» Chris Case Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:08:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 USAPC: Dennis wins stage 5 TT in Breckenridge Fri, 21 Aug 2015 22:54:31 +0000

Rohan Dennis (BMC) went for a bigger gear on his screaming descent off Boreas Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) extended his overall lead after winning the stage 5 time trial in Breckenridge

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Rohan Dennis (BMC) went for a bigger gear on his screaming descent off Boreas Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Rohan Dennis blazed to the win on stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge, tackling the 8.5-mile time trial course in 18:11:23. He extended his lead in the general classification to 44 seconds over teammate Brent Bookwalter, while Canadian Rob Britton (SmartStop) rose in the overall standings to third, sitting at 1:31 back from the Australian.

“I felt worse today [at the bottom of Moonstone Road] than I did yesterday, that’s for sure,” Dennis said. “I got to the bottom of it and it’s about four minutes and I said, ‘you just gotta pace yourself here.’ You can only gain three or four seconds on the descent so really whoever gets to the top the fastest wins.”

Dennis crested the climb some 36 seconds faster than the rest of the field, allowing him to take caution on the steep and twisting finishing kilometers back to downtown Breckenridge.

Top 10, stage 4

1. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), in 18:11:23
2. Rob Britton (SMartStop), at 0:27
3. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), at 0:31
4. Dan Eaton (Axeon), at 0:38
5. Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly), at 0:39
6. Taylor Phinney, (BMC Racing), at 0:39
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon), at 0:47
8. Lachlan Norris (Drapac), at 0:48
9. Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts), at 0:48
10. Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Garmin), at 1:07


Top 10, overall

1. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing)
2. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), at 0:44
3. Rob Britton (SmartStop), at 1:31
4. Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly), at 1:49
5. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly), at 1:53
6. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon), at 1:58
7. Lachlan Norris (Drapac), at 2:02
8. Toms Skujins (Hincapie Racing), at 2:08
9. Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural), at 2:13
10. Julien Bernard (Trek Factory Racing), at 2:14


A number of early riders bested one another in succession before Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts) became the first rider to go under 19 minutes, doing so by a mere second, with a time of 18:59.

Bobridge’s time would not last long, as stage 1 winner Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) bested Bobridge by nine seconds, finishing in 18:50.

But Phinney’s best time would not last much longer, as Dan Eaton of the development squad Axeon Cycling stunned the field and went one second faster than Phinney, the two-time national time trial champion.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Eaton said. “I came into the day feeling good, my teammates were confident in me, especially after my ride yesterday when I was able to make the front group. So, I was feeling confident on Moonstone [Road]. I really feel like I paced it right. I hit the climb with everything I had and pretty much exploded at the top. ”

The young guns continued to set searing times, with Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly) coming in one second back from Eaton, in 18:51.

Soon after, Rob Britton (SmartStop) established a new best time at 18:38.

“We knew the uphill finish on stage 2 and this stage were the only real selective stages,” Britton said. “I’ve been riding my time trail bike a lot, been warming down on it every day just so that I was comfortable on it, and I felt really good this morning.”

Dennis was the last to start, but caught and passed Rob Squire (SmartStop) on the climb of Moonstone Road, erasing the two-minute advantage he had at the start in under six miles.

Squire finished 2:42 down, the last rider to finish the race, falling outside the top 10 overall.

“It wasn’t great by any means but, hey, I still finished, I think I’m still inside time-cut,” Squire said with a laugh. “I’m here to fight another day.”

On Saturday, the men’s peloton will ride 102 miles from Loveland to Fort Collins, a route that includes a difficult climb up Rist Canyon, which tops out some 33 miles before the finish. A few uncategorized climbs on the roads to Fort Collins will offer a launching pad before the finish downtown.

On his chances to keep his podium position, Britton was cautious.

“Tomorrow there are still opportunities for anything to happen, it’s not straightforward,” he said. “Yesterday Cannondale put the race into the gutter quickly, and if the wind had been a few degrees more crosswind than it could have been a heck of a lot more damage. I don’t’ think tomorrow will be a walk in the park, it’s last day to shake things up.”

Neal Rogers contributed to this report from Breckenridge.



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Cycling to extremes Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:45:25 +0000

Are endurance athletes hurting their hearts by repeatedly pushing themselves beyond what is normal? Velo takes a closer look.

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Outback and beyond: Lachlan Morton returns to pro racing Wed, 06 May 2015 12:13:44 +0000

When talented young Morton became disenchanted with the European peloton, he rode to the center of the Australian outback with his brother

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A Case for Suffering: The Heroic Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:29:46 +0000

Eroica California is a celebration of the golden age of cycling, an event in which the beauty of fatigue and the taste of accomplishment can be acutely experienced. It is modeled after L'Eroica, the original vintage cycling event held among the rolling hills and white gravel roads of the Chianti region of Italy since 1997. Here, the author stands beside a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, with his borrowed orange De Rosa mounted to the roof rack, near the top of Cypress Mountain, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Chris Case |

Chris Case takes on the challenging terrain of Eroica California, and learns something of what it was to ride in the golden age of cycling

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Eroica California is a celebration of the golden age of cycling, an event in which the beauty of fatigue and the taste of accomplishment can be acutely experienced. It is modeled after L'Eroica, the original vintage cycling event held among the rolling hills and white gravel roads of the Chianti region of Italy since 1997. Here, the author stands beside a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, with his borrowed orange De Rosa mounted to the roof rack, near the top of Cypress Mountain, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Chris Case |

Editor’s note: Velo managing editor Chris Case is on a quest to ride and race the most fascinating and challenging cycling events around the world. Follow his journey on Instagram and Twitter: @chrisjustincase. Questions or concerns for his well-being? Send him a note.

The light was flickering like an antique cinema projector, hazy shafts of sun casting down upon the dirt double track, through the thick canopy of a hollow, secluded canyon.

Light. Shadow. Light. Shadow. Flick, flick, flick.

This was my vision, out of focus in the noontime light, but there nonetheless: Coppi, climbing, crouched into a coil of potential energy, his long nose guiding him like an unstoppable ship.

This was what flashed before my eyes and through my mind while climbing Cypress Canyon — far from Gaiole in Chianti, or the Strade Bianche, the birthplace of the original L’Eroica — inside this perforated tunnel of trees near the Central Coast of California.

This was Eroica California. Part Italy. Part America. A Civil War reenactment for cycling, brought to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Find yourself a bike, and be sure it was made before 1987, complete with downtube shifters, toe clips, and external cable routing into the hoods. Find yourself a jersey, make sure it’s wool, and preferably plastered with an Italian surname. Get your black shorts, your bright white socks, and a “hairnet” helmet if you can. You’re ready for Eroica (the events outside of Gaiole, of which there are now four, one each in California, Japan, England, and Spain, all go by the title Eroica, and the original remains L’Eroica, or “The Heroic”).

The day before I had been handed a Crayola orange De Rosa, the bottom bracket recently returned to a state of function, the tubular glue still wafting through the air as I re-familiarized myself with the art of kicking into a set of toe clips. For period-correct footwear, there are a few options to choose from, assuming you don’t have 25-year-old shoes decaying in your closet. I chose a classic black pair from Vittoria’s Line 1976 — Italian-made leather which I wore with pleasure, both because of the yesteryear styling and the out-of-the-box comfort.

The bike harkened back to an era of racing that predates my birth; luckily, it fit like Ugo De Rosa made it himself to my specifications. And, authentic to the epoch, the tubulars were narrow (22mm), the gearing constrained (53-42 in front, a six-speed, 12-26 cassette in the rear, which offered a wider range than the original equipment would have), and the braking rather grim.

It was time to conjure the spirit of Coppi and Bartali, Géminiani, and Merckx.

We set off in the Champagne air of a Paso Robles morning, perched upon antique steel before the sun had had a chance to rise. If you squinted, you could take yourself back to another time, the darkness aiding in the imagining of a bygone bicycling script. Hunched, rocking bodies atop clicking-clacking machines. Old cables, friction shifters, cold fingers. The hypnotic silhouettes of symmetric, contouring combs of vines.

If you wanted to be in Italy, you were.

By sunrise, we had reached the first checkpoint — if you were heroic enough to take on the 127-mile route, this was the first of five checkpoints where you received a stamp confirming your arrival — amid the olive trees of Olea Farm. Breakfast would be nothing other than Belgian fries cooked in luscious olive oil, sprinkled with Himalayan salt. Ketchup and salsa for your pleasure. Big bowls of olive oil and spices lined long tables beside sliced baguettes.

A glorious day was upon us. Until it wasn’t. Pfft, pfft, pfft. Air, under pressure, evacuating through a tiny hole, intermittently interrupted by the revolutions of the wheel. Mile 40.

If, like me, you aren’t a part of the generation that rode “sew-ups” to train on, puncturing a tubular far from anywhere is a requirement for understanding the spirit of L’Eroica, a ride back through time when hard was harder and long was longer.

This is when my new friend and riding mate Chuck Teixeira became my impromptu guide to the essence of 1974. It isn’t that changing a tubular on the side of the road is difficult, but there is comfort in having someone who has done it hundreds of times beside you, if only to convince you that riding for another 90 miles isn’t suicidal.

No glue? Use that rear brake to heat up the rim, melt some fumes, and get one percent more adhesion through the magic of thermal dynamics. Or so he told me.

Given the ramshackle state of the spare tire that was affixed beneath my saddle, (something I didn’t realize until it was too late), I could only cling to the paradoxical premise that an old tire that was beat to hell but still kicking was a sturdy tire that had put up with a lot of shit and was ready for more.

It can be done, trust me, said Chuck’s poise. I was less alarmed at the insanity of riding glueless as I was incredulous at the adoption of clincher technology. So what if you died around the next bend, changing tubulars was efficient. Rip one off, slide one on. Just try not to turn that much.

This is when Chuck told me about the first time he rode tubulars. At the mid-point in this particular out-and-back century, he pulled into the parking lot to turn around and head home. It had been straight roads all day, until now. In front of the gathered crowd, he turned, both the tires slid off, and he crumpled to the ground. He rode gingerly back the 50 miles to the finish, bloody and embarrassed. But he always remembered to glue his tubulars to his rims after that.

We set off down the winding roads, my front tire cozily bonded, my shoddy rear spare, complete with cuts in the sidewall and tumors beneath the tread, merely lounging around a whirling hoop, ready and waiting to drift off.

The roads eventually led us to our next checkpoint, amid the forest on the lower slopes of Cypress Mountain. From here, we were headed over the Coast Range on a rustic back road, complete with 20 percent grades, and, ultimately, paradisiac views of the Pacific Ocean.

But paradise would have to wait a while. Tubular eruption number two. Mile 60.

Things just got a bit more difficult. I had no more tires. But I had Chuck, who insisted I take his spare.

“No way! I’ll figure something out. I can’t take that from you,” I said.

“Yes, come on, take it. It’s a long walk out and it’s good karma for me,” he said. Then he set off on his immaculate Teledyne Titan, all 16 pounds of early titanium technology and “Drillium” trimmings, up the climb, knowing I’d likely catch him by the top.

While I sat there in the sun, peeling another tubular off and tossing another on, the flies buzzing and the soil parched, absorbing the scenery and the circumstances, I could only think of one thing: bike racers from long ago. Eugène Christophe and the Pyrenean blacksmith shop, forging forks to ride on. The absurd number of miles and the frequency of mechanical misadventures that defined the early years of racing. All alone; figure it out; ride on.

I rode on. And 200 meters up the road, I was standing next to Chuck again.

This time, it was Chuck who had punctured. “I’m going to need that tire back, Chris.”

We laughed; it was not our day. We considered the options; it seemed my day was about to get a bit longer, a bit harder. The only way out of this jam was to walk or ride my way up the steepest climb of the day, with one good tire and a very small cluster of gears. I leaned my bike against the edge of a dilapidated bridge and took a photo of its knackered state.

“That’s it, make the most of it, Chris,” Chuck said as he drifted away into the distance.

This was a bike ride; I was riding this bike. And it was going to get me to at least the top of this climb, maybe farther. Then, I’d figure something out.

Riding on a flat tire on dirt isn’t too hard; you just have to mind the off-camber switchbacks that can peel the tire from the rim and into your brakes. And try not to hit every rock since this isn’t your bike. True to the spirit of the golden age of cycling, steep just became steeper.

Though I held out hope that I would eventually find a solution to carry on with two intact tires, I also reasoned there was a good chance I was nearing the end of my inaugural Eroica. I drilled it. I passed a lonely figure who grumbled at my rate of ascension. “I’m lighter since I have less air in my tires than you…” I yelled when I was already past him, trying to be gentlemanly about it all.

And then I saw it. The vaporous haze of Pacific Ocean views. A water station. People. Cars. Not a tubular in sight, and 13 sinuous miles of catastrophic tarmac between me and the town of Cambria.

Hero status would have to wait until next time.

The gathered support staff snapped photos of me. Maybe I looked as depleted as Octave Lapize as he crested the Tourmalet in 1910 and famously screamed “Murderers!” to the gathered officials. Or, I’d like to think, maybe I struck as handsome a figure as Anquetil after a fifth Tour victory.

In any case, I was offered a ride down the mountain. My riding time was through.

Jim was the proud owner of the most appropriate sag wagon there could be for this day: a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, adorned with a checkered flag racing stripe, lowered and stiffened for racing, with one roof-rack tray and red vinyl seats.

I saluted the fine folks gathered at the aid station as I bid them arrivederci, and was promptly swooshed down the hill toward the sea, by a piece of historic Italian machinery.

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Q&A: L’Eroica founder Brocci brings golden age of cycling to California Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:39:01 +0000

"L'Eroica means pedaling along peripheral roads which require dexterity and speed but which, at the same time, distance you from the pressure of the motorized world, make you look around, rediscover your surroundings and a healthy way of life." Photo: John Watson |

An interview with the iconoclastic founder of L'Eroica, Giancarlo Brocci, ahead of the first-ever Eroica California in Paso Robles

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"L'Eroica means pedaling along peripheral roads which require dexterity and speed but which, at the same time, distance you from the pressure of the motorized world, make you look around, rediscover your surroundings and a healthy way of life." Photo: John Watson |

L’Eroica started in 1997 because of one man, Giancarlo Brocci, who admired the values of cycling’s past so much that he wanted to reconnect others to that heritage, one inspired by Italian history, literature, culture, and music. L’Eroica also began as a foundation for the protection and preservation of the last gravel roads in Tuscany. The ride was born and held in and around the Chianti region, with 92 “hunters of feelings and emotions,” as Brocci calls them, at the first event.

Now, the charm and effort of riding a vintage bike over rolling country hills has spread throughout the world, including events in England, Spain, and Japan, and, this year, California.

On April 12, Paso Robles, California, will host Eroica California, taking advantage of the beautiful unpaved and paved roads through the vineyards, oak-studded rolling hills, and coastal mountain ranges of San Luis Obispo County in central California. It will be the first Eroica with an ocean view.

VeloNews spoke with founder Brocci (through a translator) to learn more about the event and the L’Eroica phenomenon.

VeloNews: Why L’Eroica? Why did the world need an event like this?
Giancarlo Brocci: Why L’Eroica? Because sport needs new, credible heroes, who awaken people’s enthusiasm.

L’Eroica, in today’s world, considering how sport has been molded to business, is a return to the deep roots of cycling, rediscovering the beauty in fatigue, getting back to real needs, like hunger and thirst, which must be satisfied, or being physically tired, as opposed to stressed.

L’Eroica means pedaling along peripheral roads which require dexterity and speed but which, at the same time, distance you from the pressure of the motorized world, make you look around, rediscover your surroundings and a healthy way of life.

L’Eroica today is also an opportunity to rethink the cycling of the future, the type of cycling that is capable of attracting people to a world of adventure and unexpected events, enterprise and crisis, and of champions that we can start to trust again.

VN: How did you decide on the rule that participants must ride bikes built prior to 1987?
GB: Bit by bit we adopted this rule to establish a selection criteria. Initially, all types of bikes could participate in L’Eroica, although prizes were only given to those taking part on vintage-style bikes. Then we excluded MTBs, and from 2009 modern bikes, reserving our event exclusively to “Heroic Bikes.” The year 1987 was chosen for various reasons, but basically, bikes participating in L’Eroica must have external brake cables, down-tube shifters, and pedals with toe straps.

Bianchi is creating a special model with these characteristics; “Bianchi for L’Eroica” will provide a vintage-style bike in modern sizes, especially for young people who often have difficulty finding old bikes that are suitable.

VN: What is the golden age of cycling, in your opinion? Is it in the past or future?
GB: For us Italians, the golden age of cycling coincides with the sporting duel of the century, between Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. Their rivalry told of a deep passion that involved and divided the whole country, well beyond the reaches of their battle on the road. Their victories also marked the rebirth of Italy in relation to the rest of the world, following World War II.

Here again the bike prevailed over the arrogance of the motor; cycling was on the front pages of all our newspapers and the feats of the cyclists, more recounted than witnessed, became legend overnight. Ask me about that era of cycling and you’ll get an obvious answer — the answer was the creation of L’Eroica. You must start from cycling’s amazing past if you wish to rebuild the future of this great sport.

It is no surprise that my idea to bring professional cycling to the white roads — obviously considered folly by the experts — was met with huge world acclaim: Strade Bianche [for professional riders] was followed by the Montalcino stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2010, and the inclusion of a cobblestoned stage in the Tour de France.

VN: Would you like today’s professionals to use less sophisticated bikes?
GB: Without exaggerating with the nostalgia, I think that something can be done to restore the original traits of cycling. I am not a great technical or mechanical expert, but I am happy to see that efforts are being made to stop hyper-technology from distorting an essentially beautiful vehicle. All too often, safety is sacrificed in the quest for speed and performance. It is also useful to remember that the Tour de France forbade the use of gears until 1937. Not putting limits on the use of gears leads to a type of uphill cycling that is in no way “historical” and is decidedly unromantic to watch.

VN: Who are your favorite professionals today? Is there anyone who reminds you of past greats? Are there any heroes in cycling today?
GB: I would say [Vincenzo] Nibali and [Fabio] Aru, because they are talented and they are both good and serious athletes; and [Fabian] Cancellara for his physique and showmanship.

Of course they could remind us of past greats but today’s cycling is in the hands of trainers and rule-makers: without asking them, it is difficult to understand when we’ll be able to rekindle our enthusiasm. We will end up losing interest and that is the worst thing that can happen to any passion.

The young pro cyclists of today are already heroes just by virtue of the fact that they have chosen such a difficult sport in the 21st century. [In the past, cycling] was a relatively easy choice for most people, as the choice was simply between various [difficult professions], and as the great Alfredo Martini once said, “At least cycling means that you get to eat in restaurants often.” Today, top-level cycling is not a need, it’s a vocation; cyclists should automatically be put on a pedestal.

But, those who manage today’s cyclists don’t want them to be heroes; restrained by the business of sport, [pro cyclists] receive highly specialized training to reach their “peak” performance; they get thinner and thinner, it’s terrible to watch, crazily pushed on by the power-to-weight ratio.

Let them eat! Introduce a minimum body weight. Then they will be attractive to watch again, and they will last more than one month a year. One of our L’Eroica mantras is: “From heroic cycling to the sweet life,” when cyclists were good-looking sex symbols, not to be pitied, like anorexic models or patients suffering from a chronic illness, queuing up for a drip.

VN: What’s your favorite thing about the bicycle?
GB: As a boy, my passion for cycling was brought to me by those around me, at the clubhouse by the old people of the village, because when there was a cycling race, there was always a party.

Then, when I went from reading about cycling to practicing the sport, my bicycle became a life companion, enabling me to discover slow tourism, a healthy lifestyle, a special sense of freedom, it helped me to lose weight — very gradually — I felt capable of great feats which were only valid in my own head. I still feel really young, although I’m now a grandfather. With good reason, the beautiful Gaiole in Chianti, my hometown and that of L’Eroica, was nominated by Forbes magazine as one of the “best places to live in the world.”

VN: The idea of L’Eroica has spread around the world. Where would you like to see it in the future?
GB: It is fantastic to see how many people, sharing the same values, also share the concept of L’Eroica. Participation is growing among young cyclists, women and English-speakers, exactly those who never knew this type of cycling. A real community is forming, of people who are happy to be together, sharing their experiences, feelings, and passion and, in some ways, a lifestyle.

After Japan and England, I went off to discover the wonderful roads around Paso Robles in California and those of the Rioja in Spain; like my own home where we have Chianti Classico and Brunello, these are also great wine regions offering gravel roads, without traffic and with breathtaking landscapes.

The future? The south of the world. I’ve seen a lot of it and it would be fantastic, during our winter, to cycle in the southern hemisphere, where cycling is younger and where it is easy to capture the idea of adventure and wide-open spaces. Where would I like to go? South Africa and Australia are the two objectives that seem closest; Argentina is my heart’s desire.

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Velo Magazine — Buyer’s Guide 2015 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:59:14 +0000

If you're gearing up for spring riding, pick up a copy of the 2015 Velo Buyer's Guide to find the best bikes, clothing, and gear for 2015

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The best bikes and gear of 2015, all in one issue. The 2015 Velo Buyer’s Guide is on newsstands and in bike shops now.

The Velo tech crew of Caley Fretz and Logan VonBokel reviewed more than 125 products for the 2015 Buyer’s Guide, including helmets, shoes, jackets, packs, gadgets, and, of course, bikes.

They highlighted the best bikes across segments, from dream road bikes to full-suspension mountain bikes, road bikes built for climbing to workhorse steeds and everything in between. In addition, they took a look at the best gear and bikes for particular types of rides — have a look at our Editors’ Picks for climbs, gran fondos, singletrack, and snow.

Women’s bikes and gear are also scrutinized and analyzed, for both road and off-road adventures.

After selecting a dream bike, and the gear that every cyclist is drooling over, find out which rides or races you need to add to your bucket list. From La Ruta to Leadville, L’Etape to the Flanders Sportive, you’ll never be the same rider after any of these rides of a lifetime.

At the back, Dan Wuori describes the frightening symptoms of those suffering from Bike Fever. After reading this issue, you may need to consult with your physician on proper treatment protocols.

The 2015 Buyer’s Guide contains everything you need to know to find the best bike for you, the best gear for the type of riding you love best, and our picks for the bikes of the year, on the road and on the trails.

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Velo Magazine — February 2015 Tue, 20 Jan 2015 22:22:58 +0000

Take a look at the ever-changing sport of cycling: Morton's journey within, Phinney's road to recovery, a domestic racing crisis, and more

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The sport of cycling is all about change, whether you’re a pro or a Joe. You’re constantly trying to improve, forcing yourself to ride faster, longer, higher than you have before.

That’s the theme of the February issue, our first-ever Crossroads Issue. We focus on the riders and races — the very structure of the sport itself — that are currently in a state of flux.

In the weeks before this issue went to press, the sport’s biggest stakeholders assembled in Paris to devise a new structure to the WorldTour, a plan that will drastically change the race calendar, the size of pro teams, and the number of races held. Andrew Hood explores these proposals.

Closer to home, the domestic road racing scene is shrinking, as elite amateur teams face sponsorship issues amid the disappearance of high-level national events. It’s a vicious cycle that threatens to cut off the all-important grassroots development of the sport; collegiate racer Max Nagel dives into the reasons behind the exodus.

One of the biggest obstacles the sport faces is its lost credibility, due to never-ending doping scandals. It’s a topic that has been synonymous with pro cycling for decades, but never more so than in the last 10 years, and it’s a topic that overlaps several stories in this issue. Recently, non-sanctioned events have begun taking matters into their own hands, barring any rider who has served a doping suspension from participating. Caley Fretz takes a deep look at the new phenomenon. Later in the issue, Dan Wuori pens a heartfelt letter to UCI president Brian Cookson, asking him to show true leadership in the wake of Astana’s controversial WorldTour license decision.

While the sport looks to find its way forward, American Taylor Phinney looks to find his way back from a catastrophic injury sustained at the 2014 U.S. national road championships over Memorial Day weekend. Two days after winning the national time trial championship, the BMC Racing rider crashed heavily, snapping his leg and severing his patella tendon. Back home in Boulder, Colorado, Phinney embarked on a heavy regimen of physical therapy, and our photo director, Brad Kaminski, was there to document it for a powerful photo essay.

Another rider whose career is at an intersection is American Chris Horner. The winner of the Vuelta a España just 15 months ago, Horner is now back in the U.S. with Airgas-Safeway, slated to compete at the same domestic events he dominated a decade ago. Yet rather than a hero’s welcome home, Horner’s return is clouded in suspicion over doping accusations that persist, even in the absence of a positive drug test. Neal Rogers explores that issue.

On the other side of the age — and career — spectrum is enigmatic Australian Lachlan Morton, our cover selection this month. An immensely talented climber, Morton walked away from a WorldTour contract with Garmin-Sharp at age 22, disenchanted with life in the European peloton. He didn’t turn his back from cycling, however; instead he rode deep into the heart of the Australian Outback, along with his older brother Gus, to reignite the passion that molded them both into professional racers. The Morton brothers will return to pro racing in 2015 with Jelly Belly, and will likely be battling with Horner on the most demanding climbs in North America. Chris Case reports on their journey.

All that and much more in the February issue of Velo, on newsstands now.

Subscribe to Velo magazine >>

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Austin Heritage Tree Foundation weighs in on ‘cross nationals controversy Fri, 16 Jan 2015 23:34:52 +0000 Controversy surrounding the postponement of 'cross nationals continues as Austin Heritage Tree Foundation contradicts USA Cycling

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The controversy surrounding the postponement of the USA Cycling national cyclocross championships continued today when the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation (AHTF) posted a response on their website to a letter sent by USA Cycling’s vice president of national events, Micah Rice, to riders who had registered for 2015 nationals to address concerns and complaints stemming from the postponed Sunday races.

In its response, the AHTF disputed the accuracy of some of Rice’s claims.

The letter stated:

“In the letter sent recently to all participants to explain what happened, Micah incorrectly [emphasis in original letter – Ed.] claims that AHTF reviewed and walked the course. We did not. The event organizers met with a grounds staff person from the Parks Department (PARD) and a forester from PARD Forestry.”

The letter went on to accuse Rice of further inaccuracies in his account.

“Micah further claims incorrectly [emphasis in original letter – Ed.] that AHTF walked the revised course and was pleased. We did not meet with the event organizer or participate in any walk-through…”

VeloNews reached out to Rice for a response. His reponse appears below, unedited and in its entirety.

“My understanding was that the two arborists that I met on Sunday afternoon before the walkthrough were from this Foundation. They introduced themselves as tree experts that were with a group in town, but it is possible they were with a different group (a misunderstanding on my part) and asked to be there by PARD. Whatever the case, PARD communicated to me that these arborists must be happy with the changes that we were to make to the course in order to run the races on Monday. It is possible that I was mistaken on the group the tree experts were with.

“I think we can continue to beat this to death on a microscopic level, but the main thing is that we did walkthrough’s with tree experts that PARD asked us to do. Per our permit and relationship with the city of Austin, we did our due diligence and made every change asked of us by the landowner — in this case PARD.”


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Lifetime Achievement Award: Jens Voigt Sat, 27 Dec 2014 13:00:01 +0000

Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) closed out his career at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge in grand fashion, attacking all the way home. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Jen Voigt's tireless appetite for breakaway punishment and glory made him one of the peloton's icons. He retired at the end of 2014

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Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) closed out his career at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge in grand fashion, attacking all the way home. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.

Not long after he had finished his time trial on stage 9 of the 2012 Tour de France, his 15th appearance in the grand tour, Jens Voigt walked over to a shady spot of lush green grass, plunked down in a camping chair near the team van, and began eating a sandwich and chatting with teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

Fans strolled past, a few chatting with him, others snapping casual photos of the affable, articulate German in his RadioShack team wear. French. English. German. Fluently flipping back and forth to cater to the needs of the fans.

It was hard to believe that this regular guy was one of the most popular cyclists of his generation. He employed no posse. No security guards. He wasn’t being swarmed like so many others of the peloton might be, nor would he mind if he were. This was a man of the people.

“I think it’s easy for people to identify with [me],” Voigt said two years later, during an interview with VeloNews at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, the final race of his professional road career. “I’m a hard-working guy; there is no façade. You get what you see and you see what you get. There are no hidden secrets; I am just the way I am. Apart from being able to ride my bike really hard, I’m just an Average Joe. I have children, I raised them, I clean my garage, we don’t have a gardener, or a nanny; it’s just my wife and I.

“I have two dogs — I walk them, I clean up after them. It’s just everyday life. It’s things like this that make people think, ‘He’s a normal person — exceptional bike rider, but just a normal person.’ To be normal is a good thing.”

Except Voigt is anything but normal. His professional career is legendary for its longevity more so than his proclivity for wins; it has spanned nearly two decades. Still, his palmarés is not without its highlights, including a record-tying five overall victories in the Critérium International, stage wins at the Tour and Giro, a record-tying 17 starts at the Tour, and, of course, at the ripe age of 43, a new hour record [Voigt’s record has since been bested by Matthias Brändle -Ed.].

But more than that, Voigt was a firebrand on the bike. He did not quit; he often agitated. He let his legs do the talking, until his legs got too loud with the pain and he had to … Shut. Them. Up.

Voigt is one of few cyclists in the history of the sport to have coined a ubiquitous catch phrase, “Shut up legs!” which, late in his career, adorned the bikes he rode.

The average fan loved the Average Joe, the aging veteran that would never say die, the angular, lanky racer who would try and animate a race for the sheer joy to be reaped from absolute effort. Late in his career, his breakaway struggles seemed to, more often than average, survive until the end. How’d he do it?

“He just has boundless amounts of energy,” said Bobby Julich, who rode with Voigt at Crédit Agricole for two years, before reuniting with him for another five years at Team CSC. “I used to be roommates with him for quite some years and I’d just be impressed … He was on or he was off. He was absolutely just gibbering, or he’d just be sacked out and a bomb could go off and he wouldn’t wake up. How has he kept that? I don’t know. I think it’s something inside his character. He’s looking for something. He wants to be better. He always has a different objective. And I think that’s important that you always have an objective. Since he got on Twitter and started to understand the fan base that he’s created, they motivated him to stay in the peloton for two or three more years than he would have been if he didn’t have that sort of support.”

But with that support, Voigt defied age, logic, and, regularly, common sense, to craft magical, against-all-odds stage wins across the world.

Think back to stage 13 of the 2006 Tour, 231km from Béziers to Montélimar, the longest stage that year: Voigt got in a five-man breakaway which finished an improbable 29 minutes and 58 seconds ahead of the main bunch. At the line, Voigt outsprinted Óscar Pereiro to take his second Tour stage win. (Periero went on to win the Tour, following Floyd Landis’ suspension, based on time gains taken from that breakaway.)

Think back to stage 4 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, which finished in Beaver Creek: Voigt attacked his breakaway companions on Independence Pass, early in the stage, then soloed on for 100km to take victory with almost three minutes to spare.

It was like that until the end. Literally. He tried, in vain, on two occasions, to win from a breakaway at his final race in Colorado. This Average Joe always tried to be a bit different.

“Ninety-seven percent of the [pro] bike riders are very, very good and talented bike riders, but I always try to be in the other three percent,” he said. Which is to say he thought of himself as anything but normal. “Exceptional. Awesome. Out of the line, out of the norm. I always try to be out of the norm.”

It was a style he discovered when he was much younger, then honed through the years as his ever-aging body tried to keep pace with the whimsy of his mind and its youthful sense of invincibility. He wanted to keep winning; his body was less often up to the task.

“I discovered very early on that I was not a good sprinter, so if you arrive alone, no one can beat you in a sprint. So, why not win alone? When I was a junior, everyone was climbing and time trialing about the same, but as I got older, I realized that I was never going to climb like Fränk Schleck, or sprint faster than Cav [Mark Cavendish], or beat Fabian [Cancellara] in the classics, so I had to work to find a way to win,” Voigt said. “I had to ask myself, ‘What sort of skill has Mother Nature given me?’ For me, it was to work the long and hard way, and put every one else in the meat grinder.”

Mr. Popular

Voigt was born in Grevesmühlen, in the far north of what was then East Germany. He joined a national sports school at age 14, and trained in cycling and track and field. He won his first race, the Peace Race, in 1994; he served for four years in the German army before turning professional in 1997 with the ZVVZ-Giant-Australian Institute of Sport team.

Over the years, he has been teammates with some of the most popular characters in the sport, including Chris Boardman — who told him, “It’s much better to be on the giving end of pain than the receiving end.” He’s ridden in the same colors as Ivan Basso, Stuart O’Grady, the Schleck brothers, Fabian Cancellara, and Julich. He also has served as a mentor for countless younger professionals.

“I used to joke with him all the time,” Julich said. “We were at Tour de Georgia one year and it was a time when all the Americans were there, and I told him, ‘Jens, you’re the second-most famous bike racer in America.’ … He’s just a simple guy, he’s an honest guy, he’s a hard worker, there’s no real flash with him, but he gets the job done. He always seems to be at the right place and get himself on TV. But the thing that makes him most liked, I think, is just the simple fact that he takes the time out of his day to make normal people feel special. A lot of big athletes can make the race organizers, or the VIPs, or a politician — if he’s at the race — feel special. But Jens definitely goes out of his way to say or do things for people that don’t really have an influence on him or his income or his racing. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Still, among all the noteworthy and charismatic figures that have influenced Voigt over the years in his 17-year career, none has had a more lasting impact than the first man he knew.

“I think I’ve picked up bits and pieces, but [my mentor] is my dad. You know, my dad was just a workingman and was born in 1946, the year after [World War II] finished, and he had a hard childhood,” Voigt said. “He was born at our family farm, which is north, near Poland, and they had to leave. They left with only what they could carry.

So, they were leaving in summer with all [their] winter clothes on, because they never knew how long they’d be gone. They’d have to walk 20 or 30 kilometers to the next train station, to get on a freight train for days, until they reached German grounds. So, he had a very hard childhood and he did everything he could to make sure that we went to school and had good results in school.”

For an East German, Voigt was, admittedly, a bit of a free spirit at his sports academy. Not so much a rebel, he said, but “different” with his thinking. Behind the Berlin Wall, Voigt was just being himself, something that may have raised suspicions in his youth, but which he jokes about today.

“I’m sure some of my teachers were telling the secret police about what I was saying,” he said. “I’d say that there is probably a file of me with all of the things I said. Both of my parents weren’t in the [Communist] party, so it wasn’t an ideal scenario for us. Had I not met some of the people I met along the way, who supported me, I probably would have been removed from sports school.”

For his final farewell, Voigt became the man of the hour. With the UCI establishing new rules for the hour record that allowed for more aerodynamic track bikes to be used, Voigt was able to better the mark of Ondrej Sosenka, taking the new record out to 51.11km. Under the UCI’s new rules allowing modern aerodynamic technology, the Average Joe had gone farther on a bicycle in an hour than anyone in history. His record stood for less than two months before Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) established the new mark of 51.85km.

But is this really the end? Is mighty Jens Voigt done for good? Will there really be no more attacks from the dinosaur of cycling? Julich, for one, isn’t certain.

“You know, I’m still doubting that he’s going to retire [laughs],” Julich said. “I know what it feels like, I know what it sounds like when you’re done — with Jens, he doesn’t quite [give me] that feeling. It’s important that you leave it all out on the road, with no second thoughts. I’ve just gotta wonder if this is actually going to happen. He had such a great send-off; I don’t think anyone has had a better last month, a farewell month like Jens had. So it would be hard to go back on that. But I hope he got it all out.”

His legions of fans most assuredly feel differently; they hope he still has more in the tank. And, likely, he does. Jens Voigt is the Average Joe for the ages. And in 2014, he was the man of the hour.

Editor’s note: Trek Factory racing announced in December that Voigt will stay involved with the team as a consultant.

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Top 14 stories of 2014: A tale of two breakaways Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:45:39 +0000

BMC Racing's Michael Schär (left) saw a more than four-minute lead over the top of the last climb – 38km from the finish – reduced to seconds inside the final kilometer of the 210km race. Hincapie rider Joey Rosskopf (right) was caught 3km from the finish. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

At the Tour of Utah, breakaway companions Michael Schär and Joey Rosskopf were on opposite ends of the spectrum between agony and ecstasy

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BMC Racing's Michael Schär (left) saw a more than four-minute lead over the top of the last climb – 38km from the finish – reduced to seconds inside the final kilometer of the 210km race. Hincapie rider Joey Rosskopf (right) was caught 3km from the finish. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

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A Case for Suffering: Made in Taiwan Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:00:48 +0000

Managing editor Chris Case crosses the line in 14th place at the incomparable Taiwan KOM Challenge. Photo: Daniel Simms Photography

Managing editor Chris Case describes the agony and ecstasy of taking on the incomparable Taiwan KOM Challenge.

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Managing editor Chris Case crosses the line in 14th place at the incomparable Taiwan KOM Challenge. Photo: Daniel Simms Photography

Editor’s note: Velo managing editor Chris Case has raced enough criteriums to know there are far more enjoyable ways to spend time on a bike. He has set out to find pain and pleasure at the most unique, challenging, and captivating competitions. Follow along with his experiment to ride the best and most difficult courses, the most punishing and most promising races, on- and off-road, on Instagram and Twitter, @chrisjustincase. Questions or concerns for his health? Send him a note at

It was pissing rain.

It was the type of day that gave you a simple choice: sulk, or smile. I’ve learned a lesson from years of racing in inclement weather: it’s always advantageous to stick with the grins; pouting only makes you colder.

We were in Taiwan, far from home, in an exotic landscape that I had quickly fallen in love with, about to race bikes up one of the longest hill climbs in the world. The choice was made for me.

I embraced the dreary, soggy conditions, absorbing the wet, the cold, the foul soup of mist and misery and turning it on its head.

I made a case for suffering.

It would have been easy to mope and complain. But a simple flip of the switch in my brain and it was just as easy to tell myself, ‘This is the weather that only the hard thrive in; these are the conditions that make for great stories; these are the days when pain is my friend, and the harder I shake its hand, the more pleasure will come my way.’ I shook vigorously.

It’s not as if it would have been an easy day even if the weather had been tropical. Today, I, along with 472 other intrepid and/or insane cyclists, set out to ride to the top of Taiwan, in the KOM Challenge, all 62-miles of climbing, with its 17 percent average gradient over the last 8 kilometers. The route was famously picturesque, a warped canyon of ancient marble accented by clinging carpets of green, known as Taroko Gorge. You couldn’t imagine a more beautiful route for a race, and on this day that’s exactly how you had to experience the Jurassic decor, since the folds of fog had settled deep into the cut.

We, invited cycling journalists, had been in Taiwan for a week, tasting the flavors of a country rich in sustenance. There had been glorious jungle climbs, through thick, ripe foliage on ribbons of chalkboard black tarmac. Each night we were fed heaps of food, platter upon platter of things we could not necessarily identify, and which we knew we could not finish, but which were offered to us by a people bursting with generosity. We ate heartily. Shrines and temples dotted the hillsides, and stinky tofu stands peppered the curbsides of many a town and city corner.

But now the royal treatment was over; the Taiwan Travel Bureau had invited us here to experience the nation, its culture, this devilish race, and had pampered us in so many ways, but they forgot to talk to the rain gods about our final mission.

The KOM Challenge is, arguably, the hardest hill climb race in the entire world. From zero to 3,275 meters to the summit of Hehuanshan mountain. One road. One direction: Up.

We rolled out to the click of nearly 1,000 pedals popping with the sound of cycling.

The rain, it continued to drop. My teeth chattered; I looked over at Will Routley, an invited professional who claimed the KOM competition at the 2014 Tour of California, whose lips were a pale shade of not-right. We had 18km of neutral rollout, and that was 20km too much. We wanted to race, to generate fury and warmth and spirit. But we had to wait. It was best just to think ahead, to know that it was all about to detonate.

Once we turned into the mouth of the gorge, it was immediate. The racing became racing, and a universally familiar feeling washed over the peloton. We’d all done this before; find your home and settle in for the long climb into the heavens.

There were small rocks scattered on the edges of the gleaming darkness of asphalt from the incessant rains. You notice these things when you’re following unfamiliar wheels; you hope the others notice too and kindly indicate which side to take warning. You notice all these things, and hope.

Then it came. The singular sound of a cycling crash. The shriek of frightened voices and the noise of impact instantaneously register a warning. Sometimes the speed with which your brain can process the information is helpful; you slither by. Other times, you have no choice. Down.

My brain helped me now, and only a slight dab was required to avoid the chaos. But I looked to my right as I tiptoed to safety, and I saw the pained face of a fallen friend, a fellow journalist and professional rider. Down.

To stop, or not to stop? As quickly as your brain can process myriad tactical sensations, it can bog down with moral dilemmas. Conflicting thoughts. I wanted to stop and see if she was okay. She’d probably want me to press on. She could use my help and encouragement if she was able to return to the race. She’s in good hands here; someone will stop to help.

I was swept up the road, allowing myself to be taken farther from a place of decision. It pained me to press on. But I did, knowing that there were only people as hard as diamonds in this race. She would have some story to tell, one way or another. She would come back stronger.

I patiently made my way back through the field, to the pointy end of the race, settling in and finding a rhythm amongst the gathered tribe. This was elite company: small bikes, small people, big engines. I felt like Stijn Vandenbergh among a fleet of Rigoberto Uráns.

We pierced through the floating waters of the atmosphere, concentrated air that combined with the falling rains to create a mobile sweat lodge. We smoothly flowed slowly upward, losing riders one by one, until a finite group of 20 coalesced. And, then, we pedaled on, waiting for the moves to come. I drifted off the front, more so to spawn warmth than to elicit counterattacks. Will tried to bridge to me to make a North American tag-team. His team-issued orange helmet would go nowhere without passengers.

We pressed on. For hours. Only up.

I dangled at the tail of the snake. I sensed the dawning of the drop; any lift in pace, after three and a half hours of climbing and I would drift away, behind and beyond. Sometimes the solo effort is a more comfortable place to be, and so a small part of me was eager for the fall.

And then, nonchalantly, it came. They floated away, softly, silently, and I searched for signs that would help me understand just how much longer I would have to endure this growing ache. Eleven kilometers. Maybe 20 minutes of torture? Deep sighs. Eleven kilometers of torture.

The closing eight kilometers are touted as the hardest of the race, but when you’re numb, or dumb from the bonk, it’s easy to consider them impossible. Unnecessary. Contrary to sane.

But if you’re lucky, inspiration comes to you, and you push on. I received a gift in the shape of small cyclists emerging from the fog, just up the road from me. They were going slower. I knew I was going to catch them. I was better than them at this moment. Momentum. Mental momentum. I rode it.

I had become so cold that my hands no longer functioned. They were catatonic. Hands, in fact, are important for riding a bike. They allow you to shift, and brake, and steer — and also eat. You might call them essential. And when you lose the ability to tear open a wrapper to feed your starving cells, and fear shifting to a harder gear knowing that you may never be able to downshift when the road tilts skyward, you know it is time to hurry home. Grip and ride. Hold on tight. Turn the legs. Churn skyward.

Then, sometimes inspiration comes on a grand scale, such as the sight of a bright orange helmet and yellow socks, the distinctive kit of an Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies professional cyclist named Will. He’s moving so slowly. I’m very much catching him. He is paper-boying so bad that I think I could be hallucinating. ‘I’m going to drop his ass.’ Giddy with the thought. And then, in painful, grinding, slow motion, I passed the pro who was colder than me, only 500 meters from the line.

I know my brain function was compromised at the summit. Some form of hypothermia-meets-fatigue syndrome. I say that now. Then, I was delirious, crawling around looking for warmth, seeing familiar faces but not saying much. Did I smile? I’m smiling now, thinking back, but then I was a shell. Will came across the line moments later; we tried to embrace, the sheer camaraderie almost overwhelming us. But it didn’t go so well. We were pathetic. We were done. Our arms wouldn’t rise for the occasion and we bumbled around and uttered only guttural sounds.

There are times in life when everything blends to perfection like a spritely, summer cocktail: the right people, a captivating place, and profound, collective enjoyment are the only necessary ingredients. This was far from summer, but the satisfying taste of success was effervescent in the whirlwind chaos of a mist-shrouded summit on the other side of the world.

This cocktail, on this day, was made in Taiwan.

Editor’s note: Chris participated in the Taiwan KOM Challenge as a guest of the organizers and had his flights, food, and accommodation paid for. VeloNews would like to thank the organizers for the invitation and their hospitality. A full list of the 252 successful finishers can be seen here.

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Photo Essay: Hidden gems in the Taiwanese countryside Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:25:49 +0000

VeloNews' Chris Case travels to Taiwan and discovers some of the most stunning riding in country's mountainous jungles

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Ebsen, Fedyna take Taiwan KOM Challenge titles Sat, 15 Nov 2014 16:52:09 +0000

John Ebsen rode to victory atop Mount HeHuan in rain and cold temperatures. Photo courtesy of Taiwan KOM Challenge

Ebsen wins the 62-mile hill climb for the second straight year, this time in rain and cold temperatures

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John Ebsen rode to victory atop Mount HeHuan in rain and cold temperatures. Photo courtesy of Taiwan KOM Challenge

HUALIEN, Taiwan (VN) — For the second time in three years, John Ebsen (Atlas/black Inc.) crushed the field to take the Taiwan KOM Challenge title, winning by over two minutes on a day that saw the skies continue to drop showers and temperatures plummet to near 40 degrees at the summit of the 62-mile hill climb.

“This year was a lot cooler, but this actually played out to my advantage,” Ebsen said at the summit, still shivering in a cold rain. “It was all about keeping warm; I kept on my rain jacket even though I was sweating all the way up, although I was perfect all the way up. But you don’t want to say that to the other rivals.”

Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) also made the trip across the world to race what is arguably the world’s toughest hill climb, receiving an invite from race organizers, the Taiwan Cyclist Federation, after his performance at the Amgen Tour of California — where he won the mountains classification as well as stage 4. He suffered in the cold in Taiwan, having just come off a break after a long season, finishing 15th on the day.

“I haven’t done Paris-Roubaix, but I know they have done some crazy, horrific rides in the dirt, wind, rain, and cold. But honestly, this is one of the craziest, hardest days — 16 to 7.5 degrees Celsius — this altitude is ridiculous and you don’t want to eat,” Routley said. “This was just a crazy day; people back at home won’t realize — unless you have experienced this — this was just insane!”

On the women’s side, Marg Fedyna, a veteran of adventures races, including multiple Eco-Challenges and a host of other endurance events such as the Haute Route Pyrenees (where she triumphed this year), won the women’s race.

The 50-year-old road a consistent race, stayed out of trouble along the way, and held on for an impressive win.

“It was up there with mind over body. I thought it would be more about the legs, but it was about the hands,” Fedyna said of the inclement conditions. “I would love to do this again on a dry day. It was clearing up a bit and it was beautiful and outstanding scenery; it is a must for everybody.”

Two of the women’s pre-race favorites, Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululemon), who was second last year, and Jo Hogan (Rapha Ambassador), were caught up in an early crash. Hogan took the brunt of the fall, landing on ribs that had been injured just three weeks earlier when she was struck by a car while riding.

She continued on, in pain, and eventually clawed her way to fourth place.

“There were times in the race, especially at the 50km mark, that I thought I was not going to be able to finish,” Hogan said. “To be honest, I thought it was going to be a little bit harder; I really had good legs, it was really just the pain in my side that stopped me from going a little bit harder, especially in those pitchy sections when I had to get out of the saddle.”

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Eclectic elite lineup prepares to tackle Taiwan KOM Challenge Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:33:01 +0000

Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) is one of the odds-on favorites for this weekend's Taiwan KOM Challenge. The American is a contender despite the fact that this is his first stab at the race, which is arguably the hardest hill climb in the world. Photo: Chris Case |

Canadian Will Routley toes the line this weekend for what is arguably the most difficult hill climb race in the world

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Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) is one of the odds-on favorites for this weekend's Taiwan KOM Challenge. The American is a contender despite the fact that this is his first stab at the race, which is arguably the hardest hill climb in the world. Photo: Chris Case |

HUALIEN, Taiwan (VN) — Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, Australia. Professional riders from around the world have gathered in Hualien, Taiwan, to take on what could arguably be the world’s most difficult hill climb, and one of the toughest single-day races going.

The Taiwan KOM Challenge isn’t a UCI-sanctioned event, and it comes after the European season has officially ended, but the 62-mile race, from the eastern coast of the island, through the picturesque Taroko Gorge, to the peak of HeHuan — taking the cyclists from sea level to 10,745 feet — is able to attract WorldTour riders with its serious prize purse of nearly $80,000.

Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) has previously made the trek around the world to race here, as have Jeremy Roy ( and Anthony Charteau.

This year, Canada’s Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) is being touted as the race’s major player. He had a breakthrough performance at the Amgen Tour of California in May when he won stage 4, while taking each of the points and KOM prizes on offer that day; he held onto the KOM jersey from then on. He’ll face challenges from Feng Chun Kai (a recent signing by Lampre-Merida), John Ebsen, the 2012 winner, as well as members of the Kenyan national team, among a host of others.

“I think particularly this time of year, I’m in for a world of hurt, and I know myself, regardless of the form, I’m going to go as hard as I can,” said Routley. “I think I’ll be following these seasoned vets for the majority of it before I can try to jump off their wheel.”

On the women’s side, last year’s runner-up, Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululemon), will look to go one better than last year when she came second to Japan’s Eri Yonamine, who has not returned to defend her title.

Her Australian compatriot, Jo Hogan (most recently with Swiss-based UCI team Bigla, now riding as a Rapha Ambassador), the silver medalist from the 2013 Australian national road championship, also hopes to bring Oz the queen of the mountain title, and along with it, substantial winnings of over $6,000.

“Realistically, I don’t know how I’ll fare, but I’m very competitive so I hope to win,” Hogan said. “But as much as I think I know what the competition is like, with Tiffany being here, you can never underestimate anybody in these kind of events.”

Hogan first learned of the race after speaking with the retiring Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol); Pooley, who had planned to race, will not start due to a family matter which has prevented her from traveling to Taiwan. The organizers were quick to bring Hogan to the KOM Challenge to see how the tall Aussie would fare on the intensely steep final pitches of the climb, which average 17 percent over the last eight kilometers.

Which begs the question: How did Routley come to be the featured rider at this year’s event?

“It’s a number of things,” he said. “Even though it’s the offseason, it’s not necessarily doable for everyone. But [winning the] KOM jersey at the Tour of California was a big result and carries some weight. I think the anti-doping factor — I wrote an article about it and I got a little interest that way — that is a nice tie in with the race. The fact that I was able to bring over my father [who will also be participating — Ed.] was interesting to [the organizers]; it’s just sort of a neat story. And they also want to change up who they bring over to keep it interesting.”

The organizers of the KOM Challenge, the Taiwan Cyclist Federation, have indeed kept the race interesting, especially with their stringent stance on doping.

It is likely the only event in 2014 that does not allow anyone who has served a suspension to take part, no matter when that suspension took place.

“We’re always talking about the sport getting cleaner, and I believe it is, but it really sets an example of, here’s an event that’s obviously a success and they can make a statement like that. I’ve been outspoken about this issue and I think it’s great to see,” Routley said.

Neither Routley or Hogan has ever raced a climb of such stature, but on November 15, they will be two of nearly 500 racers who aim to tame the precipitous slopes which top out at an ominous 27 percent.

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Utah’s favorite son: Tanner Putt aims for the WorldTour Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:48:05 +0000

Tanner Putt's top-15 finish at 2014 world championships was the U23 U.S. team's best result. He'll move to UnitedHealthcare in 2015 with ambitions as a rider for hard, one-day classics. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Having signed with UnitedHealthcare for 2015, the two-time U23 champion hopes to take on Europe's toughest races

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Tanner Putt's top-15 finish at 2014 world championships was the U23 U.S. team's best result. He'll move to UnitedHealthcare in 2015 with ambitions as a rider for hard, one-day classics. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the October 2014 issue of Velo magazine. Tanner Putt recently signed with UnitedHealthcare for 2015 and 2016.

He’s built a bit like Peter Sagan, or Greg van Avermaet. Thick, stocky, like a small grizzly bear.

He’s won two under-23 national road race championships, in consecutive years.

He’s a familiar name to some, with breakthrough performances in Europe, including ninth at the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013, and he’s only going to get more famous as time goes on.

Tanner Putt, 22, has been racing bikes for over a decade, and he shows no signs of slowing down. “Right now, I just want to focus on getting better, getting stronger, slowly start to lose a bit more weight — I really like climbing — and not forget about sprinting, but just focus on going uphill a little bit more,” the Utah native said.

Having spent years tucked under the expansive wings of team director Axel Merckx (like Gavin Mannion, Ben King, Taylor Phinney, and many others before him), Putt continues to mature, physically and psychologically. He’s built like two of the best all-around riders in the world, and has a similar set of arrows in his quiver.

“I look up to riders like Greg van Avermaet, like Peter Sagan, bigger guys, guys with a bigger build that can go uphill — they’re not just sprinters that will sit in and sprint at the end, they can go uphill, they can ride on cobbles, they can sprint, they can do everything, and I look up to riders like that,” he said.

Not surprisingly, his favorite races are those built for hard men, races like the Tour of Flanders. These races — supremely tough on a rider, that wear on them all day — bring out the enthusiasm in Putt.

“That’s my favorite kind of race; it shows who the strongest guys are. I like the harder races, the selective races, that show who has put in the hard work, who’s good, who’s there at the end,” he said.

He wasn’t always destined to make a run at the classics. He started his cycling life on a 24-inch road bike that he shared with his older brother, Andrew. His first race took him up to Snowbird resort via Little Cottonwood Canyon, in the Wasatch Range near Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately for Putt, as well as many other blooming young riders, his road to the WorldTour is not guaranteed. As the highest reaches of the sport continue to contract, with sponsors and teams downsizing, riders like Putt, who are not once-in-a-generation riders like Sagan, could miss out on great opportunities to make that next step, and teams could miss out on riders like him because they don’t have the spots on their rosters.

“Tanner is legit,” Merckx said. “I’m a little concerned for Tanner, not because of his talent — he definitely has the talent — but the WorldTour situation is so difficult for young riders, and so dramatic … Tanner has been national champ for two years in a row; it’s not a fluke. He’s there because he’s the best, he’s the best in those kinds of races, which means that he can climb, and he’s fast.”

Sitting in the shade on a tree-lined boulevard at the start of stage 4 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, next to the city park in Ogden, Putt wasn’t worried. He was happy to be racing his bike, looking to improve, hoping to help his teammates on a day that would finish atop the brutal slopes of Powder Mountain. He wasn’t thinking about the WorldTour.

“I [race] because I love it, not because I want to make money. I just love riding my bike, I love being able to travel the world and meet new people — all of my really close friends I’ve met through cycling. It’s really just my whole life now,” he said.

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Riding in Amy Dombroski’s muddy tire tracks Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:10:15 +0000

Elle Anderson, pictured here at CrossVegas in Vanderkitten kit, will race for the Kalas-NNOF team in the coming 2014/2015 cyclocross season. Photo: Dave McElwaine |

Elle Anderson heads to the hallowed grounds of Europe this cyclocross season

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Elle Anderson, pictured here at CrossVegas in Vanderkitten kit, will race for the Kalas-NNOF team in the coming 2014/2015 cyclocross season. Photo: Dave McElwaine |

The revelation of the 2013-2014 American cyclocross season, Elle Anderson, is heading to the sport’s epicenter, basing herself in Belgium this season to focus on her first full European ’cross campaign. It’s a step that would have made another young Vermont native proud.

The parallels between Anderson’s career trajectory and that of the late Amy Dombroski, killed in a training accident last October in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium, are uncanny.

The two attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. Both were ski racers who suffered bad knee injuries that led them to their discovery of cycling. Now that Anderson has made the jump to the European circuit, their two paths are linked.

“I actually think about that often because I feel that I am traveling such a similar path to Amy, and the kind of emotions I feel about that are reassurance and gratitude,” Anderson said. “Because it’s reassuring to me to feel like I’m following Amy somewhere, that she’s been here before me and it’s all going to be okay because she made it through, and she’s made it just those few steps ahead of me.”

The comforting connections don’t end there. The reason Anderson will even get to race in Europe for her new Kalas-NNOF team (formerly KDL Cycling) has to do, in part, with Amy.

After Dombroski’s death, Anderson’s mother wrote a letter to Dombroski’s “European family” out of the blue.

Anderson’s mother had been reading some of the coverage about Dombroski’s Belgian hosts and how they were dealing with the loss. She struck up a correspondence with Victor Bruyndonx, the family’s patriarch.

“When I went over to Europe in December [to EuroCrossCamp], Victor just came and found me,” Anderson said. “He talked to me and started following my racing and when the season started to wrap up at world championships, it was almost his idea originally. He asked, ‘Are you going to come race in Europe? I’ll ask around for you and help you find some teams.’”

Though she was hesitant at first, Bruyndonx’s persistence paid off. Anderson will leave for Belgium the Monday morning after the Gloucester race weekend.

If you had asked her in January if she would race a full season in Belgium, she wouldn’t have had a clue, she admitted. Now, she’s ready to go, reassured by the friend who rode the muddy bergs before her, grateful of the opportunity to continue the legacy of a fallen comrade.

She will live with the same host family, even sleep in the same room that Dombroski used.

“When I stayed in Amy’s room, soon to be my room, in April, when I signed the contract, I could imagine and almost feel Amy’s presence still in the walls of that room,” Anderson said. “It makes me feel closer to Amy than I’ve ever felt in the past, like a part of her is still there and will follow me through my experiences to continue what could be considered the same story … or a sequel. I’m sure the feeling will fade a bit as I settle into my life in Belgium, and maybe it does border a little on creepy. But again, I can only imagine her to be happy knowing what I’ve set out to do. To be around people that supported her and that took care of her is really reassuring for me. I’m just grateful that maybe I can write a next chapter that she’s not able to write, and in some small way I can be continuing her dream, even though she’s not able to.”

The revelation

Coming into the 2013-2014 season, no American had beaten then nine-time national champion Katie Compton since 2006. Anderson’s was a name that few people had heard before, and then one day she was known for beating the legend, after doing so on the first day of the Providence Cyclocross Festival in early October.

Throughout the rest of the season, people expected ever bigger things from Anderson; by all accounts, she delivered, with four straight wins at both days of the Trek Cyclocross Collective Cup and Gran Prix of Gloucester on consecutive weekends, her third place at the Superprestige round in Diegem behind Belgian champ Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), and her second place finish at the national championships behind Compton.

It was a big year, a breakthrough year. Is it a sign of more to come?

Anderson comes into the 2014-2015 season with an entirely new plan. She tackled CrossVegas, riding to a disappointing 15th, though she is looking to have better form once the move to Europe is behind her. She skipped the races in Boulder, Colorado, and will head to the Gloucester race weekend before it’s on to Belgium for the season.

She’ll continue to work for Strava, five hours a day, five days a week, while maintaining a full race schedule. Expectations are high, but the competition will be entirely new. She’ll start her first race in Europe just days after arriving, at the Superprestige kickoff in Gieten on October 5. She’ll race through February 28, after the world championships, and the traditional finish to the European ’cross season. She will only return to the U.S. for the national championships in January, and before that the Cincy 3 Cyclocross Festival weekend, along with the newly created Pan-American continental championships in early November.

“Even last year, when I kept having successes, I just kept going with the flow, having a lot of fun, letting that momentum carry me through the season,” Anderson said. “When everything is new, it helps deflect some of the pressure. It’s like, ‘Well, it’s another race; let’s see what happens.’ When I think about this coming year, I think I can ride the wave and let things come as they may because I’ve changed so many things from last year. In so many ways, I feel like I have another blank slate to write whatever I want. I don’t feel like a lot of people have big expectations of what I can do because I’m going to be in Europe, it’s going to be a completely new circuit, new competition, and I kind of just get to discover cyclocross from a whole new angle.”

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Powers cruises to victory at U.S. Open of Cyclocross Sun, 14 Sep 2014 01:20:22 +0000

Jeremy Powers cruised to victory at the U.S. Open of Cylcocross in Boulder, Colorado on Saturday

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BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) grabbed the holeshot on a dry, bumpy Boulder Reservoir course, then patiently gapped the field alongside Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) and Allen Krughoff (Noosa), until unleashing a searing attack on the final lap and win comfortably in the U.S. Open of Cyclocross on Saturday, up by 25 seconds at the line.

It was Powers’ second podium appearance in four days; he finished third behind Sven Nys and Lars van der Haar at CrossVegas.

“I’m definitely a little tuckered still from Vegas — not even from the race, just all the things that happen at [InterBike] and the moving and the shaking and all that,” Powers said. “It’s a quick turnaround, and I think everyone [out there racing] was feeling the same way. I wasn’t feeling super, but it was enough to allow me to put down some power and the sharp stuff I was still able to kind of capitalize a little bit. It was a good race.”

The first lap saw Powers take the lead with Berden and Krughoff in tow, followed closely by Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo) and Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement). By the end of the lap, however, Krughoff’s efforts at the front saw him pull Powers and Berden away from the group, and the trio had a 10-second lead going into the second lap.

It remained much the same for another lap, until Powers was caught up in some fallen course tape, and lost touch with Krughoff and Berden. Just before the start-finish pavement, Krughoff bobbled and slid out in a corner, allowing Powers to regain contact. The trio was back together again. Meanwhile, Driscoll powered his way around in no-man’s-land, 25 seconds back.

Soon after, Powers went to the front and pushed the pace, as Krughoff went into the pit to grab his second bike, allowing a gap to grow between him and the lead duo.

“Unfortunately, Jeremy started going for it just as I had to pit,” Krughoff said. “I got a bike change and jumped on the other bike, and I don’t think we had the tire pressure totally dialed. That one seemed a little higher, less comfortable around the corners, so I lost a bit more time. Got back on the other bike and got back into the rhythm, but by that time it was a 15-second gap. I knew that maybe if I went all-all in I could catch Ben, but then we have to race tomorrow.”

By the end of the fifth lap, Powers and Berden had stretched their lead to 12 seconds over Krughoff. Powers looked to Berden to pull through, but when there was no response from the Belgian, Powers attacked through a series of switchbacks in the opening half of the course. Krughoff, however, was changing back to his ‘A’ bike, losing more ground. By the end of lap seven, he was 20 seconds adrift.

Behind, Shawn Milne (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo) was attacking a group of eight, pulling Troy Wells (Clif Bar) and Jake Wells (Stan’s No Tubes) with him, riding in fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively.

Into the last lap, Powers had had enough. He immediately went on the attack, arcing through the dusty corners and pulling out time in each one. By the line he had enough of a buffer to sit up, adjust his Aspire Racing team jersey, high-five the gathered fans, securing victory by a comfortable 25 seconds over Berden. Krughoff cruised home for third, 45 seconds back.

Photo gallery from U.S. Open of Cyclocross.

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Sergey Tsvetkov storms the castle at the USA Pro Challenge Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:13:44 +0000

Sergey Tsvetcov earned a surprising third place ahead of many notable climbers on stage 3 to Monarch Mountain. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

After a steady rise through the domestic ranks and a breakthrough podium finish in Colorado, Tsvetkov may make the jump to the WorldTour

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Sergey Tsvetcov earned a surprising third place ahead of many notable climbers on stage 3 to Monarch Mountain. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

DENVER, Colorado (VN) — Tejay, Tom … Tsvetkov?

While Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) comfortably defended his title at the USA Pro Challenge, and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) put in a valiant effort to come second in his beloved home race, Sergey Tsvetkov, of the comparatively minuscule Jelly Belly team, rode to an impressive — and for some, a head-scratching — third place overall against a truly world-class crop of riders and teams.

All in a day’s riding for the soft-spoken, mellow Moldovan (who races with Romanian citizenship).

“I try to race everyday like it’s another day; I don’t think about the GC and that’s probably how I get to be third now,” he told VeloNews. “Because if you try to stay, hold in GC, you don’t have an aggressive [mindset], and I just try to treat every day like a new day.”

Many fans were asking, “Who is this guy with the jelly beans on his kit?” Others, including his two WorldTour companions on the podium, weren’t at all surprised to see Tsvetkov standing beside them in downtown Denver.

“I’m not actually surprised. He’s put in some really good rides; he’s two-time national time trial champion,” van Garderen said. “I was just thinking it was a matter of time before he had a breakthrough ride. The whole time we were looking at the results sheet, we kind of kept saying, ‘There’s all the obvious guys like Danielson and Majka,’ but his name kept popping up, like, we should maybe keep an eye on him.”

If you are a scholar of the Pro Challenge, however, you know that Tsvetkov showed signs of serious talent years prior, riding for Exergy, on the stage from Durango to Telluride, in 2012. That day, he joined a breakaway with Danielson and current Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (then riding for Liquigas-Cannondale), among others. Danielson, for one, took notice.

“My first experience with Sergey was in 2012 on the stage from Durango to Telluride, when we were throwing bombs out, left, right, and center. ‘Who is this Exergy guy there who was going pull for pull?’ I was like, ‘Who are you, man? When are you gonna blow?’ And then I started to freak,” Danielson said. “We had Nibali there, Stetina and myself, and Serghei, and I kept looking at him and asking, ‘Who are you?’ And he’s a really nice guy. Ever since I’ve been following him — and I saw this year that he won Cascade criterium, on top of the time trial and all this other stuff — and I thought, ‘Uh oh.’ I’ve seen him up there the last couple of days and said this is gonna be trouble.”

It’s true that Tsvetkov has had an impressive rise through the U.S. domestic scene after moving over from the Tusnad cycling team in Romania. He won the time trial at the Tour of the Gila and finished 12th during the Folsom time trial at the Tour of California. Tsvetkov crashed hard during stage 1 of the Tour de Beauce in June, but persevered to finish third overall in the Canadian UCI 2.2 race.

Tsvetkov won the overall at the Cascade Cycling Classic this July for a second straight year, after taking two stage wins in the time trial and criterium. He nabbed three top-10 finishes at the Tour of Utah earlier this month in preparation for the more gradual climbs of Colorado that he prefers.

But his performance at the Pro Challenge, where he finished third on the climbing stage 3 to Monarch Mountain (20 seconds down on stage winner van Garderen), third in the sprint the next day on the circuit race through Colorado Springs (in the same time as stage winner Elia Viviani of Cannondale), and third in the stage 6 Vail time trial (losing 1:08 to stage winner van Garderen), was a display of his comprehensive skillset.

“If you ask any of the Continental managers who have seen him race over the past four years, this is not a project that happened overnight,” said Danny van Haute, director of the Jelly Belly team. “He’s been in the States the past four years — two years with Exergy and two years with us — and we’ve seen his progress every year: 10 percent better, 20 percent better. And now it’s at that point that he needs to graduate.”

Not surprisingly, the calls from WorldTour teams are coming left and right. Though he hasn’t made any decision yet, nor signed any contracts, his prospects continue to rise after his display in his adopted home state of Colorado, where he has lived in Golden since 2012.

“The calls started coming a few weeks before the start of this race. And they’ve … accelerated [laughs],” said van Haute.

The move to the WorldTour would mean a reevaluation for Tsvetkov, something he’s well aware of.

“I understand that if I move up, I will work hard for other guys because there are a lot of strong guys,” he said. “I’m ready for that. Now, I have opportunities to be a leader on Jelly Belly, and they really support me well, the guys were riding amazing. I’m just happy now to be a GC contender. But I’m looking everyday as a new day. If I have a sprint day, I try for sprint. If I have to climb, I will climb. It looks like I can do almost everything …”

Indeed it does. Especially in the thin air atop Monarch Pass where he beat the high-altitude specialist Danielson, among a slew of other more well known climbers. It all had to do with a new mindset that saw him being patient rather than persistent.

“That [stage] was huge for me. Just awesome,” he said. “My first goal was just to stay in the first group. In the end, I realized, ‘Wow, everyone is tired, I’m not fresh [either], probably those guys just attack each other too early and now I have a chance.”

On the back of that performance, he continued to ride quietly and intelligently, conserving energy whenever possible, learning to ride with reserve, and trusting that the hard work that he had put into the sport would repay him with results. It was the opposite approach to years past when he looked to bring attention to the team with breakaway efforts and stage wins.

“I am glad that the work that I have done has paid off, because when you’re working hard, you try to train well, sleep, ride, and everything, and get this result,” he said. “It’s not so much a surprise; everything is working. Everything is possible.”

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On the verge: Carter Jones, the ever-present contender Sun, 24 Aug 2014 03:42:31 +0000

Near the top of Hoosier Pass, Carter Jones (Optum) tried a short-lived attack, only to be caught before the summit. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

Over the past three weeks, Carter Jones (Optum) has climbed alongside Cadel Evans, Tom Danielson, Chris Horner, Tejay van Garderen, and

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Near the top of Hoosier Pass, Carter Jones (Optum) tried a short-lived attack, only to be caught before the summit. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

VAIL, Colorado (VN) — If you watched stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge, you likely noticed the blue streaks of an attacking Tom Danielson high on the slopes of Monarch Pass, as he attempted to ride away from the field. If you caught the final stage of the Tour of Utah a few weeks earlier, you probably saw the bright red charge of Cadel Evans as he churned his way over the top of Empire Pass in pursuit of his second stage win.

And if you were watching closely, you would have seen the bright orange helmet and whirling yellow socks of Carter Jones on either of those days, pedaling alongside some of the world’s strongest riders.

Jones (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) climbed beside Evans (BMC Racing) in Utah’s final stage, over the top of the precipitous Empire Pass, as the two rallied to bring back a trio of the world’s best climbers: Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Chris Horner, and Winner Anacona (both Lampre-Merida).

At the Pro Challenge, nearly 11,000 feet above sea level on stage 3, Jones threw down his own attacks in response to Danielson’s ill-fated efforts, contending for the win amongst a group of elite protagonists, including Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing).

In the rare opportunities he’s had as a domestic Continental pro to face off against the WorldTour elite, Jones has been one of the mightiest challengers for almost two full seasons.

First in the King of the Mountain classification at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. Eighth overall at the 2013 Tour of Utah. First overall at the 2014 Tour of the Gila. Seventh overall at the 2014 Tour of Utah. And now he sits eighth at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge with one stage left.

It’s been a steady, skyward ride.

“I just set my goals on improving over last year, looking for improvement year to year,” Jones said. “Frankly, I surprised myself last year. I was like, ‘Oh, I can climb.’ Climbing is all about confidence. Luckily, I was able to gain that confidence, ‘Ok, I can climb with these guys.’ That was kind of at [Utah] last year. And I proved it again at Colorado last year, and California this year. So I want to improve upon that — last year I was definitely hanging on in the climbs. This year, I’d like to be more a part of the race rather than surviving.”

Climbing beside Evans, Danielson, and van Garderen would constitute being a part of the race in most people’s eyes. But for the New Jersey native, it still hasn’t been enough.

After his performance on stage 7 in Utah, Jones seemed more placid than elated. After losing time to the main contenders after stages 2 and 3 in Colorado, he couldn’t really see the positive side. He just wanted more.

Anyone who is left unsatisfied by hanging with a Tour de France champion, in Evans, on one of the toughest climbs in the U.S., on Empire Pass (which is nearly equivalent in length and gradient to the much-feared Angliru in Spain), has the heart of a champion. But can he become a champion?

“Just seeing how motivated, and how focused, and how driven he is, is really impressive to me,” said Optum teammate Jesse Anthony. “He’s working so hard with his future in mind — I’m not exactly sure what his goals are; every kid that age wants to get to the WorldTour — and I really hope he gets an opportunity to do that and race some really big races.”

But the WorldTour?

“I’m talking to a lot of teams… my goal is to get to the WorldTour,” Jones said. “Who knows? At this point, I’m riding as well as I can; I’m doing everything I can. It’s just a matter of the stars aligning.”

His consistency may be his greatest strength, but the flash and drama of a great result — a stage win, or an overall podium at one of the three big American stage races — may go farther toward convincing a WorldTour team that he has what it takes to ride at the next level.

His time trial performance on Saturday at the Pro Challenge wasn’t exactly what he hoped for. He dropped one place, to eighth overall, behind Ben Hermans (BMC Racing). But he fights on.

Someone who knows Jones well, Omer Kem, sport director for the Bissell Development team, and someone who directed Jones for three years before the team became a development program, wasn’t sure that the WorldTour was the only place for Jones.

“You look at what he is doing, you look at what [Serghei] Tvetcov is doing, you look at what [Joey] Rosskopf is doing: In another year, Continental teams are going to be winning these races,” said Kem. “Because the WorldTour teams come here tired, with a bunch of guys that don’t want to be here. There’s a career here for these guys in the U.S. because the TV [coverage] is getting better, there’s more and more money coming in, there’s more sponsors that are interested because you have four or five events that are live in TV every day for a week. That’s a lot of exposure. Carter has made those incremental gains. I’m proud to say I was able to take him on and devoted a lot to him.”

If the stars align and Jones heads to the roads of Europe, or if he stays in the U.S. and continues on as a Continental stand out, be sure to watch for him beside the best climbers in the world, whether they’re wearing bright red, royal blue, or any color in between.

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Velo Magazine — September 2014 Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:52:04 +0000

The September issue of Velo provides complete coverage of the 2014 Tour de France.

September is the Tour de France edition, and it is combined with the official guide to the USA Pro Challenge

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The September issue of Velo provides complete coverage of the 2014 Tour de France.

006_VeloSep044_VeloSep 066_VeloSepThe most anticipated Velo issue of the year is here. The Tour de France edition, with all the race analysis and tech features Velo readers have come to expect, is combined with the official guide to the USA Pro Challenge.

This double September issue contains everything you need to know about the world’s biggest bike race, which started in Great Britain and was full of drama, crashes, surprises, and a dominant performance by Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali.

Velo takes you week-by-week through the Grand Boucle, beginning with Nibali’s perfect ride. From the cobbles of stage 5 that saw Chris Froome abandon the race, to the Alberto Contador’s crash and the epic ride of Tony Martin in the first half of the race, our reporters were on the ground to capture all of the action.

Though the Tour started in Britain, the British riders did not fare well, with star sprinter Mark Cavendish crashing out on stage 1 and five-star favorite Froome suffering through a series of crashes.

Marcel Kittel claimed his rightful spot atop the sprinting throne for the second consecutive year in France, and his coronation is highlighted in the issue.

On the tech side, the Tour is often used as a showcase for new and improved equipment, and this year was no exception. Read all about the latest, most technologically advanced equipment to debut in the pro peloton.

The second half of the Tour was no less dramatic, as the rise of several French riders took center stage throughout the final stages. American hopeful Tejay van Garderen struggled, then persevered to preserve a top-5 finish in Paris. Read all about his rocky road.

The Garmin-Sharp team also saw emotional, mixed fates, from Andrew Talansky’s solo ride to beat the time cut, to Jack Bauer’s agonizing defeat at the line.

Finally, the mighty Peter Sagan had an interesting July, without a victory, but a dominant display of control in the green jersey competition.

Outside of France, our tech team took a look at new carbon clinchers, reviewing eight of the best on the market. While they used to turn heads for the all the wrong reasons, these wheelsets prove that the technology is ready for primetime.

When you’ve reached the end of Velo’s Tour coverage, flip the magazine over and treat yourself to the official USA Pro Challenge guide. Read detailed descriptions of each of the race’s seven stages and 16 teams, an in-depth analysis of seven riders to watch, a page of helpful tips for fans new to bike racing, and information on the “must-see moments” that could determine overall contenders. Racing in Colorado’s mountains presents challenges all its own: discover how the altitude will affect rider performance and find out why all pros carry a “rain bag” in their team car for the inevitable bad-weather racing day.

All this and much more, in the September issue of Velo.

Subscribe now to receive Velo magazine every month.

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