Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sarah Hammer Wins World Title in Omnium at Track Worlds

Minsk, Belarus —  Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif./Performance United - FELT) rode into another rainbow stripes jersey at the 2013 UCI Track World Championships today when she claimed her first-ever world title in the omnium.

Hammer, who took her fifth career elite world title in the individual pursuit on Wednesday, had yet to claim gold in the omnium until today. (She earned the silver in 2011 and the bronze in 2012.)

After finishing fourth in the omnium’s flying lap, second in the elimination race, and third in the points race on Saturday, Hammer had the lead going into Sunday’s events.  Sunday saw her take the win in her signature event, the individual pursuit, and then finish fourth in the scratch race and sixth in the 500-meter time trial.
In the end, Hammer totaled 20 points to defeat Olympic Champion in the omnium, Laura Trott (GBR), who amassed 24 points over the two days. Collecting the bronze medal with 26 points was Annette Edmondson (AUS).

Check out USA Cycling’s PHOTO GALLERY from the event. Click here for full results. For more information, visit the official 2013 Track World Championships website.

2013 UCI Track World Championships
Minsk, Belarus
February 20, 2013

Women’s Omnium

1.Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif./Performance Untied – FELT)
2. Laura Trott (GBR)
3. Annette Edmondson (AUS)

Article Source:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bianchi Research, Design and Technology

A quick look inside the Bianchi Italy Research, Design and Technology Offices. Taking an original design through the paces of making of a prototype to product testing to the final product. A lot of intensive testing before a Bianchi hits the pavement. Passione Celeste!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chasing Down... Marty Nothstein

By Aaron Torres

Marty is the 2000 Olympic champion in the sprint. For even the world’s greatest athletes, sometimes it takes more than sheer ability or God given talent to reach the top of their sport. In many cases, outside circumstances and simply being at the right place, at the right time, with the right people plays more of a role than anyone cares to admit.

That is certainly the case for 2000 Olympic track cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein.

A natural athlete from the day he was born, Nothstein spent his youth playing baseball and football and when he did choose to hop on a bike, it was of the motocross or BMX variety. Yet despite growing up in the cycling hotbed of Lehigh Valley, PA and just minutes from the famed Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, PA. Nothstein never considered the sport of track cycling until a neighbor recommended it to him as a teenager.  That neighbor was former Olympic cycling coach Heinz Walter, who was running the Valley Preferred Cycling Center at the time, and saw in Nothstein what the teenager couldn’t yet see in himself: A future Olympic champion.

“I went to the velodrome, hopped on a loner bike, and fell in love with the sport,” Nothstein said recently from Trexlertown, a place he still calls home. “I quit playing baseball and football and wrestling and focused primarily on cycling.”

Incredibly, from that day forward, it would only be a few short years before Nothstein became one of the top sprint cyclists in the world. It would also be over a decade of pain and struggle before Nothstein would reach his ultimate goal of being crowned an Olympic champion.

Marty is the 2000 Olympic champion in the sprint.
Marty is the 2000 Olympic champion in the sprint.
The Olympic Dream:

From his first moments on the track, Nothstein showed a natural proclivity for the sport. He burst onto the scene in 1988 winning a gold medal at the Junior National Championships and a year later became one of the few people- man or woman- to ever win gold in both the Junior and Elite National Championships in the same year.

And the scariest part for the cycling community was that at the time, Nothstein still viewed the sport as much more of a hobby than a career path. Reflecting back now, Nothstein is quick to admit that he never fully committed all of his time and energy to track cycling until after the 1991 Pan-Am Games, which doubled as both his first taste of international experience, and first taste of how truly competitive the sport was at its highest level.

“I didn’t ride as well as I expected to, but I knew I was a better athlete than just about everyone that beat me,” Nothstein said of his experience at the Pan-Am Games. “At that point it kind of turned a switch on for me. I realized, ‘If I really train hard and focused and concentrated on cycling, I felt I could be one of the better cyclists in the world.’”

From there Nothstein’s intensity- a trait which would come to define his career- picked up and within a few short years he fulfilled his prophecy by becoming one of the best riders in the world. Nothstein won his first world championship medal (a silver in the keirin) at the 1993 Track Cycling World Championships, and by 1994 won world titles in both the keirin and the sprint. By the time the next Pan-Am Games rolled around in 1995, Nothstein was a force on the track and won gold there as well.

Marty yells words of encouragement to masters riders during the Masters Track National Championships“Once I really dedicated myself to track cycling, I started to get immediate results,” Nothstein said. “High-level results, winning at World Cups, placing at World Championships, winning World Championships.

“Naturally, the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta was the ultimate goal at that point,” Nothstein added.

Entering Atlanta in 1996, victory was the expectation for Nothstein; after all, that is essentially all he’d done the previous few years. But at that year’s Olympics, on the world’s biggest stage, Nothstein finished second in the gold medal round of the sprint to defending Olympic champion, German Jans Fiedler, by mere hundredths of a second.

It was a crushing experience for a young Nothstein, who’d only come to Atlanta with one goal in mind.

“Ultimately, let’s be clear of one thing,” Nothstein said. “I didn’t win the silver medal. I lost the gold.”

Still, reflecting back on that loss all these years later, Nothstein now sees it for what it was: A blessing in disguise.

“Losing in Atlanta... It was probably was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Nothstein said.

The rest of the world was about to find out just how serious Nothstein was with that statement.

Earning A Spot in the History Books:

Unsatisfied with his silver medal, Nothstein began training for the 2000 Sydney Games before he even left the city limits of Atlanta in 1996.

“People wanted to celebrate my silver medal,” Nothstein said of the days that followed his 1996 Olympic disappointment. “I threw my silver medal on the table and said, ‘Training for 2000 starts tomorrow.’”

It certainly did, and began with Nothstein taking the unusual step of overhauling everything he’d done in the lead-up to Atlanta. Despite being just hundredths of a second from being crowned Olympic champion in the sprint, it wasn’t enough for Nothstein, who completely revamped his diet, weight training and exercise routines. For Marty Nothstein, being “good enough” simply wasn’t good enough.

“You’re not even looking for one percent better performance at this level, you’re looking for a half a percent better performance,” Nothstein said of his ramped up training routine. “Half a percent is sometimes what puts you over the top.”

It certainly did the trick for Nothstein, who spent the next few years dominating velodromes and winning virtually every event he set out to during the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. By the time the next Olympics rolled around in Sydney, Nothstein was a sleeker, more finely-tuned athlete, with the mental toughness that could’ve only come from his 1996 defeat.

“I just couldn’t wait until the year, until the event,” Nothstein said. “It was more confidence than anything. Thinking ‘Ok, here it is.’”

And when race day eventually came, Nothstein left nothing to chance. He crushed the competition, exacting revenge on Jans Fiedler in the semifinals, before beating Frenchman Florian Rousseau in the gold medal race. After four years of waiting for that moment, Nothstein’s dream had come true. He was an Olympic champion.

“After the event, I had this incredible sense of excitement,” Nothstein said of his golden moment.” You give a victory scream, but after two or three laps of rolling down, I had this incredible - I don’t know if I’ve ever had it before, or if I ever will again- this incredible feeling of my shoulders getting lighter. It was just like, ‘Ok, the sacrifices, the dedication it paid off.’”

Still, even all these years later, Nothstein is quick to emphasize that his Olympic glory didn’t come without the sacrifice of a lot of people. His gold medal was hardly a solo pursuit.  

“Four years is a long time, and it takes a big commitment,” Nothstein said. “Not only from you as an athlete, but from your family, your friends, your coaches, your trainers. You’re all in it together.”

Marty yells words of encouragement to masters riders during the Masters Track National Championships
Marty yells words of encouragement to masters riders during the Masters Track National Championships
Fast Forward to 2013:

Following Nothstein’s Olympic glory, he remained in cycling for a few more years, before retiring for good from the sport in 2006. From there he briefly dipped his hand into a number of other ventures, but mostly focused on catching up with the family and friends who had sacrificed so much for him over the previous four years. To this day he still cherishes getting away with his kids on hunting and fishing trips whenever time permits.

Professionally, Nothstein got his big post-retirement break in 2009, when he was given his ‘dream job’ as the Executive Director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Although Nothstein never left Lehigh Valley in the first place, it only seemed fitting for him to be put in charge of the track which had turned him into an Olympic champion.

Since accepting the post nearly four years ago, Nothstein has initiated a number of new programs at the track, with most centered around getting young children involved in the sport. Nothstein knows from personal experience that not every kid is exposed to cycling at a young age, and how easily he himself almost fell through the cracks. Because of it, Nothstein leaves nothing to chance with the next generation of riders.

“I lucked into the sport of cycling,” Nothstein said. “I don’t want kids to luck into the sport of cycling anymore.”

To the credit of Nothstein and his staff, the programs at Valley Preferred Cycling Center have grown each year since he took over, with over 140 children participating in both the spring and fall in 2012. Just as impressive as the raw numbers though are the actual, tangible results on the track; in the past few years Valley Preferred has produced a number of national champions and 2012 Olympic medalist Lauren Tamayo trained at the track as well.

Not that you need to get to an Olympic podium to impress Nothstein.

“You don’t have to get to the Olympic level for me to share in that success,” Nothstein said. “As I get older, just watching how hard these kids work and how dedicated they are and how fun it is for them. That’s what I enjoy sharing with them.”

Of course if they do have those Olympic dreams, it’s got to be reassuring to know that someone who came from the same track and the same hometown reached the sport’s highest level.

“If any of them want to go on and try to chase down an Olympic gold medal they know that they have a huge asset sitting at the desk helping to guide them,” Nothstein said.

Not bad for a local kid who had to be talked into track cycling by a neighbor.

Source: USA Cycling

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bianchi: Bikes-Then and Now

At the USA Pro Challenge in Durango, Colorado. Hunter Jupiter explains racing bikes of past and present using the Bianchi Tipo Corsa and the Bianchi Oltre models as examples.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Exclusive: Q&A with WADA President John Fahey

By: Daniel Benson
Armstrong, Verbruggen, McQuaid and the new code
In this exclusive interview the World Anti-Doping Agency's president John Fahey speaks with Cyclingnews about the objectives of his final year as president, the fundamental changes that need to be made for WADA to better combat the fight against doping and if cycling has seen a cultural shift following the Lance Armstrong case.
Fahey is also asked to discuss the role of UCI in cleaning up the sport, if Pat McQuaid is the right person to be president of the sport's governing body and the possible existence of doping cultures in other sports.
Cyclingnews: You have a year left as the President of WADA. What are the major objectives you'd like to achieve before you step aside?
John Fahey: The key is to ensure that when we finish the WADA code review and have approval for the changes to our code that we've got the best set-up weapons possible and available. There's no doubt going forward that there is strong support for four-year terms for serious drugs, and not two years. We need investigation powers that we don't have at the moment and I sincerely hope that's carried through as well.
There are a number of other areas that we need changes in order to operate more effectively in the fight against doping. It's the code review and the outcome of that review that's first and foremost in my mind.
I also think there's got to be recognition and awareness that doping is as large as it ever was. There are still cheats and they've not gone away. This is a big problem still and to an extent there's been a wake-up call recently and I hope that translates into action going forward. Why are many sports not using the biological passport? All team sports can use it. I hope that this wake-up call we're seeing right now with the cases involving Armstrong, Fuentes, Australian sport, Rasmussen, might lead to an adoption of a number of those programs where there's been reluctance in the past.
CN: Is the new WADA code going to be your legacy?
Fahey: I've never worried about legacies in anything I've done. I've always tried to do my very best. I have a simple ambition to make whatever contribution I can to the organisations I've been part of.
To do this job you've got to have a strong belief about what sport is and what it stands for. If you've got that drive in you then clearly the very thought of cheating is abhorrent. I love sport. I want it to be about everything that's good about sport. Cheats are everything that's bad about sport and I don't want to see any cheats left.
CN: What's the biggest challenge in front of WADA at the moment?
Fahey: Complacency. Yes, complacency in the anti-doping world and that we've fixed this problem when we haven't. That complacency translates into wealthy sport, in the sport of football where coaches in my country are constantly complaining to me that anti-doping costs too much money. Well hold on, of course it does, but what price is integrity in your sport? Your reputation is the most important thing that you have and if the reputation goes down the drain then that's the end of that sport.
CN: Can any sport currently say it has integrity in the fight against doping?
Fahey: Look, there's a strong commitment in most sports. Frequently that commitment doesn't translate into action though. There's no reason why most team sports can't adopted the biological passport programme which has been around for three or four years. It costs money and requires resources and for some reason or other they don't think that's necessary. Maybe the events of recent times will prove the [need for a] wake-up call.
Cyclingnews: Earlier today WADA director general Mr Howman specifically talked about athletes travelling to specific and remote locations in the world where testing was hard to carry out. He talked about athletes staying on the top of mountains for altitude training and being in locations where they could see testers coming due to small airports and single roads up to locations. Is that a genuine threat to the anti-doping fight?
Fahey: It's a simple fact but to the extent that all sports have a testing pool and those within the pool have to give their whereabouts every single day. That gives you some level of capacity to find them and test them but if you've got an athlete who moves continents to go training or goes to a remote part of the world, how much money do you spend to get a sample? The temptation is to wait until he or she comes back to the capital city or our own country so it's in that context that on some level there is the capacity for some athletes to stay away from where they might be tested.
There are ways and means that athletes will use and there have to be ways for us to overcome that avoidance process and we do have those. But it's a lot easier to test someone in a capital city than, dare I say it, the mountains of Kenya.
CN: That sounds as though the reality is that if an athlete travels far away they have a green light to dope, potentially.
Fahey: There's been concern expressed. I mention Kenya and the altitude training athletes from all around the world go to. To the credit of the IAAF they sent a team in last December and took 40 samples and managed to get it to a lab within the 36-hour window of opportunity.
CN: In 2006 your predecessor Dick Pound said of Floyd Landis "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." That was after Landis tested positive for testosterone but before he was sanctioned. Was that an appropriate comment to make at the time?
Fahey: I'm a cautious person, by nature and I don't particularly like talking in generalities but to the extent but if something extraordinary happens you've got to take some notice of it and then make some examination if you've got integrity. That comment of the ride over the mountain that was done with prohibited substances, and what he did that day would make you take notice.
CN: So where do you draw the line as both the head of WADA and a sport fan when you're watching a performance in any sport. Winning isn't a positive test but if there's a performance way above expectations or above the expected playing field should you be suspicious?
Fahey: The events management of any event is responsible for the anti-doping programme. I don't sit in the stands and pick up the hotline and say go for X or go for Y because they've run out of their skin today. That's not my job but you can sincerely hope that those running that event are using an intelligent approach to who they are testing.
CN: So when did you know that Lance Armstrong was a cheat?
Fahey: When I read the Reasoned Decision of USADA. I have read many things about Lance Armstrong, including his book when I was recovering from a cancerous lung taken out. A good friend of mine gave me "It's Not About The Bike" and said I'd find it really inspiring, and I did. It was 2001, and I didn't know that one day that I'd be sitting front and centre in the world of anti-doping and that his name would come up prominently. The day I became president I was told that 'one of these days Lance Armstrong is going to be dealt with as he should have been'. I patiently watched and read a number of papers and it was always suggested that there were problems but you can have all the suspicions and have all the advice under the sun but in the end you need the irrefutable arguments and they were delivered in bucket loads by the USADA reasoned decision.
CN: Which prophet told you of Armstrong's fate?
Fahey: In every organisation people give you unsolicited advice or comments and those comments were given to me in many parts of the world by many people in the anti-doping movement. You take little notice of them other than to say that 'if there's smoke there's probably a fire somewhere'. Ultimately, you hope justice will be done and we now know that justice has been done in respect to that bully, liar and cheat.
CN: Pat McQuaid said last year that WADA had a vendetta against cycling. What did you make of that comment?
Fahey: That's absolute rubbish. I have no idea where that comes from. He went on, when asked to give details, that the question should be put to Mr Howman. I saw that as defamatory and insulting. That's one of those insults that one must unfortunately take on the chin. It had no substance, and it never has. I have no idea why those sorts of comments have to be made by anyone.
CN: You say defamatory. Did you consider legal action?
Fahey: No. I think I know enough about the law of defamation from my background to say that if legal action was taken it would have had a good chance of success but you take a lot of things on the chin in the name of sport. To me it was just disappointing. To suggest that we have a vendetta against cycling or any sport is just rubbish. WADA operates fairly, firmly and properly.
CN: Do you think McQuaid should be the UCI President?
Fahey: That's a matter for cycling. I understand that the sport is an autonomous part of our community and each sport dictates how it operates and who holds the positions. That's a question for the constituent members of cycling to answer. If they're not happy they should do something about it. If they choose not to do anything about it, all I can assume is that the current leadership is the right leadership for their sport.
CN: Is the UCI capable of cleaning up cycling with its current leadership and its current behaviour?
Fahey: They're capable of doing it but they need to open their eyes to how it could be done. It has to be done away from the current leadership and current management for integrity and transparency to be brought back into the sport. Somebody has to look at what's going on from the outside, not be dictated to from the inside. When they recognise that, that's how they can succeed in restoring the faith of their constituent members and the sport's millions of fans.
CN: Would it be disappointing if Hein Verbruggen still had influence in the UCI?
Fahey: Again that's a matter for cycling. I can't comment. They operate separately to me and to my role. What I should say to the constituents within cycling is, 'you have to ask yourself the question, are you happy with how your sport is being run? If not you should do something about it. If you don't do something about it I can only assume you're happy.'
CN: Why do you think cycling is constantly in the headlines for doping? Is it because it's dirtier than the majority of other sports, because of the media spot light or because it uncovers more?
Fahey: There's little doubt that performance enhancing drugs can benefit cyclists. Does that mean there's a propensity to dope? If you read the Armstrong decision the answer is yes. But there's not only a propensity but a culture. Has that finished? I'd say it's a lot less with the bio passport but has that eliminated all the cheats? There's no doubt though that there was this culture that was rife in cycling. What all of us would like to know if whether the culture has been fixed and if the sport is operating as clean as we'd want it to? I'm not sure we know that and that's why this door opening is necessary for an independent inquiry.
CN: What the general public also wants to know is whether this culture exists in other sports, and if so why hasn't that come out? For example tennis, rugby, football...
Fahey: Well there's no evidence of a cultural level in other sports. The jury is out in Australia with the information given last week but we need to see that play out to see how widespread it is. I don't know of a culture in other sports, whether it's swimming or football or tennis.
CN: But before the Armstrong verdict came out, maybe 10 years ago, if I asked someone in your position if there was a doping culture within cycling, on the record you'd have had to say no because of a lack of evidence. To the contrary, earlier in the interview you said sooner or later Armstrong would be dealt with. How do we not know that those cultures don't exist in other sports and that it's just that they're not in the limelight yet?
Fahey: I don't rule it out. I just say I don't know at this point in time. Next year it might be another sport that has been exposed. We don't catch everyone, and there are cheats still succeeding and that's why we need to work very hard. There's no magic bullet.
Source: CyclingNews

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Team Pursuit Practice at the 2013 Pan Am Continental Track Championships

The American team pursuit squad of Beth Newell, Lauren Tamayo and Ruth Winder rides some practice laps ahead of the 2013 Pan Am Continental Track Championships in Mexico City. Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Paris-Nice to End with Col d'Èze Time Trial

By: Stephen Farrand
The 2013 Paris-Nice route map  2013 race includes highest ever mountain finish
Paris-Nice race organiser ASO has officially presented the route of this year's 'Race to the Sun', confirming that the weeklong WorldTour race will again end with a 9.6km individual time trial up the Col d'Èze climb overlooking Nice.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) won the Col d'Èze time trial in 2012 to seal overall victory ahead of Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). However the Briton will not be back to defend his title this year, preferring a different race programme as he prepares to target the Giro d'Italia.
The racing in the 71st edition of Paris-Nice begin on Sunday March 4 with a very short 2.9km prologue time trial around the streets of Houilles, north-west of central Paris.
The first road stage takes riders from nearby Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours for the first uphill finish of the race. Several rolling stages follow, taking the race south, cutting through the Massif Central to Saint Vallier.
Stage five from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Montagne de Lure looks to be the toughest stage of the race, with five minor climbs before the summit finish after 13.8km at an average gradient of 6.6%. At 1600m, it is the highest ever finish for a Paris-Nice mountain stage. Alberto Contador won a stage finish here in 2009, but then cracked the next day, handing overall victory to Luis Leon Sanchez.
A second mountain stage on Saturday March 9 takes the race to Nice with 220km of racing in Provence. The Cote de Cabris and the Col du Ferrier combine to make another tough climb but top out 70km from the finish on the Promenade des Anglais and so are unlikely to change the overall standings. The winner of the Paris-Nice yellow jersey will be decided in the 9.6km final time trial to the summit of Col d'Èze.
In the absence of Wiggins and with Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali opting to ride Tirreno-Adriatico, this year's 'Race to the Sun' seems wide open. ASO confirmed that Tony Martin, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) will all ride this year's race.

2013 Paris-Nice stages:
Prologue: Sunday 3rd March: Houilles, individual time-trial (2.9 km)
Stage 1: Monday 4th March: Saint-Germain-en-Laye - Nemours (195 km)
Stage 2: Tuesday 5th March: Vimory - Cérilly (200.5 km)
Stage 3: Wednesday 6th March: Chatel-Guyon - Brioude (171 km)
Stage 4: Thursday 7th March: Brioude - Saint-Vallier (199.5 km)
Stage 5: Friday 8th March: Châteauneuf-du-Pape - Montagne de Lure (176 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 9th March: Manosque - Nice (220 km)
Stage 7: Sunday 10th March: Nice - Col d’Eze, individual time-trial (9.6 km).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Nys Wins Cyclo-Cross World Title in Louisvillle

A good day for the Belgians in Louisville

Sven Nys erased the bitter taste of last year's world championship letdown in Koksijde with a masterful, calculated effort to win the 2013 elite men's cyclo-cross world championship in Louisville, Kentucky. The race's endgame featured a head-to-head duel between Nys and compatriot Klaas Vantornout, but a pair of miscues on the final lap by Vantornout on the limestone step run-up, mid-way through the circuit, provided Nys with the opportunity to turn on the afterburners and ride away to the second elite men's 'cross title of his storied career.

The 36-year-old Belgian had just enough of a gap to savour the Louisville crowd's raucous adulation on the finishing stretch, while two seconds later Vantornout banged his fist on the handlebars in frustration as he'd never before been so tantalisingly close to earning a rainbow jersey of his own.
Lars van der Haar gave the Netherlands yet another reason to celebrate today as the 21-year-old Dutchman delivered a bronze medal in his debut world championships at the elite level, just 25 seconds off the pace of Nys.
For Nys, the victory was a manifestation of his vast experience at cyclo-cross's highest level. "I race a lot with Klaas, and I know him," said Nys. "And you need to use your experience. You need to be in the front in the last lap and try to have a gap before the obstacles, because there I was the strongest.
"When I have a gap before the obstacles, it was positive to win the race. I took a little more power before the obstacles, I had a small gap and then full power until the end. I also made a few mistakes in the last three corners, but of course when you are in the front it's possible to make mistakes.
"If he came back on the wheel then I knew that normally I am the strongest in the sprint. So then I was relaxed. But it is victory of experience, not only power."
Nys, typically the picture of calm, confessed that inside on the start line he was facing a case of the pre-race jitters. "Definitely this day before the race I felt I was getting nervous again," said Nys. "I felt 'goddamn, why am I doing this?' It's so stressful, it costs a lot of energy, but at the end you win and you have this jersey, you say, ‘this is why I'm doing it'.
"It was a hard season. I was sick before national championships and was second after Klaas. Then I felt, OK, when my shape is going up a bit again, it's maybe possible to win the world championships. When the weather circumstances are good and when everything is arranged like we want, it was very positive. The national federation, the teams - it was a hard job to do everything perfect, and I felt this today.
While the general consensus in the build-up to this year's Worlds in Louisville was that the parcours at Eva Bandman Park would be a fast, relatively unselective circuit, Mother Nature pitched in with a dose of wintry weather to set the stage for a truly deserving winner.
"I've got a lot of podium places in the world championships, but for me it doesn't work at the end of the season. One of the reasons is most of the races have been very fast over the past 10 years, and it is difficult for me to win those races. Over here there were a lot of technical skills required, and the atmosphere helped a lot. I felt it the whole week."
Vantornout earned the second world championship silver medal of his career, but it was a bittersweet day filled with mixed emotions for the 30-year-old Belgian. "I was very close today, it's a double feeling," said Vantornout. "I'm lucky that I have my Belgian champion's jersey and the season was already very, very good from the beginning to the end.
"But today it was also a good race. I felt strong, even as strong as Sven Nys, but just on the moment he was riding on the front and I made two little mistakes and my race was over." After bobbling at the base of the limestone step run-up on the final lap, which enabled Nys to pass him, Vantornout sealed his fate when his right pedal clipped a course barrier at the top of the run-up, momentarily stopping him in his tracks and giving Nys just enough daylight to ride away to victory.
Van der Haar's bronze medal ride provided yet more confirmation that the young Dutchman made the correct decision in foregoing his final year in the U23 ranks, although his day didn't start quite as expected.
"I had big problems in the first two laps getting the pace, it was just too hard for me and I didn't have the right feeling," said van der Haar. "I thought 'I have to believe in myself for the whole race' and I found a new pace and could come back to [Niels] Albert. I just felt really good - I had the power and the technical parts were going really well. I didn't really make that many mistakes, that's why I could come back.
"At the end when I went for third I saw that Albert was mentally getting a bit down. I thought 'I should go now and maybe get a gap'. I went for it just before the technical section, got a gap and had to hold it for two laps almost, but I could never get back for the win. I was really happy to get third in my first pro year."
Patience is key
Martin Bina (Czech Republic), winner of the final World Cup round and always keyed up for truly wintry conditions, set the early fast pace and led after the opening lap, but then Francis Mourey (France) took over at the front and pushed out a lead approaching 20 seconds.
But Belgians loomed, and the Frenchman soon found himself in the company of Nys, Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels at the head of affairs. In pursuit of the leading quartet was a solo Niels Albert in fifth, pursued by a solitary Lars van der Haar in sixth. After five of nine laps had been completed Albert trailed by 11 seconds while van der Haar was just five seconds in arrears of the 2012 world champion.
While Mourey was having a stellar day in the sloppy conditions, Nys knew it was just a matter of time before the Frenchman would come unhinged, which took place on the following lap. "I was waiting until the second part of the race where I am normally the strongest," said Nys. "You saw that all season. For me it was trying to stay calm, don't make any mistakes and wait until Mourey was making some mistakes. We know Mourey, he's a strong rider, but he makes a lot of mistakes and you need to know it."
Near the end of lap six, a technical section in the woods would prove pivotal to the race's outcome. Pauwels dropped his chain and lost any hope of a podium finish while Mourey, too, would come unglued and lost contact with the pointy end of the race. Nys and Vantornout crossed the finish line together in the lead, while Albert moved up to third at 11 seconds followed four seconds later by a motivated van der Haar.
As Nys and Vantornout continued to wage their two-man war at the front, van der Haar made contact with Albert in the battle for bronze and on the penultimate lap the young Dutchman smelled blood and dispatched of the Belgian. Entering the final lap, van der Haar trailed the Nys/Vantornout duo by 17 seconds while a four-man chase group had formed behind the Dutchman, containing Albert, Bart Wellens (Belgium), Philipp Walsleben (Germany) and Julien Taramarcaz (Switzerland).
It was cat and mouse between Nys and Vantornout on the final lap until Vantornout was beset by a quick succession of errors on the limestone step sector. Nys pounced and a handful of minutes later the rainbow jersey was again his. Van der Haar remained poised beyond his years to round out the podium, while Bart Wellens overcame a dismal start to notch a fourth place result, 41 seconds down on Nys.