Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tour de France 2018 Route Revealed

21 stages include cobbles, dirt roads, two time trials and three big mountain finishes

The route of the 2018 Tour de France has been revealed in Paris, with organiser ASO continuing a blend of tradition and innovation as they look to shake up the racing and seemingly make it harder for Team Sky and Chris Froome to dominate yet again.

The 2018 Tour de France will include a team time trial on stage three, sections on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, a finish up to L’Alpe d’Huez and then a grand finale of mountain stages in the Pyrenees before a hilly time trial will decide the winner of the yellow jersey.

Stage 10, the first mountain stage of the race, includes a section of dirt road on the Plateau des Glières. It is 100km from the finish of the stage in Le Grand Bornand but comes after a six-kilometre climb at 11 per cent. Technical director Thierry Gouvenou has admitted he one day hopes to include a long dirt climb in the Tour de France.

The 2018 Tour de France starts in the Vendée region on Saturday July 7 - a week later than usual due to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It ends three weeks later in Paris on Sunday July 29 with the traditional evening stage and circuits of the Champs Elysées.

Froome, Thibaut Pinot, Simon Yates, Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet, Alberto Contador, Nacer Bouhanni, Arnaud Demare were amongst the 4000 guests at the presentation at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. They seemed stunned by the severity of the route, knowing they will race with just seven teammates in 2018 after team sizes were reduced to eight riders by the UCI and race organisers.

A race of two parts

The 21 stages are divided into two parts, with riders taking two plane transfers. The first nine stages visit the Vendée coast, Brittany and the north of France, with the cobbled stage from Arras to Roubaix coming before a transfer and first rest day at Annecy in the Alps.

Stage 10 marks the start of the mountains, with three important stages in the Alps to Le Grand Bornand, La Rosière-Montvalezan and L’Alpe d’Huez. The 2018 route avoids the South of France and the Mediterranean coast, crossing to the Pyrenees via Valence, an uphill finish to Mende, and a second rest day in Carcassonne.

From the ancient walled town, the riders can see the jagged Pyrenean peaks on the horizon. They face four days of suffering, with a chance for the sprinters in Pau. Two long stages to Bagneres-du-Luchon and Laruns are divided by the short stage to the Col de Portet. The stage is only 65km long but includes 37km of climbing. Pau will act as the base for many of the teams for all of the Pyrenean stages.

The Tour de France will be decided by a 31km time trial on the final Saturday, with the rolling roads between Saint-pee-sur-Nivelle and Espelette in the French Basque Country hosting the showdown on the 2018 race.

Cyclingnews will have more analysis on the 2018 Tour de France route, rider reaction and a photo gallery.

The 2018 Tour de France stages:

Stage 1, July 7: Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile – Fontenay-le-Comte, 189km

Stage 2, July 8: Mouilleron-Saint-Germain – La Roche-sur-Yon, 183km

Stage 3, July 9: Cholet – Cholet (TTT), 35km

Stage 4, July 10: La Baule – Sarzeau, 192km

Stage 5, July 11: Lorient – Quimper, 203km

Stage 6, July 12: Brest – Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan, 181km

Stage 7, July 13: Fougères – Chartres, 231km

Stage 8, July 14: Dreux – Amiens Métropole, 181km

Stage 9, July 15: Arras Citadelle – Roubaix, 154km

Rest day, July 16: Annecy

Stage 10, July 17: Annecy – Le Grand Bornand, 159km

Stage 11, July 18: Albertville – La Rosière, 108km

Stage 12, July 19: Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs – Alpe d’Huez, 175km

Stage 13, July 20: Bourg d’Oisans – Valence, 169km

Stage 14, July 21: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Mende, 187km

Stage 15, July 22: Millau – Carcassonne, 181km

Rest day, July 23: Carcassonne

Stage 16, July 24: Carcassonne – Bagnères-de-Luchon, 218km

Stage 17, July 25: Bagnères-de-Luchon – Saint-Lary-Soulan (Col de Portet), 65km

Stage 18, July 26: Trie-sur-Baïse – Pau, 172km

Stage 19, July 27: Lourdes – Laruns, 200km

Stage 20, July 28: Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle – Espelette (ITT), 31km

Stage 21, July 29: Houilles – Paris Champs Elysées, 115km

Article Source: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/tour-de-france-2018-route-revealed/

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Roundtable: Our 2018 Tour de France Wishlist

Tour de France organizer ASO will announce the race’s 2018 route on Tuesday, October 17. We know a few things by now. It will start in the Vendée region of western France with a road stage from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile to Fontenay-le-Comte, including a ride over the infamous Passage du Gois. Stage 2 is another road stage, from Mouilleron-Saint Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon. Stage 3 is around Cholet, suggesting a team time trial could be back in the Tour. There are also rumors of a return to the cobblestones near Roubaix and a trip up Alpe d’Huez.

The rest of the 21-stage “Grande Boucle” is unknown. That’s where we come in. Our panel of experts is taking this opportunity to dream up our wishlist of ways to make the 105th edition the best Tour yet. Let’s roundtable!

Pick two things you want to see in the 2018 Tour route — one practical idea and one WACKY idea.

Fred Dreier @freddreier: We all know that dirt is cycling’s hot trend. So the Tour de France needs to fire up the Future Bass playlist and live in the now, dammit. I say for 2018, the Tour adds some long sections of the Belgian grass/dirt roads that are used in Schaal Sels for the first week of the race. Then, in week three, there’s a day of big, long, dirt climbs in the Pyrenees.

That final stage of the 2017 Hammer Series was so unorthodox and bizarre, and boy did I love it. So my wacky idea is for the TDF to install a bizarre TTT format where the teams leave the start gate like 30 seconds at a time and then are allowed to group together and attack each other as a full TTT squad. The first five riders across the line win! Nacer Bouhanni is already practicing his left hook.

Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: I want two mountainous stages that are shorter than 120km, ideally one in the Alps and one in the Pyrenees. If you want to get wacky, let’s also run a team time trial on the Roubaix cobblestones early in the race, but make sure those pavé sectors are nice and long — I’m thinking 40km of racing with 39km of cobbles.

Chris Case @chrisjustincase: I’d love to see a big, painful, uphill time trial. Maybe that’s Alpe d’Huez but probably not this year. Better yet, have them tackle the Galibier or Tourmalet. Yes, I want more agony. But what I really want to see is a team competition interlude à la the Hammer Series, with a climb, sprint, and chase component. The video explaining the rules of the Hammer Series is almost two minutes long, so I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, it will bring a much-needed wacky respite from the doldrums created by Team Sky’s smothering tactics.

Andrew Hood @eurohoody: OK, so we’re doing this eight-rider per team thing this year. But let’s keep an open mind about it. Teams and riders say it is not good for their job security, or for their ability to finish the race. If safety is the true concern, there is a lot more the UCI and race organizers can do. If major grand tours don’t have a discernable safety improvement after this year, bring it back to nine-man teams.

Wacky: How about making this the Tour of short climbs? We’ve seen that the shorter, multi-climb stages are the most thrilling and decisive. So why not pack this Tour with a lot of them? There still have to be longer stages to make it a race of attrition, but when it comes to the mountains, pack in a string of shorter, 100-125km stages, one after another. Three in the Alps, and two more in the Pyrenees. Remember, short is the new long.

Dan Cavallari @browntiedan: I want super-short, super-steep climbing stages on successive days, followed immediately by short, fast sprinter’s stages. Keep the excitement over the course of four or five days to shake up the race and help prevent that feeling of it being a foregone conclusion during the final week. For my wacky idea, let’s kick it old school: flat pedals only on one stage.

Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2017/10/commentary/roundtable-2018-tour-de-france-wishlist_450237#XYuYTqDH62OOyfwH.99

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Despite Regional Turmoil, U.S. Racers Feel Safe at Tour of Turkey

Skirting Turkey's western coast, the Tour of Turkey has been tranquil despite regional turmoil. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

KUMLUCA, Turkey (VN) — American cyclists say they feel safe racing in the Tour of Turkey despite heightened political tensions in recent weeks.

A war over the border in Syria and attempted coups in Turkey have not stopped teams racing in the 53rd Tour of Turkey. However, two days before the race start Sunday night, the Turkish government stopped issuing visas to Americans wanting to visit for work or holiday.

“From what I read, there were some repercussions from the attempted coup last year that included some American citizens,” said Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo).

“It sounds like the U.S. stopped issuing visa to Turks in retaliation, and the Turkish government stopped issuing them to American citizens. But that was the day after we came in. It doesn’t look like it has been very well-enforced on either side.”

Both sides have imposed travel restrictions on each other’s citizens in a worsening diplomatic spat. Thankfully for the organizer, it came too late to stop cyclists from beginning the national tour Tuesday in Alanya.

Three U.S. cyclists lined up for the six-day stage race along with cyclists from South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The race skirts the Mediterranean coast and flies north for its last stage in Istanbul.

“I’m a proud American, but I’m not showing off too much right now,” said Chris Butler, a South Carolinian who lives in Spain and races for Spanish team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Butler is visiting Turkey for the first time. Despite a risk of being sent home just hours before a blanket ban fell on Americans, he was able to buy his visa on landing.

“Because I was rolling with a Spanish entourage, it may have been easier,” Butler said.

“I have raced in a lot of crazy places: Israel, all over Asia. At the moment, it is not too crazy here and let’s keep it that way.

“Normally, I just think about racing my bike but there is a one percent chance for something crazy to happen. I am careful about what I do. I don’t give them a reason to throw me in jail. I just keep quiet and go with the flow.”

Children waved red Turkish flags along the starting street this morning in Kumluca, a beach resort town that caters to Turkish as well as visitors including British and Russians. Rolling along the coast, the peloton would have found it hard to think about the Islamic State troubles in Syria or Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s clampdown on protests.

“Along the coast here it is very beautiful, we are almost every day by the beach. The weather is great and the people are really friendly,” added Reijnen.

“It’s all relative, we are pretty far west in Turkey and like the U.S., it is a pretty big country. If we were racing along the Syrian border, it might be different. We are racing here along the coast, it’s a big tourist destination and it certainly feels as safe as any race.”

The Turkish national team rolled by with Ahmet Örken, who raced in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’ve been racing the Tour of Turkey for five years, I don’t think there’s a problem,” Örken explained.

“This problem between America and Turkey, not being able to go to Turkey to the U.S., it’s not good.

“Is it safe in Turkey? Yeah, there’s no problem.”

Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2017/10/news/despite-regional-turmoil-u-s-racers-feel-safe-at-tour-of-turkey_450087#IBUPJ5BLZSPybaDe.99

Sunday, October 8, 2017

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Colorado-Based 303 Project Plans to Go Continental in 2018

303 Project captured the overall title of the 2017 Green Mountain Stage Race on the final day with Austin Stephens. Photo: Dean Warren/303 Project

VeloNews has confirmed that Colorado-based 303 Project has applied to become a UCI Continental team for 2018. The team was registered as a USA Cycling Domestic Elite Team in 2017.

“I felt like going Continental so we could have a shot at some bigger races and that was what we needed to do to give [the riders] more opportunities,” said team owner Nicholas Greeff.

The 303 Project, a registered LLC owned by Greeff, is making the jump to the professional ranks rather quickly, as the team has only raced for one season.

The move to Continental status is not a cheap one due to USA Cycling and UCI fees. Furthermore, the UCI requires a bank guarantee of 20,000 euros or 15 percent of the combined salaries of riders and staff (whichever is higher) for teams with Continental licenses.

“At this point, I am putting in some money and I’ve got some people helping me out with that, just in a personal capacity,” Greeff said of the bank guarantee. “I have personally enough funding to cover what we’ve done this past year and some more races. There is a guarantee that we are going to be able to race, but we are in the process of trying to get funding so we can have a high-level race calendar and actually do the UCI North America series. I feel like we are going to have the riders that are going to be competitive in that and we’ll have enough riders to do that. We also have enough staff to do that.”

With three prominent Continental programs applying for second-tier Pro Continental status in 2018 — Axeon Hagens Berman, Rally, and Holowesko-Citadel — 303’s potential move up could be a welcome addition to America’s thinning herd of pro development teams.

Greeff, 32, was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He moved to the U.S. full-time in 2014. After one year of racing for Colorado-based Team Rio Grande, the team folded at the end of the 2014 season.

In the fall of 2015, Greeff started the 303 Project to give riders based in Colorado’s Front Range a chance to race at a high level. “I had guys that were really good domestic elite riders, all Colorado-based, that were into it,” Greeff said. “We had some guys who were pros before, but that weren’t old, like in their high 20s, but weren’t racing much anymore and were more into life. We had them guiding the younger guys, and it worked great.”

Being a first-year domestic elite team, Greeff’s chances of getting into the top U.S. races, especially the UCI-registered ones, was slim. “I took a different approach and called the race organizers and sent them an actual proposal and not just an email,” Greeff said.

“We got into every race we wanted to. We went and we raced, and we did really well. We built the team on culture and race for each other and fight for each other. We’d pack our stuff into guys’ cars with our bikes on the roof and drove the country like that the whole year. It was not even close to any other team’s set-up, but on the bike, we outperformed all the other people that had all the resources.”

As well as being the team owner, Greeff will also serve as the general manager at all team races. He brought on Drew Christopher to direct the team. Christopher raced for the Champion Systems-Stan’s No Tubes for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Greeff told VeloNews that while the team isn’t strictly Coloradoans, riders would all live in Colorado during the season. Austin Stephens will be one of the team’s more notable riders. He recently won Vermont’s Green Mountain Stage Race (GMSR) at the end of August. Stephens entered the final criterium stage at GMSR more than 30 seconds out of the yellow jersey. He finished the race in yellow thanks to time bonuses and a breakaway move.

It was a comeback win of sorts for Stephens. He broke his collarbone at the North Star Grand Prix in June. Isaiah Newkirk, Taylor Warren, Cristhian Ravelo, and Mac Cassin are also returning to the 303 Project for 2018.

Boulder resident Greeff wants 303 Project to be both a professional cycling team and also a part of the Colorado community, specifically the Front Range. So, he also registered a 303 Project non-profit.

“We really want to be involved with the community, and I feel like we have really done a good job of that this year and we want to expand on that and we don’t want our identity to change just because we are changing our license. We still want to be the same team, but achieving bigger things and actually getting more involved in the community and doing more things and being a long-lasting entity within the sport and for Colorado.”

303 Project’s clothing will be Cuore of Switzerland and the team will ride Scott bikes.

Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2017/09/news/colorado-based-303-project-plans-to-go-continental-in-2018_449432#SYkJIx3YFJOslfBZ.99