Friday, May 26, 2017

How To Ride At Altitude

Matt & Si are riding in the Dolomites, Italy. The altitude can easily effect performance, luckily they're here to help with how to cope when the air is thin.

Ex-Professional Cyclists Simon Richardson and Matt Stephens are here to give you the stats on how cycling at altitude can effect you. All is not lost though. Si and Matt are here to provide advice and tips on how to help you cope with cycling in the mountains. As well as Do's and Dont's!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Commentary: Five Tour of California Takeaways

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

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

1. ToCA becomes Tour prep for classics and sprint teams

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

2. It’s time for Rally to step up

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

3. LottoNL-Jumbo gets its reward

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

4. Talansky’s Tour prep on track

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

5. Morton, Boswell ready for leadership

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


Saturday, May 20, 2017

George Bennett Wins Tour of California

Huffman wins stage 7 finale in Pasadena

George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is pumped to be in the yellow jersey (Getty Images Sport)
George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) wrapped up the overall victory at the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday, finishing safely in the peloton on the seventh and final stage to seal his first WorldTour general classification win.

Rally Cycling's Evan Huffman out-sprinted breakaway companions David López (Sky) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis, Solutions Credit) at the finish line in Pasadena to claim his second stage victory of this year's race. 22 seconds later, Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan led the pack across the line for sixth place behind the escapees, securing the green points jersey.

His teammate Rafal Majka finished in the peloton as well to secure his second place overall, 35 seconds down on Bennett, with Cannondale-Drapac's Andrew Talansky rounding out the GC podium a further second back.

How it unfolded

A number of attackers went clear shortly after as the race rolled down from the start line at Mountain High, but the peloton set a high pace through the early kilometres, refusing to let anyone get away for long. The day's main breakaway move did not form until over 40 kilometres into a stage that stretched for just 125 kilometres in total – and only after a brief flurry of attacks from the GC contenders.

As the road tilted upward, Bennett and Majka tested each other on the early slopes of the Mt. Emma Rd. climb, but neither could force any separation. Then it was the stage hunters who went on the move.

Stage 4 winner Huffman, his Rally teammate Rob Britton, López, Edet and Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) jumped away on the ascent. Five became six after Rally's Sepp Kuss made a long ride to bridge into the break. They worked their advantage up to around a minute before the peloton tightened the leash, and the gap hovered there or thereabouts as they traversed the remaining two categorised climbs.

Talansky and Sunweb's Sam Oomen made short-lived attempts to escape on the second-category final climb but neither managed to create much space, with Majka and Bennett live to the danger.

Still with only a minute in hand as they began the long descent toward Pasadena, the breakers had their work cut out for them to hold off a pack full of sprinters' teams eyeing the flat finish. But even with Katusha-Alpecin and Quick-Step Floors pushing a high pace, the riders out front stubbornly held their gap as the kilometres ticked down.

With Kuss and Britton pulling the six along, the break took around 40 seconds into the final 10 kilometres. Kuss came detached after a big effort with around seven kilometres to go, but the surviving five proved up to the task of holding off a charging peloton.

With Morton mostly focused on picking up a few seconds to claim the young rider's jersey and Britton emptying the tank to support his teammate, it was down to Huffman, López and Edet to contest to stage victory. Huffman and López rode neck and neck in the final sprint until the final 100 metres, when Huffman pulled away to nab his second win of the week.

Sagan pipped Quick-Step's Matteo Trentin in the ensuing sprint for minor placings, with Bennett, Majka and Talansky all coming home moments later to seal their GC podium placings.

Full Race Results Here

Article Source:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Giro d’Italia GC Ambitions Hid Behind Poker Faces

Nairo Quintana kept his cards close to the chest in the Giro d'Italia's hilly stage 11. Photo: Tim De Waele |
BAGNO DI ROMAGNA, Italy (VN) — Cycling is just as much a game of poker as it is a test of strength. If this Giro d’Italia is a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, everyone’s got their cards very close to their chests.

And the poker faces were out in force in Wednesday’s potentially explosive, four-climb stage across Italy’s spine.

You might think there would be a sense of panic following Tom Dumoulin’s huge gains in Tuesday’s time trial. But you’d never know it walking around the team buses Wednesday morning.

“We are exactly where we expected to be right now,” said Movistar’s Rory Sutherland at the start. “We knew we’d be behind after the time trial — we knew we’ll have to attack to win this Giro. Nairo is confident he can win.”

No one was ready to give away a thing, not before, during or after the frenetic stage.

Dumoulin turned the Giro upside-down Tuesday with his dramatic time trial victory. He took a commanding lead of 2:23 to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and a pack of climbers.

And Wednesday, Movistar gave him a taste of things to come. The Spanish team placed Andrey Amador, JJ Rojas, and José Herrera into a big group, putting the pressure on Dumoulin and his out-numbered Sunweb crew.

Dumoulin coolly answered the threat. American Chad Haga and Tour de France stage-winner Simon Geschke controlled the pace. Laurens Ten Dam snuck into the breakaway to be there in case things blew up. “Laurens is our old warrior, he’s getting better with age. Like a good wine,” Dumoulin told AFP.

“We didn’t see any weakness in the direct rivals, but nevertheless, the weariness is starting to add up. And one day they will feel it,” Quintana said at the line. “You have to keep looking ahead and remain optimistic. You have to wait for the right moment to take back time.”

The buzz around the peloton Wednesday morning was that this Giro is far from over.

“It’s still a long way to Milan,” said Trek-Segafredo sport director Kim Andersen. “To beat Dumoulin, first you have to isolate him, then attack. Things will change when we reach the stages with more than one climb.”

Dumoulin’s rivals know they must be patient. They sense that his team is weakened following the exit of Wilco Kelderman, who crashed out Sunday after colliding with a motorcycle. They also believe that Dumoulin will cede time once the Giro hits the steep, longer climbs stacked up in the Dolomites.

Across the peloton Wednesday, most teams emphasized patience. However, a few others showed a few of their cards. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) both attacked on the final climb.

“I know they have to make up a lot of time on me up a lot of time on me in the mountains,” Dumoulin said. “I think the pressure is on them, not on me.”

The all-in bet will come in the final week. Everyone’s said that since before this Giro started. No one scripted Dumoulin’s race-changing time trial, which flipped the GC card table.

“The differences are important, but we believe that things will change dramatically in the final week,” said Nibali helper Giovanni Visconti. “The hard stages of two, three, and four climbs will count more. That’s when this Giro will be decided.”

The main protagonists now regroup for back-to-back transition stages ideal for sprinters (their last chances). The next big skirmish comes with the one-climb, uphill finale in the 131km, stage 14 to Oropa on Saturday. Dumoulin’s rivals will need to up their ante.

Quintana’s difference to Dumoulin might be manageable, considering the Giro’s hard third week. The final-day time trial could tilt things in Dumoulin’s favor. He knows his rivals will have to take riskier bets, not only to erase Tuesday’s TT gains, but also build up a buffer for the inevitable final-day TT losses.

“It’s nice to have a big gap on GC,” Dumoulin said. “It gives me more room to play with. I was never in stress, and always in control.”

Professional cyclists are loath to give away any hint of weakness. They know if they do, the sharks will pounce without pity.

The poker faces will remain in place, at least until the pain of the final climbs in the Dolomites strip them away.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

"A Mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take" 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Custom Bikes At The 2017 Giro d'Italia

Lasty has been poking around the team mechanics trucks at the Giro d'Italia and has uncovered some custom bikes.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Nibali vs. Quintana: Sparks to Fly on Mount Etna

Vincenzo Nibali may aim to take pink in stage 4 so he can wear the jersey into his hometown of Messina on Wednesday. Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media |
CEFAL, Italy (AFP) — Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali says he has no gripe with Giro d’Italia rival Nairo Quintana, but warned the Colombian sparks could fly when they race to the first summit finish on Mount Etna Tuesday.

After Monday’s rest day, the 100th edition of the race resumes Tuesday with a 181km stage 4 from Cefalu in the north of Sicily to the summit of Europe’s highest active volcano.

Fernando Gaviria, another Colombian, who rides for Quick-Step, will start in the pink jersey after he took the race lead from fellow sprinter André Greipel by winning stage three to Cagliari, Sardinia, on Sunday.

But after three days of seeing the fast men of the peloton sprinting for glory, fans get a chance to tune in for some early race salvoes in the definitive battle for the pink jersey.

It is the first summit finish of the race and Nibali, the winner in 2013 and 2016, expects 2014 champion Quintana to put the hammer down.

“It’s inevitable that something happens, because Etna is a real challenge,” Nibali said Sunday when asked about the threat from Quintana.

Nibali, also the 2014 Tour de France champion, refuted reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport of tension between him and climbing specialist Quintana, who rides for Movistar.

“No, not at all,” Nibali said.

But Nibali, born and raised in the Sicilian town of Messina, said he isn’t racing for charity.

“He races for one team, and I race for a rival team, so it’s only normal we’re enemies,” he said. “We don’t acknowledge each other that often, because we’re both very concentrated and have to pay attention on the road.

“But we’re both here trying to win it.”

Only four stages into the race’s 100th edition, the ride to Mount Etna is certain to see Gaviria, a sprint specialist who excels on the flat, hand the coveted pink jersey over to a new race leader.

After a first 55km over undulating terrain, the peloton will tackle the 32.8km climb to the summit of Portella Femmina Morta. Rather ominously, it translates to ‘Dead Woman’s Door.’ Thankfully, its average gradient is a manageable 4.5 percent.

After a long, winding descent, a more formidable 17.9km ascent to Etna, where the steepest sections reach 12 percent, provides a far tougher challenge.

“It won’t be decisive, but the stage to Etna is important because it will give me an indication of my form and an indication of who the real GC contenders could be for the final week,” said Quintana.

As well as Nibali and Quintana, fellow GC contenders like Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Spaniard Mikel Landa (Sky), and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) are expected to be at the front of the peloton.

A prestigious stage win is at stake, although the responsibility of controlling the race would then fall to the team of the new pink jersey holder — demanding precious energy that could prove useful for more decisive stages in the third and final week.

Yet, with stage 5 finishing in his home town of Messina, Nibali has extra incentive to claim the ‘maglia rosa’ on Tuesday.

“I can’t wait for the stage to Messina, it’s my hometown,” he said.