Addie Levinsky – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 23 Apr 2017 23:34:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Addie Levinsky – 32 32 First look: Scott’s 2015 Solace gets disc brakes Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:21:05 +0000 Scott's new Solace Disc is another addition to the growing crop of endurance road bikes built specifically for disc brakes

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There is no longer any question that the endurance road bike category is diving headlong into the realm of disc brakes. Category-defining models like the Specialized Roubaix and Trek Domane already have disc versions available, Giant has removed the rim-brake option from its high end bikes, and now Scott’s excellent endurance frame, the Solace, has a disc version as well.

Scott unveiled the new model, the Solace Disc, along with a women’s Contessa version at its annual media and dealer event in Park City, Utah last week.

Solace features

The Solace Disc frame is built around the same features of the Solace. Geometry is tweaked for comfort, with a slightly taller (1cm) head tube and shorter top tube (again, 1cm) relative to Scott’s race-oriented models, the Addict and Foil. Solace is offered in seven sizes, as well as five sizes in the women’s Contessa line.

In addition to a large selection of sizes, the Solace has size-specific carbon layups, a feature touted by Specialized in its introduction of the new Tarmac. So a small frame offers a softer ride relative to a large frame, presumably accounting for rider weight.

Disc specifications

The Solace Disc uses a traditional post disc mount on the fork and takes advantage of Shimano’s brand new Flat Mount standard on the rear chainstay. The new mount, which we expect to see adopted by quite a few bike brands in the next year or two, tightens up bolt spacing for a more compact, lighter, and less visually obtrusive package.

The rub, at least for now, is that Shimano hasn’t released a brake caliper that is designed to fit with its new mounting standard. Scott uses an adapter to attach Shimano’s current hydraulic road caliper, which is based on a XT mountain bike caliper, to the new mount. The Solace is compatible with both 140mm and 160mm rotors.

The Solace Disc features internal cable routing, making for a clean finish. While the stock build comes with mechanical Shimano Ultegra, the frame is fully compatible with electronic shift systems.

Axle/Hub specifications

The Solace Disc utilizes thru-axles. Major brands seem to be split on the thru-axle versus traditional quick release issue — there is no doubt that thru-axles provide accurate wheel positioning every time the wheel is put on, and are guaranteed to remain tight, and improve tracking under brake load, but with the rapidly changing disc landscape, many brands, like Giant and Specialized, are still taking a wait-and-see approach. They are likely hoping for a new, lighter, faster, and more road-friendly thru-axle system in the future.

Scott has decided to jump on a current mountain bike axle standard, using a 15mm thru-axle up front and a 12mm rear axle in the rear.

First impressions

With discs gaining popularity in the road, it’s good to see another bike join the line-up. The Solace is already an excellent choice for an endurance road bike, replacing Scott’s CR1. The Solace Disc frame weighs 1,380 grams, just 50 grams heavier than the standard frame+fork (including the mounting bracket for the rear brake), and while the stock build kit is mechanical Shimano Ultegra, it comes complete with everything needed for electronic shifting. The Solace is already something of a known quantity, and an excellent endurance frame. Add disc brakes and good gets even better.

Editor’s note: Scott covered travel expenses and accommodation for media attending the event in Park City.

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Amy D. Racing program seeks a rider to carry on Dombroski’s legacy Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:28:47 +0000 The Amy D. Foundation and Raleigh/Clement will sponsor one selected female rider for full domestic UCI cyclocross calendar schedule

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DENVER, Colorado (VN) – The Amy D. Foundation, a nonprofit organization created in honor of the late pro cyclist Amy Alison Dombroski, is introducing an elite race program for the 2014-2015 cyclocross season.

Dombroski passed away in 2013 after a tragic accident while training in Belgium. The Amy D. Foundation was created shortly after her passing, with the mission to, “encourage and support young women through cycling, inspiring the celebration of healthy challenge and empowering the confident pursuit of lofty dreams.”

Echoing this statement, the foundation’s racing program will facilitate the growth of elite-level women’s racing, while celebrating Amy’s life and the wonderful impact she left on the cycling community.

The Amy D. Racing program, along with Raleigh-Clement, will provide comprehensive sponsorship for one selected female rider over the age of 18 for the full domestic UCI cyclocross calendar. The sponsorship will be awarded to, “a talented and driven woman that exhibits character and values consistent with those that Amy displayed.”

Johs. Huseby from Clement Cycling told VeloNews, “The goal of the Amy D. Racing program is to follow in the spirit of what Amy stood for and what the foundation goes on to support. The Amy D. Foundation is all about supporting young, aspiring female cyclists with a passion and drive to get to the top.”

Applications for the Amy D. Racing program are due by July 22, 2014 and a copy of the application can be found here. The athlete will be selected by August 5, 2014.

To read more about the Amy D. Foundation and the Amy D. Racing program please visit

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Mavic celebrates 125 years with custom bikes Mon, 14 Jul 2014 00:05:22 +0000 Featured bikes were made by Argonaut Cycles, Independent Fabrication, Lynskey Performance, Mosaic Cycles, Ritte Cycles, and Seven Cycles

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THOUSAND OAKS, California (VN) — What do you get when you combine five creative custom frame builders and 125 years of French cycling history? A room full of fantastic bikes.

A fleet of five custom bikes from frame builders around the U.S. was commissioned as a tribute to Mavic’s 125th anniversary. Each builder had complete freedom over the build and art, but each bike was inspired by the limited edition Ksyrium 125 wheelset.

In 1934, Mavic invented the first rim constructed from an alloy made of copper and aluminum. It weighed 750 grams, rather than the 1.2 kilograms that most rims in that era weighed. Ridden by Antonion Magne in the 1934 Tour de France, the Mavic rims were painted to look like wood, to remain secret, lest the peloton became suspicious of his new technology. Magne won the Tour de France that year.

The French component manufacturer has come a long way from its days of disguising new technology — nearly any Mavic product in recent history stands out with a blaze of yellow color.

The featured builders were Argonaut Cycles from Portland, Ore., Independent Fabrication from Newmarket, N.H., Lynskey Performance from Chattanooga, Tenn., Mosaic Cycles from Boulder, Colo., Ritte Cycles from Venice, Calif., and Seven Cycles from Watertown, Mass.

Aaron Barcheck, the man behind the torch at Moasic Cycles, told VeloNews that his steel RS-1 featured an “old school frame design, with new school graphics.” The RS-1 is built with True Temper S3 tubing and comes in in at just around 15 pounds without pedals. Painted black, splashes of Mavic’s yellow logo around the frame made for a clean, classic design.

Ben Farver from Argonaut echoed that same philosophy with his build. The design, by Garrett Chow from Mash S.F., featured a timeline on the top tube, representing the history and milestones for Mavic. Farver, who started building steel frames and made the switch to carbon a few years ago, said that his builds are modern while maintaining a sense of classicism.

The Lynskey and Seven Cycles bikes were the two titanium bikes featured. Kenny Reynolds, a custom car and motorcycle artist from Tennessee, painted the Lynskey. Its loud paint stood apart from the more subdued look of the rest of the frames, a choice made to “represent the future of Mavic, rather than the past,” said Mark Lynskey.

Seven struck a more classic tone on its Axiom SL, featuring Argen double-butted 3-2.5 titanium. The all-black paint was a tribute to Mavic not with logos, but with yellow pinstripes.

Ritte Cycles lived up to its reputation for fantastic custom paint. The carbon Vlaanderen is Ritte’s flagship bike, but the design by Spencer Canon really stood out. Pops of pixelated color were added to a yellow and black base, and the result was fantastic.

Chad Moore, Mavic marketing director, said “This project was an opportunity for Mavic to connect with brands in the U.S. who are innovators and standouts in the industry. We couldn’t be more pleased with the partners we’ve had in this endeavor, and we hope this drives interest in their work. We also hope it helps to remind Mavic fans of our long history in the sport of cycling.”

The Ritte and Seven will be auctioned off to charity this fall. Both bikes will be sold through The Pro’s Closet on eBay, and the proceeds will benefit the World Bicycle Relief. The other bikes will stay with the builders to be ridden and remembered.

Like Mavic’s first Dura rims, the builds by these framebuilders display some traditional features such as tube design and classic paint schemes, while still pushing the envelope in ways unique to each builder’s methods. Ultimately, it was an impressive marriage of timelessness, beauty, and innovation.

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Vos sprints to win stage 5 of Giro Rosa Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:50:00 +0000 On a flat stage to Cesenatico, Vos takes her third stage win in this year's Giro Rosa

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Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) won stage 5 of the Giro Rosa in a sprint on Wednesday. It was her third stage victory of the race.

Stage 5 was a fast run from Jesi to Cesenatico, averaging 45 kilometers per hour after the first hour of racing. Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products) was the first to attack, some 50 kilometers into the stage.

Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv) took the only KOM of the day, with Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) in the green jersey right behind her. The pace increased with just a few kilometers to go, with Vos crossing the line first.

Vos keeps the pink leaders jersey, 41 seconds ahead of her teammate, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, on GC.

“That was a very high-paced stage, with a strong crosswind,” Vos said. “Somebody tried to attack but nobody really managed to get clear. The team is working really good together, and this is great. I want to dedicate this victory to all my teammates.”

Tomorrow, the peloton will move away from the coast and into the mountains of northeast Italy. The women will tackle three difficult climbs over 112 kilometers on stage 6.

Stage 5 Results:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv)
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda)
3. Shelley Olds (Alè Cipollini-Galassia)

General Classification:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv)
2. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabobank-Liv)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products)

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Van Vleuten takes another win at the Giro Rosa Mon, 07 Jul 2014 20:58:12 +0000 Van Vleuten won with a solo breakaway in the finale, earning her second stage win of the 2014 Giro Rosa. Berlato was second; Hagiwara

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Stage 3 was the first mountain stage at the 2014 Giro Rosa. A 15-rider breakaway got away about 40 kilometers into the 125-kilometer course, which started in Caserta, where the prologue took place, and finished in San Donato Val dii Comino.

The break included prologue winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv), stage 2 winner Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda), Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululemon), and Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS). The gap reached a maximum of two minutes.

After 86 kilometers, the first climb was underway. The Belmonte Castello is roughly seven kilometers long, gaining 1,700 feet in elevation. Scandolara, part of the initial breakaway, was the first to reach the top of the climb, earning her the green jersey.

With less than 10 kilometers to go, Japanese national champion Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda) was at the front of the group, and the break that was previously 15 women was down to just six racers: Doris Schweizer (Astana BePink), Elena Berlato (Alé Cipollini), Cromwell, van Vleuten, and Scandolara.

Van Vleuten won with an attack in the final meters, earning her second stage win of the 2014 Giro Rosa. Berlato was 10 seconds behind van Vleuten, and Hagiwara finished third.

Ecstatic about a second stage win, van Vleuten said, “I wasn’t sure I could take the win today. It’s a great victory and I want to dedicate it to my teammates, who rode fantastic in this stage.”

Although Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) was fifth in stage 3, she remains first in GC.

Two-time Giro champion Mara Abbot (UnitedHealthcare) currently sits 11th on GC after finishing 16th in stage 3, 27 seconds behind van Vleuten.

Stage 4 is 118 kilometers, featuring an intermediate sprint in Potenza Picena.

Stage 3 Results:

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv)
2. Elena Berlato (Alè Cipollini Galassia)
3. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda)

General Classification:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv)
2. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabobank-Liv)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products)

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Reviewed: Velocio 2014 spring/summer collection Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:30:17 +0000 We put Velocio's new women's kit to the test, and their apparel is a great choice for summer rides

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The jersey features pockets that are large enough to hold all of the essentials for a long ride, but the weight of the fabric is not compromised. Photo: BrakeThrough Media
The jersey features pockets that are large enough to hold all of the essentials for a long ride, but the weight of the fabric is not compromised. Photo: BrakeThrough Media
The wind vest is essential for any ride and nearly any condition. It sits so comfortably you may not feel it when you don't need it, but you'll reap its benefits when you do. Photo: BrakeThrough Media
The wind vest is essential for any ride and nearly any condition. It sits so comfortably you may not feel it when you don’t need it, but you’ll reap its benefits when you do. Photo: BrakeThrough Media
The mesh panels on the jersey's sides provide coolness and comfort. Photo: BrakeThrough Media
The mesh panels on the jersey’s sides provide coolness and comfort. Photo: BrakeThrough Media

The niche cycling apparel market is growing quickly. However, few companies have managed to knock women’s clothing out of the park. While Velocio aims to abandon any preconceived notions about what performance-based clothing should be, they have managed to produce a collection that exceeded our expectations, a refreshing addition to the world of chic cycling attire.

You can read more about Velocio in VeloNews‘ first look.

Velocio Signature Jersey >> $159

The signature jersey subtly stylish, featuring a small color band on the sleeve with an otherwise all-black finish and attractive cut. It’s also a treat to wear. The most compelling feature of this jersey is the fabric — the Resistex BioCeramic fabric, used throughout the Velocio line, is high quality with comfort that is hard to match. The side panels are a light mesh material, while the front panels provide a bit more protection from the wind and elements.

Functionally, the jersey meets all of our requirements. The BioCeramic fabric not only feels great, but the highly technical material serves an important purpose in the hot sun. It blocks harmful UV-A and UV-B ultraviolet rays, protecting the skin and creating a natural barrier against the heat. This is especially crucial on hot days, but because of its ability to aid the body’s temperature regulation, it’s an excellent choice for a mid-layer on cold days.

The jersey has a traditional three-pocket design, which is taken a step further with an additional zipper pocket. Even with the slim fit, the pockets are substantial enough to carry ride essentials, and the zipper pocket fits keys, ID cards, and other small items.

The zipper is the jersey’s only downfall. It is very small, and while the protector at the bottom of the zipper is a well-intentioned design, it makes it tricky to zip or unzip, particularly when you’re in a hurry. It also seems to get stuck on the seam of the fabric fairly easily.

Velocio Signature Bib Shorts >> $199

The signature bib shorts are not unlike their jersey counterpart when it comes to quality and precision. The cut of this garment and the superior fabric choice are a winning combination.

Finding a bib short fit for a women’s body is not easy, as choices are not abundant. Initially, we were apprehensive about the mesh front panel thinking it would cause too much heat retention in the summer time. After several rides in high temperatures, that concern was not realized. Instead, the mesh front panel offers stability for the bib straps, and it serves as an ultra-light breathable base layer.

The Velocio-branded leg band is one of the best features by far, providing comfortable grip without pinching the skin. In the colder months, knee or leg warmers sit comfortably under the band without bunching or slipping. The Cytech chamois, designed by Italian company Elastic Interface Technology, is one of the most comfortable chamois we have tested. The padding is subtle, but it delivers the comfort and support needed for long days in the saddle.

Velocio Wind Vest >> $159

A wind vest is perhaps the most underrated, yet necessary, piece of cycling clothing for every season. Even in the summer months, having a light wind vest makes any descent or cool day that much more enjoyable. Velocio’s wind vest is an absolute must for nearly every ride.

Especially in the warmer months, a wind vest is not meant to stand out. It’s meant to provide protection from the wind or rain, and when unzipped it shouldn’t feel cumbersome. Because the Velocio wind vest is form-fitting and true to size, it’s an easy, no-hassle addition to your basic summer kit — and it packs in the jersey pocket without noticeable bulk.

Like the jersey, the vest features three pockets with a small zipper pocket. This extra storage space is a welcome addition. We also appreciated the wind-resistant fabric and mesh backing, which make it a truly versatile layer for all conditions.

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Victory after tragedy for Kirsten Williams Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:12:06 +0000 Kirsten Williams won the 2014 junior national track championships weeks after losing her father to a tragic accident

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Perseverance, determination, drive — Just a handful of the traits possessed by elite athletes — necessary for success and even more essential for struggle.

There are no better words to describe the 18-year-old track star, Kirsten Williams (Twenty16 Professional Cycling). She won omnium and individual pursuit titles at this year’s USA Cycling junior track nationals in Carson, Calif., an incredible feat for any young athlete. But Williams’ success was more than a dream come true. Her national championship title was won not just for her, but for her late father.

Victor Williams was the victim of a tragic accident at the 7-Eleven Velodrome in Colorado Springs just two weeks prior to junior track nationals. A seasoned track racer and president of the Natural Grocers amateur team, passion for track racing pulsed through his veins — and while he may be gone, this passion carries on with his daughter.

Not only did Williams display an unbelievable amount of determination to win last weekend’s junior national championships, she overcame a nearly incomprehensible tragedy. She was present at the track when her father’s accident occurred. Instead of backing away with fear, Williams acknowledged the presence of her father on that very track and continued to race. “Whenever I ride by the corner where he crashed I feel like he is cheering for me so that is actually comforting,” she said. “I was a little nervous to ride on the track for the first time, but knowing he died doing what he loved also helped me to overcome any fear and just enjoy the track because that’s what I love too.”

Sweeping through that corner, feeling her father’s presence became the driving force for Williams’ incredible performance at nationals.

“I wanted to honor him and be able to live on his legacy of strength and tenacity.” Possessing such tenacious qualities herself, Williams overcame the understandable apprehension she experienced the week before track nationals.

Race with heart. That’s the simple, yet easier said than done, tactic that brought Williams to the podium. “I took that advice and raced my heart out at nationals, racing aggressively and lapping the field in the omnium points race,” she said.

The 2014 national championships proved Kirsten Williams’ amazing strength — there’s no doubt about that. But, by no means is this a quirk brought on by a powerful reaction to her father’s death.

“I have always been pretty competitive and determined,” Williams told VeloNews. “I was actually born two months early, so I had some muscular troubles, but I went through a lot of physical and occupational therapy, although they said I would always have a weak muscle mass.” Needless to say, Williams proved doctors wrong. Despite the physical difficulties sustained from birth, Williams has risen to the top in her sport.

Williams’ disposition is humble — no doubt she possesses an athletic gift. Perhaps this mentality is due to influential mentors who supported her development in addition to her father: coaches Neal Henderson, Mark Tyson, and Andy Sparks. Her teammate, Sarah Tyson, has also been enormously influential.

The dream to win junior nationals and to attend junior worlds was always on the forefront of Williams’ mind. With the support of her father and others, and her deep faith, that dream became reality.

Williams continues to establish big goals for herself, mindful of her dad’s advice: “Strive for excellence in all things, not mediocrity.” She hopes to medal at junior worlds in Korea this August, and in the big picture, she has the Olympics on the brain. “It would be great to go to Rio 2016, but that is a big gap to bridge in two years,” she said. “I’m going to play it by ear and see how things go. I am definitely aiming for Tokyo 2020, though.”

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Celebrating the inaugural Tour de France Feminin with a pioneer Tue, 01 Jul 2014 22:33:55 +0000 Elite women will race on the Champs Élysées this year, but La Course isn't the first time women have raced at the Tour

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Patty Peoples competed in the first-ever Tour de France Féminin with only a few years of experience as a cyclist. Her U.S. team claimed the GC, team and climbers prizes in 1984. Photo: John Pierce
Patty Peoples at the end of the mountainous La Plagne road stage.  Photo: John Pierce

The Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the sprint for the finish up the Champs-Élysées — those who follow the mother of all grand tours will be familiar with the icons of the Tour de France’s final day, to be held this year on July 27.

However, there is a unique addition to the Champs-Élysées in 2014. It is perhaps unique, but not new. This year brings the new La Course by Le Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation and the UCI have been supportive of the addition of a women’s race to this year’s Tour de France, stating, “Women’s racing on the iconic parcours of the Champs-Élysées is a tremendous step forward, and we are pleased to welcome this addition to the UCI calendar.”

With the spotlight shining on the new La Course, the original Tour de France Féminin has slipped off the radar. For those unfamiliar with the Tour Féminin, it’s easy to assume that La Course is the debut for women in the French grand tour.

Recognizing the rich history of Tour de France Féminin is necessary, and it is flawed to refer to La Course as a historic moment in women’s cycling. It’s misleading to insinuate that this will be the first time women have raced the Tour de France in any capacity.

To share her thrilling experience, and to set the facts straight, Patty Peoples spoke with VeloNews. Peoples’ experience as an athlete is prolific and most notably, she was wholly involved in the inaugural Tour de France Féminin in 1984. Peoples has felt the perils of women’s racing firsthand, and her passion for the sport is contagious — she hopes to inspire and inform the public about where women’s racing has been, not just where it is going.

With 30 years in the sports/fitness industry, one glance at Peoples’ race resume highlights her exceptional talent, boasting over 130 career victories in duathalon, triathlon, and cycling. Peoples did not start racing bikes until 1983 when she was 27 years old, and that was simply to fulfill her role as an elite triathlete. “I did not come from an organized sports background but once I set my mind to something, I work hard to be successful,” Peoples told VeloNews.

And successful she was, earning an invitation to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado in 1984 to train with the U.S. National Team prior to the Olympic Trials — all before Peoples had ever participated in a bike race. 1984 was a landmark year for women’s sports with the first Olympic marathon, road race, and the Tour de France Féminin.

When Peoples made the U.S. team for the Tour de France Féminin, she was not aware of the magnitude and significance of the inaugural women’s Tour de France: “It took time to sink in since 1984 was my first year racing bikes … as I became more involved in cycling, I came to realize the significance of the opportunity.” Peoples experience with the inaugural Tour de France Féminin proved to be a success that surpassed expectations. The U.S. team swept the race, taking the overall win as well as the team title and polka dot jersey.

The winner of the 1984 Tour de France Féminin was Marianne Martin who currently resides in Boulder, CO. Martin had an impressive turn-around that year, as she suffered from anemia earlier in the year. She didn’t take the lead until the 14th stage in the 1984 race, but climbing was her strength and the mountainous stages proved to be favorable for the American champion.

While this year’s La Course features just one stage for the women, the 1984 Tour de France Féminin nearly mirrored the men’s race, with the only notable difference being the distances raced. The women raced the same 21 days and every mountain pass. Each day, the women would finish roughly 30 minutes before the men. The mileage was shortened on the front end (flat, parade pace sections) to comply with UCI rules regarding women’s racing distances.

Peoples said the “fans were fabulous!” They were thrilled to have the women racing in tandem with the men, and the women experienced the very same fanfare the men did. With such an excellent response from the public, what ultimately kept the Tour de France Féminin from growing into a larger, long-lasting event? Peoples can only speculate, but the roadblocks proved to be sizable.

“I can only give you my opinion, but I think the logistics of doing both events was a nightmare and there were probably some influential men who didn’t want women there,” Peoples said. “The French media was against us being there. They basically said we had no business doing the Tour.”

Even with the incredible success of taking the overall win for the inaugural women’s Tour, Team U.S. hardly received any recognition, even in the United States. Peoples recalls one story in the Washington Post about her team’s triumph, but that was it — and this was after surpassing expectations in an astonishing way. “They [French media] predicted not a single woman would make it to the Champs-Élysées,” Peoples told VeloNews.

In the years that followed, the Tour de France Féminin experienced significant changes and a serious decrease in stages, but also the number of riders dwindled. Peoples’ 1984 experience was undoubtedly one of the closest experiences any woman has reached to racing the very same iconic Tour as the men. In 1998, the Tour de France Féminin was changed to The Grande Boucle (The Grand Loop) because of a trademark breach. With each year, the race faced further challenges, and in 2004 it was not held at all. When it returned in 2005, it was significantly smaller.

And with the shrinking of the race, the history behind the original Tour de France Féminin seemed to dissipate as well. Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol) joked that the race should be referred to as a Petite Boucle rather than a Grande in an interview with Cycling Weekly, as the race was only four days long.

Other stage races were held in France for women in the recent years, but even these, with no relation to the Tour de France, have not survived. When The Grande Boucle was terminated in 2009, the only race left was the 10-day Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Féminin … and that was gone by 2010. For the last four years, France has been left without a single major stage race for women for the first time since the 1980s.

With thirty years having passed, the significance of Tour de France Féminin and the U.S. team’s success continues to grow, and it means more to Peoples with each passing year. As four years have gone by without a single significant race for women in France, La Course has been flooded with media involvement and Peoples is “glad to see that the women racing today will get the opportunity to experience what it’s like to compete in the biggest cycling event in the world, if only for one day.” But, with the spotlight on La Course, Peoples takes a step back.

“I would like to see the media get the facts straight. Several of the media outlets are reporting that the upcoming one stage for women in the Tour is ‘history making for women.’ It is not. The 1984 inaugural Tour de France Féminin was history-making.”

Better late than never, Peoples hopes that the pioneers of the 1984 Tour de France Féminin will receive more respect and recognition from the media as cycling fans prepare for the women’s circuit around the Champs-Élysées. La Course is an outstanding step for women’s cycling, but it’s not the first step. Recognizing the history behind women in the Tour de France will only help the sport and the involvement grow further — especially with the passion from pioneers like Patty Peoples.

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Velo Magazine — July 2014 Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:50:59 +0000 The July 2014 issue of Velo looks ahead to the Tour de France, celebrates an upcoming summer of mountain biking, and more

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Velo July 2014: Mountain bike shoe review
Velo July 2014: Bradley Wiggins interview
Velo July 2014: Nairo Quintana wins the Giro d’Italia
Velo July 2014: The love/hate relationship with the Giro
Velo July 2014: Adam Yates profile
Velo July 2014: USA Cycling Professional Road Championship
Velo July 2014: USA Cycling’s development house
Velo July 2014: Six mountain bikes reviewed
Velo July 2014 Cover

The summer season is in full force. The Giro d’Italia delivered extreme conditions and aggressive riding, and the Tour de France is just around the corner.

With the Tour team selection awaiting next week, big questions abound for Bradley Wiggins. With his strong showing at Paris-Roubaix and overall victory at the Amgen Tour of California, there is no doubt that Wiggins is in excellent form. But will that mean anything in July?

With Wiggins in the spotlight, editor-in-chief Neal Rogers asks, “To Bradley, or not to Bradley?” The question is simple — should Bradley Wiggins race the Tour de France? The answer, however, is more complex. Wiggins would be riding for Chris Froome at the Tour, and while many want to see Wiggins, the 2012 Tour champion, it’s a tricky decision for Sky.

“Metamorphosis” recounts Bradley Wiggins’ transformation over the past two years. With seven Olympic medals and a Tour de France title, Wiggins has earned himself a reputation that exceeds athleticism — he’s a celebrity. Wiggins has dramatically changed his demeanor in the two years following his Tour win, gradually overcoming his prickly reputation, especially toward the media. Wiggins’ future is enigmatic, but when he is inspired, the entire sport takes notice.

To get in the French spirit, “Iconic Places” brings readers to the Pyrenees, specifically the Hautacam. Tech editor Caley Fretz reminisces about the 2000 Tour de France, which featured the climb in its first real mountain stage. The peloton will visit the twisty, steep ascent during stage 18 this year

European correspondent Andrew Hood looks back on May’s Giro d’Italia in “Little Big Man.” Despite his svelte stature, Nairo Quintana earned his first grand tour victory in Italy. Amid chaotic and extreme weather conditions that caused controversy on the Passo dello Stelvio, Quintana did not simply win, he became a legend.

The Giro d’Italia’s conditions are always dramatic — beautiful but painful. Many have a love/hate relationship with the race, as senior writer Matthew Beaudin tells in “Beautiful Disasters,” and despite the difficulty that ensues year after year, it always keeps fans and racers coming back for more.

Stepping away from the grand tour hoopla, managing editor Chris Case explores the growth of unsanctioned racing, comparing it to USA Cycling-sanctioned office park criteriums. “The Rise of the ‘Un-Race’” glorifies the adventure and suffering experienced at these unique events. While it’s unlikely that these races and rides will replace traditional sanctioned events altogether, they are perhaps more about the experience and less about the result, which contributes to their appeal.

Contributor Dan Wuori summarizes the successes at the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which included a surprising victory by SmartStop’s Eric Marcotte and a dominant performance by Alison Powers, who made history by claiming national titles in road, criterium, and the time trial.

Though road season is barreling into July, there’s no better time than summer to shred singletrack, which is why this issue’s VeloLab round-up is all about mountain bikes. Find out what shoes to wear, and browse reviews of five unique fat-tire bikes in “Mountain Masters” by Logan VonBokel, Spencer Powlison, Matthew Beaudin, and Caley Fretz.

Pick up the latest issue of Velo at your local bookstore, bike shop, or in the Apple iTunes store.

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Former moto world champ Ben Spies channels his passion for cycling with Elbowz Racing Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:30:00 +0000 Ben Spies, the 2009 world Superbike champion, is the man behind the elite amateur road team Elbowz Racing

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Former Superbike world champion Ben Spies has such a firm grip on the ins and outs of bike racing, one could not be faulted for thinking he was a seasoned professional.

The 29-year-old Texas native is still fairly new in the world of cycling, yet he is a Cat. 1 racer, and most notably, he started the successful Elbowz Racing team, which, in its rookie season in 2011, won more than 70 races.

Spies’ name will ring a bell to those familiar with motorcycle racing. He had every intention of setting a record or two in America, but his career as a motorcycle road racer went further than he could have ever imagined. Spies won the AMA Superbike national championship for in 2006, and successfully defended his title in 2007, and again in 2008. He then went on to win the world Superbike championship in 2009, which he describes as nothing more than “a big dream.”

Even with motorcycle racing at the forefront, Spies began cycling as a way to get in shape, beginning nearly a decade ago, as he came to the harsh reality that racers’ bodies do not get better with age. So with that, he started riding, realizing that not only did he love  it, he was pretty  good as well.

“The mixture of two wheels, and competitiveness, fueled my desire to race more and more,” Spies said.

Despite the difference in the physics and dynamics of bike racing and motorcycle racing, there are also similarities, in body position, and in the accompanying adrenaline rush.

Spies’ zeal for cycling quickly developed into pure passion — the very same passion seen on the motorcycle. Just ask Sean Estes, global public relations manager at Specialized. Estes worked in sports marketing for motorcycle racing at Easton-Bell Sports from 2006-2011, and reached out to Spies when he was at the pinnacle of his career. After starting with Specialized, Estes stayed in touch with Spies and became aware that he was, “always thinking about cycling, and wanted a new chapter in his life.”

Recognizing the enormous potential and admirable direction Spies sought after for Elbowz, Specialized hopped on board and set the team up with everything it needed to get the cranks turning.

The team took its name from Spies’ nickname, Elbowz, for his unprecedented “elbows out” riding style. (See more on Elbowz’s website.)

The appreciation Spies has for Estes and Specialized is immense — because it indicated support for the growth of the Elbowz team, and because it allowed the development squad to take off in a professional manner. While Elbowz is an amateur team, it is very important to Spies that the team keeps everything clean and organized.

“When we go to the races, I drill home with the guys that we are a ‘WorldTour amateur team,'” Spies said. “Insofar as the way we go about kit design, the look of the team, how we keep the pits … we just keep everything clean and professional. Even if it’s not a WorldTour team, we run it tight, because it goes a long way to set a good example at races.”

Elbowz Racing and the drive behind the team is an entirely other dimension of Ben Spies’ career and his involvement with cycling.

“I wanted to start a Continental team to give young riders a chance to race at the next level,” he said. The team isn’t reserved just for younger riders, though, which is part of the allure.

The 2014 roster is comprised of Spies and director Justin Reddell, as well as Justin Stanley, Colin Strickland, Tony Baca, Stefan Rothe, Michael Lalla, Adam Koble, and Jacob White. The team’s roster for North Star Grand Prix even featured cyclocross champion Jeremy Powers, guest riding with the squad.

In a short time, Elbowz has racked up some impressive results. In 2011 it was the second-ranked amateur team in the U.S, and second in the USACrits series team standings. The team took a stage win at the 2013 Joe Martin Stage Race, by newly crowned national road champion Eric Marcotte (now with SmartStop); 2014 has proven to be successful thus far, with a handful of podium finishes.

The development of Elbowz, and Spies’ involvement in the cycling community, goes beyond racing; in early June an exciting partnership was announced with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to promote bicycle safety in 2015.

Spies told VeloNews “Through innovative methods and extensive exposure, the team [Elbowz] will be sharing a message of safety, the importance of helmets, and providing educational opportunities to the public.”

More information on the partnership between Elbowz Racing TxDOT will be available as the program progresses further.

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Velo’s Official 2014 Tour de France Guide Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:46:40 +0000 Everything you need to know about the 101st Tour de France, including all the stages, teams, and main contenders

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2014 Tour de France Contenders
2014 Tour de France Contenders


Even Chris Froome knows that he can be beaten.
Even Chris Froome knows that he can be beaten.


Detailed profiles of each stage
Detailed profiles of each stage


Detailed profiles of each team
Detailed profiles of each team

Velo’s Official 2014 Tour de France Guide includes everything you’ll need to prepare for this year’s big event. With breakdowns of each stage, the jersey competitions, contenders, teams, and the exciting addition of La Course, the women’s stage, the Official Guide provides everything needed to prepare for the biggest road race in the world.

Some of the favorites for this year’s tour glory include Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), recent winner of Critérium du Dauphiné. These riders, among a few others, are ranked in specific areas such as their ability to climb, time trial, in a tactical sense, and strength of the team.

The Official Guide breaks down each stage of the race’s 21 stages. The Grand Départ this year’s Tour takes place on July 5 in Leeds, Great Britian, and as tradition has it, the race will end in Paris on July 27.

While Froome may be the best stage racer in the sport, even he knows that he can be beaten, as he was at the Dauphiné. Froome discusses his history with the Tour, including his GC victory, the cobblestones in this year’s race, and areas in which he can still improve.

Other features focus on Froome’s biggest rivals, including Contador and Nibali, both of whom are committed to a victorious Tour. There is also the question of how will Tejay van Garderen perform at the Tour this year, after the BMC Racing rider’s somewhat turbulent early season.

Peter Sagan’s success at winning the green jersey for the past two years has been remarkable. Sprinters may often be one-dimensional in their riding abilities, but Sagan (Cannondale) has proven himself otherwise. With other contenders such as Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), anything can happen, but it’s likely Sagan will remain at, or close to, the top of the points classification.

The King of the Mountain jersey just might be the hardest to predict in the Tour de France because of the factors that remain so subjective in the mountains. The 101st edition of the Tour de France won’t be any different — there’s no easy way to predict who will wear the polka dots.

The white jersey reserved for riders under 25 serves as a measuring stick of sorts for young riders who will likely be riding for a podium spot in years to come. This year’s favorites include Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) who rode to an impressive 15th on GC last year. Although, without Nairo Quintana this year, it’s unlikely any of these young riders will be challenging for the yellow jersey, too.

Tour organizers Amaury Sports Organisation are introducing a women’s stage at this year’s Tour. Twenty teams of six women each, for a total of 120 riders, will do 13 laps of the Champs-Élysées for the inaugural La Course. This race is an exceptional showcase for women’s racing, as provided by ASO after enormous efforts by a group known as Le Tour Entier, comprised of Marianne Vos (Rabo-liv), Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol), Kathryn Bertine (Colavita-Fine Cooking), and retired Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington.

The 101st Tour de France is sure to be an exciting one, so pick up Velo’s Official Tour de France guide today, and pick your contenders for the green, polka-dot, and white jerseys, as well as the final podium in Paris.

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Velo Magazine — June 2014 Mon, 19 May 2014 04:39:22 +0000 The June 2014 issue of Velo Magazine recaps the cobbles, chaos, and Cancellara of a thrilling spring classics season

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Cobbles, chaos, Cancellara — it must be the classics season.

The spring classics concluded with some nail-biting moments full of surprise, and in some cases, predictability. With Niki Terpstra’s victory at Paris-Roubaix and Fabian Cancellara’s 12th consecutive podium, the spring classics brought the most volatile, exciting, and brutal racing of the year. The June issue of Velo goes inside the races to give a comprehensive breakdown of what took place in the 2014 classics.

There’s no clear answer as to which rider had the best classics season. And this is precisely why it was such an exciting year. Paris-Roubaix, the coveted “Queen of the Classics,” lived up to its reputation, throwing a number of capricious elements at the riders where Niki Terpstra ultimately prevailed. With no guaranteed outcome in any of the classics this year, it was surely one of the most thrilling in recent memory. We take a look inside each of them.

“The Moment of Truth,” by editor-in-chief Neal Rogers, dissects the final 10 kilometers of Paris-Roubaix. The eleven riders that found themselves in the break after 247km of racing were some of the race favorites, such as Tom Boonen and Cancellara, but how did they all get there? Profiling the eleven different riders, each shares how they arrived to the moment and why they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, chase after Terpstra.

Managing editor Chris Case breaks down the winners and losers of the entire classics season, in “Highs and Lows, Cobbles and Bergs,” a comprehensive dissection of everyone’s performance from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“Don’t Call it a Comeback,” by senior writer Matthew Beaudin, profiles Phillipe Gilbert’s 2014 success at Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold. While Gilbert swept the Ardennes in 2011 — only the second rider to ever achieve such a feat — he fell backwards in the next two seasons, until 2014. Gilbert may have already made an exceptional name for himself in the sport, but he’s not done yet.

The men’s peloton wasn’t the only one battling the cobbles this classics season, and with an American woman standing on the podium, it was a result not to be overlooked. Lauren Hall rode to an impressive win at the women’s Gent-Wevelgem. We take a look across the women’s spring classics season.

Caley Fretz and Logan VonBokel kicked the tires, so to speak, on four endurance road bikes including the Cannondale Synapse, Bianchi Infinito, Calfee Manta Pro, and Orbea Avant M10. The comprehensive test, on the road and in the lab, revealed that the endurance bike category is only improving with age.

Pick up a copy of the June 2014 issue of Velo at your local bookstore or bike shop and prepare yourself for the rest of the season after an exciting spring.

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Giro New Road offers function and style for women on and off the bike Tue, 29 Apr 2014 15:16:46 +0000 We put Giro's new women's apparel to the test, in the saddle and at the coffee shop

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Giro’s recently unveiled New Road line for women provides a one-size fits all answer to cycling clothing — it’s not standard roadie apparel, nor is it typical baggie wear for trail riding. While excellent for commuting, it goes beyond typical urban wear. Style and aesthetics are at the forefront of the New Road line, but Giro does not compromise function or performance to obtain these chic, yet casual pieces of cycling clothing.

This spring, Giro released a women’s collection as part of its New Road line, and as the days have grown longer, we’ve put the New Road wear to the test in the springtime breeze, covering a range of different outings on the bike. Having a line of clothing that can be translated to any ride, any time of day is great — and it’s made even better when you don’t have to think about changing for a post-ride coffee stop. Compiling a review with pieces from each of Giro’s four categories, we chose our favorite foundation piece, top, bottom, and outerwear to create an ensemble that fits for any cycle-centric occasion.

Foundation: Boy Undershort >> $70

The Boy Undershort is designed to be worn with other bottoms that do not have a chamois built in (such as the Mobility Short). Made with merino wool, the undershorts are incredibly soft and breathable. Giro’s Nycore fabric blends nylon with merino wool, providing durability and stretch. Our first impression of the Boy Undershort was nothing short of surprising; it may be an unassuming piece, but it almost immediately became a favorite from the collection. The undershorts can be used in place of a traditional pair of bibs or shorts for a base underneath mountain bike shorts, or they can simply replace underwear if you have a significant commute, or spend a lot of time on and off the bike throughout the day. Thinner than a traditional chamois, it still provides comfort in the saddle, but can be worn off the bike, remaining virtually unnoticeable.

Bottoms: Mobility Short >> $90

Tailored with precision and available in three neutral colors (black, gray, and navy), the Mobility Short is a warm weather essential. While similar to mountain bike shorts, the cut is a bit shorter and more form fitting, offering a flattering, feminine look. They are a perfect transition short for those who want to commute and not have to worry about bringing a change of clothes. The fabric is a mixture of polyester and cotton, and provides the stretch necessary for cycling apparel, but maintains the look of a casual summer short. Paired with the boy undershorts, these can be used for blistering days in the sun, whether on the bike for hours at a time or simply worn for running errands, or even going to work.

Top: CA Ride Jersey >> $150

Another piece in the collection using Giro’s Nycore fabric blend, this jersey provides utmost comfort. A unique feature of the CA Ride Jersey is the cover flap over the rear pockets. This flap ensures a clean aesthetic, and gives a bit of extra protection for anything stowed in the jersey pockets. Functionally, this jersey is excellent. Designed to taper in at the sides, the jersey is true, with a feminine, tailored look. We appreciated the full-length zipper, especially on hot days when having the option to unzip fully was necessary to stay cool. While the jersey is not fully disguised to look like a casual tee shirt, the seamless neckline gives it a refined look. It may not replace a normal top, especially in the workplace, but rolling up to happy hour or a coffee shop after a ride would be a great time to model this piece off the bike.

Outerwear: Wind Jacket >> $100

Perhaps one of the most indispensable pieces of cycling clothing, short or long distance, Giro’s Wind Jacket is a versatile piece that offers a layer for warmth, protection from the wind, and water resistance, lest you get caught in a downpour. It’s by far one of the lightest shells we have come across and because it collapses down to such a small size, no larger than an inner tube in fact, there’s no reason to leave home without it. The Wind Jacket seems like a simple nylon shell, but there are two elements that really stand out: the mesh panel of fabric in the back and the red stripe lining the zipper. The mesh on the back panel is great when commuting with a backpack, as it allows for breathability, while the front of the jacket provides protection from the elements. The red stripe lining the zipper panel provides a subtle pop of visibility; by revealing the zipper lining at sunrise or sunset, you can be sure motorists will see you, and you won’t have to worry about standing out like a street sign when the jacket is zipped up.

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Finding inspiration in an eclectic group of California-riding women Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:00:47 +0000 Seven women ride the Tour of California, in reverse, and discover inspiration in the commonalities across a wild range of ability levels

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Seven women, 700 miles, and one overwhelming sense of inspiration.

Women’s ambassador programs have become rather prominent in cycling over the past few years, and while there is not necessarily one common objective among them, they all come together with a unifying message: cycling should be accessible for all women, regardless of background and ability.

Rapha, known for its chic cycling apparel, has expanded wildly in the last few years, not just with its impeccable line of clothing, but also its presence in the community of the sport. Celebrating the romanticism of road cycling, Rapha has sought to build a community around the shared love for cycling — whether in the interest of socializing in the saddle or competition through racing. Perhaps most notably has been Rapha’s development of its Women’s Ambassadors program. Sometimes confronted over a limited women’s apparel selection, Rapha’s support of women’s cycling and drive to enhance the sport is anything but limited.

Earlier this month, the brand hosted a retreat, The Calling, for its 14 North American women ambassadors near Los Angeles. After the weekend retreat, six of the women embarked on a rather epic journey, riding the entire 2014 Amgen Tour of California route, in reverse, from Thousand Oaks to Sacramento.

I accepted an invitation to join the ride and, over the ensuing week, learned a great deal about our commonalities in the struggle that is cycling.

On paper, the Tour of California is arduous — 700 miles and over 60,000 feet of elevation gain (the equivalent of ascending Mount Everest, twice). Every element becomes a consideration, and in many cases, a nemesis. Whether it’s the demoralizing coastal headwind, the thick fog and torrential rain, that new saddle you’re not quite used to, or the intent focus on pacelining and echeloning with wheels you’ve never ridden behind. Coupled with the emotion that develops both on and off the bike when a rider has hit her limits, physically and mentally, the strength and inspiration of those around her is really what keeps her turning the cranks.

The group was eclectic, featuring two former professionals in Meredith Miller and Julie Krasniak, and others who have been riding and racing for a many years, while others had only previously ridden a single century. This wide range of experience and abilities is precisely what resulted in a deep sense of camaraderie as the group wound its way north to the state capital. And that, in and of itself, introduces a component of women’s cycling with which we often struggle. Too often, female cyclists find themselves in one of two categories: beginner or elite. Either they’ve never ridden a bike and need guidance through each and every step, or they’re competitive racers with no reason to diverge from the mentality that comes with being well-seasoned elites.

In my eyes, the Rapha ride slashed the dominant dichotomy of female cyclist stereotypes. The radiation of eclecticism was ultimately the driving force that pushed us across the finish line. Having neither preconceived notions of each others’ abilities or tendencies on the bike, or the assistance of a full-fledged peloton, required a certain tenacity that surprised all of us. The mental difficulty may have surpassed the physical challenges, as there was no opportunity to tune out.

Riding for up to 10 hours a day, especially when alone, is solitary. Turning the cranks becomes mechanistic, thoughts become few, and scenery becomes free entertainment. We had the joy of climbing over canyons so desolate I wondered if anyone had traveled there before. Or why they would have. Climbing Mount Hamilton in the pouring rain, counting down the switchbacks from 18 to 17 to 16, became futile as visibility was but a distant memory. Romanticism at its finest.

This romanticism was not ever-present, however. On a ride of this nature, small talk becomes as necessary as rice cakes, water, and chamois cream. All seven of us had the opportunity to get to know each other, and what better place to do it than on the bike, but that doesn’t make it any less exhausting. Pacelining along dismally windy pastures doesn’t make for positive small talk. Keeping every rider front of mind, at all times, is tiring to say the least. Unlike a race, where a rider prioritizes herself and perhaps her team, this was an instance in which each one of us was responsible for every rider in the peloton, regardless of ability, and regardless of how we were feeling at that very second.

Trying to quantify my own exhaustion, I searched for perspective. Climbing up the exposed, painfully steep Old San Marcos Road in Santa Barbara, I turned to Meredith Miller and asked, “How does this compare to stage racing in terms of exhaustion?” Perspiration forming along her helmet and sunglasses, she answered plainly, “Totally exhausting. In different ways.”

That was one of many moments in which we were all on the same level. Abilities, experiences were no matter. If you were to ask Kim Cross, a 38-year-old freelance writer and editor from Birmingham, Alabama, where she fit in with the crew, she would deem herself “the weakest link.” But, quite the contrary, Cross, like most of us, rides her bike when she can. Not only that, but she’s more partial to the dirt, so her road miles are few and far between. The mere fact that she even thought to tackle this feat was inspiring.

Inspiration is cliché in endurance sports. We’re all looking for that boost to climb aboard the saddle when the legs ache and the weather grumbles. But a group of seven women attempting to shift the paradigm of how female cyclists are viewed based on physical capabilities — that’s inspiration. I consider myself inexplicably lucky to have joined the Rapha Ambassadors on this journey. I left Sacramento with an incredible sense of inspiration — from the professionals I secretly wanted to mimic in cyclocross races, to the working moms who rode more that week than they had all year; from the support crew, which included Rapha’s Jeremy Dunn, Tim Coghlan, David Wilcox, and Chris Distefano, who offered long-distance emotional support, to the man behind Sag Monkey, Nick Nicastro, to the creative mind behind this crazy journey, Paige Dunn.

Female, male, it doesn’t matter. Tackling 700 miles in seven days on relentless terrain is a feat. Simulating the Tour of California gave me a tangible perspective on where we rode, and furthered my belief that pro cyclists are, well, superhuman. Jumping in head first, despite not knowing anyone, or how we would work together, created a camaraderie that could not be simulated in any other capacity.

Let this experience be a driving force for every cyclist. Whether you’ve just bought your first bike to start commuting to work, or you’re thinking of riding your first century or racing your first criterium, or even those of us who have been around the block with every discipline of racing, and riding, but never made it beyond “seasoned local” … no matter what your two-wheeled goals may be, they are possible. Whether you’re male or female, there is no real difference between the beginner and the elite in the grand scheme of cycling. Whether intentionally or not, the instances in which we come together, gasping for air, and ignoring the inevitable burning in our legs, are the pinnacles of this sport.

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Velo Magazine — May 2014 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 04:03:15 +0000 From our detailed look at the 2014 Giro to an exploration of handmade cycling gear, and much more, we celebrate Italian cycling

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With the first of the grand tours right around the corner, the May issue of Velo features our full-fledged celebration of the radiant cycling culture of Italy, as well as the Official Guide to the Giro d’Italia. From a detailed look at the Italian tour to an investigation of Italian-made cycling gear, pick up the newest issue of Velo and get in touch with your Italian side.

Before we dive completely into Italian cycling, head writer Matthew Beaudin takes a provocative look at the line between doping and hunting for legal advantages. While not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, is the use of xenon gas doping? Read on and let us know your opinion on our Facebook page.

In Racing this Month, Ryan Newill begs the question of whether the Giro is truly a required training ground for hopeful Tour de France contenders. Nairo Quintana is racing the Giro this year, with hopes of winning, but he’s not being sent on terms of experience, but rather strategy. Teams cite a range of reasons for sending riders to the Giro before the Tour, but a Giro win doesn’t necessarily equate to Tour success.

European correspondent Andrew Hood explores the ties between a flagging economy and a decline in Italian cycling in “Italy at a Crossroads.” The home of the Giro and Milano-Sanremo has long been at the pinnacle of bike racing, but modern cycling in Italy is in crisis. Italy is experiencing its worst recession since World War II, which has seen the nation’s representation at the sport’s top level reduced to two teams. Despite the financial woes, though, it’s no doubt the rich history of Italian cycling culture will continual to radiate.

In “Favorite Son,” head writer Matthew Beaudin profiles Italy’s latest star, Vincenzo Nibali. Known for his timeless approach to racing, “The Shark of Messina” is the defending Giro champion and is plotting a run at the Tour’s yellow jersey. Often the protagonist, Nibali searches for exciting opportunities in the moment — and that’s precisely what makes him so unique, and beautiful to watch.

In our Official Guide to the Giro d’Italia guide you will find much of what you’ve come to expect from Velo’s annual guide to the Tour de France, including a breakdown of all 21 stages, a discussion of this year’s contenders, a rundown of the top-division teams contesting the race, and a look at the Irishmen set to take part in their home-country kickoff.

What, exactly, does it mean to be made in Italy? Tech editor Caley Fretz explores the question in “Fatto a mano,” in which he transports readers to quaint Italian towns, where the handmade industry is prominent and full of passion. While some notable Italian brands — including Campagnolo and Selle Italia — are among the most technologically advanced in the cycling industry, they simultaneously maintain a sense of romanticism based on the passion of the hands that craft their equipment and apparel.

Find all this and more in Velo’s May 2014 issue, available on newsstands or in the Apple iTunes store.

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Q&A: Lauren Hall on cobbled wins and her future in racing Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:36:19 +0000 VeloNews caught up with Lauren Hall after her Gent-Wevelgem victory as she prepared for the women's Tour of Flanders

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Starting her second season with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, 35-year-old Lauren Hall secured a tremendous victory at last week’s Gent-Wevelgem. Often referred to as a “sprinter’s classic” due to its flat finish, Gent-Wevelgem introduced a women’s race in 2012. Hall arrived in Europe merely two days before lining up at the start — and while she noted that she came to the start with  high expectations for herself, personally, there was no real pressure at such an early-season race. Instead, the woman VeloNews  dubbed as a rider to watch in 2013, won in Wevelgem out of an eight-rider breakaway.

VeloNews caught up with Hall after her victory, ahead of this weekend’s women’s Tour of Flanders, where several American riders — Alexis Ryan, Maura Kinsella, Lauren Komanski, Ruth Winder, and Kathryn Donovan — will again compete for the U.S. national team, rather than for their individual trade teams. (Americans Evelyn Stevens and Carmen Small will also compete, for Specialized-lululemon.)

Hall shared her feelings about winning on the cobbles, her thoughts about the upcoming season, and her biggest goal, the 2016 world championships.

VeloNews: Going into last week’s race (Gent-Wevelgem) did you have any expectations or did it all just come together?
Lauren Hall: I did have expectations for myself. I really wanted to make the road worlds team last year and it didn’t work out, so that drove me into the winter to push the envelope a little more coming into the spring. My coach, Michael Engleman, usually has me race into fitness. We would do some intensity before racing, but not much. Even this winter I didn’t push it that hard, I just rode a bunch instead of going to the track, or going to Tucson for three weeks. It just happened that I rode a bunch. I wouldn’t say I’m in top form right now, but I’m not unfit either. Coming in I knew I was on pretty good form from last year. I put the pressure on myself to do well in Europe. It’s my third year at the classics — first with Team Tibco and then with USA Cycling. I wanted to do well for my team, and myself and show the girls what I can do. I just have to be in the right spot. [U.S. national team director Jack Seehafer] didn’t put any pressure on us since it was two days after flying, he just wanted us to get our legs ready, get used to the cobbles, and see what comes out of it.

VN: Does the entire team have high expectations with the classics?
LH: [Kevin Field, Optum’s women’s performance manager, and Pat McCarty, assistant women’s team director] are new to women’s cycling and I think after Jade [Wilcoxson] and Brianna [Walle] both crashed here, they thought, “oh boy,” and were a bit concerned. They were definitely a bit surprised, and they are very excited. I’m happy that they’re happy — you always want to make your bosses happy!

VN: Going into Tour of Flanders this weekend, what are your thoughts?
LH: It’s going to be a completely different peloton — it will have all the big hitters. So it’s just one step at a time. We previewed the course, so just being in the best position I can be is goal number one. My teammates are a good group of girls, they’re very comfortable in this kind of peloton. I’ll be there for them, they’ll be there for me and then hopefully making it to the end and reassess what’s going on, and see what we can do with what we’re left with. I don’t know about putting high expectations or any pressure on myself again because you can look at how many people have done this race and see that it’s hard to have a result here.

VN: How many Optum riders are racing in Europe right now? Are you all  working together, or does each girl have a specific role?
LH: I’d probably say I’m the lead rider, but that’s not to say Alexis [Ryan] isn’t a contender. She’s up there with results. It really comes down to the end — Jack has always told us to talk amongst ourselves, we’re professional, and we know if we have the legs or not. I’d think initially the game plan would be to work for me, but there’s no telling about how it could go since it’s a one-day race. Regardless, it’s a win for the team.

VN: Is U.S. road nationals your biggest goal for the season?
LH: Worlds, actually. It’s the team’s biggest goal — the team time trial. Making the worlds team is definitely one of my biggest goals. Winning nationals would be a spot for worlds, but that isn’t necessarily my biggest goal.

VN: You mentioned you went into last week’s race feeling more fit than in the past after winter training. What was different about this winter?
LH: It’s structured, but I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do this winter because I was interested in the pursuit program with the track. Our schedules never met up, so I never went to the track and just kept riding my bike a bunch. I took proper time off in October to spend time with the family and all the non-cycling things I needed to do to get ready for 2014. 2016 [Olympic Games] is coming fast and you back up races and back up training, and all of that prep has already started with this year, so I’m keeping that in mind. I’m looking out and seeing 2016 and then taking a step back to see what’s right in front of me. My training was about getting serious — it’s been fun, I’ve learned, I’ve experienced, I’ve been a domestique. Now it’s time to do those same races, and win.

VN: Is 2016 going to be your final year racing?
LH: Yeah, I think so. I’m going to be 38 — that would probably be the peak of my performance, like Kristin Armstrong. It seems like the time to call it quits. If this [Gent-Wevelgem win] is the best result I ever get, I’m pretty damn happy. I don’t know what to expect from here on out but I look back and I think about how I was with Vera Bradley and Colavita and then you’re just around such amazing athletes, and then with Tibco, they just threw us in the fire in Europe. I remember my first race over here and I just thought, “really? This is what they want me to do?” I thought I had carpal tunnel from braking so much during those races. You get back to the States and you just want to go back and do it again for some reason. To experience Flanders, La Flèche Wallonne, and some of those races with so much history — it makes you feel like a million bucks. Even if you’re dead last, people are still cheering you on. You really feel like you’re part of something.

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Feed: Simple Salvation off the Pacific Coast Highway Fri, 21 Mar 2014 15:12:11 +0000 Sometimes the most generic convenience store can provide lasting memories based on what it takes to get there, with a familiar soda to boot

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Leggett Market & Deli

Location: 67660 Highway 271 Leggett, Calif.
Why: Simple, but familiar fare for bicycle tourists on the road less traveled

The tickle in my throat and pounding in my head required sustenance. Of any variety, really. We were miles upon miles from a populated town, I thought, and a deep worry began to reign over me, fantasies of a perfect cortado paired with a pastry tailored to my many food allergies became increasingly prevalent.

A few hundred feet of elevation gain later, up and away from California’s coastline on route 271, the road began to crest and there, in plain sight, was a market. Picture your typical small town American convenience store — a glorified gas station of sorts. The market was strewn with many basic essentials, even some modern Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, but most of what lined the shelves was generic packaged products, seemingly outdated to the typical urban dweller. Though, in the back, the produce case was filled with vibrant fruits and vegetables, grown no more than several miles away. Ah, the beauty of California.

“How did you end up here?” the cashier asked, staring in disbelief.

The selection was small but, in this moment, perfectly tailored to my needs. I grabbed a Mexican Coca Cola, a bag of chips, and a few other packaged items I would never eat elsewhere. Sitting down to eat and drink and chat with the good natured locals perched atop this road less traveled, the corner market buffet was salvation in its purest form. No soda pop has tasted the same since.

Nestled on the outskirts of Mendocino County, atop the climb that diverges its travelers from the hustle and bustle of Redwood Highway to the breathtakingly beautiful, however mysterious, Highway 1, lays this little market. Simply named Leggett Market & Deli, it is nothing spectacular. Unless, of course, you have traveled by bicycle, as I had, for a seemingly innumerable number of miles down the relentlessly bending Pacific Coast Highway. It’s only then that the Mexican Coca Cola and bag of chips reveal their true glory — more glorious they ever would be at your local convenience store, however parched, however desperate.

Riding the Pacific Coast is a classic for any bicycle tourist and the mere utterance of the word “Leggett” churns stomachs. It has been deemed “the hardest climb on the Pacific Coast,” climbing from sea level to roughly 2,000 feet in less than five miles. With loaded panniers and stale legs, it’s undoubtedly a slog.

To reach Leggett Market & Deli traveling south, continue on Highway 101, past Garberville and Humboldt Redwood State Park. Entering Leggett on the 101, take the first left up Highway 271, which runs parallel to Highway 101, and travel a few steep miles to the market.

If you find yourself touring the Pacific Coast after Highway 101 meets Leggett, take that mysterious left turn. It will hurt, arguably more than Leggett, but the reward of a simple snack and recognition from the local folk will be worth it.

Relevant ride: Coastal road

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Reviewed: Fizik Aliante VSX, the accidental women’s saddle Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:54:06 +0000 Fizik's Aliante VSX wasn't supposed to be a women's saddle, but the UnitedHealthcare women's team chose it and we put it through the paces

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Sometimes, cycling products are designed specifically for a specific consumer, whether it be male, female, roadie, or mountain biker — but in some cases, the product transcends its intended use. So it was when Fizik introduced its Versus X line to the UnitedHealthcare women’s team.

The Italian saddle-maker sells a full line of women’s saddles, but when presented with a range of options, the UHC women raised their hands in a near unanimous vote for the Aliante VSX, which is not a womens-specific saddle design. Wholly by accident, Fizik realized it had an excellent women’s saddle on its hands.

What makes this Aliante, which uses the same basic shape as the Aliantes that came before it, different? Fizik has always combined traditional design with innovative features, but it never offered a saddle with a “relief zone.” That is, until now. The Versus X saddle line, including the Aliante VSX, was devised strictly for those who want that pressure relief, and in the search for a solid, comfortable women’s saddle, a cutout is key.

The Versus X line includes all of Fizik’s standard saddle shapes, such as the Aliante, the Arione, and the Antares.

Finding the right saddle, especially for women, whose choices are somewhat limited, is the most important component of comfort on a bike. Most modern saddles designed specifically for women have a cutout or relief zone, which allows for the pelvis to rotate forward, alleviating pressure around the soft tissue area.

The original Aliante features an ergonomic dip platform and is more padded than most other Fizik saddles. The Aliante VSX maintains the dip and padding, while adding a 20mm cutout. Using Fizik’s Spinal Concept Technology, a method of determining the best fit based on one’s flexibility, the Aliante is designed for less flexible riders (known as “Bull” in Fizik terminology) who prefer a more upright position.

After logging both short lunch rides and long base miles, the Aliante VSX is clearly good candidate for females who have a propensity towards a more upright, relaxed fit but want to maintain performance. The 20mm cutout makes all the difference in comfort. It is probably not be the best saddle for very low positions, or for women who tend to move around on the bike. This falls in line with Fizik’s Spinal Concept, which suggests that its more rounded saddles are best for slightly more upright riders who don’t move their hips about much.

The release of the VSX line has given women more variability in saddle choice; with the addition of the cutout on saddles such as the Aliante, women have the chance to try different designs, and the Aliante could very well be a great pick for a woman looking for a comfortable road saddle for endurance rides.

The Aliante VSX, featuring a nylon carbon shell and carbon braided rails, is somewhat porky at 259 grams (likely due to the above-average amount of padding) and will set you back $215.

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Ty Magner rolls into 2014 with early season goals Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:13:30 +0000 Hincapie Sportswear's Ty Magner has grown immensely as a U23 rider and is targeting races in April and May

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BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — American rider Ty Magner has found success the last two years in the form of consecutive wins in the U23 national criterium championship. He also came close to a stage win at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah last season, finishing third in a sprint behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), wearing the best young rider jersey for several days.

VeloNews caught up with the 23-year-old as he prepared to start his 2014 campaign for the Hincapie Sportswear Development team.

“Our core nine or 10 guys are individually the best around,” Magner said of his squad, which includes Joe Schmalz, third at the 2013 elite national road race championship, and Joey Rosskopff, second at the 2011 USA Cycling U23 road nationals, and second at the 2012 Tour of the Battenkill.

After racing for the Hincapie Sportswear Development team in 2008 and 2009 as a junior, Magner moved to an elite team out of Athens, Georgia in 2010, and the following year he raced with Team Type 1. Securing a podium spot at U23 road nationals, which was one of many top-10 finishes he gathered throughout the season, 2011 was a successful year for the young rider — and it did not go unnoticed.

At the end of 2011, Rich Hincapie and Steve Carpenter contacted Magner while he was racing in China. The team Magner had raced with as a junior was now moving to the Continental level for 2012.

Magner told VeloNews it was a “no-brainer” to join Hincapie Sportswear for 2012, largely because of the support and the team’s approach to building successful juniors.

As a junior, Magner was not overly concerned with winning every big race on the calendar, but rather with becoming familiar with the trials and tribulations of bike racing that arguably shaped him as the strong rider he is today.

American investor Mark Holowesko, a strong supporter of American development teams, came on to support the Hincapie team in 2012, bringing in former 7-Eleven and L.A. Sheriffs pro Thomas Craven as the team director. Magner’s appreciation for Craven as a director, and more significantly a mentor, is considerable. Magner describes Craven as “cool, calm, and collected…with the fire of a pitbull.” Craven has fostered both Magner and the team with his passion for cycling and drive to share experiences aiding life outside of cycling.

The Hincapie brothers — ex-pro George, and Rich, the businessman — have played a huge role in Magner’s racing as well, approaching the start of his career in a well-rounded manner to help alleviate the inevitable pressures of bike racing. Magner was still able to balance his life outside of cycling by living as a normal 15-year-old. While many teams would have frowned upon a rider skipping training camp to play soccer or hang out with girls, the Hincapies were mindful of the need to take Magner’s exposure to the intense environment of racing slowly.

“The first few years of racing were more about learning to race your bike and deal with the lifestyle that comes from being professional,” Magner said.

Magner is now living in Asheville, North Carolina. Next month’s Redlands Cycling Classic is the first target race on his calendar.

“Yeah, it’s early [in the] season, but I’m hoping to be on top form come April,” Magner said.

Peaking for such an early race takes a diligent winter training plan, but Magner’s approach has been a little different than in years past. Asheville’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains has been  beneficial, and so has the opportunity to train with other professionals such as Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) and UnitedHealthcare’s Jonny Clarke and John Murphy. Magner also has the option of riding with the Winter Bike League in Georgia, his home state.

In working with Collin Izzard of CTS Training Systems, Magner’s main goal for winter training has been to remain smart and realistic.

“I took training in the winter with a grain of salt. If it was snowing, I wasn’t on the bike,” Magner said. “If it was stupid cold, I wasn’t on the bike.”

Staying healthy is his top priority, as starting the season with an already run down body is entirely counterproductive — which Magner experienced the last three seasons.

With a rested mind and fresh legs, Magner’s eyes are on Redlands for the moment, followed by the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic and the Silver City Tour of the Gila.

Further out, he will target May’s Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Later in the season, Magner hopes the team will receive invites to the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Challenge, and the Tour of Alberta, but he admits he “hasn’t looked much beyond May” because he is “focused on coming into April and May fresh on form for the early season goals.”

Besides continuing his life as a professional bike racer for the foreseeable future, Magner hasn’t looked too far beyond the 2014 season; he really just wants to secure some good results for himself and for his team.

“I’m psyched to lay it all out there for those guys to bring home some big wins,” Magner said.

Magner said, for now, he is quite content with his growing career as a pro cyclist.

“I’m thankful every day that I’m able to pop out of bed at 7 a.m., drink some coffee, make some delicious French toast … and then ride my bike? I love it,” he said.

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First Look: Velocio sets high bar for women’s cycling apparel Mon, 10 Feb 2014 18:00:12 +0000 Velocio, founded by Specialized-lululemon's Kristry Scrymgeour, debuts a new line of women's clothing

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DENVER (VN) — Women’s cycling apparel needs a facelift, and Kristy Scrymgeour, founder and director of the Specialized-lululemon professional women’s team, has paired up with designer Brad Sheehan to tackle the issue.

“In recent years we’ve seen big changes in cycling apparel,” Scrymgeour told VeloNews. “There is some beautifully designed clothing on the market and there is a plethora of new innovative fabrics to work with, but we still saw a need for apparel that focused primarily on women. That’s what we do.”

The goal was simple: create a clothing line that feels great when a rider puts it on, makes her look good when she rides, and makes her want to get back on the bike again and again. Velocio is distinctive because it’s not simply a duplication of the high-quality, pro-level men’s clothing already on the market, but rather a line that utilizes innovative fabrics and design specifically for women.

As head designer Sheehan pointed out, many companies develop a women’s line after having an established men’s line — the kit, understandably, ends up being an adaptation from that men’s line. Velocio started entirely from scratch with women’s gear in mind, noting that a large percentage of female cyclists are looking for something high quality, high performance, cut for them, and beautiful.

Velocio’s first lineup

Velocio launched its online store Jan. 27 and is currently offering the summer-weight Signature Bib Short and Signature Jersey for purchase. A number of shoulder-season pieces, including wool longsleeve jerseys, wind vests, and wool arm/knee warmers will be available for purchase in March.

Every item is made with BioCeramic fabric paired with polyester; the BioCeramic fabric provides thermo-regulation and comfort.

While women are running the show for this clothing line, men won’t be entirely deprived. Much like Rapha, Capo, or Assos, Velocio will be offering a few chic basics for the men — bib shorts, a jersey, and a longsleeve jersey. Unlike those brands, though, Velocio will be focused “90 percent on women, 10 percent on men” and not the other way around, said PR manager Andrew Gardner.

Our take

Without a solid test period, we can’t attest to the fit and durability, but the looks are aesthetically flawless, and the line seems to have enormous potential based purely on fabric quality and the Scrymgeour pedigree.

The jersey features mesh side panels, providing additional ventilation, as well as reflective logos and trim for increased visibility. What really sticks out about the jersey is the incredible feel of the fabric; it’s about as soft and sheer as a jersey can get without being transparent. (See Sky’s latest skinsuit as a horrifying example of what most women would like to avoid.)

The pocket design is excellent as well — the jersey features four pockets total: three big, easily-accessed rear pockets and one water-resistant valuables pocket.

The bib shorts use the same fabric as the jersey and fit true to form, specifically cut for women in the cycling position. There are plenty of females who resist bib shorts, but Velocio has a solution for the potentially awkward strap placement — there is a mesh front panel made to stabilize the straps and add extra comfort.

Another excellent feature is a custom, wide leg gripper on the shorts — that’s right, no more pinched legs, and it just so happens to be incredibly soft, with a flattering fit. Last, but certainly not least, the chamois is designed by chamois specialist Cytech, which provides pads for clothing brands from Assos to Rapha. Cytech is known for its Elastic Interface Technology, and Velocio’s chamois is anatomically designed and extensively tested.

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