VeloNews.com » Caley Fretz http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sat, 25 Apr 2015 21:47:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Shelley Olds returns to racing after rib injury http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/shelley-olds-returns-to-racing-after-rib-injury_367749 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/shelley-olds-returns-to-racing-after-rib-injury_367749#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:18:28 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367749

Shelley Olds is motivated for the 2015 season with her new team Bigla. Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com (file)

The American sprinter will return to racing at Omloop van Borsele on Saturday, more than a month after crashing during Ronde van Drenthe

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Shelley Olds is motivated for the 2015 season with her new team Bigla. Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com (file)

Shelley Olds (Bigla) will return to racing at Omloop van Borsele on Saturday, following her recovery from a rib injury sustained at Ronde van Drenthe on March 14.

“From the first day that I knew I had a broken rib, I have focused on staying positive and moving forward,” Olds said. “As soon as I could start working, I did. The first days were difficult, but every day I saw progress and I felt better with each week that passed.”

Olds was forced to take time off the bike following the crash, which occurred on one of the cobbled sectors in Ronde van Drenthe and resulted in broken ribs for the American sprinter.

A fast finisher with a track racing background, Olds is a two-time stage winner at the Giro Rosa and was America’s top elite finisher at the world championship road race last fall, placing sixth. She is a likely candidate to lead the American team at the world championships in Richmond, Virginia later this year.

“I am taking it one day at a time still, but I am very excited to race and grateful that it is possible. The doctors told me it can take 6-12 weeks to recover, so to be able to come back this soon is great,” Olds said.

“However, the trauma of the crash affected me in more places than my rib, and my whole body is still working to recover. But I know that I have worked really hard in the last month, and I want to race more than anything now. I really want to rejoin my team and enjoy the races.”

Bigla will race Omloop van Borsele on Saturday and Dwars door Westhoek on Sunday. Olds is on the startlist for both events.

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Astana to keep its WorldTour license http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/report-astana-to-keep-its-worldtour-license_367710 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/report-astana-to-keep-its-worldtour-license_367710#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:23:34 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367710

It's been a rocky road for Astana this season. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Astana will keep its WorldTour license, but under close observation

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It's been a rocky road for Astana this season. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Embattled pro team Astana, home of reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, will keep its WorldTour license, but will continue to be closely monitored by the Institut des Sciences du Sport de l’Université de Lausanne (ISSUL).

UCI President Brian Cookson had pushed for the team to have its WorldTour license revoked, but the final decision lay in the hands of the UCI’s License Commission, and was largely dependent on the outcome of the ISSUL audit.

“The registration for the 2015 season remains in force. However, the Team’s licence is subject to strict monitoring of the conditions laid down. This monitoring will be carried out on the basis of reports transmitted by ISSUL to the Licence Commission,” a UCI statement reads.

ISSUL made a number of demands of Astana a requirement for the continuation of the team’s WorldTour license. The team committed to meeting those demands.

The UCI release, issued on Thursday, states: “On the initiative of the License Commission, ISSUL were asked to propose special measures which the Team will be obliged to put in place at specific times over the rest of this season. The team committed to respecting all the measures recommended by ISSUL. At the end of the hearing, the Licence Commission announced the suspension of the proceedings.

The UCI did not release a list of the demands placed upon the Astana team, noting only that a “full reasoned decision will be released in due course.”

The License Commmission retains the right to re-open proceedings if “Astana Pro Team fails to respect one or several of the conditions imposed, or if new elements arise,” according to the statement.

The ISSUL audit did not focus on specific anti-doping offenses, but rather on ethical and organizational standards within the Astana team. Astana will continue to race within the WorldTour, but will be under close observation of ISSUL using the methods developed by the body during its original audit of the team.

The UCI has been tight-lipped regarding the specific methods used by ISSUL, but an in-depth investigation by Italian cycling magazine CyclingPro showed that the body took the view that doping is a bi-product of a socio-economic condition, and centered its investigation around this understanding.

The UCI has previously stated that the audit “revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground.”

This story is developing. Check back for more.

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Alaphilippe, 22, registers breakthrough ride at Fleche Wallonne http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/alaphilippe-22-registers-breakthrough-ride-at-fleche-wallonne_367592 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/alaphilippe-22-registers-breakthrough-ride-at-fleche-wallonne_367592#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:38:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367592

Julian Alaphilippe climbed onto the podium in Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Julian Alaphilippe, 22, made the right moves on the Mur de Huy en route to a second-place finish in Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne

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Julian Alaphilippe climbed onto the podium in Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Julian Alaphilippe came to La Flèche Wallonne with a job to do, but it wasn’t to win, or even try.

That’s why, as a sharply diminished peloton hit the lower slopes of the Mur de Huy and the riders around him honed in on the climb, the young Frenchman’s head seemed on a swivel, searching in vain for his Etixx-Quick-Step team leader, world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. He looked back once, twice, checking over his right shoulder and then his left. The rainbow stripes were nowhere to be seen. Kwiatkowski was too far back, with 600 meters to go, to contest for victory.

Sitting in ninth wheel as the gradient pitched up with 500 meters to go — 10 percent, 12 percent, 15 percent — Alaphilippe took a hand off his bars and called over race radio. What should he do?

“My sport director told me to just go for the victory,” he said after the race. And he did. At the top of the Mur de Huy it was Alaphilippe, not his world-champion teammate, who was closest to a flying Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), just one step away from victory.

The result was made all the more impressive by Alaphilippe’s age — he’s just 22 — and his earlier efforts over the penultimate climb, the new Côte de Cherave, where he was charged with chasing early attacks for his Etixx team leader.

“He had a strong performance and it was only his first time,” Kwiatkowski said. “He closed all the attacks on the second-to-last climb. He did a great job for me and in the final he still found the legs to contest the race. He was second, so we are very proud of him.”

With his second-place finish on Wednesday, Alaphilippe became the first French rider since Laurent Jalabert in 2000 to stand on the podium at Flèche Wallonne.

The performance was no fluke. The Mur doesn’t allow flukes. And Alaphilippe was seventh at last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race, and finished second in a difficult finale at the Volta Catalunya last month.

So who is this young French phenom? And how far can he go?

Alaphilippe is a two-time Under-23 French cyclocross champion from Saint-Amand Montrond, in the rolling geographic center of France. He was discovered by Johan Molly, an Etixx masseur and occasional talent scout, and came to the WorldTeam through its development squad, Etixx-Inhed.

At 5-foot-8 and 136 pounds, Alaphilippe is slim. Body type alone is no guarantee of success in the long, hilly classics of late April, but these are the races Alaphilippe believes he is suited for.

“This is the kind of race on which I think I can grow in the future. I had never climbed the Mur de Huy. It was a discovery. I can be happy. Second, it’s still a surprise for my first participation,” Alaphilippe told AFP.

“I’m still a young rider trying to gain experience and am happy that I can be there to both help my teammate, and also try if there is an opportunity for myself in the finale. One day I’d like to try and win these kinds of races, which I love. I will carry on and keep learning from both my teammates and the peloton around me.”

Second place on the Mur, a climb that is notoriously difficult to time, shows a level of maturity, and patience, beyond his years. It shows an ability to position well, too; he hit the Mur inside the top 15, and followed all the right wheels through its lower slopes, landing in Valverde’s wake at the key moment.

“Second place, it is always a defeat, but Valverde isn’t just anyone,” he said. “I had too much lactic acid in the legs. The pain was really intense in the last 200 meters.”

Alaphilippe’s next challenge will be Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. It will be his first participation, and he’ll work for Kwiatkowski, he said, but his ride Wednesday has put other teams on notice: Etixx now has two weapons for the Ardennes.

“I hope to play an important role in the team strategy to help Michal in the front so the team can be able to contest the finish,” Alaphilippe said.

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UCI to lift ban on disc brakes in August http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/bikes-and-tech/uci-to-lift-ban-on-disc-brakes-in-august_366590 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/bikes-and-tech/uci-to-lift-ban-on-disc-brakes-in-august_366590#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:45:34 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366590

Disc brakes are coming to the road in a big way. Photo: Eric Wynn | Shimano

Cycling's governing body will partially lift its ban on disc brakes in road racing in August, and will test the systems throughout 2016

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Disc brakes are coming to the road in a big way. Photo: Eric Wynn | Shimano

The UCI’s long-time ban on disc brakes in professional racing will be partially lifted in August and September of this year, when all professional teams will be allowed to test discs in two events of their choice.

Testing will continue through 2016, when teams will be allowed to test discs in all professional road events. If testing goes well, discs will be formally introduced to the pro peloton in 2017, with the goal of eventually bringing the technology to all levels of road racing.

The decision comes after years of deliberation between the UCI and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), a group that represents cycling industry interests, which was seeking to bring discs to road racing.

Though disc brakes have been common in mountain bike racing for over a decade, the technology has been controversial on the road, where concerns over wheel changes, neutral support, crash safety, and overheating have led the UCI to exercise caution.

“The industry is delighted by this news and also thanks the UCI for the very positive collaboration. This decision will further develop innovation and create new possibilities for the bicycle industry as well as additional performance for the riders. There is still some fine tuning to do on detailed requirements for the procedure, but it is very exciting to finally have reached this decision. The remaining open topics such as neutral race support or the UCI and Teams protocol will be tackled soon,” said WFSGI Secretary General Robbert de Kock said in a UCI press release.

UCI President Brian Cookson also weighed in, saying, “Although disc brakes have been used for around a decade in mountain biking and for the last two years in cyclocross, their introduction to road cycling must be carefully studied in collaboration with all those who are directly concerned. That includes riders, teams and manufacturers. This step is part of the UCI’s desire to encourage innovation in order to ensure cycling is even more attractive for spectators, riders, bike users and broadcasters.”

Discs were first introduced to cyclocross two years ago, and have seen slow but steady adoption in that discipline. Adoption has accelerated as technological hurdles have been overcome.

Two of the three major component producers, SRAM and Shimano, currently produce a hydraulic road disc brake system. The third, Campagnolo, is currently developing its own hydraulic disc system, but it has yet to come to market.

Hydraulic disc systems offer significant benefits over cable-actuated discs, improving power and modulation while adding key features like automatic pad wear adjustment. The advent of road-specific hydraulic systems are seen as key to the road disc movement.

The popularity of discs has been quickly rising among consumers. Most major bike brands now offer disc versions of some of their framesets. The industry, which uses professional racing to market its technology to consumers, has been a major advocate in the push for hydraulic discs in road racing. The deliberations between the WFSGI and UCI largely centered on how to bring discs into pro road racing, not whether they belong there at all.

There are myriad technical concerns, and not all have been sorted. That, presumably, is the purpose of the two test events in 2015 and the extensive testing that will occur in 2016. Axle standards have not yet been agreed upon within the industry, and the tight tolerances of a disc system mean that wheel swaps have a higher potential to result in rubbing or noisy brakes.

The technical hurdles can almost certainly be overcome. Safety concerns, particularly surrounding the effect of spinning, sharp rotors in large crashes, could still slow or halt the technology’s implementation.

Rider sentiment surrounding disc brakes has been mixed. Many have concerns over the sharp edges on disc rotors, which can easily slice skin when spinning. Others fear the potential for an increase in crashes due a dramatic difference in brake power between those with and without discs.

Some pros, like former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), are worried if you add quicker-stopping disc brakes, it could provoke even more pileups in an ever more nervous peloton.

“If you crash on a disc brake, it can open you up. And if you get it on a vein, well, I am worried about the security. I would be more scared of disc brakes,” Gilbert said at a team camp earlier this season. “You would have to adapt all the material as well. Now they are made for braking with carbon fiber wheels, which is pretty slow. If we do this, we need to have the entire peloton on the same material. With the WorldTour teams, the Continental and Pro Continental teams, you could see some on disc brakes, and some not on disc brakes. With disc brakes, you can stop in 10 meters, but without, it takes 20 meters. It could create problems.”

Others, like classics star Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), welcome the change. “The brakes are only for safety, and I don’t really get the point when they say you can’t really have any better brakes. Any other sport that has to go fast and depends on speed, like motorsport, they all depend on brakes. Brakes allow you to go faster. And much safer. And we can’t use those brakes,” he said last year.

Ted King (Cannondale-Garmin), whose team bike sponsor has a number of disc-ready frames available, is in favor of discs as well. “It’s a head-scratcher. I’m a fan. I had the privilege of using the [Cannondale] Synapse disc. Loved it. It’s a sweet bike. But ultimately, it has to be universal. You can’t have guys on disc brakes and guys on rim brakes in the same peloton. Sooner or later, hopefully it’s universal. There are some dangerous races out there, and better braking would make a big difference,” he said.

More opinions from the pros on disc brakes >>

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Gallery: Paris-Roubaix tire tech http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-paris-roubaix-tire-tech_366541 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-paris-roubaix-tire-tech_366541#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 21:55:54 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366541

For the WorldTour's roughest roads, pro teams reach for wide tires with special tread to survive the Roubaix pavé

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Gallery: Technical preparation for Paris-Roubaix http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-technical-preparation-for-paris-roubaix_366453 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-technical-preparation-for-paris-roubaix_366453#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 21:42:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366453

Teams break out the best equipment for the most demanding road race on earth, over 150 miles of racing on the cobblestones

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Pro Bike: Greg Van Avermaet’s podium-winning BMC Granfondo RBX http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-greg-van-avermaets-podium-bmc-granfondo-rbx_366331 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-greg-van-avermaets-podium-bmc-granfondo-rbx_366331#comments Sun, 12 Apr 2015 18:39:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366331

Greg Van Avermaet rode BMC's Granfondo RBX to third place at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday

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Gallery: Mechanics prepare for Paris-Roubaix http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/gallery-mechanics-prepare-for-paris-roubaix_366261 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/gallery-mechanics-prepare-for-paris-roubaix_366261#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 23:00:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366261

Mechanics keep the pro peloton moving, and the preparation for Roubaix sees them in their element

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Pro Bike Gallery: Kristoff stays aero for Roubaix http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/pro-bike-gallery-kristoff-stays-aero-for-roubaix_366226 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/pro-bike-gallery-kristoff-stays-aero-for-roubaix_366226#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 16:25:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366226

Alexander Kristoff is sticking with his aero bike for the pavé of Paris-Roubaix

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Pro Bike: Ruben Zepuntke’s Roubaix Cannondale Synapse http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-ruben-zepuntkes-roubaix-cannondale-synapse_365992 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-ruben-zepuntkes-roubaix-cannondale-synapse_365992#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 16:01:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365992

Huge tubulars and long-reach brakes on a Paris-Roubaix rookie's race machine

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Cheatsheet: Riding the Paris-Roubaix cobbles http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/cheatsheet-riding-the-paris-roubaix-cobbles_365971 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/cheatsheet-riding-the-paris-roubaix-cobbles_365971#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:58:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365971

The Trouée d’Arenberg is full of holes and dips, so crashes are prevalent on this 2.4km sector. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Caley Fretz breaks down each sector of cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, from smooth, comfortable stretches to tire-eating holes between stones

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The Trouée d’Arenberg is full of holes and dips, so crashes are prevalent on this 2.4km sector. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Each pavé sector is a chapter in the 113-year tale of Paris-Roubaix. There are no easy cobbles, which exist on a scale from merely difficult to hellish, and on race day there is no escape — barriers and crowds line the route and cut off access to the dirt paths and concrete gutters that one can glide onto any other day of the year.

Each stone tells a story of tires flattened, races ruined; tales of rearing up and, with the slightest touch, ripping a sidewall or sending a wheel skittering sideways like a frightened cat. None should be underestimated. Any sector, any stone, can alter the history of the day.

This year, Paris-Roubaix will tackle 27 sectors, totaling 52.7 kilometers. The entire race is 253.5km long, and all the pavé comes in its latter two-thirds — the first 98km are smooth, rolling pavement.

Roubaix is unpredictable, but predictably so. The length, roughness, and placement of each sector within the race determine its importance to the race narrative. No pavé sector can be ignored, but some deserve extra attention.

Kilometer 0 to 98: Pre-pave and breakaway formation

Smooth, rolling roads north of Compiegne, France are the backdrop upon which the early breakaway will play. Each team wants to be in the move; the smaller teams because it’s their only shot at a bit of glory, and the larger ones because it’s a way to have a domestique lying in wait when the race gets tough.

Roubaix breakaways can be quite large. But the size is less important than composition — without any pavé to break up the race naturally, the move that sticks is the one with the right riders from the right teams. No big names allowed.

Kilometer 98.5 to 149.5, Troisvilles to Haveluy

Here, the race begins to build. Tensions rise, nerves fray, and the battle for position commences in earnest.

The race cannot be won on these early pavé, but it can be lost. A flat or mechanical issue here won’t leave a rider off the back all day, but it will cost precious energy to return to the bunch. Domestiques will push as hard as possible to bring their leaders into each sector near the front of the group, lest an early split does form.

Nonetheless, patience is the key. “There’s cobble sector after cobble sector so you just have to stay calm,” UnitedHealthcare’s Chris Jones said. “There’s gonna be some point during the race where you’re in the wrong spot on the cobbles, and you can’t panic. Because if you panic early, you’re never going to be there in the finish.”

27. Troisvilles (98.5km – 2,200m) +++
Troisvilles, the first sector tackled, is slightly downhill, so speeds are high and flats are frequent. It is often muddy even when the rest of the race is not.

26. Viesly (105km – 1,800m) +++
Descends slightly, pavé is in decent condition.

25. Quievy (108km – 3,700m) ++++
A 90-degree right-hand bend just under halfway through sets off a long, 2km slightly uphill drag that softens legs but has little other impact on the race.

24. Saint-Python (112.5km – 1,500m) ++
The easiest of the early sectors, short and mostly downhill, with cobbles in fine condition.

23. Vertain (120.5km – 2,300m) +++
Mostly flat, largely inconsequential.

22. Verchain-Maugré (130km – 1,600m) +++
A couple large holes on the sides will send smart riders onto the crown, or raised middle of the pavé, for this otherwise simple sector.

21. Quérénaing – Maing (133.5km – 2,500m) +++
A long sector with pavé in decent condition, mostly flat, another chance to test the legs.

20. Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (136.5km – 1,600m) +++
This sector is relatively new, incorporated for the first time in the muddy, wet 2001 edition. Its first half is brutally rough, and slightly uphill, but it soon smooths out and levels out a bit.

19. Haveluy (149.5km – 2,500m) ++++
Nerves. The bunch, since Quérénaing at least, has been ramping up its pace in preparation for what lies ahead: the Arenberg Trench. Haveluy is the last sector before the famous wooded pavé, finishing less than 8km from the Arenberg’s start point, and the battle for position is at its peak. Watch for crashes and crazy moves up the side of the field. Elbows out.

Kilometer 158 to 220, the Trench to Templeuve

The race is on, but more often than not, these kilometers are home to vicious attrition rather than searing attacks. Favorites will fall off the wheel, one by one, until only the day’s true protagonists remain.

18. Trouée d’Arenberg (158km – 2,400m) +++++
The finish line for many domestiques lies at the foot of the Arenberg. Get their leader to the front at the right moment and it’s a job well done — failure to do so could end the race for the team.

The cobbles here are vicious, full of holes and dips. Even the crown, the only place that is consistently rideable at Arenberg, sees its share of half-dislodged stones and deep dips caused by abandoned mines running underneath the road.

The top of each stone is well polished by years of use, though the trench sees no vehicle traffic today. A street sweeper is run over the sector before each race, but even so, the pavé of Arenberg can be dirty, muddy, and are guaranteed to be slick as ice when wet.

The Arenberg does not pick Roubaix’s victor, but it does create a group from which the winner will be selected.

17. Wallers – Hélesmes (a.k.a. Pont Gibus) (164km – 1,600m) +++
A chance to pound home any separation created on the Arenberg, or finish the day of any favorite unlucky enough to have flatted or crashed. The sector is not particularly difficult in itself, but its proximity to the Arenberg — just 3 kilometers of pavement sit between the two — makes it a crucial moment in every edition.

16. Hornaing (170.5km – 3,700m) ++++
The longest sector of the day, L-shaped with cobbles of average brutality and a propensity for flatting tubulars. One or two lead riders, hanging on by a thread through Wallers, will see their time at the front end here.

15. Warlaing – Brillon (178km – 2,400m) +++
This medium-length sector is full of sunken sections down each flank, so riding the crown is vital. The positioning battle between Hornaing and Warlaing will be fierce.

14. Tilloy – Sars-et-Rosières (181.5km – 2,400m) ++++
Frequently used by tractors, and thus occasionally muddy even when the rest of the course is not, Tilloy features three rough, 90-degree bends that have caught out favorites in the past.

The first two sharp turns are to the right, the last is to the left.

13. Beuvry-la-Forêt – Orchies (188km – 1,400m) +++
Half of this sector was laid down specifically for Paris-Roubaix, and incorporated into the race in 2007. The beginning is lumpy; the right side in particular greets riders with a gap-toothed smile, with holes between the stones that are the perfect size for a road tire.

12. Orchies (193km – 1,700m) +++
A short gap between Beuvry-la-Foret and Orchies will keeps legs burning, even though the first 1,100 meters of this sector are relatively tame. The final 600m are not — the road rises slightly, sapping energy, and the pavé breaks up to steal yet more.

11. Auchy-lez-Orchies – Bersée (199km – 2,700m) ++++
Ouchy, indeed. 2,700 meters long, curving slowly throughout, and mostly flat, it was the broken-up stones that led this sector to be removed from the race in 2007 and 2008. A bit of repair work brought it back for 2009, but it’s still in bad shape. Its position within the race, at nearly 200km, as well as its length, means it can often catch a favorite by surprise.

Sometimes, though, they take it a bit easier here, wary of Mons-en-Pévèle, which lies directly ahead.

10. Mons-en-Pévèle (204.5km – 3,000m) +++++
Ten sectors to go, and this one is where things could start to break up for good. It’s long, with a ragged right-hand turn halfway through that can serve as a launch point for a big effort.

Riders drop into Mons-en-Pévèle with speed, and the first few hundred meters are at a slight downhill, helping them hold onto that velocity. But the sharp right hander and flatter second half sap the legs. This is one of the most difficult sectors on the course.

9. Mérignies – Avelin (210.5km – 700m) ++
A largely inconsequential sector. The stones are in good condition, it’s dead straight, completely flat, and comparatively easy. Of course, after Mons-en-Pévèle, the riders may not agree on the last point.

8. Pont-Thibaut (214km – 1,400m) +++
Used in the 2014 Tour de France by Vincenzo Nibali to distance his opponents, Pont-Thibault’s two sharp, left-hand corners are often the source of crashes. Riders are tired, the corners themselves are rough, and the fans often cover the good racing line.

7. Templeuve – Moulin de Vertain (220km – 500m) ++
Straight, with its worst cobbles at its entrance, Templeuve is relatively new to Roubaix. It was dug out from under the mud for the 100th edition of Paris-Roubaix in 2002 and has been used ever since.

Kilometer 226 to the finish, the beginning of the end

The field has been whittled down to just a handful of strong riders, mostly leaders with one or two teammates, if they’re lucky. Here, the race switches from attrition to attacks. Twenty-five kilometers remain, and every move must be covered; teams with more than one rider will begin to play the tactical game, while solo artists plan their moment.

6. Cysoing – Bourghelles (226.5km – 1,300m) +++ / Bourghelles – Wannehain (229km – 1,100m) +++
A part of the race that lacks infamy yet can prove decisive. The two sectors combine (with only a few meters of pavement between them) to form the true launch of the finale. The miles weigh heavily at this point, and with less than 30km remaining any and all moves must be covered immediately. The cobbles themselves are rough, worse that most that came before, bouncing wheels and bikes almost uncontrollably. If a big name has the power and control to attack here, it can spell the end for his challengers.

5. Camphin-en-Pévèle (233.5km – 1,800m) ++++
It just gets rougher and rougher, it seems. Or perhaps the legs can’t push over the crown so efficiently anymore. The final 300m of this sector, which comes just over 20km from the finish line, is a real brute. The edges of the pavé are jagged, snagging tires without mercy. A flat in Camphin is game over.

4. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (236.5km – 2,100m) +++++
The last chance. If a group remains, the strong men will use Carrefour to attempt to pry free from any fast sprinters still hanging on. If Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is still present on the front, for example, he won’t have any friends at Carrefour.

3. Gruson (238.5km – 1,100m) ++
Not difficult in itself, but the recovery from the Carrefour is just a few meters of pavement. They might as well be one sector, over 3,200 meters long.

The pavement between the two is important, though, as it’s an opportunity to regain some speed. Those who can stay on the gas as they exit Carrefour will enter Gruson with an advantage. Those already struggling are doomed to lose contact in the acceleration.

2. Hem (245.5km – 1,400m) ++
A medium-length sector with cobbles in good condition, suitable perhaps for a last-ditch, late move, but unlikely to dislodge any frontrunner who has already made it this far.

1. Roubaix (252km – 300m) +
Mere ceremony here, not rough enough to provide a real launchpad. Any group still together will likely sprint it out in the velodrome. Any solo rider will pray to every God he can think of not to flat on this final sector of pavé.

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Tanner Putt rides breakaway into first Paris-Roubaix start http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/tanner-putt-rides-breakaway-into-first-paris-roubaix-start_365835 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/tanner-putt-rides-breakaway-into-first-paris-roubaix-start_365835#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:19:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365835

Tanner Putt jumped into the breakaway at Scheldeprijs at will try to do the same at his first Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

UnitedHealthcare's Tanner Putt, 22, made the break at Scheldeprijs and wants to do the same at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday

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Tanner Putt jumped into the breakaway at Scheldeprijs at will try to do the same at his first Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

There is no fear in the eyes of Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) as he stands on the precipice of Paris-Roubaix, peering at 51 kilometers of pavé and the biggest race of his career.

“Not scared. More … excited,” Putt said with a brief pause and a grin, standing outside his UHC team bus at the start of Scheldeprijs Wednesday morning. An hour later, he showed just how excited he is, battling his way into the day’s long breakaway.

“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been watching these guys on TV, watching them in these big races. Roubaix, I’ve been watching that race since I was 10 years old, it’s the one race that I’ve always wanted to do, more than the Tour, more than anything, so lining up with those guys, it’s amazing,” he said.

Putt’s move fell perfectly in line with UHC’s tactics, both for Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix. The team knows it’s an unlikely winner at Roubaix, so the breakaway is its target. Scheldeprijs was a pre-test of sorts, according to sport director Hendrik Redant, and Putt passed with flying colors.

“What’s important here is that they get dialed in in making the break. So I planned with them how to cover all the moves,” said Redant prior the start on Wednesday. “For us, it’s important to get that schedule dialed in. Who is covering the moves? How are we going to cover the moves? Who is covering for each other in the team? If you go, I go next, then him, then him, then you. For [perfecting] that system, this race is important.”

Despite Putt’s relative inexperience on the cobbles, UHC has faith in the young American. Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix are two of the biggest races on UHC’s calendar; he was selected for both. His inclusion has already paid off.

“Tanner is a real talent. He has the mental side of it as well as the physiological side,” said teammate Chris Jones.

Putt been into the top-10 at two semi-classics already this season, finishing eighth at Le Samyn, which featured a difficult pavé sector just a few kilometers from the finish, and seventh at Ronde van Drenthe.

Putt is built for the classics. He’s stocky, a shock of dirty-blond hair adding a few inches to his five-foot-ten, 163-pound frame. His arms and shoulders fill out a blue and white UHC skinsuit more readily than those of his teammates. When the team comes to Europe, he forgoes the warm weather of Spain or Italy in favor of a rental in Izegem, Belgium, home of the old USA Cycling development house, so he can train on the Belgian roads, in the Belgian weather, “just like all the Belgians that are winning the classics,” he said.

The Park City, Utah native and Boulder, Colorado transplant came up through Axel Merckx’s Bontrager and Bissell development teams and gained European experience with USA Cycling’s development program. He raced the U-23 Paris-Roubaix with that program, but expects that event to pale in comparison to Sunday. But what cobbled racing he has done, he’s enjoyed.

“The Arenberg Forest, I’m really looking forward to my first time through there,” he said.

“I’m not really a quick sprinter, more just a powerful sprint, so a smaller group at the end of a hard day is what I prefer,” he said. “I never did a ton of cobble races as a U-23, but we’ve done quite a few this year, and I love racing on the cobbles.”

Simply laying a cleated foot down upon the Paris-Roubaix start line in Compiegne on Sunday has always been a goal in itself. Now he’s aiming higher. Along with the rest of his UHC squad, Putt will have a nose for the Sunday’s long breakaway. If he can put himself in the right move, as he did Wednesday, his race — and the team’s entire Roubaix effort — will be a success.

“Obviously we want to be in the break. They tell me, especially [John] Murphy says, ‘We can tell you to be at the front for all the sectors, it’s all positioning,’ but he also says it’s just one thing you can say a million times, but you have to do it to actually experience it. So I’m looking forward to that,” Putt said.

“Maybe a couple years down the road I can try for something other than the breakaway.”

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CPA initiates rider protest following Pais Vasco crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/cpa-initiates-rider-protest-following-pais-vasco-crash_365747 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/cpa-initiates-rider-protest-following-pais-vasco-crash_365747#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:20:40 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365747

Peter Stetina (BMC) was seriously injured in the finish of Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage 1. On Tuesday, at the start of stage 2, riders protested Monday's unsafe finish. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Riders sat in protest on the start line of Pais Vasco's second stage for five minutes in protest over Monday's crash

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Peter Stetina (BMC) was seriously injured in the finish of Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage 1. On Tuesday, at the start of stage 2, riders protested Monday's unsafe finish. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

A heavy and avoidable crash at the finish of Monday’s first stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which saw a dozen riders hit the pavement and at least two suffer serious, season-threatening injuries, led the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA) to initiate a five-minute protest at the start of Tuesday’s second stage.

The crash was caused by a series metal poles along the finishing straight in the town of Bilbao. The poles are normally used to control car traffic. Orange cones, placed on top of the poles like hats, were the only indication of impending danger. The cones were not taped off, there was no man with a flag cautioning riders, and no padding on the poles themselves.

Several riders sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash. Peter Stetina (BMC) broke his tibia, patella, and four ribs; Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) broke a finger; Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) is still in the hospital, as doctors wanted to keep him under observation for 48 hours. Half a dozen others were affected by the crash but escaped without major injuries.

“It was important today to make it known that the riders will not accept ‘good enough’ from the race organizations and the UCI in regard to rider safety,” BMC’s Brent Bookwalter said. “The protest was not initiated by any one team or any one rider – but rather by the CPA, which exists to protect the riders’ interests. And safety is a big one of them.

“While the protest was good for awareness, it actually does little to enforce accountability from those who are charged with keeping us safe when it comes to avoidable dangers like yesterday. For that, we need every rider to become involved and engaged on the topic and for the CPA to aggressively pursue accountability from the races and the UCI. We cannot forget what happened yesterday. The sport deserves better and is capable of far better.”

The CPA, which functions as a union for professional cyclists and has played an increasingly important role in rider/organizer disputes this season, called on all riders to observe five minutes of protest after the starting gun was fired on Tuesday, “in order to protest against what happened yesterday,” according to a CPA statement.

“The CPA delegate and president of the Spanish Riders Association, José Luis de Santos, who is present at the race, will represent the riders’ instances towards the organization asking a higher attention to the safety of the cyclists during the performance of their job,” the statement reads.

The goal of the protest was to attract “the attention of the organizers, the UCI and the media about this important issue,” according to the statement.

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Pro Bike Gallery: Stijn Devolder’s Trek Domane 6-Series http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-stijn-devolders-trek-domane-6-series_365672 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-stijn-devolders-trek-domane-6-series_365672#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:50:13 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365672

Have a look at the Trek Domane 6-Series ridden by Stijn Devolder over the cobblestones of the Tour of Flanders, in which he finished 13th

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Neutral service cars take out two riders at Tour of Flanders http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/neutral-service-cars-take-out-two-riders-at-tour-of-flanders_365489 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/neutral-service-cars-take-out-two-riders-at-tour-of-flanders_365489#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 17:36:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365489

Shimano neutral service after an incident-filled Tour of Flanders. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

Jesse Sergent faces surgery for a broken collarbone after an unfortunate encounter with a Shimano support car. The company is

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Shimano neutral service after an incident-filled Tour of Flanders. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Half a dozen men in blue shirts, “Shimano” emblazoned across their backs, stood in abject silence in Oudenaarde’s main square as the sport director at Trek Factory Racing laid into them, waving an angry finger into each speechless face in turn.

Walking away from the group, back toward the Trek team bus, the director explained the source of his anger to VeloNews.

“Jesse [Sergent’s] collarbone is broken. Tomorrow morning we are going to operate on him, because of a stupid f—ker who cannot drive a car,” he said.

It was a bad day for the neutral service team.

Sunday’s damage totaled two ruined race days, one broken collarbone, a destroyed tailgate, and a hood in the shape of a taco.

The blue Skoda neutral service cars, covered in bikes and wheels and normally a welcome presence within the pro peloton, took out two riders in separate incidents in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, leaving one with a broken collarbone and another out of the race.

Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) was the first rider down, taken out as a neutral car attempted to pass on the inside of a corner.

“It was evident that the trajectory of the turn was on the left side, so it’s normal that the riders are moving on the left side,” said Luca Guercilena, Trek Factory Racing’s general manager. “It’s difficult to understand why a driver was just accelerating instead of [braking].

“It’s true that something like this can happen in a race but still, it’s a surprise, because these things, they should not happen.”

Sergent was pulling off the front of the day’s long breakaway group, and as he rounded a gentle left-hand corner a Shimano car, attempting to come through a narrowing gap on his left side, bounced off the inside curb and into his hip. His bike, shoved violently to the right, disappeared from beneath him as his shoulder augured into the pavement, breaking his collarbone.

The crash was not the rider’s fault, according to Guercilena.

“He is obviously quite disappointed, because he said that he was just taking his trajectory as it has to be in a WorldTour race, and so without thinking it was any risk. But he was hit by a car,” he said.

It was a frightening replay of the crash that took out Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha at the Tour de France in 2011, which saw both riders knocked into a field, and Hoogerland into a barbed-wire fence, their bikes swept from beneath them by a French television car.

Guercilena, speaking just minutes after the race ended, said that the team was not considering any action against the car’s driver or the organization behind him.

In a second, unrelated incident, another neutral service car slammed into an abruptly slowing FDJ team car, which was pulling over to provide FDJ rider Sebastien Chavanel with a new wheel. The FDJ car was pushed into Chavanel, sending him sprawling to the sidewalk.

The incident was part of a string of misfortune for FDJ, according to team manager Marc Madiot.

“Today the [clover] on our jersey only had three leaves,” he said.

“So first we puncture. We stop 500 meters down the road, go to get out the spare wheel … and we realize we don’t have a wrench. Lotto-Soudal have to lend us a wrench! We change the wheel, finally get back into the race, then Chavanel calls with a puncture. I pull over by Chavanel, then, pang! Shimano whack us up the backside & push the car 15, 20 meters,” he said.

“But, anyway, we pull off the back bumper, get back in the race again. I’m thinking, ‘Okay, we can ride our race now.’ We’ve got five riders at the bottom of the Koppenberg. Then I hear, ‘Démare, bike change needed.’ And then we’re f*cked. Up the arse! Ladagnous crashes, Delage is caught up with him, Démare’s gone, and we’re finished.”

The rear end of the FDJ car, which contained Madiot, sustained a damaged bumper and tailgate. The hood of the Shimano car folded like a pancake, and the vehicle had to be towed away.

“We crashed into the back of Francais de Jeux. It was in the race. Chavanel, he had to change the wheel or something. He pulled over to the right,” explained a Shimano staff member, who would not provide his name.

VeloNews attempted to gain further comment from the Shimano team in Oudenaarde, but none would agree to speak.

Shimano did provide the following statement on its website:

“At Shimano we apologize for both incidents the Shimano sponsored neutral caused today at the Tour of Flanders.

“We especially apologize to the riders and teams involved, Jesse Sergent of Trek Factory Racing and Sébastien Chavanel of Française des Jeux. We wish them a speedy recovery.

“The drivers of the neutral cars are professionals with many years of experience in professional cycling races. We will investigate both incidents deeply and take appropriate action.”

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Pro Bike: Alexander Kristoff’s Canyon Aeroad CF SLX http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/pro-bike-alexander-kristoffs-canyon-aeroad-cf-slx_365380 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/pro-bike-alexander-kristoffs-canyon-aeroad-cf-slx_365380#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 13:22:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365380

The sleek aero road bike that Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) will ride at the Tour of Flanders

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Ronde van Vlaanderen to feature onboard camera footage http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/ronde-van-vlaanderen-to-feature-onboard-camera-footage_365233 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/ronde-van-vlaanderen-to-feature-onboard-camera-footage_365233#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:04:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=365233

Onboard cameras provided a new dimension to the finishing moments of the stage 5 sprint at the 2014 Tour de Suisse.

Onboard camera footage from the bikes of five Velon teams will be available to TV rights holders after the Tour of Flanders

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Onboard cameras provided a new dimension to the finishing moments of the stage 5 sprint at the 2014 Tour de Suisse.

Onboard camera footage from inside Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) will be available to TV rights holders, thanks to a partnership between race organizer Flanders Classics and Velon, an organization dedicated to the improvement of pro cycling.

Five of the 11 Velon teams will have cameras mounted to select rider’s bikes during the race, and footage will be available following the event.

Footage will be distributed by the Velon teams and IMG Media, and will come from Cannondale-Garmin, Giant-Alpecin, Trek Factory Racing, Tinkoff-Saxo, Lotto-Soudal, and Lampre-Merida.

The precise number of cameras in use, and which riders will have them mounted to their bikes, is not yet known.

Similar footage has been recorded and distributed by teams in the past, but this marks the first coordinated effort between Velon teams, and the first close partnership with a large race organizer. The onboard cameras are an important part of Velon’s plan to improve broadcasting, and eventually the revenue streams surrounding TV rights, within professional cycling.

The cameras, most often mounted under a bike’s handlebars facing forward or under the saddle facing backward, offer an unparalleled view into the professional peloton, and will be of particular interest in a dynamic, fast-paced event like Flanders.

“The new technologies give us a fantastic opportunity to show this great race, Flanders’ finest, to even more people around the world — both through our and through the teams’ channels,” said Gilbert Van Fraeyenhoven, managing director of Flanders Classics, in a press release.

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Mario Zorzoli reinstated as UCI doctor and scientific advisor http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/mario-zorzoli-reinstated-as-uci-doctor-and-scientific-advisor_364370 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/mario-zorzoli-reinstated-as-uci-doctor-and-scientific-advisor_364370#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:17:48 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=364370

Mario Zorzoli was implicated in the latest testimony surrounding the Rabobank team's doping practices in the early 2000s. Photo: UCI

The UCI has reinstated Dr. Mario Zorzoli as its Doctor and Scientific Advisor, according to a statement released Tuesday

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Mario Zorzoli was implicated in the latest testimony surrounding the Rabobank team's doping practices in the early 2000s. Photo: UCI

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has reinstated Dr. Mario Zorzoli as its doctor and scientific advisor, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Dr. Zorzoli, who has worked at the UCI since 1996, was suspended from his position after testimony from former professional racer Michael Rasmussen was released in late January.

“The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), whose mandate and terms of reference covered the period in question, reported that they found no evidence to support the allegations. Our review reached the same conclusion and therefore Dr. Zorzoli was asked to resume all his normal duties as UCI doctor and scientific advisor with immediate effect,” the UCI statement reads.

Rasmussen’s testimony, which was focused on former Rabobank and Team Sky doctor Geert Leinders, accused Zorzoli of recommending that Leinders give Rabobank riders the banned hormone DHEA because “all the other teams were doing it as well.”

The testimony also accused Zorzoli of protecting Rabobank, and Rasmussen specifically, from doping controls at the 2005 Tour de France.

According to Rasmussen, Leinders met with Zorzoli at the start of the 2005 Tour. Following the meeting, Rasmussen was assured by Leinders that “Rabobank was a team that had ‘butter on its head’ … meaning that all the problems, doping related problems the team had, would slide off. And he called me the most protected rider in the race.”

UCI handed the investigation into both of these allegations to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), which released its report two weeks ago. The CIRC report appears to clear Zorzoli of the former allegation, Zorzoli’s alleged recommendation of DHEA, but makes no mention of the latter.

“[CIRC] has been unable to confirm any allegation regarding [Zorzoli’s] supposed advice about taking a prohibited substance,” the report states, in reference to the DHEA allegation.

The report also states: “CIRC notes that several interviewees expressed their high regard for Mario Zorzoli, both for his scientific expertise and his honesty.”

VeloNews has reached out to the UCI for clarification on the second allegation, that a meeting with Zorzoli led Leinders to believe Rasmussen was the “most protected rider in the race.” The UCI has not yet responded.

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No more Meaux: Mo Bruno Roy retires from pro cyclocross http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/no-more-meaux-mo-bruno-roy-retires-from-pro-cyclocross_364256 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/no-more-meaux-mo-bruno-roy-retires-from-pro-cyclocross_364256#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 17:27:14 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=364256

Mo Bruno Roy and Matt Roy were all smiles after Mo locked up another single-speed championship in Austin at nationals. Photo: Wil Matthews | www. wilmatthewsphoto.com

Mo Bruno Roy is bowing out of elite-level cyclocross after 12 years, hundreds of races, and two appearances at worlds on the U.S. team

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Mo Bruno Roy and Matt Roy were all smiles after Mo locked up another single-speed championship in Austin at nationals. Photo: Wil Matthews | www. wilmatthewsphoto.com

A pair of distinctive, Pippi-like braids poke out from beneath a flipped-up cycling cap, announcing Mo Bruno Roy’s presence at the front of yet another elite cyclocross race. Fans urge the cyclocrosser through New England’s autumn mud. “Geaux Meaux,” they yell, cowbells in hand, waving signs with the same catchphrase.

Next year, there will be no more Meaux — Bruno Roy’s nickname — in elite American cyclocross. No more “Geaux Meaux” signs, no more Pippi braids on UCI podiums. The New England native announced her retirement last week, ending a 12-year career as a professional cyclocross racer.

“It’s been a few years coming,” she told VeloNews of her retirement. “I feel positive about it. I don’t feel sadness about not being able to do it.”

Bruno Roy’s career spanned 301 races, 106 podiums, five national titles, and two world championship appearances, each stop peppered by those “Geaux Meaux” signs and cheers, lining course tape from her native New England to the muddy slopes of Namur, Belgium. Along with her husband, manager, mechanic, and “partner in all things,” Matt Roy, she established a loyal following at home and elsewhere, celebrated for an endlessly positive outlook, humble interaction with fans, and undeniable work ethic — through it all, she was working full-time or near full-time as a muscular therapist.

Her path through the sport was somewhat unconventional. Bruno Roy entered the sport late, toeing her first elite start line at age 28, following a track-and-field career at UMass Dartmouth, where she still holds the outdoor 400 meter hurdles record. She’s mostly ridden without the support of a major team, fostering individual sponsorships with SRAM and Mavic, and later, Seven Cycles and Bob’s Red Mill. She built racing programs and sponsorships around her own strengths and goals with the help of Roy.

Bruno Roy still can’t quite believe the last 12 years. Incredulity, she said, is the overriding emotion as she steps away from top-level racing.

“I can’t believe I got to do all this. This person got to be a world championship bike racer? It seems a little absurd to me,” she said. “People care about what I did?”

They do, of course.

The former runner quickly announced her presence at the top of American cyclocross 10 years ago, when she placed third at U.S. nationals in Providence, Rhode Island in her second full season of racing. That race is still the highlight of her entire career, she said.

“It was a shock,” she said of the race and result. “It was my second real season. I had some sponsorship, I was doing pretty well, and all of a sudden I got third and got sent to worlds. Just the podium presentation at nationals was amazing, everyone I knew, all my friends. They were screaming so loud that they couldn’t announce first and second. I could never replicate that experience.”

Retirement was a few years in the making, a gradual slowdown following a big, ultimately unsuccessful, push to make the U.S. team in 2013 for world championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I was certainly seeing the limits of my physicality, but also my emotional attachment to racing and training year-round,” she said of that season.

The 2014/2015 season was, unbeknownst to fans and competitors, something of a goodbye tour.

“I made a conscious decision at each race to make note: Would I miss this? I wanted to be present with the decision I was making,” she said. “I exceeded my [career] expectations tenfold. Doing the same race you’ve done 22 times, you’re not going to wish you could do it again. It was nice to say a private goodbye to each race, and be ready to approach it as a spectator.”

Bruno Roy won’t hang up the bike completely. Her Seven Cycles singlespeed will likely see a bit of mud at local races next year. But UCI racing, she insisted, is no longer in the cards.

“It’s so easy to get to just throw one more [UCI race]. ‘I’ll just do one more, I’ll see how I feel.’ But I really think for the physical and mental preparation of a professional-level cyclocross season … to take the weight off early, I think I can really enjoy what’s ahead for the summer and for the fall next year,” she said.

“If Matt and I say, ‘Let’s grab the bikes and to Vermont,’ we can do that without ruining a training plan,” she said. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to.”

The post No more Meaux: Mo Bruno Roy retires from pro cyclocross appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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Preview: Milano-Sanremo turns back the clock http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/preview-milano-sanremo-turns-back-the-clock_364016 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/preview-milano-sanremo-turns-back-the-clock_364016#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:13:48 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=364016

Milano-Sanremo winds along the Mediterranean coast before finishing on the Via Roma. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Sunday's edition of the sprinter's classic pulls from past races to present an old-school route that finishes on the Via Roma

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Milano-Sanremo winds along the Mediterranean coast before finishing on the Via Roma. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Milano-Sanremo’s 293-kilometer fuse, lit in Milan, burns slowly south from the Italian city before making a right turn along the coast, where it winds off the Mediterranean and sparks into a flame. A string of short, punchy climbs set off a final round of desperate fireworks.

Milano-Sanremo is said to be the sprinter’s classic, but the climbs, beginning with Capo Mele at 51km remaining and ending with the peak of the Poggio at 5.5km to go, set up a tension between fast finishers, climbers, and classics strongmen found nowhere else on the pro calendar.

In between Capo Mele and the Poggio are Capo Cervo and Capo Berta, both relatively small and useful mostly for softening legs, and the Cipressa, 5.6km long with an average grade of 4 percent and a peak of 9 percent. These five, combined with the weather and the motivations of the peloton, determine the winner in Sanremo.

For Sunday’s 2015 edition of MSR, the first of the five monuments, what’s old is new again. The finish lies on Via Roma, a finale used between 1982 and 2006 that hasn’t been seen since. It’s a shorter and straighter run off the Poggio, the final climb of the day and the one that most often sets the outcome of this predictably unpredictable race.

The new (old) finish tends to favor sprinters. Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi, Paolo Bettini, and Erik Zabel all took wins in Via Roma around the turn of the millennium, most often in groups of 40 or more.

A sprint win is not a foregone conclusion, of course. There will be attacks on the Cipressa, and again on the Poggio. Those without a sufficient kick will pull out every trick to rid themselves of the fast men.

“Despite its length, everything is at stake in a very short period and it’s very easy to make mistakes. There is a segment of 7-8km between Il Poggio, the descent and the finish, where the race is nearly always decided,” Tinkoff-Saxo sport director Bruno Cenghialta said.

The last winner on Via Roma, Filippo Pozzato, did just that. “Pippo” followed an attack from Alessandro Ballan on the Poggio and held off the sprinters by just a few meters at the finish line. Riders like Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Edvald Boassen Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) will seek to replicate such a move.

If it’s a sprint

The heavy favorites, nonetheless, are sprinters. Defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) can win out of a large bunch or from a smaller, more select group, as he did last year. And if it’s a bunch sprint, the smart money is on Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), who will certainly still have a number of his strong teammates around for a leadout.

Cavendish is recovering from a virus which almost saw him skip Tirreno-Adriatico, but if he’s recovered the Via Roma finish suits him perfectly. “This finish is the Sanremo I dreamt of when I was a kid,” he said.

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) favors the same conditions as Kristoff, and his stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico proved his form is good and, equally important, that his team is more than up to the task.

“It’s difficult to point out a favorite. In the last three years, we haven’t seen the favorites taking the victory and instead it has been outsiders, who crossed the finish line first. It’s a special and unpredictable race due to many factors such as the length of the race and the tactical situations. All I can do is to try my best knowing that I’m backed by a strong and motivated team,” Sagan said.

A pile of strong finishers sit behind the leading three, all capable of victory in the right circumstances.

Arnaud Démare (FDJ) is on good form, as is Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), who just won a stage at Paris-Nice. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has not had a great start to his season but can’t be counted out of any bunch sprint.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) is particularly adept at tricky finishes, and has a good chance of getting over the Poggio even if the pace is particularly high and other sprinters fail to maintain contact. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) falls into the same category of versatile sprinters.

Strong men prevail

Cancellara, Boassen Hagen, Sep Vanmarcke, and Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) need to disrupt the sprinters’ teams on the Cipressa and Poggio to take victory.

That means attacks, and lots of them. Expect to see lieutenants going early, perhaps on the Cipressa, and big moves setting off on the Poggio itself.

The danger, of course, is that a group of classics favorites slips off the front but refuses to work together. The composition of a late move is what determines its success or failure, and predicting those who will be able to make the split is all but impossible. With the shorter run into the finish from the bottom of the Poggio, a small group — two or three riders — is perhaps the most likely to succeed.

Climbers on the Cipressa

Even though he has admitted to being slightly softer than he will be at his peak, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will almost certainly make a go of it on the Cipressa. It’s something of an Italian tradition; the nation often sends its leading GC man off the front on the climb’s winding slopes.

However, Nibali’s teammate Andrea Guardini will be looking for the sprint. If Nibali keeps his guns holstered, it will likely be on team orders to protect Guardini.

The addition of Alejandro Valverde to Movistar’s roster provides the team with a long-range option, as well as a rider who can almost certainly make it into any select group that forms over the Poggio or Cipressa.

Weather

Cavendish and Kristoff are the heavy favorites on the new course, which also dropped the Le Mànie climb found in previous editions. The difference between them could be determined by the weather.

“The return to the finish in Via Roma changes everything, although what it changes, we don’t know. The weather is the crucial factor,” Cancellara said.

A fine day helps keep the group together and tips the scale toward Cavendish. A miserable one — always a possibility in northern Italy in March — brings Kristoff to the fore. He won a meteorologically dismal edition of the race last year and is a stronger all-around rider, more capable of winning a tougher race.

The current forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-50s with a 50 percent chance of rain.

Ideal preparation

Historically, riders coming off Tirreno-Adriatico have faired better at Milan-Sanremo. But recent years have seen a trend toward Paris-Nice, which has seen better weather and, in general, more consistently difficult stages.

The terrible weather found in the later stages of Tirreno this year caused large groupettos to form, containing most of the Sanremo favorites, which did not ride particularly hard into the finish. Paris-Nice, in contrast, had excellent weather most days and hard racing for the entire peloton throughout the week.

The winners of the 2011, 2013, and 2014 editions of the race all came from Paris-Nice.

Sagan, Cavendish, Cancellara, van Avermaet, Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), and Boassen Hagen all raced Tirreno.

Kristoff, Matthews, Degenkolb, and Ben Swift (Sky) raced Paris-Nice.

VeloNews’ darkhorse pick

Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin) has won in reduced bunch sprints and taken solo victories, and a well-timed move could provide enough separation for him to use his huge engine to hang on for the win. He has the advantage of being mostly off the radar of the premier favorites.

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