Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Froome: The Vuelta is a Race I Love but It's Relentless

Team Sky leader ready for a fight in the final Grand Tour of 2017

Chris Froome (Team Sky)
Chris Froome has described the Vuelta a España as 'unfinished business' as he tries to transform his run of second places into a first victory and become only the third rider to complete the Tour de France-Vuelta double. Froome has purposely built his season around going for the double but admits that completing the job after winning a fourth Tour is the hardest part of the challenge. Yet he insists it is also that is the most motivating part.

"I've got a good feeling about this year's Vuelta," Froome said in a video interview shot at a recent training camp and released by Team Sky.

"I think we've got a lot more purpose and it feels like we're on much more of a mission this year. I don't think we've been to the Vuelta a España with a team as strong and as focused on the Vuelta as we are this year, and I'm certainly going into the race with a lot of confidence in the team around me.

"It's been a huge motivation for me, given that no one in the modern era has done the Tour-Vuelta double. It's an even bigger challenge for me than just targeting the Tour de France, so my motivation couldn't be higher at this point."

Froome has raced for 48 days so far this season, plus a few post-Tour de France criteriums and trip to Kazakhstan during the weekend to ride a criterium in the capital, Astana.

He again quietly started his season in Australia but skipped Liège-Bastogne-Liège and was not as competitive in the spring, finishing 18th overall at the Tour de Romandie and fourth at the Critérium du Dauphiné. He and Team Sky carefully planned the season so that he could extend his peak of form into late summer for the Vuelta. He is walking a tightrope between fitness and fatigue, knowing that some of his rivals are in similar condition after also racing hard in July, while others are fresh after riding the Giro d'Italia in May and preparing specifically for the Vuelta.

"One thing that really sets the Vuelta apart from other races is where it is in the season - after the Giro, after the Tour, towards the tail end of the season," Froome pointed out.

"You have this mixture of riders who have targeted the Vuelta specifically, and they are in fantastic shape. Then you have other riders who are coming off a big season already, and potentially hanging onto whatever condition they've got in the race, and people who possibly have missed their goals earlier in the season and the Vuelta is their chance to salvage what could have been a tough year for them. Typically, it makes it a very aggressive race, a very punchy style of racing, and always makes for great viewing for the fans.

"It's not easy to go straight from the Tour and shift the mindset to suddenly getting ready for another Grand Tour, another three-week race, just a few weeks on from the Tour de France. I think this year in particular it's been extremely hard, given the pressure in those last few days of the Tour. I think it was only natural to get Paris to and let go a little bit and switch off after such an intense period, so it's been quite hard to refocus again. Coming up to altitude with my teammates, a group of us who are focused on being at our best for the Vuelta, has made it a lot easier."

Fresh oppostion

Many of Froome's rivals are also in a similar position to the Briton, looking for another big result in their second Grand Tour of the season. Froome and Team Sky got the better of their rivals in July, beating Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) by 54 seconds and Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) by 2:20 but face many of the same and other, fresh opposition at the Vuelta.

"My main rivals at this year's Vuelta will be the likes of Romain Bardet and Fabio Aru who were in great shape at the Tour. Then there's guys who maybe haven't done the Tour and will have focused more on being ready for the Vuelta – Vincenzo Nibali, Bob Jungels, Adam Yates from Orica, who will also have Simon (Yates) riding with him. As a team I think they (Orica-Scott) pose quite a threat with Esteban Chaves also on the team," Froome suggested, pointing out that the slate is wiped clean at the start of Grand Tour.

"As with every other race we all start on zero, and everyone has to be given the respect of being a potential race winner. Only once we get in the race and someone actually loses time, then you can start to discount them slightly from being an overall contender. You've got to take everyone as a threat, as a rival."

Froome will ride the Vuelta a España for a sixth time in his career and it will be the 15th Grand Tour of his career. He is known for winning the Tour de France four times but it is the Spanish Grand Tour that proved he could be competitive over three weeks. In 2011 he came from virtually being unknown to finishing only 13 seconds behind Juan Jose Cobo, with teammate Bradley Wiggins third. Froome could have arguably won that Vuelta if he had been team leader but he was also happy to have kick-started his Grand Tour career and negotiated a good contract and protected role at Team Sky for the future.

He returned to finish fourth in 2012, second in 2014 and second again in 2016. He was forced to quit the Vuelta in 2015 but only after fracturing his ankle.

"It certainly feels as if I've got unfinished business at the Vuelta a España. I've finished second three times now, so it would just be incredible to win," he said, acknowledging that the 40km individual time trial gives him a great chance to gain time on gain rivals and equal out any time he might lose to his fresher rivals on the mountain finishes.

"The Vuelta is a race I love doing but it's relentless. The course is always a lot more mountainous than the Tour de France and the conditions are tougher. Being mid-August in Spain, it's quite common to have temperatures up in the mid 40s… it's brutal. Absolutely brutal.

"I think this year's Vuelta has certainly got a good balance between time trialling and mountain top finishes. With nine mountain top finishes it's heavily weighted for the climbers but, with an individual time trial of over 40 kilometres, there could be minutes won or lost there as well. It's a great balance between the pure climbers, and the rouleurs who can time trial. I think it's going to be a really exciting and well-balanced race."

Article Source: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/froome-the-vuelta-is-a-race-i-love-but-its-relentless/

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Giro to Start in Jerusalem as Grand Tours Look Beyond Europe

After starting in Sardinia for 2017, the 101st Giro d'Italia will start in Jerusalem. Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — After trips far abroad in Europe, it was inevitable that one of cycling’s three historic grand tours would break ground beyond the old continent. The 2018 Giro d’Italia will be the first with its planned departure from Jerusalem next May 5.

VeloNews learned of the deal, which should be announced in Israel’s holy city in September, last month. Organizer RCS Sport had considered going to Poland to start its 101st edition, which would have seemed logical since it issued a wildcard invitation to team CCC in recent years.

Instead of a two-hour flight from the organization’s Milan headquarters to Warsaw, expect a three-hour, 40-minute flight and a one-hour time change to Tel Aviv.

The three-week races — the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España — covered greater distances before. Usually the Giro or Vuelta do so to reach countries willing and able to pay the host fee. Tour organizer ASO has greater options with more countries bordering France and those nearby, like England, eager for the famed event.

Spain’s grand tour traveled to Assen in the northeastern Netherlands in 2009. After four stages, including one to Liège in Belgium, the caravan flew 2.5 hours back to the motherland.

The Giro reached is organization arm overseas to Belfast in 2014. The two-hour, 35-minute flight from Milan was not so bad compared to the re-entry to Bari in Italy’s far south from Dublin. Riders and top staff boarded a chartered jet, the rest made their own way. One journalist told of a 38-hour car journey involving two ferries and much soda to arrive for the continuation of the race with stage 4.

As with the 2014 edition starting in Belfast, the Giro will include an extra rest day for travel after the first three stages. VeloNews’s research suggests that the race could kick off with a stage in and around Jerusalem. With an agreement, it could pass through Jericho in Palestine. Stage 2 might cover areas south or perhaps to the north to Nazareth. Stage 3 could end in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv.

Sources said that it will restart in Sicily. After a three-week journey with a mountainous final, the cyclists will take a high-speed Freccia Rossa train to finish in the capital city of Rome on May 27. Jerusalem and Rome would offer the holiest of bookends to the 101st Giro.

The trip outside of Europe offers RCS Sport yet another test event, a possible springboard, for longer journeys. Cycling director Mauro Vegni spoke of such transfers this May when the race began on the island of Sardinia.

“The first is always the hardest,” Vegni said. “We did the big one in Ireland. We needed the structure, the cars, the extra rest day for the transfer. That was a massive undertaking.”

“Now, we are able to duplicate it and it’s not as hard, so I’m not worried about 2018. It’s more complicated [starting in Sardinia], worse than a big start abroad. Now, I can confront anything, also far away from Italy’s borders.”

RCS has talked about a start in the United States for some time. Former director Angelo Zomegnan tried to put the pieces in place, but never made it happen. Vegni too has shown interest in the U.S. and according to some reports, Japan.

Israel is strongly promoting tourism and offers RCS Sport a chance grow its Giro d’Italia brand globally. Also, the country has pockets deeper than the Italian provinces and cities interested in hosting the Grande Partenza.

Israel will need a budget of around €12 million ($14.2m). About €4 million ($4.72m) of that goes to RCS Sport for the hosting rights. It is a big budget, but past host cities say the investment is worth welcoming one of cycling’s famous events.

Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2017/08/news/giro-start-jerusalem_445586#Tx5Y3t3bZksKCJE2.99

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sagan Edges Closer to 100th Pro Win at BinckBank Tour

World champion continues Tour de Pologne success in Venray

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) leads the BinckBank Tour (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

A bike throw on the line in Venray gave Peter Sagan the 98th professional victory of his career and second WorldTour leader's jersey in 2017. Bora-Hansgrohe's World Champion repeated his Tour de Pologne stage 1 win from last week atthe BinckBank Tour in a photo finish ahead of Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb).

Neither Sagan or Bauhaus celebrated, and both riders were then forced to wait for the official confirmation of the result. Having checked the replays, Sagan emerged the winner for the third time at the race after his two wins last year.

"I was very lucky in the finish, because I was certain that I'd been passed on the line, but I took the win purely because I threw my bike at the last second," Sagan said. "I didn't even know I'd won until five minutes later. I didn't want to go too early in the sprint – I wanted someone in front of me – so I waited until a little later before I went. The line was just too far away then, so I let Rudi and Groenewegen keep the gap, and after that I started my sprint behind them so I had a better line, taking advantage of having two guys in front of me, but still Bauhaus did a great sprint.

Sagan will start the Voorburg 9km stage 2 time trial with a one second lead over Laurens De Vreese (Astana) and with all bar Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) within ten seconds of his lead. Third overall last year, Sagan explained that he is focused on another title at the GC after his good showing in Poland last week.

"I'm going to keep going and fighting at the race. Tomorrow is a big day for everyone with a 9km time trial – it'll be tough and we want to make the most of it for Bora-Hansgrohe. It's a good day for Maciej Bodnar, and I'll try not to lose time myself," Sagan added.

Following the time trial, Sagan will have opportunities to reach the 100 win mark on the following five stages.

The win was also a special occasion for Bora-Hansgrohe's sports director Jens Zemke as he explained.

"It was my first victory with Peter, so I am really happy about this. After some bad luck, finally, luck is back on our side again," Zemke said. "The team worked perfectly together the whole day and we are here with a strong line-up. Even though it was really close today, it was a great start to this race. Now, the plan is not to lose time tomorrow, but with Bodi we have a strong time trial specialist in our squad."

Article Source: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/sagan-edges-closer-to-100th-pro-win-at-binckbank-tour/

Thursday, August 3, 2017

6 Tips For Safer Cycling Descending | GCN Pro Tips

Descending is great fun but it's important to stay safe. We've got 6 great tips to help you stay safe on the roads.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bora-Hansgrohe Manager Backs Call for Sprint Video Referee After Sagan's Tour de France DQ

Peter Sagan is still at the Tour in spirit 
Ralph Denk, the manager of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, has backed calls for some kind of video referee to rule on dangerous riding in sprints after Peter Sagan was disqualified from this year's Tour de France.

On Thursday Philippe Mariën, the chief UCI commissaire at the Tour de France, told Het Nieuwsblad that he was in favour of adding a video referee who could watch the sprint on television and make quick, well-informed decisions.

"I'm surprised to read that Philippe Mariën has asked for the introduction of a video judge for the sprints because when we tried to show the UCI commissaires high-definition video evidence during the Tour de France that Peter Sagan did nothing wrong they weren't interested in seeing it," Denk told Cyclingnews in reaction to Mariën's comments.

Sagan was disqualified after stage 4 of this year's Tour de France in Vittel. During the sprint, Mark Cavendish attempted to come through on Sagan's right, close to the barriers, and Sagan appeared to move across and stick his right elbow out. Cavendish crashed into the barriers, fracturing his right scapula, and caused a chain reaction that brought down several other riders.

The UCI race commissaires punished Sagan for irregular riding on the stage, which was won by Arnaud Démare.

However, the team insist that the UCI jury refused to hear from Sagan or view high-definition video evidence produced by the Bora-Hansgrohe team.

"It was a fundamental decision and so they should use television and video images to take any final decision, not only rely on the human eye. They do that in other sports, so they should do it on cycling, too," Denk said

Denk was left trying to explain the UCI commissaires' decision to his team and sponsors. He says that losing Sagan cost his team and sponsors 'millions' in terms of publicity.

"It's hard to calculate but Peter was in great shape and had already won a stage. He could have won a lot more. It was a big blow to the team and to our sponsors when he was disqualified. They were obviously very disappointed and they didn't understand why. We still don't understand why," Denk said.

The German team manager went as far as appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Sagan's disqualification but ultimately failed to convince the CAS to overturn the UCI's decision. He is still angry about the ruling but now he hopes a video referee and a better disciplinary process with input from the riders involved can be introduced.

"The UCI should use every possible piece of information to make the right decision. I hope we can change the way things are done in the future, and video footage is properly used to make any disciplinary decisions," Denk said.

"Everyone in the sport would benefit and we'd avoid future problems in the Tour de France. We have a lot of sponsors who put millions into our sport and so everyone needs to know that the rules are fair and the best possible rules.

"Look at Formula 1; when there's an incident, they can call in the pilots and they listen to them before making a decision. The UCI commissaires never spoke to Peter or even to Mark Cavendish. He didn't really blame Sagan and he was directly involved. But the UCI didn't hear his opinion. That's wrong."

Meanwhile, Sagan has said he's already forgotten about the incident, and will start the Tour de Pologne on Saturday after launching a line of his own branded clothing.

Article Source: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/bora-hansgrohe-manager-backs-call-for-sprint-video-referee-after-sagans-tour-de-france-dq/