Latest News in Cycling
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (VN) — 2012 was a year of highs and lows for Megan Guarnier. The 28-year-old New York native narrowly missed her goal of being named to the U.S. women’s Olympic cycling team, but found glory weeks later in Augusta, Georgia, as she captured the U.S. elite women’s national road race championship.
For Guarnier the win was both a chance to shake an Olympic-sized disappointment and check off a life goal years in the making.
“Winning a national title had always been a dream,” said Guarnier, who placed winning the championship on a list of personal goals developed some six years prior.
“To be able to track your own progress and say ‘I’ve put in all these hard hours on the bike and now I’ve achieved this goal’ is remarkable. When I put [winning nationals] on that list I didn’t know when or how it would happen, but it did. Being able to wear [the champion’s] jersey is really something special.”
Guarnier achieved another goal at the end of 2012, signing as the only American rider on the Rabobank-Liv Giant team of world champion and Olympic gold medalist Marianne Vos.
Transitioning to full-time European racing was another dream come true for the rider. But that doesn’t mean it was easy.
“I can’t say I wasn’t nervous,” said Guarnier. “It was nerve-wracking because I didn’t quite know what I was signing up for. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. So we were both taking really big risks. But they’ve been very open to bringing me into their team and into their culture and I’ve loved it.”
In Europe this spring, Guarnier has achieved major success in the stars and stripes, placing second in the cobbled Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and helping to guide her team leader to successes of her own.
Working alongside Vos, a superstar in the world of women’s cycling, has been an eye-opener for the American.
“It’s been an adjustment to being much more in the spotlight,” Guarnier said. “Clearly not as much for me as for Marianne, but the reaction of the European fans is really incredible. It kind of gives you a taste for what the men experience at that top level of professional cycling. They want our signatures and they want our pictures. They find the sport so fascinating.”
Guarnier says her team leader has been a role model, both on and off the bike.
“I can say that being around Marianne has taught me a lot about being gracious and thankful to people. I knew coming into Rabobank that it would be all about the team. And really, whether it’s me making the podium or my teammate just doesn’t matter. Teamwork is what cycling’s all about.”
Guarnier sees this weekend’s Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships in Chattanooga as an opportunity to promote the women’s sport to a growing American fan base. The event is the first to include the elite men’s and women’s fields at the same location.
“I think it’s incredible that more people will be exposed to women’s cycling,” said Guarnier. “When we have races at the same time as the men there are fans around who might not otherwise be. It gives us more exposure and it’ll show those fans that women’s cycling is fantastic. We race just as hard as the men and often our races are even more animated because they’re shorter. We get right to the point.”
As for defending her jersey, Guarnier knows she’ll have her work cut out for her. As her team’s lone American she’ll be without teammates on the road. But that doesn’t mean her ride won’t be a team effort.
“I’ll be missing my teammates this weekend, that’s for sure. But I can’t get too hung up on the fact that I don’t have them here, because that’s not going to win the race.,” she said.
“And the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized that, even without them, I’m still here for the team. I have a job to do and a team to represent and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
How this will translate to race tactics, Guarnier is not yet sure.
“There are so many factors that influence the outcome of a road race,” she said. “I’ll have to think about what the other teams’ strategies will be and be smart in my own racing, that’s for sure. But I’ve been in lots of positions where I’ve had to read a race on my own. I’ll just have to draw upon that experience.”
As for the stars and stripes, Guarnier admits the pressure to defend the jersey is real, but she is working to keep Monday’s race in perspective.
“Since I won the race last year I’ve had this thought of, ‘Oh, dear, now I’ll have to defend it.’ That can produce some anxiety, but in the end you just have to take it as another race and be proud fact that you are — that I am — the champion.
“Whatever happens Monday I can be proud that I’ve come here to defend that title.”
- My web albums from today's time trials - all races; USA Cycling AND Senior Olympics. Extras too.
There may be some warmer-uppers or cooler-downers mixed in with the racers in the "Longer Races" album. Oops.
No offense intended in any of the few captions in any of these albums.
Obscure boomerang-themed captions are intentional. Anybody catch any of these?
Extras (or Xtras today, to match the Xing sign):
- USA Cycling crowned two new national champions on Saturday at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant as the 2013 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road andamp; Time Trial National Championships began with professional men and women contesting time trials. Tom Zirbel and Carmen Small won the menand#39;s and womenand#39;s time trials to earn the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
- Anyone have a crankset they want to get rid of? Road, Gossamer or better.
English threaded BB. Would prefer compact double for a 2x10 or 1x10 set up. Hollow axle type.
TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia went from spring to winter in about 30 minutes Saturday afternoon to put a dramatic finishing touch on the season’s first grand tour.
After riding most of the day in perfect summer-like conditions, the peloton rode straight into a brutal snowstorm as the course climbed the spectacular wall at the Tre Cime summit deep in the heart of the Dolomites.
When the peloton turned right and up with about 7km to go, conditions went from bad to worse. By the time stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had crossed the line, winter had returned with a vengeance to northern Italy.
Heavy snow pelted riders crossing the line. In the chaos that is unique to the Giro, riders desperately searched for ways to get warm and dry.
Riders were routed off-course to a parking area, where soigneurs directed snow-bound cyclists to waiting team cars.
“It was epic today. The roads were fine, but it’s snowing hard right now. It’s a beautiful … ski day,” said Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) as he wiped down inside a team van waiting for a drive back down to the waiting team buses. “I just hope we can get out of here.”
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) crossed the finish line screaming. Not because he had lost out on a chance to secure a spot on the Giro d’Italia podium, but because it felt like someone was pushing razors into his frozen hands.
“Freddo! Molto freddo!” Scarponi said with a grimace, sticking his hands into his soigneur’s jacket. “I have never been so cold!”
Others came across with chattering teeth, helmets covered in snow, and exposed skin turning mottled pink and white from the extreme cold.
Riders found themselves thrown into the finish-line tussle of shoving officials, prying journalists, stressed-out soigneurs, and the occasional fan who had infiltrated the restricted zone.
With snow whipping around and everyone pushing and shoving, riders would stop short interviews to try to find refuge.
“There was just some snow. It didn’t bother me very much. We were very confident,” Tanel Kangert told VeloNews. “Vincenzo was in good shape — hey, do you know if there is another tent up here? I am freezing. …”
Others took the pandemonium in stride. For them, it was just another day at the office.
“It actually wasn’t that cold when we were climbing, because the body creates a lot of heat,” said Peter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge). “Now I am getting cold once we stop pedaling and talk to all of you.”
Winter-like conditions took the teeth out of the final weekend of racing in the Giro, so officials breathed a sigh of relief that at least they could finish Saturday’s stage on the Tre Cime summit.
Heavy snow on the high passes forced Giro officials to cancel Friday’s stage in its entirety and prompted a major re-routing of Sunday’s “queen stage.” Rather than tackle five major climbs, the stage hugged the valley floor, where temperatures were pleasant in the mid-70s, before tackling the Tre Cime climb with ramps over 20 percent.
Things quickly changed once the route turned south and started to climb into the upper reaches of the Dolomites. Clouds blotted out spectacular views of the towering rock walls above the finish line at 2300 meters.
Vande Velde, who raced without leg warmers, said conditions went from one extreme to another very quickly.
“The whole day wasn’t so bad. Considering how bad the weather’s been so far in this Giro, it was pretty successful today,” Vande Velde said. “In all honesty, I’ve been much colder other days. It’s the wind chill that gets you. We can finish on the uphill; it’s the descents that are dangerous. And that’s when you get that chill that you don’t come back from.”
Fans, officials, and journalists huddled under tents and umbrellas while they waited for the riders to wind their way up the steep ramps of the final climb.
Nibali appeared out of the blur of snowflakes to win his second stage in a row to put an exclamation point on his pink jersey. Barring disaster, he will win his first Giro tomorrow.
Forecasters are calling for mostly sunny skies for Sunday’s final stage into Brescia. After so much horrible weather, the Giro and the peloton deserve a sunny day.