News – VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:27:43 +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 Carpenter and Dragoo win Cascade Classic despite final-stage snafu http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/race-report/carpenter-dragoo-win-cascade-classic-despite-final-stage-snafu_444638 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/race-report/carpenter-dragoo-win-cascade-classic-despite-final-stage-snafu_444638#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 19:42:27 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444638 Robin Carpenter defends his overall title at the Cascade Classic. Allie Dragoo win the women's race in Bend, Oregon.

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Robin Carpenter defended his overall title at the Cascade Classic Sunday, and Allie Dragoo won the women’s race in Bend, Oregon.

“The last day is hard, it’s a good day to take it,” Carpenter said after stage 5. “It’s definitely stressful, I’ve got to say I was really relieved after the race. I’m a head case when I come to a race I know I can win, so I was happy I could keep it together.”

Dragoo echoed the 25-year-old’s comments, having felt the pressure of leading the race into the final stage.

“My team really put it all out there for me,” Dragoo said. “I’m so thankful to them. I was stressed and anxious before the stage. I owe it to all of them.”

Allie Dragoo
Allie Dragoo shared the Cascade Classic podium with her Sho-Air-Twenty20 teammates. Cascade Cycling Classic

Unfortunately, the riders’ concerns about a stressful race were realized in stage 5. The men’s field caught the women’s race with 500 meters to go. Silber’s Stephen Bassett was on the attack and crashed into Colavita-Bianchi’s Whitney Alison.

“It just happened that it was in the final corner that we merged,” Carpenter added. “It’s really unfortunate for Bassett, just looking down and he plowed into her. I was a little bit behind it and managed to get around. He was definitely going to podium, and probably going to win so it’s too bad for him.”

Alex Howes, winner of stage 1, went on to finish first in the 139km stage 5. The Cannondale-Drapac rider was on a composite team with fellow WorldTour pros Kiel Reijnen, and Pete Stetina, who won stage 3.

Sarah Poidevin avoided the chaos at the end of the 80-kilometer race to win a third stage for her Rally Team. Her fellow Canadians and teammates Kirsti Lay and Sarah Bergen won stages 1 and 3, respectively. Poidevin took home the race’s queen of the mountains title, while Bergen won the points classification.

Although Poidevin, 21, put Dragoo under pressure in the final stage, the Sho-Air-Twenty20 rider won the overall title with a third-place finish Sunday behind Emma Grant (Colavita-Bianchi). Dragoo had held the leader’s jersey since the stage 2 time trial, which Claire Rose (Visit Dallas-DNA) won.

The men’s race was also very close at the end of five stages. Holowesko-Citadel’s defending champion Carpenter was second behind Howes in stage 5. UnitedHealthcare’s Gavin Mannion went into the stage with a one-second lead in the overall, so Carpenter won the 27th edition of Cascade Classic with a six-second time bonus earned in the final stage. Evan Huffman, winner of the stage 2 time trial, rounded out the overall podium in third.

Men’s overall, top 10

  • 1. Robin Carpenter (HOLOWESKO / CITADEL RACING P/B HINCAPIE SPORTSWEAR), 12:28:36
  • 2. Gavin Mannion (UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM), 12:28:41
  • 3. Evan Huffman (RALLY CYCLING), 12:28:48
  • 4. Daniel Eaton (UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM), 12:29:01
  • 5. Serghei Tvetcov (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS), 12:29:19
  • 6. Peter Stetina (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), 12:29:31
  • 7. Nigel Ellsay (SILBER PRO CYCLING), 12:29:36
  • 8. Cameron Piper (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), 12:29:41
  • 9. Travis Samuel (H&R BLOCK PRO CYCLING TEAM), 12:29:53
  • 10. Luis Ricardo Villalobos Hernandez (AEVOLO), 12:29:55

Women’s overall, top 10

  • 1. Allie Dragoo (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:40:57
  • 2. Sara Poidevin (RALLY CYCLING), 11:41:04
  • 3. Jasmin Duehring (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:41:57
  • 4. Jennifer Luebke (VISIT DALLAS DNA PRO CYCLING), 11:43:10
  • 5. Jennifer Valente (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:43:15
  • 6. Sara Bergen (RALLY CYCLING), 11:43:24
  • 7. Whitney Allison (COLAVITA/BIANCHI USA), 11:43:41
  • 8. Emma Grant (COLAVITA/BIANCHI USA), 11:43:41
  • 9. Kaitlin Antonneau (CYLANCE PRO CYCLING), 11:45:02
  • 10. Stephanie Roorda (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:45:36

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Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/commentary/tour-de-meh-three-ways-make-tdf-fun_444634 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/commentary/tour-de-meh-three-ways-make-tdf-fun_444634#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:38:36 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444634 Even though the 2017 Tour de France was won by less than a minute, the racing was conservative and defensive. Here's how to fix that.

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Am I missing something? It seems like the entire cycling world had the hots for the 2017 Tour de France. Meh … It left me cold. Sure, the GC came down to less than one minute. The race also had a number of interesting storylines, exciting moments, and first-time stage winners. Yet through all of that, Froome’s fourth win felt inevitable. It put me to sleep.

Sky’s $40 million super-team deserves a lot of the credit for making the Tour a plodding march. But this year’s unconventional race route is also to blame. I would have altered this route to amp up the excitement.

1. De-emphasize time trials

Despite ASO’s best efforts to make this Tour one for attackers, it devolved into a race that hinged on time trial bookends, stages 1 and 20. Froome took 51 seconds out of Rigoberto Uràn in stage 1, and he beat the Colombian by 25 seconds in stage 20. That 1:16 was the bulk of his 54-second margin of overall victory. To beat Romain Bardet, Froome was 39 seconds faster in stage 1 and 1:57 (ouch!) quicker in stage 20 for a total of 2:36. Bardet was third overall by 2:20.

We can’t expect a grand tour to be void of time trials, but even disc-wheel devotees have to admit that Tours like the ones Miguel Indurain won in the 1990s were a bit dry.

Let’s start by shortening the stage 1 time trial — just make it a prologue. What is the purpose of starting a grand tour with a TT? It’s usually a way to give a rider like Rohan Dennis or Fabian Cancellara a chance to wear yellow. For those guys, the difference between 14km and 4km is often negligible. Let the GC guys figure things out later in the Tour.

Then, move the second, longer time trial back into week two of the Tour. It should play a role in deciding the GC, of course. However, in the 2017 Tour, it was the sword of Damocles for everyone except Uràn.

2. Forget the flat stages

Apologies to Marcel Kittel, but this Tour wasted at least five days on 200-kilometer flat stages that lulled us into a stupor. The route needs to replicate the excitement of stage 14’s steep kicker into Rodez where Fabio Aru lost yellow.

Or, if you want to keep the pure sprinters in the mix, the route could seek out crosswinds to disrupt the formulaic finishes. Stage 16 caught Dan Martin and Louis Meintjes off-guard with a lumpy run to Romans-sur-Isère, coupled with a crosswind that exacerbated the time gaps.

3. Follow La Vuelta

As we learned in the 2016 Vuelta a España, a short, mountainous stage can blow up the GC. At the very least, it makes for an entertaining day of racing. The Tour got halfway there with stage 13.

Returning to suggestion #1, if the time trial moves to week two, the short, 100-ish kilometer stage should punctuate week three. Then, we’d see GC contenders mounting last-ditch efforts to un-horse Froome. Plus, with this stage in the final week, there’s a greater chance that GC teams will be too weak to tamp down attacks. (I’ll admit, however, that Sky looked quite peppy on stage 18 to Col d’Izoard.)

It’s not that I want the route to prevent Froome from winning yet another Tour. I want it to compel him to with the race with offense, rather than defense. It was like watching a 1-0 soccer game. All the players did was kick the ball around in the middle of a big field for 90 minutes.

Froome failed to win a single stage of the race. That’s perhaps a bigger hang-up than the time trials or the sprint stages. Only six others have won yellow without claiming a stage.

Sure, he won last year’s Tour by a nap-inducing 4:05, on the trot ahead of Bardet, but in 2016, Froome attacked the race like a swashbuckler. His solo win on stage 8 to Bagnères-de-Luchon was a masterpiece. His TT victory in stage 18 was a fist slamming the table. Did he attack the crosswinds with Peter Sagan in 2017? Nope. Were there any moments of manhood-threatening super-tucking this year? Unfortunately, no.

If Sky’s going to keep dominating the Tour, fans need at least a hint of panache and unpredictability. Froome is headed to the Vuelta in a few weeks — hopefully the guys who plan the Tour’s route will be taking notes.

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Froome confirms Vuelta bid, chasing rare grand tour double http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/vuelta-a-espana/froome-confirms-vuelta-bid-chasing-rare-grand-tour-double_444631 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/vuelta-a-espana/froome-confirms-vuelta-bid-chasing-rare-grand-tour-double_444631#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:13:22 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444631 After finishing second three times in the Vuelta a España, Chris Froome hopes 2017 will be his chance to make history.

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Less than 24 hours after winning the Tour de France, Chris Froome turns his gaze toward Spain.

The Sky captain has won the yellow jersey four times, but the Vuelta a España has proven a more elusive target.

Three times second, including last year’s infamous “Froomigal” stage, Froome intends to winning the Vuelta once and for all. On Monday, he confirmed he will race.

“I’ve come second three times now, and I’d love to win the Vuelta,” Froome said Monday. “The Vuelta is a race I love racing. It’s a vicious race, but it’s three weeks that I enjoy.”

Froome, 32, is also targeting cycling’s grand tour double that remains unconquered. A handful riders have won the Vuelta and Tour in the same season, but that was when the Vuelta was held in April. Since it moved to late summer, no one has won the Tour and then the Vuelta.

After seconds in 2011, 2014, and 2016, Froome wants to check the Spanish tour off his bucket list.

“To win the Tour and Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible,” he said. “I’ve got the opportunity now, and I’m certainly going to go for it.”

Team Sky tweaked his training schedule this year to have more miles in his legs to take on the Vuelta. He didn’t race as much this spring, in part to be stronger in the final week of the Tour. The Vuelta was very much part of that equation.

It won’t be a cakewalk for Froome, but a few big names are skipping the Vuelta. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), and defending champion Nairo Quintana and the injured Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won’t be racing.

A few Tour riders might also start the Vuelta, including Fabio Aru (Astana) or Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), who beat back Froome in 2014, is also mulling a Vuelta start.

A number of top riders are expected to race the Vuelta. The 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali is high on the list. He skipped the Tour after racing to third in the Giro d’Italia.

Other Giro riders expected to line up for Vuelta include Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step), and Steve Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), third in the 2015 Vuelta, will also line up for the Vuelta after crashing out of the Tour.

Orica-Scott will go all-in with three GC threats: Esteban Chaves and the Yates twin brothers.

The Vuelta starts August 19 with a team time trial in Nimes, France, and concludes September 10th in Madrid.

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How many Tours can Froome win? http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/how-many-tours-can-froome-win_444614 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/how-many-tours-can-froome-win_444614#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 14:09:43 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444614 Chris Froome captured his fourth Tour de France win on Sunday and is already looking at adding to his pile of yellow jerseys.

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Chris Froome was thanking his lucky stars Monday. The 32-year-old won his fourth yellow jersey in what was the narrowest margin of victory since his first in 2013.

While the Sky rider showed some vulnerability in the mountains, his 54-second advantage over Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) says more about the route than about Froome.

In many ways, it was another Froome Show on the center stage. Much of the melodrama played out in secondary plotlines.

Despite being one man down when Geraint Thomas crashed out in stage 9, Team Sky largely smothered much of the race. Ever dominant against the clock, Froome took significant gains in stage 1 and then held on all the way to Marseille.

It’s hardly the most exciting way to win the Tour de France, but in a route that was short on opportunities for Froome, he squeezed out an efficient victory that leaves many wondering how many more he might have in his legs.

Froome had an answer that many Sky detractors might not like.

“I’d like to keep racing into my late 30s, and keep competing for the yellow jersey,” Froome said. “I’d like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it.”

Now 32, Froome enters a club of one: no rider in Tour history has won four yellow jerseys without winning an historic fifth.

Can Froome win a fifth? Or even a sixth or seventh? Things are stacking up that way. Here’s why:

‘Fortress Froome’ as strong as ever

The “Sky Era” shows no signs of fading. First with Bradley Wiggins’s victory in 2012, Team Sky has won five of the past six Tours. If Froome hadn’t crashed out in 2014, he might well have been celebrating No. 5 five Sunday in Paris. That dominance puts Team Sky on par with the strongest teams in Tour history.

How long will the Sky Train keep chugging along? It appears for at least several more years. The Sky sponsorship has recently been extended, and Froome is expected to stay with the team through 2021. Backed by the largest team budget in cycling, Froome can sleep well at night knowing his impenetrable “Fortress Froome” will remain intact.

There’s talk of reducing the number of riders per Tour squad from nine to eight in 2018, but it’s worth pointing out that Sky all but won this Tour with just eight riders. Thomas crashed out in stage 9, but Sky was still the strongest team in the peloton.

A few key riders will be leaving, including Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve. Sky is so deep, however, that it can simply tap into its deep bench of reserves. Or sign more stars.

Despite a string of searing controversies surrounding Team Sky since last fall — allegations of abuses of TUEs and mysterious “jiffy bags” — none of that has seemed to have stuck to Froome.

When asked about it over the weekend, Froome just shrugged it off with a no.

‘Fresh Froome’ can keep on trucking

At 32, Froome is no longer a spring chicken. By Tour standards, he should be nearing the retirement home. The average age of a Tour winner is 28.7 years. Most of the “big five” were already retired by the age of 33, which Froome will be at the start of next year’s Tour.

Froome, however, is talking about racing into his late 30s.

With fewer race days, better nutrition, and improved training and recovery, cyclists are racing longer than ever before. If Froome can stay healthy and avoid a major crash, he could stay at the top for another two to four years quite easily.

“I’m as motivated as ever,” Froome said at the start of the Tour. “I came into the sport quite late, and I feel as I’m still quite young in cycling terms.”

What we already saw at the Tour this year was a different Froome. He came in “fresher,” with a lighter spring racing schedule, in part to not run out of gas in the final week of the Tour. Froome’s weak spot was always a late-Tour hiccup, something that nearly cost him the 2015 title against Nairo Quintana on Alpe d’Huez.

Insiders at Team Sky say Froome doesn’t need to prove himself at early season races such as the Tour de Romandie or the Critérium du Dauphiné. What counts is the Tour.

Another reason is the Vuelta a España. After finishing second three times at the Spanish tour, Froome is leaving plenty in the tank to race next month. On Monday, Froome confirmed he will race the season’s third grand tour.

“The goal was to be strong in the third week,” Froome said. “I wasn’t at my best at the Dauphiné, but I’ve never felt this good in the third week of a grand tour. Even though I was pushing the limits, I always felt I was in control.”

Feeling “fresh” in mind and body, Froome could maintain his high level for several more years.

Uneven challengers

Is there anyone out there who can beat Froome?

Not yet, but there are some new challengers coming up who should make the next few years interesting.

“I’d like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Froome said. “This year was the closest it’s ever been, and it’s only going to be harder next year.”

Mikel Landa, the fiery Basque sensation, looked to be the strongest climber in this year’s Tour, but he was held back to help Froome. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Fabio Aru (Astana) are both showing glimpses of future Tour greatness. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) will return next year looking to deliver a complete Tour. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also vows to bounce back from his Giro-Tour misfire and focus solely on the Tour in 2018.

Yet none of these riders offer the complete package to truly confront Froome. Riders who are strong in the mountains, such as Bardet, Quintana, and Aru, give up too much ground in the time trial. On paper, Porte is the most well-rounded challenger, but he has never finished on the Tour podium. And he is five months older than Froome. Landa is unproven as a leader at the Tour and will likely target the Giro next season.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is the one rider who is of the same ilk as Froome. The 26-year-old Dutchman won the Giro a la Froome; staying close in the mountains, and then crushing in the time trial. If there’s anyone who can match Froome, it will be Dumoulin.

Froome’s key is to keep up the pressure on rivals. Any sign of weakness can prove disastrous. There’s nothing more dramatic than a Tour king crumbling on the road. It’s like a huge tree coming down in the forest. It can all end in an instant.

If you’re a Froome fan, you could expect a few more years of happiness. If you’re not, well, you might have to grin and bear it. Barring disaster, Froome could be on track to win a fifth Tour and a few more.

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Tour de France: Nate Brown’s special message for his dad http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/tour-de-france-nate-browns-special-message-for-his-dad_444597 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/tour-de-france-nate-browns-special-message-for-his-dad_444597#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:17:41 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444597 After finishing his first Tour de France, Nate Brown presented a polka-dot jersey to his dad with a handwritten note.

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PARIS (VN) — David Brown stood above the Place de la Concorde and watched as the peloton whipped past again and again until it stopped and the skinny kid he put on a 650c steel Miyata with downtube shifters 17 years ago became a Tour de France finisher.

Nate Brown carried a polka-dot jersey in his bag for three weeks, rolled up in a corner and tucked away safe. He has a pile of them from two days at the top of the climber’s competition, short sleeve jerseys and long sleeve jerseys and dotted vests. This one was set aside.

As the Tour rolled to a halt, David Brown walked down from the Delta Airlines VIP box looking out over the race and made his way toward Cannondale-Drapac’s green and black team bus. “Pas possible,” a French gendarme said when he tried to cross the fence without any accreditation. Not possible. The Champs-Élysées was on lockdown. Brown pulled out his Tennessee driver’s license and pointed to his last name. “Nathan Brown is my son,” he said. He’d flown a Boeing 767 full of passengers to Paris for this moment. The policeman smiled, checked over his shoulder, pulled back a small section of the fence, and pointed the way.

Nate Brown knew where this jersey was going as soon as he stepped on the podium in Vittel, France and two hostesses in red and white slipped it over his slim shoulders.

David Brown was a bike racer, still is sometimes. He stood under the Cannondale bus’s awning in an old nylon USA Cycling jacket, blue with white accents and the little flying wheel and flag logo of American cycling and told stories of his son’s early years. Nate’s first bike, a five-speed mountain bike. The first road bike, that steel Miyata. The first races, at 13. The first jersey, borrowed and a size large, which hung to Nate’s 13-year-old knees. “If I sent you those photos he’d probably kill me,” David said. “I’ll send them to you.”

The Colombian crowd began to swell in anticipation of “Rigo Rigo Rigo’s” return from the podium and team staff put on shirts without logos for the first time in three weeks in anticipation of a night out in Paris. Nate poured champagne into little Dixie cups for his family. His girlfriend Annie Ewart held their tiny dog. Just a drop of bubbly for David, who had to fly again Monday. Nate poured one for himself and then slipped behind the curtain that hangs in the doorway of the bus to find the red and white jersey from Vittel.

“Dad, I have something for you,” Nate said. He held the jersey up by its shoulders. “Read what it says,” someone said from the crowd, and David did and smiled the scrunched smile of a pilot trying not to cry in public.

Above the argyle Cannondale-Drapac logo, scrawled in Sharpie:

Dad,
Thanks for always believing in this dream with me!
Nathan Brown

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Froome sets sights on fifth Tour triumph in 2018 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/froome-sets-sights-fifth-tour-triumph-2018_444601 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/froome-sets-sights-fifth-tour-triumph-2018_444601#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:42:39 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444601 Chris Froome has four Tour de France victories. A fifth win would put him in a select group of legendary cyclists.

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PARIS (AFP) — Chris Froome on Sunday set his sights on a fifth Tour de France victory in 2018, which would move him alongside legends Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain as a five-time winner.

“It’s a huge honor to be talked about in the same sentence as those guys with their place in the history of the Tour de France,” said 32-year-old Froome after winning the 2017 edition of the Tour.

“It is just a privilege to even be in the position to be going for that kind of record.

“Each time I’ve won the Tour it’s so unique and so different and it is such a different battle to get to this moment.

“So they’re all special in their own ways, and this year I think will be remembered for being the closest and most hard-fought battle between the GC rivals.”

First off, however, was a Froome family celebration after being reunited with his wife and young son in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s amazing to see them again. It feels like more than a month on the road,” said Froome. “Definitely a celebration is overdue. I’m looking forward to it.”

Froome had already toasted with a glass of champagne on the road during Sunday’s stage 21 of the 104th edition of the Tour, a 103-kilometer run from Montgeron to Paris.

The stage was won by young Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), denying German veteran Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) a hat-trick of wins on the Champs-Élysées.

Having won in 2015 and again last year, Greipel left his charge until too late and came up short of Groenewegen’s winning sprint.

“I was in the position I wanted to be in the corner, but maybe I should have gone a bit earlier,” admitted Greipel, whose team failed to win a Tour stage this year.

“Groenewegen made a really strong sprint. It was a headwind and in the end maybe the race was five meters too short.

“Of course, I am not happy and the team is not happy that we didn’t win a stage and now we have to look forward.”

Groenewegen said he picked the right wheel to follow into the sprint.

“To win on the Champs-Élysées makes it a perfect day. We’re only five riders in the team but it was enough today,” the 24-year-old said.

“They did a great job. They put me in a good position, on the wheel of Alexander Kristoff, and then I rushed to the finish line.”

For Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), finishing second to Froome was a reason to celebrate.

No one before in any of Froome’s previous Tour victories had finished within a minute of the dominant Briton. Uran was 54 seconds back.

“I’m delighted, it’s emotional, the fruit of many years of dedication, hard work, and effort,” said the 30-year-old Colombian.

“Today is the recompense. I feel like I’m flying. It was a great race against a rival like Froome. Now’s the time to make the most of it.

“My message to the people of Colombia is to work hard — things come to those who work hard, are dedicated, and try.”

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Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/chris-froome-wins-fourth-tour-de-france_444548 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/chris-froome-wins-fourth-tour-de-france_444548#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:17:46 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444548 The 32-year-old Briton from Team Sky crossed the finish line on the Champs-Élysées as a four-time Tour de France winner.

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PARIS (VN) — Chris Froome has won the Tour de France for the fourth time.

The 32-year-old Briton from Team Sky crossed the finish line on the Champs-Élysées near the back of the peloton, one hand in the air and with his entire team around him.

It was the closest Tour in years, decided not with daring uphill attacks but by the methodical accumulation of seconds. Fifty-four seconds, to be precise, was narrow gap over second place Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac). Romain Bardet (AG2R) clutched third by just one second, 2’20 down on Froome.

The victory brings Froome’s Tour win count to four. Only Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain have won more Tours de France. Each has five.

“I never dreamed of being up there of even come close to Eddy Merckx, Anquetil, or Indurain. It’s amazing to be in this position, it’s such a privilege,” Froome said.

The Tour was once again won on the back of Froome’s impressive time trials. While many of his rivals, including Urán, Bardet, and Astana’s Fabio Aru, were able to match Froome in the high mountains they were unable to do so against the clock.

“The key for me in the Tour with respect to Froome was the 51 seconds I lost in the opening stage time-trial in Dusseldorf,” Urán said. “In the mountains there wasn’t much difference and I improved a lot.”

Froome gained 1’16” over second-place Uran across the Tour’s two time trials, a wider gap than his 54” win margin.

“Given the course we had this year it was always the tactic to ride a three week race and not go out one day with the aim to blow the race apart or smash it with a stage win,” Froome said. “It was just about chipping away on eveyr stage and making sure there weren’t any major losses on anyway.”

The Sky leader’s race was not without its setbacks. After failing to eat enough on the stage to Peyragudes, Froome lost seconds and the yellow jersey to the Italian Aru, dropping badly in the final 300 meters of the steep climb.

“I’m grateful it wasn’t any worse than that,” Froome said of the stage. “If you have a bad day in the mountains you can lose minutes.”

Aru would return the jersey two days later in a seemingly innocuous but decisive stage that seemed to characterize the unusual nature of this Tour de France.

“It’s certainly not getting any easier,” Froome said. “This one was the closest of my Tour de France career.”

As Froome dropped atop the Peyragudes, his teammate Mikel Landa rode on, fueling speculation that the domestique may want to challenge for victory. That issue was settled in stage 9, as Chris Froome suffered the second ill-timed mechanical of the race and was forced to chase while Bardet’s AG2R pushed on. Landa dropped off the lead group to pull his leader back to the front.

Wary of Froome’s time trial prowess, his rivals looked to the final stages in the Alps to make the time they needed ahead of Saturday’s Marseilles time trial. Bardet was particularly active, setting his entire team against the face of the Col d’Izoard and adding attacks of his own near its peak.

Nothing could break Fortress Froome, though, or his exceptional team. He came into the final time trial with a healthy gap, and only extended that lead. A fourth yellow jersey, earned against the clock and in the Tour’s unpredictable margins, was his.

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Cookson addresses equal prize money for women’s cycling http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/cookson-addresses-equal-prize-money-womens-cycling_444561 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/cookson-addresses-equal-prize-money-womens-cycling_444561#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 16:40:24 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444561 VeloNews caught up withUCI President Brian Cookson in Paris for a wide-ranging interview about the state of professional cycling.

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PARIS (VN) — UCI President Brian Cookson was in Paris on Sunday for the final stage of the 2017 Tour de France. VeloNews caught up with Cookson for a wide-ranging interview about the state of professional cycling.

We asked Cookson for his perspective on the current inequality in prize money between men and women at many UCI-sanctioned races. This past week organizers of Oregon’s Cascade Cycling Classic received widespread criticism for offering the UCI minimum prize purse for both men ($23,979) and women ($8,025). Cascade stepped up to the UCI 2.2 level for 2017 and was required to offer at least the minimum.

An 11th hour campaign by sponsors and a Gofundme page helped bring the women’s prize money equal for the men’s.

Cookson was not familiar with the specifics involving the Cascade Cycling Classic, but said he hopes the UCI can move its prize money minimums toward a more equitable level in the future.

“The role of the UCI is to make the women up to the level of the men, not to reduce the men’s. Organizers have to make those decisions themselves within the budgets and sponsorships that they have available. We set a minimum [prize money] limit, and at the moment the minimum limit is lower for women than it is for men. We are going to move towards increasing those minimums across the board. I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that some organizers can’t just flip a magic switch and do that.”

The role the UCI can play within this space is to lead by example, he said.

“I don’t think we get enough credit, those events that we control the budgets—like the UCI World Championships—we have absolutely equalized prize money between men and women. We can impose rules but rules don’t necessarily generate funding and sponsorship. You have to find ways to support organizers so it will generate sponsorships. I think that’s what we’re doing with our Women’s WorldTour is to start that journey by raising the profile of women’s racing and making sure the events are high-caliber.

In addition to raising the minimum prize purses for women’s races, Cookson said he also wants to create a hierarchy amongst professional women’s teams in which the top squads can pay a minimum salary. Currently, UCI-registered pro women’s teams are not required to pay salaries.

Cookson has discussed similar plans throughout his four-year term as UCI President. He said that the solution to creating a minimum salary requirement for pro women’s teams has presented serious challenges.

“Four years ago this was something I was saying, that we’ll have a minimum wage for women. It’s not that easy to just pass a rule. You can’t just pass a rule. What the women’s team directors and riders told me is if you pass that rule you will kill half the teams because they cannot afford it. They will re-register as club teams.”

“Four years ago this was something I was saying, that we’ll have a minimum wage for women. It’s not that easy to just pass a rule. You can’t just pass a rule.”
– Brian Cookson

Whether Cookson will work on these reforms depends on the upcoming UCI election in September. Cookson is seeking his second term, and is running Frenchman David Lappartient and Belgian Tom Van Damme.

“We want to achieve a stronger financial base for the women’s scene that enables miimum wages and gives good prize money and equalizes the situation. It’s not a matter of flicking a switch or passing a rule. It’s a developmental process.”

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De Gendt upset over jury decision to award Barguil Tour’s super-combativity prize http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/de-gendt-upset-jury-decision-award-barguil-tours-super-combativity-prize_444551 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/de-gendt-upset-jury-decision-award-barguil-tours-super-combativity-prize_444551#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 16:01:54 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444551 Belgian Thomas De Gendt blasted an all French jury for naming Warren Barguil as the race’s most aggressive rider.

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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), who spent 1,280 kilometers in escapes in the Tour de France, blasted an all French jury for naming Warren Barguil (Sunweb) as the race’s most aggressive rider.

De Gendt failed at winning a stage with his attempts, but at least wanted to take the overall Prix de la Combativite home. Instead, Frenchman Barguil — winner of two mountains stages and the climber’s jersey, received the nod.

“Let at least one international jury member should have a say in it,” De Gendt said. “If there were five Belgians in the jury, the outcome would have looked different. This proves that the jury composition is not correct.”

“If there were five Belgians in the jury, the outcome would have looked different. This proves that the jury composition is not correct”
– Thomas De Gendt

De Gendt won the Mont Ventoux stage in 2016. This year, his long effort to Rodez nearly paid off. It at least earned him the combativity prize for the day.

The panel votes on the most aggressive rider of the day and after three weeks, awards the super-combativity for the Tour. It does have an international flavor with Greg LeMond voting and public input coming via Twitter.

The three-time American worked for Eurosport during the Tour. The rest of the panel includes Frenchmen Jean Montois (AFP), Alexandre Roos (L’Equipe), Laurent Jalabert (France Télévision) and Thierry Gouvenou (Tour de France).

“I’m too disappointed to go deeper into it. I’d like to go home right away, but I will do my utmost to make it a sprint on the Champs-Élysées today,” De Gendt added.

“Let me be clear: Barguil rode a fantastic Tour and he deserves everything. But a mountains jersey is for the best climber, a stage win is for the strongest guy of the day, and the points jersey is there for the most consistent sprinter.

“I think the combativity jersey is there for the rider who showed throughout the whole Tour his intention to animate the race and to attack. For me that hasn’t lead to the desired effect: a stage win, but that is not necessary to win the super-combativity award.”

De Gendt shared in Twitter the public’s vote, showing an overwhelming win for him. The jury panel would have taken that into consideration in its decision.

He wrote, “The public vote is worth more to me than the vote of six jury members.”

In the past, riders gained points that put them in contention for the prize. Since 2003, a jury votes for it daily. Last year, Peter Sagan took home the overall super-combativity award.

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Froome says budget cap is bad idea, defends Sky media strategy http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/2017-tour-de-france/froome-says-budget-cap-is-bad-idea-defends-sky-media-strategy_444543 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/2017-tour-de-france/froome-says-budget-cap-is-bad-idea-defends-sky-media-strategy_444543#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 12:50:12 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444543 Soon-to-be four-time Tour champ Chris Froome fielded questions about the race, his career, and cycling in general prior to Sunday's finale.

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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — Chris Froome will ride into Paris on Sunday to claim his fourth Tour de France title having survived a topsy-turvy race that afforded few opportunities for time gaps.

As is tradition for Tour champions, Froome held a press conference after Saturday’s stage 20, and fielded questions about the race, his career, and cycling in general.

VeloNews asked Froome about the budgetary inequity that is present amongst the WorldTour teams. Froome’s Team Sky operates with the largest payroll in pro cycling, with an annual budget of around $40 million, according to multiple reports. The payroll is more than double that of many other WorldTour squads.

The sizable budget is one reason why Sky has been able to attract a roster talented grand tour domestiques, which include Michal Kwiatkowski, Sergio Henao, Wout Poels, Mikel Nieve, and Mikel Landa.

Froome compared cycling to European soccer, where clubs are often free to spend as much as possible without a salary cap. He believes a salary cap in cycling may actually have a negative impact on the sport.

“If you just look at football for example. You look at the best teams typically win the most and can then afford to buy the biggest players and the best players and it’s almost this cycle,” he said. “We’ve found a similar thing in cycling.

“If you just look at football for example. You look at the best teams typically win the most and can then afford to buy the biggest players and the best players”
– Chris Froome

“Obviously I think my teammates have shown that they are the strongest team in the race. We’ve won the team classification. Mikel Landa has just missed the podium as well.

“It’s been an amazing race for us this year,” the 32-year-old continued. “If that’s all due to budget — I can’t say. I personally think that is how professional sport works. If a team is successful it is able to reinvest its funds and develop the sport further.

“If you put a budgetary cap maybe it doesn’t quite incentivize successes they way it is at the moment.”

Reporters also asked Froome about team Sky’s controversial media strategy during this year’s Tour de France. Typically, teams that are contending for the general classification hold press conferences during the tour’s rest days.

This year Sky bucked tradition and did away with those press conferences, instead inviting a select group of television and radio broadcast media to its hotel for the race’s second rest day.

A media controversy then sprung up after David Brailsford, Sky’s principal, asked a reporter from the website Cyclingnews.com to leave the media availability on the second rest day.

Froome said the media strategy was done by his request.

“I think it is something I decided with the team — not to do big press conferences on rest days. I was still doing media but not doing press conferences, more just because rest days are meant to be rest days, and a big press conference is certainly not conducive to recovery,” he claimed. “I felt as though it really helped me this year, being able to switch off on my rest days. That’s what those days are there for, otherwise they’d be called media days.”

“I think it is something I decided with the team — not to do big press conferences on rest days…rest days are meant to be rest days, and a big press conference is certainly not conducive to recovery”
– Chris Froome

Froome called the 2017 Tour de France a “three-week race in essence” due to the lack of decisive days. He said Sky came into the race with the objective of grabbing small time gaps on crucial stages, rather than targeting one or two stages for a decisive victory. So while he finished the race without a stage win, the conservative strategy paid off.

“Give the course we had this year it was always the tactic to ride a three week race and not go out to smash it for the stage win. It was always going to be a three week race this year in a sense of just chipping away on every stage and making sure there weren’t any massive losses on any days,” Froome explained. “Yes, I did suffer in the Pyrenees and lose 25 seconds on that stage to Peyragudes, but I’m extremely grateful it wasn’t any worse than that.

“Normally when you have a bad day in the mountains you can lose minutes.”

While Froome would not say whether the 2017 Tour de France was his toughest victory, he said that it was certainly his closest. In his mind, the victory was never assured until he finished Saturday’s time trial in Marseille.

“Coming into the stadium with Romain Bardet just ahead of me, and knowing that if I navigated the last two corners correctly that would be it for this year’s Tour de France battle [was when he knew],” Froome admitted.

“There have been ups and downs over the last three weeks but I think it has been a grand tour in a sense that it has been about the three weeks.

“It wasn’t about one single stage,” he concluded. “That is what grand tour racing is.”

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VN podcast, ep. 42: The Tour’s final countdown http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/podcast/vn-podcast-ep-42-tours-final-countdown_444537 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/podcast/vn-podcast-ep-42-tours-final-countdown_444537#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 23:26:46 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444537 The last week of the Tour delivered thrills and spills and plenty of drama. It was capped off by Saturday's decisive Marseille time trial.

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

The last week of the Tour delivered thrills and spills and plenty of drama. It was capped off by Saturday’s decisive time trial through the streets of Marseille. Fred Dreier and Caley Fretz have takes galore on the week’s biggest stories and then take a walk through the TT paddock, catching up with Greg LeMond, mechanics, riders, and more. Then, the podcast heads into the Marseille Vélodrome for the final battle between Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, and Rigoberto Uran.

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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Urán saves Tour runner-up spot in near-miss http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/uran-saves-tour-runner-spot-near-miss_444513 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/uran-saves-tour-runner-spot-near-miss_444513#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 19:31:15 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444513 Rigoberto Urán saved his runner-up spot in the Tour de France after near-miss in the closing curves of the stage 20 Marseille time trial.

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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — Cannondale-Drapac’s Rigoberto Urán saved his runner-up spot in the Tour de France after a near-miss in the closing curves of the stage 20 Marseille time trial.

The Colombian, racing to overtake Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) for second place blasted towards the famous Stade Velodrome stadium and over-powered through a right-hand bend. He slammed against the barriers, but kept upright.

The technical 22.5-kilometer course through Marseille’s city streets and up to the Notre-Dame basilica saw Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) hit the deck. Urán’s skills saved his Tour started the parties in Medellín and the rest of Colombia.

“It has been a very good Tour for me, I have won a stage, but finishing second is the most important moment of my career,” Urán said.

“Colombia was accustomed to Nairo Quintana making the podium, and with me, its back on the podium. For the country is very important and shows the talent pool we have in Colombia. There are many more cyclists coming through.”

Urán sits second at 54 seconds behind Chris Froome (Sky). Bardet is third at 2:20 and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) placed 12th at 15:28.

Quintana twice finished second to Chris Froome and last year placed third. In this year’s Giro d’Italia, he placed second to Tom Dumoulin. However, in the Tour de France this July, he was not at his best.

It left the door open for a surprise Urán performance. Not many had mentioned him as a Tour de France favourite when the race left Düsseldorf on a rain-soaked day three weeks ago. Few had even mentioned his name and grand tours in the same sentence since he rode back to back second places in the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Giro d’Italia.

After that second place with team Sky in 2013, he signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but he went silent following his Barolo time trail win and second place in 2014.

“I’ve always been the same, although sometimes I’ve had some health problems, but when ride to a podium spot and then you finish fifth or sixth, it feels like you’ve lost everything. But this time, I stayed healthy over the three weeks and I was able to ride with the best.”

“When ride to a podium spot and then you finish fifth or sixth, it feels like you’ve lost everything.”
– Rigoberto Urán

Urán blasted back into shotgun for the Paris stage tomorrow, where the overall classification typically stays as is while the sprinters go for the Champs-Élysées win. Even with his hiccup in Marseille, he was able to clock a time 31 seconds behind winner Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) and 25 seconds off of Froome.

While Urán pushed for second, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and France’s hopes faded. Bardet suffered and almost slipped off the podium. He saved it by one second over Mikel Landa (Sky) in third.

“Am I surprised by Urán? No. He already finished on the Giro podium twice and he has great qualities for there week races,” Bardet said. “He had his own tactic and it paid off, he managed the best possible for the strategy he had.”

Bardet previously had been critical of Urán for not attacking and always following, only shooting ahead for bonus seconds at the end of the stages. What ever strategy he had, it worked for second place.

Jonathan Vaughters is seeking a new sponsor for his the team, but is unsure if he can keep Urán in the team for 2018. Astana and other teams are lining up to sign him.

“I have no idea if I will be able to beat Froome in the future,” Urán said. “This year, Sky had a very strong team and they made the difference in many stages. They controlled the Tour from start to finish.”

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Mixed opinions on new La Course http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/womens-peloton-has-mixed-feelings-on-new-la-course_444484 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/womens-peloton-has-mixed-feelings-on-new-la-course_444484#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 18:55:09 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444484 Riders react to the new-look La Course by Le Tour de France, which wrapped up Saturday with an unorthodox individual pursuit in Marseilles.

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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — La Course by Le Tour de France wrapped up Saturday with an unorthodox individual pursuit around the Stade Vélodrome stadium in downtown Marseille.

For the race’s fourth edition, organizer ASO removed the event from the Champs-Élysées in downtown Paris and developed an entirely new format for the race. On Thursday, riders raced 67km from Briançon to the top of the Col d’Izoard. The top 20 riders qualified for a pursuit-style individual time trial in Marseille, to be held just before the men’s individual time trial.

Overall winner Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) praised organizers for shifting the event away from the Champs-Élysées and developing the new competition format. The new event gave other riders a chance to grab attention — not just the sprinters.

I think we can show we can do more than just laps on the Champs-Élysées,” Van Vleuten said. “I think my Strava file from the Izoard, I think people really like to see that; girls are also pretty fast on the bike. It was a great moment to ride up the Izoard with lots of people to watch.”

The event was not without its critics. On Friday the event received public criticism from retired German rider Judith Arndt, who called the event “pathetic and almost humiliating” because of its short length and strange format. Arndt won three world championships during her career, and won the Tour de l’Aude — which was viewed as the women’s Tour de France — on two occasions.

“If they can’t organize a proper race for them, they should just leave it,” Arndt wrote on her Facebook page. “Women’s cycling is such a serious sport and should be treated as such.”

“If they can’t organize a proper race for them, they should just leave it.”
– Judith Arndt

Among women at the race, opinions were also mixed. Reactions were extremely positive after Thursday’s stage up the Col d’Izoard, with criticism coming after Saturday’s event in Marseille. After finishing outside the time limit on Thursday, Marianne Vos (WM3 Racing) called the event “a good show.”

“It is interesting to see this hillclimb as the best climbers have the opportunity to show themselves in La Course now,” Vos said. “We sprinters had our chance of the [Champs-Élysées] and now its time for the climbers.”

Australian racer Shara Gillow (FDJ) also praised the event due to the crowd size. On both Thursday and Saturday the women raced along sections of the men’s route, with the spectator counts numbering well into the thousands. Gillow said the crowds were even bigger than the 2012 Olympics in London.

“I’m still buzzing from riding up in the French Alps — I’m thankful that we can have a day like we did Thursday,” she said. “I didn’t kick up a fuss about it because I think we’re really privileged to have a taste of it.”

“I’m still buzzing from riding up in the French Alps. I think we’re really privileged to have a taste of it.”
– Shara Gillow

British rider Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) was less-enthusiastic about the two days of racing. After the Marseille event she called the unorthodox pursuit race “an experiment” and had somewhat mixed feelings on the La Course format.

“We took it as seriously as probably we felt the organizers took us today,” Deignan said. 

The race posed an event to teams from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, Deignan said. Since a rider’s spot in Marseille was not guaranteed — the results from the Izoard qualified them for Marseille — it was challenging for teams to prepare for the race, she said.

“Our strategy was to win on the Izoard and treat that as a one day event and treat this as a bit of fun and see what happened,” Deignan said. “It’s the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t have an appreciation for. Its the hotels and flights and bikes, spare wheels — what wheels do you even need? All the things we can’t prepare for properly.”

The organization of the Marseille event — or lack thereof — presented other challenges, Deignan said. 

“This morning I was in a car park looking for a female toilet and there wasn’t any at the start,” she said. “To warm up for a TT not knowing where the closest bathroom is—if there is one at all—it’s difficult to take that seriously.”

“To warm up for a TT not knowing where the closest bathroom is — if there is one at all — it’s difficult to take that seriously.”
– Lizzie Deignan

Deignan said she has an open mind for the event’s future. The various sponsors of the women’s peloton, she said, received good attention at the event. But Deignan would like the organization hurdles to improve.

We’re at a stage where we deserve more probably,” she said. 

A universal sentiment from the women’s peloton was that organizer ASO should try to grow the event to multiple days. If the old format featured one day on the Champs-Élysées, and the 2017 format had two race days, then why not extend it to three, four, or five days in the future?

“That would be great if we had a bit longer stage race,” said Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling). “I see improvement every year. Last year we only got on [Champs Élysées]. Now we have two stages. I’m hoping in the future we can have four stages and maybe five. Maybe it’s like the [Giro Rosa] and we have 10 stages.”

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Froome honoured to be mentioned alongside Tour greats http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/froome-honoured-mentioned-alongside-tour-greats_444492 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/froome-honoured-mentioned-alongside-tour-greats_444492#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 18:02:49 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444492 Chris Froome said on Saturday it was an "honour" to be mentioned in the same breath as Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.

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MARSEILLE, France (AFP) — Chris Froome said on Saturday it was an “honour” to be mentioned in the same breath as five-time Tour de France winners Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.

The 32-year-old Briton all but wrapped up a fourth title in Saturday’s 22.5km time-trial in Marseille, putting himself alone in fifth on the list of most successful Tour riders of all time.

When he rides into Paris on Sunday he will know that only Belgian great Merckx, Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, and Spanish freight train Indurain have won the Tour more times than him.

“Obviously it’s a huge honour just to be mentioned in the same sentence as greats of the Tour de France history like that, but certainly I’m just taking it one race at a time,” said the Sky team leader.

“I have to get to Paris tomorrow safely with the rest of the guys. I’m just taking it one season at a time.

“But certainly, I’ve got a new-found appreciation for just how difficult it is for those guys to win five Tours de France.

“It’s certainly not getting easier. This one was the closest of my Tour de France career.”

It wasn’t just the closest — his 54-second winning margin to Rigoberto Uran tighter than the 1 -minute 12-sec0nd gap to Nairo Quintana in 2014 and a world away from the more than four-minute advantages of 2013 and last year — it was also his least glorious in one way.

Froome won three Tour stages in 2013, two last year and one in 2015. He also won a stage in 2012 when finishing second to his Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins.

But this year he has not finished higher than third in a stage and in fact hasn’t won any race of any kind in 2017, until his expected coronation tomorrow.

– Pyrenean suffering –

But Froome insisted it takes nothing away from his overall triumph.

“Given the course that we had this year it was always the tactic to ride a three week race and not go out one day with the aim to blow the race apart or smash it with a stage win,” he said.

“It was just about chipping away on every stage and making sure there weren’t any massive loses on any day.

“Yes, I suffered in the Pyrenees and lost 20 seconds that day up to Peyragudes (stage 12) but I’m very grateful it wasn’t any worse than that.

“If you have a bad day in the mountains you can lose minutes.”

Froome was actually jeered by sections of the crowd in Marseille’s Velodrome football stadium when he started his time-trial but he said there were no hard feelings given the battle that was about to play out with home hero Romain Bardet, who faded from second to third behind Uran.

“I think it’s perfectly normal with a Frenchman in second place, 23 seconds behind me on the start line this morning, being in the centre of Marseille and finishing in a football stadium,” said Froome, who was nonetheless cheered at the finish.

“It’s not something I’m going to take personally. I’ll forgive them for that today.

“But the support out on the roads has been incredible. It’s been bigger and better and I just want to thank them.

“Those people make this race so special, it’s their race. People grow up as a family tradition watching the Tour de France and it’s amazing to be a part of that.”

And Froome gave short shrift to rivals who might hope he will slow down one day.

“I’m definitely getting older but at the same time, each year I’d like to think I’m still learning more, still developing as a rider.

“I’m becoming a more complete rider. Something I’ve definitely worked on these last few years is descending, my positioning in the bunch.

“But tactically I’ve still got more to learn.”

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‘Tired’ Bardet relieved to hold onto podium place http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/tired-bardet-relieved-hold-onto-podium-place_444487 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/news/tired-bardet-relieved-hold-onto-podium-place_444487#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:03:53 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444487 Romain Bardet revealed he'd been suffering from "fragile" health as he fought to hold onto a podium finish on stage 20 Saturday.

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MARSEILLE, France (AFP) — Romain Bardet revealed he’d been suffering from “fragile” health as he fought bravely to hold onto a podium finish on stage 20 won by Maciej Bodnar at the Tour de France on Saturday.

Bardet, 26, was struggling from the word go in the 22.5km time-trial around Marseille and having started the day just 23 seconds behind leader Chris Froome in second place, he ended it hanging onto third by just one second from Mikel Landa, and 2 minutes 20 seconds behind Froome.

“I’m at my limit, I’m tired, I gave everything. It’s the Tour de France, there are 21 stages, some days when you feel good and other days you don’t,” said the Frenchman, who was 52nd on the stage, some 2:02 behind winner Maciej Bodnar of Poland.

“Today I really didn’t feel good. For the last few days I haven’t been in good health and today I paid for it in cash.

“I fought to the end but it’s true that it was tough, I quickly saw that I wasn’t at the races, I did the time-trial with my head today.

“I’m starting to get to know my body really well and I know when I’m good and when I’m not.

“I’m getting tired. The day after the Izoard (stage 18) I could feel that my immune system was fragile. This morning I didn’t feel good when I woke up.”

Rather than fulfilling the dreams of a nation and battling to overhaul Froome, Bardet not only dropped below Rigoberto Uran but was simply hanging on grimly for third, which he said was success in itself, despite having finished runner-up to Froome last year.

“I knew I couldn’t let my head go down in the money-time. I’m delighted to have given it everything and there’s a little bit of success in having saved a podium place,” he said.

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Van Vleuten escapes chasers in La Course pursuit http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/race-report/van-vleuten-escapes-chasers-la-course-pursuit_444475 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/race-report/van-vleuten-escapes-chasers-la-course-pursuit_444475#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 13:29:38 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444475 Annemiek van Vleuten won the first edition of La Course’s pursuit-style time trial on Saturday.

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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — Annemiek van Vleuten raised her arms to a roar inside the Marseille Velodrome as she held off her chasers to win the first edition of La Course’s pursuit-style time trial on Saturday.

Boels-Dolman’s Lizzie Deignan outsprinted Wiggle High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini for second, crossing the line 1’52” back. Boels’ Megan Guarnier was fourth.

The unique event had each rider set off with the gaps earned in Thursday’s La Course race to the top of the Col d’Izoard. That meant Orica-Scott’s van Vleuten rolled down the start ramp 43 seconds ahead Deignan, 1’23” on Longo-Borghini, and 1’28” on Guarnier.

The format, which left racers on their road bikes and allowed drafting, forced tactical decisions among the top riders. Deignan made the call to wait up for Guarnier and Longo Borghini, believing that she would be unable to bridge the 43-second gap to van Vleuten alone. That put a select group 90 seconds behind van Vlueten in the first half of the race.

“Half of the fun for this race today was thinking about what other riders would do,” van Vleuten said. “If they want to win they have to come together and chase me together. I thought for sure they would wait, especially Lizzie would wait for her teammate and ride together.”

“Today was a different formula, and I think it’s good, like the Hammer series, to try something new,” van Vleuten said.

Even with three riders working together, the gap to van Vleuten refused to budge. As the chasers hit the day’s steep climb Guarnier fell off and left just Deignan and Long-Borghini. In the final kilometers, the two began to play a bit of cat-and-mouse, allowing van Vleuten to further stretch her lead.

Top-10 overall

1. Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED/Orica), in 32:52
2. Lizzie Deignan (GBR/Boels), at 1:52
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA/Wiggle), at 1:52
4. Megan Guarnier (USA/Bols), at 3:00
5. Amanda Spratt (AUS/Orica), at 3:26
6. Shara Gillow (AUS/FDJ), at 3:48
7. Lauren Stephens (USA/Tibco), at 3:53
8. Katarzyna Niewadoma (POL/WM3), at 4:35
9. Ashliegh Moolman Pasio (RSA/Cervelo), at 4:35
10. Ana Sabria (COL/Servetto), at 4:46

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Video: Women’s La Course takes on the Izoard http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/video/video-womens-la-course-takes-izoard_444471 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/video/video-womens-la-course-takes-izoard_444471#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:38:49 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444471 Watch video highlights from the Women's WorldTour's La Course race up the famous Col d'Izoard.

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What happened to Andrew Talansky? http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/happened-andrew-talansky_444460 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/happened-andrew-talansky_444460#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:23:40 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444460 After a light racing schedule in the first half of 2017, plus some misfortune, Andrew Talansky comes up short at the Tour de France.

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SALON-DE-PROVENCE, France (VN) — What happened to Andrew Talansky?

The only American to enter this Tour de France with GC ambitions — in fact, the only American to enter this Tour ever having ridden it before — did not, in the end, contend. He will set off on Saturday more than an hour before Sky’s Chris Froome and will finish in Paris more than two hours down on the general classification.

“I did enter pretty hopeful,” Cannondale-Drapac’s Talansky said. But his early results weren’t a sterling case for optimism. He lost time on the tricky finish of stage 3. Then he dropped a few more minutes on Planche des Belles Filles, the first real climbing test. “I knew early on I wasn’t feeling super,” he said. “Even on those early climbs, you know if you’re there or not. It was pretty clear I was not.”

He hoped his legs would turn around, he said at the end of the first week. And slowly, they did. By Thursday he was jumping in breaks again. After a week and a half of near-complete anonymity, he was able to take an important turn for Rigoberto Uràn.

This may be the best Tour de France ever for Talansky’s Cannondale-Drapac team. That makes Talansky’s inconspicuousness feel even more unusual. Uràn is in third, likely to jump to second in the final time trial. He also won stage 9. Taylor Phinney and Nate Brown, the other two Americans in the race, both wore the polka-dot jersey in their first Tour.

In previous years, we would have written half a dozen stories about Talansky’s Tour already. For 2017, this is the second.

So what went wrong? A series of mildly unfortunate events, basically. A broken thumb over the winter slowed his base season, though the spring build went largely to plan. He was strong at the Amgen Tour of California, where he finished third, and rode an acceptable Critérum du Dauphiné. But then he got sick, he says. Training between the Dauphiné and the Tour ground to a halt.

“Up until 10 days before the race started, I was unsure if I was going to be able to line up healthy,” he said. “It was touch and go. You don’t want to line up if you’re not healthy.”

He was healthy by Dusseldorf, but lacked the edge needed to truly contend. The Tour de France is merciless. It does not take kindly to riders who arrive even slightly off their game.

“I’m always an optimistic person, but I’ve also been doing this long enough that I know what the reality of it was as well,” Talansky said. “You need months, not weeks, of things going smoothly. You have enough little things not quite line up and they combine with not having a solid winter, breaking my thumb, you add those things up, and it’s going to be a big ask.

“Perfection doesn’t exist, particularly in this sport,” he said. “It’s more just being realistic. You don’t need 100 percent, you need 80, 85. One hundred percent never happens. Ninety rarely happens. But when you’re down at 50 …”

Cannondale did appear to make every effort to tune its only American GC contender for the Tour this year. Team general manager Jonathan Vaughters allowed Talansky to race infrequently this spring because he’d been given the green light to focus on the Tour. Before the Tour of California in May, he’d raced for just eight days. He didn’t finish either of the early season stage races he entered. It was purposeful, according to the team. Talansky had performed well at the Vuelta a España last fall on relatively minimal racing. He was fifth in Spain. Maybe he could replicate that in the Tour.

Hindsight is 20/20, and it seems both Talansky and Vaughters may be second-guessing the light spring schedule. Talansky said on stage 4 that he had come into the Tour a little “under-raced.” Vaughters now sings a different tune too. “I think [Talansky] felt like he could get to form on time for the Tour, but our take was always that Rigo [Uràn] was our GC rider and Andrew was there to chip in.”

Now it seems that Talansky may be looking toward the Vuelta, though he wouldn’t lay out a specific race calendar. “The Tour shouldn’t serve as laying a foundation for things, but this is definitely serving as a solid foundation,” he said. “I think I’ll be quite a bit stronger than I’ve been so far.”

So where was Talansky this month? He was reminding us how even the best-laid plans can be left crumbling by even minor pitfalls, and how very heartless the Tour de France can be.

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Stage win salvages Tour for Dimension Data http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/stage-win-salvages-tour-dimension-data_444449 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/stage-win-salvages-tour-dimension-data_444449#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:57:28 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444449 After the frustrating loss of sprinter Mark Cavendish to an early crash, Boasson Hagen gets redemption for Dimension Data team at Tour.

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SALON-DE-PROVENCE, France (VN) — In the hours after Mark Cavendish abandoned this year’s Tour de France with a fractured scapula — an injury he suffered in a controversial crash on stage 4 — Dimension Data’s directors sat down with the eight remaining riders to discuss the rest of the race.

Losing Cavendish was a disaster for the squad, which had built its roster around the Tour’s plethora of pan-flat stages that were perfect for the British rider’s fast finishing kick. So rather than dwell on the obvious, director Roger Hammond tried to shape the news with a positive spin.

“It was like what opportunity does this present to you guys — more freedom,” Hammond said at the finish line of stage 19. “You’re less obliged to work and we’re more potent without having to use riders to get us to the finish line.”

The team’s new “freedom” strategy paid off Friday afternoon on the streets of Salon-de-Provence. Norwegian rider Edvald Boasson Hagen sprung free from a daylong breakaway with 2km remaining and then soloed in for his third career Tour victory. Boasson Hagen finished five seconds ahead of Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), nearly 11 minutes before the peloton containing Chris Froome rumbled into town.

After the stage win, Boasson Hagen credited the team’s positive attitude for keeping his motivation high.

“It was big when we lost [Cavendish] early in the race, but everyone in the team was motivated from the beginning,” Boasson Hagen said. “We can’t just sit down and do nothing for three weeks.”

Indeed, in the days after Cavendish’s abandon, Dimension Data riders targeted the breakaways, sending multiple riders up the road each day. British champion Stephen Cummings nearly survived to the finish line in Peyregudes on stage 12. That day stretched over six categorized climbs in the Pyrénées. Serge Pauwels also attacked often. He rode into the big break on stage 15.

The team also targeted the tricky, uphill sprint stages with Boasson Hagen. He has raced as a lead-out man, a sprinter, and a classics rider throughout his career. He nearly won the stage 7 sprint into Nuits-Saint-Georges — a photo finish declared him second to Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors). Boasson Hagen was third on stage 11 into Pau, again behind Kittel, and then he nearly won stage 16‘s sprint.

“We felt like we were running out of stages,” Hammond said.

When Hammond and fellow director Rolf Aldag examined stage 19’s route, the longest stage of this year’s Tour at 222.5km, they initially saw it as a day for Cummings. But the Brit was nursing a battered body after a crash on stage 17. So instead they tapped Boasson Hagen to ride in the breakaway on the lumpy stage.

The team had a staffer drive the course three weeks before the Tour to create a video of the route. They watched it on the eve of the stage.

“We deliberated about this stage for a long time last night,” Hammond said. “We talked to Eddie and said, ‘You need to make yourself available for the win.'”

Boasson Hagen did not disappoint. He rode carefully in the breakaway over the climbs. Then he followed moves from Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) in the final 20km. As the fastest sprinter in the break, he contemplated waiting for the sprint. But when the group slowed at 2km to go, he attacked.

“To finally make a stage win is great,” he said.

Hammond called the victory “payback” for his riders.

“The guys never really lost motivation,” Hammond said. “The negative of [the crash] was so early for us but also nobody was tired, they were fresh. They were excited about the Tour de France.”

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Froome: It’s my Tour to lose http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/froome-tour-lose_444454 http://www.velonews.com/2017/07/tour-de-france/froome-tour-lose_444454#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:33:18 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=444454 With a 22.5-kilometer time trial standing between Chris Froome and a fourth Tour de France victory, the Brit is cautiously optimistic.

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SALON-DE-PROVENCE, France (AFP) — Chris Froome said he could only lose the Tour de France now on the eve of the decisive time trial in Marseille.

Following Friday’s stage 19, the longest of the race at 222.5km, yellow jersey leader Froome (Sky) admitted that with only Saturday’s race against the clock and Sunday’s procession to Paris left, he should wrap up a fourth overall victory.

“Tomorrow I have to not lose the race. I can’t win it, but I mustn’t lose it,” said Froome, who leads by 23 seconds from France’s Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and 29 seconds to Rigoberto Uràn (Cannondale-Drapac).

But he is widely regarded as a better time trial rider than both of those two, and it would be a major shock were he not to sew up victory on Saturday.

“I have to treat it like any other time trial that I’ve done before,” said Froome of the 22.5km stage. “I have to do everything right. I’m not going to go out there and take any big risks.”

On the opening stage, a 14km time trial in Dusseldorf, Froome beat Bardet by 39 seconds and Uràn by 51 seconds, although heavy rain at times made the conditions treacherous.

“It’s the same as in Dusseldorf. I wasn’t going to take risks in the corners,” said Froome, 32. “When I can push, I will push. It’s not a course where I’ll be going out to risk everything.

“I’d now much rather be in this position than second, third, or fourth and having to make up time on someone else.”

‘Give it everything’

Bardet is usually the slowest of the three contenders against the clock, and he says there will be no pressure on him.

“There’s nothing to think about. You just have to give it everything and not ask any questions,” said the 27-year-old.

The time trial will start and finish in Marseille’s iconic velodrome football stadium, which began life in 1937 as a multi-sport arena hosting track cycling, athletics and rugby, as well as football, to which it has since become dedicated as the home ground of Olympique Marseille.

“At the velodrome, at the finish, it will be as if we’re seeing the Champs-Élysées,” added Bardet. “I’ve had a great Tour. It’s my desire to finish it as well as possible.

“I’m expecting a royal battle, man to man, and to have no regrets.

“I’m thinking about riding the 22 kilometers as fast as possible and we’ll see at the finish.”

Froome has stated Uràn will be the man to beat in Marseille as the Colombian has shown good time trial ability in the past.

And the 30-year-old certainly isn’t ready to let anyone start crowning the Briton. “I would say that it’s the most important time trial I’ve done, coming in the last day and so close to giving victory,” said Uràn. “It’s the most important time trial I’ll do, tomorrow is the most important day of my career!

“The past isn’t important, what matters is the present and what happens tomorrow.

“Froome is a fine rider, he’s really strong. But he knows I’m good in time trials. I hope to do well.”

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