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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Date published:
September 22, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Gilbert in perfect shape for Worlds

    Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) on the attack at the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 11:16 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Walloon has clarified road race leadership with Boonen

    Philippe Gilbert of Silence-Lotto is back at home in Monaco this week before he heads to the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Thursday. Recovering from the Vuelta a España, where he showed that his current form is at the top, the Belgian is confident that he is ready for a strong performance at the Worlds road race on Sunday.

    "I'm in perfect condition, but I still needed to test myself [at the Vuelta]," Gilbert told La Dernière Heure about his three-week tour through Spain, where he pulled off some good performances even if he was unable to win a stage.

    "The Tour of Spain is the ideal preparation for any World Championship and definitely for this one," continued the 26-year-old, who currently weighs one kilo less than his normal competition weight. "In Mendrisio, where the climbs will be repetitive, you have to be as light as possible. The race is something for climbers, but - like in Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Lombardia - riders of one-day races can get their chance."

    And this is exactly what the Classics specialist intends to do, if the race presents him with the opportunity. Together with Tom Boonen, Gilbert is co-leader of the Belgian team and has spoken to the former World champion about their team's strategy at the Vuelta.

    "Tom and I spoke a lot in Spain, we are both in good shape. I'm certain that we can be complementary. I told him that if the Worlds race is slow and not so hard, then he has his chance but if the race is hard, then it will be for me. I pointed out to him that the next two World Championships [in Australia and Copenhagen - ed.] should be less hard and therefore more suited to him. I will not hesitate to return his favour."

    It will also be important not to make the same mistakes as in Varese 2008, where the Belgian team was not united behind team leader Boonen. "What happened last year shouldn't be repeated. To the contrary, we have to learn from it....

  • Cancellara wants Worlds double win

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) at the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 11:49 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Swiss captain remains focussed on ambitious goal for road and time trial titles

    Swiss Fabian Cancellara remains concentrated on winning both the World Championship time trial and road race this week on home soil, in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    "I want to win the road race and the time trial, but naturally only one of them would be fine," he told Italy's Sport Week. "Yes, if you train well the two days of recovery are enough. Then there is the mental strength, which can change how it unfolds for me."

    Cancellara is a two-time time trial World Champion (2006 and 2007) and the reigning Olympic time trial champion. This season he has won time trials at the Tour of California, Tour de Suisse, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. He also won the Tour de Suisse overall classification and the Swiss Championship road race title in June. The latter stands as his only road race victory of the season.

    Cancellara said he feels the pressure of being the one rider that Swiss eyes will be focussed upon to win a Worlds title. "People expect a lot out of me, everything, and not only at the Worlds. I try not to overwhelm myself because I am not a machine.

    "A lot of people think the time trial is already decided. Many things can happen the day of the race. I remind myself that I am not obligated to win and that lessens the pressure."

    Defending time trial champion Bert Grabsch (Germany) is Cancellara's biggest rival, he said. Cancellara acknowledged that if he pushes himself too hard on Thursday, he could rule himself out of the road race Sunday.

    This year's road course has two climbs, the Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. The Elite men will repeat the short 13.8-kilometre circuit 19 times, for a total of 262.2 kilometres that will include 4655 metres of climbing.

    "Italy and Spain are the strongest nations. [Damiano] Cunego is flying," Cancellara continued. "I am less afraid of the Belgians. Luxembourg is out of the running."

    Cancellara's highest place finish in the Worlds road race was...

  • Cunego's director guides South Africa's U23 Worlds hopefuls

    Burry Stander racing for South Africa at the World Championships
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 12:43 BST
    Gregor Brown

    South African Brent Copeland puts aside Lampre duties for national team

    Lampre directeur sportif Brent Copeland will put aside his normal duties with Damiano Cunego this week to direct South Africa at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    One of his responsibilities will be to look after South Africa's three-man Under-23 team. They will race the technical 13.8-kilometre circuit 13 times on Saturday; a total of 179.4 kilometres that will include 3185 metres of climbing.

    "They have to race up front as much as possible. The more they race at the back, the more energy they throw away," Copeland told Cyclingnews. "Everyone knows that and wants to race at front, that's what makes it so hard."

    This year's course in Mendrisio has two climbs, the Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, the second being the more difficult and coming only 2.5 kilometres before the finish. The numerous corners on the course will also force the cyclists to sprint many times on each circuit, said Copeland.

    Jaco Venter, fourth overall at the Tour de l'Avenir, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and recently crowned Under-23 mountain bike World Champion Burry Stander are South Africa's three riders for the Under-23 road race. Venter will also race the time trial. The 22-year-old recently finished third in Avenir's stage eight time trial.

    "Venter will do all right in the time trial, but there is a lot of climbing in the road race for him. He will need to watch the riders who are going well. The circuit will suit Stander, especially on the descents and the climbs. They are a lot like what he finds in a mountain bike race. The big question mark will be the distance."

    Copeland said the strongest teams for the Mendrisio circuit should be Italy, France and Germany. He wants his riders near the front for two reasons: a possible win and to impress professional teams looking to sign riders.

    Copeland was one of Lampre's directors at the recent Vuelta a España, where Italy's Cunego won two stages. Cunego is a...

  • Hesjedal relaxed, ready to seize chance at Worlds

    Canadian Ryder Hesjedal wins at the Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 13:52 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Canadian heads to World Championships confident after Vuelta win

    Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) is relaxed and confident ahead of the World Championship road race on Sunday in Mendrisio, Switzerland, thanks to his stage win in the Vuelta a España.

    "My goal is simply to have a good day," he told Cyclingnews. "I know that if I have a good ride and things go well I can be near the front. If that happens then you never know."

    Hesjedal took his biggest career win a week ago on the Vuelta's stage 12 to Alto de Velefique. It was his first win in two years and puts him in a good state ahead of Sunday's 262 kilometre race.

    "The win helps me stay relaxed and comfortable for Worlds. There is no pressure; I am pleased with my season."

    Canada will enter the road race with a three-man team: Hesjedal, Michael Barry and Svein Tuft. The International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed last month the number of riders allowed for each nation based on rankings as of August 15. Ten nations may have the maximum number of nine riders, including favourites Spain and Italy.

    "We are a small team, but we are three strong riders who will represent our country well and have a good result. We have to let the big teams control the race and take our chances when they come."

    Canada has only once finished on the podium in the World Championships road race. Steve Bauer placed third at the 1984 edition in Barcelona, Spain, behind Belgian Claude Criquielion and Italian Claudio Corti.

    Tuft was the first Canadian to finish on the time trial podium last year. He and Christian Meier will be Canada's representatives in the time trial this year.

    Hesjedal will end his season after Sunday's race. It will be his third participation in the Worlds road race.

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  • Quick Step still chasing Contador

    Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was again the centre of attention.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 14:44 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Lefevere says he has been in close contact with Camp Contador

    Astana rider Alberto Contador has continued transfer negotiations with Quick Step, according to comments made by the Belgian team's director Patrick Lefevere on Tuesday. Lefevere said he has been in close contact with Contador and his agents, as both parties await a decision on Astana's future as a ProTour squad.

    "We have constant contact. I've already had two meetings with Contador's manager and I've already had two conversations with Contador himself," Lefevere told Gazet van Antwerpen. "At present little is possible. We shall see what the International Cycling Union (UCI) does with Astana's ProTour license. If the license is not renewed, it will provide opportunities."

    Astana's financial difficulties during 2009 have increased scrutiny of the team and raised the possibility that it may fall short in the UCI's annual revue of ProTour squads. Failure to satisfy the UCI could see Astana stripped of its ProTour licence.

    Amid the uncertainty, Contador himself has made no secret of his desire to leave Astana. The two-time Tour de France winner is anxious to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2008, whereby he was denied entry to the Tour de France due to Astana's non-invitation to the race. At a press conference in Spain last week Contador acknowledged that preliminary transfer discussions had taken place with teams including Garmin-Slipstream, Caisse d'Epargne and Quick Step.

    A move by Contador to another squad is complicated by the fact that his Astana contract lacks a buy-out clause. Despite the Spaniard's contractual obligation to the Kazakh squad, it has not discouraged rival bidders.

    Lefevere said that while the acquisition of Contador would require greater financial commitment from team sponsors, he was already prepared to hold room on the Quick...

  • Spanish allege Italian dirty tricks over Valverde complaint

    Alejandro Valverde will be one of Team Spain's leaders for Worlds, September 27
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 17:35 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Valverde's Worlds participation in question

    Spanish national federation president Juan Carlos Castaño has hit out at what he sees as Italian attempts to undermine the Spanish team prior to the elite men's world road race championship race in Mendrisio, Switzerland on Sunday. Responding to comments attacking the participation of Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde by UCI ProTour president Vittorio Adorni, Castaño said, "What the Italians are saying is simply designed to increase the pressure on us and gain some kind of advantage."

    Adorni told Corriere della Sera that he is opposed to Valverde's participation in Mendrisio and that he will be pressing UCI president Pat McQuaid to block the Spaniard from starting the UCI's blue riband event on Sunday.

    "The fact that the Valverde has been condemned by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) [for involvement in the Puerto Affair] and is still racing is shameful and disturbing," Adorni told the Italian paper. "I am going to speak to president McQuaid in Mendrisio and we will evaluate the situation .The Worlds is not the Vuelta, it's a race organised by the UCI and this organisation ought to be saying 'We don't want Valverde.'

    "This won't be an easy thing to do," continued Adorni.

    Indeed not. The UCI did attempt to bar the Spaniard from the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart because of his alleged links to the Puerto affair. That ban was subsequently overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and Valverde was able to compete in Stuttgart.

    Speaking to Spanish sports paper AS, Castaño indicated he had no concerns about Valverde starting Sunday's road race. "Valverde is registered for the Worlds, we've got his accreditation. The contacts that we've had with the UCI over this affair are reassuring," he said.

    Asked about why the Spanish team were staying at a hotel in Italy, where Valverde is banned from riding for two years, Castaño said, "We just want to give a sense of...

  • Hammond predicts few finishers in Worlds road race

    Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) during Vuelta a España stage nine.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 18:08 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Briton hopes Vuelta form will produce strong Worlds result

    Having completed the first Grand Tour of his 12-year pro career, Roger Hammond is hoping that the form he has emerged with from the Vuelta a España will enable him to produce a strong performance on the tough Worlds course in Mendrisio, Switzerland this coming Sunday. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Monday morning, the 35-year-old Briton said that the muscular damage he suffered when he had no option but to crash onto Julian Dean and Wouter Weylandt as the peloton sped into Puertollano towards the end of Vuelta stage 16 had improved significantly in subsequent days.

    "During the last two to three days of the race I started to feel a lot better," said Hammond. "It's difficult to gauge just how good my form is but I felt quite strong in the final time trial and didn't lose as much time to the top guys as I would have done if I'd had a bad day." Hammond took eighth place in the Vuelta's final stage bunch sprint in Madrid, but confessed he'd only got involved "half-heartedly" as the stage wasn't anywhere near tough enough to suit his strength and endurance.

    The course in Mendrisio, however, is sure to be hard enough to give every rider in the field an extremely arduous test. Hammond is looking forward to tackling it, assuming he's not the odd-man out in the 10-man British squad for the nine-rider road race team. "There's a doubt over Mark [Cavendish] at the moment. We're not sure whether he's going to start yet," said the Cervélo TestTeam rider.

    Hammond added that, assuming he makes the final cut for the race, he will head to Mendrisio "looking to be as strong as possible. It's going to be a very selective course. Anyone who finishes it will have done a good ride. It's going to be one of those all-or-nothing World Championships when you're either good enough to be with the guys at the front or you're not. It won't be one of those Worlds where you'll be able to ride round in the pack and finish. I don't think there will be...

  • Team Type 1 names new assistant director

    Team Type 1 riders in action at the Cascade Cycling Classic.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2009, 18:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Former pro Michael Carter hired for 2010 season

    Former professional cyclist Michael Carter will be an assistant director for Team Type 1 in 2010, the team announced on Tuesday.

    Carter, 46, raced from 1984 to 1993 and later directed the first China-registered professional cycling team, the Marco Polo Cycling Team. In addition to competing in all three Grand Tours (the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España) the American's career highlights include a third place overall in the 1991 Tour de Romandie.

    "My goal is to take the riders we have, get to know them, work with them and draw the best out of them," Carter said. "I want to help them reach their potential and bring them together as a team. I'll work with the chemistry that exists there and improve on it. We want them to be the best riders they can be and be the best team they can be."

    Phil Southerland, Team Type 1 co-founder, said Carter brings a wealth of experience to the team, particularly in the realm of competing in Europe and Asia.

    "I've known Mike for about 10 years now," Southerland said. "When I was 18 years old, I thought he was an extremely classy individual who was able to mold a group of guys into a cohesive team in one week. To bring his knowledge and success on a worldwide level to our program will help us reach people all over the world affected by diabetes."

    Carter will assist directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko, who has been with Team Type 1 since the creation of the men's professional program in 2008. Gord Fraser, the team's assistant director in 2009, opted not to return to Team Type 1 for 2010.

    The US-based UCI Continental Team Type 1 is the world's only professional cycling team with a roster that includes riders who have Type 1 diabetes.

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