Brian Holcombe – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 21 Jan 2018 12:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brian Holcombe – 32 32 Review: Islabikes CNOC delivers aggressive, durable ride for kids Fri, 09 May 2014 20:05:39 +0000 If you're looking for a bike that can serve your young, dirt-exploring children, Islabikes' 14-inch frame is worth consideration

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Parents, if you’re anything like me, your passion for bikes and riding them bleeds over to your kids. Perhaps your little one started on a balance bike before two years and has quickly outgrown his or her first pedal bike. If so, the Islabikes CNOC 14 is a durable, lightweight, and maneuverable option for kids starting to explore singletrack and the freedom of fast bikes.

The British builder first brought its frames for young riders to the U.S. market in 2013. Founded by former British cyclocross champion Isla Rowntree, the brand focuses on ergonomics and weight in its designs and the results paid off over four months of riding by my four-year-old son.

I measure children’s bikes against three qualities: Immediate visual appeal, ridability across conditions, and durability. The 12.4-pound Islabikes CNOC 14 nailed all three.

Jumping for excitement

We tested the CNOC’s first-impression performance on Christmas morning with the time-honored “cover it with a blanket in the corner” unveiling. Our then-three-year-old couldn’t conceal his feelings after carefully pulling back the cover.

“I’m jumping because I’m excited,” he said loudly as he hopped around the living room.

The rest of the morning centered around one thing: getting to the trailhead for a barely-above-freezing ride on the dirt.

It’s easy enough to dismiss our son’s reaction; he would probably be over the moon for any new bike under the tree. But with the Islabikes micro V-brake levers and knobby Kenda Small Block Eight tires, this new rig looked like mom’s and dad’s bikes, and he was thrilled. The CNOC is a bike for big guys and girls, shrunk to fit the youngest riders.

The CNOC rips, and takes some getting used to

The aggressive geometry of the CNOC 14, constructed of lightweight 7005 T6 aluminum with a cro-moly fork, took a bit of getting used to, but after a couple hours in the saddle on our local trails and the road between our house and the nearby park, our son was dialed. What was twitchy at first became maneuverable after three rides.

Many bikes designed for the sub-seven-year-old set feature handlebar height that is 10cm-plus above the saddle. The CNOC 14 features a more level plane between its small-diameter aluminum bar and saddle, forcing young riders into a more forward, over-the-bars position, which makes for improved handling on the pump track and trail.

The first handful of rides were a bit nervous, and we had a few crashes that wouldn’t have happened on a more upright frame, but the performance benefits made the memories of those skinned knees fade.

The downsized 1.5-inch Small Block Eight tires hooked up well on the dirt and didn’t provide an overwhelming amount of resistance on the road. And while the front V-brake allows the rider to gain familiarity with hand brakes, the coaster brake provided secure stopping. The brand’s British bikes sport two hand brakes and no coaster, but U.S. law requires all “sidewalk bikes” under 20 inches to carry the pedal-based stopping.

The 25-tooth front chainring, 89cm crankarms, and 14t rear cog make for a solid all-around gearing, though our son did spin out a bit on high-speed descents. This, thankfully, allowed dad to win an occasional race home from the park and was expected, given the singlespeed drivetrain and small sizing requirements.

The 12.4-pound claimed weight meant our son was able to push and carry his own bike — a big benefit at the pump track, where he was able to dismount and walk up any hits he didn’t top out.

Two shortcomings do mark the CNOC. First, the saddle cover is slick enough that our son shot off the seat and into a superman position after catching a little air on the trail. (Yes, he rode it out, and it’s one of his favorite riding memories, at the moment.) A grippy saddle would be a functional improvement, though it might take away some unscripted fun out on the dirt.

The size range is tight on the 14-inch model as well. Our son is 106cm tall, with a 42.5cm inseam, and he’s on the verge of outgrowing the bike, which fit perfectly just four months ago. I would recommend sizing up one model, if possible, though it’s hard to say how this would affect the ride quality early on.

Standing up to abuse

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a high-quality kids’ bike is its ability to stand up to abuse. We’ve ridden the CNOC hard off-road, left it out in the rain, and allowed mud to dry all over the drivetrain, and the bike keeps working as if it were new. In the instance you encounter trouble, each Islabike comes with a five-year frame guarantee and a two-year parts guarantee — plenty of time to run two or more kids through the bike.

The paint has held up to the usual throwing around kids do with their bikes and the grips show no sign of the dozens of scrapes on the concrete they’ve endured. I’ve lubed the chain just twice in five months and there has been no sign of needing more care.

We’ve also had zero flats on the Kenda rubber — which reminds me, I should start carrying a spare tube for the kid.

Availability and accessories

The 12.4-pound CNOC 14 retails for $269.99 and is available directly from the brand’s Portland-based U.S. offices. According to the company’s website, bikes deliver to most locations within 14 days, for $25-40.

Accessories available from the manufacturer include “full wraparound ‘cromo-plastic’” fenders ($24.99), spare tubes ($6.99), and “no tools” training wheels ($14.99).

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Tuft dons pink as Orica wins stage 1 of Giro d’Italia Fri, 09 May 2014 19:02:03 +0000 Canadian pulls on the maglia rosa after powering Orica-GreenEdge to victory in the stage 1 team time trial at the Giro d'Italia

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Canadian Svein Tuft earned a pink birthday present Friday when he pulled on the Giro d’Italia’s leader’s jersey in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after his Orica-GreenEdge team set the day’s fastest time in the stage 1 team time trial.

Orica started second and rode to a mark of 24:42, which stood up to the challenges of the 20 ensuing teams to roll off the ramp for the season’s first grand tour.

Despite missing its world time trial champion Tony Martin, Omega Pharma-Quick Step landed a heavy blow on the general classification for last year’s runner-up, Rigoberto Urán, finishing second, five seconds adrift of Orica.

“I’m very happy about the start of this Giro,” said Urán. “Even if we weren’t the favorites, we came here to try to win this team time trial. Despite not having guys like Tony Martin, with the big engines for a time trial, we wanted to show our attitude toward the Giro d’Italia as a team. We prepared very well for the race and I think our effort paid off. We didn’t win, but we took a few seconds on a few of the GC contenders. It’s only the first say of the race, but I’m satisfied with what we did today.”

Former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans rode to third on the 21.7-kilometer stage, at seven seconds, with BMC Racing.

“We’ve started in a good way,” said Evans. “I think we had the legs to do more. But in these conditions, we were a little bit unlucky with Brent Bookwalter’s crash (during pre-ride) and Ben Hermans’s puncture. It took a little bit of power away from us. But I think we rode well to get the results that we got. Compliments to the guys for that.”

Tuft led the Australian Orica team across the line to pull on his first grand tour leader’s jersey.

“To finish on that note, what a treat. I can’t thank my team enough for that opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a guy like me,” said Tuft. “This team is really selfless that way and I feel really fortunate to be given that gift this way.”

Reigning Tour de France best young rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar) dug a 55-second hole in his bid for pink, but his fortunes were not the worst of the pre-race favorites.

Former Giro runner-up Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) lost 1:33 and former Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) crashed out of the race with a suspected shoulder injury.

Disaster struck the Garmin squad midway through the stage when Martin, crashed with three teammates. It appeared Martin clipped wheels with another rider, sending the Irishman sprawling to the ground at full speed. Three riders were unable to avoid him, and also fell. Martin, who also crashed in the final corner at Liège, landed heavily on his shoulder, and it appeared he might have injured a collarbone.

Martin abandoned the race, leaving in an ambulance, and the team went on to stop the clock more than three minutes down on Orica.

Nicolas Roche and Tinkoff-Saxo finished fourth, at 23 seconds.

The 97th Giro d’Italia continues Saturday with the 218km second stage, which starts and finishes in Belfast.

Andrew Hood in Belfast contributed reporting.

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Tour of Alberta confirms Garmin, Belkin, host cities for 2014 edition Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:00:07 +0000 Canadian stage race lands new title sponsor for its second edition

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Garmin-Sharp and Belkin will be among the teams to compete in the second Tour of Alberta in September. The race organization unveiled its host cities Wednesday and will kick off with a prologue in Calgary and finish six days later with a circuit race in Edmonton.

“I loved the Tour of Alberta last year. It had plenty of challenges throughout the whole race and I think the fact it was the inaugural Tour of Alberta made it all the more special to me,” 2013 winner Rohan Dennis (Garmin) said in a press release. “The race itself was organized perfectly. I am looking forward to being around the people of Alberta. I honestly could not believe how friendly everyone was. It’s an important race for me and the team this year.”

The tour will reverse course in 2014, starting in Calgary and finishing in the capital of Edmonton. New host cities include Lethbridge (stage 1), Innisfail (stage 2), and Wetaskiwin (stage 3).

“The commitment by our host communities is special,” said executive director Duane Vienneau. “They are true partners in every sense of the word. Through their commitment, we will be able to stage a second and successful race.”

Organizers also unveiled a new title sponsor in ATB Financial and will confirm the stage routes later this year.

2014 Tour of Alberta (Sept. 2-7)

Prologue: Calgary (ITT)
Stage 1: Lethbridge (Circuit Race)
Stage 2: Innisfail — Red Deer
Stage 3: Wetaskiwin — Edmonton
Stage 4: Edmonton — Strathcona County
Stage 5: Edmonton (Circuit Race)

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Gilbert wins De Brabantse Pijl Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:39:11 +0000 Former world champion takes his second career victory in the Ardennes tuneup

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Philippe Gilbert won De Brabantse Pijl, the final tuneup ahead of the Ardennes classics, Wednesday in Overijse, Belgium. Gilbert (BMC Racing) won the 203-kilometer semi-classic for the second time in his career, landing a confidence-inspiring victory ahead of the hilly one-day races serving as his top objectives in 2014.

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was second, missing out by half-a-wheel in the sprint, and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) was third in the 26-climb midweek contest, which started east of Brussels in Leuven.

“Matthews was the fastest, but I played it well because he had to close the gap to (Björn) Leukemans and (Wouter) Poels in the descent and that cost him power,” Gilbert said in a team press release. “I also saw he was closed in in the last corner, but I waited, because I knew from the last times (up the climb), I didn’t want to make the same mistake. It was perfect.”

Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) was the last of the survivors from the day’s breakaway when a half-dozen riders ripped past the American with little more than 40km remaining.

Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Pieter Serry (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Björn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Mauro Finetto (Yellow Fluo), and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) pushed ahead to nearly a minute’s advantage, but couldn’t cut the leash from the peloton.

Forty seconds behind the leaders with 30km to go, BMC Racing and Giant-Shimano threw all they had at the chase. The former glued the front of the race back together and with 8km to go, the bunch reset for an explosive finale.

At the back, Gallopin, who later said he was satisfied with his result, given the circumstances, was forced to chase after a flat 25km from the line.

“I had a puncture at 25 kilometers from the finish. On the same place of the course as last year,” he said. “Honestly, I thought my race was over. Because of the succession of hills the race never stopped. I had to return from behind the team cars, but eventually I could pass one group after another and that way I could take my place back in front. Thanks to the teammates, I joined the first group just before the last climb, not a moment too early.”

An onslaught of attacks ripped at the peloton over the handful of kilometers leading to the final climb at Schavei, but no rider could shake loose.

American Alex Howes led into the 700-meter final ramp for Garmin. Serry took over with 700 meters remaining, but Gilbert led out the sprint onto the 200-meter finish straight and held onto victory over Matthews.

“It was a difficult race with everyone attacking when we got to the [finish circuit] laps. I had to bide my time for the sprint,” said Matthews. “I had a good sprint in the finish, but Gilbert was quicker today.”

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Former Jamis rider Pinkham dies after apparent accidental overdose Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:13:31 +0000 Chase Pinkham, 24, died Monday night, a family friend has confirmed to VeloNews

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Chase Pinkham, a former rider for Jamis-Hagens Berman and the Trek-Livestrong development team, died Sunday night, a friend of the Pinkham family has confirmed to VeloNews.

The 23-year-old American rider died of an apparent accidental overdose, according to his family, after years of chronic pain related to a 2008 crash.

Pinkham was a rapidly rising prospect in Utah cycling when he was struck by a car while training in Canada prior to the Tour de l’Abitibi stage race in 2008. Following his recovery from the crash, which resulted in facial injuries requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries, Pinkham attracted the attention of Trek director Axel Merckx and joined the development program for the 2010 season.

From Trek, Pinkham continued onto domestic teams Bissell and Jamis, for whom he rode in 2013.

A story about Pinkham’s 2008 accident and subsequent challenges, ran in the Deseret News in February 2010.

According to a March 9 Facebook post, Pinkham dealt with chronic pain and depression related to his 2008 crash.

“Just wanted to give you an update if you have tried to get a hold of me the last few days by cell phone. I am currently seeking treatment for some severe depression caused by years of dealing with chronic pain from my accident in 2008. I am in a safe and good place, but I do not have access to a cell phone. If you need to get a hold of me please message me here,” wrote Pinkham.

“Dealing with chronic pain, years of medication and depression is something that may make you completely alone and hopeless, even when surrounded by the people that love you. Please remember that if you are suffering currently, or ever end up suffering, that you are not alone and that people love you. There is help available and asking for it only proves that you have the strength to reach out and the desire to change the state you are in. Many suffer, but so few ask for the help that so many people are willing to give.”

According to Alex Kim, a close friend of the Pinkham family, Chase underwent dozens of surgeries related to his 2008 crash and suffered from chronic pain. Pinkham was eliminating his use of narcotic painkillers, according to Kim, earlier this year when he suffered a broken leg at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona in February. Following the crash, doctors again prescribed narcotic painkillers for Pinkham. He was house-sitting last weekend in Salt Lake City when friends discovered Pinkham’s body.

“He didn’t take his own life,” Kim told VeloNews. “He was doing well when we saw him Friday and Saturday. This was an accidental overdose.”

Kim said the Pinkham family hoped a positive legacy would come from Chase’s death.

“Chronic pain is a big problem,” he said. “They want people to know this was something he was fighting and can happen to anyone.”

An outpouring of grief followed the news of Pinkham’s death, with former teammates among those offering condolences.

Addie Levinsky contributed reporting to this story.

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Hungry for history, Cancellara says the pressure is off for Roubaix Fri, 11 Apr 2014 22:16:31 +0000 Tour of Flanders winner says he carries no burdens into Roubaix on Sunday, where he could win his record third Flanders/Roubaix double

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Fabian Cancellara is hungry for a historic victory and expects Tom Boonen to be at his best come Sunday’s 112th Paris-Roubaix.

“This weekend will be a big fight. He shows again he’s ready, probably more ready than people are thinking,” Cancellara said Friday during his pre-race press conference. “In my own experience, at [Tour of] Flanders I wasn’t super 100 percent, and then the next weekend I was ready. Tom will be up there 100 percent. I believe that and I know that.”

Boonen has suffered through a classics season marred by the miscarriage of his first child and an injury to his right thumb suffered in a crash at E3 Harelbeke. The four-time Roubaix champion was a non-factor at the Ronde van Vlaanderen last Sunday, finishing seventh, 28 seconds behind Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).

The Belgian acknowledged on Friday that pressure was building for his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team to land a major classics victory.

“I usually react well under pressure,” Boonen said. “When I feel the cobblestones under my wheels, I usually go fast.”

Cancellara, on the other hand, said he left the pressure behind with his sprint win in Oudenaarde, Belgium, last week.

“They shouldn’t watch me,” he said when asked how it feels to race with the peloton watching him. “With this situation that we saw in Sunday’s race, in Flanders, of course Roubaix is totally different, but Omega Pharma has a super, super strong team. We will also see Belkin have to put control over it, because they have the other main favorite as well for the race, so they have to take the responsibility like normally they never did, I remember from the last few races, especially Sunday (Flanders). … And then we have also Greg Van Avermaet. He shows again he’s in super good condition.”

The four-man sprint win was Cancellara’s first major classic victory from a group of that size. While some have wondered whether it betrayed a case of lacking form for the Swiss, he suggested Friday that the strength of the field was simply better than years past when “Tomeke” and “Spartacus” were heads and shoulders above their contemporaries.

“I’m not the favorite No. 1, no. There’s, like I said in Flanders, there’s lots of other favorites. There’s lots of good riders. This year we have a large field that is strong and on high condition, and that’s why we will see things change this year,” he said.

That parity considered, Cancellara and Boonen are the two men chasing history on Sunday, with the Belgian hunting his record fifth Roubaix title and Trek’s flagship rider trying for an unprecedented third Flanders/Roubaix double.

Cancellara is trying to avoid thinking much about the ramifications of a victory Sunday, however.

“It’s always special when, in your sport, you can reach history,” he said. “I’m hungry, and it’s important I’m hungry, and the rest we will see later, because you have it in the front of you, but I try to blind it out, because if you think too much on history, you make a mistake.”

And a mistake is what the field must hope for from the defending champion. This race, like no other, hinges on luck, after all. The line between brilliance and anonymity is razor thin on the 51.1 kilometers of cobbles that feature along the 257-kilometer course from Compiègne to Roubaix.

“I mean, you must have a good day, you must have a lot of luck, and the race has to go in a direction that suits for this day or suits for me and the team. Of course, things could look good, but you have to push a lot, you have to push a lot of pedals,” said Cancellara. “You have to suffer a lot, you have to get a lot of pain in you, but still, I’m looking forward to a sunny race in France, and to enjoy somehow — it sounds crazy to say enjoy because over the cobbles is not so much enjoyment, it hurts a lot — but I’m in a lucky situation to still get that out because I’ve won Flanders. On Sunday, there are just Tom, me, and [Johan] Vansummeren that has won in those last, last years this race. The rest of the peloton hasn’t won and that probably puts other teams and riders under more pressure.”

Wearing dossard No. 1, Cancellara should leave the start on Sunday relaxed and ready, as he said, to eat. Whether anyone else is up to the task of chewing up the cobbles alongside him is something we will see 164 kilometers later, when the leaders emerge from the Trouée d’Arenberg.

“They are under more pressure, because they haven’t won,” he said. “The campaign for the classics finishes on the velodrome and there are many people still hungry. Let’s go and have some great meat.”

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Video: Summerhill talks classics crashes and Roubaix debut Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:42:11 +0000 American Danny Summerhill is set for his Roubaix debut and describes the chaos of 60 kph leadouts into mid-race corners

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Sagan wins E3 Harelbeke after tactical battle Fri, 28 Mar 2014 16:09:14 +0000 Slovak champion takes cagey victory from late escape at E3 Harelbeke after Belgian team's tandem fails to drop him

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Peter Sagan won E3 Harelbeke in Belgium Friday to open the first big weekend of the northern classics. Sagan (Cannondale) outfoxed a pair of Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders to take a cagey victory in the 212-kilometer race known popularly as “Mini-Flanders.”

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma) was second and Geraint Thomas (Sky) was third in the important build-up to the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), which takes place April 6.

Defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) finished ninth after being caught behind a poorly timed crash late in the race.

“I am happy to win because I came here to test my form for the upcoming classics,” said Sagan. “It is good for the future, but I cannot say what will happen in the future. Maybe I will crash in the first 20km at Flanders, and the race is over. I am happy with the victory because it confirms I am in good shape.”

Early breakaways and mishaps

The race route took in 17 hellingen, or hills, including the Taaienberg (1.2km, 9.5%), Paterberg (300m, 12%), Oude Kwaremont (2.2km, 4.2%)

When the peloton rolled across the Haaghoek cobbles, just over 30km into the day, five riders made a break for it: Maxime Daniel (Ag2r La Mondiale), Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), and Laurens De Vreese (Wanty Groupe Gobert).

The escape took a maximum advantage of roughly seven minutes before the peloton kicked on for the chase. A series of crashes saw Ian Stannard (Sky) and Maarten Wynants (Belkin) among the riders to hit the ground.

A series of attacks saw some reshaping at the front of the peloton with 70km to go, but the real interest was at the back of the race, where pre-race favorites Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) suffered near-simultaneous mechanicals. With the help of two teammates each, both riders were back in the bunch within a couple kilometers.

“I just had a lot of bad luck today,” Vanmarcke said in a press release. “The team, however, supported me perfectly every time I had to chase.”

Cousin ran into trouble just after the Knokteberg, with 65km to go, but was able to regain contact with the breakaway after a hard chase. Behind, former world champion Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) dropped out of the race, rolling off the course in his Norwegian champion’s jersey.

Hushovd’s teammate, Greg Van Avermaet, suffered a mechanical moments later, forcing a rear wheel change just 2km before the 1.1km, three-percent Rotelenberg. Steele Von Hoffe (Garmin-Sharp) appeared to puncture at nearly the same point.

They both made it back to the bunch quickly and Sky, Omega Pharma, and Trek led the peloton onto the climb 1:40 behind the breakaway.

Cancellara caught out

With 43km to go and the four-climb onslaught of the Kapelberg (900m, 4%), Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat (1.5km, 4.9%) just up the road, BMC Racing massed at the front of the bunch. Shortly after, a large crash on a single-lane section of road tore the peloton in half. A group of perhaps 30 riders made it through the stoppage, including Sagan, Van Avermaet, and Vanmarcke.

“I was in good position in the front and was not involved in the crash,” said Sagan. “We heard the bunch had split up, but in any race, you go hard as you can, it doesn’t matter who is dropped or who is chasing or anything else. The race finishes at the finish line.”

Three-time Harelbeke winner Cancellara was among the riders caught out and the Swiss chased from behind, leaving riders to fight for his wheel as he drilled it across a long, paved section of winding road.

Up ahead, the leaders rode onto the Paterberg with a 1:05 advantage. De Vreese led the group and his pace popped Thomson and Daniel.

Vanmarcke took the bit in the peloton and pushed hard up the left gutter. Still, Cancellara gained ground.

Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Terpstra was first over the climb from the bunch and an eight-rider chase group formed on his wheel. The group swelled heading into the Oude Kwaremont, with Boonen and Sagan in the mix.

Soon, those men would see the one rider they’d hoped to have done away with: Cancellara. The four-time world time trial champion pulled a handful of riders up to the group and planted himself about six riders from the front.

Terpstra pulled up the Oude Kwaremont and by the top, a group of five men had sprung free, including his teammate Stijn Vandenbergh, Sagan, Thomas, and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). The three survivors of the breakaway held just seven seconds, a gap Thomas and Co. quickly surmounted. With 28km and two climbs to go, Sénéchal, De Vreese, and Cousin tried to glue themselves to the back of the eight-man lead group.

Behind them, Boonen, Cancellara, Vanmarcke, Van Avermaet, Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Tyler Farrar (Garmin), and Luca Paolini (Katusha) were among the riders to form the first chase group. Two-time Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Stijn Devolder buried himself for teammate Cancellara and got no help from the Omega Pharma and Sky riders in the group. The defensive posturing by the Belgian and British teams would pay moments later when Terpstra, Vandenberg, Sagan, and Thomas rode away from their companions on the Karnemelkbeekstraat.

Devolder continued to pull the chasers, but the gap was 45 seconds with 18km remaining. Giant started contributing once Degenkolb dropped back to the chase, but the leaders had 49 seconds when they reached the Tiegemberg (1km, 6.5%) with 16km to go.

“In the final, on the Oude Kwaremont, I was suffering a lot and when Fabian Cancellara and Stijn Devolder tried to bridge to the leaders, I was only able to follow,” said Vanmarcke. “I couldn’t really do my turns, which was of course unfortunate.”

Cancellara attacked hard on the paved climb, with Paolini, Vanmarcke, and Stybar following him. The group caught the foursome, but the surge cut the gap to the leaders down to 35 seconds.

A tactical endgame for Sagan, Thomas, and Omega Pharma

With 10km to go, the leaders fanned out across the road, having a chat. Sagan appeared upset that Terpstra was sitting at the back of the group, despite Omega Pharma’s numbers advantage in the move. The Dutchman had Stybar and Boonen behind, but the potential victory ahead.

From there, the finale would play out as a tough tactical battle accented by Omega Pharma’s nearly non-stop attacks and Sagan’s and Thomas’ resolve.

Terpstra put in the first dig 5.5km from the line, but Sagan shut him down. Moments later, Vandenbergh attacked from the back. Sagan forced Thomas to chase, with Terpstra following the two of them. Vandenbergh went again, coming off Sagan’s wheel with 4km to go. The Slovak chased him down, and the group rode together for a kilometer before Terpstra attacked from the front as Sagan and Thomas looked at each other.

Again, the surge went nowhere.

The gap to the chase extended above one minute.

Vandenbergh tried to attack on the inside of a left-hand corner 1km from the line, but Sagan easily rode onto the wheel. Vandenbergh went again, but Thomas hunted him down onto the finish straight.

With the momentum, the Welshman led out the sprint and Sagan came around on the right for the win. Terpstra came through for second, leaving a bitter taste for the Belgian squad after it loaded the group, but couldn’t solve the Sagan problem.

“It was tricky in the end because they were all looking to me for the sprint,” said Sagan. “The two riders from Omega Pharma were trying to attack me, but all I had to do was follow the wheels. Geraint was strong on the Kwaremont and he was also dangerous in the final.”

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Terpstra wins Dwars door Vlaanderen Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:25:55 +0000 Dutchman takes cobbles opener with lone, 30-kilometer assault

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Niki Terpstra won Dwars door Vlaanderen Wednesday in Waregem, Belgium. Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) attacked over the Paterberg with 30 kilometers to go to take victory in the 201km cobbles opener.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished second and Borut Bozic (Astana) was third.

“Of course this race is on the Flemish roads with the small hills, the pave, and a lot of wind,” said Terpstra. “This race is suited for a guy like me. The attack on the Paterberg wasn’t planned, but in the final we know we have to be in front when we reach that point. I passed the front group on the Paterberg, I accelerated, and then I was alone. I knew the team was behind me to defend my attack. So, it gave me a lot of morale. I put myself in time trial mode and went to the finish.”

The day’s long breakaway saw more than 20 riders escape the peloton: Jos Van Emden (Belkin), Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale), Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana), Stephen Cummings (BMC Racing), Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Belisol), Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura), Christopher Sutton (Sky), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), Kenneth Van Bilsen and Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Markel Irizar and Eugenio Alafaci (Trek Factory Racing), John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare), and James Van Landschoot (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). The move lasted until the final 60km.

A series of reshuffles saw two groups escape with roughly 50km to go, but Lotto-Belisol was not represented in the resulting move, and worked hard to bring the leaders back. The gap at the bottom of 380-meter, 13.7-percent Paterberg was less than 10 seconds.

The race came back together on the cobbled climb under pressure from multiple attacks out of the bunch and one man emerged at the head of the race: Terpstra. Just as he did in 2012, the Dutchman rode away on his own on the climb that will play a major role in the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 11 days.

He held a dozen seconds after the climb and was fully committed, but the peloton was organized tightly behind.

“I thought, ‘Now just go full speed, and then we’ll see where we get,'” said Terpstra. “I had already done this in 2012, but then I had a tailwind. The wind was enormously painful, but I knew I was covered by the team.”

Trek Factory Racing led the chase, but when the gap went above 30 seconds, Orica send a man to the front to share the load.

Stijn Devolder (Trek) set out in pursuit with 19km to go, and was soon joined by three other riders. Nicki Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) were there, and Terpstra’s teammate Gert Steegmans was along for a free ride.

“I held off on my own Devolder, Søorensen, and Valverde, true, but they always had doubt because Gert was in their wheel,” said Terpstra.

With 8km to go, the foursome was 18 seconds behind Terpstra. Former Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) attacked from the peloton, but Omega Pharma’s Tom Boonen marked him, and the duo quickly gave up.

The chase group was finished with 3km to go, but Terpstra pushed on alone, crossing the line with arms raised as the peloton turned onto the finish straight.

Farrar took the field sprint, pumping his right fist after crossing the line.

“My heart is broken,” said Farrar. “This is the second time after 2011 that I won the group sprint in Waregem, just after the winner. I just wanted to win.”

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CrossVegas promoter says World Cup talk is premature Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:23:44 +0000 CrossVegas promoter Brook Watts says talk of a cyclocross World Cup in Las Vegas is premature

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Reports emerged from Europe Monday that the UCI Cyclocross World Cup would make its first foray outside the continent in 2015 with a stop at CrossVegas in Las Vegas, but the event’s promoter called confirmation of the event premature. The late-September race piggybacks with the Interbike tradeshow and has seen a flight of elite European professionals at the start.

“In September 2015 Las Vegas is part of the World Cup circuit. This is now fixed,” Van Den Abeele said, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

Two-time world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-Trek), a member of the UCI’s Cyclocross Commission, won the 2013 edition and welcomed the news on Twitter, writing, “Yes, we have a world cup in vegas!”

CrossVegas promoter Brook Watts told VeloNews via email that he was in talks with the UCI, but that nothing was firm.

“Discussions with the UCI about CrossVegas becoming a World Cup that began in 2008 are ongoing today, albeit at a more serious tone,” said Watts. “CrossVegas has proved it is a world-class race worthy of a spot among other events like the World Cup, Superprestige, or BPost series races in Europe. We continue to work toward a goal of globalizing our sport and look forward to being a part of that for many years.

“At this time our energies are concentrated toward staging a successful 2014 event, including the introduction today of a new sponsorship webpage, and working with the team in Cincinnati to present the first Pan-American ’Cross Championships for our part of the globe.”

Watts told VeloNews in August 2013 that he expected a World Cup soon in the United States, but would not commit to his race’s entry to the discipline’s top circuit.

“While I’d love to have on my tombstone having promoted the first World Cup in the U.S., I’m not going to risk economic ruin to make it happen,” said Watts. “I know there are a couple parties that are interested, but I don’t know how far along they are with their proposals. It has to be a location that can draw a reasonable crowd, close to an international airport, but a location that has natural interest to international visitors because a significant portion of the crowd will be international visitors. There will be some superfans that make the trip and want to see a World Cup.”

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Cancellara: ‘I’m not interested in attacking just to put on a show’ Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:00:25 +0000 Fabian Cancellara held tight when Vincenzo Nibali jumped on the Cipressa and said he's not interested in attacking just to put on a show

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Fabian Cancellara isn’t interested in attacking for show.

Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who has finished his last 10 monuments on the podium, could have followed Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) when the Sicilian launched a Hail Mary on the Cipressa, 25 kilometers from the finish at Milano-Sanremo on Sunday. The link-up would have provided an absolutely beautiful display of finesse and deft bike-handling on the two technical descents between the top of the Cipressa and final approach to Sanremo — if they made it that far.

The Swiss could have scored major points with the social media peanut gallery by hooking up with Nibali and taking up the majority of the pace-making (he is “Spartacus,” after all). He could even have come up short on the line and still ignited a fanbase as eager to celebrate his wins as accuse his rivals of wheel-sucking.

Instead, Cancellara quietly rolled over the Cipressa and Poggio in the group and sparked a late sprint to finish second in an important final tune-up for the northern classics — the races that really move the former world time trial champ.

In the recent past, he has attacked over the Poggio and finished third (2013), held tight in a small group and finished second (2011), and attacked 2km from the line to win the season’s first major classic (2008). All this in a finale he called too easy on Sunday.

“Second at Milano-Sanremo, that’s fine, but the course is not hard enough,” he said. “I hope that the course will be changed next year. Especially when weather conditions are difficult, the race is completely closed.”

When Cancellara flinches, he’s marked, and with roughly 60 riders left in the peloton on the Cipressa Sunday afternoon, a busload of men waited to jump onto his wheel — many of them motivated by the presence of teammates Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

Those poor odds didn’t stop Nibali from wondering aloud why riders like Cancellara and Sagan didn’t dare follow him.

“Maybe it was a lack of courage, a lack of legs, or maybe because of the cold, I wouldn’t know,” Nibali said. “There were a lot of sprinters still there on the Poggio, like Cavendish. I don’t know what happened behind. The word in the bunch was to try and make Sanremo a lot more difficult in the finale because there wasn’t either Le Mànie or the Pompeiana. In any case, I think I did a good race. It would have been pointless for me to wait for the sprint. Maybe if I’d known it would be like that, I could have waited for the Poggio, but it was very difficult. I was waiting for an ally and I turned around a few times to see if anyone was coming but nothing.”

It may have come down to numbers and sheer predictability. Nibali jumped into what amounted to a choreographed attack, but old-hand Cancellara didn’t bite.

At the finish, Cancellara again found the bitter taste of a lesser podium place at “La Classicissima.” The 2008 Olympic time trial champion banged his handlebars coming across the line a bike length short of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who immediately saw his star rise with a virgin monument victory.

“I could have finished fifth or even crashed out. I’m not a sprinter, but after 294km, I was able to beat the likes of Cavendish and other sprinters, so that’s satisfying,” said Cancellara. “There was only one rider who finished ahead of me, and unfortunately the finish came too soon for me to get past him, but Katusha deserved to win. They did a good race, too.”

Cancellara owns six winners’ trophies from the monuments — cycling’s most important one-day races. In 2010 he won Paris-Roubaix on a 50km flyer. He knows when a race is hard and when it is not, and while many riders were suffering in the wet, cold conditions Sunday, the Swiss said afterward that the race was not hard enough for him to make a difference with a long-range attack. Not without the bone-jarring cobbles or steep, bumpy hellingen of the northern classics.

“I couldn’t really make a move earlier because there were too many riders who were still fresh,” he told journalists at the finish. “I’m not interested in attacking just to put on a show, either. There’s also the descent, other climbs, the flat, and lots of attacks. Races change and end as they end. This time it was in a sprint and I finished second.”

Simply put, Cancellara has to “attack when others are tired.”

After six-and-a-half hours, Cancellara didn’t think the peloton was worn out enough for one of his motorcycle-like barrages to work. He did admit that he nearly jumped over the top of the Poggio, and that the wait-and-see approach dulled the excitement for fans in the finale.

“It was hard because it was a race where you had to be patient — to wait and wait,” he said via the Trek team’s website. “Maybe it was a little bit boring because of that. Today was not Flanders or Roubaix. I thought maybe I should go on the top of Poggio, but there were too many riders that looked fresh, so I did not make a move. Same after the descent; there was no moment to go, so the best plan was to wait for a sprint. The sprint was the only solution of today.”

Dubbing Sunday’s finish at Sanremo “boring” is a reach. Was it Cancellara, Nibali, and Simon Gerrans attacking in 2012? No. But it was classic Milano-Sanremo drama, with all the usual questions. Can the long-odds Italian climber hold off the charging peloton? Who will push the pace impossibly hard coming off the Poggio? Will the attack with 2km to go stick? And, finally, who can cut out the most noise from his failing legs after an astonishing 294 kilometers?

That man was Alexander Kristoff on Sunday, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of cunning on the part of the man called “Spartacus.” He played the sprint in Sanremo and lost. Cancellara’s turn for putting on a show will come later this week when the world’s attention turns to Harelbeke and three weeks of racing in Flanders and northern France. By the time the peloton reaches the Roubaix velodrome on April 13, no one will be asking for harder racing.

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BMC Racing hopes to kickstart stalled monuments program, but will be without Phinney at Sanremo Fri, 21 Mar 2014 17:13:14 +0000 American Taylor Phinney is ill and may not start Sunday, but BMC Racing is hoping its powerful Sanremo squad will finally deliver a major

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MILAN (VN) — BMC Racing will bring a load of firepower to the season’s first major classic Sunday at Milano-Sanremo, with hopes of kick-starting its stalled monuments program. The American team will have to do without the services of Taylor Phinney, however, after the 23-year-old came down with a fever late this week.

Despite hiring star riders like former world champions Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert, the American team has largely been blanked the past two years in the spring classics.

They’ve been close, especially with Greg Van Avermaet consistently knocking on the door. In fact, Van Avermaet’s win in the 2011 Paris-Tours is the team’s last big win in the one-day classics.

This year, BMC is hoping to bring home a big one, and Sunday’s Milano-Sanremo presents the team with its first chance.

“I was good at Tirreno-Adriatico, and I like Sanremo. We are a classics team,” said Gilbert. “My dream is to win all the classics, and I am not doing Flanders or Roubaix, so it’s a dream to win. We are all dreaming about Milano-Sanremo. We all start to win.”

Gilbert will co-captain the squad with Van Avermaet, with Thor Hushovd a third card to play if it comes down to a larger group sprint. Phinney, who punched into the top 10 last year, came down with a fever Friday, and will not start.

“I had expressed a lot of love for the race over the past couple of weeks and it is definitely genuine,” Phinney said in a press release. “So it is hard for me to not be able to take the start. But I have to look forward to [Paris-Roubaix]. I’m sorry for the team that I can’t be there for them and also sorry for myself because I was definitely looking forward to this race.”

Fifth in Friday’s Handzame Classic in Belgium, Klaas Lodewyck will replace Phinney in the team’s line-up.

Gilbert, who has never won Sanremo in 10 starts, said it’s not a bad thing to have more than one card to play in a race as unpredictable as Sanremo.

“It’s always good to have more than one in the final. There is less pressure on one guy. We can also play this against other teams. If one of us goes, the other can stay back and wait for the reaction,” Gilbert said. “But we are not the only team without a sprinter. Cannondale, too, with [Peter] Sagan, he likes it to be a smaller group.”

Both Gilbert and Van Avermaet look to be in top shape. Gilbert has high hopes for this year’s classics program, while Van Avermaet is hungry for a breakout win following many close calls. Second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month, Van Avermaet said he’s ready.

“This is the first big test of the year,” Van Avermaet said. “This is a good start before the Flanders classics. It’s also a race that I’ve liked since the first time I raced when I was 22. It’s a special race, with a long distance. It’s a nervous race, a fast race.”

Both riders said Sanremo would have suited them better if the Pompeiana climb had been included as expected. Road damage means the controversial addition won’t be in the cards until next year. In 2007, the last year on the “classic” course without La Maniè, Gilbert was first over the Poggio.

As Gilbert pointed out, the finish line is no longer at Via Roma, which was very near the bottom of the Poggio, but now more than 1km further away, something he said makes a big difference if small groups can stay away.

“I can be a contender with this course, with the other course, if they do this climb [Pompeiana], it’s better for me. I’ve never won this race, but I can also be deep in the final,” Gilbert said. “It’s longer to the finish line now. It’s no longer on the Via Roma. The hardest thing in this race is the distance from bottom of Poggio to the finish line.”

Both Van Avermaet and Gilbert agreed that forecasted rain and wind could dramatically alter the outcome of the race.

“The descents are very slippery in the rain,” Van Avermaet said. “It’s too far to attack from the Cipressa. If it’s raining, the descent off the Poggio is very tricky.”

For Gilbert, Sanremo remains an elusive, if alluring target.

“It’s a special race. In other races, you know with 40km if you can go deep into the final. Here, you’re never sure. This is one of these races where you can have a lot of different type of riders who can win,” Gilbert said. “You have riders like me and Greg, you have the sprinters, and even some climbers. I was looking at YouTube, and I even saw [Marco] Pantani attacking on the Cipressa. So many riders can win. It’s not like Flanders, where only a few can win. Here, we are all together.”

BMC is hoping one of its riders is the right type when the 105th edition of Milano-Sanremo barrels onto the Italian Riviera.

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Video: Andreu talks Armstrong fallout, 5-hour Energy Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:22:50 +0000 Team director, former TV personality says that his life has calmed down following the U.S. Postal doping investigation

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Betancur wins stage 5 of Paris-Nice Thu, 13 Mar 2014 14:45:02 +0000 Colombian rides late escape to a stage win on day 5 of Paris-Nice

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Carlos Betancur won stage 5 of Paris-Nice Thursday in Rive-de-Gier, France. Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) initiated a late escape from which he won the 153-kilometer leg from Crêches-sur-Saône.

Bobby Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) was second and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) was third.

“I knew it would be quite a hard stage, the last climb suited me quite well and I knew the final descent,” said Betancur. “In a three-man sprint I had a good chance. I’m pretty good when it’s a small group.

“I still need to lose weight but I’ve got power.”

Overnight leader Geraint Thomas (Sky) defended his overall lead and holds a three-second advantage on John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). Stage 4 winner Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) is third, at four seconds.

Five riders went on the attack early in Thursday’s stage: Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). With Chavanel just 1:10 down on GC, the group could only push out a gap of 2:30.

After the breakaway was neutralized, Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) attacked from the peloton on the Côte de Sainte-Catherine. Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) countered 15km from the finish and Nibali bridged across with 12.5km remaining to take the front on the descent. Thomas followed into third wheel and the Sicilian’s acceleration strung the group out single-file on the rough, single-lane road down from the 12.5km-long Cat. 2 climb.

When Nibali backed off the accelerator, Betancur took the bit and rode away on his own. Fuglsang and Jungels bridged across and with 8.5km to go, the three leaders held onto a handful of seconds.

With 3.5km to go, the gap was 10 seconds and Omega Pharma was taking a major interest in seeing the group caught. It was for not, however, as the leading trio held off the chasing group, with Betancur taking the sprint from Jungels.

Paris-Nice continues Friday with the 221km sixth stage, from Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon to Fayence. The stage includes four categorized climbs in the final 57km and a Cat. 2 hilltop finish in Fayence.

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Slagter wins stage 4 of Paris-Nice Wed, 12 Mar 2014 14:54:52 +0000 Slagter lands the race's first GC blow as the race fractures over four late climbs

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Tom-Jelte Slagter won stage 4 of Paris-Nice Wednesday in Belleville, France. Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) attacked to the stage win late in the 201-kilometer leg from Nevers.

Geraint Thomas (Sky) was second and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) was third.

“I knew the days before were feeling really hectic, so it was hard to tell where you were at,” said Slagter. “Today was my best possibility to do something. It suited me, but to win I didn’t expect.”

Overnight leader John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) lost contact with the front of the race late in the stage and ceded the yellow jersey to Thomas. The Welshman now leads the GC by three seconds over Degenkolb, with Slagter third, at four seconds.

Four men comprised the day’s breakaway: Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing), Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), and Jesus Herrada Lopez (Movistar). The group built a maximum advantage north of five minutes, but the peloton kept a tight leash ahead of a tricky final 65km that included four categorized climbs.

The gap hovered near 30 seconds with 30km remaining.

Overall contender Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) suffered a poorly timed mechanical with 25km to go, forcing the Frenchman to take a bike change. The Swiss team sent back five riders to pace Chavanel up to the peloton, and he was in the bunch with 24km to go, but he would miss out when the pace ratcheted up moments later.

Chavanel was far from the only big name to suffer a mishap in the late stages of the day. Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) flatted and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka required three teammates to regain the peloton after a mechanical of his own.

Meanwhile, Sky pushed the pace at the front of the bunch with four riders. The British team lined out the peloton headed into the Cat. 2 Côte du Mont Brouilly, which topped out 14km from the finish.

The three escapees lost hope with 18km to go and Didier was the last of them to survive.

The pace up the 3km, 8.4-percent climb shredded the peloton to roughly 40 riders with 1km to go. The attacks came, with Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) and then Slagter attacking toward the summit. The latter’s solo move drew out Thomas and world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) led the chase in the bunch.

“I trained really well but to be honest, I hadn’t planned on attacking on the final climb,” said Thomas. “I was even asking myself what I was doing there!”

Degenkolb fell off the pace on the climb, putting his jersey at risk.

Thomas made contact with Slagter on the decent and the duo led a collection of fractured chase groups with 12km to go. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) set off in pursuit of Thomas and Slagter with 8km to go. The surge re-shuffled the chase, with roughly eight riders riding into the gap, but Slagter and Thomas continued on with 10 seconds.

The yellow jersey group was 30 seconds behind and closing with 5km to go.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) were among the riders to attack the chase group, but neither could shake his companions. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) countered under the red kite and rode across to the gap, nearly catching Slagter and Thomas.

Slagter opened the sprint, however, keeping the Dutchman at bay and leaving Thomas to second. Kelderman held on for third.

“I know Thomas pretty good and I knew he’s fast and strong as well,” said Slagter. “I knew if I wanted to beat him, I needed to wait and wait until the right moment to sprint, or I might lose.”

Degenkolb finished seconds later, but it was too late to defends his overall lead.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Thomas. “On the Friday before the team I was told I would lead the team. Paris-Nice is one of the biggest races in the world.”

Paris-Nice continues Thursday with the 153km fifth stage, from Crêches-sur-Saône to Rive-de-Gier. The stage features four categorized climbs, including the Cat. 2 Côte de Sainte-Catherine, which summits 12.5km from the finish.

Race notes

Matti Breschel did not start stage 4. The Dane is suffering from injuries resulting from a crash following the final stage of the Tour of Oman, where Breschel collided with a mattress while descending to the team’s hotel.

“Matti has done three stages in high pace and his rhythm on the bike is good, but the pain in his hand has grown worse and I think it would be wiser to abandon the race at this moment,” Tinkoff director Fabrizio Guidi said in a press release. “The race kilometers here would have been good for his form, but he has to be able to handle his bike as well, so he’s going home to get some training done instead and we can only hope for a speedy recovery.”

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Degenkolb wins stage 3, takes lead in Paris-Nice Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:12:37 +0000 German sprinter wins on the motor track, takes yellow on time bonus

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John Degenkolb won stage 3 of Paris-Nice Tuesday on the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in central France. Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) took advantage of a commanding leadout to win the bunch sprint in the 180-kilometer leg from Toucy.

Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) was second and J.J. Rojas (Movistar) was third.

“We tried it two times before and again today and it was perfect,” said Degenkolb. “Everything went really well and today everything came together.”

Overall leader Nacer Bouhanni ( finished seventh and ceded the overall lead to Degenkolb, who moved into first on the strength of the finish-line time bonus. The German leads Bouhanni by eight seconds.

Three escapees went clear moments into the stage: Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) and Romain Feillu (Bretagne-Seche). The French trio never established a large advantage, but nevertheless held off the chasing peloton into the final 12 kilometers.

Quemeneur went on his own with just over 10km remaining, leaving his two companions behind. Fouchard and Feillu gave way with 9km to go, under pressure from Astana, Movistar, and Sky from behind.

The lone leader chased the first victory of his professional career, pushing his advantage out to 45 seconds with 8km to go. With 5km to go, the sprinters’ teams pushed to the front and Quemeneur’s advantage shrank away. With 4km to go, he held 25 seconds. Giant-Shimano took control of the peloton with 3.5km to go and strung the bunch out on the motor racing track.

“We kept our nerve in the last few kilometers, taking control on the race circuit,” said Degenkolb. “We weren’t worried that the race wouldn’t come back together so we waited until the final few kilometers to hit it hard.”

With 1.5km to go, the Dutch squad pulled the bunch past its target, using every inch of the winding tarmac to keep Orica at bay. The Australian squad made a last-ditch effort on the final corner, but Degenkolb took a decisive sprint victory over Goss.

Paris-Nice continues Wednesday with the 201km fourth stage, from Nevers to Belleville. With four categorized climbs in the final 65 kilometers (three Cat. 3, one Cat. 2), the stage is ripe for an escape to make a raid on the leader’s yellow jersey.

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Hofland wins stage 2 at Paris-Nice Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:54:30 +0000 Hofland wins second leg of "The Race To The Sun" in Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche, France

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Moreno Hofland won stage 2 of Paris-Nice Monday in Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche, France. Hofland (Belkin) was fastest in the bunch sprint to close the 205-kilometer leg from Rambouillet.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second. Overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni ( was third.

“I’m a bit surprised because with 1K to go we were a bit too far behind,” said Hofland, who worked his way up to Degenkolb’s wheel for the finale. “With 300 meters [to go], a little bit early, I went to try and surprise him.”

The surprise worked and Hofland shot up the right side of the road for the first WorldTour win of his career.

Bouhanni defended yellow. The stage 1 winner at the 2013 Paris-Nice, Bouhanni crashed heavily in the race’s second leg a year ago and abandoned in the leader’s jersey.

“I was a little apprehensive before today’s stage. I thought a lot about the crash from last year,” he said Monday. “I really did suffer. The first 100km felt bad, but I think it will get better.”

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a bonus second late in the stage, becoming the virtual leader on the road. But a late crash with Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Sky), Lars Boom (Belkin), and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) cost the Belgian his shot at the sprint and the overall lead.

Boom suffered a fractured elbow in the crash.

“Lars Boom has a minor fracture in his right elbow,” Belkin said in a statement. “He will receive an in-dept medical check up in the Netherlands tomorrow.”

Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) broke away 2.5km into the stage and held off the bunch for nearly the entire day. The duo took a maximum advantage of 11:30 after 31.5km. Delaplace gave up the ghost 12km from the finish. Saramotins continued on alone, but the peloton overcame him inside the final 3km.

“I want to give my everything to the Paris-Nice,” said Saramotins. “We came here to win the overall with Sylvain Chavanel. And when I set off in the break for the day, I thought it would be a good way to relieve the team of any chasing duties throughout the stage.”

Paris-Nice continues Tuesday with the 180km third stage from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.

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Gallery: 2014 Tour de Langkawi, stage 5 Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:41:22 +0000 American Brad White attacks the breakaway to win a stage in Malaysia

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Route, remaining teams announced for Amgen Tour of California Thu, 20 Feb 2014 19:30:57 +0000 Teams, route detailed for the ninth edition of the California race

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Organizers unveiled the route for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California Thursday in Calabasas, California. A flat time trial, a summit finish on Mount Diablo, and a new mountain finish at Mountain High mark the ninth edition of the race.

Officials from AEG Sports, owner of the race, also confirmed a slate of teams for the race. UnitedHealthcare, Novo Nordisk, NetApp-Endura, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, and Bissell Development will join the squads already announced for the May 11-18 event. [See full list of teams below.]

“With more UCI ProTeams in the line-up than ever before [due to new regulations] and the strongest field of Pro Continental and Continental teams we have ever invited, the field this year is shaping up to be our most competitive ever,” AEG Sports senior vice president Kristin Bachochin said in a press release. “Our commitment to the fans and the competitors remains focused on fielding an exciting race for the top teams in the sport, as well as creating a climate for dynamic domestic teams to compete on an international platform and challenge the brightest talent in the world.”

Watch the live announcement >>

Stage 1 of the race will take place on a circuit that will start and finish at the State Capitol in Sacramento. The 123-mile opening leg will include a KOM climb near the American River on Highway 49 before a flat approach to three finishing circuits in Sacramento.

The stage 2 individual time trial in Folsom will unfold on a mostly flat 12.5-mile course. The race’s first two days will coincide with an invitational women’s event sponsored by SRAM.

The race’s queen stage comes on day 3 with the Mount Diablo finish. The 110-mile third stage starts on the east side of San Jose and climbs Mount Hamilton after just five miles. The 22-switchback climb will lead to the finish climb, won by Leopold Konig (NetApp) in 2013.

“The team loves to race in California. We all look forward to the Amgen Tour of California because it has beautiful scenery, it’s warm and also incredibly competitive,” Konig said in a press release. “We performed really well last year, and I’m definitely hoping to repeat the stage win at the top of Mount Diablo. That was an incredible moment last year.”

With two of the race’s most decisive stages out of the way, the Amgen Tour will head south along the coast, with the 105-mile stage 4 from Monetery to Cambrian, and the 108-mile stage 5 from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara.

Stage 6 will head back into the mountains, with a 97-mile leg from Santa Clarita to the ski area at Mountain High. The finish comes atom a steep, 1.2-mile climb at Mountain High North.

The race closes with the 91-mile seventh stage from Santa Clarita to a circuit finish in Pasadena and the 84-mile eighth stage in Thousand Oaks. The final leg takes in the Rock Store climb on Mulholland Drive four times on a 21-mile circuit. The Rock Store climb was the site of Michael Rogers’ final-day defense of his overall lead in 2010.

UCI ProTeams:
BMC Racing
Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Trek Factory Racing

UCI Professional Continental teams:
Novo Nordisk

UCI Continental teams:
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
Jamis-Hagens Berman
Jelly Belly-Maxxis
Bissell Development

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Amgen Tour expands women’s events to two days for 2014 Mon, 17 Feb 2014 17:24:11 +0000 Circuit race, time trial will run in conjunction with the men's stage race

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The Amgen Tour of California will expand its women’s racing by one day in 2014, organizer AEG Sports announced Monday. As reported by Saturday, the Amgen Tour will feature two elite women’s events in May, with a circuit race and time trial.

The May 11 circuit race in Sacramento will coincide with stage 1 of the men’s stage race. The event will take place on a 1.25-mile, four-corner course near the Capitol Building. A day later, the women will compete in an invitational individual time trial in Folsom.

“As a founding sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial, we’re proud to again join with AEG in showcasing some of cycle sport’s fastest and most celebrated athletes on the roads of California,” SRAM’s Alex Wassmann said in a press release.

The top three finishers in the circuit race not already on the TT startlist will gain invitations for the May 12 race against the clock. Each race will offer a $10,000 prize purse.

This is the first time the Amgen Tour will offer more than a single day of women’s racing in tandem with its 10-year-old men’s race.

“Through the years, AEG has been proud to provide a worldwide platform to the top women cyclists in the world. We’ve staged a women’s criterium from 2008 to 2010, and a time trial since 2011,” AEG Sports senior vice president Kristin Bachochin said. “This year, we’re thrilled to announce not one but two days of professional women’s racing with the inclusion of a circuit race and a time trial — more opportunity for the stars of the sport to shine, and more reason for cycling fans to come out or tune in to follow the best racing event on U.S. soil.”

The Amgen Tour of California takes place May 11-18. The race starts in Sacramento and finishes in Thousand Oaks.

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