- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 02:10
- Neil Browne
Returns to the US for the first time in 16 years
The UCI officially announced that Greenville, South Carolina has been awarded the 2014 para-cycling road world championships. The championships will take place August 28th to September 1st. It has been 16 years since the para-cycling world championships have been in the U.S.
Athletes will compete in categories based on their ability, on handcycles, adapted bikes, tricycle and tandems in the road race and time trial disciplines.
According to Louis Barbeau, President of the UCI Para-Cycling Commission, Greenville's commitment to the event was the reason why the city won the bid, stating how impressed the UCI was.
Barbeau expects about 700 people to be a part of the para-cycling games, so having an infrastructure that could accommodate them was key, such as having hotels that are wheelchair accessible and the support of the city.
"I had the pleasure of meeting the mayor and mayor pro tem and we could already see that there was a commitment." Continuing Barbeau said, "I haven't seen a bid of that quality before."
Several cities in Europe expressed interest in hosting the championships, but no written commitment.
Also in attendance was Greenville resident George Hincapie. The 16-time Tour de France participant took to the podium and expressed his satisfaction with Greenville's winning bid.
"This adds to Greenville's already long list of cycling events," said Hincapie. "And this event will not only promote Greenville nationally and across the world, but help our local people and let people know all the wonderful things Greenville provides: the bike paths, the roads, the weather. If you're a cyclist this is an ideal place to ride a bike."
Greenville had come to the attention of the cycling world prior to the national professional championships which has called it home for the past seven years. Stage 7 of the 1995 Tour du Pont ended in Greenville and the downtown area has hosted big dollar criteriums during the 1990s.
Ian Lawless, Executive Director of U.S. Handcycling, said that the exact course for the road race and time trial for para-cycling are still being considered.
"We have identified a variety of possibilities, but nothing that is concrete. We're looking at the Millennium Campus to possibly host some and possibly some stuff downtown. A lot of that will be announced in the coming months."
The Millennium Campus is the current site of the U.S. Pro Championships time trial course.
Speaking to someone familiar with how a course must be designed for a para-cycling race they thought that a loop through downtown Greenville and around the neighboring Cleveland Park area could be a strong candidate. The Millennium Campus would be utilized for the time trial.
An economic impact study states that Greenville should anticipate more than 4.5 million dollars for the local economy.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 03:49
- Alex Hinds
19-year-old's New Zealand Cycle Classic victory 'perfect start' to the year
After the departures of Australian duo Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge to GreenEdge at the end of the 2011 season, Jayco-AIS was always going to be left with a veritable gulf in its 2012 roster. Hepburn won two stages of last year's Tour de l'Avenir, while Durbridge capped his season with the under 23 world time trial crown - both big shoes to fill.
New recruit Rohan Dennis' performances at nationals, and then shortly after the Tour Down Under went some way to allaying the pressure on the team, but with Dennis' focus firmly on the track until the 2012 Olympic Games, the team still lacked someone they could count on when they head over to Europe.
Cue Jay McCarthy, who in the wake of a consistent if unspectacular 2011 in Europe, showed just how far he's come in the last 12 months, and perhaps how ready he is to assume that leadership role by taking out the New Zealand Cycle Classic [formerly Tour of Wellington]. To put his progression in context, he was 19th overall in the same race this time last year, more than 14 minutes down on eventual winner George Bennett.
"A lot of people were telling me, 'you'll be tired' after Tour Down Under, but what I found last year is that I respond really well to racing, it really helped to string together form," said McCarthy to Cyclingnews. "I did my best to be as good as I could have been for the January racing, I knew I'd be in for a shot at the Tour Down Under spot so I could train with that in mind.
"After the Tour Down Under I backed off a little bit, just to keep fresh, but in the end the work I've done in the off season really showed."
The 19-year-old added that it was great to get some success early on in the year, and took the pressure off ahead of the team's next big goals in Europe. Having showed that he can captain the team in New Zealand, McCarthy also said that it'd be nice to try and take up the natural role as the team's number one rider when they do move over to AIS base in Italy.
"We have so many top riders in this team, there's also Pat Lane who's been getting stronger and stronger, and of course Rohan, but I hope to get some more chances this year, but I'll let the legs do the talking. I'll be ready when I'm ready."
McCarthy will likely next ride the Oceania Road Championships in Queenstown before heading to Europe for his season proper.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 09:20
- Cycling News
No place in Bruyneel's team for experienced German
Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Barracuda) has found a new home after a year with Leopard Trek. The 31-year-old German had only moved once in his career before signing with the Luxembourg outfit but at the end of 2011 his services were considered surplus to requirements as Bruyneel and his management team moved in and remodelled the team.
Despite signing a two-year deal, Wegmann was in limbo but it didn’t take long for him to find sanctuary when Jonathan Vaughters and Garmin came knocking. There were other teams in the hunt for the experience Wegmann brings, but in this video for Cyclingnews he describes how quickly the signing was completed.
On the surface it appears a good match. Garmin have had minimal success in the Ardennes Classic and Wegmann brings with him a decade of professional know-how. Although his career has been light on international success in recent years, he will have opportunities to shine, something he may have struggled to secure with Bruyneel.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 10:42
- Cycling News
Injured Belgian hopes to come back at Tirreno-Adriatico
Jürgen Roelandts, who sustained a neck injury at the Tour Down Under stage one, has been given good news during a hospital examination in Herentals, Belgium, on Monday. The Lotto-Belisol rider was told that his fractured cervical vertebra was healing well and that he would be able to return to light training on the rollers.
"The fracture is healing well and Jürgen can switch from a stiff to a more supple neck collar," a Lotto spokesman said. "His shoulder still hurts, though. In two weeks, there will be another scan."
Two weeks after his crash, Roelandts will thus get back to light indoor training and limit his losses in terms of shape. The Belgian continues to hope that he will be operational again for Tirreno-Adriatico in March. He is one of the most important men of Lotto's lead-out train for sprinter André Greipel.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 11:51
- Cycling News
Professional continental squad adjusting to Euro climate
Colombia-Coldeportes took its first foray in Europe for 2012, with the team combining a training camp with some recon work for the Giro del Trentino in April. The professional continental team toured the race's key climb the Punta Veleno, as well as getting some pointers from former Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni who was on hand with the team.
Even though snow forced the riders to dismount before the final kilometres of the Punta Veleno, the test was a really significant one, rising from the lake’s banks to an over 1.000 metre altitude in just 8 km, with the gradient peaking up at 20 per cent.
"It is a very tough ascent, no doubt about it," Simoni said after watching the team from the director's car. "I think It will be really decisive in Trentino."
The Colombian riders were in their element, with the highly touted Esteban Chaves notably distinguishing himself.
"Cold made it really tough," said Chaves, who took out the Tour de l'Avenir in 2011. "There are several points to attack and break the rhythm along the climb, but you have to be cautious in order not to suffer on the distance."
See a behind the scenes video of the team training camp below.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 12:47
- Barry Ryan
Belgian plays down supposed feud
A lingering war of words between the pair may have kept the Belgian press entertained during the off-season, but Greg Van Avermaet moved to downplay his supposedly strained relationship with Philippe Gilbert at the BMC training camp in Denia last week.
Uneasy bedfellows at Omega Pharma-Lotto, Van Avermaet flew the nest at the beginning of 2011 to join BMC, but the pair have since been reunited by Gilbert’s arrival at the squad. Despite Van Avermaet’s solid debut campaign with BMC last year, which was capped by a canny Paris-Tours victory, Gilbert has expressed reservations about his fellow countryman’s ability to act as a co-leader of the team in the classics in 2012.
In particular, Gilbert pointedly cited the example of last April’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, when Van Avermaet was dropped from the winning break when the pace shot up on the Côte de Saint-Nicholas with 5km to go.
“I think we are quite similar riders but Philippe is on a higher level than me at the moment,” a diplomatic Van Avermaet admitted to reporters on the Costa Blanca. “He won all the races that he could win last year and I just tried to improve every year to also reach my goals. It’s kind of an honour that he’s here on the team with me. I think he’s a strong rider and I’m going to try to work for him and try to improve myself too and get to the level he’s at right now.”
So far, so conciliatory, and when pressed further on his relations with Gilbert, the 26-year-old Van Avermaet broke into a sheepish grin. “We’ve just talked about other stuff outside of cycling so far,” he laughed shyly. “People think in Belgium we don’t talk, but I think we have a good relationship with each other and I think it will work out really well for next year.”
While received wisdom suggests that Van Avermaet will be shunted down the classics pecking order at BMC due to the arrival of Gilbert and Thor Hushovd, the Belgian pointed out that he already showed his ability to operate as a foil to others last spring.
“We have a lot of big riders on the team now, but before we also had Ballan, Hincapie and it was already a strong team,” he noted. “This year it’s a bit stronger, but I’m just happy the team is confident in me. They will play my card at some moments, and at some other moments I’ll work for other guys, and I’m happy with that. For me, it’s maybe a good point that they are here and there is not so much pressure for the classics on me.”
The tail-end of 2011 saw Van Avermaet take a large stride forwards in delivering on his considerable potential when he landed his first classic victory at Paris-Tours by clinically disposing of Marco Marcato on the Avenue de Grammont. He agreed that from a psychological standpoint, the win had been something of a liberation.
“Yeah, it was an important win for me,” he nodded. “I had a lot of nice results already in the classics but the difference between second and first is big. It was important for my self-confidence
“I’m only 26 but I had already been waiting a long time to win a big classic, so once it’s there, you’re very happy and you feel a bit more confident in the next races. It also gives the team the confidence to believe in me.”
One of the first signs of that burgeoning confidence came at Milan-San Remo last year, when Van Avermaet was the surprise leader over the summit of the Poggio after seizing the initiative on the descent of the Cipressa. “It was a good feeling to be the first guy on the Poggio,” he said. “Not every year is the same and last year we had that crash on Le Manie beforehand, but I hope to be up there on the Poggio again this year.”
Not surprisingly, however, the centrepiece of Van Avermaet’s season comes two weeks later on the rocky road to Oudenaarde. “For me the most important race is of the year is always the Tour of Flanders,” he said. “Like every Belgian I’m always looking forward to it, and hopefully I can win it.”
But Gilbert, too, covets De Ronde victory and, at least according to Thor Hushovd, has made it the principal target of his spring campaign. “We’ll see what’s going to happen,” Van Avermaet said quietly. “Maybe I work for Philippe at a few races, and if I can have a chance when I’m good at some races, that’s enough for me.”
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 14:26
- Laura Weislo
Holcomb, Kirchmann, Sanders and Small form core of new team
The ill-publicized end of the world championship and National Racing Calendar winning Colavita-Forno d'Asolo team may have broken up one of the sport's most successful women's programs, but its director Rachel Heal and some of their top North American riders will remain together in 2012 under the Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies banner.
Along with the UCI continental men's squad, the elite women will have a commanding presence in the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar even if defending overall best rider Janel Holcomb will likely not be able to defend her title as she pursues her Olympic goals.
Cyclingnews spoke with Heal about the program, which includes riders previously on the domestic roster: Holcomb, Leah Kirchmann, team captain Kristin Sanders and Carmen Small, along with top Canadian riders Joelle Numainville (formerly of TIBCO), Denise Ramsden and Liberty Classic breakaway star Lex Albrecht (both Juvederm-Specialized) along with up and coming talents Emma Grant (UK), Annie Ewart (Canadian U19 champion), Jade Wilcoxson (USA), Courteney Lowe (New Zealand) and American Anna Barensfeld.
Heal said the team, which is not UCI-registered, will focus mainly on the bigger races in the USA along with the Canadian UCI races, but will allow its riders to go off with their national teams in search of points and performances toward Olympic qualification.
"Both the US and Canada are really fighting hard to get points, they both want to get the maximum number of riders in the Olympics, so I think they'll definitely be using some of our riders to get points," Heal told Cyclingnews.
That means that Holcomb, who was named to the USA's long team for London 2012, will be heading off with the national team to compete in early season events, and will likely be unable to defend her overall NRC title.
The team's US focus and leniency with its riders programs for their countries means it will be split not only between the NRC and the new national criterium calendar (NCC), as well as the minor USA Crits and Women's Prestige Series, but will be losing riders to the greater UCI calendar.
Rather than posing a problem, Heal thinks this situation will create opportunities for other riders to shine and for the competition level to rise.
"It will be quite different from the fields we're used to, we'll lose some of the stronger riders," she said. "The level of all racing is raised with it being an Olympic year because everyone is trying to get points and prove themselves to the selectors wherever they're racing. It will be fun to see. I think we have a good group, a good all-round mix, and some exciting new riders. I'm looking forward to it."
Despite Holcomb's possible absence from several NRC events which she won last year (Gila, Altoona, Cascade), Heal said the NRC is still a major goal for the team, as is the NCC. Holcomb, however, still features in the team's plans for US domination.
"She's obviously riding really well, so we'll be looking to her to get some good results," Heal said of Holcomb. "She won't have the advantage she had at the start of last year of not being known. I think she's going to be very well watched this year. But we have a few cards to play and Janel's definitely one of them."
The team has a number of young riders and new talents – three riders are under 21, and more than half of the team are under the age of 25, which in the world of women's cycling is rare. Yet the least experienced riders aren't necessarily the younger ones, as Kirchmann, Ramsden and Numainville are young but already world class riders, while newcomers Wilcoxson and Barensfeld are older but newer to the sport.
"It presents different challenges, but it gives us different opportunities, because a lot of the peloton won't know who they are. That gives us a few chance to sneak riders away that they aren't expecting. We've got a real mixture of youth and experience. It's going to be an interesting year."
Heal gave Cyclingnews some insight into how she locates these new talents who might not otherwise be discovered and have the chance, as Holcomb did, to find themselves in a situation where a professional team would back a brand new rider as their overall contender.
"Every year I get a lot of resumes, but I tend to ask other people about riders, and look out for riders who do something that stands out at races. Anna was at a break at Gila with one of our riders, I first noticed her there. Last year when I hired Leah, she had a really good ride in the crit at Cascade, and really stood out for us. She proved it was a good decision to hire her." Wilcoxson comes from a stint at the Nature Valley Pro Ride, where amateurs qualify to compete on a fully supported composite team for the elite stage race, where she made the winning break and took fifth on the final stage.
"That's such a hard stage, and she was up there - and for someone so new to be able to perform like that without much experience means she has a lot of raw talent. I'm excited to see what she can do now that she's cycling full time and on a team where she's going to be able to get direction. It will be fun to see how she develops."
Lowe similarly got Heal's attention in a breakaway at an early season race with a Colavita rider. "Often in the team car that's the only time you get to see riders you don't know, because they're in a break wtih your riders and you're sat in the team car following behind them, so you get to see how they ride.
"It's always a risk taking on riders you don't know, but I think in the past few years the risks have paid off. Fingers crossed they do again."
The team will begin the season at the Merco Cycling Classic in California, followed by the San Dimas and Redlands stage races, as well as the new Delray Beach Twilight in Florida.
- Article published:
- January 31, 2012, 16:56
- Daniel Benson
American also looking towards the London Olympic road race
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) will start his season at the Tour of Qatar next week but the American is firmly focused on the classics again. But with a new lead out train at his disposal in 2012, the sprinter will be looking to win on a number of fronts.
Having trained at home in the US during the winter, Farrar is now in Europe with his Garmin teammates. It has been another year of transition for the American team with ten riders leaving and Farrar’s train being bolstered with the addition of Koldo Fernandez, Alex Rasmussen and the returning Robbie Hunter.
Hunter and Farrar built a strong bond during the 2010 season, but Hunter jumped shipped within a year with the Garmin-Cervelo deal leaving him short of individual options. Now back onboard, and with Fernandez added to the mix, the new formation has more strength in depth.
“Koldo has ridden for Euskaltel his entire career but sprinting isn’t Euskaltel’s top priority, so he’s come to our team and it will be the first time he’s been in an actual lead out train,” Farrar told Cyclingnews.
“Hopefully we can make a strong pairing and work well together. I think he’s really excited to be on a team that has a strong sprinting focus.”
Farrar is aware that the perfect lead out train isn’t just about having the best three or four individuals, it’s about having double that amount, allowing for riders to split between races and ensuring that bases are covered with multiple riders having the capabilities of slotting in at any given moment.
“We know that we need a guy who is good from 1.5km to 1k, then one guy who is good within the last kilometre and then the final lead out man. You know the roles so it’s a case of finding the riders that fit those roles. When you look at our roster this year we have plenty of guys for each of those roles.”
“You can’t race with the same four riders in every race all year around. You try and keep the core together so the sprinter is never left on his own.”
While Farrar is certainly one of the sport’s best sprinters, it’s the classics that really inspire him. A number of top five placings have flowed in the last few seasons and once again the Belgian spring will be his hunting ground this year.
“I don’t pigeon hole myself. During the winter and until the finish line in Paris-Roubaix I think of myself as a Classics rider. Then I start thinking about myself as a sprinter.”
“My full focus at the moment is about trying to be good in the cobbled classics. I’ve been knocking on the door for a big result so hopefully it comes this year. I’ve had good runs, I’ve been top five in Flanders and on some podiums so I know that I’m capable of riding those races but I know that there’s a big difference between fifth and winning. Every year I’m maturing as a rider and we’ll see what direction it goes in the coming years.
"The Classics are my favourite races. I’ve always loved them more than anything else. They’ve always been a priority for me. I have a passion for them. I would love to be one of the top Classics riders."
London Olympics calling
With the Classics and grand tours playing such an integral part of Farrar’s 2012, it’s hard to imagine him finding time to concentrate on any other objectives, but he has also singled out this summer's Olympics.
Last year, Farrar took part in the Olympic test event, though the fact he was even on the start list was a shock to some, as the US cycling federation had planed on selecting riders from the U23 ranks. However, a last minute call from Farrar meant he lined up in London with a team of young cohorts to protect him.
It was a stark contrast the efforts made by the British team, who effectively had two teams on hand to help Mark Cavendish.
“That’s a function of the US Federation not putting out any effort,” Farrar told Cyclingnews.
“I wasn’t even down for test event until I called them a few weeks before and said I hear there’s a test event, I’d really like to do it. It was actually a lot of fun. For a lot of those guys on the teams it was the biggest race they’d ever done. As a pro you become accustomed to riding big events and seeing it through their eyes was invigorating and I had a really good time there.”
However, the chasm between the British and US plans for the Olympics are huge. Funding of course plays a monumental part of the situation and Team GB has been making grand plans centred on the London Games for a number of years. Farrar still has to secure a spot on the team, although it’s hard to imagine the US leaving behind their best bet for a men’s road medal.
“There’s certainly some big differences between the two. I don’t think that’s a secret. The US team didn’t have the greatest Worlds last year either so we’ll see. We have a lot of talented American riders, so I think we can field a strong team in the Olympics. It’s just up to them to select the team and hopefully we’ll get a result. I’m just hoping I get to go.”
Out of the limelight
The build up to a number of Farrar’s objectives will come with the typical amount of press and fan interest. The Classics, Tour de France and the Olympics especially are events recognised on a global scale. Farrar, a modest and private person, isn’t phased in the slightest and has adapted a strategy that helps him switch off when he’s not on the bike.
“As a professional cyclist you end up spending a lot of your time in the public eye already. I’m a relatively private person so when I leave a race I like to step away from the public sphere and do my own thing. That’s not a judgement; it’s just personally I like to spend November and December at home doing my own thing,” he said.
“For the most part I stay away, and then once a week I’ll do a sweep of the news just to keep abreast of things. I think it’s also important to focus on your own goals and your own preparation and not get distracted by what this guy is doing at that race. It’s easy to see how good someone is going, but it’s better to focus on yourself and make sure you’re ready.”
2012 is an important year for the Garmin-Barracuda rider. You can bet he’ll be ready.
- Olympic games