Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:32:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Cyclist dies in Kansas City criterium Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:32:25 +0000 A cyclist died after crashing in the Tour of KC Criterium in Kansas City, Missouri Sunday.

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The Kansas City Star reports that a cyclist died after crashing in the Tour of KC Criterium in Kansas City, Missouri Sunday.

Our thoughts go out to the family, friends, and teammates of the rider who passed after a race incident in today’s event. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a member of the cycling community.

Posted by Tour of Kansas City on Sunday, June 25, 2017

According to police reports, the crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. This would have coincided with the men’s Pro-1-2 category.

This year, the 54-year-old race consisted of a five-kilometer prologue time trial, a circuit race, and the Sunday criterium in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood.

Fox 4 KC reports that the racer suffered a head injury and bleeding.

VeloNews will publish more details as they become available.

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Warbasse tops breakaway to claim US Pro road race crown Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:52:49 +0000 American Larry Warbasse claims national road race championship just days after picking up first pro career win at Tour de Suisse.

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Larry Warbasse survives out of the three-rider breakaway and sprints to a U.S. Pro national road race championship in Knoxville, Tennessee to earn the right to wear the ‘Stars and Stripes’ jersey for the next 12 months.

The 26-year-old Aqua Blue Sport cyclist overpowered fellow break mates Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) and Alexey Vermeulen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) in that order to take the win just a little more than a week from taking a stage win at the Tour de Suisse.

“I’m in disbelief,” said the former BMC Racing and IAM Cycling rider following the 109.9-mile (176.8km) road race consisting of 14 7.9-mile (12.6km) laps, including a little more than baker’s dozen trips up a nasty hill on Sherrod Road with gradient spikes of 13 percent inside a half a mile on a stretch that reaches 1,100 meters in elevation. “It’s been the best two weeks of my life. I had a really great race in Suisse a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday I felt pretty bad and in the time trial I was pretty disappointed. I told some friends ‘I guess I work well with disappointment, so hopefully tomorrow will be good’ and honestly I dint feel good the whole day.

“At the start I was suffering, actually I was suffering the whole time,” continued Warbasse, who was 24 hours removed from a fifth-place finish at the national time trial championship on Saturday. “I don’t think I was the strongest but I was the smartest. I can’t believe it, I am so happy.”

With five laps remaining (39.5 miles/63.5km), a three-man break consisting of Daniel Eaton (UHC), Ian Garrison (Axeon Hagens Berman) , Sean Bennett (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) held a 1 minute 20 second lead that was quickly closing due to a surging peloton.

After the field came together with four laps to go, the three-man attack launched and rode to the finish, with Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel Racing) taking fourth in a selective sprint 35 seconds behind the winner.

Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling), Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), Alex Howes (Cannodale-Drapac), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Eric Young (Rally Cycling) and newly crowned time trial national champion Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing) rounded out the top 10 in that order.

Full race report and results to follow …

Results, top 10

  • 1. Lawrence WARBASSE, AQUA BLUE SPORT, in 4:20:45
  • 2. Neilson POWLESS, AXEON HAGENS BERMAN, at :00
  • 5. Colin JOYCE, RALLY CYCLING, at :35
  • 6. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING, at :35
  • 7. Alex HOWES, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at :38
  • 8. Kiel REIJNEN, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at :47
  • 9. Eric YOUNG, RALLY CYCLING, at :47

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Démare bests Bouhanni to claim French road title Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:43:45 +0000 Arnaud Démare outsprints rival Nacer Bouhanni to claim the French national road race championship in Saint-Omer on Sunday.

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SAINT-OMER, France (AFP) — The script seemed written beforehand. The championship of France crowned Arnaud Démare (FDJ) as its national champion on Sunday in Saint-Omer.

Démare, who also won in 2014, beat his rival Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) again in a sprint finish at the end of the 248-kilometer road race, which featured 16 laps of a 15.5km circuit. Third place went to Jérémy Leveau, while Pierre-Luc Périchon crossed the line in fourth.

“The team controlled the race from start to finish,” explained Démare, who also won the Belgian semi-classic Halle-Ingooigem four days ago. “It was the key to my success. It’s really a collective effort.

“I’m really proud of my teammates.”

The 25-year-old has already won a “monument” in cycling — Milan-Sanremo (2016) — but the former world champion hopes (2011) is still waiting for his first stage victory in the Tour de France.

“I’m going to ride the Grande Boucle with the tricolor jersey. I am very happy, “added the new national champion.

Aided by wind in the sprint, Démare imposed his will on Bouhanni, who seeks to regain his best form after his serious fall in late April. The 26-year-old was unable to outmuscle his great rival who took him towards the middle of the pavement in the sprint.

Démare succeeds Arthur Vichot, last year’s winner at Vesoul. His win continues FDJ’s domination at the national race with victories in five of the last six editions.   Neither Bryan Coquard nor Arnaud Petit, the two main assets of the team Direct Energie, could not compete for the win.

“I did not have the legs,” said Coquard, whose Tour de France is uncertain. His tense relations with manager Jean-René Bernaudeau following his decision to leave the team at the end of the season could compromise his participation in the Tour.

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Neben sweeps USPRO nationals with women’s road race win Sun, 25 Jun 2017 16:03:14 +0000 Recently crowned time trial champion Amber Neben wins second 'Stars and Stripes' jersey at USPRO Nationals with road race victory on Sunday.

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What a weekend for Amber Neben (Team VéloCONCEPT Women), who doubled up in Knoxville, Tennessee on Sunday. A day after winning her second USPRO national time trial title, the 42-year-old reigning two-time UCI women’s time trial world champion rallied to capture her second ‘Stars and Stripes’ jersey with a national road race victory.

Neben took the win ahead of Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) and Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), who rounded out the podium in second and third respectively in 101-kilometer (62.8-mile) road race.

“The break had been away and it was really quiet in the back and I thought ‘I didn’t know if anyone was going to chase this back’ and then it started,” Neben told media after the race about her late race chase of remaining breakaway rider and Emily Newsom (Team Elevate) “Then we caught the majority of the break except for the one rider, and as soon as it sat up, I knew for me I wasn’t going to be able to stay with those girls if they attacked on that short little climb, so I had to go early and I just went for it.”

Newsom had held a 1 minute 40 second lead over her five former breakaway mates, which included Janelle Cole (UnitedHealthcare), Holly Breck (Sho-Air TWENTY20), Monica Volk (Rally Cycling Women), Jennifer Tetrick (TIBCO-SVB) and Abigail Mickey (Colavita/Bianchi), and a 3 minute lead over the field with only three of the 7.9-mile (12.6km) laps remaining. It even appeared the Texan was going to successfully utilize her state championship time trial skills to ride off with a shocking win, however, Neben was able to patiently able to hold back until the right time to make her move.

“That first lap I thought it wasn’t that hard of a course, so I didn’t think it was going to be super selective in the sense of attrition, so I was really waiting for the other teams to go, but I think that first move that had everybody in it really changed the dynamics,” Neben explained. “So I had to be really patient. I almost tried to bridge across earlier, but I am pretty thankful I didn’t at this point and time.

“Nationals are always interesting,” she continued. “They are always unpredictable and today was sort of the same.”

When asked where the weekend’s results rank on her illustrious palmarés, Neben said it is certainly near the top.

“Probably one of the highlights,” she said. “Winning worlds, you can’t top that, but winning back-to-back national championships is really totally unexpected and I am beyond words right now.”

For 24-year-old Rivera, the second-place result following her taking the bunch sprint marked her second straight silver medal at nationals.

“Didn’t really expect a solo rider [to take the win today], but if it’s Amber Neben — a world champion — you can totally except that,” Rivera said afterwards. “There was definitely some games and you could see some cat and mouse [in the chase], which ruined the momentum of the group when we were bringing her back slowly, but once those games start it’s hard to get the momentum going again.”

Results, top 10

  • 1. Amber NEBEN, TEAM VÉLOCONCEPT WOMEN, in 2:49:34
  • 2. Coryn RIVERA, TEAM SUNWEB, at :11
  • 4. Alexis RYAN, CANYON SRAM RACING, at :11
  • 5. Emma WHITE, RALLY CYCLING WOMEN, at :11
  • 6. Lauren STEPHENS, TEAM TIBCO-SVB, at :11
  • 8. Leah THOMAS, SHO-AIR TWENTY20, at :11
  • 9. Emily NEWSOM, TEAM ELEVATE RACING, at :15
  • 10. Brianna WALLE, TEAM TIBCO-SVB, at :15

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Gallery: Rosskopf, Neben win US nationals TT titles Sun, 25 Jun 2017 14:18:29 +0000 Both new and familiar faces shined at the 2017 USPRO time trial nationals in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday.

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Rosskopf wins men’s US time trial title Sat, 24 Jun 2017 20:57:21 +0000 Joey Rosskopf beat BMC Racing teammate Brent Bookwalter to win the USA Cycling men's individual time trial championship on Saturday.

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Joey Rosskopf beat fellow American and BMC Racing teammate Brent Bookwalter by nearly a minute (0:57) to capture one of the biggest wins of his career along with the USA Cycling men’s individual time trial championship on Saturday.

The 27-year-old, who won a stage and the overall title at Tour du Limousin (UCI 2.1) last year, blistered the field over the 30.7-kilometer course (19.2 miles/4 laps) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“It’s the most satisfying win for me,” said Rosskopf. “I’ve never been this close to a national championship before, never been able to put together a good ride. Yeah, I’m super excited, a little unexpected.”

Bookwalter’s result is two spots better than his fourth-place finish in last year’s race, while 21-year-old Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) finished 17 seconds behind Bookwalter for third.

“I’m probably the least surprised today at his performance. He may be one of the most under-rated riders on the team,” said Bookwalter, who is in his 11th year with BMC Racing Team.

On Sunday, the road races will begin for the women at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s road race at 1:15 p.m. This 12.7km (7.9-mile) circuit will be covered eight times by the women for a total of 101km (63 miles) and 14 times by the men for a total of 175.4km (109 miles).

Results, top 10

  • 1. Joey ROSSKOPF, BMC RACING, in 36:25
  • 2. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING, at :57/li>
  • 3. Neilson POWLESS, AXEON HAGENS BERMAN, at 1:14
  • 4. William BARTA, AXEON HAGENS BERMAN, at 1:31
  • 5. Larry WARBASSE, AQUA BLUE SPORT, at 1:44
  • 6. Kyle MURPHY, CYLANCE PRO CYCLING, at 1:47
  • 7. Alexey VERMEULEN, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 2:07
  • 8. Cameron PIPER, TEAM ILLUMINATE, at 2:16
  • 9. Geoffrey CURRAN, AXEON HAGENS BERMAN, at 2:17
  • 10. Christopher BLEVINS, AXEON HAGENS BERMAN, at 2:33

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Neben time trials to women’s US national title Sat, 24 Jun 2017 19:20:51 +0000 Amber Neben took home the US national champions jersey after taking the women's individual time trial title in Tennessee on Saturday.

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Amber Neben took home the US national champions jersey after taking the women’s individual time trial title in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Team VéloCONCEPT Women rider finished the 23-kilometer (14.4 miles/3 laps) USA Cycling course in a time of 30 minutes and 27 seconds — 32 seconds ahead of runner up Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO-SVB) and 1:04 in front of Leah Thomas (Sho-Air TWENTY20).

Stephens was nearly five seconds up on Neben at the first intermediate check, before the reigning two-time world champion rallied at by the second en route to her victory.

“This course was tricky. There was really no rhythm or flow to it. Mentally, I had to ride it a lot more than physically ride it,” said Neben, a California native who said she was not used to the heat and humidity of eastern Tennessee. “It was a challenge to figure out how to pace it, and then factor in the heat.

“The humidity was hard. So to be able to factor that in and take care of the hydration, and then understanding there were three laps, and how important the second and third laps were going to be,” she explained. “I had to make sure I stayed in formation in the beginning, so that I could nail the second laps.”

Stephens was equally proud of her result.

“I am really excited, it’s the first time I have made the national championship podium,” said the 30-year-old TIBCO-SVB rider. “I was 5th last year and 4th the year before. To get on the podium and be second to a great World Champion makes me very happy.”

Prior to her second national title victory, Neben, who also won in 2003, finished third in the ITT at Chrono de Gatineau (UCI 1.1) in May.

Emma White (Rally Cycling) was the best under-23 rider in 15th.

Results, top 10

  • 1. Amber NEBEN, Team VELOCONCEPT WOMEN, in 30:27
  • 2. Lauren STEPHENS, TEAM TIBCO-SVB, at :32
  • 3. Leah THOMAS, SHO-AIR TWENTY20, at 1:04
  • 4. Julie EMMERMAN, at 1:29
  • 6. Alison TETRICK, CYLANCE PRO CYCLING, at 2:01
  • 8. Whitney ALLISON, COLAVITA/BIANCHI, at 2:13

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Contador, Degenkolb headline Trek-Segafredo Tour team Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:57:21 +0000 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 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:36:25 +0000 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 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:24:10 +0000 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 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:41:21 +0000 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 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:03:51 +0000 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 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:15 +0000 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 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:51:12 +0000 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.


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


Men: Stanislau Bazhkou (Minsk Cycling Club)


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

Czech Republic

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


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


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


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

Great Britain

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


Men: Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac)
Women: Eileen Burns


Men: Gianni Moscon (Sky)
Women: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5)


Men: Ryota Nishizono (Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team)
Women: Eri Yonamine (FDJ)


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


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


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


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


Men: Domingos Gonçalves (Bora-Hansgrohe)


Men: Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)
Women: Ksenia Tsymbalyuk


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


Men: Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ)
Women: Lisa Norden


Men: Stefan Kung (BMC)
Women: Marlen Reusser


Men: Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing)
Women: Amber Neben (Team VéloCONCEPT Women)

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How fatherhood might change Peter Sagan Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:09:40 +0000 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 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:09:12 +0000 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

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:13:24 +0000 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 |

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 |

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.

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.

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.

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.

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UCI cuts grand tour team sizes for 2018 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:42:37 +0000 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 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:58:25 +0000 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 |

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 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:24:27 +0000 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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