News – VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:31:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.velonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/cropped-Velonews_favicon-2-32x32.png News – VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com 32 32 Quick-Step logjam: Why the rider market is so active this year http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/quick-step-logjam-rider-market-active-year_446324 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/quick-step-logjam-rider-market-active-year_446324#respond Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:24:23 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446324 The 2017 transfer season has been one fore the ages, with riders swapping teams at a remarkable rate.

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GRUISSAN, France (VN) — Cycling agents have been busier than usual in this year’s silly season.

The 2017-18 rider transfer market is burning up. Despite the fact there are no major teams closing shop or new ones entering the WorldTour, riders and teams have been swapping riders at a clip unseen in years.

What’s been going on? Call it the Quick-Step logjam.

“We were blocking the transfers because nobody knew if the team was stopping or going on,” Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere told VeloNews. “Once we were clear we were staying, things started to move.”

With the Quick-Step bottle-neck finally loosened up, the transfer market started to churn in a frenetic game of cycling’s musical chairs.

Coming into this year’s Tour de France — when most of the major deals are hammered out — Quick-Step still had not firmed up its future.

Everyone’s contract at the long-running Belgian franchise, from the riders to sport directors to the staff, was up at the end of 2017.

By spring, riders were getting nervous about their respective futures. Agents were scurrying behind the scenes to make back-up plans. No one wants to be caught out in the cold without a contract. So when Lefevere quietly put out word early in the Tour that the team’s future was secure, many of these back-up deals were already in motion.

“It’s been good for the agents,” Lefevere sighed. “It’s all about money.”

The silver-haired Lefevere leaned against the Quick-Step team car Sunday morning in Nimes, and sketched out how the transfer market has been playing out this summer.

As he chatted, riders and sport directors came up to shake hands with the powerful veteran manager. Even Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme, in town for a visit, didn’t miss a chance to say hello. Lefevere is one of the peloton’s major personalities.

Transfer season is always packed with intrigue. Fans wonder where the big stars will land. Journalists try to get the latest scoops (and sometimes let their imaginations get the best of them). And agents ply the waters, trying to squeeze out the best deal for their top riders.

Amid all this activity, many of the major GC riders have been firming up their relationships with their respective teams. Chris Froome, Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Urán are among several marquee riders extending over the past few weeks.

Lefevere insisted that his team’s future is secure, but added that the signatures are still not signed on the sponsor contracts for 2018 and beyond.

“Like I said 150 times or more this year, until the pen is on the paper, that’s when I will be happy,” he said.

“July and August are tough months. Somebody is always on holiday,” Lefevere continued. “Signing a contract is not peanuts. Lawyers are involved, big bosses are involved, so to get everyone together at the same table is not easy. We can hope to finalize it in the next week or no.”

Quick-Step has been busy, too. Marcel Kittel and Daniel Martin are gone. So are Matteo Trentin (Orica-Scott), Julien Vermote (Dimension Data), and David de la Cruz (Sky). Lefevere picked up Elia Viviani (Sky) and Florian Senechal (Cofidis), as well as a handful of young, promising riders. Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert and others are staying.

Lefevere said he had to make the hard choice between keeping German sprinter ace Kittel, and finding space for Fernando Gaviria, the most exciting rider to come along since Peter Sagan.

“It’s all about money. We have a fixed budget,” Lefevere explained. “This is the other side of a winning team. If a rider starts winning, he wants more money, but if the budget doesn’t increase, you have to make choices.

“I wanted to keep both. Kittel doesn’t want to ride on the same team as Gaviria,” he said. “He was at the end of contract, so I cannot stop him.”

Martin was the latest big name to announce, moving from Quick-Step to UAE-Emirates. Other significant moves include Kittel swapping Quick-Step for Katusha, with Alexander Kristoff sliding over from Katusha to UAE-Emirates. Warren Barguil is leaving Sunweb to join Fortuneo-Oscaro, while Mikel Landa is slotting from Sky to Movistar.

Louis Mentjies returns to Dimension Data, while Davide Formolo moves to Bora-Hansgrohe, and Ian Boswell joins Katusha. And the list goes on and on.

The lone new major team entering the market is Vital Concept, a new second-division French squad that has picked up mostly French riders, including Bryan Coquard, Kevin Reza, and Marc Fournier, among several others.

And the deals are not done yet.

Another factor is Bahrain-Merida and UAE-Emirates. Both teams came into the peloton relatively late last season, so each are bolstering their lineups for their sophomore seasons. UAE-Emirates has been especially active. The team signed Kristoff, Martin and experienced domestique Rory Sutherland, and there are rumors flying it will entice Fabio Aru to leave Astana.

For Lefevere, the team’s future is secure for at least another few more years. The 62-year-old Belgian has seen it all during his career that stretches back to his racing days in the 1970s.

Lefevere said it was ultimately his decision to keep the team going. After working with some of the biggest names in cycling, some speculated that Lefevere might have left the sport as well, following in the footsteps of his star pupil and classics champion Tom Boonen, who retired this year.

But Lefevere loves the racing, the lifestyle, and he’s not done yet. He sees Gaviria with the potential to become an international star.

“There was no risk of the team collapsing, because everybody was at end of contract, and the sponsors were at end of contract, so it was my decision,” he insisted. “Maybe someday I will say, ‘OK, you stupid asshole, stay at home with your ass on the couch, and watch TV.’ But that I cannot tell you for a few more years.”

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VN pod, Haute Route Pyrenees special: Stage 7 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-7_446316 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-7_446316#respond Sun, 20 Aug 2017 07:53:23 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446316 Are you considering riding a Haute Route event or another multi-day sportive? We talk to a veteran rider to learn some tips.

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Are you considering riding a Haute Route event or another multi-day sportive? We talk to a veteran rider to learn some tips and tricks for training, packing, and more.

The Haute Route Pyrenees mini-series is sponsored by Topical Edge lotion. Go to www.topicaledge.com/velonews for a free sample of a product that’s clinically proven to reduce lactic acid.

What’s this special podcast mini-series all about? Spencer Powlison is off in France doing this seven-day sportive with his friend Matt Mollo. Along the way, they’ll discuss the history of these big climbs and the delicious wines of the region. Don’t worry, as a wine importer, Matt’s an expert on natural wines… Spencer will stick to cycling (and drinking the wine).

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 and Fretz.

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BMC booms, Froome zooms: Vuelta begins by stating the obvious http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/bmc-booms-froome-zooms-vuelta-begins-stating-obvious_446292 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/bmc-booms-froome-zooms-vuelta-begins-stating-obvious_446292#respond Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:43:48 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446292 BMC Racing win stage one of the 2017 Vuelta a España, as Chris Froome (Team Sky) gains time on key GC rivals.

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NIMES, France (VN) — Two things that everyone already knew were reconfirmed Saturday in the opening stage of the 2017 Vuelta a España.

BMC Racing blasted to victory in the team time trial. Rohan Dennis led the way across the line to snag the red leader’s jersey to remind everyone BMC is the best TTT squad in the pack. No surprise there.

Sky’s Chris Froome took significant gains against his main rivals in the team test against the clock. Though Sky finished fourth in the stage, 9 seconds slower than BMC, the gaps were serious: 22 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali, 26 seconds to Alberto Contador, and 32 seconds to Fabio Aru. Uffff. No surprise there.

“We wanted to stay safe, but [26] seconds is quite a bit of time,” said Contador, racing his final team time trial of his career. “It’s never good to start off from behind, is it?”

Well, not if you want to beat a highly motivated and highly favored Froome. The four-time Tour de France champion strides into this Vuelta hell-bent on turning his three previous second places into victory.

On Saturday, he took some gains that might be more than marginal by the time the Vuelta ends in Madrid on September 10. After winning his fourth Tour title last month by just 54 seconds — the smallest winning margin of his quartet of yellow jerseys — Froome already nearly has half that in the first day of the Vuelta.

“We all know it’s a fast and technical time trial, so only losing nine seconds to BMC, and gaining time on others was good,” said Sky sport director Nicolas Portal. “Froome was telling me that he was feeling really strong, so that’s a good sign as you need to be on it straight away.”

Froome said this Vuelta line-up was the strongest he’s ever had, and they delivered for their captain Saturday. Sky might have only finished with the minimum five across the line, but it was enough to take the first jabs at their rivals.

Orica-Scott kept it close, crossing the line fifth at 17 seconds back, with the Yates brothers and Esteban Chaves limiting their losses to Sky to just eight seconds. Many of the other favorites are already on the back seat right from the gun.

Dennis, meanwhile, finished off another superb team time trial effort by BMC to become the first Australian since Michael Matthews in 2014 to wear the red leader’s jersey.

“Smooth is fast,” Dennis said. “That’s always the rule in team time trials. You’re only as fast as your last guy, so we work to keep it together.”

BMC powered over the 13.7km course that saw more than a few riders hit the deck on a technical route that swept around Nimes’ Roman jewels, including a passage through the center of the 1st Century Roman arena. Cannondale-Drapac’s Joe Dombrowski hit the deck in training on the technical exit from the arena, but was not seriously injured.

BMC finished with six riders across the line, including American Tejay van Garderen, stopping the clock six seconds faster than Quick-Step and Sunweb. Froome’s Sky boys were nine seconds slower.

Dennis said the team was forced to regroup following the surprise news this week that 2008 Olympic road champion Samuel Sánchez tested positive, and would not be racing.

“It was shocking,” Dennis said. “We didn’t know about until we got back from training. You hear about those things happening on other teams, but when it happens on yours, it’s surreal. We cannot victimize him yet. We have to wait for his B-sample. Let’s hope for the good of the sport it comes up a different result than his A-sample.”

The Vuelta’s French adventure continues Sunday with the 203.4km second stage from Nimes to Gruissan. The mostly flat stage along the windy expanses of the exposed Mediterranean coast should see the first bunch sprint of this Vuelta.

Crosswinds could kick up, perhaps giving the GC teams a chance to try to split the bunch. If it’s Team Sky dropping the hammer, it certainly won’t come as a surprise.

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Vuelta won’t alter route in wake of terrorist attacks http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vuelta-wont-alter-route-wake-terrorist-attacks_446281 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vuelta-wont-alter-route-wake-terrorist-attacks_446281#respond Sat, 19 Aug 2017 15:10:17 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446281 Race officials say heightened security measures will allow the Spanish grand tour to begin as scheduled.

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NIMES, France (VN) — The horrible terrorist attack Thursday in Barcelona that left more than a dozen killed won’t alter plans for the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Race officials said heightened security measures in place in both France and Spain will allow the 21-stage Spanish grand tour to begin Saturday as scheduled.

“Absolutely not,” said Vuelta race director Javier Guillén when asked if the race would be altered. “The Vuelta continues with its route as planned. Of course, the Vuelta with its 21 stages are already set, and we are planning on holding them as expected.”

On Thursday, Spain suffered its worst terrorist attack in more than a decade when a van driver killed more than a dozen people and injured scores more on Barcelona’s popular Las Ramblas tourist area. Spanish officials also intercepted another terrorist cell in Cambrils along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, near the finishing town of Tarragona for stage 4.

While neither cities are featured on the Vuelta’s 2017 route, authorities are on maximum alert on both sides of the border.

On Thursday evening, in light of the nearby Barcelona attack, French police and military authorities swept into Nimes. Authorities surrounded the historic Roman Arena and other public areas. Police presence remained high for Saturday’s scheduled start of the race, with police and military officers patrolling public areas with full military gear.

The Vuelta paid honor to the victims during Friday’s team presentation, and Guillén said the attacks deeply affected everyone within the cycling community. Guillén expressed his condolences on behalf of the Vuelta organization to the victims and their families.

“These terrorists want to attack our culture, our way of life, our lifestyle, and we cannot permit that,” Guillén told VeloNews. “The best thing we can do is to keep doing what we do. And we have to defend our values by keep doing it.”

Cycling officials across Europe are grappling with the threat of terrorist attacks. Last summer terrorists drove a large truck into a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, killing nearly 100 people and injuring hundreds more. French officials, despite some concern, allowed that year’s Tour de France to continue.

Cycling’s dynamic of racing on open roads and finishing in highly packed public areas make it a tricky issue for security officials. Races have often been the target of protesters or the occasional striking workers, but so far, no major cycling event has been affected by terrorists.

French authorities have upped security following a string of high-profile terrorist attacks over the past 18 months, while Spanish officials have struggled with terrorism for decades.

This year’s Tour de France saw noticeably increased police and military presence. Roads were often blocked going into start and finish areas with concrete barriers and large industrial vehicles. Police patrolled roadways and access points, while other security agencies monitored activity during the race.

Cycling events so far have been unhindered despite a recent uptick of attacks across Europe.

“In Spain, the alert levels are already at the maximum, and here in France, they’ve been under this threat for more than one year,” Guillén said. “We shouldn’t just look at one event, because there are many public events, not just ours, and the best thing we can do against this is to continue with our day-to-day routines.”

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VN Show: TJ Eisenhart just sends it http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vn-show-tj-eisenhart-just-sends_446272 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vn-show-tj-eisenhart-just-sends_446272#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:29:41 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446272 TJ Eisenhart's mantra for the 2017 racing season has been: "Just send it." What does that mean?

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Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes images from the Tour of Utah, Colorado Classic, Casey Gibson photo CBGphoto.com, Twitter.com/TJ_Eisenhart, Instagram.com/TJEisenhart, Twitter.com/BrianDoege

On this week’s episode of The VeloNews Show we’re joined by TJ Eisenhart of the Holowesko-Citadel pro cycling team.

TJ is one of the up-and-coming Americans on the domestic scene, and his growing list of palmares includes the overall win at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and a podium on stage 2 of the Colorado Classic.

Results aren’t why we’ve invited TJ onto the show.

TJ is one of the most aggressive and exciting racers in the U.S. peloton. He regularly goes for broke in big races. Sometimes he wins, other times he loses. But he always makes the races interesting to watch. His mantra for cycling is the phrase “Just Send It,” and we want to understand just exactly what that means.

Plus, we ask TJ to give the pro peloton some fashion tips.

All that and more on this week’s The VeloNews Show!

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VN pod, Haute Route Pyrenees special: Stage 6 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-6_446266 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-6_446266#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:27:59 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446266 On this episode we talk to Mavic mechanic Max Ruphy about what it takes to keep riders running at the Haute Route Pyrenees.

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On this episode we talk to Mavic mechanic Max Ruphy about what it takes to keep riders running at the Haute Route Pyrenees. How do bikes break? Is it harder than a pro race? Should you tip with beer? That last one is easy to answer…

The Haute Route Pyrenees mini-series is sponsored by Topical Edge lotion. Go to www.topicaledge.com/velonews for a free sample of a product that’s clinically proven to reduce lactic acid.

What’s this special podcast mini-series all about? Spencer Powlison is off in France doing this seven-day sportive with his friend Matt Mollo. Along the way, they’ll discuss the history of these big climbs and the delicious wines of the region. Don’t worry, as a wine importer, Matt’s an expert on natural wines… Spencer will stick to cycling (and drinking the wine).

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 and Fretz.


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Froome: ‘Our best Vuelta team ever’ http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/froome-best-vuelta-team-ever_446249 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/froome-best-vuelta-team-ever_446249#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:27:15 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446249 NIMES, France (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) strode into the 1st century Roman arena Friday afternoon not quite looking like a conquering

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NIMES, France (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) strode into the 1st century Roman arena Friday afternoon not quite looking like a conquering gladiator. A modern-day bike racer is too skinny for that.

But what he said about his ambitions should put the chill into his rivals going into Saturday’s start of the 2017 Vuelta a España.

“I think my team’s probably the strongest team we’ve ever put on the start line at the Vuelta,” Froome said. “There is feeling of purpose on the team, more than previously.”

Don’t expect another “Froomigal” in this year’s Vuelta. To protect Froome from unexpected surprises, Team Sky has brought what Froome considers his best Vuelta team ever.

This year, Froome boasts a Tour-level squad to the Vuelta to prevent history from repeating itself. “Fortress Froome” is packed with a strong mix of climbers — Wout Poels, Mikel Nieve, David Lopez and Diego Rosa — and rouleurs — Ian Stannard, Christian Knees, Gianni Moscon and Salvatore Puccio — to keep Froome protected in the hills and on the flats.

“We’ve been able to pull together guys who have been able to especially prepare for the Vuelta,” Froome said. “We have an all-round really well-balanced and really strong team.”

Froome, 32, doesn’t want to finish second again at the Spanish grand tour. After three second places in five Vuelta starts, he finally wants to knock off the title.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an obsession. It’s a race I really enjoy doing,” Froome continued. “It’s really difficult after the Tour de France to get back to the top condition, but it’s a challenge I enjoy. This year, in particular, I’ve had the opportunity to really focus on being ready for the Vuelta. I hadn’t had the Olympics like I did last year, so that’s given me a good period to refocus.”

The four-time Tour winner admitted it won’t be easy. This year’s Vuelta boasts perhaps its best ever starting field. Though a few have indicated they won’t be racing for GC, the level is high. He singled out Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Orica-Scott as his most dangerous rivals.

“Even though we don’t have Nairo [Quintana] here, we have a lot of really strong riders,” Froome said. “It’s about 21 days of racing, and with nine summit finishes. But having said that, the time trial I am really looking forward to. 40km, a lot of time can be won or lost there. Angliru is also a massive stage.”

Froome also had words of respect for Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), who retires at the end of this Vuelta.

“Alberto has been one of my biggest rivals and he has a certain flare and aggressive racing style. That certainly animates the race a lot more, and that is going to be missed,” Froome said.

“It will be interesting to see how he races his last grand tour,” he said. “I don’t think it’s in his nature to go out with a bit of a procession, and I am sure he will be doing everything he can to try to win.”

Froome certainly won’t want to get caught out in another Contador trap. Last year’s Quintana victory was in part due to the trap Contador set on the stage to Formigal.

“I think Nairo probably owes him one,” Froome said.

There are no favors in cycling. And that’s just how the gladiators would have played it.

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Who will win the Vuelta? A look at the contenders http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/will-win-vuelta-look-contenders_446251 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/will-win-vuelta-look-contenders_446251#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:33:14 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446251 A look at the sixteen contenders for the Vuelta a Espana

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Who will win this year’s Vuelta a Espana?

Chris Froome, probably.

That isn’t to say it will be easy. The route of this Vuelta is harder than that of the Tour (only four flat stages, six big mountain stages, and eight tricky, lumpy stages), plus the list of contenders is longer and more diverse in Spain that it was in France. Froome may be the favorite, but there are no fewer than 16 top-notch GC riders waiting for a hint of weakness.

Five-star favorite

Chris Froome. Only Froome gets five stars. Why? Because he’s the world’s best grand tour rider right now and is tired of finishing in second, as he did in 2016, 2014, and 2011. Froome really wants the Tour/Vuelta double, too, which hasn’t been achieved in 22 years. Plus, that 40km time trial suits him perfectly.

Four-star favorites

Romain Bardet (AG2R): The only man who seemed truly willing to take Froome to task at the Tour de France must be champing at the bit ahead of a race that is sure to be less controlled and, frankly, harder. The long TT doesn’t work in his favor, but Bardet’s attacking style is well-suited to a Vuelta course that’s downright vicious.

Fabio Aru (Astana): Aru fell ill in the final week of the Tour, lost his yellow jersey, and eventually slipped to fifth. But before that he was looking like Froome’s top challenger. If he can bring that climbing form to Spain, look out.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo): His final race, in his home country. You better believe Contador is going to go bonkers. And bonkers Contador is the best sort of Contador.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): The Shark of Messina has been discreet in the lead up to this Vuelta, but that’s what sharks do, right? Swim around down in the dark then bite you out of nowhere? Nibali doesn’t have Tour de France fatigue, raced decently well in the recent Tour of Poland, and is well suited to this Vuelta route.

Three-star favorites

Esteban Chavez (Orica-Scott): Few ride the Tour de France as a warmup, but Chavez did. After a personal tragedy and a bit of illness, his GC run in France wasn’t in the cards, but that just meant that the smiling Colombian could use it as the world’s highest-profile training block.

The Yates Brothers (Orica-Scott): Adam is probably fresher that Simon, as he didn’t do the Tour, but neither brother can be ruled out. These two in combination with Chavez could do some serious tactical damage on the Vuelta’s short stages to Sierra Nevada and the Alto de l’Angliru.

Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): Remember when Kruijswijk almost won the Giro? He does. He’s fresh, no tired Tour legs, and hyper-motivated.

George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo): There’s something to be said for confidence, and the belief that you can ride with the best. Bennett did just that in July, hitting new heights at the Tour. He was in the top 10, hitting power numbers he’d never seen before, then an illness forced him out heading into the final week. He knows the best can’t drop him easily. So he won’t be dropped easily.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin): Though he was relatively quiet at the Tour of Poland, his last tuneup race, there’s little question that Zakarin will climb well in Spain. The TT could be an issue, though.

Rohan Dennis won the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Two-star favorites

Rohan Dennis (BMC): Dennis appears to be making the slow transition to GC contender. He certainly has the engine to do so. The 40km TT will suit him well, too. He may be the only rider in this whole list who won’t lose time to Froome.

Bob Jungels (Quick Step): Jungels is in the same boat as Dennis. Both are bigger fellas looking to pull a Tom Dumoulin and morph into a Grand Tour winner. Jungels has already shown his GC prowess, though, finishing 6th at the Giro last year and 8th this year.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC): There was a time, not too long ago, when van Garderen questioned whether he is a GC rider at all. He is. We’re sure of it. And he needs a good grand tour to prove it to himself. Hopefully this Vuelta is that grand tour.

Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb): Teammate Warren Barguil will likely be on the hunt for stages again, but will also prove an invaluable domestique for Kelderman’s run at the overall. Sunweb’s decision to leave Tom Dumoulin at home means that this is Kelderman’s big shot.

Carlos Betancur
Carlos Betancur dominated the first day of the Hammer Series. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Dark horses

Carlos Betancur (Movistar): He’s often described as one of the most gifted cyclists in the pro peloton, but held back by a lack of discipline. That means when he’s hot — when the training has been good, finally — he’s very hot. The Tour de France seems like good prep for a rider like this. As long as he didn’t go off the rails after he finished the Tour (in 18th), he should be flying.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step): With Bob Jungels taking some of the GC load, Alaphilippe is free to test himself a bit. He’s coming back from injury, and his form is somewhat unknown. But a Vuelta that seems designed for unpredictable racing, a fit Alaphilippe should excel.

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Dan Martin, Rory Sutherland join UAE http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/dan-martin-rory-sutherland-join-uae_446241 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/dan-martin-rory-sutherland-join-uae_446241#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:37:00 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446241 Irish rider Dan Martin and Australian Rory Sutherland will ride for UAE Team Emirates in 2018.

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Irish rider Dan Martin has agreed to join UAE Team Emirates from Quick-Step Floors for the next two seasons, the Emirati team said on Friday.  The move brings serious Grand Tour clout to the Emirati team, which recently saw its top Grand Tour rider Louis Meintjes depart for Dimension Data

Australian domestique Rory Sutherland will also join the squad for 2018 on a one-year deal, the team announced.

Martin, 30, finished sixth at the Tour de France last month, despite Quick Step’s focus on stage wins with star sprinter Marcel Kittel. Martin also rode for much of the race with a fractured vertebrae; he suffered the injury in a nasty pileup on the twisting descent of Mont du Chat on stage 9. 

“As I enter into the most important years of my career, they (UAE) offer me the best platform possible to reach my potential and fulfill my sporting goals,” Martin said. 

Martin has twice finished inside the top-10 at the Tour de France. He is also one of a small number of current riders to have won two prestigious ‘Monument’ one-day classics. Martin won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2013 and the Tour of Lombardy a year later but has since developed into one of the best stage racers in the world, finishing seventh in the 2014 Vuelta a España and ninth at last year’s Tour before improving on that this time around. 

“We’re moving with the perspective of bringing quality athletes onto the team, athletes with the right motivations to best represent the spirit of our project,” said Carlos Saronni, UAE general manager, in a release.

Sutherland, 35, joins the squad after a three-year stint with the Spanish Motivstar team. Sutherland entered the WorldTour in 2013 with team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff after a successful career in the domestic U.S. racing scene. During his six-year stint in the U.S. scene Sutherland won stages of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Tour of Utah, as well as the overall at the Tour of the Gila, Tour de Beauce, Joe Martin Stage Race, Cascade Cycling Classic, and Mount Hood Cycling Classic.

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Contador promises one more fight http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/contador-promises-one-more-fight_446234 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/contador-promises-one-more-fight_446234#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:49:41 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446234 NIMES, France (VN) — Alberto Contador promises to go down swinging in the curtain call of his 15-year career. The three-time Vuelta a

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NIMES, France (VN) — Alberto Contador promises to go down swinging in the curtain call of his 15-year career.

The three-time Vuelta a España winner lines up Saturday for his final grand tour. A winner of seven major tours, the 34-year-old Spaniard promises to go out all guns a-blazing.

“I want to enjoy every moment of this Vuelta, but don’t get me wrong, I want to win,” Contador said at a press conference Friday. “I’ve been super-professional, and I will be that way until the final pedal strokes. But this Vuelta is special. I feel something special to be able to say goodbye at this race.”

Contador opened the press conference expressing his condolences to victims of the terrorist attacked in Barcelona on Thursday.

With Contador’s pending exit, Vuelta a España officials know that cycling will be missing one of the sport’s most influential riders.

“Cycling loses something special when Contador retires,” said Vuelta race director Javier Guillén. “It’s not only his palmares that set him apart, but how he raced. There are very few in the peloton who bring his aggressive style of racing.”

Contador started four Vueltas, and won three, with victories in 2008, 2012 and 2014. In last year’s Vuelta, he was fourth overall, but still managed to be the rider who dictated the tactics. His attacks on the road to Formigal during stage 15 opened the door for Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to take important gains on Chris Froome (Sky).

Contador’s grand tour track record is impressive by any standard. In 17 grand tour starts, he officially won seven, and only never finished out of the top-5 in grand tour he finished until was ninth last month at the Tour de France.

He is one of only six riders who have won all three grand tours in his career.

Contador’s legacy is also marked by his controversial clenbuterol case in 2010. He was handed down a back-dated ban of two years, and saw his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia victories stripped from his official palmares.

Known for his stubborn, never-give-up character, Contador clashed with some of the biggest stars over two generations. Across his career, he back the likes of Lance Armstrong and Carlos Sastre as a younger pro, and later Fabio Aru and Froome as he advanced.

Contador never put much focus on the world championships or the one-day classics, only racing in nine monuments during his career.

He was prolific in stage racing, winning nearly every major stage race he started at least once. At his best, he was lethal on the climbs and dependable against the clock.

After his 2010 disqualification, he tried in vain to win another Tour. In 2013, in his return to the Tour following his ban, Froome humiliated Contador on the climbs. Crashes took him out of the 2014 and 2016 editions.

This year, crashes once again handicapped his performance. Midway through the Tour, Contador had made up his mind the time was right to retire.

“It was a decision that I had already been thinking about a lot,” Contador said. “We were talking about extending the contract through next year’s Giro d’Italia. I had a moment during the Tour that made me realize that this would be the end.”

What does cycling lose? Contador was always a factor in every grand tour he started. He wasn’t afraid to attack, and would often take big risks to try to win. Sometimes they would backfire, but when they worked, the result was spectacular.

On Saturday, he will start with the No. 1 bib. Spanish fans will be saying goodbye for the next three weeks. A few of his rivals, however, might quietly be happy to see him go. Nothing could ruin a bike race quicker than being on the wrong end of a Contador attack.

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VN pod, Haute Route Pyrenees special: Stage 5 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-5_446218 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-5_446218#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:28:13 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446218 The Haute Route race director explains how he balances famous cols with lesser-known mountains and wrangles 800 volunteers.

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For Thursday’s stage 5 time trial, we’ve got a special interview with the Haute Route race director. He explains how he balances famous cols with lesser-known mountains. Plus we ask him about the difficulties involved in wrangling 800 volunteers throughout the French mountains.

What’s this special podcast mini-series all about? Spencer Powlison is off in France doing this seven-day sportive with his friend Matt Mollo. Along the way, they’ll discuss the history of these big climbs and the delicious wines of the region. Don’t worry, as a wine importer, Matt’s an expert on natural wines… Spencer will stick to cycling (and drinking the wine).

The Haute Route Pyrenees mini-series is sponsored by Topical Edge lotion. Go to www.topicaledge.com/velonews for a free sample of a product that’s clinically proven to reduce lactic acid.

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 and Fretz.

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Team Sky to use giant expandable trailer http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/team-sky-to-use-giant-expandable-trailer_446210 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/team-sky-to-use-giant-expandable-trailer_446210#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:09:59 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446210 Team Sky will roll out a Formula One type “Race Hub” truck with a kitchen and mobile headquarters in the Vuelta a España, starting

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Team Sky will roll out a Formula One type “Race Hub” truck with a kitchen and mobile headquarters in the Vuelta a España, starting this weekend, in an effort to further leave behind the unpredictable trappings of team race hotels. If successful, Chris Froome and the other team cyclists could continue to use the flashy two-story vehicle in the 2018 Tour de France.

The Race Hub is an expandable trailer, pulled by a large truck, which folds out to two levels when parked. Sky described the trailer as a “flexible space for riders and staff that can be used on race in a variety of different ways – for example, communal eating, team briefings and pre and post-race relaxation. It can also be used for guest hospitality and media.” It’s a rolling hotel lobby, kitchen, and more. Thanks to a UCI rule, Sky riders will still have to sleep in their designated hotels.

The Race Hub can be parked near the buses at the race starts or finishes or at the team hotels over the three weeks of a grand tour. Sky will still rely on its black and blue bus, commonly referred to within the peloton as the Death Star, to transport its riders to starts and finishes.

“The nature of our sport inevitably involves thousands of kilometers of racing, constant travel between stages, ever changing hotel accommodation and long hours,” said team Sky boss David Brailsford.

“We know how much all our people give to the Team and the sacrifices they make. As a result, we have become increasingly focused over the past year on the need to provide our staff with an environment where we can look after them even better – a space where they can relax more easily, eat and be briefed together. Rest and recovery are obviously every bit as important as training for performance.”

Sky, however, has come under fire in the past for congesting hotel parking space with its fleet.

“It’s really not easy with all of Sky’s additional vehicles,” LottoNL sports director, Frans Maassen said in 2015 after the teams shared a hotel.

“Sky had three mega-campers. They had them parked long before even one car or truck of ours had arrived. It does not work.”

The truck is the latest in a long line of innovations intended to provide a more controlled working environment for both staff and riders. In 2015, Sky purchased a mobile home for team leader Richie Porte in the Giro d’Italia. The idea was to allow its leader, and eventually all Sky cyclists, to sleep in his own room for three weeks instead of changing hotel rooms nightly. The quality of hotels is notoriously unpredictable in Europe, and many suffer from poor air conditioning or dirty rooms. The UCI, however, quickly updated a rule to read that riders must stay in the hotels provided by the race organizer.

Sky also tried a telescoping strobe light to help riders locate the team bus in its debut year, 2010, and now uses a separate truck with nine washing machines in some grand tours. Each machine is for each of its riders to avoid germs spreading from one rider to the next. The team has a small silver mobile home caravan for the top brass to meet and if needed, sleep. It often parks outside the team’s hotel for the evening

The super-sized Race Hub, however, takes this infrastructure to a new level. It could replace the team’s current kitchen truck with appliances and space inside for the team cook to prepare meals.

“I believe the Race Hub will help strengthen our team culture further and foster even greater communication and camaraderie between riders and staff,” Brailsford said.

“We will be trailing the new Race Hub at this year’s Vuelta and looking at how we can best use it going forward to support the Team. We are constantly looking for ways where we can innovate, modernize and improve and we see this as an important next step of that program.”

 

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Putin grants Aussie sprinter Perkins Russian citizenship http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/putin-grants-aussie-sprinter-perkins-russian-citizenship_446205 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/putin-grants-aussie-sprinter-perkins-russian-citizenship_446205#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:10:55 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446205 President Vladimir Putin granted Shane Perkins of Australia Russian citizenship, paving the way for the rider to represent the country at

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MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday gave former cycling world champion Shane Perkins of Australia Russian citizenship, paving the way for the rider to represent Russia  at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Perkins, 30, announced he was switching allegiance to Russia earlier this year after failing to get on Australia’s track cycling team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

A decree published by the Kremlin said Putin had signed off on granting citizenship to the the rider, who is currently in Saint Petersburg for Russia’s national championships. The rare defection by an Australian athlete raised eyebrows, since Melbourne-born Perkins has no family ties to Russia.

The cyclist was reportedly convinced to join the Russian team by his training partner in Japan Denis Dmitriev, who told him that it would give him a good chance of competing in Tokyo.

Perkins won bronze in the individual sprint at the London Olympics in 2012 after claiming first place at the 2011 World Championships in the keirin event. His switch to Russia comes at a time when the country is in the spotlight after an alleged state-sponsored doping system was uncovered.

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Samuel Sanchez positive for hGH-stimulating peptide http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/samuel-sanchez-positive-hgh-stimulating-peptide_446191 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/samuel-sanchez-positive-hgh-stimulating-peptide_446191#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:35:22 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446191 Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has tested positive for banned substance GHRP-2, a synthetic peptide that causes the release of growth

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Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has tested positive for banned substance GHRP-2, a synthetic peptide that causes the release of growth hormone within the body, the UCI announced Thursday.

Sanchez, 39, has been provisionally suspended by the UCI and his BMC team pending results from his B sample. Sanchez was slated to join BMC at the Vuelta a Espana, which begins Saturday, but will now be replaced by Loïc Vliegen on BMC’s roster. The sample was taken in an out-of-competition test on August 9.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that Spanish rider Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of GHRP-2* in a sample collected in the scope of out-of-competition control on 9 August 2017,” the UCI said in a statement.

GHRP-2 stimulates the pituitary gland to produce endogenous human growth hormone, which can help increase endurance and improve recovery and weight loss. Earlier this year, Bardiani-CSF riders Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni tested positive for the same substance.

“In accordance with BMC Racing Team’s zero tolerance policy and UCI regulation, Sánchez has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect. Until the results of the B sample are provided, no further action will be taken,” team BMC said in a statement.

Sanchez took home gold in the Olympic road race in 2008, was second overall at the Tour de France in 2010, and has won five stages of the Vuelta a Espana. His BMC contract is up at the end of the 2017 season, and he previously stated that he would make a decision regarding the future of his long career after the Vuelta.

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VN pod, Haute Route Pyrenees special: Stage 4 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-4_446177 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-stage-4_446177#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 20:08:06 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446177 The guys tough it out on a rainy ride over Col d'Aspin and talk about the crazy mountainous route on the first-ever Tour de France.

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On stage 4 of the Haute Route Pyrenees, the guys tough it out on a rainy ride over Col d’Aspin. They talk about the crazy mountainous route on the first-ever Tour de France and Fernando Escartin’s raid over the Peyresourde in the 1999 Tour.

What’s this special podcast mini-series all about? Spencer Powlison is off in France doing this seven-day sportive with his friend Matt Mollo. Along the way, they’ll discuss the history of these big climbs and the delicious wines of the region. Don’t worry, as a wine importer, Matt’s an expert on natural wines… Spencer will stick to cycling (and drinking the wine).

The Haute Route Pyrenees mini-series is sponsored by Topical Edge lotion. Go to www.topicaledge.com/velonews for a free sample of a product that’s clinically proven to reduce lactic acid.

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 and Fretz.

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Kittel leaves Quick-Step for Katusha http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/kittel-leaves-quick-step-katusha_446168 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/kittel-leaves-quick-step-katusha_446168#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:25:50 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446168 Sprint star Marcel Kittel will depart Belgian squad Quick-Step and head to Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 and 2019, the Russian team announced on

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Sprint star Marcel Kittel will depart Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors and head to Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 and 2019, the Russian team announced on Wednesday.

The news comes one week after Quick-Step renewed its contract with up-and-coming sprinter Fernando Gaviria, and just days after Katusha’s sprinter Alexander Kristoff announced his plans to ride for team UAE in 2018.

“I am looking forward to racing with the team and especially with Tony [Martin] and some of the other German riders,” Kittel wrote on his personal website.

Kittel, 29, had an outstanding 2017 Tour de France, winning five stages last month and holding the sprinters’ green jersey for 12 days before being forced to withdraw from the race after a crash on the 17th stage in the Alps. The German ace said he made the move to Katusha in part because of Quick-Step’s dedication to Gaviria, who won four stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The 22-year-old Colombian will likely ride the 2018 Tour de France, which could put Quick-Step in a position to choose which sprinter to take.

Kittel said Quick-Step management could not guarantee that he—and not Gaviria—would be the team sprinter for the Tour de France.

“The team management could not give me a definite answer and I can understand that,” Kittel said. “After Fernando Gaviria won four stages of the Giro, he will of course also want to be at the start of the Tour.”

The move to Katusha is a logical one for the German sprinter. The Russian squad has a German co-sponsor in Alpecin, and its roster already includes multiple German riders, such as Tony Martin, Rick Zabel, Nils Politt, and Marco Haller. Those four riders also feature prominently in the team’s sprint train.

“I look forward to the new challenge and—especially great—a totally German team for the sprints,” Kittel wrote.

Co-sponsor Alpecin makes hair care products, including a line of caffeinated shampoo. Kittel, who sports a vertical blond coif hairstyle, has the description “I love speed, sprinting, and hair” in his Twitter bio.

Kittel thanked his previous employers for helping him recover from a virus that plagued him in 2015 and saw him miss that year’s Tour de France due to poor form.

“I got some great support over the last two years and was able to get back to my previous best after my horror year in 2015,” he added.

His five wins this year made him the most successful German stage winner in the world’s most prestigious bike race. Kittel will be linking up with Martin again after the pair raced together for the German-based Energie Team 10 years ago as juniors, while they also spent last season together at Quick-Step.

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Where the Vuelta will be won: Spanish grand tour on a slow boil http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vuelta-will-won-spanish-grand-tour-slow-boil_446156 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/vuelta-will-won-spanish-grand-tour-slow-boil_446156#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:18:13 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446156 It might start in France, and end in Madrid, but the Vuelta a España always has been, and certainly will be this year, about the mountains.

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NIMES, France (VN) — It might start in France, and end in Madrid, but the Vuelta a España always has been, and certainly will be this year, about the mountains.

Just like any Vuelta, the 72nd edition features a few new twists and novelties — how about riding through a Roman arena in Saturday’s opening team time trial? But the winner will be decided on the climbs. With nine summit finales, this year’s course has plenty of vertical.

“The Vuelta will be again a tough race,” said Quick-Step sport director Geert Van Bondt. “It will be grueling, even for the best climbers. With steep gradients, some kicking out at 25 percent, and the extreme temperatures, [it will] test the riders these three weeks.”

With a stellar start list — the only notable names missing are Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), defending champion Nairo Quintana and the injured Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) — the Vuelta could deliver the most engaging GC fight of the season. Who is at this year’s race? It’s an embarrassment of GC talent: Chris Froome (Sky), Romain Bardet (AG2R), Fabio Aru (Astana), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Esteban Chaves, Adam and Simon Yates (all three Orica-Scott), Illnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo) to name a few.

What makes the Vuelta so unpredictable?

The Vuelta comes at the back-end of the season, and that means riders have a wide range of fitness. Some contenders have tired legs from the Tour de France. Others are comparatively fresh, after having raced the Giro d’Italia. A few need a big result to secure their respective futures. Add Spanish summer heat and endless pressure, and the Vuelta is the season’s most surprising, and entertaining, grand tour to watch.

Call this the Vuelta on slow boil. The 2017 edition becomes harder as it unfolds. The hardest climbs are packed into the final week, including a return of the fearsome Alto de l’Angliru on the penultimate stage. The GC battle could come down to the final ramp on the final weekend.

Week one: A few early surprises

Despite the race’s long history dating back to the 1930s, Saturday’s start in France is only the third time the race has ventured beyond the borders of Spain to start. The first foreign adventure was in Lisbon in 1997, and the second in the wildly successful start in Assen, Netherlands, in 2009.

It won’t take long to get back into Spain, however. Saturday’s team time trial is followed by a transition stage to Gruissan. The race quickly dips into Andorra for stage 3 before returning to the more comfortable confines of the Iberian peninsula.

Week One could deliver a few surprises. The explosive “puncheurs” will have plenty of chances to win a stage, and any one of the GC favorites who don’t have strong legs out of the gate could cede early ground.

The climbs come early and quick. Stage 3 into Andorra features two difficult climbs in the final hour of racing. Stages 5 and 7 serve up explosive finales, with pure sprinters looking for their few chances in between.

Things heat up by the second weekend, with uphill finales at Xorret de Catí in stage 8 and Cumbre del Sol in stage 9. Both are sharp, explosive climbs where the first major GC differences will be set.

“The race ramps up as it goes,” said Orica-Scott sport director Neil Stephens. “The first half of the Vuelta has some surprisingly difficult stages that don’t look difficult on paper, but might catch people off-guard.”

The 2017 Vuelta will likely be won in the mountains. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Week Two: Heat and more climbs

Week two will see the main GC favorites pedal to the fore. And temperatures will rise.

After finishing second three times, Chris Froome (Sky) wants to get that elusive Vuelta victory. The course stacks up in his favor. Only Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil have won the Tour and Vuelta in the same season, and no one’s done it since the Vuelta moved to late summer in 1995.

“It certainly feels as if I’ve got unfinished business with this race,” Froome said this week. “It’s a race I love doing, but it’s relentless. It’s more mountainous than the Tour, and being in mid-August, it’s common to have temperatures up in the mid-40s [well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit]. It’s absolutely brutal.”

That undoubtedly will be the case in week two. Every stage in the second week, with the exception of stage 13 to Tomares, features at least one first category climb.

The Vuelta’s first major mountaintop finale comes in stage 13 to Calar Alto, with the double-whammy of the La Pandera climb in stage 14 and the Monachil ascent in Stage 15. Be sure to tune in for these three days—the climbs will certainly divide the wheat from the chafe.

Spain’s summer heat will take a toll in week two. As the route pushes south into Andalucía, the thermometer will soar into the high 90s and above on a daily basis. Managing recovery and hydration will be vitally important.

The podium picture will be more complete by the end of two weeks of racing. The pure climbers will need to stick it to Froome early if they hope to have a chance at overall victory.

Week 3 to decide all

A long transfer into northern Spain on the second rest day carries the race into the decisive final week. Cooler temperatures in the climbs along Spain’s “green coast” will come as a welcome respite, but the roads won’t get any easier.

The inclusion of a 40.2km individual time trial at Logroño at stage 16 tilts heavily in favor of Froome. Last year, he took back enough time on the climbers in a late-race TT that likely would have delivered victory had he not lost time on the road to Formigal. Froome will be looking to avoid mistakes like that this year, and the Logroño TT will be his best chance to sew up the GC.

Even if Froome takes big gains, the climbers will have further opportunities in the closing stages.

The Vuelta delivers another surprise the very next day on stage 17 to Los Machucos. The race has been able to dig up these incredibly steep and hidden climbs with consistency over the past 15 years. The final climb features ramps as steep as 25 percent, with short respites as it stair-steps up the 6km summit. The final kilometer is flat, which should set up an incredible stage.

Two more transition stages lead to the Vuelta’s “queen stage” and the return of the fearsome Angliru. Back for the first time since Chris Horner won the 2013 Vuelta, the Angliru is one of Europe’s steepest climbs.

The Vuelta never lets up.

“With a course like that, you have to take it like you’re racing a ‘classic’ every day, because anything can happen,” said BMC’s Samuel Sánchez. “One day you’re fighting for the GC, but you can be out of it the very next day. In the Vuelta, you cannot afford even one slip of concentration.”

What’s it going to take to win? Consistency, strong climbing legs, and a solid time trial.

Can the climbers beat a “fresher” Froome? That will be the big storyline of this Vuelta.

And a predictably unpredictable Vuelta course sets the tone. We expect nothing less from the Vuelta.

The 72nd Vuelta begins Saturday in Nimes, France, and concludes September 10 in Madrid.

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Canyon bikes now available in the U.S. http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/canyon-bikes-now-available-u-s_446098 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/canyon-bikes-now-available-u-s_446098#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:23:05 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446098 German bike manufacturer Canyon officially opened its consumer-direct online business for U.S. customers on Tuesday

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German bike manufacturer Canyon officially opened its consumer-direct online business for U.S. customers on Tuesday. Bikes ordered online through the company’s website will be shipped from Canyon’s new California warehouse directly to the customer. This consumer-direct sales model comes with a heavy dose of controversy as it cuts bike shops out of the equation. This contention isn’t enough to deter Canyon though, as it expects a big American appetite for its competitively priced premium bikes.

“We’ve always had a huge demand from the U.S.,” says Roman Arnold, Canyon founder and CEO. “The people always said this is like the forbidden fruit and we want to taste. So there was always a lot of interest.”

Canyon’s early hesitation in entering the U.S. market stemmed from distribution hold-ups rather than lack of demand, company representatives said. In 2010, Arnold considered working with Competitive Cyclist, a large American online cycling retailer, but decided not to embark on the partnership. Arnold said Canyon’s global production process was not robust enough to meet the anticipated demand of the U.S. market.

“The main problem with Canyon [coming to America] was that global demand was so high and our production capacity wasn’t enough to meet that demand or just barely meet that demand,” says Matt Heitmann, Canyon’s chief marketing officer. “So we just kept postponing and postponing [in the U.S] and continued growing globally at an unprecedented pace.”

To accommodate this growth, Canyon built a new factory in its hometown of Koblenz, Germany to facilitate assembly and shipping. Per Canyon’s business model, a customer receives the bike almost completely built out of the box, with minimal assembly required.

The consumer-direct sales model continues to stir anxiety in the bike industry. The consumer-direct model cuts independent bicycle dealers out of the sales process entirely, which trims the product’s price tag. Canyon’s top-end Aeroad CF SLX 9.0, for example, retails at $9,000 with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electric components. Similar top-end carbon racing bicycles with those components can cost as much as $12,500.

Critics of consumer-direct purchasing say the process removes the customer from valuable shop services, such as bike fitting and proper assembly. Additionally, removing shops from the equation only deepens the wound of what some say is a bleeding industry, one with tight margins and high competition.

Canyon execs say they are not the enemy of the industry or of independent bike dealers, either. It points to service opportunities that bike shops can capitalize on with new Canyon customers. “It’s a big chance for the dealer to service these bikes that are bought online,” Arnold says. “Canyon will bring new customers to the dealers.”

Canyon bicycles will be shipped out of the brand’s Chino, California-based warehouse while the company’s new U.S. headquarters will operate out of Carlsbad, California. Canyon enters the U.S. market with a limited number of bike models compared to its European offering – less than 20-percent of the full Canyon lineup is currently available in the U.S. “We’re putting our toe in the water,” Heyman says. “We’re putting it pretty deep in the water but we’re just testing things out to start.”

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Sitting in with Barry Wicks http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/from-the-mag/sitting-in-with-barry-wicks_445633 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/from-the-mag/sitting-in-with-barry-wicks_445633#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:32:46 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=445633 Wicks still races dirt exclusively. His focus, however, has moved away from fast, multi-lap events to the latest crop of off-road races.

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A decade ago, Barry Wicks competed at the pinnacle of American off-road racing. Every summer he chased points at mountain bike World Cup events and in the National Mountain Bike Series; every autumn he raced alongside the
best cyclocross racers at the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross and world championships.

These days Wicks still races exclusively on dirt. His focus, however, has moved away from fast, multi-lap events toward the latest crop of off-road races: gravel races, enduro mountain bike events, and multi-day cross-country epics. Wicks believes these are the events that are currently driving the culture of American off-road racing. We caught up with him to help understand this world.

VeloNews: When looking at the wide swath of dirt races on the schedule, how do you choose which ones to do?

Barry Wicks: I’ve done World Cups and NORBAs and pretty much everything, and I’m at a point now where if I’m going to invest my time and energy I want it to be rad. The riding has to be really good and the race just needs to be fun. I’m not going to some park to race around in circles with nobody watching. I’d rather go camp in the forest and do a 100-mile gravel race. That’s what I’m looking for, and it seems like a lot of the other guys are looking for that. It has to be fun if you’re going to race bikes. And that’s where a lot of new events are really succeeding, like the Epic Rides series or the Sierra Triple Crown.

VN: The Epic Rides races (Whiskey Off-Road, Carson City Off-Road, Grand Junction Off-Road) now attract the country’s top pro riders. What is so attractive about the Epic Rides events?

BW: The first time I did the Whiskey Off-Road was six years ago. I had been hearing about it, that all of a sudden there was this rad 50-mile race in Arizona with a ton of prize money. The race does a great job with the media and its place on the calendar, and it just feels like the way we should be doing mountain-bike racing. There is a Fat Tire Crit for people to watch, and it’s a great format. That’s the whole reason I exist: to engage with spectators. It engages the community, and all of the people who are there. At other races you go to hang out and there’s nobody around, anywhere. At [Epic Rides] races there is this organized event to get people excited.

Barry Wicks
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

VN: What are the cultural differences that you see between the endurance mountain bike scene and gravel racing?

BW: They are pretty close. Both racing formats seem really accessible to people. The Lost and Found [Gravel Grinder] isn’t even billed as a race — it’s billed as a bike ride. It feels accessible compared to road racing, where you have to be a Cat. 5 to do this race or a Cat. 3 to do that race. It lowers the barrier to entry. At the same time, everyone at these races is racing. To me that’s been the biggest shift in racing over the last few years. These events are competitive but they are also non-competitive. It’s about coming out and doing a fun and awesome event because that is what is fun to do.

VN: These are competitive events, so people want to win. Do you ever come across tension with people bending the rules or being too competitive?

BW: Not too much. We’re in this golden age of this style of racing, and as riders we tend to take care of it ourselves. There’s always going to be some tension because people are competitive. Everyone who is racing at the front of these events has been racing a long time, and we can figure it out. Sometimes it’s not possible, and some type of ruling has to be made.

VN: What about when riders can’t find a way to settle things? There was the controversy last year at Dirty Kanza involving a rider who was disqualified for taking an illegal feed, for example.

BW: People are acting like Dirty Kanza is a World Cup and it’s not. It’s a gravel race in the middle of Kansas. So if you’re pissed that some dude took an illegal feed, then you shouldn’t be there racing. Get over it. It’s not the world championships. It’s a bike ride with your friends. If you start down that road, with making tons of new rules, then it takes the fun out of it. It erodes the goodwill and the good feeling, and it becomes too serious. Everyone needs to chill out. We’re not solving the world’s problems at Dirty Kanza; we’re riding bikes.

VN: Do you see yourself racing Dirty Kanza again anytime soon?

BW: I don’t think I’m going to go back ever. Once was enough for me. It’s a little too much. It’s cool but also not that cool. The vibe is fine, but it’s just a little weird to me. It’s this accomplishment type thing that appeals to Type-A personalities. That’s great. There are all types. But for me it just didn’t resonate. I just don’t relate to that as much as I relate to other types of events.

VN: So what’s on your Mount Rushmore of dirt races these days?

BW: I still have a really soft spot for the BC Bike Race, because that was my first big epic ride. I still recommend that, even though BCBR has become such a popular thing. It deserves to be on my list because the riding is so rad. Lost and Found has also made its way onto my list. It’s such a fun weekend and there is such a good vibe there. The Sierra Trails guys know how to put on a good event. Breck Epic will always be on my list because I think [promoter] Mike McCormack has the best idea with rules. The only two rules are: Don’t be a dick and don’t litter. Finally, the Grasshopper Adventure Series in Northern California is so fun. Everyone should do that. It’s the shit.

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VN pod, Haute Route Pyrenees special: Stage 3 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-tough-tourmalet_446132 http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/podcast/vn-pod-haute-route-pyrenees-special-tough-tourmalet_446132#respond Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:19:38 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=446132 On this episode, we take on the Col du Tourmalet. This famous climb was the first high-mountain ascent included in the Tour.

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On this episode of the Haute Route Pyrenees special podcast, we take on the Col du Tourmalet. This famous climb was the first high-mountain ascent included in the Tour, back in 1910. We talk about that, Eddy Merckx’s unbelievable win to Mourenx in 1969, and more.

What’s this special podcast mini-series all about? Spencer Powlison is off in France doing this seven-day sportive with his friend Matt Mollo. Along the way, they’ll discuss the history of these big climbs and the delicious wines of the region. Don’t worry, as a wine importer, Matt’s an expert on natural wines… Spencer will stick to cycling (and drinking the wine).

The Haute Route Pyrenees mini-series is sponsored by Topical Edge lotion. Go to www.topicaledge.com/velonews for a free sample of a product that’s clinically proven to reduce lactic acid.

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 and Fretz.

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