Thursday, 31 March 2011
FIRST STAGE WIN FOR MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING RIDERS HANNES GENZE AND JOCHEN KäSS
SAUSER AND STANDER REMAIN IN THE LEAD AFTER STAGE 3
Stage 3 – Saronsberg/Tulbagh to Worcester (125km, 1900m of climbing)
With the fast roads out of Tulbagh, riders covered 13km before the first climb. It was steep at times and very loose, requiring hard bursts of effort to gain momentum over the rockiest parts. If there was ever a theme of race week, it’s “from effort comes reward”. After the 4km climb, riders arrived at a plateau with a beautiful valley nestled between spectacular mountains that resemble the pictures found on the covers of fantasy novels. There was little time to look around during the race though – the deeply rutted descent tested rider and equipment alike. After smooth farm roads and more rocky tracks, tyres were put to the test, with devil thorns lying in wait. A long drag upwards on a rough path lead to a remote hut at the foot of the cliff face of the bare rock of the mountainside. This area is a geologist’s paradise. After the final water point, Absa Cape Epic veterans experienced déjà vu, with a similar run into the race village through some winding single-track.
The German team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking) beat the South African/Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (36ONE Songo Specialized) in a sprint finish by 2,8 seconds, securing their first stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic. Stander and Sauser still lead overall by 6 minutes and 15 seconds, with three times winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Bulls team) in fourth place overall and 8 minutes and 32 seconds behind the leaders.
With an overall time of 14 hours, 40 minutes and 29,3 seconds, the 36ONE Songo Specialized team will wear the yellow leader jersey for Stage 4 tomorrow [Thursday, 31 March 2011].
Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking were the first to sprint across the finish line, securing their first stage win in this year’s event in 5:06.33,0 (overall 14:40.29,3). They were closely followed by Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of team 36ONE Songo Specialized in 5:06.35,8 (overall 14:34.13,8). In third place, with their first podium finish this year, were Bart Brentjens and Jeroen Boelen of Milka-Trek in 5:06.49,1 (overall 15:11.25,9) with the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in fourth (5:07.44,4; overall 14:42.46,0). Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels (team Versluys-Evenza) again finished in fifth place in 5:10.10,2 (overall 15:00.03,4)
Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking says it was a great day for them. “About 20km from the finish, we broke away from the Bulls team and carried on riding with Sauser and Stander. We’re extremely happy with our stage win. I trained differently to previous winters and it obviously worked. We’re in good shape. This stage win is excellent motivation for us to perhaps finish on the podium on Sunday (3 April, final stage) and perhaps we can even finish in second place overall.” Hannes Genze adds: “Today was my best day so far and Jochen was also feeling strong. I wasn’t feeling great on the uphill during the middle of the race, but near the end decided that I still had some energy left as I saved a bit yesterday which stood us in good stead today. Also, Susi (Christoph Sauser) and Stander didn’t push for the stage win. Bart was riding very well today – his partner is a roadie (Jeroen Boelen) and roadies always want to attack to win stages. They attacked shortly before water point 2, but I think they spent too much energy alone on the tar, so we could close the gap again.”
Says Burry Stander (team 36ONE Songo Specialized): “We’re happy with our overall result and weren’t fighting for stage win. We’re ahead of the Bulls overall. We stayed with the Multivan Merida Biking team and they broke away in the last 2 km. We let them know if you want to win a stage, you have to earn it. This stage was very hard – I’ve never experienced something so tough. It was 5 hours of pain and at one point I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. There were rocks everywhere and the first 50km felt like we’ll be riding all day. Eventually we hit the tar. I take my hat off to anyone who finishes this stage!”
Bart Brentjens of the Netherlands, the 2005 winner of the Absa Cape Epic, two times Olympic medallist and former World Champion and World Cup winner, finished in third place today with his team mate Jeroen Boelen. “We attacked before water point 2, but we lost time as we took a wrong turn. We rode at a good speed and worked really hard.
It was a long stage. This is my 6th Absa Cape Epic, so I know the race, but Jeroen is a roadie and has never done the Cape Epic before. He’s a new member of our team but I’m very happy with his performance. He’s learning a lot - fast. Every day we plan for the next day and I really hope we can make it to the finish.”
The reigning Belgian champion Nicolas Vermeulen (team Versluys-Evenza) who was leading the front bunch and set the pace during the first kilometres of today’s stage says they had a great day. “I didn’t have too much energy on the last climb. It was a hard day and one had to ride very carefully to avoid flats.” Adds his team mate Kevin van Hoovels: “The first day was very hot, but I’m getting better every day – we still have 4 days to go and hope for a place on the podium.”
José Hermida of the Multivan Merida Biking team says he is thrilled to keep one of their teams in front. “I’m really tired today, but we’re fighting for our team in the race. I’m so pleased they won today. We enjoy helping where we can, but they still need to win it by themselves. I’ve had a headache for most of the day and it was really hard out there. But as they say, it takes many days to get to Paris.”
Spring means only one thing in Belgium; the Tour of Flanders. Steve Thomas saddles up for a taste of the Flandrian cobbles and some fine Belgian beer;
It really hadn’t even occurred to be until that very moment. The moment I actually figured it might be appropriate to ask the question. For some reason I’d just assumed that Harry, my Dutch ride buddy, knew his way around. After all Holland is just a windy flat road away from Belgium, and he is a bike rider, so surely he would know his way around the back lanes of Flanders. Somehow he knew every fact there was to know about the race, apart from where anything was, or more importantly how to get to it! We had already spent 3 hours trolling around what must be no more than a ten kilometre square area of the Belgian countryside in a vein search for the legendary cobbled bergs which make up the final cheesy topping of for the Tour of Flanders.
This was mid winter too, which isn’t the most pleasant time to be pointlessly grovelling around this part of Belgium. But then again this is what makes Belgian bike riders such a hardy breed. Rain, wind, fog, we had it all in huge great dollops. Atmospheric some may call it – and Harry loved every minute of it, but not me, give me sunshine any day. “ This is real Tour of Flanders Weather.” He stated all too often. Heads down, tongues out we continued our windswept quest.
Cycling and the Tour of Flanders are as much a part of Belgian culture as beer and rain it’s self. Grinding our way through cabbage and sprout clad fields of mud and mist we must have passed more cyclists than you’d expect at rush hour in Beijing. Every single road junction has a mass of painted arrows and writing splurged across its surface, all offering direction and encouragement to the countless number of racers who regularly suffer their way along each and every farm road of a lane which criss-crosses the countryside of Flanders.
In such a short space of time we find ourselves passing through villages who’s repute in pro cycling terms is bigger than the villages themselves. The battlefields of Flanders not only relate to the wars; in cycling terms many great battles have been fought out here. This is the Holy Land of road racing, and you really feel that ground in to the countryside. It’s difficult to turn a pedal without hearing or seeing something you’ve heard of or read about. So much cycling history and culture all wrapped up in a totally unassuming patch of wet and windy cabbage covered countryside. If only we could find the bloody bergs..
Second time around Kluisberg we stopped to ponder over what to do next. We were cold, wet and hungry. It was also getting towards closing time in daylight terms. Then out of the mist he came, our saviour. A friendly old Belgian, who knew every inch of the local countryside – and even more about the history of the great race than we did ourselves. This was a true Belgian bike fan, who was to become our own personal guide for the remainder of the fading afternoon.
Hands gesturing all over the place he reeled off a whole list of berg names and directions to them. A huge great pile of them were within just a few kilometres of where we were, and he was only too keep to provide us with a support vehicle and a guided tour of these cobbled beauties. All of a sudden the safe was cracked, and the gold was revealed in all its glory. And all of the time they’d been right behind us, it was hard to believe we’d overlooked them, and tooth combing the area too. But at the eleventh hour we’d had a reprieve.
Within an hour our man had us slithering over the Koppenberg, thundering up the Oued-Kwaremont and almost in tears on the Paterberg. At last we’d got what we’d come for and our own pilgrimage to the great Flandrian Mecca was almost complete. All that was left now was a wind lashed dusk grovel back to Gent, to round off the experience with a whole load of holy water – kindly brewed and supplied courtesy of the local trapist monks. Beer. bergs and bikes, now that is a great basis for a religion ….
Steve’s berg report
Sixteen of the beasts, and all within 101 kilometres. Now that’s cruel. Luckily for us we get to miss out the first 150 kilometres of gutter grovelling in to the fierce Belgian winds. Most of these bergs are around a kilometre in length. The problem is that there are so many of them within a short period of time. And of course don’t forget that they’re all steep, narrow, and very cobbled- just to make it that little bit tougher.
They all register heavily, but after a while you kinda lose track of things, and just end up cursing these god forsaken back roads to nowhere but the well-known Flandrian outpost named sufferance.
There are a handful of the meanest bergs which do really stomp their ground; the Oude – Kwaremont is over 2 kilometres, and relentless with it. But then it hits the exposed nastiness of the Paterberg, which is only short – but oh so leg bendingly steep. And before you’ve had chance to wipe away the snot and curses it’s on to the Koppenberg it’s self. It’s just been re-surfaced, but they certainly haven’t flattened it out any, and believe me it is crushingly step. From this point onwards every berg will become just another red blur.
Be sure to have a 25-bottom sprocket on board, and a pair of heavyweight tyres to cope with the groggy surfaces. And a wad of Euros for the beer and frites!
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Stage 2: Tulbagh to Tulbagh (104km and 2 300m of climbing)
Today a 12km steady upward drag took riders to a 6km climb on an ancient Voortrekker wagon trail, specially opened for the race. At the top, the 18km mark, riders had already ascended almost 1 000m. With this stage’s major obstacle out of the way, the valley opened up ahead, with the route looping clockwise, following the buffer zone between orchards and mountainside. The tracks were far from flat and a short section of single-track compensated the labours of the first 50km. It was very hot in the valley (37˚) and riders were tempted to take a dip in one of the several dams dotted along the route as they began to head home. After a 1.5km rise to the highpoint of the day’s outing came the reward of the hard work invested in the first climb. The unmistakable silhouette of Table Mountain was visible from the crest. Riders then enjoyed descending the wagon trail they had previously climbed towards town for a good night’s rest.
The South African/Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (36ONE Songo Specialized) again proved their world-class stature by winning Stage 2 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic. This is their third consecutive win, having also taken top honours in both the Prologue and Stage 1.
With an overall time of 9 hours, 27 Minutes and 38 seconds, the 36ONE Songo Specialized team will wear the yellow leader jersey for Stage 3 tomorrow [Wednesday, 30 March 2011].
Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of team 36ONE Songo Specialized were the first to cross the finish line for the third consecutive day in 4:32.43,4 (overall 9:27.38,0). They were followed by Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in 4:33.30,6 (overall 9:33.56,3) with their second podium finish for this event and placed second overall. In third place with their first podium finish this year were Lukas and Mathias Flückiger of Trek World Racing in 4:34.07,2 (overall time 9:48.42,1). In fourth place was the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in (4:34.23,6; overall time 9:35.01,6), placing them in third position overall. Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels (team Versluys-Evenza) finished in fifth place today in 4:40.18,0 (overall time 9:49.53,2)
The 36ONE Songo Specialized team of Sauser and Stander lead the Multivan Merida Biking team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss by 6 minutes and 18 seconds and it is their 12th stage win in the Absa Cape Epic since they participated for the first time.
Says Burry Stander (team 36ONE Songo Specialized): “Today’s stage was hard. We followed a similar tactic to yesterday and tried to stay in front. Towards the end there were some steep climbs, but Susi (Christoph Sauser) was really strong and I just had to follow his wheel and on the flat stretch power to the end.” Adds his team mate Christoph Sauser: “I was feeling super strong today and had a good day in the saddle. We were riding together – about 8 of us - for most of the day but we broke away near the end. It was really nice to win another stage, but we’ll only celebrate tomorrow if we manage to win the stage again. The whole thing can blow up again. I‘ve never been as strong as this year – I also had a coach this year which was good for me. It’s good to get some advice, even at 35, and do more power workouts. I definitely have more strength in my legs.”
Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking, who finished in second place, was exhausted but excited. “Our team worked perfectly today. Jochen had a flat tyre, but the world champion José Hermida gave us his front wheel to continue on. Andreas (Kugler) and Markus (Kaufmann) managed to get us back to the leading group of 8 teams by pushing us a bit. That’s why I had enough energy at the end. I also had a crash today, which wasn’t very nice.” Says his partner Jochen Käss: “I had a flat tyre, but Hermida helped me out. It was really nice of him. We’re very happy with second place. Of course being on the podium makes us feel stronger. Our goal in this year’s race is a podium finish. The other teams are very strong and there’s still a long way to go. We’ll take it day by day.”
José Hermida of the Multivan Merida Biking team says he is thrilled to keep one of their teams in front. “I have no problem to be the spares rider. I gave Jochen my wheel and we just took it easy. We’d like a stage win, but our chance will come. We lost a lot of time yesterday – we had a technical problem – so it won’t be possible for us to catch up with the others. But a stage win is a priority.”
For Karl Platt of the Bulls team, today was “a good day. I felt strong today and we only lost the other riders on the last uphill. I hope we can make up some time. Stefan is not 100% and we’re waiting for him to feel better and find his legs.”
Says Lukas Flückiger of Trek World Racing: “We were motivated and off to a good start today. Mathias is bit tired as he was ill, but today we didn’t have any problems and are very happy with our podium finish. We definitely want a stage win – so we’ll go for it in the next five days.”
The reigning Belgian champion Nicolas Vermeulen (team Versluys-Evenza) says they had a great day. “We only lost the leaders in the last climb and rode in our own rhythm which was really nice.”
Monday, 28 March 2011
SAUSER AND STANDER VICTORIOUS TWO CONSECUTIVE DAYS IN THIS YEAR’S ABSA CAPE EPIC
SOUTH AFRICA’S KEVIN EVANS OUT OF THE RACE
With a distance of 89km, stage 1 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic saw riders take the flat roads out of Tulbagh with no idea of what was to come. Soon after leaving town, short but incredibly steep, rough and loose climbs appeared, and on the treacherous descents, volleyball-sized rocks and sand patches pocked the little-used dual tracks. While the pro-riders made short work of it, the first 50km took backmarkers over 5 hours. The stage’s last climb on some rough roads brought riders to the top of one of most precariously difficult downhills ever on this legendary mountain bike stage race. With large rocks, deep ruts and a sheer drop on the left, riders needed to slow down.
The Men’s Category for Stage 1 was won for the second consecutive day by the South African / Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (team 36ONE Songo Specialized) in a time of 3:52.13,9 (overall time 4:54.54,6). They were followed by Urs Huber and Konny Looser of the Stöckli Pro team in 3:53.15,5 (overall time 4:58.17,3) with the Bulls 2 team Tim Böhme and Thomas Dietsch in third place in 3:54.25,1 (overall time 4:59.49,4). In fourth place was the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (3:56.02,4; overall time 5:00.38,0) with Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in fifth place (3:56.02,8; overall time 5:00.25,7). Last year’s winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm are now in fifth position overall, with Sauser and Stander leading them by 5 minutes and 43 seconds.
The big news of the day was that one of the favourite contenders for this year’s title, Kevin Evans (of team 360LIFE), unfortunately had to withdraw after breaking his collar bone.
Says Burry Stander (team 36ONE Songo Specialized): “We rode well today, had good legs and felt comfortable. It wasn’t a day for tactics, just really tough up and down, up and down. Our full suspension bikes definitely worked – we could see the other guys were all over the place. We rode at our pace, but had problems with a chain and also a flat near the end, but went full force after that again. I’m really sorry about what happened to Kevin. The course was hard and one could lose this race on the downhills as well as your career. We took it steady and luckily didn’t have any big problems.” His team mate Christoph Sauser adds: “I had a crash early on in the race in one of the downhill sections. One needed to be conservative in the downhills today. I prefer to go full out and not ride on my brakes too much, but you need to bear the next day in mind. I’m also feeling very sorry for Kevin – it’s the worst thing that can happen to you. This is the most important race of the year and for this to happen on the second day is really bad luck.”
Urs Huber and Konny Looser of the Stöckli Pro team finished in second place. Huber has won over 50 races in his career to date and Looser’s impressive achievements include winning the U23 Marathon European Championships in 2010. Says Huber: “We were the first team to arrive at the Telkom Hotspot, which felt great and after the second water point we felt even better and pushed to the front. The last hour Konny wasn’t as strong as me, but a podium finish at the Absa Cape Epic is a great feeling. With regards to our chances for the race, we still have 6 days to go. We’ll take it day by day.”
Thomas Dietsch of the Bulls 2 team was not feeling so great at the beginning of today’s stage. “But mid-race my legs started feeling really good. It was really hard today with Susi (Christoph Sauser) and Burry pushing so hard. I struggled the last 10km of the race and just wanted to survive and get to the finish line. It was really hot and we come from the European winter, so need to first become acclimatised to the heat.”
For Stefan Sahm of the Bulls team, today was “a horrible stage. The course was challenging, the other riders were going very fast and I can’t feel my arms. I want to lie down now. I saw Kevin walking down a section of the route, but only heard later what happened. It was hard with all the dust – you couldn’t see the riders in front of you. I also almost crashed. It’s almost unfair what happened to him as they were definitely a team for the podium. It’s a shame it ended this way.” Karl Platt adds that “we’re happy one of our teams finished on the podium.”
Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking reckons it was a tough stage. “We missed the track and lost about a minute. We were in the leading group of 4 teams. That’s when the two Bulls teams caught up with us.”
For David George (of team 360LIFE), riding with Kevin Evans, Stage 1 was heartbreaking. “But you have to roll with the punches. We’ll be back – this is how the game works. There was massive preparation for the Absa Cape Epic and I guess I feel disappointed for everyone contributing to the huge effort. Don’t close the book on us yet, though - Kev and I will be back for more.”
EIBEGGER WINS TOUR de TAIWAN 2011 AT FINAL CLIMB UP YANGMINGSHAN
IT was every bit as dramatic as it everyone thought it would be on the final Stage Nine of the Tour de Taiwan 2011.
But in the end, Markus Eibegger of the Tabriz Petrochemical team had just that little more grit to be at the front of the harsh climb up Yangmingshan to win over the yellow jersey from team mate Mehdi Sohrabi to at once take the final individual general classification of the annual cycling race series.
Eibegger, who was in the yellow after Stage Three, Four and Five, said that the aim was to help Mehdi maintain the yellow jersey all the way to the finish in spite of the tough cold weather added to the wind and rain.
“There was a lot of attacking at the start of the climb, so Tabriz had to work really hard to follow. But with just 6km to go to the finish, Mehdi dropped off, so I had to go to make sure that Tabriz do not lose the yellow jersey,” added the 27-years-old Austrian, who rode for Team Footon Servetto last season.
“And when the Australian team (Drapac) attacked, my focus was just on (David) McCann where I made sure that he was not too far ahead. And when Ghader (Mizbani) joined me at the last 3km, we just went for it to build a steady lead and way in front of McCann.”
With what was at stake on the day, it was to be local lad Feng Chun Kai of Action Cycling team who went off on an individual bravado immediately after the first sprint at the Northeast Scenic Area office which was taken by Jaan Kirsipuu of Champion System.
The 23-year-old, who wore the King of the Mountain’s red jersey for several days last year, maintained his lead to take the second sprint after the Tai Power Corporation before being at the foot of Yangmingshan.
All together going into the last 14km of the stage, it was McCann and his Giant Kenda side who initiated the attack before Mizbani led Mehdi into the climb up Yangmingshan as Markus then followed suit.
Drapac then went off with Semple taking the lead heading into the finish to a warm reception of several hundred at the top in the midst of foggy conditions.
”In the climb up, team Giant tried to control the race but I saw that they were a little slow, so I just went off into the attack with my team,” added Semple.
“Today it was very cold, really, really cold and I will need to get to a hot spring to celebrate my win.”
Other than taking the stage on the day, Drapac also picked up the team GC as well as the jersey for the best ranked Under-23 rider through Adam Phelan.
The sprinters’ green jersey was won by Mart Ojavee of Champion System while Mehdi gained some measure of consolation when he was confirmed as the King of the Mountain winner in the red jersey.
For coming in fifth on the stage, Junya Sano of team D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo has taken over as the winner of the blue jersey for the best-ranked Asian rider.
“I tried very very hard in the last few days and I’m very happy that I can win something for the team. It is an important milestone in my career,” said the soft spoken Junya.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE NINE RESULTS
1. Adam Semple (Drapac Professional) 3:00:30
2. Kyung Gu Jang (Korea) 3:00:33
3. Hyosuk Gong (Korea) 3:00:33
4. Yeung Ying Hon (Hong Kong) 3:00:33
5. Junya Sano (D’Angelo) 3:00:38
FINAL INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 27:25:38
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 27:25:51
3. Junya Sano (D’Angelo) 27:26:59
4. Lachlan Norris (Drapac) 27:27:01
5. Hyosuk Gong (Korea) 27:27:01
FINAL TEAM GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Drapac Professional Cycling Team 82:19:26
2. Giant Kenda Cycling Team 82:21:13
3. Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team 82:21:32
4. Shimano Racing Team 82:21:42
5. Kelly Benefit Strategies 82:30:21
Australia's cyclists have capped off a phenomenal week of success with two more gold medals on the final day of racing in the 2011 UCI Track World Championships in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn.
The Cyclones stormed to a record result of eight gold, two silver and one bronze medal with sprint sensation Anna Meares claiming victory in the keirin to secure a golden hat trick while defending champions Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard overcame their 'marked men' status to take their second straight Madison crown.
The Cyclones won eight of the 19 gold medals on offer including six of the ten Olympic events contested at the championships. In two other events, the women's teams pursuit and the men's team sprint, the Australians were just outside the medals in fourth place. France was the next best performed nation with two gold (both in Olympic events) one silver and two bronze while Belarus claimed gold in two non Olympic events to sit third on the medal table. Great Britain scored the second highest number of medals with nine made up of gold in an Olympic event, three silver and five bronze medals.
"It is a boost, for sure morale wise," said Meares of the team's performance. "Morale carries confidence and self-esteem and happiness and all those kind of things snowball into the team around us as well."
Surprisingly Meare's keirin win was the first that did not produce tears and she admits that's probably because she had been so intensely focussed on winning her first sprint gold medal.
"It still has not sunk in yet," she said of the keirin win. "I just rocked up here in the morning and my coach Gary West said 'have some fun today I really don't care, just go and have some fun'.
"I was relaxed and I had no pressure on me and I really did go out and have fun."
But the final wasn't all plain sailing as Cuban Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez crashed out with two laps to go bringing back bad memories for Meares, who broke her neck in the keirin at the 2008 Los Angeles World Cup. Her fight back to firstly qualify and then claim the silver medal in the sprint was one of the most inspirational of the Beijing Olympic Games.
"Initially I was not sure which way she (Rodriguez) was going to go, whether she was going to slide up the track or down the track," said Meares who hesitated momentarily halting her charge. "I just needed to take a deep breath and when I saw Clara (Sanchez from France) was winding up again I just went to the front and kept going.
"I'm a great time trialler, so (I told myself) why not go to the front and see if they can get round me?" explained Meares who led over the remaining 400 metres to the finish line.
Meares says she can now tick off one of her life goals.
"The success level is far beyond anything I've ever achieved. My career goal, since I was 16 years of age in the QAS (Queensland Academy of Sport) was to win a world title in every discipline (sprint events)," she added. "I've done that. I've finished that dream today and I'm so excited about what the prospects can be in the next year or two."
It was a case of Australia against a combined rest of the world when Meyer and Howard lined up to defend their 2010 Madison crown. The pair went in as unbackable favourites and they had to work on every one of the 160 laps of the 40km event. They tried several times to breakaway only to be reeled in as their rivals joined forces to stymie their attacks.
In the meantime Czech riders Martin Blaha and Jiri Hochmann took advantage of the situation to steal a lap on the field and take the lead.
As the race headed into the final ten kilometres the Australian pair only two points and were well down the rankings but they timed their winning attack to perfection leaving the rest of the field to mount a futile chase. On the way to gaining the lap they also collected five points for an intermediate sprint win to put them on eight points and on top of the standings. For the remainder of the race they made sure they marked every move and secured a well deserved win.
"I don't think they like us very much," joked Meyer after the race. "We were very motivated out there. I think you could see in the last 60 laps we were never going to die until the death.
"Leigh and I knew that coming into today if we won the world title it would take our (Cyclones) total to seven and that would make us the most successful (team) ever," said Meyer who had opted out of the teams pursuit to concentrate on his defence of the points race, in which he placed second, and Madison titles.
"There was a bit of pressure on us, we had not won a world title (here). We have both won world titles the past two years."
Howard had narrowly missed the final cut for the triumphant teams pursuit quartet and didn't want to miss out on a world champion's rainbow jersey.
"It was very difficult," said Howard. "We had to wait and wait until the rest were really tired because we knew everyone was going to follow us. We did that tactic really well."
The Czech team placed second on one point and hometown favourites Theo Bos and Peter Schep won the final sprint to claim the bronze medal with 21 points but were a lap down on the top two teams.
The only other Australian in action today was Tasmanian teenager Amy Cure. The 18 year old baby of the team went into the remaining three races of the six race omnium in fifth place and moved to fourth after the scratch race before fading in the closing time trial to finish a creditable eighth in her first senior championships.
Australian Medal Summary
- Men's Teams Pursuit * - Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn
- Men's Individual Pursuit - Jack Bobridge
- Women's Team Sprint * - Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch
- Women's Sprint * - Anna Meares
- Women's Keirin * - Anna Meares
- Men's Madison - Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard
- Men's Keirin * - Shane Perkins
- Men's Omnium * - Michael Freiberg
- Women's Scratch Race - Katherine Bates
- Men's Points Race - Cameron Meyer
- Men's Individual Pursuit - Michael Hepburn
Sunday, 27 March 2011
SAUSER AND STANDER WEAR YELLOW JERSEY FOR STAGE 1 OUT OF TULBAGH
The second prologue in the seven year history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, which is a common feature in grand road tours, set the seeding order for tomorrow’s [Monday, 28 March 2011] Stage 1 of the magical, untamed and African mountain bike stage race.
The event saw 1 200 excited riders from 54 countries enjoy sunny weather with the first group of riders starting their 8 day journey at 07:00. The showcase of a fast 27km circuit took place in Tokai Forest, part of Table Mountain National Park. Regarded as the Eden of mountain biking in Cape Town, this revered network of trails represents all of what makes this sport so great, with tough climbs, fast descents and flowing single-track forming the 27km route. This time trial was a race against the clock to decide the seeding in the field and which teams will wear the coveted zebra-striped leaders’ jerseys at the start of Stage 1 in Tulbagh.
The Men’s Category for the prologue was won by the South African / Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (team 36ONE Songo Specialized) in a time of 1:02.40,7. They were followed by Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of the Multivan Merida Biking team (1:04.22,9) with the Bulls team and 3-times winners of the Absa Cape Epic, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in third place (1:04.35,6). In fourth place was the South African 360LIFE team Kevin Evans and David George (1:04.50,5) with José Hermida and Ralph Näf in fifth place (1:04.53,0).
Says Burry Stander (team 36ONE Songo Specialized): “This course definitely suited us. It’s the best stage we’ve ever had - we’re cross country riders. It also suited our bikes. We were riding full suspension 29’ers which helped us close time on the flat section. Susi (his team mate Christoph Sauser’s nickname) was hurting me today and I had to slow him down a few times. Usually I lead at the start, but as soon as we hit the first climb he was leading and did so for about 80% of the way. It was also great as the MD of our new sponsor, 36ONE, especially flew down from Johannesburg to support us.” Sauser adds that winning the prologue was incredible. “We’ve never been as well-balanced and strong as a team. To date I suffered through every time trial, but today went really well. We’re obviously using the right equipment which helped.”
Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking team finished second. Says Genze: “Jochen is in really good shape. For half of the race I struggled to stay on the back of his wheels. I even had to call him back once or twice. On the second downhill I found my rhythm and could then keep up with him. It was a beautiful, technical route.” Jochen adds that he prepared well in winter training on cross-country skis in Livigno, Italy. “I’m very happy to be here and am in good shape. It’s difficult to estimate how good your shape is until you get here.”
Karl Platt of the Bulls team enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere on the course. “People were shouting at us – it felt like the Tour de France. The race was excellent with lots of fun single-track. And of course a podium finish is great. My legs aren’t 150% yet, but we’re happy. We look forward to rest of the race. This year is going to be the big 29’er year. We developed our bikes last year especially for the Absa Cape Epic and it felt really good on the single-track.”
Says David George (of team 360LIFE). “I crashed last week Friday, so have stitches in my elbow, and today lost my pedal and fell which cost us about 15 seconds. But we have another 7 days and 680km to go, so a lot can still happen. I’m not concerned at all. It’s early days and we’ll keep going.”
According to Hermida, who will be giving amateur riders a witty summary of the day’s events in the dining marquees each evening, “it was a really good day for us. It’s been a long time since we trained together, so we had to get our co-ordination together and it seemed to come easy. It was a good race and technical, which we like. It was a great feeling crossing the finish line and to be on the podium. So this year I’m not just here for entertainment, but to race.” Näf adds that José is in really great shape. He could go faster than me today and it was hard to stay with him. We’re very pleased to be in the top 5 and proud of the other Multivan Merida team that finished in second place. Now we’ll enjoy the race.”
NISHITANI WINS PENULTIMATE STAGE; MEHDI INCHES CLOSER TO OVERALL TITLE
IT was a gallant effort from defending champion David McCann of the Giant Kenda team on the penultimate Stage Eight of the Tour de Taiwan 2011 but he was unable to prevent Japan’s Taiji Nishitani from taking the stage or prevent Mehdi Sohrabi of Tabriz Petrochemical team from inching closer to the overall crown.
In another bunch finish, Nishitani had just that extra half a wheel to win ahead of McCann for his first ever stage win at the Tour de Taiwan.
But while McCann’s effort of coming in second earned him an additional time bonus of six seconds, he is still placed third and is 12 seconds behind second-placed Markus Eibegger (Tabriz) and 18 seconds adrift of overall leader Mehdi.
“I have been coming to the Tour de Taiwan for four times before this and this is my first win. I’m ecstatic,” said Nishitani.
“Before the start, I had a feeling that I can win the race and I wanted to raise both arms in jubilation. Unfortunately, at the end today, I could only raise one arm which was good enough, I suppose.”
Nishitani completed the 165km course from Taitung to the eastern coast of Hualien in 4:06:21 as four more riders dropped off before the end of the race leaving the peloton with 87 riders for the final Stage Nine tomorrow.
With just two days left of the annual cycling race series at the start today, the penultimate stage was as punishing as it was made it to be with Tabriz Petrochemical having to work doubly hard in ensuring that no real breakaways were made.
Several teams tried hard to look for the advantage with Giant Kenda, Drapac Professional Cycling and Kelly Benefit all pushing hard but Tabriz caught them all to ensure the bunch sprint finish at the end.
The first sprint point at East Coast Scenic Office was taken by Da Jiao Peng of Max Success Sport while the second sprint at Kuangfu Train Station was won by Shimizu Miyataka of Japan.
With none of the leading chasers picking up points on the day, Mart Ojavee of Champion System should win the spinters’ green jersey going into the final day with his 39 points as against second-placed Chan Jae Jang of Korea’s 30 points.
For the KOM in the meantime, Mehdi is still in control even though Hong Kong’s Yeung Ying Hon made a big effort to pick up the full eight points at the first climb, a Cat. 1 at Route 30.
The second climb, a Cat 3 at Tea Garden was taken by Japan’s Shinichi Fukushima while the final and third climb at the end of the race was won by Nishitani.
But with the hard work of the last several stages and with just one climb tomorrow, Mehdi should not be troubled too much where his 33 points should give him the King of the Mountain red jersey this year.
Second-placed Ying Hon is too far behind with 18 points to affect the overall standings.
“Today was tough as usual where several teams attacked but my teams worked really hard to make sure that there was no danger,” added Mehdi, who is in the tour leader yellow jersey and also the blue jersey for the best ranked ASIAN rider.
“Tomorrow, I expect more of the same where teams will be working hard to take the yellow jersey from me. But I think that we can take them on.”
The best ranked Under-23 rider is still Adam Phelan of Drapac Professional Cycling team.
The final Stage Nine of the Tour de Taiwan 2011 will see the peloton covering just 117km from Yilan to Yangmingshan, at the edge of Taipei City.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE EIGHT RESULTS
1. Taiji Nishitani (Japan) 4:06:21
1. Taiji Nishitani (Japan) 4:06:21
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 4:06:21
3. Takeaki Ayabe (Japan) 4:06:21
4. Chu Fan Hsin (Giant Kenda) 4:06:21
5. Adam Semple (Drapac) 4:06:21
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE EIGHT)
1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) 24:24:26
2. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 24:24:52
3. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 24:25:04
4. Rhys Pollock (Drapac) 24:25:59
5. Adam Phelan (Drapac) 24:26:16