VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:47:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.velonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/cropped-Velonews_favicon-2-32x32.png VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com 32 32 Contador, Degenkolb headline Trek-Segafredo Tour team http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/contador-degenkolb-headline-trek-segafredo-tour-team_441369 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/contador-degenkolb-headline-trek-segafredo-tour-team_441369#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:57:21 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441369 Alberto Contador captains an international Trek-Segafredo team for the Tour de France. He's joined by classics star John Degenkolb.

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PARIS (AFP) — Alberto Contador will have two powerful climbers alongside him as he targets a third Tour de France title, 10 years after his first. An international Trek-Segafredo Tour team was unveiled on Friday.

In the mountains, the 34-year-old can count on Colombian Jarlinson Pantano, winner of stage 15 in last year’s race. Dutchman Bauke Mollema will also support the Spaniard. Mollema, 30, shelved his own Tour ambitions this year and rode the Giro d’Italia instead. There, the Dutchman finished seventh overall.

The Trek team also features John Degenkolb, who was recruited in the off-season. He won both Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015. However, a terrible crash in January 2016 set back his career. The German appears to be rediscovering his old form, finishing top-10 in three monument classics this spring — Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix.

Contador has two stage wins at the Tour de France. Degenkolb, 28, has never won a stage on the Tour in his three times competing, but he has 10 stage wins at the Vuelta a España to his credit.

The U.S.-registered team’s international lineup includes riders of seven different nations.

Trek-Segafredo team for the 2017 Tour de France

Andre Cardoso (Por)
Alberto Contador (Sp)
John Degenkolb (G)
Koen De Kort (Nl)
Fabio Felline (I)
Michael Gogl (A)
Markel Irizar (Sp)
Bauke Mollema (Nl)
Jarlinson Pantano (Col)

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How the Tour de France reluctantly embraced derailleurs http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/bikes-and-tech/how-tour-de-france-embraced-derailleurs_441340 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/bikes-and-tech/how-tour-de-france-embraced-derailleurs_441340#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:36:25 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441340 The Tour hesitated for 34 years before allowing the use of derailleurs. Since their introduction, everything has continued to evolve.

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Henri Desgrange had a reputation for pushing racers to their limits. The boss at L’Auto and original organizer of the Tour de France regularly barred riders from using new bicycle technology, fearing the gear would make the race too easy. In fact, Desgrange didn’t allow riders to use derailleurs until 1937, nearly 34 years after the invention of the gear-changing mechanism. Why did he so adamantly refuse a technological advance that had been around for decades? The Frenchman feared that derailleurs would even the playing field for everyone in the peloton. More than anything, Desgrange wanted to see riders suffer as they battled each other over excruciating stages.

Philippe Thys, the Tour winner in 1913, 1914, and 1920, readily admitted: “We were aware of ‘Father’ Desgrange’s desperation. There were moments when we felt he had the crazy desire to make us ride flat-out all the time.”

Banning the derailleur wasn’t the only way in which Desgrange tinkered with the race and its technology. In 1913 he required riders to tackle the Brest-La Rochelle stage — all 470 kilometers of it — with a fixed gear, which requires riders to constantly pedal. At the time there were already systems available to change gears, as well as freehubs, which allow riders to coast. In fact, some riders in the isolé (individual) class were allowed to use a derailleur. (In 1912, for instance, Joanny Panel competed with a bike equipped with a Le Chemineau derailleur, one of the very first models, which he had perfected himself.) But Desgrange didn’t want to allow that on this day in 1913. So fixed gears it would be.

Ultimately, pressure from manufacturers, who were keen to develop their products, changed his mind. Desgrange was forced to allow derailleurs in 1937. Eighty years later, this decision may seem obvious. In the moment, the decision required some courage. Some riders were also reluctant to use a mechanism that they felt forced them to spin their legs too much. At the time, mashing big gears was the style.

The cycling press was also wary of the derailleur. A clip from the July 23, 1937 edition of L’Intransigeant states: “It says in the yellow pages [in other words, L’Auto – Ed.] that the introduction of the gear-changer will mean that the riders won’t wreck themselves physically and will all use the same gears. That’s not on! That should actually be a black mark against the derailleur. As we’ve previously said, the derailleur reduces everyone to the same base level. There is no need to adopt it at the Tour. That’s our belief, and even the race organizers already seem to be regretting it.”

For the 1937 Tour, organizers selected the Super Champion derailleur to be used by all participants. Turin-based Vittoria designed the mechanism; champion racer Oscar Egg, who had broken the hour record three times and gone on to open a bike shop in Paris, then modernized it. The derailleur was characterized by a derailing fork mechanism at its base that moved the chain up and down on the rear sprockets.

Ever since, the derailleur has continued to evolve.

Around this same time, the more advanced Vittoria Margherita became popular in Italy. Gino Bartali won the 1938 Tour using one. However, these models had one drawback: riders had to push gently back on the pedals to enable a change of gear.

In late-1930s France, Simplex’s Champion du Monde model dominated the market. Invented by Lucien Juy, it was the first that didn’t require back-pedaling. Many champions adopted his Tour de France model, including Fausto Coppi who won the 1949 Tour using one.

Next, Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release mechanism in 1930 and perfected the derailleur during the 1940s and ’50s. Hugo Koblet used his steel Gran Sport model to ride to victory in the 1950 Giro. Campagnolo proved again he was ahead of his rivals when he introduced his Tour de France model. It featured the universally hailed parallelogram rear design, which was more precise, faster, quieter, and more functional.

In the 1960s and ’70s, the Vicenza-based company became the undisputed market leader with its Record and Super Record models. From this point on, the front derailleur, which appeared in the post-war years, offered riders a choice of gear ratios to suit all terrains. Consequently, the Tour de France organization was able to tinker with the race route to take advantage of the ever-evolving technology.

Though organizers took the race into the mountains before the adoption of the derailleur — the Tour route first included the monstrous Col du Tourmalet in 1910 — its continued development brought significant changes to the parcours. The race could now include summit finishes; Alpe d’Huez first appeared in 1952. Also, many more time trial stages were added: Rather than resorting to adding extra rest days, organizers began to use time trials to boost average speeds and give an extra competitive edge to the race.

Throughout the development of the derailleur, there were simultaneous advancements made to the cassette. In the 1930s there were three-sprocket rear cassettes; they jumped to five in the 1950s, then to eight in the 1960 and ’70s, and to 11 today. Thanks to the increasing number of sprockets, riders could choose the gear they wanted with greater precision.

In the 1980s, gear shifting made another leap forward. Shifters began to appear on brake levers. Shimano’s SIS system made shifting more convenient and safer. In 1992, the first electronic derailleur, Mavic’s Mektronic, made its debut. For an experienced rider, the electronic systems provide comfort and options.

“Although, initially, you didn’t feel as if you could go flat out when attacking as you changed gear, nowadays you certainly can. You can change gears in several positions,” says Thomas Voeckler.

Naturally, manufacturers have invested a lot of time in this niche area. Claudio Marra, CEO of Full Speed Ahead Europe, says the fluid shifting of the electronic gadgets is just one of the reasons why professionals prefer the new systems. “Riders also appreciate the data that’s stored in its sensor: How many times has a rider changed gear? What gears did they use? We’ve entered the realm of the future,” Marra says.

In other words, once shunned, the derailleur has now become an indispensable ally for a rider.

Read more on the history of cycling derailleurs >>

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FasCat’s 2017 Tour de France training plan http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/training-center/fascats-2017-tour-de-france-training-plan_441267 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/training-center/fascats-2017-tour-de-france-training-plan_441267#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:24:10 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441267 Follow the FasCat 2017 Tour de France training program to get fit while following the world's biggest bike race.

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Ride your very own Tour de France with FasCat’s Tour de France three-week training plan. The plan starts June 29 and is your way to get fit this July while enjoying the world’s biggest bike race.

This Tour de France training plan mimics the physiological demands and terrain of the 2017 Tour through intervals of varying intensities and durations. This year’s Tour starts with a 14km time trial, which provides a great opportunity for a field test. It’s the one time you will actually put in a similar effort as the Tour pros, though not many of us will put out over six watts per kilo! This will help you set up proper heart rate and/or power training zones to use for the the next 20 “stages” in TrainingPeaks. After a rest week following your Tour, you can repeat the test to measure improvement.

The Workouts

Each Tour stage is categorized by the following codes. Your daily workouts mimic how a Tour rider would train and race each stage.

HM: High mountain stage
M: Medium mountain stage
H: Hilly stage
F: Flat stage
ITT: Individual time trial
TTT: Team Time Trial

FasCat Tour de France plan FasCat Tour de France plan

Sign up for FasCat’s training plan>>

Example workouts based on the stages that day

There are detailed workout instructions for each workout in TrainingPeaks that display your heart rate and/or power output for each stage. For the stage 20 23km time trial in Marseille, you’ll do a threshold effort with a twist: a 30-second VO2 effort because there’s a 1.2k climb in the last 5km of the TT.

Another workout example is the stage 5 finish up La Planche des Belles (8.5 percent over 5.9km). You’ll ride in zone 2 and then go as hard as you can for 12 minutes, and then even harder the last minute — just like Chris Froome and his rivals.

Pro tips

Here are some tips from nine-time Tour de France finisher Frankie Andreu and two-time Tour de France finisher Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing):

Andreu says, “Leading into the Tour I made sure I was rested. The last thing I wanted was to get one week into the race and be overtrained, have dead legs, and not be able to finish.”

You may feel like you need to cram training in before doing this training plan, but that’s not true. Use this training plan as a stepping-stone into the rest of your summer. Get some rest afterward and you will be fast.

Bookwalter says, “Whether it’s the Tour or any race, I think I’m best-served by staying in the moment. I do a fair amount of mental work to train my mind. The Tour is long and so demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally, and it doesn’t do any good to live in the past, present, or future. One day at a time, one kilometer at a time.”

This year’s Tour includes quite a few flatter stages, so you’ll have opportunities to “rest” a bit ahead of the tougher training days. However, there are no easy days in the Tour de France. The flat days are very stressful on the riders. It’s hard to duplicate those in training.

“The flat stages are scary and you are shattered each day by the time you reach the finish line,” says Andreu. “The fight for position is constant and never-ending.”

“When the intervals get hard, using a mantra is a good thing. Sometimes I would repeat to myself many times, ‘I can do it, I can do it,’ or ‘almost there, almost, there.’ You get the idea. The use of a mantra can help you push further than you expect.”

One thing that will help you get through each day is by taking care of yourself. Make sure you are eating well, staying hydrated, and sleeping as much as you can.

Whether you’re doing the basic plan or the advanced plan, the suffering is the same. Just as Andreu says about the Tour, “The power and speed may be different, but the suffering in the front group to the back group is many times the same. Everyone pushes themselves to do their best. The sponsors and team expect a result every time you climb on the bike. You should also expect the best from yourself during the three-week FasCat Tour de France plan.”

Chose between the basic, intermediate, and advanced plans based on how many hours you can ride each week:

Basic plan: 7.5 hours/week
Intermediate plan: 9.5 hours/week
Advanced plan: 11.5 hours/week

You’ll get:
– Stage-by-stage daily workouts
– A free premium TrainingPeaks account
– Free mobile app
– Daily email workout reminders
– Recovery day videos for yoga, foam rolling, and “foundations” workouts.

Download the plan here >>

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Garbage Takes: Lance Armstrong trial; the upside of yellow bikes http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/garbage-takes-lance-armstrong-trial-upside-yellow-bikes_441336 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/garbage-takes-lance-armstrong-trial-upside-yellow-bikes_441336#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:41:21 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441336 Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings,

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Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!

Lance Armstrong guilty of bad acting

Lance Armstrong made news this week on two counts. His legal team asked a Federal judge to exclude testimony from his longtime foes, Betsy Andreu and Greg LeMond, from the upcoming $100m fraud trial. He also has a cameo in an HBO mockumentary coming out June 8. It appears that he didn’t ask to exclude “Tour de Pharmacy” from the trial. So does that mean it will be used as evidence? And if so, is bad acting a Federal crime? Regardless of whether you like the movie or not, one thing seems certain: Armstrong is mounting a major charm offensive prior to his November trial. If you’re part of the jury pool in the Washington, D.C. area, keep an eye out for an Edible Arrangement or perhaps a nice box of chocolates from Armstrong.

Neutral support bikes just got cool

Mavic has new neutral support bikes for the Tour de France. The biggest innovation will be dropper seatposts. This component is ostensibly to help riders quickly set their saddle heights while riding. But like any technical innovation, its bound to be used in creative ways. Just imagine if Cannondale-Drapac’s Mike Woods could have snagged a Mavic bike right before the slippery descent to finish stage 6 in Tour de Suisse. He could have dropped the saddle and gotten rad. Instead, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) rode away on the sinuous run to the finish. If you start seeing more riders on yellow bikes in the Tour (besides Chris Froome), they might be seeking an extra advantage on those sketchy Alpine descents.

The Tour will be smaller next year

The UCI announced Thursday that it will trim the size of Tour de France teams. The same goes for the Giro and Vuelta, meaning each squad will have one fewer rider — eight total. Will this provoke unpredictable racing? Is it going to be hard for super-teams like Sky to control the Tour? Possibly, but what about the guys who won’t go to the Tour? Judging by the Hammer Series’s popularity, it’s time for a new racing format. The Tour could take 22 riders, one from each team, and make them race a really short stage up one mountain. Then, they could time trial two days later, based on their finish time in the first stage. Oh, wait. That’s the ASO’s way of running a Women’s WorldTour race alongside the Tour. Here’s another option: Grab some Mavic neutral service bikes and run a fastest descender competition. Or maybe those guys should just rest up and race the Vuelta instead.

UCI presidential race just got interesting

Straight out of central casting, Frenchman David Lappartient announced he’ll challenge Brian Cookson in this fall’s UCI presidential race. In his J’accuse, Lappartient said the UCI needs “a president who ensures genuine leadership.” I know UCI governance stories can be snoozy, so let’s spice up this election. Cookson likes to hop in a sportive once in awhile — how about they race? No, too obvious. Let’s play up the whole French vs. English angle … ooh that’s problematic. I know, we’ll just do a deep dive on their differences in policy and leadership styles. And just like that the UCI presidential race got boring again.

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Quintana ready for Tour, defends racing Giro http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/quintana-ready-for-tour-defends-racing-giro_441350 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:03:51 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441350 The Movistar rider is among the favorites to win the yellow jersey in France, but his ride to the podium won't be easy.

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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) turns his attention to the Tour de France after the first leg of his historic Giro-Tour double fell just 31 seconds short of glory.

The Colombian superstar spent the past several weeks recovering from the hard effort at the Giro d’Italia in his European base in Monaco. Last month, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) barnstormed into the history books, and Quintana once again played second fiddle to a “chrono man” in a grand tour.

Quintana, who now boasts six podiums in nine grand tour starts, said there are no regrets at taking on the formidable Giro-Tour challenge.

“I think we did everything right in the Giro,” Quintana said in an interview released by his team. “Of course, it’s a bit sad not seeing everything going as expected, but that only makes me even hungrier for the Tour.”

The three-time Tour de France podium man took a full week off after the Giro, and then mixed training with some visits to preview some of the key climbing stages in the Tour route. Recovering from the Giro’s hard effort while trying to retain his fitness for the Tour will prove key for Quintana’s approach to July. Even he admitted that next month largely remains uncharted territory.

“We won’t know until we’re in the race,” he said. “Everything has been different this season. I’ve done two grand tours before in one year, but the Giro-Tour is quite different than anything I’ve done in the past.”

Quintana, 27, said there are absolutely no regrets about taking on the Giro. After all, he managed to beat everyone, except Dumoulin, who confirmed his GC skills with a superb performance during three weeks.

“My feelings haven’t changed after what happened in the Giro,” he said. “We prepared for the Giro and Tour with the aim of winning both. We were close in the Giro, but now that doesn’t matter. We are now focused on preparing for the Tour in the best possible way.”

For the Tour, Quintana singled out Chris Froome (Sky) as the obvious Tour favorite, and named a long list of challengers — Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and a few others — but added, “as I said before the Giro and the Dumoulin success, there is always some sort of surprise. A rider you don’t count to get a result, and then end up contesting the GC.”

On this year’s Tour course, one that’s sprinkled with GC challenges from the first week right through the final time trial, Quintana believes the GC contenders will emerge in the Pyrénées. The podium will be decided in the Alps, but he added, “whoever goes into the final [stage 20] TT with the yellow jersey will be almost certain to win.”

Quintana, twice second and once third in three Tour starts, hopes the second half of his Giro-Tour double goes one step better.

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Froome doubles down: Sky never offered me triamcinolone http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/froome-doubles-sky-never-offered-triamcinolone_441345 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/froome-doubles-sky-never-offered-triamcinolone_441345#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:15 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441345 The three-time Tour de France champion continues to face questions about allegations that Sky abused TUEs.

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LONDON (AFP) — Triple Tour de France winner Chris Froome insisted he was never offered the controversial corticosteroid triamcinolone by his Team Sky.

The 32-year-old British rider, now preparing to add another Tour de France title to his collection, has been among those to have spoken out about therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allow athletes to take otherwise banned substances to treat existing and genuine medical conditions.

However, there have long been concerns about the potential for TUEs in general, and triamcinolone in particular, being abused to give riders a performance-enhancing advantage.

Last September it emerged that now-retired British cycling great Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, received three TUEs for triamcinolone.

Sky boss Dave Brailsford and Wiggins insisted the injections, administered before three of the rider’s major races in 2011, 2012, and 2013, were all medically necessary to combat a pollen allergy.

Wiggins, who left Team Sky in April 2015, retired last December.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) also looked into a claim that Wiggins was injected with triamcinolone at the end of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné without a TUE being obtained.

Former Team Sky medic Dr. Richard Freeman said he gave Wiggins the legal decongestant Fluimucil but could not find any records to prove it because he failed to follow team policy by sharing those records with colleagues and then lost his laptop on holiday three years later.

Wiggins has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing while Brailsford, acknowledging that errors had been made in record-keeping, has insisted there never was any attempt by Sky to cheat the system.

Froome, who was runner-up to Wiggins at the 2012 Tour, declined medication that would have required a TUE en route to winning the 2015 Tour when he was struggling with illness.

“I can only speak about my experiences in the team at the time. I certainly haven’t been offered triamcinolone in the team,” Froome told The Guardian this week.

Asked if he has ever taken triamcinolone, Froome replied, “no.”

UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead told a committee of British lawmakers in March that far more of the drug had been purchased than would have been required for just the three injections taken by Wiggins.

“Honestly I haven’t given it much thought. It’s not something I’ve gone and done my own investigation on,” said Froome.

“I’ve been happy to let it be, let the professionals deal with that. My focus has been on July and getting ready for [the Tour].”

He added: “I can only speak about my experience in the team. It hasn’t been my experience that triamcinolone has been handed around freely as has been suggested.”

Meanwhile, Froome told Britain’s Press Association he is considering staying with Sky despite the controversy surrounding the team.

“I’m currently still under contract until the end of 2018 with Team Sky, but we are talking about an extension,” he said.

“I think that does go to show that I am happy in the team and I’ve got no plans on going anywhere just yet.”

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New national champions: 2017 TT round-up http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/new-national-champions-2017-tt-round-up_441328 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/new-national-champions-2017-tt-round-up_441328#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:51:12 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441328 The 2017 round of national road championships are underway throughout Europe and beyond. Here are the new champions.

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National championships are underway in most countries throughout Europe and beyond. Here’s a list of the champions in the individual time trial discipline. Check back for updates as racing continues. VeloNews will also publish a list of national road race champions once the weekend is over.

Austria

Men: Georg Preidler (Sunweb)
Women: Martina Ritter (Drops)

Belgium

Men: Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step)
Women: Ann-Sophie Duyck (Drops)

Czech Republic

Men: Jan Barta (Bora-Hansgrohe)
Women: Nikola Noskova (Bepink-Cogeas)

Denmark

Men: Martin Toft Madsen (BHS)
Women: Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo-Bigla)

France

Men: Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale)
Women: Audrey Cordon (Wiggle-High5)

Germany

Men: Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin)
Women: Trixi Worrack (Canyon-SRAM)

Great Britain

Men: Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data)
Women: Claire Rose (Visit Dallas-DNA)

Ireland

Men: Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac)

Italy

Men: Gianni Moscon (Sky)

Luxembourg

Men: Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC)
Women: Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)

Netherlands

Men: Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb)
Women: Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)

Norway

Men: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)
Women: Vita Heine (Hitec)

Poland

Men: Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
Women: Katarzyna Pawlowska (Boels-Dolmans

Russia

Men: Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)

Spain

Men: Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar)
Women: Lourdes Oyarbide (Bizkaia-Durango)

Sweden

Men: Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ)
Women: Lisa Norden

Switzerland

Men: Stefan Kung (BMC)
Women: Marlen Reusser

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How fatherhood might change Peter Sagan http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/fatherhood-might-change-peter-sagan_441317 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/fatherhood-might-change-peter-sagan_441317#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:09:40 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441317 Peter Sagan announces he'll be a father soon. What does this mean for the world champion's career as a pro cyclist? It could get even

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Peter Sagan announced that he and his wife Katarina are expecting a child, and as you’d expect, the cycling world went crazy. His Wednesday Instagram post shared the news in Sagan’s typical lighthearted fashion. Cycling’s two-time reigning world champion didn’t break the Internet quite like Beyoncé when she announced her pregnancy on Instagram in February (11 million likes to Sagan’s 75,000). Still, it is big news for cycling fans.

Of course, lots of pro cyclists have children, and they rarely miss a beat in training and racing. We should expect the same from Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan. But surely there will be some ways that fatherhood could change Sagan. Here are a few (not so serious) possibilities.

New victory salutes

Unless he’s jostling other riders in a lunge to the line, Sagan loves to celebrate victories in creative ways. He did the running man at stage 3 of the 2012 Tour. He wheelied across the line in Gent-Wevelgem 2013, and at Tour de Suisse he did a hula dance this year.

A number of cyclists with newborns have celebrated their new children with victory salutes. They pantomime rocking the baby. Some even stuff a pacifier in a jersey pocket and whip it out at the end of a hard-fought victory. Sagan, of course, needs to take child-centric post-ups to the next level. Here are three suggestions:

– Pantomime changing a diaper (bonus points if he stuffs a diaper in his pocket — clean, of course).
– Cruise across the line, pretending to burp a baby, shushing the crowd.
– If he’s way off the front, he could drop back to the team car for a Babybjorn, emblazoned with sponsor logos (of course) to put on for the finish.

Dad jokes in post-race interviews

Sagan is already known for his candor in post-race interviews. He even went so far to talk about his bodily functions on Sporza — changing diapers should be no problem.

Once he’s a dad, his interviews might change a little. Instead of Yogi Berra-like quips, such as “Race is race,” we could start hearing some dad jokes. That’s right, those groan-worthy puns that have embarrassed kids (especially teenagers) for eons. How about these jokes, Peter?

– That last kilometer was KILL-ometering me!
– Three Days of De Panne? More like three days of da pain, amirite?
– I forgot chamois crème today and boy was my bottom bracket squeaky!

Product endorsement opportunities

By now most cycling fans know Sagan is a master at marketing both himself and his sponsors’ products. Remember his epic movie montage? It was all to promote Sunroot, a Slovakian nutrition company. Recently, he teased a new Specialized Diverge by simply doing donuts in a parking lot with the bike on his car’s roof. There is a lot of money to be made with products for new parents. Surely Sagan will find a way to cash in on the new kiddo.

– How about a Trail-a-Bike designed to handle the rigors of Paris-Roubaix. His sponsor Specialized could integrate that head tube suspension thingie into the kid’s bars. Don’t forget some tubular tires and a 53-tooth chainring!
– Sagan is a car enthusiast, but it’s doubtful his tricked-out muscle car will work with a baby’s car seat. Instead, it’s time for him to hop-up a vintage minivan. Remember those Dodge Voyagers with the fake wooden panels? Yeah, it’s got a Hemi — plus plenty of storage for bikes, a stroller, and diapers.

And, of course, we’ll all be looking forward to UCI junior world championships in 2033. That is, unless Sagan Jr. gets inspired by his parents’ “Grease” tribute and takes to musical theater instead of cycling.

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Preview: 2017 U.S. pro nationals pits Euro pros against domestic teams http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/preview-u-s-pro-nationals-pits-euro-pros-against-domestic-teams_441301 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/preview-u-s-pro-nationals-pits-euro-pros-against-domestic-teams_441301#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:09:12 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441301 A number of top contenders for the Stars and Stripes jersey head to Knoxville without much team support. Here's a full USPro preview.

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Stars and stripes are on the line as the U.S. professional national championships head to Knoxville, Tennessee this weekend. The racing will be a clash between European heavyweights, riding mostly without team support and domestic teams ready to use tactics to their advantage.

The women’s and men’s road races, set for Sunday, June 25, will be shown live on VeloNews.com.

Both 2016 time trial champions, Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) and Carmen Small (Team Veloconcept) will not be racing.

Thunderstorms are expected Saturday morning, which could throw a curveball into the mix for the women’s ITT. The weather looks partly cloudy for the Sunday road races with highs in the mid-80s expected both days.

Originally slated for a second year in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the races were moved to Knoxville last September. This is the first time the U.S. pro national championships are being held on the same weekend as most of the European pro national championships.

U.S. pro nationals courses

Both the individual time trial and road race in Knoxville will consist of circuits. The women will start the weekend off with the ITT, completing three laps of the 7.7km course, while the men will contest four laps. Riders will start at one-minute intervals and be staggered into heats to avoid having too many riders out on the circuit.

The ITT course is a rolling affair. The route is more technical than the simple out-and-backs we have seen in years past, but it is still fairly straightforward. There is 197 feet of elevation gain per lap.

The road race course is similar. Racers will ride a rolling circuit of 12.71km and see an elevation gain of just 717 feet per lap. The women’s field will tackle eight laps, for a total of 102km, while the men will battle over 14 laps, totaling 179km.

With nearly a 100 feet of elevation gained per mile, the road race course is by no means easy. While there seems to be less climbing than previous nationals, we can still expect to see a select group at the finish.

The most significant moment of the course comes 2.4km from the start of the circuit, as the riders will tackle Sherrod Road and face pitches above 11 percent. The climb comes early in the lap and only lasts 1.2km, making it easier for dropped riders to come back to the group.

U.S. Pro U.S. Pro

Women’s individual time trial

Amber Neben rode to the gold medal in Doha at 2016 world championships. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Start Time: 10:15 a.m. EDT
Distance: 23.1km – 3 laps
Total Elevation Gain: 591ft/180.1m
Number of Starters: 38

Although Small, the defending champion, won’t be in attendance, there are still a host of powerful women ready for the race of truth. Two-time and current world time trial champion Amber Neben (Team Veloconcept) will look to show off her rainbow bands on home soil for the first time and improve on her silver medal from last year to take home the stars and stripes.

Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) finished fourth and fifth in the ITT in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and comes into this year’s race riding a wave of strong form after recently beating Neben at the one-day ITT Chrono de Gatineau in Canada, where Neben finished third. Stephens also won the hard-fought Winston-Salem Cycling Classic on Memorial Day.

Other riders to watch include: Brianna Walle (TIBCO-SVB), Leah Thomas (Sho-Air-Twenty20), and Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare).

Men’s individual time trial

Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) turned in another excellent time trial, finishing in second and moving up to fourth in GC after stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Start Time: 1:25 p.m. EDT
Distance: 30.8km – 4 laps
Total Elevation Gain: 788ft/240.2m
Number of Starters: 39

Brent Bookwalter will look to make it three national pro ITT championships in a row for BMC Racing after Phinney’s back-to-back titles. Bookwalter has finished on the podium twice, with third in 2012 and second in 2013, and powered to fourth last year and in 2011. The Asheville, North Carolina, resident recently finished second in the ITT at Amgen Tour of California and 10th in the ITT at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo) returns and will look to improve on the bronze medal he won last year. Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing) could spoil the party as he seems to have found his form at the Giro d’Italia, powering to a stellar fifth place in the final-day individual time trial in Milan.

Other riders to watch include: Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) and Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagen Berman).

Women’s road race

Coryn Rivera
Coryn Rivera won the 2017 women’s Tour of Flanders. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Start Time: 9:00 a.m. EDT
Distance: 102km – 8 laps
Total Elevation Gain: 5,736ft/1,748.3m
Number of Starters: 74

Current and three-time U.S. pro national champion, Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), is back and ready to defend her title after a stage win at the Amgen Tour of California in May. She has gotten the better of Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) the past two years, but Rivera is on the form of her life having won two one-day Women’s WorldTour events, including the Tour of Flanders. The rolling parcours in Knoxville, with no extended climb, seems better suited to Rivera’s strengths. But last year saw similar predictions, and Guarnier still got the better of Rivera.

The door is open for an upset, though. Both Rivera and Guarnier will be at a disadvantage. Neither of them has a teammate for support in the race.

While this year may see act three of Guarnier versus Rivera, there are many women looking to play spoiler. UnitedHealthcare will have a solid one-two punch with Ruth Winder and Taylor Wiles. Winder is in fantastic form with two stage wins and third overall at the recent North Star Grand Prix. Tayler Wiles, also showing good form, took home the queen of the mountains classification and a fifth place overall at North Star.

Emma White (Rally Cycling) captured the overall title at North Star, as well as a stage win and multiple podiums. White’s teammate Erica Allar packs a fast finish, and she finished sixth last year at nationals.

Other riders to watch include Mandy Heintz (Visit Dallas DNA), Brianna Walle (TIBCO-SVB), Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM), Samantha Schneider (ISCorp), and Ellen Noble (Colovita-Bianchi).

Men’s road race

American Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) won stage 3 at the Herald Sun Tour on Saturday, February 4, 2017. Photo: Con Chronis / Herald Sun Tour

Start Time: 1:15 p.m. EDT
Distance: 179km – 14 laps
Total Elevation Gain: 10,038ft/3,059.6m
Number of Starters: 107

Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo) has been chasing the U.S. pro national championship for several years. He finished third on four occasions (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015). A rouleur who excelled in the classics this spring, Reijnen is able to get over climbs and win the sprint out of a select group. His fast finish makes him one to watch this Sunday.

Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare), also a fine sprinter, began the year flying high with three UCI wins, one at the Herald Sun Tour and two stage wins at the Tour de Langkawi. But most recently, he dropped out of the Tour de Beauce after a third-place finish on stage 1 due to illness.

Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel) has great form right now. He recently won the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, arguably the toughest one-day race in the U.S. outside of the national championships.

Some of the strongest riders in the field will be riding solo. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), Alexey Vermuelen, and Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) all will be without teammates. Warbasse captured an emphatic win at the Tour de Suisse last week, but that was a mountain stage — unlike the course in Knoxville.

Other riders to watch include: Logan Owen (Axeon Hagens Berman), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), and former national champion Eric Marcotte (Cylance).

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Tour de France 2017 power rankings: #1 – Chris Froome http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/tour-de-france-2017-power-rankings-1-chris-froome_441300 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/tour-de-france-2017-power-rankings-1-chris-froome_441300#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:13:24 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441300 Chris Froome takes aim at a fourth Tour de France victory in the 2017 race. He expects Quintana, Contador, and Porte to challenge him.

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The Tour de France kicks off in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday, July 1. In the lead-up to the Grande Boucle, we’ll be counting down the top-10 GC contenders this week. Here is rider #1. Want to brush up on the other contenders? Read up on riders #10-7riders #6-3, and rider #2.

Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is well aware that the image of the yellow jersey running up Mont Ventoux will be the enduring moment of the 2016 Tour. No bother for the Brit. He is already starting to cast an eye toward joining the race’s five-time champions.

With help from our friends at L’Equipe, we caught up with the defending champion to talk about his memories of 2016, his greatest rivals, and what he expects from this year’s course.

What is your strongest memory of the 2016 Tour de France?

The moment that remains imprinted in my memory and, I think, in that of anyone who is interested in the Tour de France is the Mont Ventoux stage and the chaos that followed the crash that Richie Porte, Bauke Mollema, and I had when we hit a motorcycle. I’m not about to forget that incident. Afterwards, the race commissaires gave me the same time as Mollema, making an exceptional decision in circumstances that were equally exceptional. In hindsight, I still think it was appropriate and just, from a sporting perspective, even though the days that followed showed that I didn’t depend on that moment to win.

The images of you taking to your feet and running will go down forever in the history of the Tour.

Yes, I’m constantly reminded of it. I realized the impact of this image when I met fans in Australia, South Korea, and Japan during the off-season and shared some really nice moments on the bike with them. You don’t often see a cyclist running. I’ve seen those photos turning up in magazines, on the Internet, etc. I’ve also seen some imaginative comments, such as those from the organizers of a 10-kilometer running race in Spain who invited me to take part. I can laugh now, but it was a moment of pure madness. I quickly realized that my bike wasn’t in working order and I knew that my team car was a long way behind. And I didn’t even slip when I was running, despite the cleats on the soles of my shoes!

Has anything this weird ever happened in the Tour de France? Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | www.brakethroughmedia.com

What else do you recall about the 2016 race?

The two stages on which I had the most fun: the descent towards Bagnères-de-Luchon, which was something different and unexpected for many people, and a few days later, on the road into Montpellier, when I escaped with Peter Sagan in the crosswinds. On that occasion, I didn’t win the stage, but I loved that moment.

It was pure instinct and quite different from the image that Team Sky presents the rest of the time. Was there nothing premeditated about it?

No. I was lucky enough to get this opportunity because the night before that second Pyrenean stage I had a 54-tooth chainring put on instead of the usual 53, which came about when Nicolas Portal, my team director, showed me a map and stressed that the descent from Val Louron-Azet wasn’t all that technical and would be done at high speed on long straights. I foresaw the possibility of having to get back across to Nairo Quintana if he had distanced me on the climb. But the urge to attack came to me just as I went over the summit.

And what about the stage to Montpellier?

Peter Sagan made the first move. I saw him go and said to myself: “Why not, I have nothing to lose? I must go for it.” In hindsight, I’m really pleased that I had the guts to go on the offensive rather than sitting back and waiting to defend my yellow jersey. It’s the kind of cycling that many would like to see every day, but it’s rarely possible. It’s true that Team Sky’s most common tactic is to impose a tempo at the front of the peloton that discourages my rivals from attacking me. This doesn’t necessarily produce the best spectacle but, from our point of view, it is the ideal way to keep events under control.

Chris Froome and Peter Sagan snuck away from the peloton in the final 10 kilometers of stage 11, benefiting from strong crosswinds. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

You have joined the band of the three-time Tour de France winners, which includes Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet, and Greg LeMond. What do you know about them?

Not much more than the fact that they won three each.

Haven’t you wondered why they didn’t win any more Tours?

In all honesty, no.

The first two were affected by the world wars, while LeMond had his career interrupted by a hunting accident. What could prevent you from joining Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain on the list of five-time Tour winners?

Firstly, my opponents. Then, you have to remember that my career has also been marked by highs and lows. My emergence was set back by bilharzia contracted in Africa. I could have won my first Tour in 2012 and not in 2013 if Team Sky’s tactics had been different. [The team favored Bradley Wiggins – Ed.] I fell in 2014, which could still happen to me again just as it could happen to others, even though you try to minimize the risk of this by riding at the front. I also started high-level racing at an older age than usual.

Up to now, nobody has ever won his fourth Tour de France at 32, your current age. But you already occupy a prominent place in history having worn the yellow jersey 44 times, which puts you in fifth position in this ranking. A year ago, you said you weren’t chasing records. And now?

I have to admit that my perspective on things has changed a bit. I’m not too far away from the five-time winners. Joining them on the Tour’s palmarès has become an additional source of motivation, but first I have to win a fourth Tour before thinking about the fifth. Whatever happens, and regardless of my upcoming results and whether I win or not this year, I still feel relatively young and I hope to race for another five or six years at the highest level. Winning five Tour de France titles would be huge but I don’t want to think like that. I’m not obsessed by my number of Tour victories but by my career as a whole. If I can arrive at the start line physically capable of playing a leading role in every year that I’ve got left as a racer, I will be satisfied. Beyond that, there are all of the imponderables.

Which of your opponents do you monitor most closely?

Nairo Quintana has made me suffer in the mountains for four years now and he demonstrated during the last Vuelta that he is capable of beating me, thanks to a tactical coup. Alberto Contador is still capable of winning the Tour de France. He’s a defiant man who I will have to keep an eye on as long as he remains in the peloton. He has the mental strength, experience, and motivation, and a change of team can only do him good because he was obviously not happy at Tinkoff. I’m also aware that Romain Bardet continues to progress, and I know better than anyone, because he was my teammate, that Richie Porte is very, very strong.

What kind of race are you expecting this year?

I hope it will be a very exciting edition but with only three summit finishes and a really small amount of time trialling, there will be very few opportunities for the riders who are contesting the overall classification. I’m delighted that the first difficulty comes very quickly, on the fifth stage, as this reduces the risk of crashes at the start of the Tour and will provide structure to the race. I’m even more delighted that it is at La Planche des Belles Filles, where my Tour story really started with my first stage victory in 2012.

How do you manage to keep the same motivation for your preparation now that you’re a father?

Getting motivated for the Tour de France isn’t really difficult. You just have to think of the atmosphere that reigns there and summon up the images of fans, the noise of helicopters in your head … My son Kellan, who was born in December 2015, gives me even more desire to succeed. His presence in my life really fulfills me. I love my job, which stems from a teenage passion. I am always looking forward to the next Tour de France.

THE SCORE: 39/40


CLIMBS: 10/10
Tall and lean, Froome doesn’t possess the fluid style of a pure climber. However, he has an exceptional power-to-weight ratio for the mountains. This year, the first summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles is actually the location of his first Tour stage victory in 2012. The last summit finish on the 2017 route, on the Izoard, should suit him just as well.

TACTICAL SENSE: 9/10
Team Sky simplifies things by opting for the steamroller tactic, setting a hard rhythm in order to eliminate its opponents. Froome relies on his earpiece and power meter, which is hardly instinctive. As we saw at the 2016 Vuelta, he can be caught out when more sophisticated tacticians (such as Alberto Contador) strike.


TIME TRIALS/FLATS: 10/10
Whether long or short, flat or hilly, Froome is the best time trialist among the favorites. In addition, we also know from last year’s Montpellier stage (when he was second behind Peter Sagan) that he is capable of gaining vital seconds that have a psychological benefit.

TEAM STRENGTH: 10/10
Assembled to enable a British rider to win the Tour, Team Sky has won four of the last five editions, the first of them with Bradley Wiggins in 2012. The richest and most methodical team in the peloton, capable of allowing its riders to rest on certain days, can fall victim to a lack of popularity.


Tour de France power rankings: Riders #10-7 >>

Tour de France power rankings: Riders #6-3 >>

Tour de France power rankings: Rider #2 >>

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UCI cuts grand tour team sizes for 2018 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/uci-cuts-grand-tour-team-sizes-2018_441298 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/news/uci-cuts-grand-tour-team-sizes-2018_441298#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:42:37 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441298 The UCI says it will cut team sizes at the Tour de France and other grand tours in 2018. It says one fewer rider per team will improve

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The UCI announced Thursday that teams will be required to race with only eight riders apiece in grand tours starting in 2018. The governing body’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC) met in Geneva and approved this change as well as the 2018 men’s WorldTour road calendar.

Starting with the 2018 Giro d’Italia, teams will be limited to eight cyclists. This change applies to the Tour de France and Vuelta a España as well. According to the PCC, this change will improve safety and security. Teams currently start with nine riders in grand tours. The new rule will result in a peloton of 176 riders. Similarly, the UCI expects to limit all WorldTour and Continental Circuit events to fields of 176 riders or less.

BMC’s Jim Ochowicz has been one notable critic of this approach to peloton safety.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Tour of Poland announced Wednesday that teams will only start seven riders apiece in its race this season. “The Tour de Pologne, which has always been attentive to new trends, was already a pioneer in this one when some seasons ago, in 2013, we adhered to a pilot project in association with the UCI that lined up teams of 6 riders at the start,” said race director Czeslaw Lang. Tour of Poland is a WorldTour race that runs July 29-August 4.

The 2018 men’s WorldTour calendar is nearly the same as the 2017 slate of events. The UCI moved the Tour de France one week later to avoid a scheduling conflict with the soccer World Cup. The Tour will run July 7-29, 2018. Also, the Abu Dhabi Tour will be lengthened to five days. The Amgen Tour of California, scheduled for May 13-19, 2018, remains part of the WorldTour circuit.

Lastly, the PCC approved one slight change in how general classification times are calculated in the event of a split during a sprint finish. Starting in the 2017 Tour de France, time gaps will be assessed if a split is three seconds or more. Previously, the time gaps were counted if a split was one second.

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Mavic drops in new neutral service bikes for Tour de France http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/bikes-and-tech/mavic-drops-in-new-neutral-service-bikes-for-tour-de-france_441171 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/bikes-and-tech/mavic-drops-in-new-neutral-service-bikes-for-tour-de-france_441171#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:58:25 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441171 Mavic's Tour de France neutral support bikes will have dropper seatposts so riders can get their fit correct.

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The indelible image of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux at the 2016 Tour de France has inspired changes for the 2017 race. Mavic’s fleet of neutral support bikes will feature specially designed KS dropper posts. This will enable riders to adjust saddle height when riding the unmistakable yellow Canyon Ultimate CF SL bikes. That’s the biggest change, but not the only one.

The dropper

“When I was looking for a dropper post, this was the first one I saw that had the lever beneath the saddle,” says Chad Moore, Mavic’s global brand manager. “They [KS] made us some custom posts to work on the road. And they made it so the post has a bit more range of height.”

The 27.2-millimeter dropper posts will allow riders to adjust the saddle height on the fly. The posts are based off the KS Lev Integra 272 platform and have 65 millimeters of travel. This should avoid the gangly, knees-out pedal stroke Froome endured on Ventoux.

“Most neutral support services haven’t used a support bike in god knows how long,” says Moore, but Mavic intends to be prepared in case it happens again. Once the rider is on the neutral support bike, the support car will pull up alongside the rider to ensure he understands how to adjust the seatpost properly.

Chris Froome
Chris Froome rode a Mavic neutral service bike after the inopportune crash on Mont Ventoux. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Other important changes

The neutral support cars will be stocked with six bikes on the roof. Previously, the cars carried three. Instead of eight wheels in the car, Mavic neutral support cars will now carry six.

Of those six bikes, three will be set up in advance for the top-three GC riders on any given stage. Should one of those riders need a neutral support bike, it will be ready to go with that rider’s measurements pre-set.

“The idea is to have a variety of sizes with a dropper, and pedals that are the most popular in the peloton,” says Moore. “One bike will have Look pedals, another will have Shimano, and a third will have Speedplay. If a rider needs something else, they’ll take one of the other three bikes. At the end of the day it’s tricky because you want the neutral support to be truly neutral, so to combine that with the top guys in the GC, while not alienating the other guys, it’s a tricky situation to figure out.”

The wheels that each neutral support car carries won’t change much. They will carry a combination of Mavic Cosmic Ultimate, Cosmic Pro Carbon SL, and on certain stages, Comete Pro Carbon SL wheels. It’s unclear if it will be necessary to have disc brake wheels at the ready for the Tour. Mavic says it’s ready for that situation regardless. The neutral support cars will carry wheels with the UCI-standard 160-millimeter rotors. If a rider has a 140-millimeter rotor, neutral support won’t be able to help, but the teams already know that.

Adding disc wheels to the mix is no small feat. It requires more than just a pile of new wheels. Each car’s bike and wheel racks require new fittings to accommodate thru-axle wheels. The same goes for neutral support motorcycles. Replenishing those wheels, should a moto or car run out, will work in much the same way it did before: Cars re-stock motos, or vice versa based on need. Then, a support van on course can replenish either the car or moto if necessary.

Listen to our discussion of new Tour tech on the VeloNews podcast:

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BMC bets everything on Porte for Tour de France http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/bmc-bets-everything-porte-tour-de-france_441288 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/bmc-bets-everything-porte-tour-de-france_441288#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:24:27 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441288 American team BMC Racing will focus its Tour de France team on GC favorite Richie Porte. The Australian will be a top favorite in July.

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PARIS (AFP) — BMC has built its 2017 Tour de France team around Richie Porte, with the aim of putting the Australian on the final podium, team director Fabio Baldato said on Thursday.

“He is our top priority,” Baldato said. Porte came fifth last year in the Tour, won the Tour of Romandie last month, and came close to winning the Critérium du Dauphiné two weeks ago.

Porte will be aided in the mountains in his bid to win — or at least finish on the podium — by Irishman Nicolas Roche and Italian climber Damiano Caruso.

In the low mountains, France’s Amael Moinard and breakaway specialist Alessandro De Marchi will target stage wins.

Olympic and Paris-Roubaix champion Greg Van Avermaet won Tour stages in each of the past two years. This edition is loaded with just the type of rolling terrain he thrives on. However, he will face stiff competition from an on-form Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who recently won two stages in Tour de Suisse as well as the points classification.

BMC also feels Stefan Kung can win the opening 14km time trial around Dusseldorf. Notably, Australian Rohan Dennis, who won both time trial stages at Tour de Suisse, is not on the BMC Tour roster.

That first stage in Germany is on July 1, with the race concluding in Paris on July 23.

BMC team for the 2017 Tour de France

Richie Porte (Aus)
Damiano Caruso (I)
Alessandro De Marchi (I)
Stefan Kung (Swi)
Amael Moinard (F)
Nicolas Roche (Irl)
Michael Schar (Swi)
Greg Van Avermaet (B)
Danilo Wyss (Swi)

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2017 Tour to be Thomas Voeckler’s lap of honor http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/2017-tour-thomas-voeckler_441255 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/2017-tour-thomas-voeckler_441255#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:29:48 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441255 France’s Thomas Voeckler turns the pedals for the last time at the 2017 Tour. He intends to savor his final moments on the bike.

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For the last 13 years, Thomas Voeckler has entertained Tour de France fans with his contorted facial expressions and gritty racing style. Throughout his career he attempted long-range breakaways that often seemed foolhardy; on multiple occasions he turned these huge efforts into victory. Along the way he wore the race’s maillot jaune for 20 total stages. He became a fan favorite in France and abroad.

Voeckler was born in Alsace, in France’s northeast, and was raised in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. He was tutored as a cyclist in the Vendée, on France’s west-central Atlantic coast.

His story as a cycling star began July 8, 2004, on the fifth stage of that year’s Tour de France. Soon after the start in Amiens, he jumped into a breakaway with Sandy Casar, Jakob Piil, and Stuart O’Grady. The latter ended up victorious in Chartres while Voeckler claimed the yellow jersey. It was the moment France became aware of the Brioches La Boulangère rider’s boyish face. He reveled in the Tour’s yellow leader’s jersey for 10 days, holding off Lance Armstrong on the course’s hardest days, before finally ceding the lead in the Alps. It was then that his boss, Jean-René Bernaudeau, promised: “Thomas is going to have a wonderful career, just you wait and see!”

Thomas Voeckler
Thomas Voeckler’s stint in the Tour’s yellow jersey in 2004 instantly made him a fan favorite in France and beyond. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Those 10 days in yellow provided the foundation for his career; Voeckler turned out to be a masterful racer, a fierce competitor, and a canny athlete who knew just how to keep the press and the public entertained. For 13 years, Voeckler has built an enviable palmarès, including two French titles, the Grand Prix of Québec and of Plouay, stages of Paris-Nice, the Critérium du Dauphiné, and the Tour of the Basque Country. But it has been at the Tour de France where he has pulled off his most memorable exploits.

After his 2004 epic, he waited five years before finally claiming a first stage with a solo win in Perpignan. The best was still yet to come. He took a stage victory with the French national champion’s jersey on his back in Bagnères-de-Luchon. Voeckler then added two more in 2012, one in that same Pyrenean town and the other at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.

While his four stage victories have immense value in a sporting sense, it was his second 10-day spell in the yellow jersey in 2011 that shattered all expectations. He again formed part of a successful breakaway, this time finishing in the Cantal. Just as he did in 2004, Voeckler repeated his belief that he couldn’t compete for the overall classification.

Thomas Voeckler
Thomas Voeckler finally made it to the Tour’s final podium in 2012 when he won the polka-dot jersey. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

He was equally convinced, though, that the dream of winning the Tour and pulling off the most beautiful coups — and finally offering the home nation a victor to succeed Bernard Hinault — was within his reach. He was thwarted by one climb, the Galibier. This was the scene of a magnificent battle unleashed by Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans. Eventually, it shattered the Frenchman’s dream, and Evans took the overall victory. Millions of fans shared in his sadness when he missed a podium finish in Paris by a single place.

Nevertheless, Voeckler became a star. He confirmed his status by claiming the polka-dot jersey in dashing style in 2012. He finally savored the pride that comes with standing on the final podium on the Champs-Élysées.

At the age of 38, having completed 14 Tours de France, Voeckler is bringing an end to the romance he has shared with the French people. Faithful to his understanding of his place in the sport, he has no intentions of taking on a starring role during his farewell race. “I’d like it to work out well for the team,” he says. “My teammate Bryan Coquard deserves to bag a stage, and that would be a victory for me by proxy. I want to enjoy a wonderful Tour and I won’t hide the fact that I’d also like it if I could find a single moment to show my colors. That said, I wouldn’t be at all disappointed to ride the Tour as a team captain, as a teammate, and to finish in Paris after three beautiful weeks.”

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Sky names Tour squad to support Froome’s yellow aspirations http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/sky-names-tour-squad-support-froomes-yellow-aspirations_441277 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/sky-names-tour-squad-support-froomes-yellow-aspirations_441277#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:54:55 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441277 The British team unveiled its list of nine riders who will tackle the Tour de France, which it calls "strong and experienced."

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Sky announced Thursday the eight riders who will support Chris Froome at the upcoming Tour de France as he aims for a fourth yellow jersey in five years.

The Tour kicks off July 1 with a 13-kilometer time trial in Dusseldorf, Germany and concludes July 23 with its customary stage into Paris and along the Champs-Elysées.

Froome said he’s excited to tackle another Tour as he targets the overall victory.

“The Tour de France is a special race and it would just be incredible to win it for a fourth time. Aiming for that fourth victory has given me a lot of motivation,” Froome said in a Sky release.

“We’re ready as a team and I can’t wait for the Tour to start now. Honestly, I just love it. It’s a feeling that you don’t get from any other race.”

Froome’s eight-rider support crew is comprised of Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Luke Rowe, and Geraint Thomas.

Team principal Dave Brailsford said the Tour roster has the strength and experience that’s needed at the French grand tour.

“We’ve selected a strong and experienced lineup who will support [Froome], and we’ll be looking to use the strength of the team to our advantage,” Brailsford said.

Landa and Thomas were caught up in a crash at the Giro d’Italia last month after Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) struck a police motorcycle parked alongside the road. Landa was able to finish the Giro but Thomas had to abandon because of injuries sustained in the incident.

Missing from the lineup is Wout Poels, who served as one of Froome’s key lieutenants during last year’s Tour. The Dutchman injured his knee in February and is still recovering.

Team Sky for 2017 Tour de France

Chris Froome (GB)
Sergio Henao (Col)
Vasil Kiryienka (Blr)
Christian Knees (G)
Michal Kwiatkowski (P)
Mikel Landa (Sp)
Mikel Nieve (Sp)
Luke Rowe (GB)
Geraint Thomas (GB)

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Don’t worry, ‘Tour de Pharmacy’ won’t ruin cycling http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/dont-worry-tour-de-pharmacy-wont-ruin-cycling_441251 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/commentary/dont-worry-tour-de-pharmacy-wont-ruin-cycling_441251#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:28:36 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441251 A new HBO movie lampoons the Tour de France. Is "Tour de Pharmacy" bad for cycling or just a silly spoof movie like "Talladega Nights?"

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Once again, pro cycling has been pigeonholed as a bonanza of doping, cheating, and poor sportsmanship. The mainstream world will get another chance to laugh at our sport when “Tour de Pharmacy” comes out July 8, one week into the Tour de France. Should we be mad that our hallowed sport and the 103-year-old Tour de France are being so mercilessly clowned?

At first, I was. But then I watched the movie, had some laughs, and realized it is simply cycling’s “Talladega Nights” moment.

Andy Samberg’s mockumentary follows a fictional version of the 1982 Tour. Ironically, this was prior to blood doping’s heyday. (Amgen got approval to produce Epogen (EPO) in 1989. The proliferation of blood transfusions came a few years prior to that.) Nitpicking aside, the movie hits all of cycling’s lowlights in just under 40 minutes.

There’s no need to worry about opening old wounds in the sport’s psyche, though. “Tour de Pharmacy” is just too outlandish to be taken seriously. UCI boss Ditmer Klerken is entirely corrupt but prone to entirely truthful outbursts in press conferences. Stu Ruckman, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency admits to taking every banned drug and then painting his experiences. All the riders are taking all the drugs. Motorized cheating even gets a shout-out.

Doping is a sore subject for fans, journalists, and riders alike. We love cycling. We hate when cheating tarnishes it. Yet at the same time, we don’t willfully ignore those dark days. Time and time again, cycling media revisits doping, always in a serious manner. That reporting is critical, but is it the only way we can or should talk about doping?

Of course, cheating has ruined countless cycling careers — and worse. In that sense, it is no laughing matter. However, you’ve got to admit that there have been some stranger-than-fiction episodes along the way.

Remember when the late Frank Vandenbroucke claimed a stash of EPO was for his dog? Or when Floyd Landis said that a nip of post-race whiskey threw off his doping sample? How about the time when Tyler Hamilton tried to tell us a failed anti-doping test was due to his vanishing tetragametic chimera twin? You couldn’t make these stories up, and yet they did.

Cycling’s ludicrous litany of doping sagas borders on parody, with or without Samberg’s help. Is it so wrong for “Tour de Pharmacy” to take it one step further? Maybe in laughing at cycling’s win-at-all-costs past, we’ll be more inclined to look at the present with a critical eye.

Also, I can stomach the mockery because the movie makes fun of nearly everything. The film crew bungles a few segments — clearly on purpose — which were some of the funniest parts. Cycling journalists get their just deserts, portrayed as uptight, self-serious nerds unaware of any other sport. And as you’d expect, the movie lampoons the French in a variety of ways.

Before I watched “Tour de Pharmacy,” I fretted that Samberg’s spoof would turn people off of cycling. It won’t.

The movie is so over-the-top that no rational person will take it seriously. No one will watch this and think that racers actually tackle each other off their bikes, for instance. Does anyone think that a NASCAR race could end in a ridiculous running race, a-la “Talladega Nights?”

However, there is one part of the movie that I can’t reconcile. Alongside Mike Tyson, Lance Armstrong has regular interview segments throughout. Never one for contrition, it feels like he’s twisting the knife with this appearance. By making an appearance, Armstrong is perpetuating his long-held defense that everyone was doping when he ran the table at seven Tours. Instead, Samberg should have created a fictional character like Armstrong. (Italian rider Juju Pepe is a spitting image of Marco Pantani.) Plus, Samberg could have then cast an actual actor for the role.

Whatever your opinion of Armstrong and his acting, I doubt “Tour de Pharmacy” will change your mind. Similarly, this movie shouldn’t diminish your love for cycling — but it could make you hate Samberg. On the other hand, if you’re clueless about the Tour, maybe you’ll tune in this July to see what it is really all about.

And that’s the point, really. Cycling has arrived. Finally, we have a spoof movie, lousy with Hollywood A-listers, ample nudity, and crude humor that riffs on the Tour. It is not as funny as “Happy Gilmore” or as classic as “Slap Shot.” I watched it, and I got a few laughs out of it.

Cycling has gotten this far. I don’t think a wacky made-for-TV movie on HBO will tank our sport.

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Tour de France 2017 power rankings: #2 – Richie Porte http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/tour-de-france-2017-power-rankings-2-richie-porte_441244 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/tour-de-france-2017-power-rankings-2-richie-porte_441244#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:10:05 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441244 Australian Richie Porte is rider #2 in our Tour de France power rankings. Will he be able to win the yellow jersey for his BMC Racing team?

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The Tour de France kicks off in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday, July 1. In the lead-up to the Grande Boucle, we’ll be counting down the top-10 GC contenders this week. Here is rider #2. Want to brush up on the other contenders? Read up on riders #10-7 and riders #6-3.

There was a moment early in last year’s Tour de France when Richie Porte could have simply given up.

A puncture at the worst possible moment — with about five kilometers to go in stage 2 — saw him desperately wait as neutral support slowly changed his wheel. As he stood by the bicycle, the peloton barreled into Cherbourg for an uphill sprint won by Peter Sagan. The Tour’s clock was unforgiving. Porte limped across the line having lost nearly two minutes. His hopes to dethrone former teammate Chris Froome from the Tour’s podium were over.

Dejected? Yes. Surrender? No way.

“Last year taught me a lot,” Porte says. “I thought my Tour was over before it even started. I’m not a quitter. The guys see how much I fight.” Porte has always had a reputation for gritty panache, and last summer it was on full display. It was the manner in which he clawed his way back over the ensuing three weeks to secure a career-best fifth overall — less than one minute off the final podium — that confirmed his true character. The performance sealed his future, and brought him the leadership role at BMC Racing for the 2017 Tour de France.

“We know Richie is a fighter. We saw it last year,” says BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz. “We won the Tour once [Cadel Evans in 2011], and with Richie, we believe we can do it again.”

In one of the most significant behind-the-scenes dramas of the 2016-2017 offseason, BMC Racing switched leaders for the Tour. American Tejay van Garderen, the team’s longtime Tour leader, was given two opportunities: lead BMC at the Giro d’Italia, or ride the Tour as Porte’s lieutenant. Either way, Porte claimed outright Tour leadership.

The move was less a condemnation of van Garderen, and more an elevation of Porte. Both men faced adversities during the 2016 Tour, yet Porte overcame the obstacles. As van Garderen struggled with illnesses, form, and motivation, Porte hung tough, clawing back time on crucial stages. BMC brass believed he deserved his shot.

Porte is grabbing the opportunity by the horns.

“It’s now or never for me,” Porte says. “These are going to be my last couple of years as an endurance athlete. I need to have a massive next few years.”

It’s the latest storybook twist to a very unlikely career. At a barrel-chested 5-feet-6, Porte doesn’t have the spindly look of a grand tour contender. Yet his motor and pluck have disproven one doubter after another. A former triathlete and swimmer, Porte came to cycling when he was already in his early-20s. In 2010, he revealed his promise in his first WorldTour season, wearing the pink jersey and riding to seventh in his grand tour debut at the Giro. Former team boss Bjarne Riis once famously quipped that Porte was too heavy to ever truly become a major contender.

Those are just the kind of words that motivate Porte, who has defied expectations throughout his career.

“People wondered about my ability to race for three weeks. My job used to be to sacrifice for others,” Porte says. “To lead is a massive opportunity, and it gives me confidence that I wasn’t far off the podium. Without some of the bad luck, maybe it would have gone the other way.”

After that initial success, it took five more grand tours and three more years before he reached the top-20 again, with 19th in the 2013 Tour. During that span, he emerged as Sky’s top super-domestique for Bradley Wiggins and then Froome. In their shadows, he took his chances in one-week stage races, twice winning Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Volta ao Algarve, and Giro del Trentino. He finally took home the flowers at the Santos Tour Down Under in 2017 after finishing on the podium three years in a row. Porte could have remained Sky’s well-paid helper, or he could have pursued team leadership for himself. He chose the latter.

“I knew what I had at Sky, and I was happy there,” Porte says. “I need to take my own opportunities. That’s why I am here.”

Porte dreams of following in the footsteps of Cadel Evans to win the Tour. Like Evans, something has always stalled Porte’s progression in grand tours. In 2014, he was christened “Plan B” after Froome crashed out. Despite riding into podium range, he soon succumbed to bronchial problems, and limped into Paris a distant 23rd.

His first chance at outright grand tour leadership at the 2015 Giro ended disastrously. First, he made an illegal wheel change with compatriot Simon Clarke of Orica-GreenEdge (rules state that riders cannot swap wheels with those from opposing teams) that led to a costly time penalty. Then, in a later stage, he crashed outside the three-kilometer-to-go safety zone, losing more time. Finally, he abandoned. Though he’s never won a grand tour stage, he’s been in the top-five on nine occasions. Some say Porte was already unofficially BMC’s Tour leader in 2016, but the team didn’t play it that way publicly. So for BMC brass to openly declare that Porte is their man for the Tour sends a strong message, both inside and outside the team.

In a mark of humility, van Garderen graciously accepted the decision. “It was pretty clear that Richie deserves his chance, and when the team expressed it to me that Richie was going to be the guy, it didn’t come as a shock,” van Garderen says. “They left the door open for me to be ‘Plan B’ at the Tour, but after I gave it some thought, and when the courses came out, I said, ‘Okay, let’s go do the Giro.’”

With van Garderen vowing not to stir the waters, the door was open for Porte to take over. And with the Tour as his central focus, Porte spent more time honing his climbing skills at high-altitude training camps. When he did race, he won emphatically at the Santos Tour Down Under and the Tour de Romandie. He also won the Critérium du Dauphiné’s stage 4 time trial and was 10 seconds away from an overall title there in June.

Flash forward eight years from his Giro debut, and Porte has emerged as one of Team Sky’s biggest rivals. BMC Racing also tapped Nicholas Roche, another former Sky rider, to help Porte take on his former team.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to have to be Richie who can beat Froome in the mountains,” Roche says. “Not many people have beaten Froome. If anyone can, I think it’s Richie.”

Porte picked up a few tricks along the way, learning to race and train the “Sky way.” He shed some of his baby fat, which Riis used to complain about. He got married and became more focused on his off-season diet. (He’s sworn off his favorite drink, Bough’s Beer, at least until the winter.)

“When I look back at photos of me in 2008, 2009, I was probably 10 kilograms [22 pounds] heavier,” Porte says. “I looked like I’d eaten a few pies. It’s been a journey, with a lot of ups and downs.”

Now 32, Porte is ready to stand tall during the Tour, and he’s not about to let the opportunity slip by. Come July, it’s all in for the yellow jersey.

“Froomey’s the benchmark, and I know what he can do,” Porte says. “If I never win the Tour, well, that’s life, but at least I want to try.”

THE SCORE: 37/40


CLIMBS: 9/10
At this point, Porte hasn’t yet taken either a victory in the mountains or an overall podium place at a grand tour. (He was seventh in the 2010 Giro and fifth in the 2016 Tour de France). Working for Chris Froome, he looked like he had the makings of an exceptional climber. He has the top three in his legs.

TACTICAL SENSE: 9/10
The Australian is smart. He came to bike racing late, but now has plenty of experience. Still, he’s yet to find himself in a good position at the right time. A lieutenant to Contador at Saxo Bank and then to Froome at Team Sky, where he did get the chance to try his own luck at the 2014 Giro, he is finally the sole leader.


TIME TRIALS/FLATS: 9/10
Time trials are his other speciality, but here again his results fluctuate (fourth in Megève and 21st in the Ardeche in 2016). While he lost time on the flat last year, that was down to a mechanical incident. At 32, time is running out. If good fortune smiles on him, he will be a major threat.

TEAM STRENGTH: 10/10
It took time for BMC to realize that Tejay van Garderen didn’t have the makings of a Cadel Evans, winner of the 2011 Tour. This year, the team is placing all of its trust in Porte, who will be backed by heavyweights like Nicolas Roche. This is currently one of the strongest teams around.


Tour de France power rankings: Riders #10-7 >>

Tour de France power rankings: Riders #6-3 >>

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VN podcast, ep. 34: ‘Tour de Pharmacy,’ Tour de Suisse, and Tour tech http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/podcast/vn-podcast-ep-34-tour-de-pharmacy-tour-de-suisse-tour-tech_441242 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/podcast/vn-podcast-ep-34-tour-de-pharmacy-tour-de-suisse-tour-tech_441242#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:27:16 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441242 Should we be mad about the HBO movie that spoofs pro cycling? Plus: Key takeaways from Tour de Suisse and new TDF bikes and gear.

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

Is “Tour de Pharmacy” a horrible, sad depiction of pro cycling or is it merely cycling’s “Caddyshack” moment? Have we finally made it?

Spencer Powlison and Caley Fretz are joined by VN tech editor Dan Cavallari to debate the upcoming HBO film, as well as look back at the Tour de Suisse and ahead at the tech we’re likely to see debuted at the Tour de France. Finally, Spencer catches up with Jeff Byers, a former pro football player and avid cyclist.

This episode is presented by Velofix mobile bike shops. WIN a free tune-up, pedals, and Jagwire cable set at velofix.com/velonews

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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Sagan and Majka to share Bora leadership at Tour http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/sagan-and-majka-to-share-bora-leadership-at-tour_441233 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/sagan-and-majka-to-share-bora-leadership-at-tour_441233#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:16:53 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441233 World champion and five-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan leads an ambitious Bora-Hansgrohe team at the Tour de France.

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BERLIN (AFP) — World champion and five-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan and highly rated Polish climber Rafal Majka lead an ambitious Bora-Hansgrohe assault on the Tour de France. The German team will be racing for a home crowd with the Grand Départ set for Dusseldorf on July 1.

“We have to support two leaders and need a balance between guys for the flat, sprints, and climbers. I am confident we found that mix, and now we are ready and looking forward to the Grand Départ in Düsseldorf,” said Enrico Poitschke, Bora-Hansgrohe sport director.

In Sagan, Bora-Hansgrohe has cycling’s charismatic showman and maverick fan favorite. He will be targeting several stages as well as a sixth straight green jersey. German Erik Zabel holds the record of six green jerseys. Sagan, 27, has won seven Tour stages. He could start adding to that tally as early as the Tour’s stage 3, which has a short finish climb to Longwy. He will be flanked by his brother Juraj, who has become a regular part of Sagan’s preferred team roster in big races.

Majka won the celebrated polka-dot king of the mountains jersey on the 2014 and 2016 Tours and has won three summit finishes. He was also third in the 2015 Vuelta a España and fifth in the Tour last year. Up-and-coming Aussie Jay McCarthy will support the Pole in the mountains. McCarthy was third overall at the Tour Down Under at the start of 2017.

Bora also has a wild-card to play in the mountains. Emanuel Buchmann, 24, romped through the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier in June. The German youngster finished seventh overall, behind Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), who was second in the 2015 Tour.

Bora-Hansgrohe team for 2017 Tour de France

Emanuel Buchmann (G)
Marcus Burghardt (G)
Rudiger Selig (G)
Peter Sagan (Svk)
Juraj Sagan (Svk)
Rafal Majka (P)
Maciej Bodnar (P)
Pawel Poljanski (P)
Jay McCarthy (Aus)

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Two ways to get lost at the Tour de France http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/two-ways-to-get-lost-at-the-tour-de-france_441213 http://www.velonews.com/2017/06/tour-de-france/two-ways-to-get-lost-at-the-tour-de-france_441213#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:27:25 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=441213 Reporting from the Tour de France can be many things, most of which take journalists to places unknown.

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Andy Hood and I are lost somewhere in France, for the second time today. I’m navigating, so it’s my fault. “We’re lost, Hoody,” I say. “Not all those who wander are lost,” he replies, wagging a knowingly facetious finger in my direction. OK, smart guy. His statement does not change the fact that we have no idea where we are, we are extremely hungry, it’s 8:45 p.m., and kitchens will be fermé all too soon.

People always ask me what it’s like to cover the Tour de France as a journalist. I reply that the experience is beautiful, colorful, and often charming. It’s also chaotic and frustrating. Mostly, the experience involves being lost, searching for the media room, the starting line, or the hotel. Lost literally, lost figuratively. Enjoyably lost, annoyingly lost. Just all sorts of lost.

Today, we are somewhere in Provence. Andrew Hood (everyone calls him “Hoody”), VeloNews’s European correspondent, is behind the wheel of our rented Renault. The sunlight is low but not yet spent, still purple and pink in the west. The white stone cap of Mont Ventoux is visible to the south.

Being lost at the Tour falls into two main categories. The first is when we have no idea where we are going and we have no clue where we actually are. That’s the experience in the car at the moment.

The second type of lost is when we have no clue what is happening in the actual race. Stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France delivered both versions of lost to Hoody and me. Just a few hours ago, a motorcycle on that lonely mountain wedged itself between two unyielding lines of fans and stopped — stopped dead — right in the middle of a bike race. A thousand watts of Richie Porte, Chris Froome, and Bauke Mollema smashed into its backside. Bikes and bodies tangled.

Froome started running.

The gap between seeing an effect and knowing its cause stretched out uncomfortably in those moments. The entire pressroom let out a great gasp as we watched the action, with other reporters exhaling expletives in a dozen or so languages. The press corps was lost. In those early moments we had no idea what was happening. The entire Tour was lost. The only man who knew where he was going was Chris Froome, as he jogged up the hill.

Physically lost is one thing. Figuratively lost is another entirely. It’s not a place reporters like to be. As Froome hoofed it up the side of Ventoux, the press corps reacted in the only way we knew how. Texts and calls went out to riders, to team managers, anyone who might have a definitive answer. What happened? How did it happen? The older reporter who still writes his stories on a typewriter picked up his flip phone and called his editor. The L’Equipe writer who looks like Professor Snape (from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) stood from his plastic chair so abruptly it flew back three feet.

How will the jury dictate time gaps? Will the whole stage be scrapped? Hoody staked out the Tour’s communications officer, waiting for an official decree. More video of the event eventually surfaced. The neutral service motorcycle that saw it all provided some insight. Photos of Froome on foot began to trickle in from the pool photographers. Who has yellow tomorrow? Who’s fault was this? Bernard Hinault got on TV and said, “That’s bike racing,” and the race jury finally said, “Not exactly.”

Eventually, we left lost behind. Back in the car, Ventoux shrinks in the rearview mirror and the map on my cell phone starts working again. We get a little red pin for the hotel, and follow the blue line to its door. The kitchen is not fermé. Chaos has been tidied, stories filed, and bellies filled, and Hoody and I slowly leave lost behind, again.

Until tomorrow.

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