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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, January 23, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact. - Thomas Huxley

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Birdie O'Donnell breaks Women's World Hour Record

Here's the news from the UCI:

Australia’s female cyclist Bridie O’Donnell today set a new mark for the UCI Hour Record with a distance of 46.882 km (29.13 miles) covered at the Adelaide’s Super-Drome, in Australia.

Birdie O'Donnell

O'Donnell setting a new World Hour Record

The 41-year old athlete rode 609 metres further than the previous record of 46.274, established four months ago by American rider Molly Shaffer Van Houweling in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

O’Donnell’s successful challenge was part of the Santos Tour Down Under week in Adelaide, which opens the UCI WorldTour season, the major series of men’s professional road cycling. Adding to the excitement of the event, the Australian track sprint team competed in a series of races prior to O’Donnell’s attempt, including Anna Meares who has won more titles than any other woman in history on the track.

Bridie O’Donnell has represented Australia at three UCI Road World Championships and made twelve podium appearances at the Australian and Oceania Championships in the past decade. A qualified physician, Bridie has been training for the attempt for twelve months, ever since the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) modernised and simplified the regulations for the record by authorising the use of bikes complying with regulations for endurance track events.

The new rules have led to an upsurge in interest in the record with several attempts against the clock since late 2014, with Bradley Wiggins pushing the record to 54.526 km in June of 2015 in London. On the women’s side, O’Donnell’s attempt was the third after Briton Sarah Storey and US Van Houweling.

“All this wouldn’t have been possible without the crowd and the team that supported me throughout the project. I can’t believe I broke a world record… I tried not to think about my feelings. Yesterday I felt very nervous. Today people reassured me, telling me that it was all about the pacing. I tried to focus on that and not to be distracted by anything else”, said new record holder Bridie O’Donnell.

Attending the event at the Super-Drome, UCI President Brian Cookson commented: “This is a very special occasion with Bridie setting a new record here in front of cycling fans, alongside some of Australia’s finest track sprinters in the lead up to Rio 2016. Coinciding with the kick-off of the WorldTour season, this performance rounds off a wonderful week for our sport”

“With the likes of Rohan Dennis and Jack Bobridge on the men’s side, and now Bridie, Australia is putting itself at the forefront when it comes to taking on the UCI Hour Record.

“I hope that other women riders will come forward to go against what is in many senses the purest record of all.”

Tour Down Under stage 4 team comments

Here's the release from Orica-GreenEdge:

Gerrans wins back-to-back stages at Santos Tour Down Under

Two-time Australian champion Simon Gerrans has taken his second consecutive stage win at the Santos Tour Down Under to extend his overall lead heading into the queen stage tomorrow. Gerrans, a three-time champion of the Australian WorldTour race, arrived at the finish in Victor Harbor with a reduced bunch of 60 riders after a climb with 20km remaining saw some of the field lose contact.

Simon Gerrans wins stage 4

Simon Gerrans wins stage 4

After the perfect lead out by South African teammate Daryl Impey, Gerrans outsprinted Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Sagefredo) for the stage victory.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with that,” Gerrans said at the finish. “I think I have caught a few people by surprise there, myself included. I had a really good run into the finish. I have a few Tour Down Under races under my belt now so I do know that finish quite well, as does Daryl who led me out today, so that really worked in our favour.

“The guys are just doing everything we are asking of them and some. The work they did at the start of the stage for the first intermediate sprint and then again the lead out that Daryl gave me in the final; it’s making me look really good.”

The ten bonus seconds on offer for a stage win and three further seconds earned on the first intermediate sprint, after some hard work in the first 30km of stage four, will see Gerrans go into the all-important Willunga stage with a 14second advantage over Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) and 26seconds on Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).

“I still have to be very very attentive going into Willunga tomorrow,” the 35-year-old said. “We have a nice little buffer, but there is still a heck of a lot of work to be done. The jersey has changed hands many times up Willunga hill so we will still have our work cut out for us.

“It’s not in my interest to attack at all, I’ve really got to try to defend this jersey. It’s up to the other guys to drop me and get a bit of time on the climb now but the way my team is riding and supporting me, it gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Matt White again credited Gerrans’ form and the efforts of the team, particularly in pursuit of the early bonus seconds.

“The selection today was bigger than we thought,” White said. “Most of the sprinters were gone and those who did scramble back were toast. And is Simon the fastest guy in that scenario, yes he is. Earlier in the day, the guys put in a really taxing effort for that first intermediate sprint. All of the teams knew what we wanted and they really gave it to us was attacks but the guys were incredible.”

How it happened: With a climb up Norton Summit immediately after the start of stage four, the early action in the peloton was the most active of the Tour so far.

But eager to pick up bonus seconds from the first intermediate sprint after 30km of racing, ORICA-GreenEDGE set a solid pace up the climb and shut down any early moves. The effort proved worthwhile as they pulled the race back together and Gerrans picked up the maximum three-second bonus ahead of Jay McCarthy who picked up two.

Then a group of three riders, including Pat Shaw (UniSA Australia), David Tanner (IAM Cycling) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), escaped off the front and rode out to almost six minutes advantage.

With Shaw and Tanner both within two minutes of the race leader, ORICA-GreenEDGE pulled the break back to a more comfortable distance of between two and three minutes. By the climb in the last 20km, the race was back together until the ascent again broke the peloton into groups.  The second group managed to work its way back to the front bunch ahead of the reduced bunch sprint where Impey gave Gerrans the perfect stage set up.

And here's Tinkoff's news about the Down Under Tour:

Jay McCarthy holds on to GC second at Tour Down Under, leads point classification

The Australian rider took fourth in the final fast sprint and retained his overall second place, after a race in which he was always in the leading group and grabbed second place in the first intermediate sprint. There were few surprises until the final climb that gave a chance to a group of 30 riders to break away from the peloton.

The fourth stage of Tour Down Under, with a total 138 km from Norwood to Victor Harbor was marked by milder temperatures with a lot of humidity. Fortunately, the forecast breeze wasn't a decisive factor in the race.

"Today, from the outset of the stage, the pace was quite high", stated sport director Lars Michaelsen, "also because the first intermediate sprint with bonuses was after 27 km and several teams wanted to gain that, but McCarthy did manage to win second place. Then, in view of the final ascent the team did a good job keeping Jay in the group of the GC leaders, with Manuele Boaro who stood by his side until the end."

"As the group got ready for the final sprint, McCarthy was able by himself to gain a good position on the wheel of Ben Swift, but that was not enough. However, in the end it was a good day for us because Jay is still second in the overall classification and he's the leader of both the sprint and the young riders classification", concluded Michaelsen.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy after stage 2

The fourth stage of Tour Down Under, from Norwood to Victor Harbor, was marked by milder temperatures with a lot of humidity.

"Today I am a bit disappointed", says Jay McCarthy. "I was out of the top three places and I didn't gain any bonuses. Anyway, I gave my best and the team helped me all day long, allowing me to stay in a good position both for the first intermediate sprint and for the final climb. However, now we will focus on tomorrow where I will try to give everything I have and we'll see how things work out."

A sort of circuit for the penultimate stage, the longest of the tour, is scheduled tomorrow from McLaren Vale to an uphill finish in Willunga Hill.

"Even in tomorrow's stage Jay McCathy will be our man", concluded sports director Michaelsen, "he proved to be in good shape, so we hope he can still stay with the best to take his chances. And depending on how the overall classification is after the stage we will decide what the best strategy for the final stage would be, considering that bonuses might be decisive. We shouldn't forget that last year the top positions changed right in the last stage".

Tour de San Luis team comments

Here's Tinkoff's news:

Big crash mars stage 5 of Tour San Luis; Tinkoff riders unscathed while Majka moves to 9th overall

Today's stage, from Renca to Juana Koslay, was, at least on paper, meant to be a perfect day for the sprinters. However, a massive pileup in the peloton gave the three escapees a chance to reach the finish line. Majka now edges up one spot to ninth in the overall  classification, always at 1:36 from the leader, and sets his sight on tomorrow's second summit finish.

A huge fall in the main group, which involved approximately fifty riders, at about 30 km from the finish, marked the fifth stage of the Argentinean race, forcing the peloton to slow down and allowing thus the escapees to get to the finish and claim the podium spots. Our riders were in the front and, with the exception of Jesper Hansen, were not affected. Hansen was caught up in the pileup but without any consequences other than losing time.

"Today, throughout the day, there was some nervous tension in the group", commented Maciej Bodnar, "and with favorable winds the speed was always very high. I didn't understand how the crash happened, since we were at the front as the road was quite narrow, and at some point we realized there was a sort of gap behind us. As we didn't know what had taken place, we slowed down for a moment to wait for the others".

"We saw some Movistar riders on the ground but we didn't see the fall. At that moment we were all riding very fast, probably at 60km/h", concluded Bodnar.

Sports Director Patxi Vila commented on today's stage, "The stage was very fast, with an average speed over 47.9 km/h despite the fall that slowed us down a bit. However this was the very first tight stage, despite the usual heat, and when the breakaway started, after 30km, some teams took on the responsibility for the chase and put themselves in front of the group. After 139 km, however, there was the critical point of the day: a road narrowing followed by a small climb caused some tension in the group also because of the high speed".

Jesper Hansen was the only Tinkoff rider caught in the pileup but got away unscathed.

"From what I understand, at that point a rider must have hit a bump by triggering the fall. Luckily our team was at the other side of the road so we avoided any further damage. Today the guys were very focused and they did a great job despite several drawbacks including annoying side winds. It's such a shame we couldn't ride for the victory but it went well and we've been lucky enough to bring the whole team to the finish line without any injury", continued Vila.

"Now we keep our focus on tomorrow's stage, hoping Majka will do well", concluded Vila.

For the penultimate stage of Tour de San Luis, from La Toma to Merlo, there are three KOM climbs in the final part of the race, the last KOM is at the finish, at a 2,140 meters altitude.

And this came from Lampre-Merida:

A huge crash in the head position of the peloton, when the bunch was at 30 km to the arrival in Juana Koslay, changed the plot of the 5th stage of the Tour de San Luis (168,7 km, start in Renca, easy profile).

The accident favoured the action of 4 attackers (Diaz, Ibarra, Cabrera and Tivani) who had escaped from the bunch after few kilometers in the race and, when the peloton braked becaused of the crash, three members of the breakaway (Diaz, Ibarra and Tivani, Cabrera was dropped) succeeded in reaching the arrival and in making an all Argentinian fight for the victort, which was obtained by Tivani on Diaz and Ibarra.

LAMPRE-MERIDA could breath a sigh of relief: despite that many teams got involved in the crash, all the six blue-fuchsia-green riders succeeded in avoiding it and so they all reach the arrival in the first chasing group at 1'34" to the winner.
Cimolai (photo Bettini archive) sprinted and he obtained the 7th place.

Koshevoy is 7th in the overall classification, at 1'22" to the leader Sepulveda.

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