Cauberg is the star
The Cauberg climb is the star of the World Championships, according to organiser Union Cycliste International (UCI). “The iconic Dutch hill will make the final decision” in the race, it said as a teaser for its video:
The hill rises 69 metres over 1.2km, at 5.8 per cent, to reach the top. It concludes the Amstel Gold Race each year and features in every event in this year’s Worlds. After the top of the climb, the races end 1.5 kilometres afterwards. Organisers used the same finish for the 1998 Worlds.
Team Italy DS Paolo Bettini, who raced his first Worlds in 1998, told VeloNews, “This year, there is also the 100km piece to start with from Maastricht, which lessens the overall climbing metres. However, the fact remains that the Cauberg ends the race. … I don’t think we are going to see the race arrive in a big group.
“With the line on the top of the Cauberg, like in Amstel, whoever has the legs and arrives first, wins. But with 1.5km, someone may be able to close any sort of gap [to the lead rider].”
Phinney nearly pulls it off
Taylor Phinney (USA) nearly matched his gold-medal performance from Geelong in 2010. As an Under 23 rider, he won the time trial title, adding to his two Paris-Roubaix wins and track titles. As a pro on Wednesday, he came with in five seconds of taking the crown off Tony Martin (Germany).
You might remember him from the Giro d’Italia. He won the opening stage and held the pink jersey for three days. He lost it thanks to a crash Roberto Ferrari caused in the final kilometres of stage three.
Phinney was the first to close the 45.7km Worlds TT in under an hour, in 58-44 minutes. However, the attention quickly turned to Martin, last year’s winner in Copenhagen. He was struggling up the Cauberg and fighting to keep a slim lead.
“It was the longest 1000 metres of my career,” Martin said. “My heart rate was high, but I had to continue.”
As if in a sprint finish, he threw his bike over the line and beat Phinney by 5.37 seconds. Phinney, however, is progressing well with a fourth place in both the Olympic time trial and road race and now, a silver medal in the Worlds.
“He came as close as possible and lost to a great champion. He’s closing the gap in the time trials, he’s the contender to reckon with in the future,” BMC Racing’s general manger, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s never easy to race against the vets, they have the experience you don’t have. But, every race he does, he gets better and better.”
BMC plans to take Phinney to the Classics again and to the Tour next season.
OmegaPharma’s secret: recon, recon, recon
OmegaPharma-Quick Step smashed it in the team time trial on Sunday with the help of Martin. They finished with all six men, held off the charge of BMC Racing and put Orica-GreenEDGE in third by 47 seconds. Its secret? Reconnaissance.
Over the winter, the Belgian team took on many of HTC-Highroad’s riders and staff. World TT Champ, Martin joined with DSs Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm. With the change, the team re-focused on time trials.
“Rolf Aldag came in and helped put a lot of effort in the bikes and we helped give the riders back the love for the time trial,” DS Tom Steels told Cycling Weekly. “Every TT they had to do, we all went with two or three guys in the lead and we won a few. The guys started to love it again. They always had one [bike] to train on at home and so when they came to the race, they were excited to compete.”
Steels drove the course in April, shot video and took photos for the riders. Since then, he made the 53.2km one of the top missions.
The six men trained on the course after the Eneco Tour last month and based themselves in the area three days ahead.
“In the last two or three days, I started my day at 6AM by watching the video,” Steels added. “Every time I looked at it, I saw different things to say to the riders.”
TTT a success
The team time trial returned to the World Championships for the first time since 1994. The organiser last featured it as an event for amateurs and ran it up to 100km. This time it was different: for trade teams and with an exciting parcours.
The women went first, team Specialized-Lululemon winning over Orica-AIS by 24 seconds.
General Manager Kristy Scrymgeour told Cycling Weekly, “I think it’s a brilliant thing for women’s cycling to have a World Championship for, it helps the sponsors, which in turn helps the sport.”
Silver and Bronze will do…
Damien Howson (Australia) was crushed when he saw Russia’s Anton Vorobyev roll over the top of the Cauberg on Monday. His time stood short by 51 seconds, not enough for gold. The only hope was his team-mate and pre-race favourite, Rohan Dennis.
Howson and Vorobyev watched the monitors until Dennis appeared. When he did, he was clearly off the mark and gold looked destined for Russia. He crossed the line fast enough for second, but by a relatively huge margin, 44 seconds, behind Vorobyev.
“I try to go in as a challenger because otherwise you get complacent and almost think you’ve got it won already if you go in thinking you’re the favourite to win,” Dennis explained in a press release. It’s a “little bit of added pressure being told you’re the favourite going into world championships especially, so it is a little bit difficult but at the same time you put that behind you and treat each race as a new day really.”
Dennis helped Australia win the silver medal in the team pursuit at the Olympic Games last month. At the start of the season, he won both the Under 23 road race and time trial national titles. Vorobyev placed fourth last year in the Worlds and rode as stagiaire for Katusha this year. He plans to turn pro for his home team next year.
Arndt says good-bye with gold
Germany’s Judith Arndt successfully defended her Worlds TT title and said good-bye to the pro life on Tuesday.
“Why am I stopping? Because I’ve had enough,” the 36-year-old said in a press conference. “You know, I started in 1991, that was like 21 years ago! I had to ride and train every day. You don’t have time at home with your partner… It’s just difficult. I don’t want to do it anymore.”
Arndt won the TT gold medal last year in Copenhagen and signed for Orica-AIS over the winter. This year, she won the silver medal in the London Olympics. In 2004, she won the World road title in Verona.
“I also felt relieved and emotional that it’s all over. Not only the TT, but also my career. All the training and racing, it was getting pretty hard for me in the end.”
You may see her around as she plans to move to Melbourne permanently.
Cannondale takes over Liquigas with Brixia Sport
American bike manufacturer Cannondale announced yesterday that it will become the title sponsor of Italian team, Liquigas-Cannondale. It is also joining forces “in a significant way” with management company Brixia Sport.
“Cannondale,” according to VeloNews, “may be taking on a 40 per cent stake in Brixia Sport.”
Last month, Brixia Sport’s president, Paolo Zani announced he bought the management company from Liquigas’ Dutch parent company, SHV Holdings. Yesterday, he confirmed he is getting help from Cannondale.
“For us it’s a great pleasure,” Zani said in a press release, “that Cannondale decided to continue and increase its partnership with the team.”
The team will centre on stars Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani, Moreno Moser and Ivan Basso.
Tiernan-Locke tops Tour of Britain, Cavendish three stages
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke gave the Tour of Britain its first home win since it began in 2004 and underlined his star status. He will keep on celebrating, as in the coming month his contract with Sky will become official.
“We have been impressed with Tiernan-Locke for a long time and now he is confirming his talent,” Sky’s general manager, Dave Brailsford told The Telegraph.
The 27-year-old won the Tour Méditerranéen, the Tour du Haut-Var and the Tour Alsace as well this year. In the Tour of Britain, he celebrated with Sky’s Mark Cavendish who won three stages. The two will team for the World Championships this Sunday.
“He has got good form, but it is such a long ‘grinding down’ race, if he is there at the end he will have a chance but that will be the challenge,” Brailsford added. “Given the nature of the course you would think it suits him but what an exciting opportunity and challenge.”
Savio recovering from heart attack
Gianni Savio, general manager of team Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, suffered a heart attack over the weekend. He was driving, but able pull over at a rest stop and call for help.
“I need to recover a few days,” he told Italian website Tuttobiciweb. “I have to give up on going to the World Championships, but I can’t wait to be back in action.”
Doctors re-opened a blocked artery and kept Savio under control. The white-hair, classy Italian has been managing teams for 28 years, this year second division team, Androni Giocattoli. He won two stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia with Roberto Ferrari and Miguel Rubiano Chávez.
Bobridge on the move…
Jack Bobridge leaves Orica-GreenEDGE at the end of this season to join Dutch outfit, Rabobank. The 23-year-old will team with fellow Aussies, Graeme Brown and Mark Renshaw.
“I want to develop myself further on the road,” Bobridge said in a Rabobank press release. “Rabobank is experienced in training young talents and turning them into good road racers. I’m a real team player, I really want to help my team-mates. That’s where my strength lies.”
He signed for 2013 and 2014.
Kreuziger signs with Saxo-Tinkoff
Roman Kreuziger will leave Astana to join Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank for next season.
“No doubt he will add significant strength to our roster, which his palmarès also shows, and he can win races from classics to stage races. At the same time I also think Roman still have the potential to improve,” team owner, Bjarne Riis said in a press release.
Astana GM, Giuseppe Martinelli was not happy with Kreuziger and wanted make way for Vincenzo Nibali and possibly Andy Schleck. Kreuziger likely signed his three-year deal for much less than he was making at Astana.
The 26-year-old won the young rider classification at the Giro d’Italia last year. This year’s Giro was largely a failure for him, but he won the mountain stage to Alpe di Pampeago. Racing for Liquigas, he won the Tour de Romandie and Suisse and signalled his potential. It’s now up to Riis to find it.
RadioShack exodus continues
Riders are leaving RadioShack-Nissan amid doping investigations, failed drug tests and missing salary payments. Yesterday, Giro di Lombardia winner, Oliver Zaugg announced he will join Saxo-Tinkoff. Daniele Bennati, Joost Posthuma, Robert Wagner and Jakob Fuglsang are also leaving.
Andy Schleck is rumoured to be joining Astana. His brother, Fränk failed a doping test at the Tour. Team Manager, Johan Bruyneel is facing a ban as part of the Lance Armstrong investigation. And, since mid-year, there have been reports of some salaries not being paid.
Argos-Shimano is set to join the WorldTour next year and with such problems, one wonders if the UCI may award it RadioShack’s licence.