Denmark, France and Ireland ready for road race
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Denmark, France and Ireland ready for road race

by Conal Andrews at 7:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships

Italy and Spain are to the forefront of most people’s minds when it comes to evaluating the likely contenders for tomorrow’s Elite road race. Three less-tipped countries, Denmark, France and Ireland, are however ready for their bid to upstage the big names.

Twelve months ago Matti Breschel sprinted to a surprise bronze medal and, since then, he’s been targeting this year’s Worlds. “I hope to be going for a medal again,” he said. “If not me, Jakob Fuglsang is in good shape and we have Chris Anker Soerensen as well.”

Breschel has won stages in the Tours of Catalonia, Denmark, Switzerland and Luxembourg this year and has concentrated on building his form through his participation in the Vuelta. So too has Fuglang, who completed his first Grand Tour last weekend.

“Everybody tells me doing a three week Tour makes a difference to you as a rider. I hope they are right because it would be nice to have that little bit extra.” He has had a strong first season with Saxo Bank, defending his Tour of Denmark title and also finishing sixth in both the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Daupiné Libéré.

Sørensen told that he’d love to win the rainbow jersey. "I would be lying if I said I did not dream of the World Championship title. If I’m there in the finale, I’ll be ready.”

However he’s also prepared to dedicate himself to whomever is strongest. "I know that Matti and Jacob are going well and are probably stronger than me, because I have not done so many races recently. They are probably our best shots, and I will sacrifice myself for them. "

It’s been twelve years since France last won the title, but new team selector Laurent Jalabert is hopeful that the country will put in a strong showing in Mendrisio. He described their six riders – Dimitri Champion, Sylvain Chavanel, Perrick Fédrigo, Christophe Le Mével, Christope Riblon and Thomas Voeckler – as simultaneously “focussed and relaxed.”

The former world number one pledged that France will not animate the race early on, but will bide its time. “If we don’t see a blue jersey on the front in the first 200 kilometres, that suits me,” he said in L’Equipe. “However the riders must remain in the first 50-60.” He described the six riders as “a super group.”

Ireland will field an even smaller team of just three riders. Philip Deignan is hoping to have recovered well after a Vuelta where he won a stage and finished ninth overall. He will be joined by talented young climber Daniel Martin and Nicolas Roche, who took five top-ten finishes in this year’s Tour de France, including second and fourth on stages.

The son of the 1987 world championship winner Stephen Roche knows the team are outsiders, but is hoping that they can do something. “I think all of us have done the work to arrive at the worlds in good condition,” he said. “I do think it is one of the most competitive teams we have had in a long time.”

Like Jalabert, he believes the best tactic is to sit in the bunch and wait until near the end, then fire off attacks if the legs are there. “We don’t have to try to control the race. The circuit is very tough, so we’ll wait until the final three or four laps and see how things are then.”


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