Monday, June 18, 2018

Peter Sagan: I Need Some Improvement Before the Tour de France

World champion says he's not in top shape yet

World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) (Tim de Waele/

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) says he still has some way to go to reach the form he needs ahead of next month's Tour de France. Following the Tour de Suisse, where he won a stage and took the points jersey, Sagan said that he was not yet in top shape for the Grand Tour.

Sagan will be looking for a record-equalling sixth points classification victory this summer to bring him level with Erik Zabel. The three-time world champion looked set to do that last season but was disqualified on stage 4 after he was deemed to have caused Mark Cavendish to crash in the sprint finish.

"I have a lot of hard work to do and I hope my legs are not at the top, because I need some improvement before the Tour de France," Sagan said after the final stage, according to Slovakian website

Sagan came into the Tour de Suisse after a month-long break from racing following the Tour of California, after which he spent time at altitude.

Following a fourth place in the team time trial, Sagan went on to win stage 2 ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), a record-extending 16th win at the Swiss race. While Sagan was unable to add to the tally over the remaining week, the Slovakian went out swinging with an aggressive approach to the stages. He would take three more top-three finishes, which proved enough for him to seal his seventh win in that particular competition.

Sagan will now turn his focus to the Slovakian national championships this weekend, which he won five times in a row between 2011-2015, before the Tour de France begins in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île on July 7.

"It's good to finish the Tour de Suisse with two records - seven times winner of the points leader jersey and a total of 16 stage victories," Sagan wrote on his own Facebook page.

"This year's edition was probably one of the best, with an excellent organization, lots of spectators in every city and nice weather. It's good to see this race growing and stepping up on all levels. As for me, racing continues with the Slovak National Championship next weekend and then, of course, Le Tour de France."

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Carson City Off-Road Set to be an Old-School MTB Throw-Down

A rider descended sweet singletrack in Ash Canyon. Photo by Dave McElwaine

Old school. That’s how a few top riders have described Sunday’s Carson City Off-Road, the third round of the Epic Rides Series.

Held on one massive loop, starting in front of the Nevada state capital building and climbing up to 8,600 feet on the mountains rimming Lake Tahoe, the 52-mile race will be a climber’s delight. And the field is stacked with talented mountain bikers, many of whom are fresh off the latest World Cups in Europe.

Race returns to big, 52-mile loop course

Last year’s Epic Rides event in Carson City was not quite so epic — record snowpack prevented the race from climbing to the peaks above Tahoe. Instead, racers faced a three-lap course in the valley in the desert heat. Fortunately, the Carson City Off-Road returns to the high mountains this year.

The singletrack comes early with the Ash to Kings trail at mile 4, so the riders will be jockeying for position on the initial climb out of town.

Marlette Lake Road should be the toughest climb of the race, a grind of about four miles out of the first aid station, all above 7,000 feet. There will also be a tough kicker of about a mile on Tunnel Creek road before the fun begins on the Sunflower Hill trail.

With roughly 15 miles of descending to the finish, it’s not a given that the first rider over the course’s high point will ride back to Carson City victorious.

“I think it’s probably one of the hardest races on the [Epic Rides] circuit in terms of physical fitness,” Russell Finsterwald (Clif Bar) told VeloNews. “Definitely not as technical, but there’s tons of climbing.”

World Cup talent spices up women’s race

A few key stars are back in the mix after racing two World Cup rounds in Germany and Czech Republic last month. That means the women’s field will be one of the strongest you’ll find at any mountain bike race in the U.S.

National cross-country champion Kate Courtney (Specialized) is arguably the top favorite, ranked 13th in the world by the UCI and with two top-10 results at those recent World Cups. After her race at the Whiskey Off-Road was spoiled by a flat tire, Courtney is likely hungry for redemption this weekend.

“There’s no conflict with the World Cup. Chloe [Woodruff] will be there, Kate Courtney, Katerina [Nash],” Amy Beisel (Orange Seal) told VeloNews. “The competition this year is just going to be massive.”

Woodruff (Pivot-Stan’s No Tubes) also had a good run in Europe with two top-15 finishes. Plus, she’s coming off a win at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado Saturday.

“It was good training, a good confidence builder,” Woodruff said of her win in Vail. “This next weekend at Carson is a pretty different ballgame. We’re on the trails that Katerina trains on … Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Nash (Clif Bar) was third in last year’s Carson City Off-Road behind Beisel and winner Rose Grant (Pivot-Stan’s No Tubes). Grant has been recovering from an injury all spring and will not take the start Sunday.

Woodruff also pointed to Evelyn Dong as a threat. The Spry Cycles rider was second to Nash at Grand Junction and leads the Epic Rides Series overall.

“Evelyn Dong had a really solid ride at Grand Junction and she always performs well at altitude once she starts to build a little bit of confidence,” said Woodruff. “I will never count her out. I think she will be a player.”

Going into round three, Beisel is second overall, 6:40 behind. Crystal Anthony (Liv) is third, 7:35 behind. Epic Rides calculates series overall on cumulative time — in order to be in the running, riders have to finish all four races.

Men’s race: Another Grotts/Swenson showdown?

Two months ago, the Whiskey Off-Road had perhaps its most exciting finish when Keegan Swenson (Stan’s No Tubes) chased down Howard Grotts (Specialized) on the final descent and sprinted to victory. Will Grotts get his revenge in Carson City on Sunday?

The Carson City course is similar to that of Whiskey, with a long climb to the race’s high point before a descent to the finish. Swenson says the climb might not be so selective in this race though.

“I think it’ll be a good fight. It’s a little bit of a different course,” Swenson told VeloNews. “The climb seems to be a bit longer, but it is also a bit faster. It doesn’t look as steep. My guess is it’ll stay together longer, and it’ll probably break apart over the top. Honestly, I’m not sure how it’s going to play out.”

Grotts says the combination of long climbs and high altitude will work in his favor.

“The climbs should suit me quite well. Keegan is going be there — we’ll be able to push each other on the climbs,” he said. “It’s kind of like an old-school course. I’m looking forward to that. I think the altitude also helps.”

Like Woodruff, Grotts is coming off a win, but his was at the Missoula ProXCT. However, he isn’t comfortable with his Epic Rides Series lead of 5:15 over Finsterwald.

“Five minutes seems like a lot but one bad mechanical, and it can be a race like we saw with Kabush last year,” Grotts added. “He had some flat tires in Carson City and he lost a lot of time there. Nothing is secure.”

After winning the men’s GoPro Games XC race, Finsterwald also carries momentum into the weekend.

“Russell just won the GoPro Games in Vail, and Ben Sonntag got second — those two guys are obviously riding well, and GoPro is even higher altitude,” Grotts added. “All those guys are climbing well at altitude. I think we could have a really solid group to battle it out.”

Finsterwald said his win in Vail was a good sign heading into Carson City.

“Wins are always good for the morale. I’ve been getting in some good training at home,” he said, adding jokingly, “Hopefully my sprinting abilities have improved.” The last time he raced Carson City, in 2016, he lost a sprint for second to Geoff Kabush (Yeti) and Todd Wells.

Kabush may also be a threat in Carson City, but it remains to be seen how he has recovered from his third-place finish at the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel race, two weeks prior.

After Carson City Off-Road, there is one final event on the Epic Rides Series, the new Oz Trails Off-Road race in Bentonville, Arkansas, October 5-7.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How To Train On Your Commute | Threshold Workout

It can be really difficult to train properly when you work a full time job. But Emma has a number of tips to help you use your commute to train effectively. This first session works at increasing your functional threshold power.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

2018 Tour of Britain to Feature Team Time Trial

14 teams confirmed for eight-day race
2018 Tour of Britain Overview (Tour of Britain)

The 2018 Tour of Britain will feature the modern race's first-ever team time trial in what organisers have called an 'innovative and unpredictable' route. The 14-kilometre test against the clock will finish with a tough rise up the Whinlatter Pass before the peloton tackles it from the other, tougher, side the following day in the race's sole summit finish.

Organisers unveiled the 1,140-kilometre route at a ceremony in London on Tuesday evening. The eight-day race, which takes place from September 2-9, will start in South Wales for the first time with the traditional London criterium closing out the week. The race turned to Cardiff for its 2017 finale. The event will not visit Scotland this year.

"This year we have worked hard to create an innovative and unpredictable route, with several surprises in store throughout the race," said race director Mick Bennett. "Several stages have stings in the tail; climbs positioned towards the finale of Stages 1, 2 and 3 will keep the outcome up in the air until the very end.

"Our partners at Cumbria County Council have helped us to achieve something that we have been keen to do for a number of years on Stage Five – a team time trial that finishes atop Whinlatter Pass. This will be a test like no other, as teams will have to get their equipment choices and tactics spot on. The race may not be won here, but some riders could certainly lose it."

The Tour of Britain is known for its unpredictability with heavy, undulating roads and six-man teams. Lars Boom won the race for the second time in 2017, beating defending champion, and only other double winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen by eight seconds. Boom's LottoNL-Jumbo squad is amongst the 14 teams that have already been confirmed for the race.

All 10 of the WorldTour teams that took part last year will be back for more, though some under a different name to 12 months ago. BMC Racing, Lotto Soudal, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar Team, Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data, EF Education First – Drapac, Team Katusha Alpecin, Team Sky, join LottoNL-Jumbo on the start line.

Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport will make their debut while Direct Energie return to the race for the first time since 2011. Wanty-Groupe Gobert have been named for the third year running with the British National squad the final confirmed name. The remaining teams will be announced on the week beginning July 16.

The route

Stage 1 will set off from the picturesque backdrop of Pembrey Country Park and take on a very lumpy course to Newport. There will be three classified climbs along the way, including Belmont Hill less than 10 kilometres out, which averages nine per cent over its 800 metres, that could dispatch with some of the sprinters.

The race moves from Wales to South West England for the second and third stages. Day two brings the riders from Cranbrook to Barnstaple on yet more very rolling terrain. Stage 3 brings the race to Bristol for the third time since 2014 with an out and back route from the centre of town. The route heads south towards the Cheddar Gorge and out towards the area south of the neighbouring Bath before turning back towards Bristol. The finish will be the same as it was in the past two visits and takes the riders up the steep ramps towards the Clifton Downs, where Michal Kwiatkowski and Rohan Dennis have taken stage wins.

The peloton continues its journey north for stage 4 from Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa, taking on a lot of the same roads as the women's peloton will on stage 3 of the Ovo Energy Women's Tour next week. Once again, there are plenty of undulations to contend with on the 183-kilometre course.

The team time trial on stage 5 marks the beginning of three tough stages that will decide the overall winner. It is the first time since the race’s revival in 2004 that a team test against the clock has featured, replacing the usual individual chrono. It is just 14 kilometres but the long drag up to Whinlatter Pass in the second half of the route will force some big splits.

That will be just the first of three rides up the Cumbrian climb with the race returning to it for two more attempts the following day. The peloton will leave from Barrow-in-Furness and head up the eastern side this time out with its three kilometres averaging seven per cent. Hawkshead Hill and Fangs Brow make it four classified climbs.

The penultimate stage from West Bridgford to Mansfield is also the longest at a leg-sapping 223 kilometres. It is one of the flatter days but still contains a number of punchy riders before a lumpy finale that makes a sprint finish anything but a formality.

The final day takes the riders all the way back down to the south of England and a 14-lap circuit around the centre of London. There are bonus seconds available at the three intermediate sprints, which could prove crucial if the GC is close coming into the last stage.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

UCI Wants Froome Sidelined as Anti-Doping Case Drags On

Chris Froome has elected to keep racing as his anti-doping case continues. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Cycling’s governing president David Lappartient would sleep better at night if Chris Froome suspended himself from the 2018 Tour de France and other competitions.

Froome is still celebrating his Giro d’Italia victory from last month as he trains for the Tour, which starts July 7 in Vendée. He has a right to compete even if a process is going forward due to his ongoing anti-doing case stemming from the 2017 Vuelta a España.

The British grand tour star tested over the allowed limit for salbutamol after stage 18 of the Spanish grand tour.

“You know, when I was elected president of the UCI, an hour later I was informed of Froome’s test. Everyone has trouble understanding how after nine months it still has not advanced,” Lappartient told Le Parisien. “But this issue is incredibly complex, more so than any one we’ve ever had in cycling.

“My point of view has always been that the best thing would be if he does not take part in competitions. It would calm things down and he could focus on his defense. He decides to race. We respect his right.”

Rules for specified substances differ from others that draw immediate bans. The governing body’s own rules allow for cyclists to race in such a case.

Asthma drug salbutamol is allowed up to 1,000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Froome tested at 2,000 ng/ml. A study reported in The Times last month showed that his result would read 1,429 ng/ml if recalibrated, and that the “actionable” threshold is 1,200 ng/ml despite the 1,000 ng/ml allowance.

VeloNews understands from people close to the case that if Froome serves a suspension, it would not be retroactive, which would cause him to lose results. At most, he could lose his 2017 Vuelta title and perhaps the bronze medal he won in the time trial at the UCI road worlds 10 days after the Vuelta ended.

Plenty of time remains for the court of public opinion to debate. The case should linger deep into the 2018 season.

“It’s difficult for ordinary people to understand,” Lappartient said. “They say, ‘What are they doing at the UCI? They do not move ahead with the case. They’ve not ruled on it and so much time has passed.’

“Yes, but this case is much more complex than others. And perhaps he has more means to demonstrate this complexity precisely, where others might have given up for not being able to carry out more cumbersome procedures.

“My wish has always been that it would be judged before the Giro d’Italia — and that couldn’t happen. Now, I would like it to be settled before the Tour de France. Well, you have to be realistic. I think that won’t happen.”

The level of experts on both sides is growing, and rightly so with around 1,500 pages of scientific reports to comb through. Lappartient, as much as he wishes the case could be solved in a snap, admitted he “must respect Chris Froome’s rights” and also give the UCI’s experts time to prepare.

“It’s a little complicated for our sport, it puts him in difficultly [whatever the ruling],” Lappartient continued. “And then, for the general public, when you throw a name out there, especially since there have sometimes been rumors about Team Sky, then they automatically think that an abnormal result is because he doped.

“You can tell them he did nothing wrong, but in the opinion of the general public, he is a little guilty. That naturally affects the image of our sport.”

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Haig to Lead the Line for Mitchelton-Scott at Tour de Suisse

Impressive form at the Giro gives young climber an opportunity

Mitchelton-Scott's Jack Haig makes it to Rome. The Australian was instrumental during teammate Simon Yates' assault on trying to win the Giro (Getty Images)

Jack Haig's impressive super-domestique duties at the Giro d'Italia for Mitchelton-Scott have solidified his role as a team leader for the upcoming Tour de Suisse (June 9-17). The 24-year-old Australian was a key part of Mitchelton's Giro ride, helping both Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves as the team enjoyed five stage wins and a long spell in the maglia rosa through Yates.

Haig, now in his fourth full year with the Australian team, had been penciled in for a leadership bid at the Tour de Suisse during the winter, but his consistent climbing at the Giro has enhanced his reputation.

"I'm not really surprised by Jack's level," senior sporting director Matt White told Cyclingnews as he headed back from the Giro.

"If you look at his age, and that was his third Grand Tour, at every one he's getting better and better. He's certainly stepped it up another level in terms of reliability and that's really pleasing for us, and for him."

With Adam Yates leading the team at the Critérium du Dauphiné and the team also set to race the Tour of Slovenia, Haig will have the chance to showcase his improving standing over Suisse's mountain terrain. Haig's last leadership bid came at Pais Vasco, earlier in the spring. He had been in the running for a top-10 place but he lost over seven minutes on the final stage, and slipped to 16th overall.

"The next opportunity for Jack comes at the Tour de Suisse, where he'll be a leader. That's been penciled in since the winter but it's about a process for him, and learning more about what it's like to be a protected rider and being consistent," White added.

"He was leading the team at Pais Vasco, and he was holding down a good place, but then he had one bad day in the bad weather and lost time. Suisse will be his first chance where he goes in as our leader on GC for that race."

Time to analyse the Giro

With the season in full flow, there's little chance to pause after the Giro d'Italia. However, White and the rest of the team management will use the days between now and the Dauphiné and Suisse to reflect on the first Grand Tour of this season. The team won five stages and held the maglia rosa until Yates cracked and fell out of contention on stage 19. Chaves looked impressive in the first week, won a stage and sat second overall before falling apart after the second rest-day.

"We gave winning a pretty good shot but overall I was really impressed with how the boys rode as a team. It was a really aggressive style of racing. We had lots of success and Simon was close to winning a Grand Tour. I don't think he's missing anything but over the next week we'll sit back and analyse the race in full. He has the ability to win a Grand Tour but every course is different and you can't always approach them in the same way. At the end of the day, he had some minor problems that I'm not going to make excuses over. Things just caught up with him and he had a bad day."

Chaves' next major objective is the Vuelta a Espana later in the year. A break from racing affords him and his team the chance to look under the hood and identify why he had such contrasting sides to his Giro.

"He'll stay in Europe and then we'll go through the process of finding out exactly what the issue was in the race. We have some testing coming up and then we'll go from there. We have no explanation for what went wrong, so getting to the bottom of things is the next step. He wants to know what's going on with his body, and so do we."

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dirty Kanza Goes Big with New 350-Mile Race

Photo: Andy White

Two hundred miles of punishing flint gravel roads is not enough — at least not for the 34 brave riders signed up to race the DK XL, a new addition to Dirty Kanza’s event, which starts Friday at 4 p.m. in Emporia, Kansas.

The 350-mile race will take the riders south, through the night to the town of Eureka around mile 112 before turning north to the towns of Cottonwood Falls, Council Grove, and finally Alma at mile 287. The race returns to Emporia at that point, hopefully around the time that the 206-mile event will be wrapping up.

Although Dirty Kanza is known for its 200-mile race, the race’s executive director Jim Cummins told VeloNews that management’s original intention was actually to host a 350-mile event. In 2005, Cummins and co-founder Joel Dyke were inspired to launch their event by Iowa’s Trans-Iowa race, which is 340 miles long. As they planned their own gravel adventure, they scaled back plans to create such a long course and settled on about 200 miles.

“Ever since then, I’ve just had this gnawing thing at the back of my mind that someday I wanted to do what we first set out to do and create this 350-mile thing,” Cummins said.

So for the 13th running of their race, Cummins and his team invited 34 riders to take on DK XL — the same number of riders who participated in the original Dirty Kanza.

Rebecca Rusch, winner of Dirty Kanza 200 in 2012, 2013, and 2014 was thrilled when she got her invitation.

“My initial response was ‘Hell yeah!’” she told VeloNews. “Not a second of hesitation.”

Her friend and fellow Dirty Kanza 200 winner Yuri Hauswald, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as unequivocal.

“If Reba [Rusch] had said no, I probably would have said no,” he said. “I needed some hand-holding or a confidence boost.”

Cummins said the massive loop through the Kansas countryside will show riders all of the highlights of the area’s wealth of gravel roads, with a wide variety of terrain and some roads that rarely see more than one car per month.

“They’re gonna get to see all of our favorite roads,” Cummins said. “The 200-mile course includes some cool stuff but not all of it.”

But it won’t be all fun and gravel. Cummins feels that riding through the night on Friday into Saturday will pose a major challenge to the riders in their bid to finish the 350-miler.

“Once they get through that [night], they’ll have crossed through a pretty significant threshold and be able to finish it up,” he said.

Rusch and Hauswald agree that it will be a challenging night of riding. However, they both have experience racing 24-hour solo mountain bike races and they enjoy night riding. Rusch said it is prudent to have the night section earlier in the race.

“You’ll have the least resources because stores will be closed, and it’s dark, and people get scared and the boogieman comes out, but you’re also the freshest,” she said. “I think it’s smart that people will be doing the night at the beginning.”

For Rusch, however, the most difficult part of the race may come in the final miles.

“Personally I don’t feel like the night’s going to be the hardest part,” she added. “I feel like in any endurance event, the last 25 percent — everything is shutting down, your body is saying, ‘Stop doing this to me.’ That’s where mentally you have to be the toughest.”