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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Date published:
August 01, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Staff sees promise in USA's Olympic track team

    Jimmy Watkins
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 12:27 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Higher hopes for Watkins than expected

    Four years on from winning gold in Beijing as part of the British men's team sprint squad, Jamie Staff is back in London as a coach for the 2012 Olympic Games, and not for his country of birth but for his adopted one, the United States.

    Staff took a position as Sprint Program Director with USA Cycling and has been working hard to improve the team ahead of the Games. Although the country failed to qualify in the team sprint due to a technical disqualification in the world championships, Staff is optimistic about the chances of his sole American pupil, Jimmy Watkins, in the individual sprint.

    When he began with the program in 2010, Staff said he was hoping simply to qualify riders for London, with an eye to gaining experience for the team ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio.

    However, Watkins has progressed quicker than expected. Although Staff sees his prospects of a medal as extremely remote, he expects that he will go farther than any male sprinter from the USA has gone since Marty Nothstein's gold medal in 2000.

    In 2004, the USA had no individual male sprinters, and in Beijing, Michael Blatchford qualified in an unfortunate position and was eliminated in the first round by Frenchman Kevin Sireau. Staff hopes Watkins can get deeper into the competition.

    "Jimmy Watkins broke the track record in Los Angeles two months ago. The guy is flying. He's an exceptional athlete. He did a 10.0 (for the 200m flying lap), which would have seeded him extremely high in the world championships or any World Cup, and that's a slow track. If he can come here with that kind of form, hopefully get through the jetlag and everything, there's a chance.

    “Where six months ago I thought we were just coming here to participate, now I think he can get top six in the time trial. If he can do that, and then the competition starts - he doesn't have as...

  • Contador leads Saxo Bank in Vuelta a España

    blank
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 15:01 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Danish team announces long list for Spanish race

    Alberto Contador will lead Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank in the Vuelta a España, as expected. The Danish team has announced its preliminary 13 riders for the final Grand Tour of the year.

    Contador will return to racing from a doping-related suspension this month. He tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and was suspended in February of this year follwing a Court of Arbitration hearing.

    The team submitted its long list to the Vuelta, indicating that the following eight would probably start along with Contador: Benjamin Noval, Daniel Navarro, Jesus Hernandez, Sergio Paulinho, Bruno Pires, Rafal Majka, Matteo Tosatto and Nicki Sørensen.

    The four reserve riders are Chris Anker Sørensen, Michael Mørkøv, Mads Christensen and Volodymir Gustov. However, any nine of the riders may be chosen.

    Contador is said to have indicated he would like to have Chris Anker Sørensen and Mørkøv with him. Sørensen is uncertain because he severely injured fingers on his left hand during the Tour de France.

  • Hughes finishes off her last Olympic Games

    Clara Hughes (Canada) hopes to add another Olympic medal to her collection. She's the only athlete to have won multiple Olympic medals in both the summer and winter Games.
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 15:35 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Canadian impressed by Armstrong's comeback

    Competing in what are likely to be her sixth and final Olympic Games, Clara Hughes finished in a strong fifth place in the women's time trial on Wednesday.

    Hughes started strongly, posting the third best time at the first time check as she looked to close out her Olympic career with a medal. However at the second check after 20.4 kilometres, the experienced Canadian had slipped two places to fifth, where she would remain at the finish.

    "I had everything I needed, the best bike, and all the support from my federation. That was the best I had. There's nothing could have done more, I just wasn't good enough. This was my big goal to prepare for, and I prepared better than I ever had for this and the best I had was fifth place. Do I have sense of disappointment that I got to represent my country at the Olympics in two different events and at my sixth Olympics? Absolutely not It's a gift - an honour," she said at the finish in Hampton Court.

    Due to turn 40 next month, Hughes will carry on competing to at least the end of this season for her Specialized - Lululemon trade team, and she has set the Worlds team time trial as another major objective.

    Asked if this would be her last Games, she said, "I'm pretty sure, yeah. I mean, ask me tomorrow but I've known that going through these Games that this was probably the last chance I'd have to do this in my life and it really made me happy to be here to have my chance."

    It was rival Kristin Armstrong (United States of America) who sealed the gold medal, retaining her title from four years ago in Beijing. Like Hughes, Armstrong has come back from a hiatus from the sport and the Canadian praised Armstrong's tenacity to succeed and overcome challenges.

    "Kristin is an awesome athlete. I...

  • No medal for Pooley on home roads

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain).
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 17:02 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    6th place for Briton on flat course

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain) missed out on a medal in the women's Olympic Games time trial on Wednesday, finishing in 6th place. Compatriot Lizzie Armitstead had to settle for 10th, just days after wining silver in the road race.

    Pooley came into the event as the home nation's best chance of taking a medal after finishing second in Beijing four years ago and then going on to win the world title two years later in 2010. However, on a course not suited to her, Pooley was never able to challenge the medal places. She was fourth fastest at the first time check but dropped to sixth at the 20.4 kilometre mark.

    "I just couldn't go any faster. I am disappointed, of course," she said at the finish.

    "I have never had so much support and have never heard so much noise on the road. I am not going to blame the course. It was that someone else was quicker. It's not my ideal course, but you do not get to choose the course."

    Pooley raced under team orders during the road race, sacrificing her chances for Armitstead. The time trial, however, was her opportunity to win a second Olympic medal of her career. Any talk of pressure being a factor was dismissed by Pooley at the finish.

    "A lot hangs on this, for British cycling, on my coach. Everyone has put a lot into it. I suppose I was more disappointed because I had a chance of getting a medal. That's the mistake of being an optimist. Perhaps I should be more pessimistic.

    "There is no such thing as a dead cert. Everyone wants to win, obviously. I do find the counting medal things a bit depressing. I think the thing the people come to watch is the story and the competition. The number of medals on a table, I don't give a monkey's...

  • Wiggins rides into history in Olympic time trial

    Bradley Wiggins holds court
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 18:32 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    British rider wins his seventh medal

    Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) made history at Hampton Court on Wednesday with a winning ride in the men’s time trial at the Olympic Games. The Tour de France winner beat Tony Martin (Germany) and Chris Froome (Great Britain) into second and third, respectively, to become Great Britain’s most successful ever Olympian.

    Wiggins’s dominance became clearer as his effort progressed. After a steady start saw him post the second quickest time at the opening check, he simply pulled away from Martin over the remainder of the course. The win was his seventh time trial victory of the season, and maintained his unbeaten run in the discipline (prologues excluded) this year. After wins at the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphine, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and now the Olympics, he has completed a year of success that not even the great Eddy Merckx ever matched.

    "I cannot put it into words,” Wiggins said. “I wouldn't do it justice. It was really incredible. To win an Olympic gold in your home city. When you win in the velodrome, there are three or four thousand people cheering. Here, around the streets of London, the noise is just amazing. I don't think anything will top that. I've just won the Tour de France. It's just been phenomenal.”

    Wiggins came into the race as the outright favourite after his Tour win and two time trial stages in the race. His July form held true as he headed for the Games and despite Great Britain missing out on a medal in Saturday’s road race, there was little the opposition could do from stopping Wiggins from controlling his speed over the poorly surfaced London roads.

    With seven Olympic medals [four gold, one silver and two bronze],...

  • Armstrong goes out on top with Olympic gold

    Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (USA) on the podium with her son, Lucas.
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 19:29 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Retirement a certainty

    Kristin Armstrong, racing in her final event before retirement, gave the USA its first Olympic gold medal in cycling in a repeat performance of four years ago in Beijing.

    The 39-year-old came back to the sport with the sole aim at earning another Olympic gold, and let out an unbridled shout of joy as she crossed the line at Hampton Court to win the 29km individual time trial. Barely containing her ear-to-ear grin, Armstrong's face portrayed pride, glee and relief at having overcome two years of turmoil in her comeback journey after giving birth to her son Lucas.

    In her first year after that time, she struggled more with regaining form than anticipated. Lacking form and international racing in 2011, she was kept out of the world championship time trial after a successful protest by fellow American Amber Neben. Without a world championship result, even her selection for London was never secure, but she kept pushing forward knowing she had one chance to relive the moment on the Olympic podium.

    "When I came back, everyone asked me why in the world would I come back. And the reason I came back was because the feeling I got in Beijing, nothing could top that," Armstrong said. "But I couldn't imagine being on the top step of the podium with my son, Lucas, in my arms."

    Armstrong's journey to greatness grew out of her career in triathlon, which she was forced to give up after suffering chronic hip pain and ultimately being diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

    She turned to bike racing in 2001, being recruited with the T-Mobile women's team, but it wasn't until the lead-up to the Athens Olympic in 2004 that she began her path to the top. That year she claimed her first national road title, she would go on to claim five in total - three in time...

  • Martin concedes to Wiggins in Olympic time trial

    Tony Martin (Germany)
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 20:21 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Silver still a great moment for German

    Tony Martin was forced to concede his title as the sport's top time trialist in the 2012 Olympic Games in London to Bradley Wiggins. In the 44km test at Hampton Court Palace, Wiggins prevailed for the gold medal over the German by a stunning 42-second margin.

    It was a bit of turnabout after 2011, when it seemed that Martin was unstoppable in the time trials. He went nearly undefeated in the race against the clock last season, parlaying a Paris-Nice stage win into the overall victory thanks to his prowess in the race of truth, and going on to win stages of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España before winning the time trial world championships in Copenhagen.

    Call it the curse of the rainbow jersey or not, Martin admitted that this year, Wiggins has surpassed him. "He was unbeatable today and I respect this. No one can beat him, a bit like I was like last year," Martin said of the Briton.

    He was consoled with silver after holding off Chris Froome. "It's a great moment and it means a lot to me," Martin said. "I was really unlucky this season, but I think today I was very lucky with the silver medal. Bradley is unbeatable at the moment, everybody knows that, and for me silver feels like gold. I'm very happy."

    Martin's preparation for the Games was hampered when he crashed in stage 1 of the Tour de France and suffered a broken bone in his wrist. He fought to remain in the race for the stage 9 time trial, and then headed home to recover.

    "It was really hard after the Tour de France. I had to fight and it was really hard to come back. I did my best and I made it. I am at almost 100 percent...

  • Olympic struggle for Cancellara

    Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
    Article published:
    August 01, 2012, 21:10 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Swiss rider finishes 7th in time trial

    Fabian Cancellara's (Switzerland) defence of his Olympic Games time trial title effectively ended on Saturday when he crashed during the men's road race. As Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Tony Martin charged in to take the podium slots, and the medals, the 2008 champion was left to limp home in seventh place, 2:14 down on the winner.

    Cancellara seemed in contention after the first time check at 7.3 kilometres, posting a time six seconds slower than the leader, Tony Martin. However by the next time check at 18.4 kilometres, the four-time world champion had started to crack, his injured shoulder from Saturday's crash affecting his rhythm and power as he battled over the London road surface. By the finish, all hope of a medal had slipped away and while Wiggins waved to the home crowds Cancellara slunk to the floor.

    "I think I've just done my best and in sport that's what counts. Today and when you're competing in the Olympics, it would have been too easy to say I'd go home and watch from home. I prepared so much for these days and most of the last few hours I'd recovered well and I was in good hands, but to win and to win medals you need to have better days," Cancellara said at the finish.

    "I started good but on the other hand I knew that the shoulder wasn't maybe how it should be. I did what I could, the maximum, and 100 per cent. That makes me happy. For myself, I have respect because it would have been harder being at home and watching instead of riding here."

    Once Cancellara had been cleared by doctors after Saturday's crash, there was little chance in the rider returning home and missing the time trial. The road race provided a microcosm of Cancellara's season:...