Don’t cry for me, says Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, despite being officially announced a doper and stripped of his seven Tour de France wins, said Sunday that nobody needs to cry for his sake.

“Nobody needs to cry for me. I’m going to be great,” Armstrong explained at a 36-mile mountain bike race in Aspen, Colorado.

It was his first public outing since the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) delivered its sentence on Friday. He appeared strong despite the agency’s devastating blow and continued as he has since he returned from cancer in 1998, delivering his message to the faithful.

“I have five great kids and a wonderful lady in my life. My foundation [Livestrong] is unaffected by all the noise out there.” He added, “I think people understand that we’ve got a lot of stuff to do going forward. That’s what I’m focused on and I think people are supportive of that.”

Armstrong on the noise

Armstrong placed second and five minutes behind a 16-year-old rider, Keegan Swirbul in Aspen. He indicated the race was on his mind and wasn’t bothered by the “noise.”

The Texan goes down with his guns blazin’

The USADA suspended Armstrong for life, charging him with possession, trafficking and administering banned drugs and methods. The ban, based on evidence, reaches as far back as August 1, 1998, and strips him of his seven Tour titles, 1999 to 2005, and bronze medal from the Sydney Olympics.

Armstrong, however, could’ve retained up to five wins.

“If Armstrong had come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute of limitations should apply,” USADA chief executive, Travis Tygart told USA today.

He added that the agency remains open if Armstrong decides to open up and lay down his guns.

“We always remain open, because while the truth hurts, ultimately, from what we have seen in these types of cases, acknowledging the truth is the best way forward.”

Youth will prevail

It all sounds like doom and gloom, but cleaning the dirt off the windows allows for a clearer view. As Swirbul showed, there’s a big crop of young talent out there without links to cycling’s dodgy past. Over the last week, we saw several young guns fire, including Aussie Luke Durbridge.

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE), age 21, wins Poitou Charentres stage race

Durbridge won his fourth time trial on Thursday in the Poitou Charentres tour in France. The win, as with the Circuit de la Sarthe, allowed him to win the overall. The following day, wearing the leader’s jersey taken in the time trial, he defended and won over Frenchman Jérémy Roy (FDJ-BigMat).

“We came into this week with high expectations,” said Durbridge in a team press release.” As a team, we all realised what we needed to do and we rose to the challenge.”

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), 23, two stages in the Vuelta a España

The Vuelta a España is not over, but Germany’s Degenkolb has already sprinted to three stage wins. He and sprinting compatriot Marcel Kittel have racked up 18 wins this year and helped set the foundation for Argos’ step into the first division for next year.

Arnaud Démare (FDJ-BigMat), 21, Vattenfall Cyclassics

The Frenchman won one of the mostly under-rated, one-day Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany, just over a week ago. After 248 kilometres, he out-kicked established sprinter André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).

Démare, who just turned 21 on Sunday, is already famous. He won the under 23 World Championships last year and in stage three of the Giro d’Italia this year, showed his talent by quickly diverting to avoid a fallen Mark Cavendish in the sprint.

Mark Cavendish (Sky), 27, Tour of Denmark stage

It’s easy to forget Cavendish is only 27 years old when you consider he has 23 Tour de France stage wins and a World title under his belt. On Sunday, he won the last stage of the Tour of Denmark.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), 25, GP Ouest-France

The Norwegian attacked late in the race heading into the final Plouay circuit and held off Rui Costa (Movistar). It was his biggest one-day race win since the Vattenfall Cyclassics last year and Gent-Wevelgem in 2009. Last year, he won two stages of the Tour de France.

“It was a really impressive win from Eddy,” sports director, Sean Yates said in a team press release. “He bridged out of the group across to Rui Costa and went straight past him. He was unstoppable!”

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Sharp) beat Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the sprint for third.

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), 22, Tour of Colorado time trial

Phinney turned professional after winning the World Championships time trial in Geelong in 2010. Backed by gold medals on the track and a prestigious family pedigree, much was expected from him in 2011.

It took a year, but he delivered. This year, he won the Giro d’Italia opening time trial and wore the pink jersey for three days. On Sunday, he added the closing time trial stage of the Tour of Colorado to his palmarès.

Phinney, Durbridge and other youngsters are proving Armstrong right, there is no need to cry.

Vande Velde wins Colorado overall

As if powered by a steam engine, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) rolled to second place in the Colorado time trial and snatched the overall win. Levi Leipheimer (OmegaPharma-Quick Step) had held the lead, but placed 33 seconds back on Sunday.

“I wasn’t going to let this slip by me,” Vande Velde explained. “I wasn’t going to mess around. I’ve taken too many of these races for granted in my career. This time I was like, ‘No way. I’m in too good of a shape. I can push the pedals much harder than anyone else.'”

On home soil, Vande Velde won the Tour of Missouri in 2008 and placed second overall in Colorado last year, second in the 2007 Tour of Georgia and third in the 2008 Tour of California. The win in Denver, he added, was the greatest of his career.

Armstrong’s doping suspension may have provided him extra steam power. Vande Velde is said to be one of his former team-mates who testified to Armstrong’s cheating in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USADA investigations.

Hincapie calls it quits

George Hincapie also testified according to several reports. During the Tour, a New York Times report said, “Hincapie has told the United States Anti-Doping Agency about systematic doping on Armstrong’s teams, [in] which Armstrong played a part.”

George Hincapie being honoured after his final race of his career at the USA Pro Challenge in Denver

Sunday, however was a time for celebration as Hincapie’s BMC team-mate Phinney won the final stage time trial as and he participated in his last race.

“It’s been a long career for me, a good career and I’m proud of it,” Hincapie said in a BMC press release. “I’m sad to leave, but at the same time, I’m excited to spend more time with my family and start a new life.”

Voigt keeps going

Jens Voigt celebrated his contract renewal with team RadioShack-Nissan by zipping away for a stage win in Colorado on Friday. Voigt will become the oldest pro in the WorldTour next year, racing into 2013 at 41 years old.

Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) on the podium after winning the KOM jersey at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge

“I have been a loyal rider throughout my career and I’m proud that I will be able to continue to share my experience with the boys and help them win,” Voigt explained in a press release. “I had good offers from two other teams, but I’m pleased to stay where I am. I really wanted to ride for one more year and I’m convinced this is the right decision for me.”

The German won the stage to Beaver Creak, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of his escape companions. “I heard I had five minutes, so I slowed down a bit, tried to relax and wave to the crowd,” he said. “I was soaking up the emotions.”

Froome keeps aim on Vuelta title

Chris Froome (Sky) is ready to win his first Grand Tour after placing second in the Tour de France and in last year’s Vuelta a España. The Brit began the middle phase of the Vuelta yesterday second overall.

Christopher Froome (Team Sky) pictured before stage 7 of the Vuelta Espana

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and race leader going into the rest day Monday, Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), attacked several times in the opening week to gain time. Their tactics of marginal gains could be useful against Froome, who is seen as the favourite to win.

On Sunday, Rodríguez snuck off for another 20 seconds when the race finished in Barcelona’s Montjuic Olympic Park. He leads Froome by 53 seconds, Contador by one minute and Valverde by 1-07 minutes.

“It was a very opportunistic attack from Rodríguez on the climb so well done to him for that,” Sports Director Nicolas Portal explained in a press release. “He is looking to take as many seconds as he can at this stage and it is a very open race.”

Froome looks ready to duel with Contador for the overall lead in today’s crucial 39.4-kilometre time trial from Cambados to Ponteverda in Spain’s northwest. If he does take the red leader’s jersey, he’ll need to defend it over six mountain days, four in the next five days ahead of the second rest day.

See full 2012 Vuelta a Espana race results up until stage 9 here. Today is a rest day.

What about Gilbert?

Philippe Gilbert won his first race of the season when the Vuelta reached Barcelona. It came as a relief after a long and disappointing run on the heels of a golden season. Last year, Gilbert won several big one-day wins – Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and San Sebastián – and wore the yellow jersey for one day after winning the Tour’s opening stage.

Philippe Gilbert gets his first win of the season on stage 9 of the Vuelta Espana over Joaquin Rodriguez.

The Belgian’s fortune changed when he switched from Belgium’s Lotto team to join Cadel Evans at BMC Racing. At the end of the classics season, he had zero wins compared to seven last year. He searched for reasons, including blaming the press, but was unable to produce a win – until Sunday.

“It’s been a hard season for me and I’m very happy to win with the BMC Racing Team jersey,” Gilbert said. “There’s been a lot of expectations for me this season and I was not going like I should go. But I never stopped fighting.”

Gilbert is using the Vuelta to prepare for the World Championships, which ends up the Cauberg climb, site of his Amstel Gold Race victory last year.

Farrar, too!

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) put his first win on the board as well in stage one of the Tour of Colorado in Telluride. It was his first win since last year’s stage win in the Tour. He suffered from bad luck, crashing out of the Giro, and just lack of power.

“For Tyler this is a well-deserved reward for his determination over the last months,” said DS Charly Wegelius in a press release. “He never gave up in the face of bad luck and this is truly payback.”

The confidence helped him win again immediately, taking stage five to Colorado Springs.

Australian names long teams for Road World Champs

Cycling Australia today confirmed the long teams from which the Cyclones will be selected to contest the 2012 UCI Road World Championships being staged in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, from 15 to 23 September 2012.

Cycling Australia National Performance Director, Kevin Tabotta, says the hilly road race courses have influenced the selections.

“It’s a solid world championship course,” said Tabotta. “The 16.5km road circuit contains two climbs each lap including the famed 1200 metre long Cauberg that boasts a six percent (6% ) gradient. The elite men’s event also covers a hilly 100km loop prior to reaching the finishing circuits around Valkenberg so a tough day in the saddle is expected. We have athletes listed in the long teams for men, women and U23 men who have shown form in recent selective races and we believe we can compete with the best nations for results in both road and time trial events.”

Long Team – Elite Men

Simon CLARKE (Selby, VIC 18.07.1986 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Allan DAVIS (Bundaberg, QLD – 27.07.80 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Luke DURBRIDGE (Bassendean, WA 09.04.1991 / Orica-GreenEDGE) TT
Simon GERRANS (Jamieson, VIC 16.05.1980 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Cadel EVANS (Barwon Heads, VIC 14.02.1977 / BMC) RR
Adam HANSEN (Edmonton, QLD 11.05.1981 / Lotto-Belisol) RR
Heinrich HAUSSLER (Inverell, NSW 25.02.1984 / Garmin Sharp) RR
Michael MATTHEWS (Farrer, ACT 26.09.1990 / Rabobank) RR
Cameron MEYER (Helena Valley, WA 11.01.1988 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR, TT
Richie PORTE (Hadspen, TAS 30.01.1985 / Team Sky) RR, TT
Michael ROGERS (Garran, ACT 20.12.1979 / Team Sky) RR, TT
Rory SUTHERLAND (Canberra, ACT 08.02.1982 / United Healthcare) RR
David TANNER (Williamstown, VIC 30.09.1984 / Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) RR

Long Team – Elite Women

Tiffany CROMWELL (Upper Sturt, SA 06.07.1988 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Gracie ELVIN (Yarralumla, ACT 31.10.1988 / Team Jayco-AIS) (Oceania RR Champion) RR
Shara GILLOW – (Belli Park, QLD 23.12.1987 / Orica-GreenEDGE) (Oceania TT Champion) RR & TT
Rochelle GILMORE (Stanwell Tops, NSW 14.12.1981 / Lotto Honda) RR
Taryn HEATHER (Kensington Gardens, SA 31.08.1982) TT
Joanne HOGAN (Moorabbin, VIC 09.06.1982 Bizkaia-Durango) RR
Chloe HOSKING (Campbell, ACT 01.10.1990 / Specialized-lululemon) RR
Melissa HOSKINS (Lesmurdie, WA 24.02.1991 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Jessie MACLEAN (Campbell, ACT 17.10.1985 / Team Jayco-AIS) RR
Rachel NEYLAN (Adelaide, SA 09.03.1982 ABUS Nutrixxion) RR
Loren ROWNEY (Molendinar, QLD 14.10.1988 / Specialized-lululemon) RR
Alexis RHODES (Seaton, SA 01.12.1984 / Orica-GreenEDGE) TT
Carla RYAN (Nathalia, VIC 21.09.1985 / ) RR
Amanda SPRATT (Springwood, NSW 17.09.1987 / Orica-GreenEDGE) RR
Carlee TAYLOR (Marino, SA 15.02.1989 / Vienne Futuroscope) RR

Long Team – U23 Men

Nick AITKEN (Wonthaggi, VIC 01.01.1990 / Team Jayco AIS) (Oceania RR Champion) RR
Rohan DENNIS (Vale Park, SA 28.05.1990 / Team Jayco AIS) RR, TT
Michael FREIBERG (Dianella, WA 10.10.1990 / Team Jayco AIS) RR
Ben GRENDA ( Newnham, TAS 06.04.1990/ Rapha Condor) RR
Damien HOWSON ( Greenwith, SA 13.08.1992 / Team Jayco AIS) (Oceania TT Champion) RR, TT
Patrick LANE ( Northcote, VIC 29.08.1991 / Team Jayco AIS) RR
Jay McCARTHY (Coorparoo, QLD 08.09.1992 / Team Jayco AIS) RR
Adam PHELAN (Isabella Plains, ACT 23.08.1991 / Drapac Profesional Cycling) RR
Samuel SPOKES (Tamworth, NSW 16.04.1992 / Omega Pharma – Quickstep) RR
Calvin WATSON (Frankston, VIC 06.01.1993 / Team Jayco AIS) RR

Final teams will be selected by 10 September.

Cyclocross BOOMING In Australia

Mel Anset dominates the women's field at the Rapha Supercross event on Sunday

It might not be close to the level of maturity of the scene in the US or Europe, but cyclocross has caught on like a wildfire and there’s no end in sight. The Rapha Supercross / DDCX was held in Melbourne over the weekend with massive crowds and participants (full results here). In Sydney the Manly Warringah held its final winter series round on the weekend in much less Belgian conditions with temperatures well into the twenties with conditions dry and fast (results here).

Despite its harsh Sydney winter weather the hardmen of the Manly Warringah are growing a strong cyclocross scene (photo Craig Bryant)

The calendar is quite fragmented but you can find out more information on the 2012 Australian National Cyclocross Series here, Dirty Deeds CX (Melbourne) here, Trailmix series (Melbourne) here, and feel free to add any other event information that I’ve missed in the comments below.