Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top Five Cycling Tantrums | GCN

Unwritten rules, impeccable etiquette and gentlemanly behaviour - but not quite always. John ‘Chocolate Voice’ Beavan brings you our top 5 cycling tantrums.

Which is your favourite tantrum? Could it be…

-Jeremy Santucci getting ‘smashy’ at the Red Hook Crit
-One Pro Cycling’s Hayden McCormick not settling for second
-The Costa vs Barredo fisticuffs
-Debating turns on the front with Brambilla and Rovny
-Marcel Kittel emerging from Dubai’s sandstorm looking a little worse for wear

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cavendish Won’t Race Norway Worlds

Still recovering from a broken shoulder, Mark Cavendish had a disappointing showing at the Tour of Britain. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Former world road race champion Mark Cavendish announced Thursday that he won’t be lining up with the British team to race 2017 worlds in Bergen, Norway, September 24.

He posted a statement explaining that the shoulder injury sustained during the Tour de France was still healing.

“I’m gutted to say I won’t be representing Great Britain this year at World Road Championships in Bergen, Norway,” the Dimension Data rider wrote. “It was a goal I’d set to try and win this year, on a course that suits me at my peak.”

Cavendish finished second at 2016 worlds in Doha, Qatar. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the title that day, his second consecutive rainbow jersey.

Longtime rivals in sprint finishes, Cavendish and Sagan tangled in the Tour’s stage 4 finish. The Brit broke his shoulder, and the race jury kicked Sagan out of the Tour for what it deemed to be unsafe sprinting.

Cavendish returned to racing on home soil in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain but was not himself, finishing well off the pace. He abandoned the eight-stage race on the final day.

Sagan, on the other hand, will be a top favorite for worlds having just won the Grand Prix de Quebec.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Froome Says Grand Tour Triple ‘Not Impossible’

Chris Froome finally won the Vuelta after three second-place finishes. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media |
LONDON (AFP) — Chris Froome, fresh off wrapping up a Tour de France and Vuelta a España double, believes winning all three grand tours in the same year would “take some doing” but “nothing is impossible.”

Froome, 32, completed victory in the Vuelta on Sunday to become only the third man to achieve a Tour-Vuelta double in the same year and the first since Bernard Hinault in 1978. The Brit is the only rider to win the double since the Vuelta moved to its late-summer time slot in 1995.

No rider has ever pulled off a Giro-Tour-Vuelta treble. While Froome feels it is unlikely, he does not believe it is unachievable.

“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible,” the British rider, a four-time Tour de France champion, told BBC Radio Four on Monday.

“Nothing’s impossible, but certainly it would take some doing.”

He was more circumspect about his chances of surpassing Belgian great Eddy Merckx’s record of 11 grand tour victories.

“A completely different era,” said Froome, who finished second in the Vuelta three times (2011, 2014, and 2016) before finally securing the red jersey.

“Eddy Merckx’s time of racing, he was able to win every single kind of race on the calendar. The sport has transformed since his time.”

Froome’s double triumph came after a challenging period for Team Sky.

Bradley Wiggins, Froome’s former teammate, was revealed to have obtained permission to use a powerful corticosteroid before the 2011 and 2012 Tours — the latter of which he won — and the 2013 Giro.

Wiggins and team principal Dave Brailsford said the rider’s use of the drug, which was sanctioned by cycling’s authorities, was necessary for medical reasons.

Sky is also under investigation by UK Anti-Doping over a mysterious package that was delivered to Wiggins during the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

Sky denies wrongdoing and when asked if his support for Brailsford was unequivocal, Froome replied: “Certainly.”

He added: “For us on the road, we’ve just been focused on the racing side of things.

“Those allegations haven’t been aimed at us at all, so it really hasn’t been an issue.”


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Contador Rallies with Strong Vuelta a Espana Time Trial

Spaniard into 5th but still 2:18 shy of podium in goodbye race

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) (Bettini Photo)

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) made a huge leap up the overall classification as he moved from ninth to fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana with an impressive time trial performance on Tuesday. He still remains more than two minutes adrift of the final podium spot controlled by Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), and the three-time champion says that making the podium in the final race of his career will be tough to do.

"I think I did a good time trial, but after today I think reaching the podium will be very difficult," explained Contador.

Contador finished 59 seconds down on stage winner and race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), equal on time with Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) while giving away some seconds to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb).

When he crossed the line, he had the fastest time, and it would take Kelderman to push him off his perch. Contador said afterward that he had opted not to race the stage by numbers but by feel. He admitted that it hadn't been his best performance against the clock.

"I didn't have the split times of my rivals; I covered my SRM and preferred to ride only on my sensations. I don't think it was the best time trial I have done in the last years - even recently I have done better, like my time trial at the Tour de France," said Contador.

"There were some riders who were superior: Kelderman and of course Froome. We knew that Froome was the big favourite for today; I think today's time trial suited him down to the ground."

Why change a habit of a lifetime? As he did in the time trial and many other days before it, Contador is going to listen to what his body tells him in the final stages of the Vuelta a Espana.

"I will be riding on the base of my sensations, from moment to moment," he said when asked if he would attack in Wednesday's mountain stage to Los Machucos. "There are five nice stages to come, and I will continue to enjoy this race, including the stage to Madrid, which will be very special as it will be my goodbye race."

The chances to do gain ground are ever diminishing, and the make-up of the top 10 looks increasingly certain, with more than three minutes separating 10th and 11th places. The order in which the top 10 comes home and even the complexion of the podium is still far from a foregone conclusion. While Contador is coy on whether or not he will attack in the next few stages, he is expecting his rivals to put up a fight.

"I think a lot of things will happen in the next days; there'll be a lot of movement. There are riders who will make another move, like Lopez who will surely be on the attack," Contador said. "I think tomorrow will be very hard for everyone giving the difficulty of the climbs, and the ramps on Los Machucos."

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nibali to Race 10,000-foot Taiwan Hill-Climb in October

Vincenzo Nibali is confirmed to race the Taiwan KOM Challenge in October 2017. Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | (File).
Former Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali will race the Taiwan KOM Challenge this fall, joining another former yellow jersey winner, Cadel Evans. Race organizers announced that the Italian has committed to the 105km race that climbs 3,275 meters — more than 10,000 feet.

Nibali’s brother Antonio, also on the Bahrain-Merida team, will race the hill climb as well.

Other top professionals have raced the KOM challenge over the years. Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) and Emma Pooley raced in 2016 with Pooley winning the women’s title. Oscar Pujol (UKYO) won the men’s race last year.

The race pays out equally to men and women, 500,000NTD apiece, which is approximately $16,500.

Also of note, the race bars any rider with a prior doping suspension from competing.

The route climbs through the Taroko Gorge then up Hehuan Mountain to Wuling Pass after starting on Taiwan’s eastern coast in Hualien Qixingtan. The route begins with an easy 0-2 percent gradient for the first 20km. Then, the road climbs at a steady 6 percent average gradient until the final 9.5km. At the top, the course offers 10-22 percent gradients to the finish.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Froome Takes 'A Huge Step' in Vuelta a Espana Bid

Chris Froome on the podium after the 11th stage of the Vuelta a Espana (Bettini Photo)

Chris Froome (Team Sky) may not have won at Calar Alto on stage 11, but the Briton confirmed that his second place on the Vuelta a España's first major mountain finish and the time gaps he had established constituted a "huge step towards securing my lead" in the race.

After the first nine days of skirmishing and a previous maximum GC margin of 36 seconds, Froome has now opened up a gap of more than double that, 1:19, on his closest rival, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

Riders like Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) lost time, while BMC Racing Team's duo of GC contenders, Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen, had a very difficult day.

The GC is looking more clearly in Froome's favour after a week where he was in the lead but always by narrow margins.

Asked if this was a big step towards winning the Vuelta overall, Froome said, "Definitely. Given the time gaps today, it's definitely one of the more crucial stages that shapes this Vuelta a España. I'm really pleased with how it went. It's a huge step towards securing my lead at the Vuelta."

The Vuelta has moved into a different phase, Froome pointed out, given you "just have to look at the GC to see how the race has completely opened up now. It's a very different kind of race, it felt as if we were in the Spring Classics with this kind of weather, not something you expect in Vuelta a España.

"But we're all in the same boat, and you have to make the best of these circumstances. Orica made the race at bottom of last climb, [and put] a lot of people on the limit, when Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali attacked, the race exploded completely."

Froome singled out teammates Gianni Moscon and Mikel Nieve for praise after their strong racing on the final climbs. The two Sky riders managed to bring back Contador and Nibali well before the last flurry of moves on the flatter upper segment of the Calar Alto.

At one point Froome was seen talking to Moscon. "I probably told him not to worry too much about Nibali and Contador," Froome said of the conversation. "With a lot of road to cover, we didn't need to chase them full gas."

Asked by one reporter if he had buried the hatchet with Nibali following their stormy relationship during the 2015 Tour de France, Froome confirmed that was the case, saying there were "certainly no issues" now. Even so, it is clear that Nibali, himself a former Vuelta winner, is currently the Briton's biggest rival on GC and with Chaves on the back foot, Froome's teammates clamped down the Shark's attack.

Tellingly, Froome then was feeling strong enough in the final kilometres to allow Nieve to launch his own attack and go for the stage win, but as the Vuelta leader said, despite his easing back, the counter-moves proved too strong for Nieve's charge away to work out

"Today wasn't my cup of tea given the conditions, I do prefer the really high temperatures and today was almost polar opposite, but all have to make the best of this situation," Froome explained.

"I could sit back a little bit and I didn't want to play cat and mouse, guys like Contador and Nibali stood more to gain from this stage than me, so I left them to it. I told Nieve to go for it on GC and thought maybe they were not going to chase him, but the race opened up again."

Froome then shadowed Nibali all the way to the line in the final kilometre, gaining time all other rivals barring the Italian and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), a final indication, if it was needed, that he is more than in control of the situation at the Vuelta.

"At no moment was I afraid of being dropped," Froome emphasised. After such a strong initial performance on the Vuelta's first major summit finish of three this week, there seems to be little chance of that happening in the days to come, either.

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