VeloNews.com » Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:59:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Vuelta podium in Dan Martin’s reach, if that’s his goal http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/road/vuelta-podium-in-dan-martins-reach-if-thats-his-goal_383041 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/road/vuelta-podium-in-dan-martins-reach-if-thats-his-goal_383041#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:59:17 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=383041

Dan Martin was 33 seconds out of first place entering Friday's Vuelta stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Cannondale-Garmin rider says he's not entirely sure of his goals at the Spanish grand tour, whether it's stage wins or the overall.

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Dan Martin was 33 seconds out of first place entering Friday's Vuelta stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SEVILLE, Spain (VN) — Dan Martin warmed down outside the Cannondale-Garmin bus following the fifth stage of the Vuelta a España not knowing what is next. The overall or stage wins, or both?

Martin already finished seventh overall in the Vuelta a España last year and won a stage in 2011. He also won a stage in the 2013 Tour de France. Riding among the top 3, though, remains unchartered territory.

“What am I doing here? I’m on holiday!” Martin said with a laugh, sweat rolling down his face after the stage in 100-degree heat.

“I don’t really know right now. My form’s excellent, I feel good on my bike, but this late in the season after the Tour … There’s always a risk the wheels are going to fall off, especially how hard the second week is in the Vuelta.”

Martin finished stage 5 in fourth place at 25 seconds behind leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). On Thursday, he lost eight seconds but ended the day third overall, 33 ticks behind leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).

The Vuelta has its first high-mountain finish Friday, with La Alpujarra at 1,565 meters above sea level. The second week features more of the same. The third week, before the race closes in Madrid on September 13, includes a 40-kilometer time trial in Burgos.

“All we need is one bad day here and we can lose 10 minutes,” Martin said while still spinning. “We are going to give it everything every day and see how long we can hold on to the top five.”

The green and black Cannondale team also began the Vuelta with Andrew Talansky as co-leader, but he lost a significant amount of time this week and was 16:25 back entering stage 7.

The Irishman born in England believes Talansky is “struggling a bit,” but that he could return strongly. If he does not, Martin explained that Talansky will help him for the overall.

“We didn’t race since the Tour [de France] so these first few days are hard, getting the speed in my legs again,” added Martin. “It was a shock, but every day is getting better.”

Martin, however, has yet to clarify his goals.

“I just need to get through a grand tour without a setback. I seem to have a way of compromising myself at some point,” he said.

“I never got through a whole grand tour without one setback. Even last year, I crashed and badly hurt my leg, and was on mega-strong antibiotics to prevent a bone infection. That’s why my performance went down.

“At the Tour, I seem to get sick every year in July. I’d love to get through a grand tour in good form. Maybe this is my year. I’ve always been knocking on the door.”

Martin has a better one-day record, with two monument wins in Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2013) and the Giro di Lombardia (2014). It was announced Friday that he’ll ride for Etixx-Quick-Step starting next season, with a focus on everything from the Ardennes classics to stage races and grand tours.

For now, Martin has to focus on the Vuelta. With a laugh, he said, “You made me warm down for more than I wanted!”

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After Vuelta, Sagan out to conquer the worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/road/after-vuelta-sagan-out-to-conquer-the-worlds_382949 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/road/after-vuelta-sagan-out-to-conquer-the-worlds_382949#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:15:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382949

Peter Sagan is racing in the Vuelta as preparation for next month's worlds road race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider failed to win a spring monument this season, but a world title could make up for that.

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Peter Sagan is racing in the Vuelta as preparation for next month's worlds road race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SEVILLE, Spain (VN) — Peter Sagan won the third stage of the Vuelta a España on Monday, which is part of his plan to conquer the world. The Slovak of team Tinkoff-Saxo is racing in the Spanish grand tour with an eye on Richmond, Virginia — where he could make up for a mostly fruitless spring at the world championships.

Tinkoff hired Sagan last winter to lead its team to a monument win in Milano-Sanremo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), or Paris-Roubaix. He came up short, recording just one victory in the spring — a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Tour de France, where he won the green jersey after five second places, helped make amends. Redemption, however, would truly come with the world championships. Though not a monument, it is just as prestigious and offers the winner the privilege to wear the rainbow jersey for one year.

“It’s not like you hire a rider and he’s going to win two classics, that doesn’t work,” Tinkoff sport director Tristan Hoffman told VeloNews.

“Peter was up there, but he missed the last bit, he found his way back in the Tour of California, he got a good level and won it. OK, he didn’t win a stage, but he was very successful at the Tour.

“The worlds is a goal for him. If you can win and have that jersey for one year, and to have your name on the list for the rest of your life … Super.”

Sagan pushed his bike ahead of John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) to win in the Málaga stage Monday. Tuesday, he finished second only to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in an uphill finish.

He could pick up a few more wins, but he likely will not reach Madrid where the Vuelta ends September 13. The team will not say it, but he is due to drop out early to relax for the Richmond worlds on September 27.

“I come here mostly for preparation, to do some race kilometers,” Sagan said. “Then I’ll see how it’s going.”

“He was talking about racing the Tour of Colorado and those races, but then we said, ‘We also need you in the GP Plouay, Hamburg … ‘ We looked at the Vuelta again, and it had opportunities for him,” Hoffman added.

“The worlds has been the goal for Peter for many years, the parcours fits him, he loves America. After the Vuelta, he’ll probably go directly there and prepare. He’ll probably also race the team time trial one week beforehand.”

Sagan’s only problem is that the Slovak national team is not deep in talent. Hoffman, who will not be a director for Sagan at the worlds because of national teams, does not see it as a limiting factor.

“There will be other countries with stronger teams,” Hoffman said. “Peter is good at positioning and hiding. And in the final, it’ll be man against man.”

The Vuelta continues Thursday in southern Spain with a small uphill finish. On Friday, it climbs to its first high-mountain finish at La Alpujarra. There will be more chances down the road, as the race travels east and then north, for Sagan.

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Ewan: ‘Orica team respects me, that’s the difference’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/ewan-orica-team-respects-me-thats-the-difference_382915 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/ewan-orica-team-respects-me-thats-the-difference_382915#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:34:41 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382915

Caleb Ewan's Orica-GreenEdge team is backing the young sprinter at the Vuelta, and it has already paid dividends. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Only a 21-year-old neo-pro, Caleb Ewan has full backing of his Orica-GreenEdge team, and he's already delivered with a Vuelta stage win.

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Caleb Ewan's Orica-GreenEdge team is backing the young sprinter at the Vuelta, and it has already paid dividends. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

ALCALÁ DE GUADAÍRA, Spain (VN) — Very few first-year professionals start a grand tour and win immediately, but Australian Caleb Ewan did so Wednesday. In a slight uphill finish to a village east of Seville, the short and stocky sprinter powered ahead of several big stars.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), winner of Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix, and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), four-time green jersey-winner in the Tour de France, couldn’t overcome Orica-GreenEdge’s Australian neo-pro.

Out of cycling’s crop of current top sprinters — André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin), Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) — only one won a stage in a grand tour in his debut. Kittel won in the 2011 Vuelta, but he was already 23 years old, compared to 21-year-old Ewan.

“Firstly, you have to have a super team that believes in you 100 percent,” Ewan said in a press conference post-stage.

“Some neo-pros take a while to gain respect of team, but my team, straight from start, from the Tour of Beijing last year, they believed in me 100 percent and always worked for me.

“It’s been such an honor to not have to prove myself to them. They respect me, that’s the main thing for me, and that’s the difference between me and a lot of other neo-pros, is a team that supports them 100 percent.”

After a left turn, the last 500 meters of stage 5 rose rapidly. Orica went to the front and drilled it for Ewan. His teammate Esteban Chaves slipped eight seconds back and lost the red jersey, which he had since day two, to Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

Ewan, who debuted as a trainee with the team after placing second in the under-23 world championships last year, is known a pure sprinter. Most followers tipped Sagan, Degenkolb, or Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the stage win today — but not Ewan.

“It was tough. I didn’t know it was going to be so hard. I thought it was going to be hard to beat Degenkolb, Sagan in a sprint like that.

“I was in a perfect position into that corner, I didn’t have to make up any spaces, and they probably did, which costs you in a finish like that. I probably felt the best out of them, and that’s probably how I won.

“Uphill finishes do suit me in a way. I don’t have to put out as much power as Sagan and Degenkolb because I’m a smaller sprinter, but probably a finish not as steep as that would have suited me better.”

Ewan is already finding the Vuelta tough, five days it, but he wants to continue. He also wants to continue on his upward trajectory. He said that like most young professionals, he dreams of riding the Tour de France. He added that a stage win and the green jersey would be on his list if he went.

“It’s the ultimate goal,” he explained. “Hopefully this is a first stage to achieving that.”

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Van Garderen: ‘Froome beatable’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-froome-beatable_382878 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-froome-beatable_382878#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:44:42 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382878

The Vuelta may be Tejay van Garderen's (BMC) shot at redemption after abandoning the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tejay van Garderen seeks a measure of redemption at the Vuelta and believes he'll have his chance to take on Tour champ Froome.

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The Vuelta may be Tejay van Garderen's (BMC) shot at redemption after abandoning the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

ALCALÁ DE GUADAÍRA, Spain (VN) — Chris Froome is not immune to bad luck and is not always above his rivals. Team Sky’s captain won the Tour de France for a second time last month, but American Tejay van Garderen believes that he too can have his turn despite having to abandon the French grand tour while third overall.

BMC Racing’s Van Garderen is racing the Spanish grand tour, the Vuelta a España, this month. The race, which started Saturday on the Costa del Sol in the south, is due to head into the mountains soon. It could be van Garderen’s chance for redemption.

“Everyone is human, everyone is beatable,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “Am I capable of beating Froome? Hopefully, down the line, I think so. In three weeks’ time? We’ll see. I don’t know.”

The 27-year-old, who calls Aspen, Colorado home, said that stage 7 on Friday should tell much about who can win this year’s Vuelta. The race finishes with a climb to 5,135 feet at La Alpujarra.

He had his chance to take on Froome in the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. He held the lead for two days and lost it only on the last day, placing second overall behind the Brit.

At the Tour, he was forced to abandon in the third week with a respiratory infection midway through the Pra-Loup stage. He had started the stage third overall.

“That’s how it goes with any races. The reality is to have something go right for three weeks in a row is almost impossible, you have to take it how it comes,” van Garderen continued.

“There’s other years, there’ll be other chances, you look at Froome and [Alberto] Contador, they both crashed out last year.

“Every year, a handful of Tour contenders get their share of bad luck, that’s just how it happens. You just have to keep trying.

“All you can do is control the things in your control. Froome is having a good run now. That run may end; I don’t think it’ll end anything soon, but he’s not immune to bad luck.”

Thursday’s stage ends with a small kicker in Sierra de Cazorla, a short climb to 3,051 feet. La Alpujarra, Friday, is the one that is marked in van Garderen’s planner as the Vuelta’s first big appointment.

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Nibali plots return to racing after Vuelta DQ, team says it will decide http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-plots-return-to-racing-after-vuelta-dq-team-says-it-will-decide_382845 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-plots-return-to-racing-after-vuelta-dq-team-says-it-will-decide_382845#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:44:55 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382845

Vincenzo Nibali wants to rejoin his teammates on the road as soon as possible. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Astana rider was kicked out of the Vuelta a Espana after holding onto his team car during stage 2.

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Vincenzo Nibali wants to rejoin his teammates on the road as soon as possible. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

ROTA, Spain (VN) — The Vuelta a España rolls ahead in its fifth stage Wednesday in the country’s south, but without 2010 winner Italian Vincenzo Nibali. The Astana rider, who was sent home for holding on to his team car Sunday, wants to return to racing immediately, perhaps Sunday in the GP Plouay, but Astana says that it must decide what is best.

If Nibali gets the green light, he could start racing again in the GP Ouest France-Plouay, which he won in 2006. Another option is that he flies to Canada to race the Tour of Alberta and the two Canadian one-day races in Québec and Montréal heading toward the Giro di Lombardia.

“We have to decide,” Astana trainer Paolo Slongo told VeloNews. “The most logical thing would be to send him to Canada, some of the races to build up to Lombardia. This is the first hypothesis. The other one is that he closes his season, may start up early next year.

“He came to the Vuelta in good form, but it’s more about his head now. If he doesn’t have the head to continue then it’s going to be hard for him to do so.”

Vuelta organizer Unipublic and the race jury sent Nibali back home only two days after the race began on the Costa del Sol. Nibali, after crashing with around 20 others, held on to the team car as he tried to rejoin the group. Television cameras captured Nibali and the car speeding away from a chase group for at least nine seconds.

Not only was Nibali booted, but he also received criticism from all fronts. Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) said the move was “over the top,” Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) called it a “flagrant rule violation,” and race director Javier Guillén called Nibali’s attitude “regrettable.”

“He’s not in bad spirits, it’s just that he feels this situation wasn’t entirely his fault. It’s all on his back,” Slongo said.

“When you have a lot of negative load coming from the public, that bothers you. We’ve got to see how he is first, and what’s best for the team.”

Nibali is now at his base in Lugano, Switzerland. He may visit his brother Antonio for a few days in Livigno, Italy at altitude before the weekend. He said, however, that he has the head to continue and wants to return in Plouay, France. A decision is expected soon.

What is sure is that despite this and other issues over the last year, the 2014 Tour de France winner will remain in Astana’s turquoise colors through 2016.

“The best thing is to work out a deal with Astana,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper Wednesday.

“In my contract, there’s not a clause to terminate it early. To do so, I’d have to come to an agreement with the team and the Kazakh managers.

“It’s in my best interests and the team’s to recreate a relaxed atmosphere with complete trust. Let my smile return again and the results will return too.”

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Valverde bangs fist on table with Vuelta stage win http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/valverde-bangs-fist-on-table-with-vuelta-stage-win_382752 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/valverde-bangs-fist-on-table-with-vuelta-stage-win_382752#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 18:42:03 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382752

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is clearly a rider to watch in this year's Vuelta. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Alejandro Valverde's emphatic stage 4 win shows that he's on great form, but will he ride for his teammate, Nairo Quintana?

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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is clearly a rider to watch in this year's Vuelta. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

VEJER DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (VN) — The sound might have crossed the Gibraltar Strait and reached Tangier on Tuesday. When Alejandro Valverde won on the uphill kick to the small, whitewashed village in southern Spain, with its views of Africa, he essentially slammed his fist on the table to announce his presence.

Tinkoff-Saxo worked all day for Peter Sagan, winner of stage 3, but Valverde profited to give Movistar an early-race boost in stage 4 Tuesday. It was his first win since a successful spring that included victories in La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He went on to win the Spanish national title and take third-place overall at the Tour de France this summer.

Chris Froome (Sky) won the Tour. And of course, in second-place overall was one of cycling’s brightest new stars, Nairo Quintana — Valverde’s teammate.

Valverde, 10 years older than the Colombian at 35, reminded followers that he finished on the podium in grand tours seven times, including a win in the 2009 Vuelta a España. If Quintana cannot do it, he wants to win the overall himself this year — and win stages, like today’s, along the way.

“The fist was not banged on the table for the Vuelta, but just for this stage,” Valverde said.

“The Vuelta is so important. I’m never going to stop fighting for the overall win.”

The Murcian led the team from its days as Illes Balears to Caisse d’Epargne, and today with its current sponsor, telecommunications company Movistar. There is shift, however.

More and more, there are screams and cries for Quintana outside the team bus. Tuesday was no different, with fans draped in the Colombian flag, running behind him as he rode to the sign-in podium.

Quintana, though second in the Tour only to Froome and winner of the 2013 Giro, remains diplomatic. He said Sunday, “We will see. Alejandro and I are both in good shape.”

Valverde says, and it is the common belief among those following the race, that one will work for the other depending on who is strongest as the race reaches the high mountains of the north. Quintana, barring an incident like the one that ruled him out of last year’s race, should ride into the leadership role to take on favorites, including Froome. If so, at least Valverde had a chance to shine today.

“I’m happy, this means that I’ll be more relaxed for the rest of the Vuelta. All the victories are important, but a victory in the Vuelta is always big,” Valverde said.

“You have to keep your cool because there is still a lot Vuelta ahead. We can’t spend all of our energy because we want to keep our team fresh for the rest of the Vuelta.

“I’m waiting for the Alpujarra stage [Friday], that stage that will show us who can win the Vuelta. I know the stage, I previewed it until the last village before the finish.”

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Cancellara worlds dream ‘unrealistic’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/cancellara-worlds-dream-unrealistic_382661 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/cancellara-worlds-dream-unrealistic_382661#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:37:51 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382661

Suffering from illness, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was off the back, alone, in stage 3 of the Vuelta. He was forced to abandon that day. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Fabian Cancellara's dream of winning a road race worlds title may be fading as injury and illness have plagued his 2015 season.

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Suffering from illness, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was off the back, alone, in stage 3 of the Vuelta. He was forced to abandon that day. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

VEJER DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (VN) — Fabian Cancellara, after abandoning the Vuelta a España in stage 3 with a stomach flu, may pull the plug on his season and his dream of winning the world championship road race. His Trek Factory Racing team said that it is “unrealistic” to go to the race to win the rainbow jersey.

After abandoning Tuesday, Cancellara traveled back home to Bern, Switzerland to undergo tests and plan the rest of the year. The remainder of 2015 may include other warm-up races before the worlds in Richmond, Virginia, or may include an extended break before 2016, which should be the 34-year-old’s last as a professional.

“He fought hard and trained hard to come here, to reach a good level to prepare for the worlds. He keeps dreaming of the worlds,” team sport director, Dirk Demol told VeloNews.

“The dream stayed alive before he came here, but now we have to be realistic. When you want to have a chance in the worlds, you have to go 100 percent, but now, to reach that level it’s going to be so difficult.”

Cancellara won time trial worlds a record four times, but he dreams of winning the road race title. He tried several times, but has only reached fourth place so far.

After pulling out of the classics and the Tour de France, while wearing the yellow jersey, due to two different crashes that resulted in two similar injuries, he could call off his worlds plans. After the Tour, he had one month rest before returning to racing in the Vuelta on Saturday. The three-week Spanish grand tour was meant to polish off his form for worlds.

Demol paused for two seconds when asked how realistic it would be for Cancellara to build up his form in time to have a chance at winning the rainbow jersey. “Never say never, but it’s almost a mission impossible,” he said. “He missed so many races this year.

“It’s important for us, the sponsor, that he’s there in Richmond, but a rider like him … If you are not 100 percent, what do you do there?

“I felt so bad for him off the back and suffering yesterday; that’s not Fabian. It’s too early to say, but it’s almost unrealistic that we can dream of being in an OK condition to go there.”

Cancellara could immediately fly to Canada and race the Tour of Alberta, the Canadian one-day races, and other one-day races to prepare for the worlds. Demol explained that “it’s too early to decide” how the final chapter of 2015 season will end.

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Dombrowski on racing Vuelta: ‘A rite of passage’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/dombrowski-on-racing-vuelta-a-right-of-passage_382629 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/dombrowski-on-racing-vuelta-a-right-of-passage_382629#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:47:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382629

Joe Dombrowski said the experience of racing the Vuelta "will be worth a lot." Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com

American Joe Dombrowski is racing his first grand tour in Spain, and tells VeloNews the experience will be good for his career.

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Joe Dombrowski said the experience of racing the Vuelta "will be worth a lot." Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com

ESTEPONA, Spain (VN) — Joe Dombrowski is rolling along in his first grand tour at the Vuelta a España. The warm Costa del Sol sunshine and three weeks of racing ahead is welcome for the American on Cannondale-Garmin.

Dombrowski, after showing much promise in his first two years with Sky and successful surgery to fix an arterial issue, “needed” to ride a grand tour before he finished off his third season as a professional.

“Yes, it’s almost like a rite of passage. The experience will be worth a lot,” the 24-year-old told VeloNews.

“The experience is a good thing, but there are no real set goals. If I’m still up there after 10 days, maybe we can look at the GC, if not, then stages. I need to get that experience and help Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky.”

Dombrowski was one of the hottest amateur prospects at the end of 2012 after his win in the Baby Giro d’Italia and his 12th-place finish in the Amgen Tour of California. Sky, which won the Tour de France that year with Bradley Wiggins, scooped him up on a two-year deal. Great things were expected.

Dombrowski suffered some knee issues, but the bigger problem was the hardened and obstructed artery in his left leg. He had surgery, but it took him out of action. He switched over to Cannonade last winter.

Greatness may still come. Followers saw a glimpse of it when Dombrowski won the queen stage and the overall Tour of Utah title earlier this month.

“It was very motivating to be off the bike for a long time and away from racing, it was a good reset, for sure,” Dombrowski added.

“The dream [is to try to win a grand tour some day], for sure, you don’t think you just rock up and win, you have to get that experience in the first one, then look for the GC or top 10 in the next one. Everyone’s progression is different, but it takes time.”

Dombrowski’s time began in the famous beach town of Marbella on Saturday. His job is to help Martin and Talansky in the Vuelta, but also to see how far he can go.

“It’s a new territory for me. I don’t know how I’ll be in the second or third week. There’s only one way to find out,” he said.

“You do a WorldTour stage race, that’s a week long, and you think that that’s hard, and you can’t imagine doing three of them back to back. I don’t fear anything, really. I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of it. It’s tough wrapping your head around it.”

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Fabian Cancellara’s Vuelta comeback cut short http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/fabian-cancellaras-vuelta-comeback-cut-short_382549 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/fabian-cancellaras-vuelta-comeback-cut-short_382549#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:12:06 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382549

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) abandoned the Vuelta due to illness. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Cancellara forced to abandon the Vuelta after only three stages due to illness. He has twice suffered broken vertebrae this season as well.

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Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) abandoned the Vuelta due to illness. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MÁLAGA, Spain (VN) — Fabian Cancellara’s comeback after crashing out of the Tour de France while in the leader’s yellow jersey was cut short after three days in the Vuelta a España. The Swiss classics and time trial champion, quit stage 3 along Spain’s southern coast due to a stomach flu.

“After a year like this, you just don’t want to stop,” said Cancellara in a team statement. “I was alone on the road and had a lot of flashbacks of the past year. But I was feeling totally empty, and in the end the most important thing is your health and we had to think about that too.”

The Vuelta a España was his first race back after a month off following his Tour de France abandon. Cancellara was involved in a high-speed crash late into stage 3 to Huy, Belgium. In the yellow jersey, he flew through the air and came down to fracture two of his vertebrae.

The team announced Cancellara would pull out of the race during the third stage to Málaga Monday. Like the day before, he was trailing behind, and the team said that today he was already outside the time limit (OTL).

Cancellara just wanted to hit “delete” on the day and move ahead.

Cancellara aimed to find rhythm in the Vuelta a España and build his condition toward the world championships in the U.S. What this abandon means for that goal is unknown, but it will not be easy for him if he still decides to continue to prepare for Richmond.

The Vuelta abandon marked another setback for Cancellara this 2015 season. After going so well in the early season races — winning a small uphill sprint in the Tour of Oman and time trialling to victory in the final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico – he crashed early in the E3 Harelbeke. The incident fractured two vertebrae in his back and ended his classics campaign.

Cancellara, winner of three editions of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, battled back to be ready for the Tour. He made the most of it, taking the yellow jersey in stage 2. His reign ended early, though.

“I’m old enough, I have experience, but it’s not easy,” the 34-year-old said.

“Getting sick last week was new, and it’s hard to stay calm and look ahead. I tried to stay calm this year with all the broken bones. I went from winning, sickness, to crashes … I had two peaks this year.”

The team explained that he had a bad night ahead of Monday due to the stomach flu.

“Fabian got caught by a gastrointestinal infection, a virus,” said Dr. Ortwin Schaeffer of the Trek team. “He lost a lot of water and electrolytes, and yesterday he also had a fever. He lost two kilos [4.4 pounds] during yesterday’s stage, and since he couldn’t eat, he could not fill up his reserves. With this heat and this extreme effort, it was just impossible to continue in such a condition.”

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Van Garderen: Nibali’s Vuelta tow ‘a flagrant rule violation’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-nibalis-vuelta-tow-a-flagrant-rule-violation_382531 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-nibalis-vuelta-tow-a-flagrant-rule-violation_382531#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:19:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382531

Vincenzo Nibali's Vuelta was over before it even started. The Astana rider was kicked out of the race after stage 2 for taking a tow from his team car. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

American Tejay van Garderen says he feels Nibali's actions on Sunday constituted a "flagrant rule violation," but the penalty was extreme.

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Vincenzo Nibali's Vuelta was over before it even started. The Astana rider was kicked out of the race after stage 2 for taking a tow from his team car. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MÁLAGA, Spain (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali’s tow in the Vuelta a España stage 2 was too much, said some top cyclists at race Monday morning, the day after the team Astana Italian was sent home. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) called it “A flagrant rule violation.”

“It was kind of shocking. It seems like the jury is taking a tough stance, which they should, but I’m glad I’m not the one to make those calls,” van Garderen told VeloNews.

“When I looked at the video, it wasn’t just a sticky bottle, it seemed like they pretty much towed him up to the group. That’s certainly against the rules. I would’ve slapped him with a big time penalty and a fine, but to kick him out of the race was a bit extreme. The rules are rules. It was definitely a pretty flagrant rule violation.”

The Vuelta rolled out of Mijas on the Costa del Sol in Spain’s south today without Nibali. Nibali was one of several caught up in the crash 30 kilometers from the finish of stage two Sunday.

During his chase back to the favorites’ group, which included van Garderen and Chris Froome (Sky), the Astana team car passed his group and he held on to the driver’s side door and took a tow. They sped clear of the chase group for nine seconds before the television coverage switched to another angle.

Those images were enough to convince the jury, which booted the 2010 winner — and winner of the 2013 Giro d’Italia and 2014 Tour de France — a few hours after the stage.

“A sticky bottle is accepted for a few meters, but changing groups with the car, that’s a bit too much,” Tour de France stage-winner Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) said.

“This wasn’t a sticky bottle, this was holding on to the car,” van Garderen added. “When you take a bottle, you can hold on for a second to catch your breath to put the bottle in your back pocket or in your bike cage, but to have the car take you from your group to another, that’s wrong.”

Chris Froome butted heads with Nibali at least twice on his way to winning the Tour de France last month, once when he went to Nibali’s Astana bus after Nibali blamed him for a crash and another time after he saw Nibali attack while he suffered a mechanical.

Usually talkative, he was tight-lipped on Nibali’s expulsion.

“I have no comment on that,” he replied to one question. He followed with another, “I have no comment on that” when asked by someone else. He became more talkative when the topic changed.

Froome was once in Nibali’s shoes. Though not in contention for the overall in the 2010 Giro, he was booted for holding onto a police motorbike going up the Mortirolo climb.

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Nibali questions race jury over Vuelta boot, upset with Astana http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-questions-race-jury-over-vuelta-boot-upset-with-astana_382438 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-questions-race-jury-over-vuelta-boot-upset-with-astana_382438#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:36:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382438

Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the Vuelta after stage 2. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Astana rider is disqualified from the Vuelta after hanging onto the team car, but he says his team left him behind after a crash.

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Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the Vuelta after stage 2. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MIJAS, Spain (VN) — Italian Vincenzo Nibali said “Adios” to the Vuelta a España Monday after only two stages, making a bad year even worse for him and his team Astana. However, he defended his late-race tactics that led to his expulsion.

The race jury gave him the boot Sunday night after reviewing critical moments of stage 2. In question was Nibali’s excessive tow from the Astana team car as he chased to rejoin the peloton following a crash at 30 kilometers out in the 158.7km stage to the Caminito del Rey summit finish.

“For what happened, I apologize to all those who are ashamed and upset for me,” Nibali wrote on his Facebook page.

“What happened in the Vuelta happens in every race. This does not mean that it is not wrong and that I shouldn’t go unpunished. Just that the punishment is too severe.

“I thought I’d get a hefty fine and kicked down the classification. I would’ve accepted a penalty of 10 minutes! After all, I’m not the first or the last in this type of story.”

Nibali said that people are quick to blame him but that they should consider those who crashed and those who were attacking after the incident.

After the crash, Nibali chased alone at times and with teammates at other times. The help from Astana’s car, driven by sport director Alexandre Shefer, caused the jury to act. With 16km left to race, the turquoise car zipped alongside Nibali. He took hold of the door, and they sped clear of the chase group.

Nibali rejoined the front with 10km to go but lost ground on the final climb to the finish and came across the line in 31st place, around one minute back from the favorites Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky).

The expulsion underlined a bad year marked by doping cases in the team and few results for Nibali, who won the 2010 Vuelta, the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and the 2014 Tour de France.

Before Nibali rebounded to win the stage to La Toussuire at the Tour, rumors circulated that he might try to break his Astana contract this winter and leave a year early. It seems the situation is still not well with Nibali and the team.

“Maybe I would have pulled out of the race anyway, what would I have done here anyway?” Nibali told <em.

Nibali said that in the moments after the incident the team favored Fabio Aru, who was also involved.

“What do I mean? In the sense that I was abandoned. And yet I feel good, my legs feel good. I just had to pass the first week without any problems. Instead, I’m going home without having demonstrated anything.

“When a season starts poorly, it finishes worse.”

Nibali’s only UCI WorldTour result this year was the La Toussuire stage win, which came with its own controversy. He attacked the moment Froome had a mechanical problem.

It is unclear where Nibali will race next, perhaps in the series of Italian one-day races including the Giro di Lombardia. He already said he wants to plan his race schedule differently for 2016.

Astana still has two captains in the Vuelta with Aru and Mikel Landa. On Monday, the team and the Vuelta will race ahead, covering the flat roads to Málaga.

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Nibali thrown out of Vuelta over chase back to bunch http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-faces-race-jury-over-chase-back-to-bunch-following-crash_382368 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/nibali-faces-race-jury-over-chase-back-to-bunch-following-crash_382368#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 18:40:42 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382368

Vincenzo Nibali could face disciplinary action after a questionable chase back to the bunch following a crash. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Astana rider was sent home for holding onto his team car while trying to rejoin the other favorites following a crash

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Vincenzo Nibali could face disciplinary action after a questionable chase back to the bunch following a crash. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CAMINITO DEL REY, Spain (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was thrown out of the Vuelta a España on Sunday for holding onto his team car while trying to rejoin the favorites after getting caught in a crash during stage 2.

Release of the overall classification had been delayed while the race jury met to decide whether the 2010 Vuelta champion would be assessed a time penalty or thrown out of the race.

The jury announced its decision after seeing video of the incident. Nibali, who also won the 2013 Giro d’Italia and 2014 Tour de France, was sent back to Italy along with the sports director driving the car, Alexandre Shefer.

“We saw the videos, we waited to see them on Europort,” said the race jury president, Bruno Valcic. “We watched the film together with Astana director Stefano Zanini.

“The penalties are really clear, the commissaires had to disqualify Nibali from the race. The sports director driving the car, Alexandre Shefer, is also out of the race, and the Astana team car will only be able to continue with one car in the race for two days.

“It was a really tough decision, but looking at the TV images, it was really clear, we had no other option but to give the penalty to the rider.”

Zanini said he sought a lesser penalty but was rebuffed.

“We asked for leniency, asking for a time sanction but not to disqualify him,” he said. “The judges decided that an action of this type creates a precedent for other riders.”

Nibali and his teammates Paolo Tiralongo, Diego Rosa and Fabio Aru were among the many riders caught up in a large crash during the stage, and it took a while to get fresh bikes to everyone who needed one, Nibali included.

IAM Cycling’s David Tanner was unable to continue following the crash. Nibali remounted and chased through the caravan to finish 31st, 1:28 down on stage winner and new race leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).

That result will be struck following Nibali’s disqualification.

“They can do what they want to do, I don’t have a thing to say to the jury,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews before the jury made its decision.

“If they send him home, it will be the race’s loss.”

Martinelli sat shotgun while Shefer drove Astana’s team car. Nibali took hold with 16 kilometers to race in the 158.7km stage. He re-joined the group with 10km remaining, but later lost contact.

“I saw the video, I know what we did!” added Martinelli.

“It happens in the Tour, I’ve seen it a thousand times. Try to find me an honest person in the peloton. Any sports director would have done the same thing to save their leader.”

Race director Javier Guillén saw things otherwise.

“I agree with the decision because I think his attitude is regrettable,” he said in the pressroom. “There is no other possibility.

“This image is bad for cycling, for the sport, and the consequences of this decision are bad for the Vuelta, we have lost a big rider. Any other decision would be hard to understand. The rules have to be followed.”

Astana began the race with three leaders, but must now turn to Aru and Mikel Landa to lead the team with three weeks still to ride in the Vuelta.

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Movistar: Quintana’s Vuelta a chance to beat the best http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/movistar-quintanas-vuelta-a-chance-to-beat-the-best_382302 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/movistar-quintanas-vuelta-a-chance-to-beat-the-best_382302#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 15:19:30 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382302

Nairo Quintana has another opportunity to best Chris Froome in a grand tour after finishing second to him in the Tour de France for the second time in his career. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Vuelta will be another big opportunity for Nairo Quintana to take on cycling's best on a grand tour stage

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Nairo Quintana has another opportunity to best Chris Froome in a grand tour after finishing second to him in the Tour de France for the second time in his career. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CAMINITO DEL REY, Spain (VN) — Nairo Quintana’s Vuelta a España is not a grand tour vendetta after losing to Chris Froome (Sky) at the Tour de France, though it is a big opportunity to add to his grand tour palmares against some of the top names in cycling, a list that invariably includes Chris Froome.

The Movistar captain finished second overall to Froome and won the white young rider’s jersey this July, achieving both feats for the second time in his career. Now, one month later, Quintana has a chance to win the Vuelta a España and add to his 2014 Giro d’Italia win.

“It’s not a vendetta, it’s another opportunity to win a race against all the best in the world,” Team Manager Eusebio Unzué told VeloNews.

“The second overall in the Tour de France was a second with many positive aspects. He consolidated his place with the big grand tour riders, as a great climber, as a possible Tour winner. There are many positive aspects from the Tour.”

Quintana lost time in the echelons on day two and on the first mountaintop finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin, but rebounded in the third week and pushed Froome in the final mountain stages. He moved within 1:12 of Froome’s lead on the Alpe d’Huez before the race finished the next day in Paris.

Teammate Alejandro Valverde placed third and other big names — Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) — were further down the overall classification. Even without the win, the team left France satisfied.

Unzué, with his star preparing inside Movistar’s blue bus ahead of stage two, explained that he wanted Quintana on the Vuelta start line in southern Spain to try to add another title.

“Now, he has another occasion to win one of the few objectives that are left in the season for him,” Unzué said.

“We saw that there was a small difference on the climbs in the Tour. Here, though, we have a time trial of almost 40 kilometers [stage 17 in Burgos]. The advantage turns more in Froome’s favor.

“Nairo knows to win this Vuelta against Froome, he has to lose as little as possible in the time trial. The most he can lose is one minute and 30 seconds.”

The goal also will be to stay upright. Last year, Quintana crashed in the time trial and had to abandon the race before it reached Madrid.

If he stays close and avoids trouble, Quintana could then have his chance to win the Vuelta in one of the five high-summit finishes.

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Craddock taking care of unfinished business in Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/craddock-taking-care-of-unfinished-business-in-vuelta_382262 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/craddock-taking-care-of-unfinished-business-in-vuelta_382262#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 13:16:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382262

Craddock made it through 13 stages at the 2014 Vuelta before abandoning the race on stage 14. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Lawson Craddock has redemption on his mind as he settles in for three weeks of racing in Spain

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Craddock made it through 13 stages at the 2014 Vuelta before abandoning the race on stage 14. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MARBELLA, Spain (VN) — After a rough start to the 2015 season — breaking his wrist, rib, and sternum — Lawson Craddock is back to grand tour racing in the Vuelta a España.

Saturday, the Texan led Giant-Alpecin squad-mate John Degenkolb around the 7.4km seaside team time trial course on Spain’s southern coast, and he’ll be spending a lot more time in that role over the next three weeks.

He is at the Vuelta looking for some redemption, as well.

“Every since dropping out last year,” Craddock told VeloNews, “I’ve been really focused on coming back here and redeeming myself.”

The 23-year-old suffered from a crash early in the first week and the heat in the 2014 edition of the race. He pulled the plug ahead of the third week, but still had a hand in helping Degenkolb win three stages.

He did not soon forget the sweet taste of grand tour success. The Vuelta a España was a light at the end of the tunnel for Craddock, who had a dark start to 2015.

In his opening race in southern Australia, the Tour Down Under, Craddock punctured and somersaulted into a ditch. Instead of finishing stage 4, he went to the hospital with a broken wrist, rib, and sternum. He stayed there for three days under observation and had to reschedule the start of his season for two months later.

“It’s definitely been a tough season, I’ve just come back from a tough season and trying to get back into racing. I’ve progressed nicely though,” Craddock said.

“I knew that taking a couple of weeks off in January from the crash, I’d be a lot fresher at the end of the season. I’ve trained hard for this and I’m motivated to be here.”

Craddock is the only American on Giant-Alpecin’s Vuelta roster, but is among a record nine starting the 2015 Vuelta. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is racing for the overall, and others like Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) and Ian Boswell (Sky) are making their grand tour debuts.

“It definitely helps to have them here,” Craddock said.

“There’s a lot of racing ahead and lot of kilometers in the heat, so to have friends close to you that are suffering right next to you helps.”

A three-week ride through Spain isn’t the only thing on Craddock’s mind at the moment — he is also looking forward to possibly renewing his contract. He aims to have a new one signed with Giant soon after the Vuelta comes to a close September 13 in Madrid.

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Van Garderen kicks off Vuelta campaign in style http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-kicks-off-vuelta-campaign-in-style_382205 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/van-garderen-kicks-off-vuelta-campaign-in-style_382205#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 22:44:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382205

Tejay van Garderen opened his Vuelta campaign on the podium of the opening stage TTT with his BMC teammates. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

BMC's team time trial win gets Tejay van Garderen's Vuelta off to a good start

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Tejay van Garderen opened his Vuelta campaign on the podium of the opening stage TTT with his BMC teammates. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MARBELLA, Spain (VN) — Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) returned to racing with a team time trial win in the first stage of the Vuelta a España late Saturday evening on the country’s southern coast.

Van Garderen and his BMC teammates nabbed the victory over Tinkoff-Saxo by one second. Peter Velits finished first and took the red leader’s jersey.

After abandoning the Tour de France in the third and final week, opening the Vuelta one month later with that sort of start was ideal.

“That’s certainly morale boosting,” van Garderen told VeloNews.

“It brings me back to my first Vuelta in my neo-pro year [2010], we had a TTT under similar sketchy circumstances because it was at night, and we won it with HTC. It’s bringing back memories of my neo pro year, so it’s pretty cool.”

Van Garderen abandoned the Tour on July 22 with a respiratory infection midway through the Pra Loup stage, which he began third overall in the overall standings.

The team also has all-round talent Samuel Sánchez in the Vuelta, but the idea is that van Garderen can take care of unfinished Tour business in Spain.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” he said. “I’ll go for GC, but what that means … I don’t want to put a number on it. I have good legs, the morale’s good, I’ll see what I can do.”

Van Garderen faces a list of rivals that looks pretty similar to the one he faced at the Tour, one that includes Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

He did not gain GC time on them Saturday because the team time trial was neutralized from a general classification standpoint due to a course that was deemed unsafe. BMC Racing, reigning world champion in the time trial, went out guns blazing anyway and took the stage win that was still up for grabs.

“There was a bit of sand, a bit of rubber, a bit on the pier … It was definitely a crazy course, not one I would have wanted to ride, but when we are world champions, we have to do the stripes proud. We felt obligated to give it ago,” he said.

“There were certainly some corners where we were on the limit. We all felt safe and we were all confident on the bike.”

BMC began with three pulling “full gas” and turned it over to a remaining five cyclists to navigate the narrow paths along the popular seaside resort town.

“We thought in the tricky sections it would be safer to roll with five guys anyway,” he explained.

“With that tactic, it was perfect. It kept us safer and it was the quickest way to get around the course.”

With the individual classification still a dead heat, van Garderen’s race for the overall starts Sunday on the stage to Caminito del Rey — but with a confidence boost.

“It’s a 3km, eight-percent summit finish,” he said. “It’s a GC day for sure. The Vuelta starts.”

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Vuelta ‘special’ for Chris Froome http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/vuelta-special-for-chris-froome_382182 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/vuelta-special-for-chris-froome_382182#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 16:48:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382182

Chris Froome (Sky) was second to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) at the 2014 Vuelta a España — his second career runner-up finish at the Spanish grand tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

After giving Froome a chance to show off his promising talent back in 2011, the Vuelta holds a special place in the Tour winner's heart

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Chris Froome (Sky) was second to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) at the 2014 Vuelta a España — his second career runner-up finish at the Spanish grand tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MARBELLA, Spain (VN) — The Vuelta a España, which starts today on Spain’s southern coast, holds a special place in Chris Froome’s heart. Before going on to win the Tour de France twice, Froome first came to prominence in the Spanish three-week race.

After switching from Barloworld, and in his first year at Team Sky, Froome made his mark on the grand tour stage in the 2011 Vuelta a España.

“The race is special for me,” Froome told journalists Friday.

“In 2011, I had my first professional victory here [the stage to Peña Cabarga]. It was the first time I wore the leader’s jersey in a grand tour. I have special memories of the Vuelta.”

Wiggins was Sky’s grand tour man when the team debuted in 2010. He aimed to win the Tour de France in 2010 and 2011 before succeeding to become the first Brit to do so in 2012.

The 2011 Vuelta looked to be Wiggins’ to win, but the team went back and forth between him and Froome, and saw Spaniard Juan José Cobo ride clear with the overall victory after three weeks.

Besides the jersey and the stage win, though, Froome also climbed onto the overall podium for the first time in a grand tour. He stood one step below Cobo and just above Wiggins in Madrid. At that moment, he knew he had the ability to become a grand tour contender and gained a boost in confidence.

The rest is history. He placed second in the 2012 Tour helping Wiggins. He returned the following year as Sky’s sole leader and took the overall victory. After injury forced him out of the 2014 Tour, he landed a second career runner-up performance at the Vuelta. Then, this July, Froome claimed a second Tour de France title for himself.

“It’s always a race towards the end of the season that I enjoy doing. It’s more relaxed, but just as hard as the Tour,” Froome added.

“I’d love to win it, make no mistake about it. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, but I really do love this race and want to win.”

The Vuelta has all of cycling’s biggest grand tour stars minus Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), last year’s winner. The Spaniard pulled the plug on his season after winning the Giro d’Italia and placing fifth in the Tour de France.

American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is here after pulling out of the Tour early, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is here after placing second in France, and 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is making the start too after fourth-place GC finish and a stage win in the Tour.

“I’m definitely not in the same condition that I had in the Tour, make no mistake about it, but I’m motivated to win,” Froome added.

“My whole season was built around the Tour, with blocks of altitude training to time my condition perfectly. I’m basically coming into the Vuelta off the back of the Tour, just coming in with what I have.”

Froome did not race officially since winning the Tour title July 26, but rode a full series of post-Tour criteriums. Afterwards, he returned to his base in Monaco for a block of intense training to be fit for and ready for the Vuelta.

If he pulls off the win, he would be only the third cyclist in history to win the Tour-Vuelta double. He would add his name to a short list that includes Jacques Anquetil, winner in 1963, and Bernhard Hinault, 1978.

The race gets under way Saturday with a 7.4-kilometer team time trial, finishing in the seaside town of Marbella.

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Betancur and AG2R La Mondiale part ways http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/betancur-and-ag2r-la-mondiale-part-ways_382123 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/betancur-and-ag2r-la-mondiale-part-ways_382123#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 20:38:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382123

Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) raced the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Jim Fryer | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Colombian Carlos Betancur and French team Ag2r La Mondiale break contract after difficult three-year relationship

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Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) raced the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Jim Fryer | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

MARBELLA, Spain (VN) — Colombian Carlos Betancur and French team AG2R La Mondiale broke off their contract Friday after a rocky run.

After three years in the team’s brown and white colors, Betancur’s last race with the team, the Tour of Poland, was marked by a DNS in stage 1.

“I would like to thank the Ag2r La Mondiale team for its professionalism, trust, and support over the course of the past three seasons, during which I have experienced some fantastic sporting moments,” the 25-year-old said in a team statement.

“We have reached the conclusion that I need to make a change in order to pursue my career, and I am happy that we’ve been able to reach an agreement so that I can get a new start for another team.”

The team’s general manager, Vincent Lavenu, added,“After several months during which we have been unable to find a solution to help Carlos Betancur reach the same level of performance that allowed him to win Paris-Nice in 2014, we have decided, in agreement with the rider, to end our partnership.

“We come away with the memory of an endearing young man and a top-level rider whom we wish a successful future career.”

Betancur said in a separate statement that the two terminated the contract Thursday “by mutual agreement.”

He will not race for the remainder of 2015 and try to bounce back with a new team in 2016.

The press statements failed to mention the these moments between the rider and French manager.

After Betancur won the Paris-Nice stage race in 2014, he was due to race Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France, but missed his flight from Colombia. He complained that he felt sick, but failed to tell the team before the missed flight. An already complicated French visa process worsened and Betancur missed nearly four months of racing.

When Ag2r signed him from Acqua & Sapone, the hope was that he would develop alongside other top Colombians such as Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán, and Sergio Henao. He placed fifth in the 2013 Giro d’Italia and won the white jersey of best young rider. He scored third place in La Flèche Wallonne and fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013, as well.

After 2014’s Paris-Nice win, the results dried up. This year, Betancur’s best result was second place in the rain-soaked Giro d’Italia stage to Imola won by Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).

“Betancur is special. I don’t know if other Colombians are as complicated as mine,” Lavenu told VeloNews last June. “One of the hardest things with Carlos is that he’s attached to his home and he always wants to go home early to stay as long as possible. Staying in Europe has always been difficult for him. We communicate a lot with him but don’t get much in return. That’s very frustrating.”

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Boswell starts new chapter with grand tour debut http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/boswell-starts-new-chapter-with-grand-tour-debut_382107 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/boswell-starts-new-chapter-with-grand-tour-debut_382107#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:02:08 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=382107

American Ian Boswell has ridden for Sky since 2013. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Riding for Team Sky's formidable Vuelta squad, American Ian Boswell is making his grand tour debut in Spain.

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American Ian Boswell has ridden for Sky since 2013. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MARBELLA, Spain (VN) — Ian Boswell starts his first grand tour, the Vuelta a España tomorrow in Spain’s simmering south.

The plan is in place: meet mom Dina and brother Austin in Madrid three weeks later. The opportunity is there too: help Team Sky’s leader Chris Froome win the race overall and earn his own contract extension along the way.

The 24-year-old from Oregon will roll down the start ramp Saturday in Marbella with Sky in the team time trial. What is out on the horizon is unknown.

“This has been my objective all year,” Boswell told VeloNews from his hotel room, which he is sharing with veteran Christian Knees for the race.

“I’ve been aiming for this. Once the team presentation gets underway tonight, I think it’ll hit me and feel real. This is a three-week race, something bigger than I’ve ever raced.”

The 2015 Vuelta a España, this year from August 22 to September 13, held its place in Boswell’s planner for his first three years in the professional peloton with Sky. Each year came with its difficulties, but also with its progression.

In a team with stars Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, and the recently departed Bradley Wiggins, Boswell had to fight for his space in one of Sky’s nine-man grand tour teams.

This summer, the pieces fell into place with the Critérium du Dauphiné. Boswell helped deliver Froome to the overall win in southeast France. It would have been too much to ride the Tour, but the Vuelta two months later fit in perfectly into his and Sky’s program.

Boswell is one of nine Americans starting, a record number for the Spanish grand tour. Not only will he ride with Sky’s other eight — “his best friends in the peloton” — but he’ll see regular training partners in the bunch: Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and recent Tour of Utah winner Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin).

“I’ve counted the nine, but also eight from Axel Merckx’s program including some foreigners. I raced with many of them as an amateur; it’s good to see some of them and the guys I train with in Nice,” Boswell said.

“My job is similar to the Dauphiné. We have good guys to help with positioning in the bunch — Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees and ‘G’ [Geraint Thomas] — and super climbers like Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve. I’m going to go back and forth between working in the mountains and pulling on the flats.

“I’ve been climbing pretty well. I hope to be an asset in the mountains, but then I’m ready to work on the flats too.”

Boswell is thinking about his contract and is unsure if his agent is talking only to Sky or other teams.

“The main thing is work on my performance,” he said. “With my best efforts here, a contract will come.”

Knees, a veteran of 14 grand tours, reminded Boswell it was time to head to the presentation. He ended the call on his smartphone and headed to the show, the start of new chapter in his cycling career.

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Pozzato to race for Sagan? http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/pozzato-to-race-for-sagan_380862 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/pozzato-to-race-for-sagan_380862#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 13:56:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=380862

Peter Sagan and Filippo Pozzato shook hands after a long, hard day at Milano-Sanremo 2015. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

After a couple rocky years with Lampre, Filippo Pozzato might join Peter Sagan on Tinkoff to serve as a super-domestique for the classics.

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Peter Sagan and Filippo Pozzato shook hands after a long, hard day at Milano-Sanremo 2015. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

MILAN (VN) — ‘Pippo’ and ‘The Saganator’ on the same Tinkoff-Saxo team for 2016? If negotiations go well, Italian Filippo Pozzato could make the switch from Lampre-Merida at the end of the season to support Peter Sagan.

Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad newspaper reported Friday morning that the deal is done, that the 33-year-old — 12th in this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen and winner of the 2006 Milano-Sanremo — signed with Russian owner Oleg Tinkov for one year with an option to extend into 2017.

“I don’t know,” Pozzato told VeloNews. “My agent is handling all of it, and I’ll evaluate the offers when he’s done.”

Pozzato won Milano-Sanremo and stages in the Tour de France. He placed second in the Ronde and second in Paris-Roubaix since turning professional at 19 years old in 2000.

For the last three years, he raced for Italy’s WorldTour team, Lampre.

“It’s difficult that he will stay with Lampre,” Pozzato’s agent, Alex Carera told VeloNews.

“Right now, we are talking with different teams, including Tinkoff, but no decision is made yet.”

Pozzato wants to close out 2015 first, possibly racing the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the GP Ouest France-Plouay, the GP Québec, and the GP Montréal. Carera could find him a team in the meantime.

“Right now, we are only talking to WorldTour teams, teams that need a big helper for a big leader,” Carera added.

“Why Tinkoff? He’d like to help Sagan, who he sees as a huge star in the northern classics.”

Sagan won the green jersey in four consecutive editions of the Tour de France, including the one that just rolled to a stop in Paris two weeks ago.

He has yet to pull through with a one-day monument win, but has come close. He placed top five in Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde three times, including second in both races in 2013. In 2014, he placed sixth in Paris-Roubaix.

The Italian’s time with Lampre could end on a bad note. Lampre team manager, Brent Copeland appeared ready to call it quits already last year.

“His attitude towards the team isn’t good,” Copeland told Tutto Bici. “He is not respectful of his teammates and the team’s internal rules. He cannot wear his own shoes at will, while all the other use shoes with the team’s colors

“We do not really need prima donnas, we just want racers who act professionally and show their talent. And ‘Pippo’ doesn’t lack talent.”

A new team and a new challenge, helping Sagan win a monument, could be what Pozzato needs to utilize his talent to its fullest.

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Yates ‘frustrated’ by San Sebastian chaos following win http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/yates-frustrated-by-san-sebastian-chaos-following-win_380807 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/08/news/yates-frustrated-by-san-sebastian-chaos-following-win_380807#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:50:40 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=380807

Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) won the traditional Txapela hat awarded to Clásica San Sebastián victors. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Adam Yates wants race organizers held accountable for Van Avermaet crash but bristles at claims that he doesn't deserve WorldTour victory.

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Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) won the traditional Txapela hat awarded to Clásica San Sebastián victors. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Adam Yates won the Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday but felt “frustrated” by what happened afterward. He turned on his smartphone and saw Internet messages saying that he did not deserve the win.

In the hills above the Spanish seaside town, a television motorbike crashed into rival Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Later on the same climb, Yates, in his Orica-GreenEdge colors, attacked. He descended to San Sebastián where he won solo. The party, however, was short-lived.

“Did it leave a sour taste? Well yeah. Where do you want me to start!? It’s frustrating,” Yates told VeloNews.

“I saw messages on Twitter saying that I don’t deserve to win, stuff like that. It’s not like I can change what happened.”

The Spanish WorldTour race was plagued by bad television coverage that confused the incident that happened on the final Bordako Tontorra climb. Belgian Van Avermaet said that he “had a big gap” in a press release. BMC team president, Jim Ochowicz added, “Greg [Van Avermaet] was robbed.”

Grainy images of the incident emerged later. Fans lined the road and a motorbike travelling at slow speed swerved and clipped Van Avermaet’s rear wheel. The footage also showed Yates close behind, around two yards back, when Van Avermaet fell to the right.

Yates remained with a small group and attacked solo before the top of the climb that left 7.1 kilometers to San Sebastián, where the situation sunk in.

BMC released its press statements over the following 24 hours. Ochowicz explained he is ready to take legal action.

Yates refrained from commenting, but his twin brother and teammate Simon could not resist commenting on Twitter about what BMC said.

“Obviously, you say things after the race in the heat of the moment. He was frustrated, and rightly so. How often does a motorbike run into you when you are leading? I understand their frustration,” Adam Yates continued.

“Before the video of the crash came out, it sounded as if Van Avermaet had a big gap. I was there, right behind, and had to brake for the motorbikes. But it’s not about Van Avermaet, it’s about the organization.

“The organizer needs to reduce the people on the road or put up barriers. The fans are great in the Basque Country; they climb up the road, which is so small anyway, to see the race. They’re so passionate, but it creates stress and narrows our space. The organizer should work on it to avoid crashes that could be easily avoided.”

Earlier this year in País Vasco, another top-level WorldTour race, a similar incident happened. The organizer left traffic poles in the road that the race used in the closing kilometer of stage one to Bilbao. Yates broke his finger in that race, and BMC’s Peter Stetina broke his right tibia, patella, and four ribs.

Yates called both incidents frustrating, but said that the organizer could have avoided them with proper planning.

Now, he simply wants to look ahead. He will travel to Canada in September to race the Tour of Alberta, and the GP de Québec and the GP de Montréal. The Clásica San Sebastián gives him a mental boost.

“Confidence goes a long way. I showed that last year when I won the Tour of Turkey, every race I went to afterwards I was full of confidence,” said Yates. “Like I said, confidence goes a long way.”

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