Thomas Voeckler has been awarded the Vélo d’Or trophy after being voted the best French rider of 2011 by the prestigious Vélo magazine.
The Team Europcar leader became a national hero in France this summer after he fought to defend the race leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Voeckler eventually lost the jersey in the Alps and finished fourth overall but was admired for his panache and determination. Colnago made a unique yellow C59 bike for Voeckler to use during his ten-day spell in the yellow jersey, which stood out as much as the race leader’s jersey.
Voeckler was voted the best French rider by cycling journalists from around the world. He secured 116 votes, beating teammate Pierre Rolland, who had 64 votes, and track rider Grégory Beaugé, who received 55 votes.
Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert won the international Vélo d’Or, with Peter Sagan of the Czech Republic winning the Vélo d’Or Espoirs for the best young rider.
Voeckler was French national champion in 2010 and won eight races in 2011, starting his season with a victory at the Tour Méditerranéen in February and ending it with fourth at the Gran Piemonte race in Italy in October.
“When most team leaders don’t win a race they justify it by say that the important thing is that they felt good. I don’t agree. The important thing is to win,” Voeckler told French newspaper L’Equipe after being awarded the Vélo d’Or Francais trophy.
Yukiya Arashiro is chasing success at this weekend’s Japan Cup races after an aggressive end of season.
The Europcar rider was in the key breakaway of the Lombardia race that ended the European season on October 15 and then travelled home to Japan for Saturday’s criterium and Sunday’s road race in Utsunomiya.
“I’m determined to do well in the Japan Cup. It’s a big, big goal for me,” Arashiro said.
“I love racing in Europe and like to be aggressive but the Japan Cup is my home race and so is special.”
Arashiro will ride the Japanese Cup as part of a special Japanese national team that will also include Yukihiro Doi, Takashi Miyazawa, Shinichi Fukushima and Hayato Yoshida. Other star riders competing in Japan include Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego, Giovanni Visconti and Roman Kreuziger. Ireland’s Dan Martin won the Japan Cup in 2010, while Arashiro finished ninth.
Arashiro is satisfied with his 2011 season with the Europcar team and was rightly praised by Ernesto Colnago at the start of Lombardia in Milan.
“I won the Asian road race title at the start of the year but unfortunately I didn’t manage to win in Europe. It was a pity but it’s never easy to win a race. That’s cycling,” he said philosophically.
Thomas Voeckler was a special guest at the presentation of the 2012 Tour de France route in Paris after his huge success in this year’s race. After studying the huge map, he predicted that the unorthodox route could produce a very open and aggressive race.
The Europcar team captain was invited onto the stage during the presentation with this year’s winner Cadel Evans and the world’s number one ranked rider Philippe Gilbert. Voeckler was acclaimed for the way he fought to defend the yellow jersey during this year’s Tour de France.
The 2012 Tour de France starts in Liege, in Belgium on June 30 and ends in Paris on July 22. The race tackles the Alps first and then the Pyrenees, with three mountain finishes and a total of 96km of time trailing. Several other stages are hilly and so perfectly suit an aggressive rider like Voeckler.
“It’s difficult to make a judgment so immediate after the presentation but the route is really mixed and some stages will spark some big surprises,” Voeckler predicted.
“It’s going to create a very exciting race next summer because it suits a lot of riders. I don’t know what I can do but I’ll be there, motivated and in the best possible form. It’ll be important to adopt your race tactics to suit the route. I like doing that. It’ll be up to the guys who aren’t good in time trials to go on the attack and gain time.
Voeckler held the race leader’s yellow jersey for ten days before finishing fourth overall in Paris. He was modest about being able to do so well in 2012.
“After having such a great Tour this year I’ll be more confident next year but I think I’d be presumptuous if I said I can finish on the podium but I’ll do the best I can,” he said.
“However I won’t become depressed if I don’t finish in the top ten. I think it’s more important to ride aggressively and be in the thick of the action. That’s my big goal for the 2012 Tour de France.”
Sven Nys is the first leader of the UCI World Cup cyclo-cross after winning the opening round of the seven-race competition in Plzen in the Czech Republic.
Incredibly, it was the Landbouwkrediet rider’s 44th career win in the World Cup and his third win of the new winter cyclo-cross season.
This time he beat current world champion fellow Belgian Kevin Pauwels and local hero Zdenek Stybar after he jumped across to them mid-race with a huge solo effort. The three then opened a significant gap on the rest of the field, knowing they would fight it out for the places on the podium.
Thanks to his aggression, speed and superior bike handling ability, Nys dived past Stybar and took the lead on a later corner. He then used his finishing sprint to ensure his Colnago bike was first across the line.
“I had to go hard to catch Stybar and Pauwels and it took me two laps to recover,” Nys admitted after his victory.
“On the last lap there was a lot of tactical games going on. After the steps Stybar left a small gap and I dived into. I surprised him but it worked. I’m glad I can still pull of moves like that.”
As leader of the UCI World Cup series, Nys will wear the leader’s special white jersey in the second round in Tabor, again in the Czech Republic on Sunday October 23.
Sacha Modolo’s eyes lit up during the presentation of the 2012 Giro d’Italia in Milan, after race organisers included seven stages for sprinters and other stages that seem to perfectly suited the talented Italian’s style of racing.
The 24 year-old Colnago-CSF Inox rider had a break through season in 2011, winning 11 races, including two stages at the Tour of Denmark, where the 2012 Giro d’Italia will start on May 5. He got his first taste of the intensity of the Giro d’Italia at this year’s race, finishing in the top ten on two stages before being forced to retire from the race on stage eight.
He will be back in 2012, determined to take on the other sprinters, including Mark Cavendish if the new world champion decides to ride the Giro d’Italia.
“I like the route a lot. There are a lot of stages for sprinters and mixed stages too. I’ve got a lot better on the climbs and so I’ve got a good chance on some of those sprints too,” he said
Modolo has already identified one special stage: “I especially like stage 18 to Vedelago. That’s just 20km from where and I live and so I’ll be especially motivated to try and win that one. There are several days in the Veneto region and so I’ll hopefully have a lot of supporters cheering me on.”
Modolo is part of a generation on young Italian sprinters that are emerging into the sprinting spotlight. He finished fourth in the Milan-San Remo one-day classic in his first season as a professional in 2010. His 11 victories this year meant he was a key part of the Italian national team for the world championships in Copenhagen this year.
“There are young sprinters like Andrea Guardini, my teammate Manuel Belletti and hopefully myself, who are getting better and better every season,” he said.
“I think we’re going to have some great sprint finishes at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and in the years come as we take on the likes of Mark Cavendish. I can’t wait.”
Colnago-CSF Inox rider Domenico Pozzovivo ended his season on a high and proved he can compete with the best classics rider in the world by taking sixth at il Lombardia, the final one-day classic on the UCI WorldTour calendar.
The Italian was second to the top of the final climb that decided the outcome of the race, just failing to get onto the wheel of eventual race winner Oliver Zaugg of Switzerland.
Other riders joined with Pozzovivo on the descent to the spectacular finish in Lecco and the group finished just eight seconds down on Zaugg.
Pozzovivo is a pure climber and won a stage at the Brixia Tour in the summer but his sixth place at il Lombardia was arguably his best performance of the 2011 season. He finished ahead of Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti and WorldTour ranking winner Philippe Gilbert.
“It was a hard race that suited my climbing skills but the descent and flat finish is not really my thing and there wasn’t much I could do in the sprint,” Pozzovivo said at the finish after being congratulated by everyone at the Colnago-CSF Inox team.
“Lombardia is important race and it’s great to be in the thick of the action. When Zaugg attacked I just failed to get on to him but I’m still happy with my performance.”
Team Type 1 - SANOFI rider Laszlo Bodrogi stormed to a fifth place finish at the season-ending Paris-Tours race on Sunday in what was the team’s last race in Europe for the 2011 season.
Team Type 1 - SANOFI general manager Vassili Davidenko said Bodrogi’s finish was a fitting cap to a long season of racing.
“Laszlo has been going strong all year, and he has been in his best form of the season in September and October after riding for France at the World Championships in the time trial,” he said. “Today he and Rubens raced their bikes very strongly against a top field of riders. We’re extremely happy and looking forward to continued success in France and around the world in 2012.”
Team Type 1 - SANOFI founder and CEO Phil Southerland said the team’s final race in Europe is an indicator of how the 2012 season will look.
“We’ve worked hard this year to build on our strengths, moving up a division and expanding our roster and schedule to include some of the toughest racing in the world,” Southerland said. “It is our mission to spread a message of hope for people affected by diabetes, and by competing at Paris-Tours in France we are effectively demonstrating the power of what good diabetes control can lead to.”
The Colnago-CSF Inox team has won the UniCredit Emilia Romagna competition in Italy after consistent performances during the 2011 season in races organized by GS Emilia.
The team scored a total of 20 points in the Giro di Sardegna, the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali, the Memorial Marco Pantani, the Giro dell’Emilia and the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli.
The Androni Giocattoli – Cipi team also scored 20 points but Colnago-CSF Inox were declared the winners thanks to better placings in the final race, the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli. Manuel Belletti finished second in the race behind winner Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). The Acqua & Sapone team finished third with 19 points.
During the 2011 season, Belletti also won the opening stage of the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali, to score total of 12 points and finish third overall in the individual Challenge UniCredit Emilia Romagna.
Directeur sportif Roberto Reverberi collected the special trophy on behalf of the Colnago-CSF Inox team.
Enrico Battaglin powered his Colnago frame to victory in Thursday’s Coppa Sabatini in a sprint finish.
The neo-pro fended off some elite company that included veterans Davide Rebellin and Dani Moreno to claim his first professional win.
“It was a finish that was suited for him. We told him to stay calm until the line and mark Visconti closely,” said sport director Colnago-CSF Inox Bruno Reverberi. “Winning with a (neo-pro) is a great satisfaction. Everyone is surprised by Battaglin’s win, but not us, because we knew he was good.”