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World Championship Cycling News, September 26, 2008

Date published:
September 26, 2008, 1:00 BST
  • Disappointed Rogers needs to re-focus

    Michael Rogers (Australia)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Friebe in Varese, Italy

    By Hedwig Kröner in Varese Michael Rogers (Australia) had hoped to compete for the victory or at...

    By Hedwig Kröner in Varese

    Michael Rogers (Australia) had hoped to compete for the victory or at least for a medal in Thursday's time trial, but his final 12th place put him far off his expectations. The three-times world champion in the discipline could not live up to his objectives, even though the run up to the event had been promising with an eighth placing in the Beijing Olympic Games.

    "It just didn't come together for me, and I'm a a bit disappointed," he said after the race. "I was relatively confident before the worlds - my sensations and times during training were similar to the years when I won. Now, I have to go back over it with my trainer and see where it didn't get together."

    Rogers thought that he failed the proper rhythm especially in the second part of the course around the Varese lake. "In the middle section of the race, I seemed to fade a little bit," he said. "My first split wasn't too bad, and I think I just lost it in the second part. The last ten kilometres weren't the best, but they weren't bad either."

    Trying to find out why he performed poorly, the Australian didn't put any blame on his knowledge of the course, or its particularities which would have suited him in theory. "I've known the course for a year; I know every inch of the circuit," he continued. "It's the same course for everyone; there are some flat pieces and some hard climbs, as well as a lot of undulating stuff. From my analysis so far, that's where I kind of lost it, in the undulating sections."

    With the world's best so close together at this event, Rogers mused that peak performances can change rapidly within a few weeks. "It's always a difficult thing in an Olympic year to do both. I feel I've been getting better and better as the year went on. Svein Tuft, who was second today - I beat him in Missouri. That just goes to show how quickly things can turn around. He's obviously had the ride of his life today. It's just...

  • Millar dejected after time trial

    David Millar (Great Britain)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Friebe in Varese, Italy

    By Daniel Friebe in Varese, Italy The scoreboard said ninth place and just over half a minute...

    By Daniel Friebe in Varese, Italy

    The scoreboard said ninth place and just over half a minute outside the medal places, but the expression on David Millar's face told a different story - one of fatigue and mild dejection.

    The Scot had come into this World Championships with designs on a repeat of his 2003 victory in Hamilton - only this time without the performance-enhancing drugs. Not that he needs reminding, but Millar was stripped of his rainbow jersey in 2004, shortly after confessing to the use of EPO ahead of that gold medal-winning performance.

    Yesterday he hoped to bring his career full circle in an event which lacked a clear favourite in the absence of Fabian Cancellara, but it wasn't to be. Millar posted the ninth-best time at the first check, after 8.18km, and that was the same position he'd be in after 43.7km.

    Speaking to reporters the Garmin team bus serving as the British squad's headquarters for the day, he said it had been "a bad day at the office".

    "I thought it started had off good, but then I didn't have it in the second half. It was just average...average me, which is very disappointing, because I was expecting a lot more.

    "It's not easy to get it right for a single day," he continued. "There seems to be only one guy who gets it right all the time, and that's Cancellara. Everyone else seems to be a bit hit and miss. It's definitely been more miss for me of late...but, yeah, these seem to be quite unpredictable days. We always seem to get quite an eclectic top ten in these races. To be honest, though, I've put a lot of work into trying to make it predictable and, yet, I still seem to miss out."

    Asked whether he had an explanation for falling so far short of his own expectations, Millar shook his head.

    "I can't explain it. I thought I'd done everything right. I've done lot of work these last five weeks. I don't know...it's just disappointing, but, then again, five weeks...

  • Leipheimer closes season with fourth

    Levi Leipheimer (USA)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Varese

    By Gregor Brown in Varese Levi Leipheimer closed out the World Championships and his 2008 season and...

    By Gregor Brown in Varese

    Levi Leipheimer closed out the World Championships and his 2008 season and with a fourth place in the time trial Thursday. The Olympic bronze medallist finished 1:05 back on winner Bert Grabsch of Germany and 13 seconds back on USA teammate David Zabriskie on the 43.7-kilometre course in Varese, Italy.

    "I felt strong. After the Vuelta [a España] I have good condition. I was getting the time checks and I was really surprised," said Leipheimer to Cyclingnews. He confirmed he will not do the men's road race and is not scheduled to race for the reminder of 2008.

    Leipheimer came off an impressive pre-Worlds run with third in Beijing and wins in both of the Vuelta's time trials. He bettered Sweden's Gustav Erik Larsson by four-tenths of a second, but could not touch the times of Grabsch, Svein Tuft and Zabriskie.

    "I came straight here and took it easy for two days. I did a couple of intervals yesterday to make sure I was open. Looking back, between the three days of the Vuelta and here, it is just not enough to get that freshness," Leipheimer stated.

    Leipheimer rides for Johan Bruyneel's Team Astana during the year, the same team that welcomes Lance Armstrong back into the sport for 2009. For most of September, he dedicated himself helping teammate Alberto Contador win the Vuelta. During the three-week stage race took his opportunities with wins in the Ciudad Real and Alto de Navacerrada time trials on his way to second overall.

    Northern Italy did not provide the same winning setting as Spain, however. The early time check had Leipheimer in 16th spot. He improved, as he typically does through a time trial, to fifth best at the last check.

    "It is important to be consistent in all the time trials you do," he said of the time checks he received in his earpiece. "You need the truth. I kept hoping that Johan [Bruyneel] would say halfway through... I thought he was...

  • Zabriskie puts season's troubles behind

    David Zabriskie (USA)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Gregor Brown in Varese American David Zabriskie closed a difficult season on a high note with a...

    By Gregor Brown in Varese

    American David Zabriskie closed a difficult season on a high note with a bronze medal in the World Championships time trial. He finished 52 seconds behind winner Bert Grabsch of Germany and nine seconds off of Svein Tuft of Canada on the 43.7-kilometre parcours around Varese, Italy.

    Zabriskie suffered what could have been a career-ending crash in this year's Giro d'Italia stage two in Sicilia. He came down hard on a railroad crossing and fractured his L1 vertebrae. "I am satisfied. For the season I had it is good for me to have this result, so I am happy," he said.

    Zabriskie worked hard on a comeback in time for the Tour de France, a race where he held the maillot jaune in 2005, but he was not able to return to competition until the Beijing Olympics in August.

    He finished 12th in the Olympic Games time trial, and confirmed his return with a win in the US Professional national championships, but said that he still suffers from his injury. "Coming back from the crash in the Giro was extremely difficult. I talked to [Team Columbia's] Michael Barry; he said he had back pains for a while. ... I hope that mine will get better quicker than his."

    Zabriskie finished fifth in the Tour of Missouri time trial earlier this month, but late in the stage race, he confirmed that muscle spasms troubled him.

    "The course suited me better for me than Beijing. It did not have the big climb. I also had a couple of races since, which helped with my fitness. I was expecting to do well, and third is good."

    Zabriskie's previous performances in the Worlds include 12th in 2007, silver in 2006 and fifth in 2005.

  • Tuft signs two-year Garmin-Chipotle contract

    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Varese

    Svein Tuft's silver medal in the time trial world championships was a brilliant performance for the...

    Svein Tuft's silver medal in the time trial world championships was a brilliant performance for the Canadian, but rather than earn him a two-year contract with the Garmin-Chipotle team, it merely confirmed the talent which manager Jonathan Vaughters spotted years ago.

    Tuft's 2008 performances – a national time trial championship, the overall at Tour de Beauce, seventh in the Olympics and third overall in the Tour of Missouri – showed he is ready to take the next step in his career: a base in Europe and a chance to learn the trade from the likes of David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and Zabriskie on the Garmin-Chipotle team.

    It could be that his domestic programme will change and he will race the Tour de France in 2009 under the team's manager Jonathan Vaughters, who spotted his talent well before his break-out performance in Varese.

    "We signed Tuft. Before the Worlds, mind you," said Vaughters to Cyclingnews. "I've wanted Svein for two years now. He's an honourable guy. I'm super-excited to have him."

    Vaughters knew the 31-year-old Tuft from their time together on the domestic USA Prime Alliance squad. "He has been around for a while but has never had a chance in the big league, so we want to give him a chance," said Vaughters about the decision to sign Tuft.

    Tuft rode for the Canadian Symmetrics team for four years before it dissolved after losing the sponsor, and has put in strong performances in the Americas. "I don't have a lot of exposure over here in Europe," said Tuft. "This is the first year where I have been able to of focus on the Olympics and not hit the end of the season tired. I was able to keep the good form rolling and come here, fresh and motivated."

  • Tuft rides to silver despite flat, bike change

    Svein Tuft (Canada)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Gregor Brown in Varese with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski Svein Tuft was the day's...

    By Gregor Brown in Varese with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski

    Svein Tuft was the day's surprise at the World Championships in Varese, Italy. The 31 year-old Canadian is relatively unknown in Europe, but his silver medal in the 43.7-kilometre time trial and fresh contract with Jonathan Vaughters Team Garmin Chipotle - H30 will change his status.

    While the results show Tuft finished second behind Germany's Bert Grabsch by 42 seconds and nine seconds better than his new teammate, American David Zabriskie, but they do not reveal that he did so in spite of a flat tyre that forced him to a stop.

    Tuft hit a hole and flatted his front tyre about six kilometres out from the finish. The following car did not have a time trial machine, but only a standard road bike. Tuft received a quick change and remained calm.

    "It gave me enough of a scare to finish the finale as hard as I could," he said, but wasn't sure the incident cost him the gold medal. "You never know. We had a quick change. It was close, but I am happy with where I am at all the same."

    A seventh place in the Olympic Games heralded his ascension in the world ranks after his 2007 UCI Americas Tour victory, but it was a third overall at Tour of Missouri which predicted a strong ride in Italy. "The Beijing Olympics was a big confidence builder. I then did Tour of Missouri, and I had a good ride there. It was a good motivator and I came here confident," Tuft said.

  • A perfect day for Grabsch

    Bert Grabsch in the traditional pose
    Article published:
    September 26, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Varese with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski

    By Hedwig Kröner in Varese German time trial champion Bert Grabsch celebrated his biggest career win...

    By Hedwig Kröner in Varese

    German time trial champion Bert Grabsch celebrated his biggest career win on Thursday after taking the World time trial title ahead of Svein Tuft (Canada) and Dave Zabriskie (USA). The Team Columbia rider flew over the Varese worlds course in 52'01 minutes as the only rider to average more than 50 kilometres per hour.

    "It was a perfect day for me, the course was perfect, the weather was perfect - it was my day," said Grabsch at the post-race press conference. The usually quiet man from Wittenberg, Germany, surprised many of his rivals on the fast parcours around the town of Varese, which allowed him to fully express his potential.

    "The course was very fast, raced with an average of 50 km/h. It was different to Beijing [where he finished 14th - ed.]. It was perfect for me, as it was so fast. There weren't a lot of climbs," he explained.

    The 33 year-old Grabsch is a late bloomer. He is in his 11th year as a pro cyclist, as he started his career in 1997 with Agro-Adler Brandenburg. From 2001 to 2006, he spent six years within the Swiss Phonak team, where he slowly progressed, but nevertheless remained a faithful domestique to the squad's various leaders. In 2007, already German champion in the race against the clock, he won the first time trial of the Vuelta a España on a similarly fast course. This season, he added a total of four wins to his palmarès, and topped it all off with the rainbow jersey.

    The German therefore does not come out of nowhere, even if few cycling observers had him on the radar for today's victory. "Last year, I always had good results in the time trials I rode," he said about his progress as an athlete. "Four years ago, at the Vuelta time trial, I was fifth. Last year, I was fourth in the World Championships and German champion. This year, I defended my national title in front of Stefan...