News – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 18 Dec 2017 21:14:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News – 32 32 Grand tours in holding pattern but Froome vows to keep racing Mon, 18 Dec 2017 21:14:17 +0000 Grand tour organizers are taking a "wait-and-see" approach to the Chris Froome imbroglio over his Vuelta anti-doping test results.

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Race organizers are holding their breaths as they wait to see how Chris Froome’s asthma imbroglio plays out.

Froome the most successful grand tour rider of his generation. He is on the peloton’s best-funded team. There’s a lot on the line for the grand tours. Will Froome race the Giro d’Italia? Will he lose his 2017 Vuelta a España win? And will he be able to try to equal the five-win record at the Tour de France?

Publicly, organizers of the major grand tours are taking an official “wait and see” position, but one insider said officials are livid that they were kept in the dark about Froome’s run-in with anti-doping authorities over elevated levels of Salbutamol.

Froome and Team Sky were advised of his adverse analytical finding on September 20, yet news did not break until last week when The Guardian and Le Monde were tipped off by sources. During that interval, Froome made a very public announcement that he would attempt to win the Giro d’Italia in May before taking on a record fifth Tour de France.

Those plans are now on hold as the lawyers and lab technicians work feverishly behind the scenes to try to absolve Froome of a possible ban and disqualification of his 2017 Vuelta crown, or both.

Giro boss Mauro Vegni is less than pleased with the situation. The Italian has been trying for years to attract Froome to the Giro, and when he finally does, this happens.

“Maybe we are unlucky,” Vegni told Tutto Bici. “As soon as we announce it with great fanfare that Froome will race the Giro next year, then — boom! — the roof falls in.”

So far, Tour organizers are mum. ASO officials did not reply to an email from VeloNews. Last week, Vuelta officials chimed in, saying their position is “extreme caution” and they hope the case is “resolved as quickly as possible.”

There’s worry across the cycling community that the “Froome Affaire” will drag on for months. In an interview with VeloNews, one legal expert said the case is still in the exploratory phase. It could end there if Froome can convince officials via lab tests, or it could enter a disciplinary phase, which would certainly take months.

As of now, Froome is free to race. He’s been training with his Team Sky teammates on Spain’s Mallorca, with the full intention of racing next season.

So far, Team Sky has given away few details of how it will try to handle Froome case. Under UCI rules, Froome will have a chance to defend his spiked levels of Salbutamol, double the allowed limit in a urine control taken after stage 18 at the Vuelta.

Based on the fact that the adverse analytical finding was only released following a leak last week, it is apparent that Team Sky was hoping to resolve the situation without it ever becoming public knowledge.

According to experts interviewed by VeloNews, Froome will undergo controls in a laboratory to try to demonstrate that he did not take more than the allowed doses of Salbutamol. How far along Team Sky is in trying to absolve Froome remains under wraps. Team Sky did hire a high-profile lawyer to help handle the case.

Froome, however, continues to insist he will undergo his planned double attempt at the Giro and Tour.

Speaking Sunday evening to BBC for the “Sportsman of the Year” award (which he did not win) Froome said defiantly he is still preparing to race in 2018.

“We’re currently on a training camp, before getting stuck into preparing for next year’s Giro d’Italia — my first goal — before my biggest challenge, winning the Tour de France for the fifth time,” Froome said in a live feed.

If there is a cloud of a possible suspension and ban hanging over Froome, the last thing the grand tours will want is to see the Sky captain in their races.

The Giro start is still more than four months away, and the Tour more than seven, but none of the major race organizers will be keen to see a repeat of the fiasco of what happened with Alberto Contador in 2010 and 2011. Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol in 2010 and was banned by the Spanish cycling federation, but the Spaniard appealed his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. During his appeals process, Contador kept racing. He won the 2011 Giro and finished fifth in the Tour, and his case wasn’t decided until February 2012. Officials later disqualified his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro victories as well as other subsequent results.

“I believe that the Contador case was a unique affair, one that cannot be repeated,” Vegni told Tutto Bici. “Cycling cannot afford another situation like that. If a racer can compete, he should be able to do it with full confidence, to win or lose with certainty. I also believe the UCI must assume its responsibility.”

There’s been a lot of confusion swirling around the Froome case. Any doping case can be laden with legalese and fine-print minutiae, and Froome’s latest imbroglio is no exception. Many did not understand why Froome was not provisionally banned after giving an “adverse analytical finding” in both A and B samples.

On Monday, the UCI released an expanded explanation trying to parse the confusing language deep inside the WADA code.

On the heels of that news, the MPCC (Mouvement pour Cyclisme Crédible) issued a statement Monday pressing Team Sky to do just that. Sky did not respond and is not part of the advocacy trade teams group that features seven WorldTour teams.

Froome, meanwhile, said he understands the gravity of his situation, at least in terms of perception.

“Listen, I do completely get it — I understand the concerns,” Froome told BBC on Sunday. “I’ve been in this sport for 10 years, and I know how some people might look at our sport, and it’s a responsibility I do take seriously. I’ve had asthma since I was child … and I’ve never taken more puffs [of my inhaler] than I’m allowed. It’s a horrible situation if I’m honest, and we are trying to get to the bottom of this.”

Race officials are hoping that the Froome case will be resolved before the racing season begins, but that might be wishful thinking. So far, Team Sky shows no signs of sidelining its star. At least not right now.

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Dubai Tour organizers dream of Giro visit to UAE Mon, 18 Dec 2017 20:13:57 +0000 After five successful years hosting the Dubai Tour, United Arab Emirates hopes to attract the Giro d'Italia for its big start.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — The Emirates want to keep a good thing going, say Dubai Tour organizers who unveiled the fifth edition of their race Monday evening in the Arab state. For now, they are focused on the 2018 race, February 6-10. Longer term, the United Arab Emirates hope to attract the Giro d’Italia for its big start.

“This is more than a race for us, there are two sides: competition and tourism,” said Saeed Hareb, head of the Dubai Sports Council.

“We keep finding new places to visit. We went to the Hatta Dam, showed it with beautiful helicopter shots, and now everyone knows about it.”

The United Arab Emirates spread out along the Persian Gulf. Most of the last five tours explored lands close to the water, with only few days venturing inland. Already, insiders with organization provider RCS Sport say that they have found new climbs that one day, once the facilities develop, could feature in the Arabian tour.

Sprinters like Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin in 2018) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) enjoy the route with its mostly flat stages that allow them to hit top speeds before the European season begins with such races as Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Dubai Tour gains more leverage among the sprinters this 2018 season as the Tour of Qatar will not feature in the Middle East line-up of races. That race ended after 15 years, but the Dubai Tour and neighboring tours in Oman and Abu Dhabi will continue.

Hareb remains confident even if Qatar pulled the plug and Oman appears at times on unstable ground. ASO confirmed to VeloNews on Monday that the Tour of Oman, a stage race more for climbers with the Green Mountain summit finish, will continue in 2018.

“Everyone has issues but we want to keep going,” Hareb added. “We are doing what the successful races like the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France have done, beaming live footage into the households. We want the UAE and images of its locations known.

“We are supporting Expo 2020 with the route, but also making the locals happy. We take it to the big worker camps so that they can come out and enjoy what we are enjoying. We want to share this happiness.”

One idea, after Jerusalem’s successful bid for the 2018 Giro d’Italia start, is for the UAE to host the start of a grand tour. Hareb confirmed that they have spoken with Giro organizer RCS Sport about that possibility. Also, still at the UCI’s hors category level, he wants the race to be in the WorldTour in 2019 or soon thereafter.

Before the evening race presentation, the sun warmed the city with its Burj Khalifa Tower (163 floors) to 66°F (19°C). Locals met at the Cycle Hub and drove to the Al Qudra bike paths for one of the daily group rides. Through the tour, the cycling community has grown and now enjoys nearly 130 miles of continuous bike paths closed to traffic. The roads hardly climb over five percent, but the heat, wind, and sand create their own challenges.

“The race has helped the industry, now we have that bike path and it continues to expand. Shops are opening, like the Cycle Hub. We eventually want all the neighborhoods connected with paths, too,” Hareb continued.

“We want both, to support the health of our community and to have a healthy competition. We want that it supports young developing racers.

“Five years seem like a lot, but that Tour has been going on for 100 years. We have a long way to go, but we also have plenty to build on.”

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Sagan’s off-season fun: Baking cookies, doing the splits Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:29:42 +0000 Sometimes it seems that triple world champion Peter Sagan is just as prolific on social media as he is on the bike.

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Sometimes it seems that triple world champion Peter Sagan is just as prolific on social media as he is on the bike. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider hasn’t raced since his third consecutive worlds win in Norway, September 24. So, he’s had plenty of time to entertain cycling fans with a variety of videos on Twitter and other social media.

To get into the holiday spirit, Sagan baked some gingerbread cookies for equipment sponsor Specialized:

The Slovak probably didn’t eat many of those treats, based on how astonishingly limber he is:

Maybe Sagan is a few steps behind Jean-Claude van Damme, but he does more than the splits. Earlier in December, the champ posted a video advocating for bicycle commuting:

And on a serious note, Sagan expressed his support for Californians who are affected by the recent spate of wildfires:

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Lobato and LottoNL part ways over sleep medication Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:11:36 +0000 After one year with the team, Juan Jose Lobato and LottoNL-Jumbo have split up due to a team rules violation.

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After one year with the team, Juan José Lobato has split up with LottoNL-Jumbo due to a team rules violation that was confirmed December 13. He was found to have contraband sleep medication at a team camp in Girona, Spain.

While the medication was described as “non-doping-related” in a team statement, it was against team rules. Lobato, as well as two other riders, Antwan Tolhoek and Pascal Eenkhoorn, were immediately suspended. They were kicked out of the team camp that Wednesday.

On Monday, the team confirmed that Lobato, 28, was off the team. Tolhoek, 23, and Eenkhoorn, 20, were suspended for two months.

The team statement read:

“The team takes responsibility for the health of the riders, and experiments that endanger their health are not accepted. In the context of the talent development policy that Team LottoNL-Jumbo advocates, the team has reached out to Tolhoek and Eenkhoorn to provide them a continuing opportunity to develop into an exemplary professional cyclist.

“In the case of Juan José Lobato, it was decided to end the sporting cooperation in the interest of both the rider and the team. Lobato has had an emotionally eventful year and will have to concentrate on his recovery.”

Prior to his year with LottoNL, Lobato raced for three years with Movistar.

The Spaniard has won a few stages in one-week stage races. In 2015, he won stage 2 at Tour Down Under and stages 2 and 5 at Ruta del Sol. In 2017, he was second in stage 4 of the Vuelta a España.

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VeloNews awards 2017: Sagan turns lemons into lemonade Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:25:10 +0000 After a series of crushing defeats, Peter Sagan sprinted away from the pack at the Bergen worlds to win his third straight rainbow jersey.

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Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

‘Lemons into lemonade award:’ Peter Sagan

The final kilometers of the 2017 UCI Road World Championships saw a number of pre-race favorites embark on fruitless attacks and energy-sapping breakaways. Peter Sagan was not one of them. The two-time defending champion stayed hidden in the peloton, emerging just once to unleash a blistering sprint. The move catapulted him to his third consecutive rainbow jersey with a classic display of efficiency and patience.

Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) lacked those virtues throughout much of his 2017 campaign, which was marred by a series of crushing defeats. In each loss, Sagan’s wasteful attacks and dubious tactics were to blame.

During Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Sagan forged the day’s three-man breakaway. Rather than gauge his effort, Sagan took huge pulls on the front and even slipped off the back (he caught back on). A fresher Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) easily beat him in the sprint.

During Milano-Sanremo, Sagan’s attack again formed the decisive move. Sagan pulled the trio into the final meters and then jumped too early in the sprint. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) came around Sagan in the finale to win.

At Gent-Wevelgem, Sagan made the final selection of four, only to be thwarted by Niki Terpstra’s (Quick-Step Floors) decision not to pull through. Sagan waved his arms in frustration as Van Avermaet and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) rode away.

Perhaps the worst loss came at the Tour of Flanders. Forced to chase eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), Sagan rode dangerously close to the barriers on the Oude Kwaremont climb. His handlebars hooked a dangling sweatshirt and he crashed.

Did these calamities inform Sagan’s riding at worlds? The famously cryptic world champion gave little insight after his win in Bergen.

“It is not easy guys. The last five kilometers I said it is already gone…” Sagan said. “It came to a sprint. It’s unbelievable.”

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MPCC pressures Sky to suspend Froome Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:05:06 +0000 The Sky rider had higher-than-allowed amounts of Salbutamol in his system during the Vuelta a Espana.

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MPCC — the voluntary advocacy group promoting cycling ethics — is pressuring Team Sky to suspend Chris Froome until his asthma case plays out.

Team Sky is not among seven WorldTour teams that are part of the group, but that didn’t stop the MPCC board from pressing its case that the best thing for cycling is for Froome to temporarily step aside.

“[The] MPCC and its Board of Directors, without making any assumption towards the final decision, asks Team Sky to suspend its rider on a voluntary basis, until the end of the procedure,” an MPCC press release stated Monday. “This measure would allow the rider and its team to focus on their defense with serenity, but also to avoid tension among many managers and riders.”

The fact that Froome is still able to race — though it is worth pointing out there are no major races until next month — has rankled some within the cycling community.

WADA rules, however, state clearly that Froome is not facing a provisional ban for turning in a urine sample in September with double the allowed limit of Salbutamol. The drug is a threshold product — called a “specified substance” in WADA jargon — and does not trigger a provisional ban in the case of an “adverse analytical finding.”

Froome is currently in Mallorca for a Team Sky pre-season training camp, and shows no signs of stepping aside as his case plays out. Froome denies culpability, and said he did not take more than allowed doses of Salbutamol, a product that is allowed under WADA rules in spray form but under strict quantity limits.

The MPCC — Movement Pour Cyclisme Credible — was created in 2007. Twenty Pro Continental team, nine Continental teams, and six women’s teams are members.

As of now, only seven WorldTour teams participate: Ag2r-La Mondiale, Bora-Hansgrohe, Dimension Data, FDJ, Lotto-Soudal, Team Sunweb, and Education First-Drapac (Cannondale-Drapac).

MPCC members vow to follow a stricter ethical code than outlined by WADA and UCI rules, in part to engender confidence via transparency. One of those tenets is to voluntarily sideline riders if they run afoul with an anti-doping investigation.

Froome tested positive for elevated levels of Salbutamol in a routine anti-doping control on September 7. Froome and Team Sky were notified September 20. The story only broke via leaks last week.

The MPCC also requested a formal investigation into comments made by former Sky coach Shane Sutton in a BBC documentary suggesting that Team Sky’s use of TUEs (therapeutic-use exceptions) might have been for a competitive advantage.

“MPCC also requests that UCI opens an inquiry following Shane Sutton’s statements. The former Team Sky and UK’s national team’s coach admitted that some of the medicine requiring a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) might have been used to enhance performance,” the release said.

“Given the zero tolerance that everyone advocates and the necessity for transparency, MPCC renews its wish to see Team Sky and all the other teams, sponsors, organizers … to join MPCC on a voluntary basis. MPCC’s philosophy, alongside the UCI, can make a real difference in the fight against doping.”

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VeloNews awards 2017: Dan Martin’s gritty Tour Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:02:42 +0000 After Dan Martin placed sixth in the Tour de France, doctors discovered that a stage 9 crash left him with two fractured vertebrae.

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Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

Gritty ride of the year: Dan Martin

Narrow tarmac, hardly two riders wide, wound its way down the backside of the Mont du Chat haphazardly, as if its engineers were interested merely in the path of least resistance. (Or as if it was hardly engineered at all.) Corners tightened abruptly; edges fell away precipitously. It would be demanding at the best of times. In the late hours of stage 9 of the Tour de France, it was raining.

The crash felt as inevitable as it was horrific. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) caught the inside of a corner and flipped up and over and into a stone wall, catching Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) in the process. The Irishman flipped over his bars and into the wet pavement. Porte left the race on a backboard; Martin, though, stood and soldiered on.

He couldn’t stand up straight the next morning, he said. He could barely stand on the bike. He was forced to attack because he knew he couldn’t respond to the attacks of others. He spent hours with therapists each day. He was more comfortable on the bike than off, but only in a relative sense. Real comfort, for the 11 remaining stages, was not part of Martin’s world.

In the week after the Tour, doctors discovered two fractured vertebrae they’d missed in initial scans. Martin had finished sixth in cycling’s most important race with a broken back.

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Van Aert a level above the rest in Namur Sun, 17 Dec 2017 17:10:23 +0000 Wout van Aert captured the victory in Namur, Belgium on Sunday at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup with a dominating performance.

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Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) captured the victory at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Namur, Belgium on Sunday with a dominating performance in the cold and mud. Former European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea) rode to second as Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon), who was suffering from a cold, finished third.

Van Aert rode away from the field on the opening lap and stayed consistent throughout the race to win by over a minute.

Top 10

  • 1. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:07:47
  • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:51
  • 3. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:08:53
  • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:45
  • 5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:55
  • 6. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:10:11
  • 7. Marcel Meisen, (GER), 1:10:24
  • 8. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:10:46
  • 9. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:10:59
  • 10. Quinten Hermans, (BEL), 1:11:08

Namur has been on the cyclocross World Cup calendar for many years and one word is synonymous with the parcours — mud. Its steep run-ups and scary descents challenge the riders technically, but always muddy conditions add another element. In Namur, riders are pushed to their limits physically, having to dig incredibly deep to be victorious. There’s a reason that the winner’s list is a who’s who of the sport.

Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napolean Games) took the holeshot, as a huge crash at the start caused chaos. Former Belgian national champion Klass Vantornhout (Marlux-Napolean Games) was involved in the pile-up. He would get up and walk off the course on his own power but was holding his right arm tightly against his body.

U.S. national cyclocross champion Stephen Hyde ( had a stellar start and was riding in the top 10. He would fight for a top-10 place throughout the day but eventually finished 11th. The result is impressive considering the Namur course’s difficulty.

Van Aert moved into the lead midway through the first lap and simply rode away from everyone. His archrival van der Poel looked to be a step off his game early in the race. He didn’t go to the front from the start and seemed content to ride among the wheels. He didn’t immediately go with van Aert’s move and instead rode with the chase group behind the world champion. Van der Poel was joined by Aerts, Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus), Vanthourenhout, and Daan Soete (Telenet Fidea).

At the end of the first of nine laps, van Aert’s lead was already stretching to 20 seconds over the chase group.

On the second lap, van der Poel finally attacked the chase group and set off in pursuit of van Aert. Aerts was able to follow the Dutchman and the two would battle for the rest of the race for the second position as the riders in the chase group behind would only lose time to the podium contenders.

As van Aert powered on alone to victory and Aerts and van der Poel battled for second, the positions for the rest of the top 10 were constantly changing. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napolean Games) started the race slow, but the Belgian stayed consistent as the rest of the riders tired and he had moved into the top-five by the midpoint in the race. Pauwels won the Namur World Cup in 2014 and finished third in both 2015 and 2016.

While van Aert stood atop the pedals and celebrated his victory, van der Poel’s race finished with a tumble. The World Cup series leader crashed on one of the final descents and lost contact with Aerts. He would chase back onto the Belgian’s wheel right as they hit the pavement, but had nothing left in the sprint and conceded second place.

After finishing second to van der Poel the last two years in Namur, van Aert was finally able to take the victory on Sunday. The podium in 2015 and 2016 had been the same with van der Poel taking the win and van Aert and Pauwels finishing second and third respectively. Pauwels finished fourth on Sunday with Vanthourenhout in fifth.

The UCI Cyclocross World Cup continues on December 16th in Zolder, Belgium.

Full results

  • 1. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:07:47
  • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:51
  • 3. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:08:53
  • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:45
  • 5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:55
  • 6. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:10:11
  • 7. Marcel Meisen, (GER), 1:10:24
  • 8. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:10:46
  • 9. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:10:59
  • 10. Quinten Hermans, (BEL), 1:11:08
  • 11. Stephen Hyde, (USA), 1:11:22
  • 12. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 1:11:32
  • 13. Jens Adams, (BEL), 1:11:48
  • 14. Lars Forster, (SUI), 1:11:58
  • 15. Steve Chainel, (FRA), 1:12:11
  • 16. Diether Sweeck, (BEL), 1:12:19
  • 17. Dieter Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:12:21
  • 18. Marcel Wildhaber, (SUI), 1:12:27
  • 19. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 1:12:52
  • 20. David Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:13:02
  • 21. Fabien Canal, (FRA), 1:13:05
  • 22. Nicolas Cleppe, (BEL), 1:13:21
  • 23. Tom Meeusen, (BEL), 1:13:39
  • 24. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL), 1:13:42
  • 25. Francis Mourey, (FRA), 1:13:42
  • 26. Matthieu Boulo, (FRA)
  • 27. Nicola Rohrbach, (SUI)
  • 28. Michael BoroŠ, (CZE)
  • 29. Jim Aernouts, (BEL)
  • 30. Simon Zahner, (SUI)
  • 31. Marco Aurelio Fontana, (ITA)
  • 32. Vincent Baestaens, (BEL)
  • 33. Severin SÄgesser, (SUI)
  • 34. Gioele Bertolini, (ITA)
  • 35. Sascha Weber, (GER)
  • 36. Gosse Van Der Meer, (NED)
  • 37. Twan Van Den Brand, (NED)
  • 38. Lorenzo Samparisi, (ITA)
  • 39. Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga IbaÑez, (ESP)
  • 40. Nicolas Samparisi, (ITA)
  • 41. Tony Periou, (FRA)
  • 42. Alois Falenta, (FRA)
  • 43. Nicolas Pruvot, (FRA)
  • 44. Stan Godrie, (NED)
  • 45. Grant Ferguson, (GBR)
  • 46. Patrick Van Leeuwen, (NED)
  • 47. Marvin Schmidt, (GER)
  • 48. Wolfram Kurschat, (GER)
  • 49. Martin Eriksson, (SWE)
  • 50. Henrik Jansson, (SWE)
  • 51. Jeremy Durrin, (USA)
  • 52. Andrew Juiliano, (USA)
  • 53. Till Drobisch, (NAM)
  • 54. Garry Millburn, (AUS)
  • 55. Marcel Lehrian, (GER)
  • 56. Yannick Mayer, (GER)
  • 57. Tim Rieckmann, (GER)

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Namur: Evie Richards captures first elite World Cup Sun, 17 Dec 2017 15:49:17 +0000 Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) powered through the cold and mud to solo to victory in Namur, Belgium on Sunday at the UCI Cyclocross

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Former women’s under-23 world champion Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) proved to be the strongest in the cold and mud in Namur, Belgium on Sunday and stood atop the podium for the first time in a UCI Cyclocross World Cup at the elite level. British champion Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) finished second with Italian champion Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) in third.

American Katie Compton (Trek-Panache) crossed the line in fourth.

Top 10

  • 1. Evie Richards (GBR), in 38:49
  • 2. Nikki Brammeier (GBR), at 00:15
  • 3. Eva Lechner (ITA), at 00:24
  • 4. Katherine Compton (USA), at 00:34
  • 5. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA), at 01:06
  • 6. Kaitlin Keough (USA), at 01:08
  • 7. Katerina Nash (CZE), at 01:14
  • 8. Jolanda Neff (SWI), at 01:20
  • 9. Lucinda Brand (NED), at 01:29
  • 10. Alice Maria Arzuffi (ITA), at 01:34

The World Cup course in Namur is one of the most sacred grounds in cyclocross. The list of winners here tells a tale of the champions of the sport. Its steep run-ups and scary descents challenge the riders technically, but also the course is famous for its mud. The mud is thick and terrible in Namur.

Due to the world rankings in cyclocross being based on a rolling calendar format, Compton started on the second row after dropping to 11th in the rankings. The start in Namur is important with a steep narrow climb causing mayhem. The first riders are able to ride the climb, but then a bottleneck occurs which forces most riders off their bikes. Lechner shot off the line and gapped all but one rider on the tough climb. That one rider was Katie Keough (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld). Keough started the day ranked second overall in the World Cup standings behind world champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon).

Cant had a bad start in Namur and was riding outside of the top 10 on the opening lap. She would struggle in the race and never contend near the front. She fought throughout the day to try to break the top 10.

Lechner led the riders onto the famous off-camber. The steep, downhill off-camber has caught many riders off-guard over the years. A fall here can see one go sliding down the hill into the fencing. This happened to Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) on the opening lap.

At the end of the opening lap, Brammeier joined Lechner in the lead, and Compton bridged to the duo shortly after they crossed the line. A large chase group with many big names was 18 seconds behind the trio. Present in the group were Cant, Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil), current women’s under-23 world champion Annemarie Worst (ERA-Circus), Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea), Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles), Keough and many others. Emma White was also in the group, meaning there were three Americans in the top 10.

Mountain bike world champion Jolanda Neff was also in the chase group and could be seen bunny hopping the barriers throughout the race.

Former cyclocross world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM) moved into the top-10 on the second lap, making up considerable ground after having to deal with a back row start due to her lack of UCI points.

Compton moved into the lead on the second lap, throwing down a hard acceleration. However, Lechner tracked her down and then passed the 13-time U.S. national cyclocross champion. Richards, who had been in the chase group, dropped her companions and set off in pursuit of Brammeier who was in third at the time. Richards crossed the line to complete the second lap and with two laps to go was 16 seconds behind the leader.

Lechner, Compton, and Brammeier all came together on the penultimate lap, but soon the trio would go from fighting for the win to fighting for second. In a matter of a few hundred meters, Richards passed all three riders to move into the lead. She demonstrated exceptional bike handling skills to plummet down the steep descents and then ran strongly on the run-ups. It would be a lead she would not relinquish.

Meanwhile, behind Richards, Brammeier took advantage of Compton pitting to move into second while Lechner had dropped back to fourth. At the end of the third lap, Richards held a 10-second lead over Brammeier with Compton a further 10-seconds behind her. However, Lechner was hot on Compton wheels.

The final lap in Namur saw Richards put on a clinic of how to corner, climb and descend through tricky muddy conditions. She was technically sound, but there was no denying her power. Furthermore, Richards showed she is a complete cyclocross rider, running strongly as well.

Lechner was able to get by Compton to force the American off the podium on the final lap, as Brammeier rode to second to make a Great Britain one-two finish.

Ferrand-Prevot continuously fought and passed riders throughout the entire race to finish fifth. She has not yet said whether or not she will compete at the world championships in Valkenburg at the end of January.

Keough finished sixth on the day. She was able to close the gap to Cant in the overall standings of the World Cup series, as the world champion finished outside the top 10.

The UCI Cyclocross World Cup series continues on December 26 in Zolder, Belgium.

Full results

  • 1. Evie Richards, (GBR), 38:49
  • 2. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 39:04
  • 3. Eva Lechner, (ITA), 39:13
  • 4. Katherine Compton, (USA), 39:23
  • 5. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA), 39:55
  • 6. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 39:57
  • 7. Katerina Nash, (CZE), 40:03
  • 8. Jolanda Neff, (SUI), 40:09
  • 9. Lucinda Brand, (NED), 40:18
  • 10. Alice Maria Arzuffi, (ITA), 40:23
  • 11. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 40:48
  • 12. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 40:53
  • 13. Sophie De Boer, (NED), 40:58
  • 14. Christine Majerus, (LUX), 41:01
  • 15. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 41:07
  • 16. Annemarie Worst, (NED), 41:15
  • 17. Caroline Mani, (FRA), 41:22
  • 18. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 41:27
  • 19. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 41:30
  • 20. Nadja Heigl, (AUT), 41:35
  • 21. Emma White, (USA), 41:45
  • 22. Loes Sels, (BEL), 41:56
  • 23. Inge Van Der Heijden, (NED), 42:08
  • 24. Marlene Petit, (FRA), 42:20
  • 25. Elle Anderson, (USA), 42:23
  • 26. Christel Ferrier Bruneau, (CAN), 42:32
  • 27. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 42:37
  • 28. Fleur Nagengast, (NED), 42:41
  • 29. Ellen Noble, (USA), 42:49
  • 30. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 42:50
  • 31. Ffion James, (GBR), 43:03
  • 32. Maghalie Rochette, (CAN), 43:09
  • 33. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 43:25
  • 34. Rebecca Fahringer, (USA), 43:47
  • 35. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 43:58
  • 36. Marion Norbert Riberolle, (FRA), 44:00
  • 37. Anais Grimault, (FRA), 44:06
  • 38. Nikola NoskovÁ, (CZE), 44:14
  • 39. Bethany Crumpton, (GBR), 44:54
  • 40. Francesca Baroni, (ITA), 45:00
  • 41. Pauline Delhaye, (FRA), 45:02
  • 42. Jade Wiel, (FRA), 45:16
  • 43. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 45:27
  • 44. Adéla ŠafÁŘovÁ, (CZE), 45:36
  • 45. Lisa Heckmann, (GER), 45:38
  • 46. Anna Kay, (GBR), 45:38
  • 47. Natalie Redmond, (AUS), 45:46
  • 48. Zina Barhoumi, (SUI), 45:46
  • 49. Fanny Stumpf, (FRA), 46:08
  • 50. Emily Wadsworth, (GBR), 46:14
  • 51. Sophie Thackray, (GBR), 46:48
  • 52. Suzanne Verhoeven, (BEL), 47:08
  • 53. Noemi RÜegg, (SUI), 47:21
  • 54. Jennifer Malik, (USA), 47:29
  • 55. Elizabeth UngermanovÁ, (CZE), 47:41
  • 56. Giovanna Michieletto, (ITA)
  • 57. Amaia Lartitegi Ormazabal, (ESP)
  • 58. Christine Vardaros, (USA)

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Bardet: ‘Pretty much everyone gets hit by something like this’ Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:40:58 +0000 Romain Bardet, third at the Tour in 2017, said Sunday that Chris Froome's adverse drugs test had damaged the credibility of cycling.

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PARIS (AFP) — Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), third at the Tour de France in 2017, said Sunday that Chris Froome’s (Sky) adverse drugs test at the Vuelta a Espana had damaged the credibility of the sport.

Bardet, who finished second to Froome at the Tour in 2016, spoke while attending a World Cup biathlon event in his home region. “This is not good news for cycling,” said Bardet, who will again be amongst the favorites for the 2018 Tour.

“Pretty much everyone gets hit by something like this, cycling’s credibility first and foremost. We really could have done without it. It’s not something anyone can rejoice about. Let’s hope that a swift and objective probe can clarify the facts and leave no doubts about what happened.

Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner had twice the permissible amount of asthma medication Salbutamol in his system on September 7, following the 18th stage of La Vuelta, a race he won for the first time.

Cycling’s governing body, UCI, has asked the Team Sky rider to provide more information, but in line with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines has not suspended him.

If Froome fails to provide a satisfactory answer, the UCI could proceed with an anti-doping rule violation case and if that occurs, Froome could be stripped of his La Vuelta victory and miss a large chunk of next season.

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Former British road race champion Sharon Laws dies aged 43 Sat, 16 Dec 2017 20:31:17 +0000 Sharon Laws, a former British individual time trial and road champion, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer.

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Sharon Laws, a former British individual time trial and road champion, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer.

Laws’ professional career began in mountain biking and she captured the overall title of the brutal eight-stage Cape Epic mountain-bike race in 2004 with Hanlie Booyens. The duo would win the overall again in 2009.

The Briton began racing on the road professionally full-time in 2008 with Team Halfords-Bikehut and would go on to represent Great Britain on multiple occasions on the international stage. She competed in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and finished 35th out of 62 finishers. Her countrywoman Nicole Cooke captured the Gold medal in Beijing.

Laws won the British individual time trial in 2008 and the British road race title in 2012. She earned a bronze medal at the 2012 UCI World Road Championships in the team time trial with AA She captured the medal alongside Kirsten Wild, Emma Pooley, Jessie Daams, Lucinda Brand, and Chantal Blaak. Her best individual result at the world championships was 16th in the road race in 2010. She helped her countrywoman Nicole Cooke to fourth place that day.

Laws retired from professional cycling after the Tour of Norway in August of 2016. She announced in October of that year she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her passing was made public by Voxwomen, who posted a message on Twitter. She was 43.

VeloNews would like to extend its deep condolences to Laws’ family and friends.

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Martin retracts ‘special status’ attack on Froome Sat, 16 Dec 2017 19:10:40 +0000 Tony Martin backtracked on his strong words against Team Sky and Chris Froome on Thursday.

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BERLIN (AFP) — Four-time world time trial champion Tony Martin on Saturday retracted his attack on under-fire star Chris Froome, who the German had accused of “special status” over an adverse drugs test.

On Thursday, the 32-year-old Martin wrote he was “totally angry” on Facebook and Froome and his British team “enjoy a special status”, which the German has now retracted.

“I now understand that the UCI is managing this case in accordance with the rules and that Chris Froome did not get any special treatment,” wrote Martin. “According to the rules, in a case involving a specified substance, every athlete shall have the chance to explain whether the numbers can be due to natural causes.”

Britain’s Froome has admitted his adverse drugs test at the Vuelta a Espana in September is “damaging” as the four-time Tour de France winner battles to clear his name.

The British rider had twice the permissible amount of asthma medication Salbutamol in his system on September 7th, following the 18th stage of La Vuelta, which he won for the first time.

Despite his retraction, Martin says he is angered by any doping cases in his sport. “That said, I am always very angry when another case in relation to anti-doping happened in our sport,” added the German. “I will, as I always did, continue to take a strong position regarding the fight against doping. I will always remain an outspoken advocate for a 100 percent clean sport.”

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Giro Rosa will climb famed Monte Zoncolan in 2018 Sat, 16 Dec 2017 17:57:48 +0000 The 2018 Giro Rosa will tackle the western slope of the Monte Zoncolan from Ovaro on the penultimate stage.

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The Giro Rosa, the biggest race on the Women’s WorldTour calendar, revealed on Saturday the riders will tackle the famed and brutal Monte Zoncolan on the penultimate stage in the 2018 edition. The announcement came during a presentation for the route of the first and final two stages. The 10-stage race runs from July 6th to July 15th in 2018.

The ninth stage of the Giro Rosa will finish atop Monte Zoncolan on Saturday, July 14th and begin in Tricesimo. The stage will be 104.7 kilometers and tackle the Zoncolan’s western slope from Ovaro. On this side, the climb is 11.9 kilometers in length and climbs 1,200 meters. The average grade of the climb is 11.9-percent with a maximum of 22-percent. The Zoncolan was tackled during 1997 edition of the Giro Rosa from the Sutrio side. Fabiana Luperini took the stage victory and went on to win the overall title that year.

“The Zoncolan from Ovaro to its top is new for the Giro and it gives a truly, biggest importance about the quality and power of women’s cycling, which gives very big emotions,” said Enzo Cainero, president of the Friuli stage committee.

The overall winner of the 2018 Giro Rosa will be crowned a day later in the area of Friuli with a 120-kilometer final stage. The route will be around the small, historical town in Friuli and travel in the Torre and Natisone Valleys, close to the Italian and Slovenian border. There will be a final circuit with the short but tough climb in Trivio. The climb is a leg breaker at 4 kilometers in length and averaging 10-percent.

Anna van der Breggan (Boels-Dolmans) won the overall title in 2017 with her teammate, American Megan Guarnier, winning the final stage.

The 29th edition of the Giro Rosa will start on Friday, July 6th with a 15.5 kilometer team time trial along Lake Maggiore in Verbania. Last year’s edition began with a team time trial as well and saw Boels-Dolmans take the victory with Canadian Karol-ann Canuel taking the first leader’s jersey.

“The big mountains are back as protagonists of the Giro Rosa,” said race director Giuseppe Rivolta. “It will be for sure a spectacular race and a sporting show on the Italian roads.”

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Scheldecross: van der Poel, Cant win duels Sat, 16 Dec 2017 17:09:20 +0000 Beobank-Corendon teammates Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant were victorious on Saturday at the DVV Trofee Scheldecross in Antwerp,

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Beobank-Corendon teammates Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant were each victorious in a duel with their main rival on Saturday at the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium.

The course in Antwerp was diabolical with sand, mud, and tough run-ups. One of the steep run-ups had a double barrier section, but instead of the normal wooden planks, the barriers were tires. The race was able to sell this as a sponsorship to a tire company.

Van der Poel took the holeshot, as he has done most times this season. Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea) appeared to be feeling good on Saturday, as he passed van der Poel shortly after the riders entered the true part of the course. Then something not seen too often this year occurred. Van der Poel crashed. The Dutchman fell while behind van der Haar and this dropped him out of the top 10.

Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) had a slow start, but quickly moved toward the front after noticing van der Poel was behind him. As the riders hit the pavement to finish the opening lap, they were all in a long line. The time for the opening effort was remarkable, as the leader posted a sub-six minute lap.

Tom Meeusen (Beobank-Corendon) crashed midway through the second lap and spent considerable time fixing his bike. He would be on the backfoot the rest of the day.

Van Aert put down a hard acceleration on the finishing that no one in the rather large lead group was able to follow. Van der Poel was still behind in the chase group, but he would bridge all the way up to van Aert on the second lap. While the Belgian and Dutch national champions did battle in the lead, Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) and van der Haar were chasing behind. They would be joined by three of van der Haar’s teammates in Toon Aerts, Dan Soete and Corne van Kessel. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napolean Games) would also join the chase group.

Van Aert clipped the rope lining the course and crashed early on the fourth of what would be 10 laps. This allowed van der Poel to get a gap and in most cases, once van der Poel moves alone into the lead, it is very hard to bring him back.

Van Aert would chase valiantly over the new four laps and finally bridge back to van der Poel just before the riders hit two laps to go. While van Aert had been chasing down van der Poel, the group of five behind had been attacking each other. They had also been constantly losing time to the two riders up front. The large chase group crossed the line with two laps to go looking exhausted.

The final lap between van der Poel and van Aert was tense. After accelerations by each early in the lap, the cat and mouse games had begun. The race would come down to the final sand section, which required riders to run. Van der Poel entered the section first and once he began running, you could tell this was an attack. Both riders sprinted full-on through the sand, but van der Poel was able to emerge with a slight advantage and he capitalized on it.

Van der Poel took the victory over van Aert, who was left wondering what could have been had he not crashed earlier in the race and was forced to chase.

The chase group had an intense battle of its own on the final lap. Aerts and Kessel got their bikes tangled on one of the run-ups, which allowed Sweeck, who was leading the group, to get a gap. Van der Haar and Pauwels also slide by the Telenet duo.

Sweeck would hold on to finish third to round out the podium. Aerts had managed to recover and move into fourth, but a late crash knocked him down into sixth on the day. Van der Haar finished fourth and Pauwels finished fifth.

The skies open up just after van der Poel crashed the line, drenching all of the riders.

Elite men top 10

  • 1. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 57:24
  • 2. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 57:27
  • 3. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 58:30
  • 4. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 58:34
  • 5. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 58:39
  • 6. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 58:46
  • 7. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 58:55
  • 8. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 59:12
  • 9. Jens Adams, (BEL), 59:32
  • 10. Daan Soete, (BEL), 59:41

Cant wins battle with Compton

World champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) prevailed in an intense battle with DVV Trofee series leader Katie Compton (KFC Racing/Trek/Panache). The two riders proved to be the strongest as slowly the lead group whittled down to just them. Cant put in a blistering attack just before the pavement that Compton was unable to match to take the victory. The 13-time U.S. national cyclocross champion finished a few seconds behind Cant with Helen Wyman (Kona) in third.

The elite women’s race saw a familiar face back on the start line, as seven-time world cyclocross champion Marianne Vos (WM3) returned. She finished second to Cant at the 2017 world cyclocross championships in Luxembourg.

Cant got off to a hot start and took the holeshot, but she was followed closely by Vos. The fast and short course in Antwerp would see the elite women race seven laps on Saturday. Normally, the women race four or five. At the end of the opening lap, a group of seven had emerged containing Cant, Compton, Wyman, Vos, Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea), Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans), and Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team).

Brammeier moved to the font to push the pace on lap two and this saw Wyman, van Loy, and Vos all gapped by the midpoint in the lap. Compton them went to the front for the first time, further putting the rest of the riders on the limit. Wyman was seven seconds adrift at the end of the lap with Vos and van Loy a further five seconds behind her. Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles), who has had a quiet last couple of weekends after dominating the first couple of months, missed the original move and was left riding in no-man’s land.

The fourth lap saw a lot of action, as Brammerier crashed entering the sand section. She recovered quickly, but this dropped her off the lead group. She linked up with Wyman in chasing the now leading trio of Compton, Cant, and Nash. Wyman would drop Brammerier and join the leaders by the end of the lap.

Meanwhile, van Loy and Vos had separated, but both were going the wrong direction. They had been passed by Kaptheijns and then Kim van de Steene (Tarteletto-Isorex) passed both riders as well. While Vos had looked good for the first couple of laps in her return to cyclocross, she was now beginning to pay for those early efforts that seemed to now have been above what she could handle.

The leading quartet would stay together until the penultimate lap when a crash by Nash split the group and allowed Compton and Cant to fight for the victory. Nash was riding too close to the rope lining the course during one of the sand sections and clipped her handlebars and fell. Wyman was behind Nash at the time and was forced to go wide, and thus was gapped off of Cant and Compton.

The final lap was a battle. Cant and Compton each put in multiple attacks and accelerations. As they neared the finish Compton kept the pressure on while in the lead. A sprint finish seemed inevitable, but Compton didn’t want to make it easy on Cant.

However, Cant was not satisfied to go to the line with Compton and try her hand in a one-on-one sprint. She attacked hard on the final grassy straight before the tight left-hand turn onto the pavement. Compton simply had no response to this acceleration.

Cant had enough time to sit-up and celebrate, while Compton soft-pedaled behind to come home in second. Wyman rounded out the podium in third. Wyman had spent a lot of the race dangling on and off the back of the leading group, but proved to have the stamina to keep her pace consistent to finish with a podium place.

Nash was unable to pass Wyman after crashing and settled for fourth with Brammeier fifth. Vos finished eighth in her comeback race.

The DVV Verzekeringen Trofee continues on December 28th with Azencross in Loenhout, Belgium.

Elite women full results

  • 1. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 48:46
  • 2. Katherine Compton, (USA), 48:50
  • 3. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 48:56
  • 4. Katerina Nash, (CZE), 49:15
  • 5. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 49:20
  • 6. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 49:44
  • 7. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 50:07
  • 8. Marianne Vos, (NED), 50:56
  • 9. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 51:14
  • 10. Denise Betsema, (NED), 51:26
  • 11. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 51:49
  • 12. Geerte Hoeke, (NED), 52:07
  • 13. Lindy Van Anrooij, (NED), 52:57
  • 14. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 53:29
  • 15. Maaike De Heij, (NED), 53:39
  • 16. Axelle Bellaert, (BEL), 53:41
  • 17. Lizzy Witlox, (NED), 54:12
  • 18. Marthe Truyen, (BEL), 54:18
  • 19. Jinse Peeters, (BEL), 54:20
  • 20. Veerle Goossens, (NED), 54:37
  • 21. Aniek Van Alphen, (NED), 54:40
  • 22. Susanne Meistrok, (NED), 54:40
  • 23. Ffion James, (GBR), 54:54
  • 24. Shana Maes, (BEL)
  • 25. Meg De Bruyne, (BEL)
  • 26. Natalie Redmond, (AUS)
  • 27. Lise Van Wunsel, (BEL)
  • 28. Corey Coogan Cisek, (USA)
  • 29. Aurelie Vermeir, (BEL)
  • 30. Kim Van De Putte, (BEL)
  • 31. Kristien Nelen, (BEL)
  • 32. Emily Wadsworth, (GBR)
  • 33. Giovanna Michieletto, (ITA)
  • 34. Laure Michels, (BEL)
  • 35. Caren Commissaris, (BEL)
  • 36. Maaike Meistrok, (NED)
  • 37. Jana Dobbelaere, (BEL)
  • 38. Evy Kuijpers, (NED)
  • 39. Tess Van Loy, (BEL)
  • 40. Klára VernerovÁ, (CZE)
  • 41. Kiona CrabbÉ, (BEL)
  • 42. Océane Allart, (FRA)
  • 43. Amaia Lartitegi Ormazabal, (ESP)
  • 44. Esther Van Der Burg, (NED)
  • 45. Sara Beeckmans, (BEL)
  • 46. Nele De Vos, (BEL)
  • 47. Jo Blanchaert, (BEL)
  • 48. Lisette Schoon, (NED)
  • 49. Olga Kuzmina, (RUS)

Elite men full results

  • 1. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 57:24
  • 2. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 57:27
  • 3. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 58:30
  • 4. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 58:34
  • 5. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 58:39
  • 6. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 58:46
  • 7. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 58:55
  • 8. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 59:12
  • 9. Jens Adams, (BEL), 59:32
  • 10. Daan Soete, (BEL), 59:41
  • 11. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL), 1:00:00
  • 12. Michael BoroŠ, (CZE), 1:00:01
  • 13. Dieter Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:00:42
  • 14. Tom Meeusen, (BEL), 1:00:46
  • 15. Vincent Baestaens, (BEL), 1:01:25
  • 16. Joeri Adams, (BEL), 1:01:25
  • 17. Rob Peeters, (BEL), 1:01:35
  • 18. Braam Merlier, (BEL), 1:02:07
  • 19. Thijs Van Amerongen, (NED)
  • 20. Stijn Huys, (BEL)
  • 21. Kenneth Van Compernolle, (BEL)
  • 22. Edwin De Wit, (BEL)
  • 23. Tim Rieckmann, (GER)
  • 24. Dries Pauwels, (BEL)

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Video: Inside USA Cycling’s altitude training chamber Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:09:19 +0000 VeloNews caught up with riders Kelly Catlin, Jennifer Valente, Chloe Dygert Owen, and Kim Geist.

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The U.S. women’s pursuit team was in Colorado Springs this week for a training session at the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in the lead up to the UCI Track world championships in February. One training session took them into the USOC’s High Altitude Training Center — a room that can change the oxygen concentration to simulate high or low altitudes.

VeloNews caught up with riders Kelly Catlin, Jennifer Valente, Chloe Dygert Owen, and Kim Geist to see what it was like to train in the chamber.

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Emergency VeloNews podcast: Froome fiasco! Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:23:01 +0000 We talk to Andrew Hood to break down the key storylines behind Chris Froome's doping test from the Vuelta.

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Welcome to the VeloNews cycling podcast, where we discuss the latest trends, news, and controversies in the world of cycling.

We break down the key storylines behind Chris Froome’s doping test from the Vuelta. He went over the limit for Salbutamol. Now, Froome and Sky have a chance to explain themselves, but a pall of doubt has been cast over his four Tour wins and that Vuelta victory. We speak with Andrew Hood who has insider knowledge from an anti-doping expert and a lawyer. This is cycling’s biggest story in years — stay tuned as new developments come to light.

Want to win a smart trainer? Enter Bkool’s winter VeloNews giveaway. Everyone who signs up gets three free months of the Bkool online simulator! Sign up >>

If you like what you hear, subscribe to the VeloNews podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Also, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk training podcast with Trevor Connor.

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Commentary: Froome scandal could burst British cycling bubble Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:50:42 +0000 Merely a decade ago, cycling was nearly undone by a litany of doping controversies. Now, another scandal looks poised to rock the sport as

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Merely a decade ago, cycling was nearly undone by a litany of doping controversies.

Now, another scandal looks poised to rock the sport as a whole: Chris Froome’s 2017 Vuelta anti-doping test that was over the limit for Salbutamol.

While it’s unlikely that Froome’s adverse analytical will torpedo the sport’s global appeal, it may have a sizable impact within the United Kingdom. In the UK, cycling is enjoying a boom. TV ratings, and grassroots events that dwarf that of much larger nations.

Bikes are big business to the Brits. According to its 2016 annual report, British Cycling recorded a membership of 120,000 riders. That number has increased by nearly 75,000 participants since 2012—a growth spurt that is itself bigger than the entire membership of USA Cycling (approximately 60,000). This difference is shocking considering the UK has a population of 65 million versus a whopping 320 million in the United States. Britain’s cycling personalities have enjoyed hero status. Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, and even David Brailsford have all been knighted by the Queen.

British Tour de France viewership has also skyrocketed since the success of home riders. In 2017, Eurosport reported increased viewership numbers across Europe, including Britain, with an average of 785,000 viewers per stage. By contrast, NBC Sports reported flat U.S. viewership from 2016 and a 16 percent decrease from 2015, with an average of 331,000 viewers per stage. The BBC audience research department reported that in 2014, 10.7 million viewers watched the race in Britain, which works out to a whopping 509,523 viewers per stage. Due to Froome’s success, it is likely that number has significantly increased since then.

Would a Froome doping ban crash this wave? The U.S. cycling scene can directly track its exodus of sponsors after the Lance Armstrong doping revelations in 2013.

The major issue is that Froome’s adverse analytical comes after 15 months of bad headlines for British cycling. In August of 2016, World Champion Lizzie Deignan was controversially cleared after missing three anti-doping tests in a year. A few months later, the Fancy Bears hacking story revealed that Bradley Wiggins had received a TUE for corticosteroid triamcinolone immediately before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won. This began a chain of events that led to a UK Anti-Doping investigation into Team Sky and the infamous Jiffy Bag incident. The country’s cycling heroes were dragged before Parliament to explain themselves, and the media covered every twist and turn.

Scandals like these can have a huge impact on sports fandom. USA Cycling’s membership numbers have dropped every year since 2012, the year USADA released its reasoned decision against Armstrong. And in the wake of Armstrong’s 2013 mea culpa, major sponsors such as Nissan and Radioshack left the sport entirely.

Cycling is hardly alone. The National Football League has endured several years of non-stop controversies—everything from domestic violence, to rampant head injuries, to now the polarizing political protests by players. Since 2015 the NFL has seen its television ratings decline by nearly 20 percent. One in five football fans have lost their passion to watch the sport on TV.

Will British fans lose their passion? Of course it’s not guaranteed to happen. One has to wonder how the bombardment of negative news will impact the average cycling fan in Great Britain. After all, controversy breeds cynicism, and cynicism often leads to disenchantment.

Already, sports columnists in the UK are beginning to question Froome’s story. On Friday the Guardian ran a story titled, “Clouds over Chris Froome and Sky will linger despite contrite response.” Writing for Australian news outlet ABC, columnist Richard Hinds started off his story with the words, “Yeah right, Chris Froome.”

Perhaps most damning was a column by Oliver Brown, the chief sports feature writer for The Telegraph. Brown wrote, “So, for now, Froome can spare us any talk of untainted legacies. His sport has the grimmest history, and it is one with which his team, Sky, have failed to make a convincing peace.”

This week British cycling writer Jeremy Whittle went on the VeloNews Podcast to discuss, among other topics, how British fans feel about Wiggins following his very public controversy for his TUE. Whittle said that, after a few beers, the fans he’s interacted with seemed to be somewhat cynical toward the ordeal.

“People are really struggling to understand what was really going on, and people think they were fiddling the system to give those TUEs in advance of grand tours,” Whittle said. “They think the fact that we still don’t know what was in the jiffy bag means that it must have contained something suspicious. It isn’t going to go away anytime soon, to think it is is very naive.”

One bellwether of Froome’s popularity will come this Sunday, at the gala for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Froome has never won the award—both Mark Cavendish and Wiggins have. Two Grand Tours would likely put Froome high up in the running for the award. But the recent bad press may torpedo his chances.

It’s unlikely that Froome will emerge from this ordeal totally unscathed. The best precedent for punishment is Diego Ulissi’s nine-month ban in 2014 after returning similar levels. While Ulissi was able to serve his time and move on, Froome is a four-time Tour de France winner. He is under far more scrutiny and pressure than the Italian. Come July, when he returns to the Tour, he and Team Sky will face more questions than ever before.

Great reigns always end unexpectedly. The American dominance in the 2000s created a bubble that rose quickly, only to burst dramatically in the wake of controversy. The constant stream of scandals chips away the credibility and creates a decay that paves the way for another scandal to deliver a knockout blow.

Will this scandal be the tipping point for British cycling? Time will tell.

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VN Show: Chris Froome’s Salbutamol case is cycling’s biggest story Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:47:48 +0000 Froome's Salbutamol scandal explodes like a bomb on the cycling world. We break down the details of this blockbuster revelation.

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Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes images from,, Vuelta a España, Flickr Creative Commons, YouTube/Vuelta a España, and Atomic Central. 

This week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by Bkool, which is offering VeloNews fans three-month free trial and a chance to win a Bkool smart trainer

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This week’s news that Chris Froome recorded an adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol during a doping control at the Vuelta a España has exploded like a bomb on the cycling world. Reporters and pundits alike have been scrambling to understand Froome’s test, and why exactly he had twice the legal limit of the asthma drug in his urine.

On this week’s VeloNews Show we break down some of the storylines within this blockbuster revelation.

All that and more on this week’s VeloNews Show.

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Copeland wonders why Sky didn’t provisionally suspend Froome Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:37:51 +0000 FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Even cycling insiders are puzzled by Wednesday’s revelation that Chris Froome was over the limit for

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Even cycling insiders are puzzled by Wednesday’s revelation that Chris Froome was over the limit for Salbutamol in an anti-doping control at the Vuelta a España.

“Most teams follow a code of conduct or ethics code, and when this type of thing happens it’s pretty normal that a team suspends the rider until his case has been judged,” Team Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland told VeloNews. “Where is the code of conduct and ethics code?”

Of all the pro team managers, Copeland is perhaps most familiar with the sticky situation Salbutamol presents. While manging Lampre-Merida, his rider Diego Ulissi exceeded the limit for Salbutamol at the 2014 Giro d’Italia. After a protracted legal battle, the Italian rider was handed a nine-month ban, about six months after the news broke.

Now, Copeland wonders what is going on with Sky and Chris Froome and how the matter will be perceived by average sports fans.

“This is not an attack on Chris Froome or the team, it’s more attack on the system,” Copeland said. “It’s always difficult to explain to your man in the pub how sport works. It is confusing for even people internally, so you can imagine externally!”

Froome returned a high reading for asthma drug Salbutamol after stage 18 of the Vuelta a España but went on to win the overall. Copeland is troubled by the fact that Froome later raced the world championship team trial and place third in the individual time trial. The champion also took part in ASO criteriums in Japan and China and made a deal with RCS Sport to race the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

However, since September 20, the 32-year-old Brit and his British WorldTour team knew that his urine registered 2,000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of Salbutamol. The legal limit is 1,000.

“And the UCI governing body? They made the announcement on Monday about [pro team] licenses and the four teams had to go to present paperwork to get theirs, but not Sky. Then the story comes out that the situation has been there since the end of September. The UCI so strict with its four [license] criteria, so I had to ask myself how does this work if Sky was not even called to explain itself? What’s the deal?” Copeland added.

“I would never say it’s favoritism. I’m just saying it should be clear for everyone. In normal circumstances, a team who has an ethics code will suspend the rider until the case is over. He kept racing and went to the worlds and went to Japan, and negotiated with RCS Sport to race the Giro while the situation was not cleared up.

“It makes it difficult for us teams who do everything correctly to see something like this. We need to clear the situation up for the public because it’s damaging for our sport.”

Unlike Sky, Copeland and his Lampre-Merida team suspended Ulissi in 2014 when they caught wind of the adverse analytical finding at the Giro.

“The first thing we did was suspend [Ulissi] until the case was clear,” Copeland said. “Most teams do that and have a code of conduct. Sky is one of the best teams in the world, if not the best, but does not seem to apply the code of conduct and that’s a bit strange.

“For sure Ulissi’s case will be of help to Chris Froome because Salbutamol is always difficult to understand and many things can affect the levels and I saw that with Diego Ulissi’s case.

“It’s very complicated to sort the case. [Ulissi] had to do so many tests and redo them because the conditions were not right. It’s a long and tiring process and I think it took him about eight months. They give him a nine-month suspension, but by the time that came out it was almost all backdated.”

Ulissi left the Lampre team after 2016 to race with UAE Team Emirates.

With Ulissi gone and that matter resolved, Copeland is focused on the 2018 season. His Bahrain-Merida team leader Vincenzo Nibali aims to win the Tour again after his 2014 title. Although Nibali dreams of becoming one of the few riders with three Giro titles, he wants to give the Tour another go next season.

“It’s a decision that we discussed with the sponsors before the team project started. He wanted to do the Giro in the first year [2017] because it passed Sicily and we respected that with the idea and that he would race the Tour in the second year. The sponsors Bahrain and Merida wanted this,” said Copeland.

“He likes the route and agreed to respect the deal and it worked out well — Vincenzo Nibali is a champion and he always races for the victory. As long as he putting the biggest effort and does the best he can, that’s all we can ask for, but I know that he will race for the win in the Tour.”

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Lawyer on Froome case: ‘We are simply at the investigative stage’ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:46:45 +0000 Sports lawyer and anti-doping litigation expert Dr. Gregory Ioannidis helps us better understand the Froome case.

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Yesterday we spoke to an anti-doping expert on Salbutamol, and today we reached out to a legal expert on the ramifications we can expect from the ongoing Chris Froome case.

Dr. Gregory Ioannidis is a sports lawyer and anti-doping litigation expert who also lectures at the Sheffield Hallam University in England. He’s been on the frontline of many legal battles in anti-doping cases.

Froome’s case has raised eyebrows over the fact that he has not received a provisional ban despite returning an “adverse analytical finding.” According to WADA rules, in this instance, Froome is allowed an opportunity to make his case because Salbutamol is categorized as a “specified substance.” There are some procedural wrinkles that are different if an athlete is popped for an outright banned substance when a provisional ban is immediately imposed following a positive B-sample.

It’s worth reading this Twitter thread from Lukas Knöfler, who dug through pertinent documents related to Froome.

The takeaways: It’s important to remember that the “Froome file” is still in the investigative phase. There’s been no provisional ban, and no disciplinary action taken yet. And second, it remains to be seen if Froome will automatically be disqualified from the Vuelta a España victory despite his “adverse analytical finding” for a high presence of Salbutamol. And third, this might take a long while to play out.

Dr. Ioannidis was en route to, of all places, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but he agreed to answer the following questions via an email:

VeloNews: What was your first reaction, from a lawyer’s point of view, when you heard about the Froome situation?
Dr. Gregory Ioannidis: I have represented more than 100 athletes over the last few years on allegations of anti-doping rule violations, and I always keep an open mind. Every case is different and very fact- and evidence-specific, so people must not judge until all the evidence has been fully examined and evaluated and the athlete has given the opportunity to present his case.

VN: If you were going to defend Froome, what would a legal team want to do to demonstrate his ‘innocence’?
GI: There are several ways of defending an athlete and in relation to this specific substance. Out of professional courtesy towards the colleagues who represent the rider, I would not wish to enter into specifics.

VN: Why is the case in CADF, instead of going through a national governing body? (i.e., the British cycling federation) Have rules changed? Or is this a normal procedural step?
GI: CADF is an independent and non-profit organization with responsibilities of testing. We are not yet at the process of a disciplinary hearing where the national federation could be in charge. We are simply at the investigative stage.

VN: How much will the amount of Salbutamol found in Froome’s sample — double the threshold level — “complicate” the Froome defense? It is fair to assume that such a large difference will make a defense more challenging?
GI: To a certain extent it will and the use of expert witnesses here will be imperative.

VN: From your experience, do you see this going all the way to CAS?
GI: You cannot predict the outcome of a matter such as the present one and CAS is always a possibility.

VN: If Froome is cleared, would WADA or another agency have a right to appeal the case to CAS? And the same for Froome is he is not cleared?
GI: Yes, CAS is the final arbiter. The parties could also refer the matter to CAS directly, for adjudication, without the need for a national first-instance hearing.

VN: What are the criteria for an appeal challenge? Simply that one party does not agree with the ruling, or is there an underlying legal basis required as well?
GI: Unless the parties to the dispute decide to refer the matter directly to CAS, there has to be a decision that goes against one of the parties to the dispute. The Decision will form the legal basis of the appeal, as well as an arbitration agreement between the parties to refer the matter to CAS. If these pre-requisites are met, CAS will assume jurisdiction to hear the matter.

VN: Speaking of a timeframe, how long do you expect this to play out?
GI: It depends on how expedient the investigative bodies are and how soon the relevant governing body decides to charge the rider or not. In the interests of justice and fairness to the rider, charges, if any, need to be notified to the rider as soon as possible, particularly in light of this matter now becoming public.

VN: Is it correct to say that Froome is facing a possible ban, as well as a possible disqualification from the Vuelta?
GI: This would depend on the evidence against him. There is a positive result and because of strict liability, a potential ban is a possibility. Of course, the athlete would have the opportunity to state his case and show that he bears no fault or negligence or no significant fault or negligence, as per the relevant WADA rules.

VN: What are the maximum and minimum outlines concerning ban and/or DQ?
GI: If the prosecuting authority decides that the element of intention is not present, the maximum ban could be 24 months. The athlete will be given the opportunity to eliminate this or reduce it.

VN: Does an ‘adverse analytical finding’ automatically result in disqualification from the Vuelta, even if he does not see a racing ban?
GI: UCI rules, in line with WADA rules, include an automatic suspension, where there is an anti-doping rule violation. As far as I am concerned, Froome has not been suspended.

VN: Some have suggested that CADF and UCI officials are not playing fair with the Froome case; have you seen anything to support that argument of playing favorites?
GI: The issue of the provisional suspension is of interest and possibly one that raises questions.

VN: From your experience, what outcome do you see in this case?
GI: Unless there is evidence to support some kind of metabolism abnormality in the rider’s system and in the remotest of scenarios some sort of sabotage, a ban may be a possibility. However, it will all depend on the defense the athlete produces.

VN: From a broader point of view, how important is this case in larger the anti-doping effort? Do you see any wider implications?
GI: The role and the conduct of the relevant sporting governing bodies here are of immense importance. Not only do they have a responsibility to ensure the rights of innocent athletes are protected, but they also need to be seen to act accordingly.

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