VeloNews.com http://www.velonews.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 25 May 2017 05:06:15 +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 Colorado Classic names teams for inaugural race http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/colorado-classic-names-teams-inaugural-race_439318 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/colorado-classic-names-teams-inaugural-race_439318#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 20:00:35 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439318 The Colorado Classic names a preliminary roster of men's teams, including BMC Racing, Cannondale-Drapac, and Trek-Segafredo.

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The Colorado Classic, a new four-day pro race scheduled for August 10-13, announced its line-up of men’s teams Wednesday. The race will be headlined by several notable WorldTour outfits: Trek-Segafredo, Cannondale-Drapac, and BMC Racing.

Colorado Springs will host stage 1, and then the race heads to Breckenridge for the second day. The first two stages will feature both men’s and women’s racing. The men’s race finishes in Denver with two stages in the River North neighborhood on August 12 and 13, scheduled alongside a music festival featuring Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie.

“Drawing a high-caliber field to Colorado is helped by the state’s deep history with bike racing, the quality of courses and the passion of cycling fans,” said race director Jim Birrell. “The Colorado Classic is building on that to create a race that will be memorable for spectators and teams alike.”

Colorado Classic men’s teams

WorldTour
BMC Racing Team (US)
Cannondale-Drapac (US)
Trek-Segafredo (US)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)

Professional Continental
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Sp)
Israel Cycling Academy (Isr)
Nippo-Vini Fantini (I)
Team Novo Nordisk (US)
UnitedHealthcare (US)

Continental
Axeon Hagens Berman (US)
Elevate-KHS (US)
Holowesko-Citadel (US)
Jelly Belly (US)
Rally Cycling (US)

Colorado Classic women’s teams

Alp Cycles
Amy D. Foundation
Colavita-Bianchi
Cylance Pro Cycling
Fearless Femme Team
Hagens Berman-Supermint
Rally Cycling
Sho-Air Twenty20
Team Iluminate
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
UnitedHealthcare
Visit Dallas DNA

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Dumoulin aims to flush stage 16 embarrassment with Giro win http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/dumoulin-aims-to-flush-stage-16-embarrassment-with-giro-win_439313 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/dumoulin-aims-to-flush-stage-16-embarrassment-with-giro-win_439313#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 18:37:48 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439313 After an embarrassing Giro d'Italia queen stage, Tom Dumoulin knows he'll have a fight to keep the overall race lead in the mountains.

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MILAN (AFP) — Giro d’Italia leader Tom Dumoulin said he is determined to eclipse his embarrassing toilet mishap in stage 16 by becoming the first Dutch winner of the Giro’s pink jersey.

“I’m not here to write history because I’m shitting in the bushes. I’m here to try and write history by winning the race in Milan,” Dumoulin said. On Wednesday he defended his 31-second lead over Colombia’s Nairo Quintana. Frenchman Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) won the 17th stage.

In Tuesday’s queen stage to Bormio, television pictures of Dumoulin throwing his bike into the grass, ripping off his cycling shorts, and relieving himself by the side of the road went viral.

As well as leaving the Dutchman red-faced, it slashed his overnight lead of 2 minutes, 41 seconds to just 31 seconds. He battled valiantly over the formidable Stelvio climb into Bormio to keep the pink jersey.

On Wednesday, Dumoulin avoided a repeat during a much easier 219km ride from Tirano to Canazei in the scenic Dolomites. He maintained his lead on Quintana and a 1:12 cushion on Italy’s two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

He admitted he’d learned a valuable lesson about eating before and during the race. The Dutchman played down suggestions he will need to make alliances if he is to keep the double threat of Quintana and Nibali at bay.

Blaming a “combination of a few things” for his toilet trouble, he said: “We have to be focused when it comes to my food intake, then we’ll solve a lot of the problem.

“I needed to eat [energy] bars, of course, and food in the race. I was worried whether it would be okay, but it was completely fine.”

On Thursday’s stage 18, featuring four mountain passes, 40 kilometers of climbing, and an uphill finish that will tempt his rivals into attacking throughout, he can ill afford another setback. His rivals are desperate to make sure Dumoulin, who crushed the field with his stage 10 time trial victory, is well out of contention before Sunday’s 21st and final stage time trial from Monza to Milan.

Nibali, who lost 2:07 to Dumoulin on stage 10’s race against the clock, suggested an alliance with Quintana’s Movistar team could be key.

“When you’re racing, alliances can form, because we both have the same objective. Tom [Dumoulin] has a big advantage and he’s a victory contender for the final time trial,” said Nibali. “Nairo is sure to attack. We need to try something. If we don’t, we’ll regret it.”

But Dumoulin played down suggestions he could be forced to find friends in other teams willing to help his bid.

“I think at the moment, alliances happen naturally because if you see today, for example, Quick-Step and Team Lotto Jumbo started chasing with us, it was actually to save their own spot,” he said.

“If we have the same goal at a certain moment in the race, alliances happen naturally.”

He added: “We have to keep riding smart, and in the coming days we’ll try to do that. We have to be ready for everything.”

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Rolland gets payback in Giro stage 17 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/rolland-gets-payback-in-giro-stage-17_439293 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/rolland-gets-payback-in-giro-stage-17_439293#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 16:37:42 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439293 Pierre Rolland rides to victory in Giro d'Italia stage 17. After a dismal 2016 season, the win comes as sweet payback for the Frenchman.

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CANAZEI, Italy (VN) — Pierre Rolland joined Cannondale-Drapac in 2016 as the team’s “Moneyball” bet on the Tour de France.

Team boss Jonathan Vaughters was convinced that the veteran Frenchman, who won on Alpe d’Huez and finished in the top-10, had the statistics to surprise the big-budget super-teams.

So for 2016, Rolland prepared 100 percent for the Tour, spending weeks at altitude in Tenerife, and came into the Tour ready to race. But as often happens in professional cycling, the incalculable factor of luck didn’t conform. Rolland hit the deck in stage 8, and again in stage 19, and the team’s GC hopes sunk with him.

Flash forward to 2017, and Rolland headlines a Cannondale-Drapac Giro team packed with stage-hunters. And on Wednesday, the elements added up. Rolland used his racing acumen and sturdy legs to come home the winner.

“This is my biggest win since Alpe d’Huez, and it really means a lot to me,” said Rolland, referring to his 2011 stage win. “Last year, I prepared 100 percent for the Tour de France. It was my first year with Cannondale-Drapac, but it was a black year. I crashed, and all was lost. I was very disappointed. This year, I took a different approach, and prepared 100 percent for the Giro, but with the idea of winning a stage. I tried a few times, and came close, but I knew today was the day.”

The victory was a salve to last year’s disappointments, and a payback to his team.

It’s the first European WorldTour victory for Cannondale-Drapac since Davide Formolo won a stage in the 2015 Giro. Last week, Andrew Talansky delivered a WorldTour win with a stage at the Amgen Tour of California.

For Cannondale-Drapac, the stage victory is mission accomplished after third in stage 11 by Rolland, and fifth by Michael Woods in stage 6.

“He really deserves [it]. He’s a great teammate, always working hard, always on the attack,” Formolo said. “He’s been second, third, second, so for him to get this victory is important not only for the team, but also payback for his sacrifices.”

Rolland was on the attack in several stages, and on Wednesday it finally stuck. Coming on the heels of the decisive stage over the Mortirolo and Stelvio, stage 16, with two early rated climbs, had breakaway written all over it. Rolland went away early with two others. A big group came up behind them, including Woods and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

“I attacked from kilometer zero,” Rolland said. “I knew today was the day. It was very difficult. We made it up the climbs, but there was movement behind, and my sport director gave the right advice to wait for the bigger group. I tried to save my legs for the final.”

Attacks came in the grinding, un-categorized climb into Canazei in the closing 20km. Woods made several surges to set up Rolland’s winning acceleration with 7km to go. No one immediately followed. The others were trapped, especially with Woods marking dangerous rivals Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Rory Sutherland (Movistar). Rolland buried himself, and held a 20-second lead at the red kite.

“The breakaways are always hard to win, but I knew today there was the best chance,” Rolland said. “Tomorrow will be impossible, with the GC still open, and I know I will not be able to beat Nibali and Quintana.”

Rolland, 30, now will try the second act, and deliver on the promise he made in last year’s Tour. As the saying goes, a stage win is worth more than a top-10 on GC if you’re truly not fighting for the podium. It’s a strategy that paid off handsomely in this Giro.

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Jungels inspired by Wiggins and Dumoulin http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/jungels-inspired-wiggins-dumoulin_439286 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/jungels-inspired-wiggins-dumoulin_439286#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 15:45:39 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439286 A strong time trial rider who is developing his climbing talents, Bob Jungels grows into his role as a grand tour hopeful.

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CANAZEI, Italy (VN) — Bob Jungels, 24, plans to develop into a grand tour contender over the next few years in the style of Tom Dumoulin or Bradley Wiggins.

The Luxemburger leads the young rider classification by 2:25 minutes over Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) with five stages to race in the Giro. The white jersey and much more appears possible.

“What Tom has missed a bit is chasing GC results in the third week of a grand tour,” Dumoulin’s coach at team Sunweb, Aike Visbeek told VeloNews. “Bob did it last year and is going to do it this year. So in that case, he’s a little ahead of Tom’s development. Everything adds up, there are many small boxes to tick before you are with the best GC guys.”

Last year, Quick-Step’s Jungels placed sixth overall after wearing the pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia. He also took home the white jersey of best young rider. In the Giro this year, he sits eighth at 4:35.

Success is not limited to the Giro d’Italia, either, he already placed 27th in the Tour de France as a 22-year-old.

The idea is that Jungels can keep working on time trialling and lose some kilos to improve his power-to-weight ratio. The six-foot-two cyclist now weighs 158 pounds. Dumoulin, and Wiggins before, followed this same plan to success.

“They are for sure the type of riders I’m looking up to, for sure,” Jungels said. “They have the same style of racing like me, or me like them, it’s just at the moment they are faster uphill.

“I’m just tying to make it through this last week now, to learn. It’s hard to say what changes I need to make, you can change your body, but you can’t change your nature.”

Jungels won the stage into Bergamo Sunday by attacking when the stage went through the upper city and sprinting ahead of a small group into the center.

“We will see what comes next in this Giro,” Quick-Step sports director, Rik Van Slycke said. “We will try to save the white jersey, but if Bob has a bad day in the mountains then you know it can go very fast, losing three to four minutes in a climb.

“Maybe it’s possible for him to become a grand tour leader. He has to make some progress in some parts, also he’s still young. After a few years, I think it might be possible. You have to ask to him what his direction is, but if you do something well, you try to get better in that and make it your speciality. Then it will be in that direction.”

“I’ve been in the pink already, a couple of days in the white jerseys,” added Jungels. “I don’t think I need to change much [to develop into a grand tour contender].”

The Luxembourg country counts only 500,000 inhabitants but counts four Tour de France winners François Faber in 1909, Nicolas Frantz in 1927 and 1928, Charly Gaul in 1958 and Andy Schleck in 2010.

“I know the story of those champions,” added Jungels. “I began this path when I saw Andy Schleck fighting for the 2007 Giro, finishing second.”

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Giro: Landa finds solace in climber’s jersey http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/landa-finds-solace-climbers-jersey_439276 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/landa-finds-solace-climbers-jersey_439276#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 12:44:58 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439276 Sky's Mikel Landa lost Tuesday's stage 16 by fractions of a wheel to Vincenzo Nibali.

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SONDALO, Italy (VN) — For as close as he was to victory in Tuesday’s epic Giro d’Italia stage 16 across the Stelvio, Sky’s Mikel Landa was reflective at the finish line.

That came nearly an hour after he had a chance to cool down after getting pipped at the line by Bahrain-Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali.

“This was a stage I had circled,” Landa said. “It’s a shame to lose the stage by just a few centimeters after such a hard effort.”

Tuesday’s 222-kilometer “queen stage” across the mythical climbs at Mortirolo and the Stelvio was meant to be Landa’s act of redemption. Signed by Sky with much fanfare in 2016, the Basque climber failed to meet expectations in his first season. Coming into this year’s Giro, he was looking like the Landa who won two stages and finished third in the 2015 Giro. He crashed hard in stage 9, however, the same day Sky co-captain Geraint Thomas also hit the deck.

Both lost time and all hope of the GC. Unlike Thomas, who abandoned last week, Landa stubbornly remained in the Giro with the hopes of taking something out of the race that helped him make his name just two years ago.

Stage 16 drama

His chance came Tuesday with a brutal three-climb stage that included nearly 5,000 vertical meters in the most dramatic setting possible. Sky put three riders into the day’s main breakaway over the Mortirolo.

“Team Sky did a great job today. We had Kiryienka and Deignan riding their skins off to help me,” Landa said. “I made it over the Stelvio, but when I saw the riders near me on the last switchbacks, I thought that they were going to catch me.”

The only one who did so was Nibali, who took big risks on the descent to reel in Landa and distance arch-rivals Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and overnight race leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). If Landa thought Nibali was riding to only take gains in the GC, he was quickly proven wrong.

Landa had positioning coming into the twisting final 500 meters of the stage, a succession of quick lefts and rights. The Spaniard had the pole position in the final left-hander, but Nibali came inside him with 50m to go and nabbed the victory. Landa pounded his fist on his handlebars as Nibali raised his arms in victory.

The 27-year-old Landa woke up Wednesday to see a headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport — “Niballisimo,” heralding Nibali’s great coup. That win came at Landa’s expense.

“We will try again Thursday,” he said. “I came to this Giro to race the GC, but things didn’t work out. Now I have the mountain jersey. We’ll see if I can defend it until Milan.”

Nothing short of a stage win will sooth Landa’s disappointments. And the best way to win the climber’s jersey would be to attack over the Dolomites to victory.

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Dumoulin hopes to overcome ‘shit’ day http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/dumoulin-hopes-overcome-shit-day_439271 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/dumoulin-hopes-overcome-shit-day_439271#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 21:21:56 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439271 Tom Dumoulin hopes that Tuesday's emergency bathroom break, which lost him time in the Giro, isn't a sign of more serious illness.

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BORMIO, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) had planned for all contingencies Tuesday in his pink jersey defense, except one.

At the worst possible moment in the 222km queen stage, just as the main GC group powered to the base of the second and final passage up the fearsome Stelvio, the Giro d’Italia race leader abruptly pulled off to the side of the road. At first, it looked as though it was a mechanical. It quickly became apparent it was an emergency of a very different kind.

“I needed to shit … that’s it,” said a demoralized Dumoulin. “I felt sick all of a sudden, after the top of the Stelvio, and when we hit the downhill, that’s when the problem occurred.”

The “problem” was a frantic, pull-down-the-bibs crisis right next to a traffic sign right when the GC pack was powering toward the decisive accelerations. Dumoulin said he had no choice despite the danger of letting the pink jersey slip away.

Dumoulin later gave a brave chase, but his lead shrunk from a formidable 2:41 on Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to a slender 31 seconds. Stage-winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who started 3:40 back, also returns to the frame, dangerous in third at 1:12 back.

“On the podium I was angry with myself because I had good legs,” he said. “Just because of a problem, I lost two minutes. That’s super-disappointing.”

Chaos ensued as the Giro hung in the balance. Dumoulin did what he could in such an awkward situation as the leaders pressed their case. Despite having Mikel Landa (Sky) and other attackers still up the road from the day’s main breakaway, Movistar momentarily slowed the race, but the action and momentum soon carried the GC group forward.

“I was respectful of him, and returned the favor when he waited for me when I crashed from the other day,” Quintana said. “The other teams didn’t take advantage of it, but they made their own race.”

Dumoulin couldn’t believe his bad luck. The team handled the stage as best it could, putting Laurens ten Dam into the day’s main breakaway. Dumoulin looked untouchable over the Mortirolo and the first of two passages over the Stelvio, but he started to feel queasy from a mix of altitude and energy gels.

“When he came down the Stelvio the first time, he was complaining a bit,” said Sunweb sport director Aike Visbeek. “He tried to hold it, but it just wasn’t possible. To do it on the bike, and then ride up 12km up a mountain? Well, that’s not very pleasant … Nature called, and he had an emergency. It was lousy timing.”

Some had expected to see Dumoulin crack in the mountains, but hardly from such unseemly circumstances.

In fact, Dumoulin was looking very strong. It’s impossible to say how he would have managed. He was sure he had the legs to stay with the favorites on the final climb, and limited losses to around two minutes despite climbing the final Stelvio climb alone.

“I only lost two minutes in 33km chasing alone all the time, so I definitely had the legs to follow Quintana and Nibali,” Dumoulin said. “I hope to recover — I hope I’m not sick, and it’s the same problem as last year [when he was ill during the Tour de France]. That’d mean the Giro is not over.”

Team officials are also hopeful that his stomach problems were triggered from the demands of the day, and not indicative of a more serious stomach bug.

Similar situations have happened to others throughout cycling history — Peter Sagan made an unplanned stop in a caravan during last year’s Tour de France and Caleb Ewan had a similar emergency just 35km from the stage he won in this Giro — but perhaps it’s never happened with the pink jersey on the line.

Team officials hope Dumoulin will be back at full strength for Wednesday’s transition stage to Canazei. Though it’s long at 219km, its profile is easier than Tuesday and what the peloton will face Thursday deep in the Dolomites.

“I am proud how he handled this situation,” Visbeek said. “This is maybe the stage that was the most unknown territory for Tom, and if you do this with this emergency, when you stop on the foot of the last climb, we can take confidence from that. There are certainly chances for him to take back time. This Giro is far from over.”

Both Quintana and Nibali, however, were back within striking range. Indeed, the Giro is far from over.

“It was an important reduction of time, and now we are a lot closer,” Quintana said. “It gives us a bit more confidence, and the team is working well. We hope to take back even more time in the days ahead.”

Nibali, too, said the Giro isn’t decided, but expressed sympathy for Dumoulin.

“It happened to me once in a race,” Nibali said. “Believe me, it’s not very pleasant.”

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Quintana right where he wants to be in Giro http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/quintana-right-wants-giro_439267 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/quintana-right-wants-giro_439267#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 19:57:22 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439267 A second maglia rosa suddenly looks much more realistic for Nairo Quintana than it did Tuesday morning.

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BORMIO, Italy (VN) — Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is right where he wants to be in the Giro d’Italia, even if it took some bad luck from arch-rival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

The Movistar captain took back a huge chunk of time on hard-luck Dumoulin, who was forced to have an unplanned call of nature at the decisive moment of Tuesday’s queen stage across the Mortirolo and Stelvio.

Quintana went from facing the prospect of missing out on another grand tour to a superior time trialist, to having real chances of securing the first part of his Giro-Tour de France double.

“We can be satisfied about today, even if it was under rather different circumstances,” Quintana said. “We’re much closer, and that gives us confidence for the days ahead.”

After failing to shake Dumoulin at Oropa on Saturday, and suffering race-changing losses in the Foligno time trial last week, Quintana needed a big coup Tuesday to get back in the game.

Little did they know it would come from Dumoulin’s bad stomach.

No one knows how the Dutchman would have fared up the second of two climbs on the Stelvio. At the end of the day, Quintana is suddenly a lot closer, reducing the gap to Dumoulin from 2:41 to 31 seconds.

“The favorites were more or less equal, which means we were all dead,” Quintana said. “Of course, I would have liked to have taken five minutes [jokes], but the reality is different than what we expected.”

Movistar played its card early. Winner Anacona, Andrey Amador, and Gorka Izagirre rode away with the day’s main breakaway over the Mortirolo. Daniele Bennati took some pulls before abandoning the Giro.

“We wanted to have riders up the road to be able to help Nairo in the opportune moment,” Anacona said. “No one expected to see what happened.”

“What” was Dumoulin rushing to the side of the road. Quintana insisted that he ordered his Movistar teammates not to push the pace, in part to pay back Dumoulin the favor he did Quintana when the Colombian crashed late in Sunday’s stage.

When stage-winner Vincenzo Nibali finally accelerated with about 5km to go, Quintana shadowed him as long as he could, and didn’t take risks on the long, technical descent to Bormio. With the race dynamics unfolding in an unexpected way, Quintana was doing what he needed to do, saving his legs for a potential knock-out punch on more favorable terrain waiting in the Dolomites.

With Dumoulin’s unexpected retreat, the dynamics changed dramatically in this Giro. Quintana has to look ahead and behind as he tries to eke out another pink jersey.

Nibali is also suddenly back in the GC frame, less than one minute behind Quintana at 1:12 back. Nibali always comes on strong in the final week of any Giro. He could become the most dangerous rival if Dumoulin falters again.

With the final-day time trial in Milan, Quintana cannot cede more time to either Dumoulin or Nibali. He needs to take more on each to have real chances for pink.

“We have to keep fighting against Dumoulin, but we must also keep an eye on Nibali,” Quintana said. “He’s closer now, and he’s racing at home. He is stepping up his game, and we must remain vigilant.”

Many expect a relatively quiet stage Wednesday in one that’s better suited for a breakaway before the fireworks fly again Thursday.

Quintana is back right where he wanted to be. A second maglia rosa suddenly looks much more realistic than it did Tuesday morning.

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Nibali rebounds with Bormio stage win http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/nibali-rebounds-bormio-stage-win_439262 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/nibali-rebounds-bormio-stage-win_439262#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 19:10:23 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439262 Vincenzo Nibali turns around his Giro d'Italia fortunes with a signature victory in the race's mountainous stage 16 over the Stelvio.

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BORMIO, Italy (VN) — Just when Vincenzo Nibali’s star appeared to be fading, it sparked to life in the Giro d’Italia’s holy grounds.

The Sicilian two-time Giro victor, leader of team Bahrain-Merida, attacked over the Stelvio Pass, descended like a missile to Mikel Landa (Sky) and shot by for the stage victory in the Bormio ski resort.

“I’m very happy to have won this spectacular stage,” Nibali said. “The only regret is that I didn’t lift my hands at the end because there wasn’t a chance, but it was a special day.”

The Giro stage win and time gains propelled him ahead from fourth at 3:40 minutes to third at 2:38.

This winter, Nibali left team Astana after a Tour de France stage win and Giro successes to start and lead the new Bahrain-Merida team sponsored by the small Persian Gulf island-state. Until today, Prince Nasser would have been disappointed with Nibali’s showing in his home tour.

“The Shark” appeared to be washed ashore. He sat 3:40 behind race leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and lacked that same spark helped him to so many success. Some critics said that even his second Giro d’Italia victory last year may had come “easily” against less-experienced rivals Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).

He rebounded over the rest day in Bergamo, however. He showed to still have that same attacking instinct as soon as the Giro d’Italia reached its first high-mountain stage over the Stelvio Pass twice — once at 2,758 meters and the second via the Umbrail at 2,502 meters.

“I think it’s a different stage to what we have had up to now,” Nibali added. “This one was very long, many climbs, and not just one climb, where riders who can give it all on one climb can make a big difference, like they did on the Blockhaus or Oropa. I suffered on those.”

Nibali attacked on the Umbrail and used his descending expertise that he is often noted for to catch Sky’s Mikel Landa. Landa led through the curves in Bormio’s center and Nibali struck.

“It was all spontaneous for me, we didn’t talk at all about what we were going to do. At that point, the descent was very sinuous. Paolo Slongo [Bahrain-Merida coach and sports director] told me to take the last corner first, it wasn’t easy. I managed to take it tightly and move past him.”

Dumoulin’s diarrhea problems marred Nibali’s win, however. The group refused to wait for the race leader when he stopped at 35 kilometers to race to relieve himself and that provided the springboard for Nibali’s attack later.

“It was difficult to say if we should stop or not. It wasn’t a crash but a problem that was maybe linked to bad feeding on the descent or not being properly covered up on his way down. I can’t say,” Nibali said.

“I’m very straightforward. I never expect anybody to wait for me when I stopped. Many times, I’ve fallen or punctured and just set off again. I don’t know, maybe we could distort cycling and have a referee who stops the race in front and behind! I don’t know what to say. This is my opinion, even if many people might attacking me for saying this.”

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‘Terrible’ toilet stop wrecks Dumoulin’s Giro hopes http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/terrible-toilet-stop-wrecks-dumoulins-giro-hopes_439257 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/terrible-toilet-stop-wrecks-dumoulins-giro-hopes_439257#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 17:44:42 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439257 Dumoulin is despondent after losing two minutes due to an unexpected bathroom break in stage 16. He holds the Giro lead by 31 seconds.

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BORMIO, Italy (AFP) — Giro d’Italia leader Tom Dumoulin suffered a “terrible” day but refused to blame his rivals for capitalizing on an unscheduled toilet stop that badly hurt his overall victory hopes on Tuesday.

The Sunweb team rider started the queen mountain stage of the 100th edition with a lead of two minutes, 41 seconds on Colombian climbing specialist and 2014 champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Dumoulin had high hopes of becoming the first Dutchman to win the pink jersey.

By the end of the 222km ride from Rovetta to Bormio — won by Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) — Dumoulin’s dream was in jeopardy after seeing his lead over Quintana slashed to 31 seconds.

Some suggested that his rivals had shown poor sportsmanship, attacking while he made a desperate toilet stop following the first of two ascensions of the Stelvio climb.

“I don’t know, it’s difficult to say,” said Dumoulin, asked if he was angry.

In professional cycling rivals often wait for each other following unexpected incidents to ensure a fair battle. On Sunday, Movistar leader Quintana thanked Dumoulin for slowing the pace of the peloton when he crashed.

In contrast, no teams slowed when Dumoulin suffered his mishap. The Dutchman was forced to hurriedly throw his bike into the grass and rip off his cycling shorts in desperation as he suffered a bout of diarrhea.

“It was a race situation, we were going full-gas and I didn’t expect them to stop,” added Dumoulin.

In the end, he battled on the second ascension of the Stelvio to crest the summit 2:06 behind Quintana and Nibali. He continued his valiant effort on the technical downhill to come over the line 2:17 in arrears. Nibali beat Spanish rival Mikel Landa (Sky) in a two-up sprint. This end the hosts’ long wait for a stage win on the 100th edition.

Time-trial specialist Dumoulin was despondent with another four mountain stages still to come.

“I’m still in [the leader’s jersey] but not with the lead I had hoped for,” a dejected-looking Dumoulin said at the finish. “I’m disappointed with myself. I lost two minutes not because I had bad legs, just because I had other problems.

“It was terrible. I had to stop because I couldn’t hold it anymore.

“I had to fight and fight and fight, and take conclusions after the finish. That’s what I did. I’m very disappointed with today.

Nibali suggested Dumoulin had “not been feeding right.” Or perhaps he suffered a chill due to the “cold temperatures.” He had little sympathy for the Dutchman. “It wasn’t a crash,” said Nibali when asked if he and the peloton had thought to stop and wait.

“No one has ever stopped and waited for me whenever I’ve ever had a problem, and I’ve had plenty in the past whether it’s being sick, a crash or a flat tire.

“Maybe I’ll be attacked for what I say but if you look at the history of cycling, there are plenty of incidents of riders attacking their rivals in such circumstances.”

Now in third-place overall at 1:12 behind Dumoulin, Nibali is back in with a fighting chance of winning his home race on its 100th edition.

But after the hosts waited 16 stages to celebrate a home win, he said: “Climbing the Mortirolo and the Stelvio — the highest peak on this year’s race — twice? This is a great stage win for me.

“The only regret I have is not putting my hands up at the finish to celebrate. But I was too busy sprinting.”

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Giro roundtable: Dumoulin’s mess was Nibali’s success in stage 16 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/commentary/giro-roundtable-dumoulins-mess-nibalis-success-stage-16_439253 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/commentary/giro-roundtable-dumoulins-mess-nibalis-success-stage-16_439253#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 17:30:33 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439253 Nibali climbed like an angel and descended like a demon to win stage 16. Dumoulin saw a two-minute advantage flushed away.

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After waiting for 15 stages, the Italian faithful finally saw their hero Vincenzo Nibali in full flight. The Bahrain-Merida rider climbed like an angel and descended like a demon to win stage 16 and take some valuable time. It’s probably premature to say Tom Dumoulin’s race has gone in the toilet, but his mid-race bathroom break was a major setback, costing him minutes in the overall.

The Giro d’Italia’s queen stage served up plenty of the usual drama we expected, plus a surprise opportunity for lots of poop jokes. Let’s roundtable!

Why did Mikel Landa work with Vincenzo Nibali on the final descent?

Fred Dreier @freddreier: I mean, Landa got caught on the descent by the better descender. He could have either held onto Nibali’s wheel and then worked with him, or simply let Nibali drop him. I think he chose the most logical option.

Caley Fretz @caleyfretz: He’s a really nice guy? I honestly don’t know. That was odd. I wouldn’t have, unless Nibali promised me something else.

Chris Case @chrisjustincase: Perhaps it was pride, perhaps Landa feared others would rejoin the lead group and make the finale that much more complicated if he didn’t work. In any case, it was destiny for Nibali to win the day, right?

Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegsIt actually seemed like the right tactic given how technical the final kilometer was. If it had been any rider besides Nibali, I think Landa wins that sprint out of the final corner, which was oh-so-close to the finish.

Should the leaders have waited for Tom Dumoulin when he had a nature break?

Fred: In my opinion they did wait. I mean, they didn’t physically get off of their bikes and sit down on the curb for a cigarette, but they also didn’t go full-gas. Zakarin attacked, and then Quintana shut down the move and the group bunched up. They steadily increased the speed up the Umbrail, but there were no huge attacks that I could see, other than a few surges by Nibali. To me it appeared that nobody really knew what to do, namely Quintana. He followed wheels but never put in that big acceleration to spring to glory. That’s why I’m calling this stage the “Deuce Truce.”

Caley: Is a nature break all that different from a bonk? It’s not an ‘act of God,’ it’s an act of the human body. I’m not so sure it qualifies as wait-worthy.

That said, he was in pink. The classy thing to do was wait. But I don’t think it was an obligation, as it would be if he had a mechanical, for example.

Chris: It was a messy situation … Sure, Zakarin had a dig, but then the group seemed to collectively ease up. Eventually, the leaders must have been asking themselves, “How long do we wait?” Of course, Dumoulin is back there mixed in with team cars and other riders; it seems a message on his condition would have made its way to the leading GC contenders. If he’s back on his bike but minutes down, and visibly not at his best, you push on.

Spencer: Nah, race on. I missed the start of a road race last year because I was … uh … answering the call of nature. They didn’t wait for me! (#AskACat3)

Was this route too difficult to create significant time gaps (apart from Dumoulin)?

Fred: No, I think if you remove the Dumoulin deuce truce, then the group would have attacked each other for most of the Umbrail climb. Instead, they spent their time riding tempo, wondering what they should do. I don’t think anybody wanted to be that guy who attacked the pink jersey while he was in the crapper.

Caley: I don’t think so. The racers make the race. Everyone, apart from Dumoulin, seemed to be on a good day today. If anyone was on a bad day the gaps could have been massive.

Chris: This route is what people want to see. These climbs are what set the Giro apart. Too difficult? Baaaaaaah.

Spencer: I agree that the route was stunning and classic, but I wanted more fireworks from Nibali and Quintana. How about a summit finish instead of a descent to Bormio?

Could Dumoulin capitalize on this incident with the right sponsor? After all, like Peter Sagan says, “I think it’s normal for people to go to toilet.”

Fred: The marketing opportunities here are literally endless. Wet Wipes: New cycling jersey-sized clean pack! Kaopectate: Survive attacks from Nairo Quintana AND nature! Ooh, how about Pepto-Bismol: Before my battle for pink, I always have a drink!

Caley: Sunweb-Charmin for 2018. “Don’t get dumped like Dumoulin”

Chris: If Dumoulin goes on to lose this Giro, he will forever be known as the man who shit the bed and laid in it too. Eww, wait a minute, that’s not how it goes. If he wins, he will forever be known as the Pooping Dutchman. Either way, Charmin needs to sign this guy.

Spencer: I’m going to veer away from consumer goods and suggest a more industrial/commercial sponsor, which is really on-brand for Dutch teams. What’s the biggest porta-potty distributor in The Netherlands?

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Technical FAQ: More on pedal thread direction http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq-pedal-thread-direction_439220 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq-pedal-thread-direction_439220#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 13:24:23 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439220 Lennard Zinn tackles several follow-up questions and comments regarding his recent column on pedal thread direction.

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Feedback on pedal thread direction

Dear Lennard,
Right pedals are right-hand thread and left pedals are left-hand thread so that they self-tighten as you ride, preventing them from falling off — IF your bearings are working.

The graphic below shows the situation for a right pedal. As viewed from the right side of the bike, the pedal rotates counterclockwise as you pedal, with the fixed-axis pedal spindle rotating clockwise. A bearing. therefore, rotates counterclockwise and serves to apply a teeny clockwise torque to the pedal spindle, tightening it. This obviously works as you can hand tighten a pedal and a week later the pedals can be quite tight in the crank arm.
— Alan

Dear Lennard,
I just wanted to submit a quick correction on your technical FAQ on why pedal threads are threaded the way they are. You’re right in that your foot will cause a seized pedal bearing to unscrew from the crank safely rather than wrenching your foot dangerously, but that’s not the reason they’re threaded opposite. Instead, due to an effect called precession, the bearings on the spindle will actually exert a torque opposite to the direction that the pedal spins relative to the bearing — that is, if the pedal is spinning counterclockwise relative to the spindle, as would be the case with the right-side crank pedaling forward, the spindle is actually being torqued clockwise. It may seem counterintuitive, but due to that effect, the spindle indeed self-tightens with normal pedaling — as long as the bearings aren’t seized.
— Karl

Dear Karl,
While I agree with you and Alan and the many others who wrote to me about this to describe the self-tightening effect when the pedal bearings are working properly and the principle of precession, I am not sure I’m in agreement with you as to the reason that motivated the thread design in the first place. Pedals could be threaded the way they are in order to self-tighten them, as you suggest, or as a safety measure to prevent injury in the case of frozen bearings. I think a look at history would tend to favor the latter.

If you think of the days of penny-farthings, the high-wheeler bicycles that were common from 1869-1890, a frozen pedal that did not unscrew could be fatal.

High-wheelers and the boneshakers they replaced were the first pedal-driven bicycles; before that, bike riders scooted along with their feet like little kids on “strider” bikes.

Boneshakers and penny-farthings had pedals but no chain drive; the pedals were attached to the front wheel, like on a kid’s tricycle. The only way to increase the gear ratio on a direct-drive bike like that is to increase the diameter of the front wheel. This perched a fast rider who had the strength to push a high gear up high over a very tall front wheel (sans helmet, of course). Because of his body’s location, if the front wheel stopped suddenly, the only possible outcome was for the rider to rotate head-first over the front wheel. Such incidents often led to serious head injuries and death.

There were a number of features installed on penny-farthings to increase safety. If riders had the chance to prepare to stop, they could step back onto rear mounting pegs to keep their weight further back as they braked, pushing a metal shoe straight down on the top of the front tire. Penny-farthings were generally equipped with wire loops extending back from the top of the fork to prevent the rider’s pants from getting wedged between the fork and the tire; this occurrence would obviously have the same effect of slamming the rider’s head into the road. And the pedals, which sometimes had toeclips and other means of increasing pedaling efficiency, generally had minimal seals to keep water out and prevent seizing of the bearings or bushings. If a pedal seized up, especially if the foot were attached to it with a toeclip, if the pedal didn’t unscrew from the crank, the rider could easily be killed by something as simple as poor pedal maintenance or a couple of rides in inclement weather.

Of course, if you’re thinking more about this, you know that one of the braking methods used on penny farthings was back-pedaling, just like on modern track bikes and fixies. And any track rider or fixie rider knows that their pedals had better be screwed on tightly. If you only hand-tighten a pedal on a road bike, it will tighten up as you pedal. If you only hand-tighten a pedal on a track bike or fixie, it can unscrew when the rider backpedals.

The benefits of our threading directions on pedals is that they both tighten properly functioning pedals onto the cranks, and they unscrew and save the rider from injury if the pedal bearings or bushings seize up. It’s a win-win. I’m just not sure that these thread directions were chosen to tighten road pedals on freewheel-equipped bikes rather than to save the life of a penny-farthing rider.
― Lennard

Feedback on compact frames and pedal threads

Dear Lennard,
I was reading your most recent column and it brought on some Déjà vu. Didn’t you answer a similar question several years ago regarding pedal threads? If I recall correctly, the answer to this current, “what is Theo missing” question is that precession will work in a manner opposite to a seized pedal bearing. While he is right that with a failing pedal bearing the current threading configuration could result in the loosening of the pedal from the crank, precession has the potential to loosen the threaded attachment of pedal and crank, even with an optimally functioning bearing. It appears that early bicycle “standards makers” recognized this and chose to prioritize the thread security of the many functional pedals over the few seized ones.

Also, regarding Steve’s standard vs. compact frame question, don’t forget that the compact frame will have a more exposed seatpost, and that seatpost deflection will also go up with the cube of its length. This means the compact frame will be stiffer, but with a more flexible seatpost. All else being equal, this is a combo that generally seems pretty good as it can provide solid standing efforts and secure handling, while keeping a little cush in the seatpost to reduce the harshness on the body.
— Kai

Dear Kai,
Yes, we discussed pedal thread direction six years ago here. And you have a very good point about the added compliance of the seatpost on a compact-geometry bike.

Thanks to all of you who weighed in on the pedal threads issue. Here is a sampling of other letters on the subject, all of which are filled with wonderful pearls of wisdom and new ways to look at it.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I would like to respond to Theo regarding left-handed threads on left-side pedals and right-side BB cups. These left-handed threads were designed to counter mechanical precession, rather than bearing friction. Think of the pedal shaft as a circle inside of an ever-so-slightly larger circle — the threaded hole in the crank arm. If the pedal is loose, the act of pedaling forces these two circles into closer contact. As you pedal, this point of contact moves around the circle. Because the inner circle has a smaller circumference, it completes a rotation before it gets back to where it started. The counter-intuitive result is that the smaller circle (the pedal shaft) rotates backwards.
— Scott

Dear Lennard,
I read the question and your response regarding why left and right pedal threads are the opposite of what one might, at first glance, expect. The reason for this is due to the effects of precession, where one round object rolling inside another will turn in the opposite direction due to the clearance between the two. Except for a completely seized bearing, the forces due to this are considerably greater than friction in the bearing.
— Nick

Dear Lennard,
I just wanted to submit a quick correction on your technical FAQ on why pedal threads are threaded the way they are. You’re right in that your foot will cause a seized pedal bearing to unscrew from the crank safely rather than wrenching your foot dangerously, but that’s not the reason they’re threaded opposite. Instead, due to an effect called precession, the bearings on the spindle will actually exert a torque opposite to the direction that the pedal spins relative to the bearing. That is, if the pedal is spinning counterclockwise relative to the spindle, as would be the case with the right side crank pedaling forward, the spindle is actually being torqued clockwise. It may seem counterintuitive, but due to that effect the spindle indeed self-tightens with normal pedaling — as long as the bearings aren’t seized.
— Karl

Dear Lennard,
A long time ago, it was explained to me that pedals are threaded as they are to prevent a pedal that is not completely tightened from walking out of the crank arm from mechanical precession.
— Brian

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Commentary: Five Tour of California takeaways http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/commentary/commentary-5-tour-of-california-takeaways_439185 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/commentary/commentary-5-tour-of-california-takeaways_439185#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 03:03:29 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439185 The Amgen Tour of California showed us a new LottoNL-Jumbo team and a steadily improving Andrew Talansky.

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What will be the lasting storyline from the 2017 Amgen Tour of California? It’s still tough to say. The seven-day race from Sacramento to Pasadena delivered a plethora of compelling tales. Overall winner George Bennett taught us the vague definition for the term “twisting a nut” after his impressive time trial. Andrew Talansky finally ended Cannondale-Drapac’s two-year winless streak on the WorldTour when he won stage 5 at Mt. Baldy. Rally Pro Cycling turned lemons into lemonade by winning two stages after their GC hopes were destroyed by crashes and mechanicals. And yes, team Katusha had a really poopy time in Big Bear. 

In lieu of these amazing tales, here are my five takeaways from the week:

1. ToCA becomes Tour prep for classics and sprint teams

With its lumpy (but not too mountainous) parcours and mid-May date, the Amgen Tour of California’s inaugural WorldTour edition attracted more stars from the Belgian classics than grand tour honchos. A quick glance at the rosters from the WorldTour squads not named Cannondale and Lotto-Jumbo revealed a long list of sprinters and cobbled specialists: John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), Zdenek Stybar and Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step), Ella Viviani (Sky), Matti Breschel (Astana), and of course every Bora rider other than Rafal Majka. For many of these riders, the race was the first leg shaker since Paris-Roubaix way back on April 9, and the official start of Tour prep. Fast guy Tour prep is potentially the new identity for California. GC guys like Chris Froome and Alberto Contador will likely bypass California for the traditional Romandie/Dauphine preparation model, due to timing and the mountainous routes of those races. For the fast men, California presents the perfect opportunity.

2. It’s time for Rally to step up

Rally Pro Cycling stole the show at this year’s Amgen Tour of California. Full stop. Evan Huffman won more stages than anyone else in the race (2), Rob Britton dusted his WorldTour breakaway companions on the climb up Glendora Mountain Road, and Sepp Kuss then climbed alongside the best in the race. It’s difficult to think that, just two months ago, there was a debate within U.S. cycling about whether Rally even deserved to have one of the race’s two Continental berths. Now there’s a new conversation to be had around Rally, and that is whether the team should step up to the Pro Continental level. The step from Continental to Pro Continental is not simple, and would require a few hundred thousand dollars in sponsorship and the addition of riders and staff. The success in California is validation that the team is ready. According to team sources, there is already talk of making the step up in 2018. If the team wants to hold onto Huffman and Kuss, it’s a necessary step.

3. LottoNL-Jumbo gets its reward

Overall winner Bennett was undoubtedly surprised after his fourth-place ride in Saturday’s individual time trial. Yet it was no surprise to see Bennett take the overall. His LottoNL-Jumbo team was strong, with a singular focus on the climbs. Other European WorldTour squads came to the race toting classics contenders and sprinters. LottoNL-Jumbo brought pint-sized climbers, several of whom are U23 riders. When asked how he believed the final stage would play out, Bennett said, “[Majka] will be heading up the inside for sprints, with my team of 15-year-old climbers on the front chasing them down.” The team put its climbing strength on display during stages 2 and 5; during the latter stage it thinned down the bunch before unleashing Bennett. So while it was Bennett’s unlikely time trial that eventually brought him the victory, LottoNL-Jumbo’s decision to bring along those “15-year-old climbers” is what put him in the position to win.

4. Talansky’s Tour prep on track

Cannondale-Drapac’s Andrew Talansky was perhaps the strongest GC rider at the race. He won the stage 5 summit finish and then finished third place in the individual time trial. Talansky is likely still kicking himself for his blunder on stage 2. He decided not to follow Majka, Ian Boswell (Sky), Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), and eventual overall winner Bennett when they attacked over Mount Hamilton. Talansky later said he expected the group to come back. It didn’t, and the riders put 37 seconds into the American. Did the decision cost Talansky the overall? Perhaps. Still, his performance over the weeklong race points to strong form heading into his final preparation for the Tour de France, the race that he famously skipped last year after a spring wrought with sickness.

5. Morton, Boswell ready for leadership

Boswell and Morton came into the race leading WorldTour squads for the first time. Both men showed they were up to the task when they broke free from the peloton on stage 2 over Mount Hamilton alongside Bennett and Majka. While both men eventually fell out of podium contention, they showed grit and class along the race. Perhaps sensing he was bound to lose his podium position in Saturday’s time trial, Boswell gritted out the summit finish to Mount Baldy, repeatedly fighting his way back to the front group. Morton suffered a mechanical just seconds after starting his time trial. The ensuing slow time pushed him to ninth overall and second in the race’s best young rider’s jersey. The next day, Morton attacked into the breakaway. He helped drive it to the line, grabbing back the best young rider jersey and slotting into seventh overall. Whether the two will be given race leadership duties again this season is yet to be determined.

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MotoGP champion Hayden dies after cycling crash http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/motogp-champion-hayden-dies-cycling-crash_439206 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/motogp-champion-hayden-dies-cycling-crash_439206#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 18:34:28 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439206 Former MotoGP world champion and avid cyclist Nicky Hayden dies after crashing his bike while training in Italy.

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The BBC reports that Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP world champion, died Monday after a cycling crash in Italy on Wednesday left him with a severe head injury. Multiple reports indicate that a car was involved with the collision.

Hayden, 35 was an avid cyclist who had friends and admirers throughout the pro cycling peloton.

Many notable cyclists took to social media immediately following Hayden’s crash to express their concern. After the news of his death on Monday, there was grief for the loss of the Kentucky-born athlete.

Read more on the BBC’s website >>

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Giro: Five ways it can all unravel for Dumoulin http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/giro-five-ways-can-unravel-dumoulin_439197 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/giro-five-ways-can-unravel-dumoulin_439197#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 17:45:26 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439197 Dutchman Tom Dumoulin wants to make history by winning the Giro this weekend. Andrew Hood outlines how things could go south for him.

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CANTIONE DELLA PRESALONA, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin is sitting in an enviable position on the third rest day of the Giro d’Italia.

The Sunweb rider boasts an impressive leading gap to his nearest rival — 2:41 to Nairo Quintana — and with a final-day time trial in Milan, you can add at least an additional virtual minute to that lead, if not more.

Dutch media is arriving en masse for what they hope will be a history-making defense across the Alps and Dolomites. No Dutchman has ever won the Giro, and with the way Dumoulin is climbing, many are already putting the champagne on ice.

Dumoulin revealed at Oropa on Saturday he’s prepared to defend pink all the way to Milan. His counter-attack to reel in Quintana and win the stage widened his lead, confirming he looks firmly in control of the Giro.

But everyone knows the Giro d’Italia is far from over. In fact, the hardest and most difficult climbs are looming. One journalist calculated that of the nearly 1,000km remaining kilometers, 25 percent of them are on rated climbs. There’s plenty more to tell of this Giro.

How could things unravel for Dumoulin?

Crash: Worst-case scenario

Crashes can spoil a perfect race at any time or any place. Just ask Steven Kruijswijk, who looked to have last year’s Giro in the bag when he plowed into a snow bank on the final weekend of racing.

This year’s Giro yet again confirmed that the Italian grand tour can spring unpleasant surprises at any corner. Tanel Kangert (Astana) was riding into podium range when he struck a traffic sign late in Sunday’s 15th stage and exited with a broken elbow. Geraint Thomas (Sky) was knocked out of contention (and eventually abandoned) after a motorcycle caused a pileup in stage 9. Italy’s mix of uneven roads, unpredictable weather, and frenetic finales make the Giro one of the most treacherous races on the calendar.

Dumoulin survived a nervous start in Sardinia and Sicily and steered clear of trouble in the sprint stages to ride into an enviable position coming into the Giro’s final throes. Staying upright will be the first key to Dumoulin’s chances. One miscalculation can spell doom.

Dumoulin: “We’re just in a really good vibe at the moment. The team’s been doing a great job keeping me out of trouble and keeping me at the front in the key moments. We made it to the final week in one piece, and with a nice gap. It’s them who have to attack me.”

Isolation: Rivals sense an opening

Most of his rivals sense the best way to get to Dumoulin will be to isolate him early and then attack him on the later climbs. All the hardest climbs are back-loaded in this Giro, setting up ideal ground for ambushes from Movistar, Bahrain-Merida, and others to pick off Dumoulin’s teammates and then attack his flank.

Sunweb lost key all-rounder Wilco Kelderman in stage 9, leaving the team with just seven riders to support him in the approaching storm. Simon Geschke and Chad Haga are solid on the medium climbs and Georg Preidler and Tom Stamsnijder are no slouches, but Laurens ten Dam is the team’s only true climber.

On paper, the longer, harder climbs favor proven GC contenders like Quintana and Nibali. Dumoulin has been able to fend for himself on the one-climb finales so far in this Giro, especially at Blockhaus and Oropa, but his rivals expect to see him struggle on the multi-climb stages looming at high altitude in the Alps and Dolomites.

Tuesday’s epic stage over the Mortirolo and Stelvio, for example, will go a long way toward revealing if Dumoulin can hang on. Dumoulin has a big cushion, which he can use to his advantage even if he’s isolated early. Expect teams like Movistar to send riders up the road early, especially a GC threat like Andrey Amador, to try to force Sunweb to chase early. The idea Tuesday would be to leave Dumoulin isolated on the first climb up the Stelvio, and then attack hard on the second ascent.

Chad Haga (Sunweb): “The suffer button is going to get pushed, and it’s not going back up. It’s going to be a hard final week. Tom knows he’s got really great legs, and we’ve got a strong team around him. It’s certainly not a given he’s won, we’ve got some time to play with. We have to stay focused on getting through each stage, one at a time.”

Bonk: It’s happened before

All hope for his rivals hangs on seeing Dumoulin blowing up like he did in the 2015 Vuelta a España, when Astana finally cracked him on the final mountain stage, allowing Fabio Aru to take a dramatic win. Dumoulin lost the wheel and quickly bled time, plummeting from first to sixth in just one stage.

So far in this Giro, Dumoulin has been able to manage the stages with perfection, but he still might run out of gas. Managing his lead will be a critical part of his defense. Dumoulin would be smarter to lose time and limit his losses if he’s struggling, knowing he has the final-day time trial in his favor, rather than go too deep in a vain attempt to save the day.

Dumoulin can afford to cede 30 seconds per mountain stage and still have the pink jersey going into Sunday’s TT. He can lose even more than that and still have a shot of clawing it back in Milan. What he cannot do is go so far into the red and risk blowing up and losing everything in one bad day.

Aike Visbeek, Sunweb sport director: “He is very prepared. In the last week, it’s about having a bad day, and if you do, managing that as well as you can. We know the stages. It’s about being up there and being attentive with the entire team. Tom still has to prove himself in this GC work. It will be interesting to see how the others deal with it. If they focus too much on Tom, another guy might be flying and might ride away to victory in the end.”

Collusion: Tricky to script

Most of the top rivals are still holding out hope that Dumoulin will crack. If the attacks come hard and fast over the next few days, the race could see on-the-road alliances develop to try to shake the stubborn Dutchman. It’s not hard to imagine riders like Pinot and Quintana getting up the road together and deciding to work in unison to try to gap Dumoulin to revive their GC chances.

Some have suggested that the Dutch riders, Kruijswijk and Mollema, will help Dumoulin, but that’s highly unlikely unless it’s something that spontaneously develops on the road. Alliances are hard to script and almost always involve someone who has something to give away. A more likely scenario is Dumoulin going up the road with someone like a Nibali, with the offer of a stage win for a chance for Dumoulin to bury his other rivals.

Things will be complicated for Dumoulin. It’s not just Quintana that Dumoulin has to mark. Nibali, Pinot and even Mollema are still within striking distance and are sure to try to attack. If Dumoulin has the legs, however, he’ll aim for an Oropa repeat and turn the Giro into a race for the podium.

Quintana: “Our hope is to see him fading a bit in this third week while we continue to grow in the mountain stages containing more than one climb. In theory, there are four or five riders who could win this Giro other than him, and these stages suit us really well. An alliance against Dumoulin? That can only happen depending on how the race goes and which are each one’s interests. That’s not something you can plan on ahead.”

Dutch curse: Weight of a nation

Will Dumoulin crack under the pressure? Those close to him say he’s tougher than he looks and up to know, he’s been dealing just fine with the pressure of wearing the pink jersey.

Every rider deals differently from the pressure of leading a major grand tour. Some crack, others can even break down in tears, while others feed off the added stress.

The expectations are building. No Dutchman has ever won the Giro. The last grand tour winner from the Netherlands Joop Zoetemelk (1980 Tour de France). Recent efforts have raised hopes but inevitably fell short, including Michael Boogerd, Robert Gesink, Kruijswijk, Mollema, and Dumoulin. The weight of a nation can be very heavy — just ask any Frenchman.

Dumoulin seems looser and more confident than some of his compatriots. The final week of the Giro will reveal much about Dumoulin’s character and it will indicate just how far he can go in his career. The Dutch are banking on it.

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George Bennett’s California surprise http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/george-bennetts-california-surprise_439186 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/george-bennetts-california-surprise_439186#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 17:20:35 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439186 George Bennett might have been one of the Tour of California's most unlikely winners. But he was universally hailed by fellow racers.

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ONTARIO, California (VN) — Reporters didn’t want to talk to George Bennett in Sacramento. He was just another outside contender, sitting on the periphery of prognostication. Before stage 1, he sat in front of his team’s rented RV in a folding chair, chatting with his young teammates, checking the pins on his number, left alone.

Even in Pismo Beach, the morning after the assault on Mt. Hamilton that would win him the Amgen Tour of California, he wandered around the beachfront parking lot largely unrecognized. I said “hi,” shook his hand, told him I’d catch him after Baldy for an interview. “Yesterday was a cracker, eh?” I said. He laughed. “Yeah, I feel good,” he said. The conversation ended there.

When a rider is going well you can see it in their face. It’s a confidence, and a leanness. In hindsight, Bennett had it. With hindsight, we all should have known. He’s a rider who’s been knocking on the door for years. Of course one day he’d open it.

A month ago, I sat down with Bennett at a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado. He was staying above town in Nederland, sleeping at 7,800 feet, training on Flagstaff and Sunshine and Magnolia, climbing all day. “Love being back here,” he said as he grabbed a seat. “It feels a bit like a second home,” a sentiment that has roots in his time with Axel Merckx’s Trek-Livestrong program in 2011. He ordered a decaf. “Love the taste and love the act of getting a coffee, but try to keep caffeine to a minimum outside racing,” he explained.

Bennett has been on an upward trajectory for a few years now, with a previous peak at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. He finished 10th there, in a stacked field. Then he got mononucleosis in November. “I pushed it too hard for too long, didn’t listen to my body,” he said. “And I had to stay off the bike for a month. But in the end, maybe that wasn’t so bad.”

He’s dealt with other setbacks too. Recurring side stitches have hampered his climbing for years. He’s tried everything, been to a swath of different doctors, but hasn’t yet found a consistent solution. “If anyone has any brilliant ideas, reach out to me. They’ve been a real problem,” he said. He had fewer of them last week, but still rode through a couple of them in the final stages.

A month go, winning the Tour of California didn’t really seem to be on Bennett’s mind. Yes, he was at altitude. Yes, he was training hard. He finished a five-hour day on the bike right before our interview. But when we walked through the contenders — Andrew Talansky, Brent Bookwalter, Rafal Majka — he saw the potential for big time losses in the 24km time trial and only one chance for redemption, on Mt. Baldy. He was slightly worried about his legs coming down from the altitude camp, too. “Historically, I’ve felt pretty shit after going to altitude,” he said. “I’ve never seen a huge power bump, either.”

It’s difficult to tell how seriously Bennett takes anything. The constant jokes and ever-present smile are like a rain jacket for pressure. It beads up and roll off him. So it feels at times like he doesn’t care, that he’s not fully committed. He does things most pros wouldn’t do: On his last weekend in Boulder he jumped in a local amateur race, Koppenberg, a short, half-dirt circuit with a nasty kicker of a climb. He signed up as a Cat. 3 with a one-day license, raced “unattached” in the Pro/1/2/3 field, and finished second out of a two-man breakaway. It was the last time he would race before California. An odd tune-up indeed. But then you look at his arms, how lean he is, how careful he is with his decaf coffee. “I put the time in,” he said. “I’m serious but not serious.”

A week ago, Bennett was on the list of outside contenders for the overall in California, one of those riders who could maybe, possibly do something special, if luck fell his way.

This win wasn’t luck though. LottoNL-Jumbo had a plan. The first sign its execution came on the lower slopes of Mt. Hamilton. Bennett’s young team — “We brought a bunch of 15-year-old climbers,” he joked at one press conference — hit the front and hit it hard. “We knew something was up, that they were trying something,” said BMC’s Brent Bookwalter. They were. As Bennett’s team ran out of horsepower he set off on his own. Ian Boswell followed, and Lachlan Morton. Rafal Majka bridged across. Andrew Talansky and Brent Bookwalter waited. It was the defining moment of the race.

Bennett took 43 seconds that day. Five days later, he won the overall by 36.

Holding on to his lead took the time trial of Bennett’s life, one that left him and others all but speechless. “Did I just get beat by George Bennett in a time trial?” Taylor Phinney wondered aloud at his team bus. “I mean, I outweigh him by like 25 kilos.” The last stage, described as “mostly downhill” because of its net elevation loss actually had major climbs. Bennett’s challengers hit him again and again, “three the whole kitchen sink at us,” he said. “Talasnky hit me like 10 times, he wouldn’t stop.” A few times, Bennett ended up off the front with the rest of the podium, isolated and without teammates, covering move after move. But they couldn’t break him.

“He’s such a good dude,” everyone kept saying, all week. Everyone who met him. His rampant Kiwi-isms charmed us in press conferences, at his team bus in the morning and finish lines in the afternoon. Following the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday, moments after he’d sealed his first major stage race victory, rider after rider rolled up to congratulate him. Competitors slapped him on the back, wrapped arms around his thin, yellow-clad shoulders, their happiness for him clearly genuine. He beamed and thanked each one.

Bennett pulled up just past the final finish line, stood in the yellow jersey and leaned half off his bike. He became the epicenter of a quickly growing scrum, as media and race officials and other riders pressed in. The last rider to reach Bennett before he was pulled away for the podium ceremony was Quick-Step’s fellow Kiwi, Jack Bauer. He arrived with a roar. “My maan! My maaan” Bauer yelled as Bennett whipped around.

“My Tasman Wheelers! We used to knock it out of the park at Tuesday night worlds,” Bennett yelled to me over the booming voices of race announcers Dave Towle and Brad Sohner. Bennett and Bauer were teammates as juniors, part of the same club in New Zealand. The only two to “really make it,” Bauer said, without going through New Zealand’s track program. “It’s one in a million chance, but he’s done it,” he said. “He’s been knocking on the door of a major win for a long time, and here it is.”

Here it is. George Bennett’s first big win. A decade in the making and well earned.

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Studying the Giro: Passo dello Stelvio http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/analysis/studying-giro-passo-dello-stelvio_439191 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/analysis/studying-giro-passo-dello-stelvio_439191#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 17:02:57 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439191 Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia features the famous Stelvio climb. This year's queen stage is a monster in more ways than one.

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The stage you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. The queen stage of this year’s Giro includes over 5,300 meters (17,500 feet) of elevation gain. Read that again. Gather yourself. Now sit back, relax, and be thankful you’re not riding this savage stage.

The route first climbs gradually to Edolo, then up the feared Mortirolo from Monno, a route used only once before in 1990. Next, the peloton will pass over the finish line in Bormio, before it begins the long climb of the infamous Passo dello Stelvio (the Cima Coppi, or highest point of the race). Then, the race will plunge down the eastern side of the Stelvio to the village of Prato allo Stelvio, and cross into Switzerland. Finally, the race climbs, for the first time, the Umbrail Pass leading back to Italy, cresting just three kilometers from the Stelvio summit, before running down to Bormio and the finish.

That brief description doesn’t do the 222-kilometer route justice, of course. Needless to say, of all the climbs on offer on stage 16, the Stelvio is the most famous, and for good reason. The riders will traverse 40-plus switchbacks as they climb from Bormio, a figure surpassed by the 48 switchbacks they’ll navigate as they plummet into the eastern valley.

While the Stelvio may be Italy’s most famous climb, due to its position in the middle of the stage it may prove less decisive than the final climb over the Umbrail. Let’s take a look at them both.

Stelvio (from Bormio) by the numbers: 21.5km, averaging 7.1 percent, reaching a maximum gradient of 13.6 percent. It climbs 1,533 meters to the pass.

Previous Giro stages: 1953, stage 20; 1961, stage 20; 1965, stage 20; 1972, stage 17; 1975, stage 21; 1980, stage 20; 1994, stage 15; 2005, stage 14; 2012, stage 20; 2013, stage 19 (cancelled); 2014, stage 16.

Umbrail Pass by the numbers: 13.2km, averaging 8.5 percent, reaching a maximum 11 percent, and climbing 1,126 meters. (Never been climbed before.)

What history can teach us: Without a doubt, the Stelvio (and Umbrail) will have a major impact on this year’s race. The iconic climb just has a way of playing a momentous role in the outcome of the Giro.

Look no further than 2014, the year of the so-called “Stelvio Stink-up,” when snow clogged the summit and some riders attacked in confusion while others slowed, thinking the race had been neutralized. Pure Giro chaos. Nairo Quintana was among those who continued to race, and he would win the stage and take over four minutes on his biggest rivals, Rigoberto Urán, Cadel Evans, and Rafal Majka.

The 2013 stage over the Stelvio was cancelled due to heavy snow and the risk of ice on the descents.

In 2012, Thomas De Gendt rode himself back into contention for a podium spot by winning the stage from a long-range breakaway. That stage finished atop the Stelvio. He would take 3:22 from race leader Joaquim Rodriguez, and go on to finish third overall that year.

In 2005, there also was drama. Ivan Basso started the day in second-place overall, only to fade immediately on the lower slopes of the Stelvio due to illness. He lost 18 minutes and plummeted from the top of the general classification. Maglia rosa Paolo Savoldelli also lost time to Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca. He was able to retain the race lead by a scant 25 seconds.

What will we see this year? Can you say chaos? It seems unlikely that snow and ice will play a role in the stage’s outcome. Expect to see fireworks all day long. Quintana and the other contenders will need to attack Tom Dumoulin in an attempt to gain back chunks of time. Will they go early and often, putting pressure on Dumoulin’s Sunweb teammates to try and bring back attackers? Will Dumoulin be isolated late in the stage as a result? Or will the race come down to one big push on the final ascent of the Umbrail? In any event, the stage has all the makings of a day of racing that will be talked about for years to come.

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Quintana praises Dumoulin as the Giro prepares to climb in week 3 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/quintana-praises-dumoulin-as-the-giro-prepares-to-climb_439180 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/quintana-praises-dumoulin-as-the-giro-prepares-to-climb_439180#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 15:10:58 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439180 The Colombian is targeting the climbs in the Giro d'Italia this week as the race makes its final push toward the finish in Milan.

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CASTIONE DELLA PRESOLANA, Italy (VN) — One word, one name rattled around the walls in Movistar’s Giro d’Italia hotel Monday in the Alpine foothills above Bergamo.

Tom Dumoulin.

Dumoulin (Sunweb) leads Movistar’s ace and pre-race favorite Nairo Quintana by 2:41 with six days remaining in the Italian grand tour.

“He’s managed the hard and difficult climbs. He’s regular and consistent,” Quintana said.

“I’m surprised that he’s improved so much and he’s better than I thought he’d be. He’s much better than before.”

A seemingly upbeat Quintana sat in a room packed with around 40 journalists and alongside his team boss Eusebio Unzué. He tried to answer how he will conquer the deficit he faces and gain time on Dumoulin before the Giro time trials from Monza to Milan on the final day.

The 29.3-kilometer time trial suits Dumoulin, who rocketed past Quintana in the last time trial and gained 2:53. However, the Dutchman has yet to win a grand tour. The 2015 Vuelta a Espana was his first serious attempt but he cracked on the final mountain day.

Quintana, who won the 2014 Giro d’Italia and the 2016 Vuelta a España, lives in Cómbita, Colombia, in the East Andes at 2,825 meters above sea level. In his favor, the Giro climbs several passes at or above 2,000 meters on Tuesday and Thursday.

“It’s normal that my body gets better in the third week. The high altitude passes go well for me,” said Quintana.

“Dumoulin is regular and can maintain it well, but I’m good on the high climbs when we are there at 2,000 meters.”

The Colombian several times said that Dumoulin impressed him and admitted he sees little weakness in his Dutch rival.

“It’s a complicated situation for me now,” continued Quintana. “It’s not gone how we hoped, but we always keep faith. I have five days that are favorable for me more than the others. We also have a big team to deliver the goods.”

Experts say Quintana can only be safe with two minutes ahead of Quintana ahead of the final Monza to Milan time trial. The Colombian said he can get by with 30 to 40 seconds.

Much more will be understood when the race covers the Stelvio climb twice Tuesday and finishes with a descent to the ski resort town of Bormio. From Bormio, it continues on a similar path through the mountains. It coves four passes high in the Dolomites Thursday to reach Ortisei.

“We’ve only been over a third of the mountains in this Giro,” Unzué added. “Tomorrow, we are looking at 4,000 meters or so of climbing. Maybe Dumoulin will fall apart, but he’s made big steps so far and in the time trials, he’s flying. He’s defending well.”

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Giro week 3: Climbers vs. Dumoulin http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/giro-week-3-climbers-vs-dumoulin_439173 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/giro-week-3-climbers-vs-dumoulin_439173#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 14:45:16 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439173 With the Giro's Milan finish days away, the climbers in the peloton must make up some time on race leader and TT specialist Tom Dumoulin.

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BERGAMO, Italy (AFP) — An array of punishing climbs on the final week of the Giro d’Italia stands in front of time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin making history as the first Dutch winner of the race’s pink jersey.

But with a lead of more than two and a half minutes on Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana and nearly four minutes on Italy’s two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali, triumph on the coveted 100th edition of the Italian race is now Dumoulin’s to lose.

“The third week will be very difficult,” Dumoulin has said every day since he took the race lead from Quintana on stage 10.

The towering Dutchman’s assessment is correct.

After a third and final rest day on Monday, the pink jersey battle moves up a considerable notch Tuesday. Stage 16 heralds the first of five consecutive days in the high mountains.

Quintana, the Giro’s 2014 champion and a two-time runner-up at the Tour de France, should be in his element and hopes his Movistar teammates — as they have done so far — set the kind of punishing pace on the climbs that leaves rival teams short of supporting riders.

On Sunday, the diminutive Colombian thanked Dumoulin for slowing the pace of the peloton when he crashed on a descent 36km from the finish line in Bergamo so he could catch up.

“It was a nice gesture from a big rival and a great person,” said Quintana, who recovered sufficiently to finish second. He is now 2:41 behind Dumoulin.

Quintana is unlikely to return the favor if Dumoulin — who has impressed so far on the easier climbing stages — is left behind him. Nibali would be even less charitable on the descents.

The defending champion, Nibali sits fourth overall at 3:40 behind back. Like Quintana, he has few options if he is to launch a late challenge for the main prize.

“Whoever is behind Dumoulin has nothing to lose. They have to attack him,” said Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida teammate Joaquim Rodriguez, who visited the Giro Sunday.

Nibali has not looked to be in top form on the climbs in this Giro.

“On the climbs we’ve done so far, I’ve paid the price,” Nibali said. “But I can’t give any more than I have.”

A renowned downhill specialist known as “the shark of Messina,” Nibali could now try to take a chunk out of his rivals on some of the long, technical descents this week. He will likely need to gain some time on the climbs as well.

Sunday’s final stage is a time trial from Monza to Milan. Dumoulin was 2:53 faster than Quintana and 2:07 quicker than Nibali on the stage 10 TT last Tuesday.

“It’s not over, but I have a fairly big deficit to Dumoulin,” Nibali said. “If he ends up winning [the race] when we get to Milan, I’ll shake his hand.”

The Giro resumes Tuesday with the 222km 16th stage from Rovetta to Bormio, which features a 12.6km climb to the Mortirolo pass and two ascents of the Stelvio.

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Photo Essay: Dumoulin dons pink in Giro’s second week http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/photo-essay-dumoulin-dons-pink-in-giros-second-week_439121 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia/photo-essay-dumoulin-dons-pink-in-giros-second-week_439121#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 13:29:23 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439121 BrakeThrough Media captures the scene during week 2 at the Giro, which saw Tom Dumoulin ride into pink and never relinquish it.

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Giro: Kangert out after horrific crash http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/giro-kangert-horrific-crash_439096 http://www.velonews.com/2017/05/news/giro-kangert-horrific-crash_439096#respond Sun, 21 May 2017 17:25:34 +0000 http://www.velonews.com/?p=439096 Tanel Kangert (Astana) suffered a harrowing crash late in Sunday’s 15th stage, and is out of the Giro d’Italia with a broken elbow.

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BERGAMO, Italy (VN) — Tanel Kangert (Astana) suffered a harrowing crash late in Sunday’s 15th stage, and is out of the Giro d’Italia with a broken elbow.

The Estonia all-rounder, who started the stage seventh overall at 4:55 back, struck a traffic sign after sweeping through a round-about in the closing 10km in the high-speed run into Bergamo.

Kangert struck the metal pole head-on, and toppled head-over-heels onto the asphalt. The impact was so intense that it left the pole slightly bent, and the 30-year-old grimaced in pain as officials quickly attended to him. Doctors later diagnosed a fractured elbow, and Kangert was unable to finish the race.

“[Kangert] suffered contusions of the lumbar and dorsal regions, his right shoulder, and a displaced fracture of his right elbow,” read the race medical bulletin. “He was transported to the Bergamo hospital for further exams.”

Astana team officials also confirmed he was transported to a local hospital for further observation. Early reports suggest Kangert did not suffer more serious injury despite the heavy impact.

Astana started the 2017 Giro with only eight riders to honor team captain Michele Scarponi, who was killed in a crash during a training ride just days before the Giro started.

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