- Article published:
- March 25, 2010, 10:40
- Shane Stokes
Insists building towards London 2012 is biggest priority
Given the team's huge medal haul in recent years, observers were a little surprised at Great Britain's performance on day one of the track world championships. While big rival Australia took gold medals in the points race (with Cameron Meyer) and the women's 500 metre TT (Anna Meares), the highlights for the GB team were Wendy Houvenaghel's silver medal in the individual pursuit and bronze in the team sprint with Jason Kenny, Chris Hoy and Ross Edgar.
It was the first time in six years that the British riders did not reach the final round in the team sprint. Performance director Dave Brailsford might have been expected to be slightly disappointed, but he said that the opposite was the case.
"I'm very happy," he insisted to Cyclingnews. "Our real concern were the Olympic events, and obviously the only Olympic event tonight was the team sprint. We had been particularly worried about Jamie [Staff] and losing our man one to injury. So one of the most important things today was Jason Kenny in that position. Not only did he step up and deliver, he did phenomenally well with a time of 17.2. I'm very happy about that."
The team dominated the track worlds in 2008 and then the Olympic Games later that year. That inevitably increased expectations and while 2009 saw the squad back off slightly in a post-Games reaction, many anticipated that the team would pick things up again here in Copenhagen.
When asked where Britain's best medal chances would lie in the days ahead, Brailsford refused to be drawn on making predictions. The priority, he insisted, was on building towards London 2012.
"From our point of view, we are still really looking at things like man one in team sprint, how we are going to move that forward. That is the sort of level we are focusing on," he said. "We are not particularly concerned about a medal tally. To be honest, are we concerned about the points, are we concerned about individual pursuit women, are we concerned about individual pursuit men? Well, it's great for the athletes, but as a programme we are looking at London. 17.2 for Jason Kenny? That's a fantastic ride.
"If you take the men's team pursuit, you've got Andy Tennant who has never ridden in the senior worlds. You've got Ben [Swift], who is likewise. We will be in the mix, but I think at this moment in time our primary concern is more about getting them into the groove.
"So I am going to bed a happy man tonight, I can tell you that. Two months ago, we were looking down a barrel when Jamie Staff's back went. I was thinking, 'right, that medal is going away from us.' But now I would say that there is a big turn around, and I am very happy."
- Article published:
- March 25, 2010, 11:00
- Hedwig Kröner and Susan Westemeyer
Germany upsets France at Worlds, Britain third
The French sprint squad experienced a bitter setback at the 2010 Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, when they were beaten by Germany in the men's team sprint on Wednesday. The experienced squad, used to scoring the gold medal in the discipline every year since 2006, missed out on the top step of the podium by two hundredths to the German combination.
After having clocked the best time of the qualification heats, the French trio of Grégory Baugé, Kévin Sireau and Michael d'Almeida was "disappointed" by their performance in the final. Especially Baugé, whose performance as first rider did not live up to expectations.
"I'm very, very disappointed," he told French press agency AFP. "The German démarreur [starter - the first rider of the team sprint, in this case Robert Förstemann - ed.] went off very fast. He already showed some really good performances in the World Cup. I didn't achieve the best time and this hurt the team, even if Kévin (Sireau) accelerated again and Michael (d'Almeida) anchored it really well."
Indeed, Baugé passed on the relay to Sireau 19 hundredths of a second adrift of the German team, a deficit that would eventually cost them the gold medal. Sireau made up three hundredths of a second on his direct rival, Maximilian Levy, and D'Almeida again produced a stellar performance against Kilo World Champ Stefan Nimke, but it was not enough.
Baugé's trainer, Florian Rousseau, explained that the Frenchman from the Caribbean island of Guadedoupe wasn't able to prepare himself for the Worlds as he'd wanted because of a shoulder injury in late January. "For several weeks, he couldn't work his starts properly," Rousseau said. "In the qualifying, he showed off a good performance, but 17.440 in the final is of course not Greg's best because his record is 17.200."
"The Germans were very strong, you have to accept it," added Sireau. D'Almeida's disappointment was tempered with satisfaction at his own performance. "It's a big disappointment, we wanted this title and we missed it. I achieved the best time of the tournament in third position, so now I'll fight to become the World Champs' fastest rider."
Germany tunes sprint team to perfection
Meanwhile, no one was more surprised that the Germans won the team sprint than the gold meddalists themselves. Robert Förstemann, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke upset the favourites to take Germany's third World gold medal in this discipline, having previously won in 1995 and 2003. "Sure, we wanted a medal, but we really didn't reckon on it happening," Nimke, the team's last man told the German cycling federation.
"That is unbelievable," said Levy, who knew where to give credit. "But it is the product of hard work in the last week and months. In that time, all of us, whether rider, trainer or soigneur, have grown together into a real team."
Lead rider Förstemann was happy enough to beat Great Britain in the semi-finals. "That we could top Britain and actually get into the finals was fantastic. And then to win the finals is even better."
Germany and France were joined on the podium by bronze medallists, Great Britain.
"Technically, we weren't as good as we would have had to be," said Great British rider Sir Chris Hoy. "But on the positive side we found someone that is on the same level than Jamie [Staff] at the start. The French and German teams were impressive; they'll give us something to think about for the next two years. Every medal is hard to obtain, so we have to be proud that we got one."
- Article published:
- March 25, 2010, 17:34
- Shane Stokes
Will lead US team pursuit squad in bronze medal fight this evening
This evening Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo have a chance to make US track history when they aim to be the first from the country to land a medal in the women's team pursuit. Hammer helped drive the trio to fourth in today's qualifiers, and they will ride off against New Zealand for a medal this evening.
Hammer showed that she is back to top form yesterday when she took her third world title, beating Wendy Houvenaghel (Great Britain) by almost four seconds in the gold medal final.
It marked an end to a long, frustrating period for the rider from Temecula, California, who was world champion in 2006 and 2007, but who was then sidelined by back problems. These affected her preparation for the Beijing Olympics, where she finished in fifth place in the pursuit and then crashed out of the points race, breaking her collarbone.
Hammer has worked hard to get back on track and has showed in the past two days that she has succeeded in that aim. She paid credit to massage therapist Doug Thralls just before receiving her new rainbow jersey, saying that he, and others, played an important part in her rehabilitation.
"I'd like to thank this guy right here," she said, pointing to Thralls. "I wouldn't be able to do it without him. We even flew him over to Switzerland a month and a half ago...that is how much I need him. He has been a huge part of me getting back. I have to take care of my back on a daily basis; I have to be smart about it, as it still does act up."
Hammer's back first really flared up in May 2007 when on her road bike, but she said that it was an ongoing problem that suddenly worsened rather than something which came out of the blue.
"It was a road race that completely made it bother me, messed it up, but I always had a nagging issue," she admitted, speaking of the issues which resulted in an annular tear in her L4/L5 disc. "It came from not being smart with things when I was younger, and just not being smart in general. I am naturally really strong, so it was from relying on that and not working on fundamentals of core strength and keeping up on doing things for my back."
Apart from receiving treatment from Sparks and others, she also received advice from the Specialized BG Fit team, who helped her determine an issue with her bike which was aggravating her condition. "I use a Specialized Ruby saddle now and that helps...I realised that before my saddle was too narrow and I was rocking too much. That has given me stability and has helped.
"That is one part of it. Just getting strong all round is another part of it. Going back to working more on fundamental things, on the riding aspect...it is better than just relying on my complete power, which I did for many years. Now as you can see through my times, I am much more consistent, instead of just going for it and holding on, which is how I used to ride."
Hammer is visibly more solid than before. She had a very choppy style when taking her previous two world titles but this time she moves her upper body around less. She's fighting her opponents now, not her bike.
Two more medal chances
This evening hands Hammer, Bausch and Tamayo the chance to grab a bronze medal. They were .206 seconds off the New Zealand team in the qualifiers but if they focus and work well together, the task is possible. Hammer said yesterday that she was 'really excited' about the challenge.
"We just got our team together this winter, and so we are slowly progressing. We are hopefully shooting for a top five and, if we had a great day, to get to do a second ride."
They've achieved that now, going through to the finals. Once there, they'll try to take things to the next step but, either way, they've already started the ball rolling on an important addition to the US track campaign.
Following the final, Hammer will be back in action in two days time. "I'll do the omnium on Saturday. We'll see how it goes. Obviously it is not the Olympic format, it's a shorter distance. But I have been racing track since I was 14, so I have done all the races. We will see how it goes, I'll go out to have some fun."
Longer term, it's all about the Olympics. Beijing didn't quite go to plan, but she's feeling good again and is fully focused on being in her best shape possible in London in two year's time.
- Article published:
- March 26, 2010, 00:16
- Greg Johnson
Bronze medallist holding his head high
Jack Bobridge entered the UCI Track World Championships with gold medal expectations, but his excitement cost him a place in the gold medal final. Bobridge hit out hard in the 4km individual pursuit qualifying, but far too hard for the South Australian to sustain the effort and he subsequently faded towards the end and failed to qualify for the gold medal final.
"I always come to the worlds thinking to stand on top of the podium for first," said Bobridge. "I'm not going to lie, definitely disappointed with my effort this morning - a bit carried away and a bit excited. I'll learn from my mistakes and you never know after a few years on the road I might be able to start that fast and finish that fast as well.
"But to stand on third, I still got a medal and I got on the podium and [I have my] head held high," he added.
The 20-year-old was so determined to register a strong qualifying time that his second kilometre of 1:01.483 had him on track to better Chris Boardman’s world record time, set in 1996 using the now banned superman position. Bobridge while disappointed was able to joke about his mistake afterward, acknowledging that the excitement had impacted his performance.
"I was travelling to beat Boardman by nearly two seconds at the 2k mark," said Bobridge. "The day when I can finish at that pace will be the day I can get the world record, until then [I'll] go back to the basics and control my first k and second k and see what I can get out of it."
America’s Taylor Phinney won the gold medal race from New Zealand’s Jesse Sergent. Bobridge took a comfortable victory in the bronze medal race, more than three seconds up on Russian Alexander Serov.
The second day of racing in Copenhagen, Denmark was still a successful outing for the Australian squad, which added another two gold medals to its tally. Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch defended their team sprint world title before the women’s team pursuit squad of Ashlee Ankudinoff, Sara Kent and Josephine Tomic added a second gold for the day, taking Australia’s tally to four.
- Article published:
- March 26, 2010, 04:13
- Shane Stokes
Dominant display in points race attributed to strong road programme
Cameron Meyer took one of Australia’s two gold medals on opening day of the world track championships in Ballerup, Copenhagen, dominating the points race on Wednesday. The 22-year-old is likely to ride two more events and will aim to use his sparkling form to good effect in those.
“We have got the team pursuit on Friday,” he said. “We have got a really strong lineup, although I don’t yet know what the actual starting lineup is going to be. I could be in that race on Friday and I am sure that the Aussies are going to give it a red-hot crack. Then I have got the Madison where I was a silver medallist with Leigh Howard last year – that’s on Saturday night, and I am really looking forward to that one as well.”
Twelve months ago, the smooth-pedaling rider took three medals in the world championships in Poland. He took the aforementioned silver with Howard in the Madison, scooped another in the team pursuit, and won the points race. On that occasion his margin of victory was much less; he beat Daniel Kreutzfeldt (Denmark) by two points, and Britain’s Chris Newton by three.
This time round, he was simply streets ahead of the rest of the field. Early on he picked up 20 points when he and three others lapped the rest of the bunch. Then, in the second half of the race, he sealed his overall victory when he confidently forged clear and gained another lap, solo.
“I was told by my coach on the sideline that all the guys were tired, but I still had a lot left in me,” he explained. “I sort of rolled away and looked behind and there was no-one with me. So I thought, ‘okay, this is the time to go again’ and so I did.
“While I was out there, I just controlled my breathing, controlled myself, took the points and took the lap. I knew from there all I had to do was cover the rest of the riders for 30 laps and I had it won.”
Meyer’s final points total was 70, more than double the 33 points clocked up by Peter Schep (Netherlands). It was an utterly dominant display and the longer the race went on, the more comfortable he seemed. There was no doubt that the right rider prevailed.
Meyer agreed with the suggestion that his participation in big road events has helped him pull further ahead of his track rivals.
“My road career is also taking off with the Garmin Transitions team. I did the Tour Down Under and I did the Tour of Oman, where I had some good legs and some good performances,” he explained. “I think you have got to be on the road for the points race; it is 160 laps, you have got to be road fit, you have to be able to go for a long period of time and be very good at the longer distance.
“I think that riding in the professional ranks just makes me even stronger going onto the track. I believe that gave me an edge today; in the second half of the bike race, I was the strongest out there, and the road has a lot to do with that.”
Second Grand Tour coming up
Meyer will go from extremes once the track worlds ends on Sunday. He said that his first race back on the road will be the three-week Giro d’Italia, switching the emphasis completely from the pure speed needed on the boards to the stamina and day-to-day recovery required in a Grand Tour.
He doesn’t seem fazed by the challenge, believing that he will have an important part to play in the team’s race.
“It is quite big going from the track worlds to the Giro, but my team Garmin Transitions really has good faith in me. Matt White is the directeur and he knows me really well,” he said. “He is my coach and will train me up for the Giro this year. There is a team time trial which they use me a lot in, being one of the stronger riders as the Australian time trial champion. I am really looking forward to the Giro this year and I think it is only going to help me in both my road and track career.”
Meyer, his brother Travis and their fellow Aussie Jack Bobridge are all part of the Garmin team this year and he said that it’s a very easy squad to slot into. He clearly likes the way it is run.
“Jonathan Vaughters has a great setup with Garmin Transitions. With Matt White being my coach and the head director, it was such an easy fit. All the riders are on an English-speaking team, so it was such an easy transition from the Australian Institute of Sport programme, which itself was a great stepping platform from the under 23s going into the professionals. The move to Garmin has been a great transition; I am very happy with the step-up I have had.”
White said that he was impressed with how his protégée handled yesterday’s race, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if more gold medals were in store.
"Tonight Cam showed nothing but class. He's captured back to back world titles and I'm sure he won't be leaving Copehagen with just one rainbow jersey,” he said. “We're looking forward to having Cam and our other Aussie track stars (his brother Travis and Jack Bobridge) back in the fold and on the road after Worlds.”
- Article published:
- March 26, 2010, 16:18
- Cycling News
Torn shoulder ligaments also repaired
Quick Step's Iljo Keisse underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair damage caused by a crash in training which knocked him out of the UCI Track World Championships this week.
The Belgian had been diagnosed with a simple broken collarbone after a training crash Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark. Examinations and x-rays in Herentals, Belgium showed his injuries to be more serious than previously thought. He also suffered torn shoulder ligaments, which had to reinforced with synthetic ligaments.
“The x-rays taken in Denmark and Herentals are just two different things,” Keisse told the Belga news agency. “In Belgium the doctors found that in addition to the collarbone, my shoulder ligaments were torn. A very different diagnosis to the earlier 'clean break'. “
During the surgery, six screws were put into the collarbone, and he was given synthetic ligaments. “So the recovery period is now a lot longer than originally thought,” he said.
For now, he has to rest. Only in four or five days “can I even think of riding my bike on the rollers.” In the meantime, “the pain is seriously violent, but that makes sense after such surgery,” Keisse said.
He will undergo another examination in mid-april, at which time he hopes to hear when he can start riding again.
Keisse, 27, was Belgium's top medal candidate in the Madison and points races. On the road, he rides with Team Quick Step.
- Article published:
- March 27, 2010, 11:00
- Shane Stokes
Top US talent will aim for gold in Sunday’s Omnium
While Taylor Phinney has been a vocal critic of the decision to drop the individual pursuit from the Olympic Games, the talented young American rider has confirmed that he has no plans to give up on the event.
“My main goal is that world record,” he said. “I don’t think I am going to stop pursuing until I get it. It is so hard, but really rewarding.”
Several of the big pursuiters in the sport have questioned whether they will continue with the 4000 metre event after it was removed from the Olympic programme. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has increased the number of women’s races and with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not being willing to award more medals, some key contests had to be cut.
However Phinney’s goal of improving Chris Boardman’s 1996 mark of 4 minutes 11.114 seconds will ensure that he continues to mix road and track for several seasons more. He recorded a time of 4 minutes 16.1 in yesterday’s qualification session, almost a second off his personal best of 4 minutes 15.160 he set in last year’s world championships.
At this point in time, he is still learning about how to best prepare for the event. Phinney realises that it will take a couple of seasons to work out how to get things exactly right, and to ensure that he continues to get closer to Boardman’s time. While Boardman’s time was set using the now-banned Superman position, Phinney believes it can be beaten under current regulations.
“In training I have been focussing on the ending efforts. I wanted to go even faster than 4.16 [in the final] but it wasn’t going to happen,” he told Cyclingnews. “I think as I progress, I want to be able to go faster in the finals than in qualifying. So that is something that I look forward to.”
Finding the best way to mix his road and track careers is also part of the learning process. The two have quite different demands and as he continues to develop on the road, he will need to determine how to combine both to best effect.
“Having a road base definitely helps a lot with the track, but it is such a high power involved [in the pursuit] and to just have to hold it, sustain it, for the whole time makes it so much different,” he said. “Boardman did it - he rode the Tour de France and then broke the world record. I think I have a couple of years to go, but that world record is what I really want. I think eventually we will get it.”
A more immediate goal for Phinney is to try to grab another Olympic gold in Denmark. He was sixth in the Omnium at last year’s worlds and plans to try to improve on that on Sunday.
“I have been focussing on the pursuit as it is close to my heart,” he admitted. “But the Omnium is the future, at least for the Olympics, unfortunately.
“We will see how that goes here,” he added. “I think if I play it smarter than I did last year, it will go even better than back then. At least the podium, maybe the win…I will do as well as I can.”
- Article published:
- March 29, 2010, 14:39
- Cycling News
McQuaid 'guarantees' level playing field at London Games
UCI President Pat McQuaid has warned national cycling federations from Britain, Australia and Germany that the sport's governing body disapproves of 'illegal' advances in technology used to secure their place at the top of the international track cycling tree.
Speaking at the recent UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, McQuaid told reporters: "It has become apparent to the UCI that over the past few years it [technology in track cycling] has got a little bit out of control."
According to the AFP news agency, McQuaid believes it's a matter of parity in the lead up to the London Olympics, with the home nation one of the leaders in developing new machines that are superior in weight, material strength and aerodynamics.
"We sometimes have teams riding on prototypes (bikes) that are costing 50,000 if not in the hundreds of thousands of pounds to develop. That works against the Olympic Charter, it's against UCI rules and it's against the sprit of fair play," said McQuaid.
"I've written to all the federations and reminded them that any bikes they use must be within the rules as they're laid down."
Winning the war on technology...
It's a battle McQuaid and the UCI will likely find difficult to police, with development of cutting edge equipment standard procedure since at least 2004, when Sarah Ulmer broke the women's 3,000m individual pursuit record at the Athens Olympics. She rode an Avanti-branded bike, which in fact was developed in a laboratory with the support of yacht builders who worked on New Zealand's America's Cup-winning entry Black Magic, taking advantage of the latest in composite materials and design.
For some time the Great Britain squad rode on frames branded 'Dolan', the bicycle company of British builder Terry Dolan. In fact the bikes were constructed using technology seen in Formula 1, and as the Beijing Games approached, the stakes were raised higher in the team's quest for technogical perfection to the point where the head of cycling's governing body has taken a stand.
McQuaid is concerned with the fact that nations such as Australia, Great Britain and Germany use equipment which "is not commercially available", although the track frames used by some members of the Australian squad, manufactured by local company Bicycle Technologies, are available to purchase by consumers.
"There are three countries involved, Britain, Germany and Australia and they are incidentally the three strongest countries in track cycling," said McQuaid.
The issue of technology in track cycling has long been a thorn in the side of cycling's governing body, with the likes of Graeme O'Bree raising the UCI's ire and its subsequent banning of the 'Superman' position he developed.
While the current generation of track cyclists goes beyond mere riding position and into the realm of motor racing technology, the issue of parity hasn't been raised until recently - it's believed to have come with the dominance shown by these three nations at the recent world titles, which concluded overnight.
"We're particularly concerned about the way this is going in the run-up to the London Games," continued the UCI President.
"At London in 2012 we can guarantee there will be no-one using bikes, equipment and not even clothing (that is illegal) - because we are aware of developments in nanotechnology that can aid athletes in ways that would be outside the rules."
Brits not bothered by avowals
The man behind Britain's Beijing Olympic success and the recent launch in competition of Team Sky, Dave Brailsford, isn't perturbed by McQuaid's promise that there would be an enforced parity in London in two years' time.
Brailsford said he has, "always worked with the UCI and will continue to do so". This includes knowledge of Team Sky's working relationship with McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT), which provided technical support in the lead up to the squad's debut season. Team Sky has also used of the McLaren Formula One team's wind tunnel to develop rider position and the like.
"I think they're just trying to find parity," he added. "If the smaller nations want to start investing the same amount of money as the governments of Britain, Germany and Australia do then they're free to do so."