ROWSELL CONFIDENT AHEAD OF TRACK WORLDS
Great Britain team pursuiter Joanna Rowsell was in confident mood ahead of the World Track Championships, her biggest goal of the year.
“Training has gone to plan. We’ve got a few days out in Copenhagen to get used to it; obviously, it’s a bit different to the Manchester track,” she said.
Rowsell will link up with Lizzie Armitstead and Wendy Houvenaghel to defend the title they claimed in Poland last year.
It’s up to the other teams to try and knock GB off the top spot. Are there any rivals that Rowsell fears? “I tend not to look around really, we can only do our best, as can they. We can’t affect anyone else, so there’s no point worrying about it. We’re the ones being chased, and that’s the best position to be in.”
“The last few days waiting for the competition to start are the worst bit, because you know you’ve done all the work and you’re just resting up,” she added.
The UCI World Track Championships take place in Copenhagen from March 24-29.
Keep an eye out for Cycling Weekly’s live coverage from the Ballerup velodrome.
Rowsell, Armitstead and Houvenaghel are gunning for two world titles in a row
OPIE GETS HIS LIBYAN HAT-TRICK
Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago rounded off their Libyan adventure with another win for Chris Opie, this time in the one-day Grand Prix Al-Fatah.
Opie had already landed one stage outright and one equal first thanks to his sprinting prowess in the five-day Tour of Libya. And it came down to another sprint for the powerfully built Cornishman, but there was no repeat of Wednesday’s dead heat.
“I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment,” said Opie as he spoke to Cycling Weekly after being interviewed for Libyan TV on the podium, “but it’s been a brilliant trip.”
The next problem for Opie is trying to work out how to get what team principle Nick Bourne described as “the biggest cup I have ever seen” back to Britain.
Opie and the Pendragon squad head for the opening Premier Calendar round, the Tour of the Reservoir on March 28, with team leaders Yanto Barker and Dave Clarke leading the challenge.
DOWNING TAKES SECOND IN TAIWAN
Dean Downing very nearly made it two wins in a row at the Tour of Taiwan today, claiming second behind Pole Tomasz Smolen in the bunch sprint for stage six victory.
However, the bonus seconds gained have hauled the Rapha man up a spot to sixth overall.
The race concludes tomorrow with a 60km criterium in Taipei, where Irishman David McCann is expected to take the race title.
Dean Downing wins in Taiwan
SOUTHERN RIDERS LIMBER UP FOR THE WALLY GIMBER
Tony Gibb (CyclePremier.com-Metaltek), Wouter Sybrandy (Sigma Sport-Specialized) and Simon Gaywood (Team Corley Cycles) are among the big names in the running for victory at the 51st edition of the Wally Gimber Memorial on Sunday.
Gaywood knows the race particularly well, having triumphed here in 2008. “I’ll be trying to win it as much as anyone else,” he said.
“We’ve got local boy Chris McNamara too, so it would be good to get him on the podium or win it. We’re going there motivated to get some hard graft in before the first Premier Calendar race.”
Continuing the lineage of early season races steeped in tradition, the Dulwich Paragon-organised event will see the best riders from Southern England duking it out on the circuit around Tenterden in Kent.
“Though not particularly hilly, the course is tough. If it gets windy, it can split the group and make things quite difficult,” Gaywood added.
Meanwhile, defending champion Rob Hurd is not expected to start.
The race starts on Sunday at 12 noon; the headquarters is the Woodchurch Community Centre, Woodchurch, TN26 3SQ.
BLYTHE BEST OF THE BRITS AT NOKERE KOERSE
Aside from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, racing on the Continent has been few and far between this past fortnight.
However, Wednesday saw Nokere Koerse, a tough Belgian semi-classic finishing on the 300-metre cobbled climb of the Nokereberg. While Cofidis neo-pro Jens Keukeliere (Cofidis) charged to victory – his fourth in two weeks – Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) came home best of the Brits in 20th place.
Tobyn Horton (Team Sprocket) and Mark McNally (AN Post-Sean Kelly Team) also finished on the same time, placing 52nd and 67th respectively.
NEW ZEALAND DO THE RAS FOR THE FIRST TIME
A New Zealand national team will compete in the storied Irish Rás for the first time.
The squad inclues Endura rider and national champion Jack Bauer, with world championship track medallists Hayden Godfrey, Wes Gough, Marc Ryan also in the frame for selection.
Race director Dermot Dignam said: “We are absolutely delighted that the first-ever New Zealand national team will take part in the race. We’ve had teams from all over the world and this represents another piece of FBD Rás history.
“The riders are all strong and experienced and, as we have seen many times before with the British competitors, a track background can translate really well into road racing. They will have the pure speed and the group discipline necessary to take some big results.”
The seven-man long list, which will be whittled down to five later, consists of Jack Bauer, Marc Ryan, Wes Gough, Shane Archbold, Shem Rodger, Tom Scully and Hayden Godfrey.
The 2010 Rás commences in Dunboyne on May 23, boasting one of the toughest routes in recent years.
GIRLS ONLY RAPHA RIDE TO LAUNCH LADY’S RANGE
Rapha are lauching their women’s capsule range with their first ever ‘girls-only’ ride on Thursday March 25 at the Garden Café in Regents Park’s inner circle.
After a few laps of one of London’s best-known parks, coffee, cake and wine accompany the chance to test some of the new apparel in Rapha’s inaugural lady’s offerings.
RSVP to Laura Etherington (firstname.lastname@example.org); if you wish to test any items, also email Laura with your (UK) dress size.
Lady in red: Rapha’s women’s range is hotly anticipated