Friday, December 29, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ulissi Lawyer: ‘Froome Could Risk a Longer Ban’

Diego Ulissi served a reduced nine-month ban for Salbutamol adverse drugs test at the 2014 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Chris Froome could be risking a longer ban as he tries to clear his name in his unfolding Salbutamol case.

That’s according to Rocco Taminelli, a Swiss sports lawyer who represented Diego Ulissi in 2014.

“What he is trying to do is very risky,” Taminelli told VeloNews. “They will try to argue that he did not take more than was allowed. Now he has to prove it, and that is the hard part. If you fail to prove it, you could get two years.”

(See full interview below)

Many have been drawing comparisons from Froome’s Salbutamol case to what happened to Ulissi after testing for high Salbutamol levels in the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

Taminelli, who has worked on many high-profile cases and also served on the UCI’s disciplinary committee, said while there are many similarities between the two cases, there are some key differences that could have a major impact on the final outcome.

Like Froome, the Italian tested for similarly high levels of the asthma treatment. In September, Froome returned levels double the allowed amount at 2,000 ng/ml, while Ulissi was slightly below that at 1,920 ng/ml.

Ulissi underwent pharmacokinetic testing to try to demonstrate how his body reacted to doses of Salbutamol, a procedure that is expected to be vital to Froome’s defense.

Taminelli pointed out there is an important distinction between Ulissi and Froome, at least in terms of how he sees the rough sketch of Froome’s defense. Ulissi ultimately admitted to negligence without the intention to enhance his performance, and eventually received a reduced, nine-month ban.

The stakes are much higher for Froome, and so far it appears his defense team appears to be taking a different approach than Ulissi.

“Ulissi was negligent, but he did not want to cheat,” Taminelli said. “He could explain why he took the Salbutamol for health reasons, and so he only got nine months.

“Froome is trying another approach. They are trying to say that he took the allowed amounts, but that his body did not expel it,” Taminelli explained. “The risk is higher, of course. If he fails he can get two years, and lose the Vuelta or the world championship bronze medal.”

That implies that it could be an all-or-nothing approach for Froome. The Sky captain could be entirely cleared, or he could face disqualification and an even steeper ban that Ulissi and others have received for high levels of Salbutamol in recent cases.

Froome faces a possible two-year ban and disqualification of his Vuelta victory and a world time trial bronze medal after returning an “adverse analytical finding” for high levels of Salbutamol in a test taken after stage 18 at the Spanish grand tour. Because it is classified as a “threshold” product, and not a banned substance, Froome is not facing an immediate provisionary ban.

Froome’s case is still at the investigative stage, and according to WADA rules, he has a chance to explain his high levels of Salbutamol to the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation.

Froome has hired Mike Morgan, considered by many as one of the top sport lawyers in the world. Morgan helped Lizzie Deignan avoid a racing ban over whereabouts controls, and helped defend Alberto Contador and Johan Bruyneel in their respective cases. It remains to be seen how long the case will play out, and Sky have given away few details. Publicly, Froome said he is still planning to race the Giro and Tour in 2018.

Ulissi’s case was settled in less than one year, and the Italian ended up racing the 2015 Giro.

“In our case, WADA and UCI wanted a longer ban, but they did not appeal it,” Taminelli said. “That is the risk with Froome. If he cannot prove it at [CADF], it is a risk he can get a ban. After that, if you don’t agree, then you can go to CAS. Then it can be a pretty long process.”

Here are excerpts from a telephone interview with Taminelli:

VeloNews: What is your first take on the Froome case?
Rocco Taminelli: The Froome case is a little bit different, because he is saying he did not ingest more that what is permitted. He is saying that he took what is permitted, and that his body did not ‘digest’ it in the right way. [Controls] found a value that was much too high. They will try to argue that it was due to natural causes.

VN: How is the Froome case different than what Ulissi faced in 2014?
RT: We had similar values, but we knew it was impossible to argue the case that way. The value can be very different based on different circumstances. We tried to make [lab] analysis, but found it was impossible to re-create the levels. The volume of in-take was correct, but we had particular circumstances. Ulissi was in a bad health situation, and he took too much Salbutamol. He was negligent, but he did not want to cheat. He could explain why he took the Salbutamol for health reasons, and so he only got nine months. In the end, he could race the Giro the next year because the sanction ended 20 days before the [2015] Giro. He won a stage [stage 7]. As a lawyer, I was happy with how it turned out.

VN: So how do you see the Froome case playing out?
RT: Froome is trying another approach. They are trying to say that he took the allowed amounts, but that his body did not expel it. Now he must explain it, and that is the difficult part of the case. The variation of the substance in the body can be very high, depending on the circumstances — you can be dehydrated, you don’t have enough liquid, and other reasons. Now he has to prove it, and that is the hard part. If you fail to prove it, you could get two years [ban]. What he is trying to do is very risky. He has one of the best lawyers for doping cases [Mike Morgan]. He is one of the best in the world.

VN: So by going that way, he could face a higher ban than we’ve seen in other recent Salbutamol cases?
RT: Yes, because he is not trying to say he took too much. He cannot switch his story after that. If he says he took the correct doses, and then it turns out that he did not, then the anti-doping commission might consider that he was cheating. OK, if you say you took more because of a problem, but you cannot later change your story. The risk is higher, of course, if he fails he can get two years, and lose the Vuelta or the world championship bronze medal.

VN: So in the Ulissi case, you tried to use the pharmacokinetic testing to re-create the levels?
RT: We did the test, and we knew that Diego took too much [Salbutamol]. He did not take it to cheat. He took it to treat his asthma. At the tribunal, he admitted to some wrongdoing. It was with the Swiss anti-doping commission, and since he lived in Switzerland, and raced with a Swiss license. The UCI and WADA were parties, but they did not appeal the decision. The procedural rules were different at the time of the Ulissi case.

VN: How much Salbutamol did Ulissi take?
RT: I do not remember how many puffs. It was more than allowed, and he had a problem expelling it. We did the testing there, and the result was different than what he took. He did not take more, but the result was something more.

VN: And the values that Ulissi had are very similar to what Froome produced during the Vuelta, but how are the cases different?
RT: They look exactly the same. Froome has 2,000, and Ulissi was just above 1,900. It looks like the same case, but they are going to argue it differently. With Ulissi, we had the same values, and we thought it would be pretty hard to prove. We did not have the analysis to back us up, so we did not try to make that argument. We just said, OK, Ulissi has a problem with asthma, like many in the peloton.

VN: How long do you expect the process to play out?
RT: In our case, WADA and UCI wanted a longer ban, but they did not appeal it. That is the risk with Froome. If he cannot prove it at the tribunal, it is a risk he can get a ban. After that, if you don’t agree, then you can go to CAS. Then it can be a pretty long process.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Q&A: Greg Henderson Brings Olympic Expertise to U.S. Men’s Pursuit

Greg Henderson retired at the end of the 2017 season and has joined USA Cycling as one of the performance managers for the new National Team program. Photo: Tim De Waele | (File).

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — Greg Henderson retired from professional cycling earlier this year and joined USA Cycling as one of several performance directors with the newly formed National Team. Henderson will work with track endurance and road athletes, but his main responsibility is clear — the men’s team pursuit for the 2020 Olympics.

The women’s team pursuit squad has developed into a powerhouse, becoming multi-time world champions and Olympic medalists. Kristen Armstrong will be that team’s performance director.

Meanwhile, the men’s squad has been dormant. But that is changing.

Henderson rode the classics, grand tours, and made a name for himself on the track. He represented New Zealand at five Olympics with four appearances on the track and one on the road. He won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the points race.

In his new role, Henderson will guide a group of riders who are finding their legs in UCI Track World Cups this season: Adrian Hegyvary, Colby Lange, Gavin Hoover, Daniel Holloway, Eric Young, Ashton Lambie, and Daniel Summerhill. The team was third at the recent Chile World Cup and fourth at the previous stop in Canada. Holloway won the omnium in Chile as well.

Henderson will also support a select list of road riders on the National Team: Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), national road champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), national time trial champion Joey Rosskopf (BMC), and Coryn Rivera (Sunweb).

VeloNews caught up with Henderson in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives with his wife Katie Mactier — also a medal-winner on the track — and two kids. Henderson discussed how he planned his smooth retirement from racing and the excitement surrounding the new National Team.

VeloNews: When did you know this would be your final year racing professionally?

Greg Henderson: In 2015 I went to the worlds in Richmond, and I started planting the seed. I knew I wanted to do one more Tour. I knew I wanted to do it as a 40-year-old. Basically, in my cycling career, I ticked every box I wanted to tick or could realistically tick. I had done it for what felt like 100 years, and I had already started to coach a bit, and I got a lot of joy from it and seeing riders progress under my guidance and my program. That was a big aspect of it too, and a motivating factor for me to hang it up.

I was already sort of looking after the younger guys on the team, Lotto Soudal, so when I moved across to [UnitedHealthcare], I was obviously the elder statesman there. They gave me a lot of respect there and I could pass on a lot of information to their young sprinters, which was really enjoyable.

VN: How was it coming back to racing in the U.S. after spending so many years racing in Europe and at the WorldTour level?

Greg Henderson: I think I mentally prepared for it and the racing the way it is. It is so different. The thing of American racing is everyone attacks like anything to try and get in the breakaway and then as soon as we are in the breakaway, nobody wants to work. Then I remember I was here 12 years ago and everyone was doing the same thing. You would get in the breakaway and nobody wanted to work in the breakaway.

[In Europe] you get in the breakaway and you give it because there’s a chance they aren’t coming back to you. I had to accept it and it was my last year and I preferred to help guys win and to be honest, I wasn’t that interested in winning myself. It was more if I could help the team win, if I could help Travis McCabe win or whoever was sprinting, if I could teach them which side of the road to sprint on and just small things like that, it could just really help the team. In the end, I actually really just enjoyed it.

VN: You’re a Kiwi, so why the decision to join USA Cycling, and did you think about joining a WorldTour team considering your 10+ years at that level?

GH: I spent 11 years in the WorldTour and I just didn’t want to be in Europe anymore. Also, the kids are in school here and they really like it. My wife is Australian and we weren’t ready to move back to New Zealand yet. I was actually riding on contract this year with UHC, so it was a transition year where I was like, ‘Let’s start putting the next phase in place.’ I contacted Jim Miller [USAC’s vice president of high performance] and he ran by this idea of these performance managers and how the structure is going to be in place and what their goal is. I was used to riding for these pro teams where they offer you these one- or two-year contracts, and he said here’s a four-year contract and I was like, ‘Yep, that takes a bit of pressure off.’

We love Boulder as well. I would come here every year for a training camp before the Tour and we’d be staying up in Nederland or something like that, so we love the place.

VN: How do you think your own Olympic experience will help this program grow over the next three years and help Team USA capture medals?

GH: I’ve been to five Olympics myself. It’s just about micromanaging guys also. Facilitating a training program or whether it’s a training camp or it’s some wind tunnel testing we need. It’s just those little things and something like that that I wish I had when I was an athlete, even something as simple as physio. I’m in a foreign country and I’ve got a sore knee, who do I ring to fix this? [The riders] can ring me and I can sort that out. That’s part of it.

I was in Chile [at the Track World Cup] recently and we got three medals there, two gold medals and a bronze, and we broke the national record in the [men’s] team pursuit. In the bronze medal run-off, we were actually on 3:59 pace. We were about to break that four-minute barrier. Unfortunately, there was an accident with the team we were racing and they fired the gun with a lap and a half to go, so they had to swing up. I was screaming at them to keep going, keep going because I knew the time they were on. I think they still ended up riding faster than the national record, but the time doesn’t become official because the gun was fired.

In order to then make the National Team, they had to win a medal at a World Cup and see the time standard. We ticked both those boxes so that pursuit team is now part of the National Team too.

VN: What specific wisdom do you bring to the National Team?

GH: I think the thing we have to keep reminding ourselves is that we are new to this. We are not Team New Zealand or Great Britain or Australia. Track racing is in our blood [in New Zealand]. I’ve been doing it since I was seven years old. It’s just what we did, we track raced. [Team USA is] new to this and we just have to learn and see where we can tidy up. In the team pursuit, for example, I just keep telling the fellas to respect the process. It’s a long one, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We want to ride 3:55 like the Australians or whatever, but let’s just take our time. The U.S. Olympic Committee is happy every time we are improving, so let’s plan on it being a three-year process.

VN: Who excites you the most on the National Team that you are going to be able to work with?

GH: I think the [men’s] team pursuit as a whole. I’m from the side of the world where if you make the starting lineup of the team pursuit you were going to get a medal, and it’s the same with British Cycling. Your goal was to make the starting lineup and then you were basically guaranteed a medal. I remember having a conversation with Adrien Hegyvary. He just couldn’t believe it that they got the bronze and then the tactics came up with Daniel Holloway in the omnium to get the gold medal. They’re just so used to lining up and getting beaten. Now all of a sudden they are on for a medal. It’s that switch in mentality and I never really thought of that because whenever I lined up, I expected to win. It was just a totally different mentality. It’s nice to see them evolving as athletes and their enthusiasm because they just want it so badly. You can see some of the guys at the track on the Australian team, for example, in the infield yawning and just waiting for their next effort, but these guys are discussing everything and they’re so green and they’re so motivated.

VN: How was it getting those three medals at the Chile Track World Cup, knowing days later was the big National Team announcement? 

GH: Well, Jim Miller said, ‘Mate, you couldn’t have got better timing. This announcement coming and now you’ve gone and got three medals.’ It was perfect timing and it was a nice feeling. I think it was a momentum thing because as I was calling the team pursuit, Holloway was warming up for the omnium and he asked me ‘Mate, how do you think we are going to go in this omnium’ and I said, ‘Mate, we are going to win this omnium, that’s what we are going to do.’

VN: Do you think success early in the Olympic cycle is key to developing momentum and getting riders excited to push themselves and compete? 

GH: Yes, absolutely, but again it takes time. I think the European World Cups will be a little harder like the ones early on in Manchester and Poland because the Europeans have come straight off the European Games, so they’re in peak condition and they’ve come off the road season. These next two are probably a little softer, but you still have to win the bike race. Now it comes down to that confidence and [the riders] know what 3:59 feels like, the pace they have to ride.

It’s a process and we keep going back to that word and keep instilling that word into the guys’ heads and let’s not get carried away. It’s a three-year process.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

French Magistrates Investigating 'Big-Name Riders' for Mechanical Doping

Satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine claims financial experts are leading the investigation

Some people have speculated that some pro riders are hiding small motors inside their bikes (James Huang/BikeRadar)

According to French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné, two highly respected magistrates have opened an investigation into alleged mechanical doping in cycling.

The weekly magazine claims that financial magistrates Claire Thépaut and Serge Tournaire were appointed last summer after a preliminary investigation to look at a possible plot "put together at the highest level" that has "benefited big-name riders, allowing them to take advantage of the latest technological advances in the field of electric motors".

The investigation is also reported to be looking at "links between international teams, private companies and cycling’s highest authorities". It suggests that “the 'extraterrestrial' performances on some climbs have lead to doubts: have they gone beyond the ‘biological doping’ that has been used in the peloton for more than a century.”

Le Canard Enchaîné article – published on the front page of the magazine on Wednesday, has been reported widely in France. The two financial magistrates are apparently supported by the financial crimes division of the French police force.

Cyclingnews contacted the UCI for comment on Wednesday, and the governing body welcomed the new information.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) takes note of the information published today in Le Canard Enchaîné reporting that an investigation is underway in France in the context of the fight against technological fraud. We welcome any assistance that could be brought to us in this field, which is one of the key priorities of the UCI President’s mandate, and are available to provide any help necessary to the competent jurisdictions," read a statement.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

5 Pro Cyclists Who Started In Other Sports

From ski jumping to skating, and rowing to running - here are our top 5 cycling converts!

Here are 5 of the most interesting pro cyclists that have transferred into the sport from other disciplines. They include;

Primož Roglič, a Slovenian rider on team LottoNL-Jumbo, who was Junior World Champion Ski Jumper at only 16. He already has a few World Tour stage wins and a Silver Worlds medal under his belt too.

Michael Woods from Cannondale-Drapac started his athletic career as a runner. Due to injury, he transferred to pro cycling in 2013 and is already a proven climber.

Canadian Clara Hughes took up cycling alongside speed skating in her teen years. With an impressive number of titles to her name, she's certainly not a one-trick pony.

Rebecca Romera is just the second woman in history to win Summer Olympic medals in two different disciplines, starting her athletic career in rowing. She made the move to track cycling, winning an Olympic Gold in 2008 in the individual pursuit.

Kiwi Hamish Bond has no less than 8 World Titles in rowing and took the courageous decision to split from the most successful pairing in NZ rowing to pursue a career in cycling. He's a Time Trial specialist and has some pretty big goals - we look forward to seeing what he's capable of.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Lance Armstrong to be a Guest of Race Organisation at 2018 Tour of Flanders

'Armstrong is and remains a great champion' says Flanders Classics head Vandenhaute

Lance Armstrong (Flanders Classics)
Lance Armstrong will be a guest of the race organisation at the 2018 Tour of Flanders and will be the keynote speaker at a new business conference organised by Flanders Classics two days before the race.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from sporting competition in October 2012, following investigations by federal agent Jeff Novitzky and USADA which outlined the scale of the doping programme on his US Postal Service team. The American eventually confessed to doping to win each of his Tours in a television interview in January 2013.

The terms of Armstrong’s lifetime ban from USADA preclude him from participation "in any capacity in a Competition or activity" and saw the Colorado Classic organisers drop their planned media partnership with the American’s podcast on this year’s edition of the race.

In a statement on Thursday morning, Flanders Classics head Wouter Vandenhaute defended his decision to extend an invitation to Armstrong for the Ronde.

"Lance Armstrong is and remains a great champion. I have felt for many years now that he was above all punished for his arrogance," Vandenhaute said.

"I met Lance Armstrong in Washington last October and found him to be a chastened man who has made peace with his fate. Of course, we in the cycling sport need to continue making every effort to combat doping, but we also need to come to terms with our past. I think it’s good that we continue to honour champions like Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque, so why shouldn’t we welcome Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich back into our big cycling family as well?"

Flanders Classics, the group which organises the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs and Brabantse Pijl, has expanded as a business. It has not shied away from controversial measures under Vandenhaute’s watch, not least the decision to drop the Muur van Geraardsbergen from the finale of the Tour of Flanders in 2012 in order to include circuits over the Kwaremont and Paterberg.

When Armstrong rode two stages of the 2015 Tour de France a day ahead of the peloton as part of Geoff Thomas’ charity ride, his presence drew many reporters and television crews away from the Tour itself. Vandenhaute is well aware that the presence of Armstrong, still the most famous (and infamous) name in cycling, will thus attract considerable interest for the inaugural ‘Tour of Flanders Business Academy’, which bills itself as “an event where business, society and cycling meet and cross-pollinate each other".

"With the ‘Tour of Flanders Business Academy', we aim to invite a top-class speaker to Flanders each year. This can be someone from the world of cycling, but could just as easily be a representative of another sport or another aspect of our society," Vandenhaute said. "The very first speaker we have invited is Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong is delighted to be visiting Flanders to tell his story and experience his favourite one-day race live. To him, this will also be a return to cycling and, as far as I am concerned, he is very welcome!"

In a video message, Armstrong described the Tour of Flanders as the "most special" Classic on the calendar. "I look forward to talking to you about cycling, talking to you about my experience openly, honestly and transparently," Armstrong said.

Armstrong’s appearance at the Tour of Flanders will come just five weeks before the whistleblower lawsuit against him goes to trial in Washington on May 7. The trial will determine whether Armstrong defrauded the US Postal Service by doping while it sponsored his team.

Former teammate Floyd Landis originally started the suit in 2010 under the False Claims Act which allows citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to file action on its behalf and, if successful, gain 15-25 per cent of any damages awarded. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong confessed to doping.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Giro Organizers Consider ‘Plan B’ Due to Jerusalem Turmoil

The Giro hopes to bring its pink party to Israel, but regional instability threatens the 2018 race plans. Photo: Tim De Waele | (File).
FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Rocket strikes and growing international protests centered on Jerusalem have prompted Giro d’Italia organizers to consider a backup plan for 2018. Next year’s race is due to become the first grand tour to begin outside of Europe on May 4 in Israel’s ancient city.

RCS Sport’s top brass in Milan are considering a “plan B” in case the political situation does not improve, according to sources. Violence, protests, and international condemnation have increased in the last week since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel has always considered Jerusalem its capital but Palestine claims East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since the 1967 War — as the future capital of a long-sought Palestinian state.

The scenario is far from ideal for a race organizer planning a massive million-dollar event in just five months’ time.

RCS Sport, celebrating its 101st Giro in 2018, considers the race a pink party. The host city for the big start typically comes alive in various shades of pink. Start cities Amsterdam (2016), Belfast (2014), and Alghero (2017), exemplified this when they embraced the three-week Italian tour. Jerusalem, always a contested city, must consider security over pink balloons and banners for the 176 professional cyclists.

The race had a brush with regional violence in 2014 when a car bomb was discovered in Dublin hours before the Giro’s stage 3 in Ireland. Race organizers said the 50-pound device was unrelated to the event.

Three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Friday. Israeli military retaliated with targeted strikes the next day. Reports say four people have died. Eight nations, including Italy, have called on the United Nations to hold an urgent meeting following Trump’s move and the reactions it provoked.

RCS Sport is reportedly considering a worst-case-scenario plan B option that could see the race start in Italy’s south. Instead of three Israel stages, the 2018 Giro d’Italia could tour the toe of Italy’s boot in Puglia and move west over three stages. On the island of Sicily, it would continue as planned with stage 4 from Catania.

Another possibitity, which cycling director Mauro Vengni pointed out in September, is starting the race from Catania.

“I already have a plan B, all-Italian, but it will have to truly be a last-ditch scenario,” Vegni told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Anyway, keep in mind that our foreign minister is following the big start plans at every pass.

“I have the possibility of inserting in the Giro route, between the south and central Italy, three stages to replace those Israeli stages. But, I’ll repeat, this would be a true extreme solution, which I don’t really want to think about.”

Vegni and RCS Sport had yet to reply with an updated plan based on the current tensions when contacted for this article.

Already before the 2018 route announcement November 29, RCS Sport was pushed by international groups to reconsider its starting location. The Giro, however, hoped to keep politics out of the race.

The Giro is due to begin with a 9.7-kilometer time trial in the holy city of Jerusalem, which is contested and divided by the Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Armenians. Its second stage travels to Tel Aviv and the third heads south to the resort town of Eilat.

The secondary plans would see the Giro stay completely within Italy’s borders for 2018, something that did not even happen when the race celebrated its 100th edition this May. The route briefly passed through Switzerland in the Stelvio stage, when eventual winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) had to stop for an emergency toilet break.

Much is riding on the Jerusalem start. RCS Sport will want to push ahead with its planned Israeli stages assuming all is safe. It will receive an estimated €10 million from Israel according to VeloNews sources. The local organizer is also said to be kicking in a large sum, upward of €2 million, for Chris Froome (Sky) to race.

The association of teams (AIGCP) was unavailable for comment for this article.

President of the CPA riders union Gianni Bugno told VeloNews, “We need to have a plan A and B. If it remains how it is now in Israel, it’s not great, but we need to see how the situation changes when the team nears. The CPA will leave the decision to the organizer and the UCI governing body to decide what’s safe and what’s not. They need to decide if it’s worth going.”


Friday, December 8, 2017

Cascade Cycling Classic will Return for 2018

Mt. Bachelor looms in the background (Jonathan Devich/

North America's oldest pro race will go on under new management

Doubts about whether North America’s oldest professional stage race would return for 2018 were answered this week when the Cascade Cycling Classic announced it will be back under new management and with different dates on the calendar.

The Bend Bulletin reported this week that the race will return for a 39th run next year, moving from its traditional mid-July date to a new schedule from May 31 through June 3.

Former professional rider and two-time US pro road race champion Bart Bowen will take over management of the event from the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, a non-profit group that operated the race as a fundraiser, according to the Bulletin.

Bowen, who will also replace Chad Sperry’s Breakaway Promotions as race director, teamed up with Visit Bend to assume management of the event and keep the race afloat, according to the local newspaper's report.

The race’s future was called into question earlier this year over rising concerns about increased costs to produce the event and traffic conflicts in fast-growing Bend. The race’s former July dates also conflicted with the height of the city’s influx of tourists and other summer-time events, adding more stress to an already extended community.

“Had Visit Bend not stepped in, I believe the race would be gone,” MBSEF events director Molly Cogswell-Kelley told the Bulletin on Wednesday.

The Bulletin also reported that the race will not be sanctioned by the UCI next year as it was in 2017 for the men and the past two years for the women, but it will be sanctioned by USA Cycling. The race is not currently listed on USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour calendar, however.

Bowen, who lives in Bend, won the Cascade Cycling Classic overall in 1993 and told the Bulletin that the race was one of the driving factors in his choice to move to Bend.

"I had raced it previously," he said. "I remembered it then, and I wanted to move somewhere where there was a race, and Bend was high on my list. Now it’s kind of come full circle. I want to try to keep the race going. And we want to try to get back to more of the grass roots of why we love racing.

"One of my big goals with the Classic is to introduce a junior aspect to the race," he said. "That’s a big goal to make it sustainable in the future."

The race’s new dates will conflict with USA Cycling Pro Road Tour events the Glencoe Grand Prix on June 2 and the UCI 1.1 Independence Cycling Classic in Philadelphia on June 3. The Winston-Salem Classic takes place in North Carolina just three days before the Cascade Classic starts, but Bowen told the Bulletin he believes a substantial prize list – equal for both men and women – and the race’s reputation for challenging routes will draw a top field.

“Our goal is to draw those aspiring pros,” Bowen said, “and put more on the line every day in prize money. How do we make this exciting every day for those on both sides of the fence, people watching and people racing?”

Bowen also told the Bulletin that he expects to reconfigure the nature of the race routes from years past, although he would not rule out a stage with a mountain-top finish.

“I’m pretty confident that what we put together will attract riders who like to race in Bend,” he told the Bulletin. “[The mountain roads] will potentially have snowbanks, but we really feel that’s going to be a cool aspect of the race.”

Bowen also said he hopes to make changes to the fan-favoutite downtown criterium and reconfigure a more spectator-friendly version of the iconic Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, Cascade’s traditional final stage on a course that has been used for multiple national championships.

In 2017, Robin Carpenter, riding for Holowesko-Citadel, won the men’s race for a second consecutive year, while Allie Dragoo (Sho Air-Twenty20) won the women’s race.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Top 10 Inspirational Cycling Quotes

We all need inspiration from time to time, so here are 10 cycling quotes to ignite that spark inside, as well as giving you an insight into why cycling means so much to so many people.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The 2018 Giro d'Italia by the Numbers

The Giro d'Italia trophy at the 2018 presentation (Bettini)

History, statistics and vital information for the 101st Corsa Rosa

The 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia starts in Israel on Friday, May 4 and ends three weeks later in Rome on Sunday, May 27. It is the 13th time the Giro d'Italia will start outside of Italy and the first time for the Grande Partenza outside of Europe.

The race consists of 21 stages and three rest days on the three Mondays; with three stages in Israel, three on the island of Sicily on the return to Italy. The remaining 15 stages taking the riders north to the Carnic Alps to climb Monte Zoncolan and then west to the Alps near the French border for the final mountain stages to Prato Nevoso, Jafferau and Cervinia. The riders will transfer from Israel to Italy and to the final stage in Rome by plane.

Rome will host the final stage for only the fourth time. It previously hosted the concluding stage in 1911, 1950 and 2009.

Race distance: 3,546km
Average stage distance: 168.9km
Total distance of time trials: 44.2 (stage 1: 9.7km, stage 16: 34.5km)
Categorised climbs: 39 for a total
Elevation gained on climbs: 44,000m

Longest stage: Stage 10 from Penne to Gualdo Tadino will be the longest stage of the 2018 Giro d'Italia at 239km. The longest-ever stage was from Lucca to Rome in 1914 over a distance of 430km.
Shortest stage: The stage 1 time trial is the shortest at 9.7km.

The stages are officially classified depending on the degree of difficulty to decide the official time cut and other organisational aspects.

Time trial stages: 2
Low difficulty stages: 7
Medium difficulty stages: 6
High difficulty stages: 6

Leaders jerseys and teams

There are again expected to be four leader's jersey awarded to the leaders of the special classification.

The race leadership is based on the lowest overall time and that rider wears the iconic pink jersey or maglia rosa. It is pink because the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that created the race in 1909 is printed on pink paper. The pink jersey was first introduced in 1931. Tom Dumoulin last wore it as winner of the 2017 Giro d'Italia.

The cyclamen-coloured jersey is award to the rider who scores the most points scored on stages, rewarding success and consistency. Fernando Gaviria won four stages and the cyclamen jersey in 2017.

The blue or azzurra jersey is awarded to the best climber, with points award on the classified climbs that feature on some stages. Mikel Landa won the blue jersey in 2017.

The white jersey is award to the best young rider under the age of 25 and, like the pink jersey, it is calculated on overall time. Bob Jungels won the white jersey in 2017.

Peloton size: The 2018 Giro d'Italia will consist of 176 riders, down from 198, following the introduction of the new UCI rule for team sizes. A record 298 riders started the 1928 Giro d'Italia.

Teams: 22 teams of eight riders will make up the peloton. The 18 WorldTour teams have an automatic invitation, with race organisers RCS Sport awarding four so-called wildcard invitations. One invitation is widely expected to go the Israel Cycling Academy. The four wild cards are expected to be named in early January.

Historical moments

The 2018 Giro d'Italia will again remember several historic moments in the history of the race and of Italy.

The opening time trial will be the 'Gino Bartali stage' in recognition of him being included in the 682 "Righteous among the Nations" heroes. Bartali – a three-time Giro d'Italia winner – smuggled information in the handlebars of his bike in Nazi-occupied Italy to help protect Jewish refugees during WWII.

Stage 9 to Campo Imperatore in the shadows of the Gran Sasso the 'Pantani stage' will remember the Italian climber Marco Pantani, who died tragically in 2004. He won at Campo Imperatore in 1999 before disqualified from the race in Madonna di Campiglio for a high haematocrit.

Stage 11 to Osimo will pass through Filottrano to remember Michele Scarponi after he was killed training near home just a days before the 2017 Giro d'Italia. Scarponi won the 2011 Giro d'Italia after the disqualification of Alberto Contador.

Several stages in the northeast of Italy will remember the victims of WWI on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

WWI will be remembered on several stages in northeast of Italy

The Cima Coppi prize, named after five-time winner Fausto Coppi, is awarded to the first rider to reach the summit of the highest climb of each Giro d'Italia. The Colle delle Finestre dirt-road climb during stage 19 is the highest point of the 2018 Giro d'Italia at 2,178m.

Froome, the Giro and the double

Chris Froome is the latest Grand Tour rider to target both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 2018. Marco Pantani was the last rider to complete the feat in 1998.

Victory at the Giro d'Italia would put him with Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali. It would also be his third consecutive victory in a Grand Tour after winning the 2017 Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

Clean sweeps: 4 riders have led the Giro d'Italia from start to finish: Costante Girardengo (in 1919), Alfredo Binda (1927), Eddy Merckx (1973) and Gianni Bugno (1990)
Giro wins without stage victories: 14 times, a rider won no stages en route to overall victory.
Italian winners: 69 Italian riders have won the Giro d'Italia,
Foreign winners: 31 riders from other nations
Youngest winner: Fausto Coppi, in 1940 he was 20 years, 158 days old when he won the Giro.
Oldest winner: Fiorenzo Magni is the oldest winner of the Giro d'Italia. He was 34 and 180 days old when he won the 1955 Giro d'Italia. Froome will turn 33 on May 20, while riding stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia from Tolmezzo to Sappada.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Five Keys to Winning the 2018 Giro

Sicily's Mount Etna will be featured in the 2018 Giro's first week. Photo: Tim De Waele |

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The 2018 Giro d’Italia, the route for which will be unveiled Wednesday, is rumored to present several difficulties for those aiming to win such as Fabio Aru, Mikel Landa, and Chris Froome.

Organizer RCS Sport celebrated its 100th edition with a mostly “Made in Italy” route in 2017. The 2018 edition will break the limits previously known to grand tours by being the first to travel outside of Europe. It begins May 4 in Jerusalem for three stages in Israel before returning to its motherland.

After speaking to several insiders and reading local press reports, VeloNews has learned most of the route. It is due to return to Italy via Campania, on the island of Sicily, will travel north up the boot with eight summit finishes, and will include a long time trial in the third week.

Here’s a look at how the race could be won.

1. With a strong start abroad

The start abroad will rattle some riders even if RCS Sport goes out of its way to make it as plush as possible. The organizer arranges with teams for the shipments of their tools and bikes and allows for an extra rest day to travel back after the first three stages. Only the Giro has this third day of rest, first granted in 2014.

The Dutch roads at the 2011 Giro caused chaos for Cadel Evans and a damp Belfast day quickly spoiled Dan Martin’s hopes. It could have happened anywhere in Italy, but the normal early-race stress combined with the foreign lands brought issues to a boil quicker.

2. Among the eight summit finishes

The reported eight summit finishes will have fans rubbing their hands with glee because they are often what defines the Giro from other grand tours. Many recall Vincenzo’s Nibali come-from-behind performance to overhaul Esteban Chaves on the final Sant’Anna summit finish in 2016, Nairo Quintana’s escape on the snowy Stelvio to win at Val Martello in 2014, or Ivan Basso’s comeback on Monte Zoncolan in 2010.

The race organizer spreads the summit finishes over the three weeks next year. The eventual winner will make the first steps toward the spiral trophy with Sicily’s Mount Etna, Montevergine di Mercogliano near Naples, and Gran Sasso in the Abruzzo region. The 2018 Giro sticks to its formula and piles them on thick in the final week, with a Zoncolan finish, 22 percent pitches at the end of a stage with 4,000 meters of climbing, and the gravel Colle delle Finestre roads leading to Jafferau — a 200-kilometer stage that climbs 3,500 meters.

3. Via time trial gains

The Giro strummed a perfect chord when it introduced the wine-themed time trials. After Barolo, Prosecco, Chianti, and Sagrantino, the 2018 race will travel to the Vallagarina vineyards near Lake Garda. The organizer can take advantage of the flat valley roads and the hillsides where the grapes thrive to produce a scenic and testing time trial.

Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) won the time trial in 2017 to pave the way for his eventual win two weeks later. He had the legs in the mountains to fend off Quintana and Nibali, but overall victory would not have been possible without his gains in the time trial. It seems likely that Dumoulin will race the Tour in 2018, but this estimated 34.5km stage, along with the opening 10.1km time trial, could be enough to sway the attendance of time trial specialists like Froome.

4. Conquering Italy’s infrastructure

The foreign start could be a dream compared to racing back in the Bel Paese on the Italian roads that often suffer due to Italy’s weak economy and transportation department. Cyclists do not wonder if, but when and how often they will have to navigate diesel patches, ruts, and potholes.

Riders and teams protested against the unsafe conditions in 2011 and had the Monte Crostis climb and descent removed. Usually, rain highlights the poor conditions and already technical roads, such as when Bradley Wiggins slid out of contention in Pescara or the wet and muddy stage to Montalcino that Cadel Evans won.

5. Having some luck, or no bad luck

Luck will ultimately affect those who excel and fail in the 2018 Giro. Ask Tom Dumoulin, who had stomach problems and had to stop to relieve himself during the Stelvio stage in 2017. He lost 2:10 but still won the overall title thanks to his time trail and mountain defense. A badly timed stomach problem ruled out Mikel Landa in 2016. On the other hand, snow and race astuteness — and a bit of luck — helped Quintana to become the first Colombian winner in 2014.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

USA Crits 2018 Calendar Boasts 11 Races, $100k Purse

North America’s biggest criterium series USA Crits will include 11 events in 2018 from April through September. In addition to its nationwide calendar, the 12-year-old series will offer a $100,000 prize purse and introduce a new streaming online video broadcast.

“Creating a platform for fans to engage the sport and to follow the athletes is essential for developing recognizable athletes and sustainable growth, which will support the professional ambitions of elite cyclists,” said Scott Morris, director of development for USA Crits.

The subscription-based livestream service will feature host city and participating rider highlights, onboard live action cameras, lap-by-lap results, and racing footage. On-demand race recaps will be available afterward to subscribers as well.

In addition to the $100,000 overall series purse, each race will have a minimum $10,000 purse. In both cases, the payout will be equal for men and women.

2018 USA Crits schedule

April 28: Athens Orthopedic Clinic (AOC) Twilight Criterium, Athens, Georgia
May 26: Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
June 1: Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic, Midtown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
June 17: Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, New York, New York
July 6: Natural State Criterium Series: New American Town Criterium, Bentonville, Arkansas
July 14: Andersen Schwartzman Woodard Brailsford (ASWB) Twilight Criterium, Boise, Idaho
July 28: San Rafael Sunset Criterium, San Rafael, California
August 4: Littleton Twilight Criterium, Littleton, Colorado
August 11: Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, West Chester, Pennsylvania
September 2: Gateway Cup: Giro Della Montagna, St. Louis, Missouri
September 15: USA CRITS Championship Series Finals: Location TBA, Northeastern USA


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot. 
-Hausa Proverb

Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Top 7 Winter Cycling Mistakes

In the cold and wet winter months you want to make sure you get things right. Here are 7 winter riding mistakes you want to avoid

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Doping Charges for Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling Over Mystery Package

Team Sky's Dave Brailsford  and Bradley Wiggins in the team bus at the 2013 Giro d'Italia

UKAD closes investigation, unable to confirm contents of jiffy bag

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has published its final report into allegations of a potential doping violation surrounding Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling, confirming that no charges will be brought against any of the parties concerned.

Despite spending over 12 months investigating a case that involved a suspect medical package being sent to Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011 in order to treat Wiggins, UKAD could not find sufficient evidence surrounding the contents of the package.

UKAD interviewed 37 people during the investigation but a lack of medical records kept at British Cycling and Team Sky hampered the process. Both British Cycling and Team Sky took several weeks to claim that the package contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil but they too were unable to provide a paper trail.

“No anti-doping charges will be brought in relation to the package as a result of that investigation and all interested parties have been informed accordingly. This will remain the case unless new and material evidence were to come to light,” UKAD said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“UKAD’s investigation was particularly challenging in light of a lack of contemporaneous medical records. This aspect of the investigation serves as a reminder to all those responsible for medical record-keeping within sport to ensure that medical record policies are fit for purpose, and that such policies are systematically followed.”

The investigation was launched in September 2016 after it was alleged that the package contained triamcinolone – a substance that Wiggins had taken via the TUE process on the eve of three Grand Tours. Team Sky refuted this allegation but only provided the Fluimucil story several weeks after the allegation was made.

In the intervening weeks, Dave Brailsford claimed that the courier of the package was making the journey from Manchester to mainland Europe in order to meet with female cyclist Emma Pooley. Curiously, this proved to be inaccurate as Pooley was racing in Spain and several hundred miles away from the Dauphine.

Brailsford also claimed that Wiggins could not have been treated with the contents of the package because Wiggins had already left the race. This also proved to be untrue and Shane Sutton – then of Team Sky and British Cycling – confirmed in front of members of the British Parliament that he had asked for the medical package to be delivered to the Dauphine in order to treat Wiggins. Sutton also stated that the Tour de France winner was treated on the final stage of the Dauphine by Richard Freeman, who administered the package to Wiggins while on the Team Sky bus.

Freeman was asked to give evidence to both UKAD and members of Parliament. He told UKAD that his medical records were kept on his private laptop only and that the device had been stolen while on holiday in Greece in 2014. He declined to appear in front of MPs due to illness and has since stepped down from his role as medical officer at British Cycling.

“Put simply, due to the lack of contemporaneous evidence, UKAD has been unable to definitively confirm the contents of the package. The significant likelihood is that it is now impossible to do so,” UKAD added.

Team Sky: We are pleased

Minutes after UKAD published their findings, Team Sky released a statement, welcoming the news that the investigation had been closed.

“We are pleased that UK Anti-Doping have concluded their investigation and that they will not be taking any further action,” the statement said.

“We have always maintained that there was no wrongdoing and we have co-operated fully with UK Anti-Doping over the last year.

“Since our inception as a new pro cycling team in 2010 we have continually strengthened our systems and processes so they best support our strong commitment to anti-doping.”

Team Sky has, however, faced very serious and important questions over the last twelve months. Not only over the misinformation that Brailsford attempted to provide the Daily Mail over Pooley and the team bus, but the serious allegation made by the Mail that he had offered them another, more positive story.

"First came the offer of an alternative, more positive story,” the Mail’s Matt Lawton wrote last December.

“Then possibly a story about a rival team winning races with Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) — something he did not reveal in the end. And at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Brailsford asked if there was 'anything else that could be done?'"

Earlier this year, the head of UKAD, David Kenworthy, raised further questions when he said: “"So everybody can remember this from five years ago, but no-one can remember what was in the package. That strikes me as being extraordinary. It is very disappointing."

He was not alone. Damian Collins MP, who chairs the Culture and Sport select committee, told reporters that, “the credibility of Team Sky and British Cycling is in tatters - they are in a terrible position.”

Having reached a dead-end, UKAD have sent their evidence to the General Medical Council. However, in its statement, UKAD made clear that the relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky and both parties lack of medical records was a serious concern.

“Our investigation was hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling. This is a serious concern. As part of their conditions to receive public funding from UK Sport and other Home Country Sports Councils, all sports governing bodies must comply with the UK National Anti-Doping Policy. In this case the matter was further complicated by the cross over between personnel at British Cycling and Team Sky,” the statement read.

“We have written to British Cycling and a copy of this letter has also been sent to UK Sport and Sport England. We have also separately written to Team Sky.”

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Report: Cancellara Demands Gaimon Pull Book After Motor Accusation

Fabian Cancellara is demanding that Phil Gaimon pull his new autobiography from the shelves due to allegations of motor cheating. Photo: Tim De Waele | (File)
Het Nieuwsblad reports that Fabian Cancellara’s lawyers have demanded that Phil Gaimon’s publisher stops distribution of “Draft Animals” after controversy arose over motor cheating allegations. Cancellara’s manager Armin Meier says he is also expecting a public apology from the American.

In his new autobiography, former pro racer Gaimon wrote, “When you watch the footage, [Cancellara’s] accelerations don’t look natural at all, like he’s having trouble staying on the top of the pedals. That f—ker probably did have a motor.” He was referring to the 2010 Tour of Flanders, which some fans have pointed to as proof of motor cheating in the peloton.

The allegation caught the UCI’s attention last Thursday.

“We can’t rule out opening an investigation if new elements come into our possession,” a UCI spokesman said, confirming comments also made by UCI president David Lappartient to Cyclingnews.

“We need to know exactly what is behind this. Of course, I heard all the rumors, like everybody, and I just want to know exactly. So we will investigate, that is our job,” Lappartient said.

Cancellara retired from pro racing in 2016 and has always denied accusations of motor cheating.

Gaimon declined to comment when contacted by VeloNews about this story.


Friday, November 10, 2017

2018 Giro d'Italia Route Presentation Confirmed for November 29

Bettini Photo

The Times reports Froome interest in Giro-Tour double

RCS Sport has confirmed that the presentation of the route of the 2018 Giro d’Italia will take place in Milan on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 29. The event will take place at RAI television studios on Via Mecenate.

The Giro route has been announced in October in recent years – usually prior to the Tour de France presentation – but this year’s presentation was delayed while RCS Sport finalised the details of the course, including the host city of the final stage, which is expected to take place in Rome.

It has already been confirmed that the 2018 Giro will begin with an individual time trial in Jerusalem on Friday, May 4 and the gruppo will tackle two further stages in Israel before resuming in Italy after a rest day.

Many details of the course have been leaked in the Italian media in recent weeks. After leaving Israel, the Giro is expected to spend three days in Sicily, including a summit finish at Mount Etna via the novel and steep Valentino approach.

Reports indicate that the Giro route will include an uphill finish at Montevergine di Mercogliano near Naples at the end of the opening week, and a tough summit finish atop Monte Zoncolan on stage 14.

Last month, Turin daily La Stampa reported that the final days of the Giro will feature three demanding legs in the Piedmont Alps, with summit finishes at Pratonevoso, the Jafferau and Cervinia on stages 18, 19 and 20. According to La Stampa, stage 19 will also feature the dirt road of the Colle delle Finestre.

It is widely anticipated that the final stage of the Giro will take place in Rome, with the peloton due to travel by plane from Turin to the Italian capital following stage 20. The Giro last finished in Rome for its centenary in 2009.

As on that occasion, it seems likely that the Roman stage of the Giro would be an individual time trial, a development that might yet encourage defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky) to line out at the corsa rosa.

Speaking to Cyclingnews in Jerusalem in September, race director Mauro Vegni called on Froome to “make history” by riding the Giro in 2018. Froome won the Tour and the Vuelta a España in 2017, and could become the first rider since Bernard Hinault in 1983 to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.

Froome has already stated that bidding for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title will be his primary objective in 2018, but a report in the Times on Tuesday suggested that the Sky rider is giving serious consideration to attempting the Giro-Tour double next season, when there will be a six-week gap between the two races rather than the usual five.

Froome has not raced the Giro since his maiden season at Sky in 2010, when he was disqualified from the race for holding onto a police motorbike on the ascent of the Mortirolo.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tour of Hainan: Fight Breaks Out Between Chinese Rider, Swiss Team

SHANGHAI (AFP) — A Chinese rider with the local Keyi Look team faces severe punishment after attacking members of the Swiss national team at the Tour of Hainan last week.

Race organizers on the southern Chinese island said Wang Xin and his team would never be allowed back following the violent incident that saw police step in and Keyi Look expelled from the event.

Video footage posted online showed a rider, purported to be Wang, beating one staff member of the Swiss team to the ground and kicking him in the head, before attacking a second one.

The rider then retrieved a tire pump from a support car, with the likely intent to use it as a weapon. Police and bystanders rushed in to intervene and took the pump from him as dozens of people looked on in shock.

The Chinese Cycling Association (CCA) is weighing further punishment following the incident at the end of Friday’s stage 7, a 166.5-kilometer ride between Sanya and Wuzhishan.

The incident was sparked when the Swiss team car “had physical contact” with Wang during the stage, causing him to crash, the CCA said.

The CCA said it had “a zero-tolerance attitude towards uncivilized behavior and violence” and alleged that in addition to Wang, Keyi Look team staff were also involved.

“CCA will make a further decision after more investigations on this incident,” it said in a statement.

Danilo Hondo, the Swiss team manager and allegedly one of Wang’s targets, denied the team’s car had struck the Chinese rider.

“We never bumped into him, you can see that from the race video,” he told Eurosport. “He simply hit the back wheel of another rider and went down. He was obviously embarrassed and took out his frustration on us.

“We tried to approach him after the race, in fact we waited 45 minutes after the finish for him to cross to apologize for any misunderstandings and to show him and his team that we respect them and meant no harm.

“But both he and his team approached us with anger and everything escalated from there.”

Keyi Look and Wang apologized in statements on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, but blamed the Swiss for knocking him over with their car.

The Tour of Hainan vowed never to allow them back.

“Wang’s behavior is not acceptable and doesn’t reflect Chinese cycling. Hainan people are known for being very friendly,” race organizers said in a statement.

“The image and the reputation of the Tour of Hainan cannot be tarnished by such improper behavior. Fighting will never be permitted in this event.”


Saturday, November 4, 2017

4 Toughest Cyclists Ever

The following cyclists didn't just walk the walk, they talked the talk, or maybe it's the other way around. But anyway, these cyclists were tough, make no mistake. Here's who, and here's why.

Now we could not include the Cannibal in our list of toughest cyclists, could we? Although, undoubtedly Merckx is one of the finest riders of all time, that doesn't necessarily mean he's one of the toughest. But when you factor in 525 career wins, including five Giros, five Tours, two Vueltas, and three World road titles, it may actually suggest otherwise.

Anyway it was the manner of the way he set about winning that sets him apart. Hence the nickname, the Cannibal. Merckx wanted to win every time he got on his bike. Driven by an insatiable appetite for success. And he once said, "The day when I start a race without "intending to win it, I won't be able to look at myself "in the mirror." His style was simple, attack. And generally, when he did, the results were catastrophic for his rivals.

As well as immense strength, the grocer's son exemplified a fiery, single minded determination, which was illustrated at its best in the 1974 Giro d'Italia, where in a one particularly hard stage he attacked from the gun in atrocious, awful weather conditions, while still suffering from a bout of pneumonia to topple one of his fiercest rivals Jose Fuentes. And that ride laid the foundation for the win in the overall of the Giro that year, and also it meant that he went on to win the holy grail of cycling, the triple, the Giro, the Tour, and the World championships.

Known as the badger, or, Bernard Hinault was as equally renowned for his tempestuous nature as his physical prowess on the bike. During a career that netted him a quite incredible five Tour de Frances, three Giro d'Italias, two Vuelta a Espanias, and a World road title.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How Helen Wyman Would Fix cyclocross’s Seven Big Problems

Cyclocross is far from perfect.

Perhaps no athlete is more familiar with the sport’s problems than Helen Wyman. The 36-year-old has raced in the women’s professional field for the last 14 years, winning nine British national championships and two European titles. She also sits on the UCI’s cyclocross commission and helps the governing body address the various issues that spring up each season.

We presented Wyman with the following hypothetical situation: she has the power to solve cyclocross’s toughest problems with one wave of a magic wand. Here are the problems she chose to address, along with her pragmatic solution for each one.


The UCI World Cup has a major disparity in prize money between men and women. Per UCI rules, promoters must pay out a minimum €39,500 for the men’s field and €10,400 for the women’s field per World Cup round.

WYMAN: To me, this is a tough one to fix, because where do you find €30,000 per round? The races in Belgium ethically should do it because they have profits from each round. Races in Iowa, the Czech Republic, and Germany are different. For me, the solution would be to get an outside investor to support the races. You look at the DVV Trophy series for men and women. They were able to televise the women’s series when they went to an individual sponsor and got it specifically for the women’s series. They’ve used the women to bring in a new sponsor, and that is what the UCI should do. Why would a Belgian company not want another full hour of cyclocross viewing? The viewing figures are very close to the men’s. The average percent watching TV across the 30 races was like 54 percent of the market share. Why would you not want that? I’ve always said that cyclocross is saturated. But a lot of cycling disciplines are saturated on the men’s side. But the women can be their own product if you give them an opportunity.


The UCI’s current sponsorship structure does not allow companies to sponsor specific races or series, such as the women’s cyclocross World Cup.

WYMAN: There are good people working at the UCI on cyclocross. They have gone out of their way to get sponsors. Unfortunately, their hands are tied by the rules of the UCI. When [the UCI] signs a new big sponsor, it [applies] across all disciplines. So you sign Shimano for the road, but they are across all of the sports, even cyclocross. When you operate a World Cup, then they have a ton of banners out on the course because the UCI owns 40 percent or so of the advertising space. How does a World Cup organizer get extra cash for the women when they only own 60 percent or so of the advertising space? They also can’t have conflicting sponsors. They can’t go to SRAM and ask them to support the women’s race. Personally, I think this is fixable. You create a new structure and separate the other disciplines from the sponsorship sales. I just don’t think the people that make those ultimate decisions are prepared to do that. When we make a decision on the [UCI] cyclocross commission, it has to go through the UCI management committee, and they have to agree on it for us to do what we want to do.


There aren’t as many paying jobs for female racers as there are for men.

WYMAN: My solution is that if you want to be a UCI pro team then you have to have a woman. For the first time ever, we now have UCI ’cross teams. We made sure that in order to be registered with the UCI you have to have a woman, and that rider counts in your UCI team ranking. This means that teams need a woman, we hold a better value, and if you want to be high in the ranking you need a good woman. So this problem is fixed! It will take time for this to filter down to mid-pack riders, for sure, but when it does I believe more women will be on a salary. Right now Beobank-Corendon, Telenet-Fidea, Marlux-Napolean Games, Crelan-Charles, and ERA-Circus — all the big Belgium teams — have women on their rosters, among other teams. So Sanne Cant, Maud Kaptheijns, Laura Verdonschot, Alicia Franck, Jolien Verschueren, Annemarie Worst, and Ellen Noble are all on UCI ’cross teams now.


The UCI World Cup goes back to the same venues year after year.

WYMAN: It’s always Koksijde or Zolder or Hoogerheide. I could honestly race Koksijde tomorrow and nail the lines from lap one. I do appreciate that the money and the big teams are in Belgium, but I think we need to rotate the World Cup venues. Every two years we can come back to a location. From a rider point of view, it brings new energy and more interest back to the racing. The same old venues become mundane after 12 years. Everyone went to the [World Cup] at Milton Keynes [in Great Britain] in 2015 and loved it. It had huge reviews.


Outside of Belgium, countries have a difficult time developing cyclocross talent.

WYMAN: So the British juniors this year won worlds and finished second and third, so I’m not saying that there isn’t talent outside of Belgium. There is incredible talent. But when I go to America and I see the juniors racing there, I think it’s really sad that the juniors aren’t racing together in their own field but are instead racing against adults in the amateur fields. I understand that America is massive and it is hard for the best juniors to race against each other every week, due to the cost of travel. So instead you need to develop the cyclocross scene in your area so that you can have 20 or more juniors race in one race, or maybe even 100 of them on a race weekend.

In most countries, you can only race in a junior category. In England, you have a local race and the best women’s juniors would always race each other. That would be one separate category. In America, you have the juniors spread across three or four different races, which is crazy to me. Category 3? Category 4? How is that going to increase the competitiveness and make them better? How does that create a race that you can be really proud of? Because you didn’t beat the other juniors but instead raced Category 3 racers. You need to separate these juniors and have them race each other.

I’ve raced in the junior men’s category in Belgium and my best position was 13th. Daphny van den Brand, when she was European Champion, her best result was ninth in a junior race. That’s how fast they are. I just don’t think that racing a bunch of Cat. 3 racers is going to make [the juniors] fast enough.


Attracting junior participation to cyclocross is extremely challenging.

WYMAN: In the United States and Britain and Australia, cyclocross is very much propped up by the veteran guys. These are the guys in the lower categories that compete outside of the elite race. They are the ones who pay the money to make the events run because of entry fees. That’s not sustainable in my eyes.

You need juniors to come through even if they leave the U23 ranks; they will come back someday to race as veterans or masters.

You need to entice them in the beginning to love the sport. I see many people trying to develop the juniors, from Adam Myerson [in Massachusetts] to Jim Brown in Seattle. I think it’s something that needs to go into schools and colleges, honestly. Cycling and cyclocross needs to be promoted in the education system. If it’s a school sport, maybe you get more people in then. If I had my magic wand — and I have no idea how I’d do this — I’d make cycling part of the physical education program in countries around the world. Cyclocross would be the winter version — or it could be track — and people could have a crack at both. I know that this is hugely difficult and expensive. It would be very difficult.


Cyclocross is still a niche sport within cycling, and it needs to find a bigger audience.

WYMAN: I know this would probably be a love/hate thing, but I would put cyclocross into the Olympics. I think it would be fascinating as a part of the Winter Olympics. It would be completely different. Yes, it might seem more gimmicky. I would still put it in because that’s how you get the sport out there for more people to see. If it’s on the TV every four years for everyone to see, then that’s how the sport becomes as popular as road racing.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Introducing the 2018 Host Cities | Amgen Tour of California

The 2018 Host Cities include the return of fan and race team favorites, long-time veterans like San Jose and Sacramento, and two first-time destinations: Ventura and King City.

A favored site for the women’s race, South Lake Tahoe will once again host the men for the Stage 6 finish and welcome back the women for the fourth year in a row.

The peloton will revisit Stockton and Long Beach for the first time in 11 years, with the men’s overall start overlooking the beautiful Long Beach Waterfront.

Folsom returns as a third-time host for an epic stage through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The exciting overall conclusion of both races on the same day in the State Capitol of Sacramento will provide spectators the opportunity to cheer on favorites across both fields.

May 13-19, 2018

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Citing Reduced WorldTour Rosters, BMC Slashes Team Size for 2018

BMC Racing will have a smaller roster for 2018. Photo: Tim De Waele |

BMC Racing is reducing its team roster going into 2018 by nearly 20 percent, citing the reduced team roster requirements for major races next season.

That’s just the kind of impact that riders’ groups feared when the UCI announced that major WorldTour races would be run with smaller teams. For 2018, grand tours will be raced with eight riders instead of nine, and one-day races will see seven starters instead of eight.

“[The reduction]” is aligned with our race calendar and the reduced numbers of riders per team at certain races next year,” a BMC release said Wednesday.

Proponents of the new rule say it will create safer racing conditions as well as produce a more dynamic and less controlled racing action in the peloton.

Riders, agents, and others criticized the rule by saying it would have a negative impact on the number of racers that teams would carry going into next year’s racing season.

That’s how it has played out at BMC Racing, the first major WorldTour team to confirm it will be reducing its roster from 29 to 24 riders for 2018.

BMC Racing also confirmed four new arrivals. Alberto Bettiol and Patrick Bevin join from Cannondale-Drapac, Simon Gerrans from Orica-Scott, and Jürgen Roelandts from Lotto-Soudal.

Leaving are retirees Martin Elmiger and Manuel Quinziato. Samuel Sánchez was dropped after testing positive ahead of the Vuelta a España. Silvan Dillier joins Ag2r La Mondiale, Ben Hermans to Israel Cycling Academy, Amaël Moinard to Fortuneo-Oscaro, Daniel Oss to Bora-Hansgrohe, and Manuel Senni to Bardiani-CSF.

BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz said the team enjoyed its best season ever in 2017 in terms of victories, with 48 wins. The team won its first monument with Greg Van Avermaet taking Paris-Roubaix, while Silvan Dillier and Tejay van Garderen each taking their first respective grand tour stage wins, both during the Giro d’Italia.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Koksijde: Kaptheijns Untouchable in the Sand

Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) captured the first world cup victory on her career on Sunday in Koksijde, Belgium. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) was flawless in the sand dunes of Koksijde, Belgium on Sunday, as she took victory in the third Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup of the season. She finished fifth and 10th at the first two world cups in the United States, but since returning to Europe she has been virtually unbeatable. This is the first world cup victory of her career.

The Dutchwoman took over the lead on the opening sand section and never relented, increasing her gap to the others throughout the entire nearly 45-minute race. Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil) rode most of the race alone to finish second.

World champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) and Loes Sels (Crelan-Charles) battled on the final lap for the final place on the podium. Cant powered through the final sand section before the finish and was able to open a gap over Sels. Sels would manage to get back to Cant before the finishing straight, but did not have enough energy to contest the sprint, meaning the world champion captured the final spot on the podium.


1. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 44:20
2. Sophie De Boer, (NED), 45:12
3. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 45:47
4. Loes Sels, (BEL), 45:49
5. Katherine Compton, (USA), 46:06
6. Lucinda Brand, (NED), 46:06
7. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 46:20
8. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 46:22
9. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 46:23
10. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 46:24

The third stop of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup visited the hallowed sand dunes of Koksijde. Riders were happy conditions were suitable to race, though it was a bit chilly, as last year a monstrous wind storm whipped-up overnight and made conditions impossible, forcing the organizers to cancel the event.

Helen Wyman (Kona) took the holeshot and led the group onto the first sand section, which was a terribly steep run-up. Kaptheijns slipped by Wyman after the descent and began laying down the power once on the front. Behind her, Kaitlin Keough (Cannondale p/b and de Boer chased with Cant having a difficult opening lap. She fell-over dismounting on one of the sand run-ups and was seen riding around 10th place.

Kaptheijns’ gap really ballooned on the opening lap when she was able to ride a sand section that most were forced to run. By the end of the lap, she had 10 seconds over de Boer followed by Keough a few seconds after.

Katie Compton (KFC Racing/Trek/Panache) was over 30 seconds behind with Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) and Cant was a further 10 seconds back of them.

On the second lap of five, Cant began to pick-off riders, as she found her rhythm and fought to the front of the race. She would team up with Compton and Sels would latch on as well. The trio would begin to close in on the podium. However, they would never come close to the lone leader.

Entering the final lap, Cant was alone in third, but Compton and Sels were right behind. The fight for the final podium spot was fierce. Meanwhile, Keough had faded and was at risk of falling outside the top-10. De Boer and Kaptheijns were comfortable in second and first.

Sels left Compton behind on one of the many sand sections and made the junction to Cant late in the lap. Cant wouldn’t go down without a fight though and blitzed through the final uphill sand section to open a gap. Her Belgian counter-part would rejoin her, but have no energy to contest the sprint.

Kaptheijns pumped the sky multiple times as she crossed the line, to capture her first victory in cyclocross’ top series.

De Boer finished second, albeit she was nearly a minute behind and never in with a shot at victory after Kapthijns opened her initial gap.

Compton, a multi-time winner at Koksijde, nearly had heartbreak on the line as Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) charged-on late in the race. The two threw their bikes across the line and Compton’s initial reaction seemed to show she thought she had been beaten. However, she wasn’t and finished the race in fifth.

The runner-up at the first two world cups in Iowa City and Waterloo, Keough, finished eighth with fellow American Elle Anderson ( Motorhomes) finishing 23rd.

The Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup continues on November 19 in Bogense, Denmark, a first-time host venue.

Full results

1. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 44:20
2. Sophie De Boer, (NED), 45:12
3. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 45:47
4. Loes Sels, (BEL), 45:49
5. Katherine Compton, (USA), 46:06
6. Lucinda Brand, (NED), 46:06
7. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 46:20
8. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 46:22
9. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 46:23
10. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 46:24
11. Eva Lechner, (ITA), 46:37
12. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 46:38
13. Annemarie Worst, (NED), 46:39
14. Jolanda Neff, (SUI), 46:39
15. Laura Verdonschot, (BEL), 46:50
16. Lucie Chainel, (FRA), 46:53
17. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 47:16
18. Fleur Nagengast, (NED), 47:23
19. Alice Maria Arzuffi, (ITA), 47:36
20. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 47:46
21. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 47:52
22. Nikola NoskovÁ, (CZE), 47:52
23. Elle Anderson, (USA), 48:11
24. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 48:15
25. Karla ŠtĚpÁnovÁ, (CZE), 48:42
26. Lucia Gonzalez Blanco, (ESP), 49:00
27. Geerte Hoeke, (NED), 49:17
28. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 50:13
29. Pauline Delhaye, (FRA), 50:32
30. Marlene Petit, (FRA), 50:52
31. Marlène Morel Petitgirard, (FRA), 51:15
32. Hannah Payton, (GBR), 51:16
33. Marion Norbert Riberolle, (FRA), 51:38
34. Inge Van Der Heijden, (NED), 51:52
35. Anna Kay, (GBR), 52:00
36. Nadja Heigl, (AUT) , 52:25
37. Evita Muzic, (FRA), 52:33
38. Bethany Crumpton, (GBR)
39. Maina Galand, (FRA)
40. Natalie Redmond, (AUS)
41. Léa Curinier, (FRA)
42. Elizabeth UngermanovÁ, (CZE)
43. Tereza ŠvihÁlkovÁ, (CZE)
44. Margriet Kloppenburg, (DEN)
45. Amira Mellor, (GBR)
46. Mara Schwager, (GER)