- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 02:03
- Daniel Benson
Australian set for fourth Olympic Games
After his 2011 season was plagued by illness Michael Rogers (Team Sky) is back in business as the Australian heads towards a likely ride in this year's Tour de France.
The 32-year-old has formed part of a strong core of stage race talent at Sky this season, helping the team to overall titles in Volta ao Algarve, Paris - Nice, Tour de Romandie and winning two stages and the overall at Bayern-Rundfahrt himself.
Although the team's Tour de France line-up is yet to be announced, Rogers, currently riding in support of Bradley Wiggins at the Dauphiné, looks to be an almost automatic selection.
"Nothing is confirmed yet," Rogers told Cyclingnews from the team bus at the end of the Dauphiné's third stage.
"I think the team will make the decision after the Tour de Suisse. They're weighing up who is going the best and in the best condition. I think that's a very clear policy that the team has and everyone is fine with that."
Rogers is a veteran of seven Tour starts and knows the importance of the Tour for Sky, who in Wiggins, has a genuine contender for the maillot jaune.
"We've got a massive opportunity to win the Tour and we'll concentrate on that," he said, before adding that Wiggins's qualities as a team leader have been instrumental in Sky's performances this year.
"He's certainly not a pushy type compared to some leaders. He commands respect from everyone and he gets that through his commitment and the amount of work he's done in the last few years. He's put his results on the board and shown time after time during the year that he's serious and that he's there to win.
Wiggins will share leadership in July as Mark Cavendish looks to defend his green jersey before the Olympics. Rogers, having ridden with both riders at Highroad Sports believes that Cavendish will be well supported, even if the team aren't solely based around him.
"Mark will have some riders to help him too. In the past he's had an entire team based around him but I think he's a class act and can win numerous stages without the help of a whole team."
Like his Tour selection Rogers must also wait for Cycling Australia to announce their line up for the Olympics Games in London. Having competed in Athens and Beijing on the road (and he was also a member of the team pursuit on the track in Sydney), Rogers will be looking to banish memories of the 2004 time trial where he initially finished fourth. He was forced to go through the same anti-doping tests as the podium placers the following day and then watched on as the medals were handed out.
Tyler Hamilton later handed back his gold after admitting to doping in his career, with Rogers set to pick up a bronze. However, according to Rogers, no medal can make up for the disappointment of missing the initial celebrations in 2004.
"The Olympics are a highlight for any athlete. I've been time trialing well this year but once again the team will be confirmed after the Tour of Switzerland. I don't know any more than anyone else so I'm just waiting to find out if I'm selected."
"As for 2004...I don't have regrets in my career and it's one thing to get the medal, which hasn't happened yet but it's frustrating because it's a special memory to stand on the podium at an Olympics and my family were over from Australia so obviously I'm quite angry about that."
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 07:25
- Cycling News
Top and bottom threes in kms and days raced also revealed
Due to a lull in racing last week there were few big changes in the IG Pro Cycling Index. In the top 10 there was only one change, which saw Peter Sagan drop to 7th and Cadel Evans leapfrog him. This was because Sagan lost his points from his win last year at the Philadelphia International Championship. The only other change in the top 20 sees Andre Greipel move back into the top 20, kicking Dan Martin out of it in the process. Greipel looks to back to his strong early season form after sprinting to two stage wins at the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg.
That was the main race of note last week and as a result the top riders in it moved up in the Index. Wout Poels won the queen stage of the race but missed out on overall victory by two seconds to Jakob Fuglsang. Poels moved up 25 places to 45th in the Index. Fuglsang jumped an even greater number of places, 46, but is below Poels in 53rd place. Fuglsang has recovered well from the injury that kept him out of the Giro d’Italia and is making a a strong case to be in RadioShack-Nissan’s Tour de France team. The highest new entry into the top 200 was Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun), who finished 4th overall in Luxembourg.
As last week was a quiet week of racing, this week affords us the opportunity to look at some of the other stats in the IG Pro Cycling Index. We can first focus on the kilometres and days raced. When looking at the riders who are leading or are bottom of these categories in the top 200 they make interesting reading.
The top three of the kilometres and days raced in the last 365 days of racing are:
1. Thomas De Gendt (41st): 16,578km raced and 105 days raced
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (68th): 15,976km raced and 102 days raced
3. Ian Stannard (104th): 15,807km raced and 95 days raced
The one thing these riders all have in common is that they have ridden two out of the last three grand tours. No rider in the current peloton has ridden all three like Sebastian Lang did last year. These three riders have done an impressive amount of races in the past year but have all managed to pick up personal results along the way. Ian Stannard was used as a domestique by Team Sky in the last two grand tours. Outside of these races he picked up a 4th at Paris-Tours and the British national road race championships.
Luis Leon Sanchez has been one of Rabobank’s most consistent performances since he joined the team in 2011. He is not really used as a domestique but is taken to big races in order to ride for himself and pick up results. In the past year he has won a stage at the Tour de France, Paris-Nice and two stages at the Tour de Romandie.
Thomas De Gendt is a favourite of many fans as he is often seen in breakaways. In the last year he has pulled off some impressive results, winning stages in the Tour de Suisse and Paris-Nice. De Gendt then bettered all of those performances at this year’s Giro d’Italia where he won the queen stage on the Passo dello Stevlio with an audacious attack that led to him finishing on the podium on the overall.
The bottom three of the kilometres and days raced in the last 365 days of racing are:
1. Davide Rebellin (130th): 1,984km raced and 11 days raced
2. Moreno Moser (79th): 2,819km raced and 18 days raced
3. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (70th): 3,023km and 22 days raced
Being in this bottom three highlights those riders who have ridden a very small amount in the 120 races included in the Index but still achieved good results. Davide Rebellin returned to racing after a two year doping ban in 2011. His results from last year are still strong enough to merit him a place in the top 200. His third place at the Route du Sud and 2nd in the Coppa Sabatini are highlights. In 2012 is riding for the Croatian Meridiana-Kamen Team and has so far no raced in any races in the Index.
Moreno Moser joined Liquigas-Cannondale at the end of 2011 and pick up some good results in some small Italian races outside the Index. This year he has continued that form in bigger races. Most notably winning Trophee de Laigueglia, Eschborn-Frankfurt City loop and coming in the top ten at the Coppi-Bartali and the Giro di Toscane.
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has been one of the breakthrough riders of 2012 in Europe. Some may have noticed him in 2011 at the Tour of Britain, where he came 5th overall and won the mountains classification. Since changing teams from Rapha Condor Sharp to Endura racing he has built on that result. He won two tier four stage races, Tour of the Mediterranean and Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var, before March begun. He then followed that up with a second place overall at the Tour of Murcia. How far this British rider can continue to climb the rankings will depend on the race invites his Endura team get.
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 10:17
- Cycling News
RadioShack-Nissan sport director says knee problem is not the reason
Andy Schleck can't blame his poor form on his knee problem, said sporting director Kim Andersen. But the Dane doesn't have any explanation for the RadioShack-Nissan rider's problems this year, and says he can only “assume” that Schleck will be in form for the Tour de France.
Earlier this week Schleck disclosed that he had been treated for knee problems last month. He was in a clinic for three days and lost a total of one week's training, so “it is not surprising” that he is not doing so well in the Criterium du Dauphine, he told De Telegraaf.
Andersen found that to be a bit exaggerated. “It only lasted two or three days. It was nothing special and they didn't find anything,” he told sporten.dk. “I don't think it especially hurt his form, but every training day you miss puts you back.”
He confirmed that Schleck “does not seem to be in super shape,” but has no explanation as to why, as he has “had a different programme to follow” rather than being with Schleck.
Andersen's answers were unexpectedly curt, considering that he and Schleck are said to have a very close relationship. What does he think the rider is missing? “I have no comment.”
Will the 2010 Tour winner be ready for this year's race? “I can't tell you. But he says himself that he will be so we must assume so.” Or are there reasons to worry? “I don't know.”
Andersen will be guiding the RadioShack-Nissan squads at the Tour of Poland and Tour de Suisse but not the Tour de France. Johan Bruyneel will direct the team in France, but has said he will keep in close contact with Andersen during the race. This was news to Andersen.
Schleck goes into Thursday's time trial at the Dauphine in 118th position, 5:21 behind leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Schleck lost over three minutes on the first stage and nearly two on the second stage, but finished in the same time as the winner on the third stage.
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 11:30
- Cycling News
Dutch rider has oral agreement with team manager Lefevere
Niki Terpstra has agreed to extend his contract with Omega Pharma-QuickStep for an additional two years. He and team manager Patrick Lefevere have reached an oral agreement on the matter, and Gert Steegmans is also said to have agreed to extend for two more years.
“We would love to keep Niki," Lefevere told De Telegraaf. “Within the team, everyone is enthusiastic about him. For us it is a very logical thing for him to continue. There is nothing signed yet, but we have each other's word.”
Terpstra, 28, joined the Belgian team after his previous team Milram folded. He had the biggest win of his career this season, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen. He also won the Dutch national road title in 2010, and a stage at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2009.
He will not ride the Tour de France this year, but has already been selected for the Dutch Olympic team. His most recent race was the Tour of Belgium, where he finished third in the time trial.
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 14:55
- Barry Ryan
Luxembourger disappointed to miss out on test
Andy Schleck's fitness has been a major talking point at the Critérium du Dauphiné to date, but the RadioShack-Nissan rider was denied the chance to gauge his time trialling form when he crashed early on stage 4.
The Luxembourger came a cropper in the stiff winds that buffeted the 53.5km time trial course from Villié-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse; rounding a sharp right hand bend 12 kilometres into his effort, a sudden gust caught his rear disc wheel, and Schleck duly took a tumble.
Although Schleck was quickly back on his spare bike, a puncture shortly afterwards added insult to injury, and he opted not to take any further risks as the wind continued to wreak havoc on his cornering.
"When we did the parcours this morning the wind wasn't like that," a dejected Schleck said afterwards. "I had a good start and good feelings until there. After that, I kept on going but I didn't have the concentration after that. I just wanted to get to the finish. I couldn't go in the [time trial] position anymore."
Addressing a group of reporters huddled around a team van near the finish line, Schleck was at least able to count his blessings as far injuries are concerned. Although his skinsuit was torn around his right hip, Schleck reported road rash but no broken bones as a result of his fall.
"After a crash you get on the bike and you have the adrenaline for the first few kilometres, but after a while my ribs hurt and my hand hurt," Schleck said. "Still, I'm sitting here and not in an ambulance, so that's a good sign."
Schleck bristled slightly when it was put to him that he may have erred in choosing disc wheels on such a windy course. "Maybe if you have 85 kilos it's easier to stay on the bike," he said tersely. "The wind was playing with me a bit out there, so it's a good warning maybe for the other guys.
"I started with the first guys and nobody was out there before me [to warn about the conditions – ed]. The wind came just as I started."
Of course, Schleck was among the early starters expressly because he had been so out of sorts in the opening days of the Dauphiné, coughing up chunks of time on the first two road stages.
But then, the 26-year-old Schleck is already an old hand when it comes to churning out sub-par performances in June before undergoing a remarkable transfiguration in July.
"Everybody is asking my form, but then every year people ask about it," he said. "In years gone by, I've always been a bit behind at the Tour de Suisse and then I've always been up there at the Tour de France. And now, [by riding the Dauphiné – ed.] I'm a week ahead, so I'm not worried at all for the Tour."
The more immediate goal is to stay in touch with the likes of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC) on the road to Morzine on Saturday: "Tomorrow, I'm probably not going to feel great on the bike, but I hope to stay with the best on the Joux Plane. Every day, I'm feeling better and better."
Bruyneel – we wanted a time trial test
Schleck and his brother Fränk's rapport with manager Johan Bruyneel has been the subject of considerable media scrutiny in recent weeks, but after phoning the start line to warn his remaining riders about the dangers of using disc wheels, Bruyneel told reporters that his rider had started Thursday's time trial at a decent tempo.
"It's a pity because I think he'd started well," he said. "We weren't expecting him to do a super time trial but the plan was for him to give a constant effort for 50km. I think physically he was going quite well today. He wasn't going to lose the kind of time that a lot of other people were."
While Schleck will continue in the Dauphiné as the race enters the high mountains, Bruyneel was disappointed that he had been denied the chance to test himself against the watch, particularly given the similarities in distance between this time trial, and the Tour de France's penultimate stage to Chartres. Forced to switch bikes following his accident, Schleck will now have no SRM data from his effort.
"He's a climber, so we know already how good he is in the mountains," Bruyneel said wistfully. "This time trial was a great test and we weren't able to do it."
- Article published:
- June 8, 2012, 01:13
- Barry Ryan
Australian loses time in Critérium du Dauphiné time trial
Cadel Evans (BMC) has admitted that he has room for improvement ahead of his defence of his Tour de France title after he was soundly defeated by Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the stage 4 time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Thursday.
Evans struggled to find his rhythm on the long, flat road from Villié-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse, and he ultimately conceded 1:44 to Wiggins over the 53 kilometres. Indeed, at one point, it appeared as though Wiggins might even catch the Australian for two minutes, but Evans battled resolutely to hold off his pursuer.
Rolling to a halt outside the BMC camper van, Evans set about warming down on his regular road machine, pausing briefly to down a can of Aquarius. His manager John Lelangue quickly swooped in to stand in front of him, protecting him from the assembled autograph hunters and journalists, but also perhaps also guarding him from the doubts his performance might have aroused.
In low voices, the pair discussed the day’s events, and Lelangue’s words perhaps had the desired effect – Evans’ tired grimace had creased slowly into a wan smile by the time he wearily clambered aboard the camper. After a long shower, he re-emerged to talk reporters through his afternoon.
“I’m not happy with how I rode compared to the specialists,” Evans admitted. “It was a route that was very well suited to the specialists like Martin and Wiggins, but I expected a little more from myself.”
The statistics show that Evans’ time trial unravelled in the middle section of the course. At the first time check after 18km, he was just 6 seconds behind Wiggins, but that gap stretched out to 1:37 over the following 22 kilometres. In the finale, Evans was once again able to limit his losses.
“From the first time check to the second time check, I seemed to lose some strength,” he said. “I want to understand why, first of all, and then look to see how it goes in comparison to the mountains and so on. I still have some improvement to make towards the Tour, and I have to make some improvement towards the Tour if I want to win the Tour.”
Evans noted that the wind and the sensation that the course was simply one, long road to nowhere contributed to make it one of the less predictable time trials of his career. “It was a strange time trial. It’s not often that you have a road in Europe that’s so long and straight,” he laughed. “So sometimes in your head you’re riding at 50kph and then you look up and it seems like you haven’t gone anywhere.”
With a 52-kilometre time trial to Chartres awaiting the pretenders for the maillot jaune on the final weekend of the Tour de France, stage four of the Dauphiné was billed in certain quarters as something of a dress rehearsal.
“I don’t know exactly how the final time trial is but obviously it’s flat and long. It’s a similar test,” Evans said. “I certainly hope not to lose a minute in the Tour de France. I have some improvements to make there.”
However, as Wiggins would later stress in his own winner’s press conference, Evans ceded similar ground in the Dauphiné’s Grenoble time trial last year (he lost 1:09 to Wiggins and 1:20 to Tony Martin over 42.5km), yet by the time he tackled the same course on the final weekend of the Tour, he was just 7 seconds shy of Martin.
“I saw today that like last year, I’m a little bit behind the [time trial] specialists but not bad in the mountains,” Evans said. “I still have some room and some time to improve – and it’s necessary to improve.”
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 18:12
- Cycling News
Download it in the Apple App Store today
Issue 6 of our weekly digital magazine for iPads, Cyclingnews HD, is now available to download from the Apple App Store. This week's highlights include:
Critérium du Dauphiné: The latest in-depth coverage of this year’s race featuring world class photography, reports, analysis and results
Tour of Luxembourg: A look back at the week of racing including news and results
Exclusive Interview: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme
Climax to the Dauphiné: A look forward to the final stages and the main contenders
Tour de Suisse: pre-race news, route analysis, profiles and start lists
For more information on issue 6 and to download it, click here.
- Article published:
- June 7, 2012, 19:29
- Barry Ryan
Sky rider strengthens lead at Critérium du Dauphiné
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has paid tribute to his new training philosophy after he took a firm grip of the overall standings at the Critérium du Dauphiné with a convincing victory in the stage 4 time trial to Bourg-en-Bresse.
The Dauphiné is only the fifth race Wiggins has started in 2012 as he builds for the Tour de France under the stewardship of Tim Kerrison, his Australian coach, with a training programme that has aroused considerable interest. Kerrison’s background is in swimming, and the structure he has devised for Wiggins bears many of the hallmarks of his former discipline, in particular his recommendation that the rider dispense with the idea of using races as training.
“My coach has not been in cycling for long, he’s come from swimming, so I’ve pretty much been training like the swimmers train,” Wiggins told reporters in Bourg-en-Bresse. “I’ve been constantly training through the year, so it’s not like the traditional way for cycling, which is starting in January fat or in really bad condition, and then building, building and showing form in these races.”
Wiggins began his racing campaign with 3rd overall at the Volta ao Algarve in February, then won Paris-Nice in March. After abandoning, the Volta a Catalunya, Wiggins won the Tour de Romandie in early May and now holds a commanding lead at the Dauphiné. In between, his regimen has included some lengthy stints of training at altitude in the seclusion of Mount Teide, Tenerife.
“It’s just trying to be 95, 97% all year and constantly working,” Wiggins said. “The only downside is that it’s mentally difficult, but up to now I’ve found it pretty good. I’ve only raced four races this year and I’ve had long periods between races to freshen up and do good blocks of training, so I’m not going from race to race.”
Wiggins wryly recalled how his victorious ride at Paris-Nice in March had seen many wonder if he had reached his best condition too soon. Stretching his gaunt legs as he spoke, Wiggins reiterated that his entire campaign is centred on the Tour de France.
“I’ve kept spouting on about this since Paris-Nice and it becomes old hat after a while, but we’re training for July,” he said. “We’ve always been training for July. When we won Paris-Nice, I was asked had I peaked too soon and I said, ‘no, we’re training for July.’ We get to Romandie and I’m asked if I’ve peaked too soon, and I said ‘no, we’re training for July…’”
Wiggins has sprinkled his preparation for July with an approach to racing that seems to have been lifted straight from the “you might as well win” school of thought. His emphatic win in Bourg-en-Bresse means that he is in pole position to add overall victory at the Dauphiné to an already impressive 2012 haul.
Martin and Evans
More immediately, Wiggins noted that his primary motivation on Thursday was to beat world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and he duly obliged by putting 34 seconds into the German.
“I’ve not beaten Tony too many times in the past. I beat him in Algarve this year but that was by milliseconds,” he said. “But to beat him by a clear margin this time is a huge satisfaction really. We’d been chasing Tony for a long time. He won by a significant margin at the world championships last year and that was the start point for us – to try and get closer to him.”
In the longer term, however, Wiggins’ sights are clearly fixed on succeeding Cadel Evans (BMC) as Tour de France champion. At one point, he even seemed on course to catch and pass Evans, but although the Australian managed to hold him off, Wiggins’ margin of 1:43 was surely still a significant psychological blow ahead of the Tour’s final time trial at Chartres.
“It’s the Daupiné, we’re still six weeks now from the last time trial of the Tour. That’s a long time,” Wiggins protested. “For Cadel, I think there was a similar margin in the Grenoble time trial last year, but by the time the last time trial of the Tour came around, I don’t think I would have been sure to beat Cadel that day.
“A lot changes in time trials with conditions and you can’t hide when it you’re having a bad day.”
Or, it seems, when you’re having a good year.