Archived posts for November 2011

Thomas puts Olympics before Tour

Geraint Thomas made his Tour de France debut in 2007

Geraint Thomas has confirmed he will miss next year’s Tour de France in order to concentrate on the 2012 London Olympics.

The 2008 team pursuit gold medallist has decided to participate in the Giro D’Italia instead.

Next year’s Tour will finish on 22 July – less than a fortnight before the Olympic track qualifiers begin.

“The Olympics is the main goal for me so I don’t want to jeopardise that in any way,” he told BBC Sport Wales.

“Riding the tour is a bit more of a gamble. I could be going really [well] but could also end up on my knees and pretty tired.”

Thomas was one of Britain’s men’s team pursuiters who won through to take gold on Friday in the track cycling European Championships, although he did not compete in the final.

But the Cardiff-born rider has said next year’s Olympics could be his track cycling swan-song.

Thomas wore the white jersey for best young rider in the opening seven stages at this year’s Tour de France.

His fellow Team Sky and GB riders Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins are expected to compete in both events.

The Welshman’s preparations will mirror those before the Bejing Olympics in 2008 when he concentrated his efforts on the Giro D’Italia in May.

“I’m going to be doing similar preparations to before Bejing when I rode the Giro and didn’t ride the tour,” said Thomas.

“That’ll give me the work from a three-week race but also give me time to adapt back to the track and give myself every chance of making the team.”

The 25-year-old said the decision to pull out of the Tour was his decision alone.

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‘Excited’ Thomas glad to be back

“It was down to me at the end of the day. I obviously spoke to the coaches and staff but it was my call and I’m pretty comfortable with that,” he added.

“It [the Tour de France] is massive, and especially next year with Cav [Cavendish] on the team I’d love to be a part of it.

“But for me this year as in previous years the Olympics is the main goal. I’ll still have the Tour de France the year after, it’s an annual event so that’s one way we’re fortunate.

“But home Olympics, it’s a once in a lifetime thing.”

Thomas admits team-mates Wiggins and Cavendish might be taking a risk competing in both events next summer.

“I think they can do it. When you come out of the Tour you can be really good, especially when you’re racing on the road in a week, two weeks’ time. It’s great preparations,” he said.

“Unless you come out of it on your knees, which could happen. I think for them it’s worth the risk.

“But for me being a completely different discipline to the track. I just need a bit more time than the 11 or so days after the Tour.”

For the latest updates and reaction to this story, read Sportsday Live. Have your say on Twitter via the hashtag #bbcsportsday.

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

Pendleton stars in four-gold haul

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Pendleton buoyed by Euro display

Victoria Pendleton put a poor sprint showing behind her with an impressive victory in the women’s keirin at track cycling’s European Championships.

The 31-year-old leaves the Netherlands with two gold medals, having won the team sprint with Jess Varnish on Friday before coming eighth in the sprint.

Pendleton triumphed after a confident ride and, moments later, fellow Briton Matt Crampton won the men’s title.

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Yesterday I wondered whether I had what it takes here. [Today] I was determined to take courage in the work I’ve been doing, and see it as a new challenge

Victoria Pendleton
European keirin champion

Laura Trott and Ed Clancy won omnium titles to end the Euros in style.

Pendleton’s gold comes a day after British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford insisted her failure to reach a sprint medal race on Saturday was no cause for alarm.

“There’s no point judging her on what’s here because it’s part of a process. Everybody has got more to come,” said Brailsford following the sprint competition, in which neither the British men nor the women won medals.

Pendleton proved his latter assertion correct on Sunday but will surely happily be judged on the strength of mentality she displayed to win the keirin, an event in which she could only finish seventh at the World Championships, inside the same velodrome in March.

“Saturday was hard. I felt I wasn’t ready to do what I usually do, and it’s never nice when you’re used to winning to get knocked out like that,” Pendleton told BBC Sport.

“I had to put it in perspective and I knew the training I’d done so far was more suited to a longer event [such as the keirin] than a shorter, explosive one. I had to let yesterday go, put it behind me and move on.

“Yesterday I wondered whether I had what it takes here, and I was annoyed for letting myself down. [Today] I was determined to relax, enjoy it, take courage in the work I’ve been doing, and just see it as a new day and a new challenge.”

Sir Chris Hoy flew home with a chest infection on Sunday, missing the men’s keirin, so Kenny and Crampton instead represented Britain.

Crampton squeaked into the final at Kenny’s expense as the duo finished third and fourth respectively in the second round, with Kenny going on to finish seventh overall.

In a far tighter finish than Pendleton’s final, 25-year-old Crampton did just enough to hang on for victory.

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I don’t think I’m going that well, and I can’t believe I’ve come away with the win

Ed Clancy
European omnium champion

“You’ve got to seize these opportunities and take it on,” said Crampton of Hoy’s absence.

“It’s been a tough few years for me, I haven’t had any results for a year or two. But now I can set my sights on Melbourne [the World Championships, next April] in the keirin there and hopefully repeat this success.

“The team now is so tough [to get into]. It’s hard to come away from somewhere not winning and being on the back foot. If I can make the keirin my own, it’s a great chance for London.”

In the omnium, 19-year-old Trott followed up victory in Saturday’s elimination race – one of six events which form the omnium, held over two days – with a brilliant ride in the individual pursuit element sealing overall gold.

“I set myself up nicely yesterday. I rode a perfect elimination race and I couldn’t really have done much more today,” said Trott.

By contrast, Clancy triumphed in spite of his individual pursuit performance, clawing his rivals back in the time trial finale to take a title he expressed shock at winning.

Clancy said: “It’s been a funny few days. Personally I didn’t do so well in the team pursuit final and I wasn’t so sure how I’d go in the omnium.

“I wasn’t expecting too much and eighth place in the individual pursuit sums up where I’m at. I don’t think I’m going that well, and I can’t believe I’ve come away with the win.”

Earlier, Jess Varnish came through the first-round repechage of the women’s keirin before being eliminated in the second round, finishing 11th.

The close of the European Championships sees the focus switch to Astana, in Kazakhstan.

Nine GB riders will be sent to the Kazakhstan stage of the World Cup in November, led by Hoy, who will spearhead a men’s sprint squad looking to recover from a shaky weekend in Apeldoorn.

Though valuable Olympic qualification points were on offer here, little if any damage has been done to Britain’s sprint ambitions at London 2012 as the team’s previous results mean they are already near-certainties to qualify.

Clancy and Dani King will be the sole endurance riders in Kazakhstan, competing in the omnium. Becky James and Varnish will ride in the women’s sprint events, while Pendleton will miss out to focus on training.

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

Brailsford demands ‘grit’ from GB

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Brailsford sends warning to British cyclists

Dave Brailsford says his British track cycling team must “knuckle down” for a vital period of training after winning seven European gold medals last week.

Though the haul is impressive, it masks a fruitless outing in the men’s team sprint and no individual sprint medals.

“There’s a lot of work to be done between now and Christmas. There’s nothing fancy, it’s hard, hard graft and real grit,” said Brailsford.

“It’s a foundation [and] if you don’t get it right, you’re in trouble.”

British riders won titles in all four of the races GB entered on Sunday, the final day of the European Championships, but Friday and Saturday brought frustration, particularly in the sprint races.

Sir Chris Hoy withdrew through illness, the men’s team sprint failed to contend for medals following a slip at the start of their qualifying run, and Victoria Pendleton could only finish eighth in the women’s sprint with Jason Kenny fourth in the men’s event.

“It was important that we came away from this on a high,” Brailsford, the team’s performance director, told BBC Sport.

“When you take the overall event, we’ve come out with seven golds in the 10 Olympic disciplines, which is a good return.

“We didn’t really compete in one – the men’s team sprint where we had the mishap – and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board on the individual sprints. But, overall, it’s a good start to the season.”

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You’ve got to get momentum and start winning, it breeds self-belief

Dave Brailsford
British Cycling performance director

Nine of the squad will travel to Kazakhstan for the season’s first World Cup in two weeks’ time, but the remainder will now plunge into a period of intensive training designed to prepare them for a succession of important events in 2012.

The Olympic year begins with the London stage of the World Cup, which will be the first competition held inside the Olympic Velodrome, followed by April’s World Championships in Melbourne and the Olympic racing itself.

“Before Christmas we’ll go back and do some really hard work. There’s no time for messing about now, there can be no substitute for hard work and that’s what we’re going to do,” Brailsford added.

“This is critical and there is no excuse, no frills, no commercial pressures. It’s time to knuckle down and do some real hard yards.”

Hoy and Jason Queally lost valuable time on the track as a result of the former’s illness and the sprint team’s failure to reach the medal races, in which Queally – the Sydney Olympics gold medallist who came out of retirement for London 2012 – had been earmarked for a ride.

“They’ll be frustrated – they need to race, and they know that,” said Brailsford. “The way it panned out, with Chris’s illness and the mishap in the team sprint, it’s frustrating.

“But they’re old warriors, those two. They know how to manage themselves. They’re hungry, they want it and it won’t be a big setback for them.”

And while both pursuit teams rode to gold, the manner of the men’s victory was less than convincing, in a time outside the one they had targeted.

Brailsford added: “It was an ugly win, to use the footballing analogy, but you’ve got to get momentum and start winning – it breeds self-belief.

“But we can be better than that. We know we can. We’ve got some work to do there.”

For the latest updates and reaction to this story, read Sportsday Live. Have your say on Twitter via the hashtag #bbcsportsday.

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

Clancy ponders giving up omnium

Clancy (left) competed in both the team pursuit and omnium at the Euros

New European omnium champion Ed Clancy could give up the event to help GB defend the Olympic team pursuit crown.

The 26-year-old, part of the team pursuit quartet in Beijing and a former omnium world champion, won the European title in the Netherlands last weekend.

“The omnium is more an endurance-man’s game now and that doesn’t suit me too well,” Clancy told BBC Sport.

“I’m all for the team pursuit, whatever it takes – I’ll scrap this omnium, I’ll leave it alone.”

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I want to be the best team pursuiter I can be, and being good at team pursuit will give me the form I need to ride a good omnium

Ed Clancy

The omnium is a two-day event, spanning six separate races designed to equally test sprint and endurance capabilities, and is new to the Olympic programme for London 2012.

Clancy won the world title in the event in 2010 and he is currently British Cycling’s preferred candidate to ride in the event at the Games.

But he was surprised to take European gold in the Dutch town of Apeldoorn, as he believes alterations to the format have removed some of his advantage.

“The omnium’s changed a little since 2010. The elimination race has managed to find its way in there, and the distances in the points race and scratch race are quite different,” he said.

“I tend to be better in the shorter, punchier races and it’s taken me a while to get used to the new format.

“I don’t think I am the best omnium rider in the world – I’m not going to win all the time. Team pursuit’s where it’s at in my mind; I really want to get hold of that and there’s nothing like it when a team pursuit goes well, so I’m making a push for that.”

Clancy rode in the pursuit team which won European gold in Apeldoorn on Friday, but the British quartet missed their target time and performance director Dave Brailsford has admitted there is “work to be done” ahead of February’s World Cup in London.

Australia, the world champions in men’s team pursuit, set a time of three minutes, 57.832 seconds on the same track at the World Championships.

Britain had been looking to challenge that mark last week, but produced a ride of 4:00.008 in their final.

“We weren’t a million miles from [our target] – we’ve got work to do there, but we’ve got time as well and a good plan,” said Clancy.

“I want to be the best team pursuiter I can be, and being good at team pursuit will give me the form I need to ride a good omnium.

“I’m not going to spend the next nine months specifically training for the omnium because, physically, the team pursuit training takes care of that.

“If I get a ride in the omnium because of the team pursuit, great. If not, hopefully I’ll go on to do good things in the team pursuit and I’ll be happy with that.”

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

Olympic medallist Hayles retires

Hayles won three Olympic medals

Three-time Olympic medallist Rob Hayles has announced his retirement.

The 38-year-old professional cyclist from Portsmouth won Olympic silver and two bronzes on the track, as well as two World Championship titles.

Hayles also won Commonwealth Games gold and silver during a glittering career.

“After 27 years of racing, 19 of those full time, and 16 as a professional, I have had an amazing time but feel it’s time to concentrate on other very exciting things,” said Hayles.

Hayles hope to continue his career in broadcasting and also took the role of rider/manager at the British-based Endura squad at the start of the 2010 season.

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It’s time to step back and watch another generation of British cyclists rule the world

Rob Hayles

On the road, Hayles won the British road race title in 2008 and also held the national 10 and 25-mile time trial titles.

He spent three years from 2001-2003 racing on the continent for the French Cofidis squad.

“Cycling has been a great life for me, and i hope it will continue to be in one way or another,” added Hayles on Twitter.

Hayles’ last race came on Sunday at the national hill-climb championship in Buxton where he finished in 14th position.

He added: “The highlight of my career has to be winning my first World Track Championship title with Mark Cavendish in 2005, and it’s been an absolute pleasure seeing how his career has taken off since then.

“It’s time to step back and watch another generation of British cyclists rule the world.”

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

GB cycling ‘will win fewer golds’

Sir Chris Hoy won gold in the sprint, team sprint and keirin in Beijing

Performance director Dave Brailsford has warned that Great Britain will not match their 2008 haul of eight gold medals at next year’s London Olympics.

Sir Chris Hoy took three golds in Beijing as Team GB collected 14 cycling medals in total.

But Brailsford told BBC Radio 5 live: “There are 10 gold medals available in track cycling and the events that were in Beijing have been changed.

“We will win fewer than eight golds, I don’t think there’s any doubt.”

He added: “It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to match that achievement.”

As well as Hoy, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton will be among those looking for gold in London.

But Brailsford believes the change in schedule from Beijing means that his team are unlikely to match their efforts on home soil.

“They have also reduced the number of competitors in each event per nation to one, where it was two in Beijing,” he continued.

“We don’t do medal targets, but we will be the very best that we can be with the athletes we have.

“We are positive and we will go to London and do our very best.”

The Olympic velodrome in London will host the final stage of the World Cup in February next year, which will act as the test event for the new venue.

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Brailsford said: “It’s fantastic the Games are in London and we need a test event but I am a bit miffed to be honest.

“We are having a fully blown World Cup as a test event when a lot of the other venues are using national championships.

“We are basically inviting in opposition from the rest of the world to come and have a look at our facilities and learn the nuances of the track.

“Could we do it a different way? Probably. But now it is a question of managing it properly and getting the most out of it.”

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

GB miss out on World Cup medals

Varnish’s personal best in the 500m time trial was not enough for a medal

Great Britain’s cyclists failed to win a medal on day two of the Track World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Jess Varnish and Becky James were beaten to bronze in the women’s team sprint by Germany.

Varnish then set a personal best of 34.293 seconds in the 500m time trial but missed out on bronze to Germany’s Miriam Welte.

The men’s team sprint trio of Ross Edgar, Jason Kenny and Jason Queally finished seventh fastest in qualifying.

In the omnium new European champion Ed Clancy finished the day seventh after three disciplines, 13 points off a medal.

He came 11th place in the elimination discipline, having earlier won the flying lap and finished 15th in the points race.

Varnish and James qualified third fastest in the women’s team sprint, clocking 33.553 seconds, then backed up their time in the final with a 33.588, but Germany took nearly three-tenths of a second off their qualifying time to take the medal with a time of 33.338 seconds.

Great Britain have sent a team of nine riders for the first of four World Cup rounds that conclude with the London Olympic test event in February.

The British team is focusing on the sprints in Astana, with the team pursuit being targeted in the later rounds of the World Cup.

Britain won seven gold medals at last month’s European Championships in Rotterdam.

Sir Chris Hoy was not among the winners in the Dutch city as he had to pull out with a chest infection, and the four-time Olympic champion will be keen to rediscover the form that recently won him the British national title.

The 35-year-old Scot will be in action on Sunday in the men’s sprint event.

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

Gold for Hoy at Track World Cup

Hoy won sprint gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

Sir Chris Hoy won gold in the men’s sprint competition at the Track Cycling World Cup opener in Kazakhstan.

The four-time Olympic champion, who pulled out of the recent European Championships with a chest infection, also clinched silver in Saturday’s keirin event in Astana.

Hoy, who won sprint gold at the 2008 Olympics, beat Russia’s Denis Dmitriev 2-0 in the best-of-three final.

Britain’s Dani King also won the silver in the six-discipline women’s omnium.

Hoy, 35, beat team-mate Matt Crampton in the last eight, while Jason Kenny crashed out in the last 16 but ended with a second-place finish in the B final.

Scotland’s Hoy then came from behind to beat Germany’s Robert Forstemann 2-1 in the semi-final.

King, lying fourth overnight in the omnium, climbed into second with victory in the individual pursuit, finished sixth in the scratch race and secured her silver medal with a second-place finish in the 500m time trial.

Her fellow Britons Becky James and Jess Varnish were unable to progress to the final of the women’s keirin.

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Posted by: keith on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 posted in: News

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Posted by: simon on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 posted in: Shop


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