have extra chances at the gold medal," Phinney told Cyclingnews.

    In the four years since Beijing, Phinney's career has seen a steady improvement, from track specialist to a one-day, and time trial rider. From signing to the Livestrong team at the tail end of 2008, to BMC for the beginning of 2011, he has picked up two under 23 Paris-Roubaix titles, an under 23 time trial world championship gold and a Giro d'Italia prologue win. However, the Olympics have been a target since last year and since the Giro, Phinney has split his time between the US and his base in Italy as he prepares for the London Games.

    "I've come here in probably the best shape I've ever been in. I know going into the road race and the time trial I'm not a hot favourite for either one of them but I am someone who...

  • Gilbert tipping Cavendish for Olympic gold

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 17:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian rider hoping for a medal

    2012 has been a disappointing one so far for Philippe Gilbert, but the Belgian is mindful that a medal at this Saturday's Olympic road race could act as a silver lining to his well-documented troubles. Since signing for BMC at the end of last season, Gilbert has failed to win a race. By this time last season, in stark contrast, he had won 13 times and was on his way to winning the 2011 Velo d'Or.

    A combination of illness, niggling injuries and problems adapting to his new surroundings have conspired to make it a year to forget, but Gilbert believes that the Olympics offer a unique opportunity for any athlete. Now that he has arrived in London, the special atmosphere that an Olympic Games provides has breathed some vigour into some tired limbs and muscles. He will enter Saturday's road race as part of a star-studded five-man Belgian team alongside Tom Boonen, Jurgen Roelandts, Greg Van Avermaet and Stijn Vandenbergh but despite the firepower in the Belgian ranks Gilbert realises that winning a medal will be a tough assignment.

    "I think it's a tremendous experience to be here," Gilbert told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "You get this chance only once every four years. We are here with 140 riders at the start so to get a medal is very difficult. But we are motivated. Yesterday I trained for three hours and my legs felt good in the last hour."

    Gilbert revealed that he and his teammates have ridden Saturday's course in preparation and that they liked what they saw. He is, however, in no doubt that the entire field will face a mammoth task in stopping Great Britain's Mark Cavendish should the race turn into a bunch sprint. Their only chance, he says, is to prevent that sprint from materialising.

  • Duggan predicts dynamic Olympic road race

    Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) wins the USA national championship road race
    Article published:
    July 26, 2012, 19:20 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Winning move could go anywhere

    American Timmy Duggan will be making his Olympic debut in the men's road race on Saturday as the reigning US Pro champion. Although many pundits are predicting a bunch sprint heavily in home hero Mark Cavendish's favour, Duggan sees ample opportunity for himself and his Team USA squad in what he calls a "dynamic course".

    Together with Taylor Phinney, Chris Horner, Tyler Farrar and Tejay van Garderen, Duggan has made the rounds along the course which heads from the center of London to Surrey, before hitting the 15.5km Box Hill circuit, which the men will contest nine times before the return trip to the finish in The Mall. It has left him and the team mulling over a variety of race scenarios and concluding that the team is well suited to the course.

    "We've got a Swiss army knife of a team - we're not putting our eggs into once basket," Duggan told Cyclingnews. "We have been riding around the course kind of batting around some ideas. It's an interesting course. It's not like there is just one section of the race where something is going to happen and everyone is going to be prepared for that. It's a dynamic course and it's going to make for a dynamic race. I think our team reflects that. We'll be able to kind of play our cards in a breakaway or split situation or a sprint in the end, however it plays out.

    "On paper, it seems like the British will ride their butts off for Cavendish and it will be a sprint, but he still only has four guys riding for him in a 250km race. The other teams won't want to help them and go to the line with Cavendish. There are no radios, so that makes it harder to know what's going on. The nature of the course is it's so easy to get out of sight - the break goes and it's just gone, you...