Gregor Brown – VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 28 Aug 2016 20:06:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://velonews.competitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/cropped-Velonews_favicon-2-32x32.png Gregor Brown – VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com 32 32 Contador shows he’s still in the fight at the Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/contadors-vuelta-hopes-still-alive-despite-crash_419140 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/contadors-vuelta-hopes-still-alive-despite-crash_419140#respond Sun, 28 Aug 2016 12:54:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=419140 Alberto Contador bounces back from stage 7 crash with strong stage 8 ride to gain time on all of his rivals bar Nairo Quintana

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LEÓN, Spain (VN) — Alberto Contador’s bid for a fourth Vuelta a España title is alive. After a crash the day before, the Spaniard locals call ‘El Pistolero’ returned firing Saturday in the race’s in the first bona fide mountaintop finish at La Camperona.

With bandages on his left leg and arm, the Tinkoff rider dropped all of his rivals bar Nairo Quintana (Movistar). In the final steep pitches, varying between 15% and 25%, Quintana rode clear and into the red jersey.

Russian Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) won from an escape. Quintana finished 4:41 behind, but 25 seconds ahead of Contador — the day went much better than many had predicted for Contador, though. He minimized his loss to Quintana and dropped Chris Froome (Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by eight seconds, and Esteban Chaves (Orica – BikeExchange) by 32 seconds.

“I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to continue in this Vuelta,” Contador said. “I thought it was over for me because when I arrived to the hotel [Friday night], I could barely walk.”

Sunday morning ahead of the second of four consecutive summit finishes in Spain’s north, he sits seventh at 1:39 behind Quintana. He has much ground to make up, but at least he is still in the race.

Contador’s run of bad luck continued from the Tour de France, where he crashed twice in the first two stages and abandoned later in the week due to his injuries. The Vuelta a España started poorly, too. He lost ground in the team time trial and on first summit finish Monday. Then, though setup perfectly by Tinkoff speeding into Friday’s finish, he fell in a curve after another rider bumped into him.

In a sense, he rode to a victory Saturday afternoon given the fact that the night before, scraped and bruised, abandoning had crossed his mind.

“So, I’m happy it was OK for me,” Contador said of the stage 8 result. Asked, “Just OK?” he responded, “Well, I would’ve liked to drop everybody, including Quintana, but I couldn’t follow him.

“I need to keep recovering. My leg injury is better than I expected, but sometimes you pay more on the second day than you do on the first after a big crash. I expect I’ll be following wheels tomorrow [Sunday].”

The Vuelta still must cover most of northern Spain and dip down the east coast over the next two weeks. Both Quintana, after putting on the red jersey, and Froome warned that the race is far from settled.

Sunday, the race finishes up the Alto del Naranco. Monday, the Lagos de Covadonga. And Wednesday, after a rest day, the fourth summit finish in a row to Peña Cabarga.

One thing that is settled: Contador will not ride a black bicycle in the coming days.

“I don’t think it’s ‘bad luck’ but I will not use the black bike again,” he said, “because I fell with it in the Tour and again while riding it Friday.”

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Kruijswijk, LottoNL seek compensation from Vuelta after crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/kruijswijk-lottonl-want-compensation-vuelta-crash_419091 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/kruijswijk-lottonl-want-compensation-vuelta-crash_419091#respond Sat, 27 Aug 2016 12:59:05 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=419091 Steven Kruijswijk and his LottoNL – Jumbo squad seek compensation after a metal post leads to a serious crash in the Vuelta's stage 5

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LEÓN, Spain (VN) — Steven Kruijswijk and his LottoNL – Jumbo team want compensation from the Vuelta a España’s race organizer for its negligence. A metal post left in the road with 2.5 kilometers remaining in Wednesday’s stage 5 caused the Dutchman to crash and abandon the race.

Kruijswijk, who placed fourth overall at the Giro d’Italia after leading the race for several days, built the second half of his season around winning the Vuelta a España. Now, he sits at home in the Netherlands with a broken collarbone. His season is finished.

“We asked the Vuelta how they think they are going compensate Steven and the team for the loss,” general manager Richard Plugge said.

“We wasted time and money to have the team and Steven ready to come here to race this Vuelta. The riders always complain in Twitter, but nothing ever happens.”

The three-foot high pole designed to mark parking spaces sat around five-feet in from the curb. When the pack sped by at 50 to 60 kilometers an hour, it was impossible for everyone to see it and more importantly to avoid it.

“Fear a lawsuit?” race director Javier Guillen said. “There are all kinds of incidents on the road all the time and there are never lawsuits that follow.”

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, with a similar incident causing controvery in April of 2015 at the País Vasco stage race. In the final 400 meters of the first stage, a speeding bunch swung around a corner and around 10 unlucky riders crashed. Adam Yates (Orica – BikeExchange) and Peter Stetina (then with BMC Racing) went down hard, and Stetina suffered a broken right tibia, patella, and four ribs. The American said he could have died.

“The problem’s been there for at least the last three years or so. Nothing’s changing,” BMC Racing’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz said.

Ochowicz sent out open letters and e-mails to the UCI after Stetina’s incident and a motorbike incident involving Greg Van Avermaet in the Clásica San Sebastián.

“And now it escalated,” he added. “The UCI told me on a couple occasions that it’s something that they are concerned about and they’re going to look into, but I had nothing else other than that back from them.

“There are things that have happened such as this poll and it was preventable. Someone would have noticed that when they drove the course beforehand.”

BMC Racing never took legal action against the País Vasco organizer. LottoNL appears ready to do so as its eight remaining riders, selected specifically to support Kruijswijk’s overall aim, struggle to find new goals in the remainder of the Vuelta a España.

“It’s up to the team and to the riders’ association to do something about it,” LottoNL – Jumbo’s Robert Gesink said. “Obviously, it isn’t good, but it’s already a good sign that the Vuelta organization said that it’s ‘our mistake’ [the Vuelta’s] and that’s a good start for a conversation. But we cannot be exposed to these kinds of dangers in the final.”

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Larry Warbasse hunts for Vuelta success and contract http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/larry-warbasse-hunts-vuelta-success-contract_419032 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/larry-warbasse-hunts-vuelta-success-contract_419032#respond Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:10:40 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=419032 American Larry Warbasse is hoping that a strong showing at the Vuelta a España will help him land a contract for the 2017 season.

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OURENSE, Spain (VN) — Larry Warbasse is hunting, not just for success in the Vuelta a España, but a job. The American needs a contract with Swiss IAM Cycling team closing its doors this season.

Warbasse is fighting alongside his IAM Cycling teammates despite the end of their team in sight. Every day, they are active. Warbasse escaped in stage 4 and Mathias Frank did so Thursday, being the last to hold on before Simon Yates buzzed by for the stage win.

“I’ve been enjoying the Vuelta. Spain always treats me well,” Warbasse said with a smile and a new haircut from the Vuelta’s village. “It’s nice to be here, we’ve been in the breaks, and it’s going well.

“It seems that we have a good atmosphere in the team. It doesn’t seem like any guys are walking around with their heads hung low. Most of the guys here have contracts, a few of us still don’t.”

Warbasse rode his way through the ranks at BMC Racing and in 2015, landed a contact with IAM Cycling as it went WorldTour.

Though he’s yet to win a race with IAM, the 26-year-old has had some strong performances. Warbasse, after pulling out of the Giro d’Italia early, returned in July to place seventh overall in the Tour of Poland.

Teams know him well for his work ethic and consistency. Some insiders say that Cannondale – Drapac might sign him for 2017, but those rumors turned out to be just that, rumors.

“I don’t have a contract yet. I heard about the Cannondale rumor too, but that’s not the case, unfortunately,” the 26-year-old Michigan native said.

“I’ve been continuing in an upward trajectory, I’ve had a good season and I’ve had some good rides. I hope to be able to find something.

“I’d fit in well with most teams. I’d be happy in many places, I wouldn’t say there’s anyone one team in particular. When I was on BMC, I had a lot of experience working for big leaders. Or in another team, where we are aggressive and going for breaks, like IAM.

“I’ve done all I can do to be ready for this Vuelta, now it’s just a matter of racing. I’m racing for a contract here.

The Vuelta offers the perfect place for Warbasse and IAM to demonstrate their worth. This year’s includes little flat stages and goes heavy on mountain and medium-mountain stages, which suit escapees.

“I feel good so I hope that I can continue well in this race. I stayed in Utah a few days later after the Tour of Utah to prepare, I hope that here I’ll improve as the days go on,” Warbasse explained.

“It’s nice to have many opportunities in a race like this. We don’t have a big GC guy, so we have many opportunities to go for it. You saw the other day that the guys were just going for it from the start. It’s so much easier to be in the breakaway when everyone is going for it.”

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Will unconventional Vuelta prep work for Chaves? http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/will-unconventional-vuelta-prep-work-for-chaves_418956 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/will-unconventional-vuelta-prep-work-for-chaves_418956#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:46:55 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418956 Esteban Chaves is riding with the GC favorites at the Vuelta a España as he tries to win his first grand tour.

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LUGO, Spain (VN) — Colombian Esteban Chaves took a risk, but it is working. He is riding with the top favorites, already distancing some, in the Vuelta a España despite having one race day since finishing second at the Giro d’Italia in May.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) lost time and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo) crashed out. Chaves, Orica – BikeExchange’s leader, is riding high with Chris Froome (Sky) and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana after a successful team time trial and two summit finishes.

“Yes. The beginning has gone very well for me,” Chaves said. “I said to everyone that is the most important thing to save the most energy you can.

“It’s hard to do so here in northern Spain. It’s been hot, as well. We are trying to continue with this plan of conserving energy. These races are won in the last week. You saw that in the Giro. In the final week, you can see the best riders.”

Chaves won the queen stage in the Dolomites and led the Giro d’Italia, closing second overall behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He fell sick when he returned to Colombia. Afterward, he began preparing for his late-season goal with a mix of training designed to make him race ready despite the lack of competition.

“I would usually do a mix of things,” Chaves said. I would do many intervals behind the motorbike or the car. I rode a lot of kilometers, and a lot of kilometers on the climbs or at altitude. This way I could arrive here with calmness.”

Chaves traveled only to Brazil to race in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics — his only race between the Giro and Vuelta — where he placed 21st.

“This year has been different with the Olympics close to Colombia, so I did my route preparations for the Vuelta in Colombia but with the Olympic road race objective in the middle,” Chaves added. “It would have been too much stress coming here to race the Vuelta a Burgos and then going back to race the Olympics and then returning to Europe.”

Chaves smiled and looked over toward a team helper, who signaled it was time for him to ride to the podium for the start of stage 5. He is 26 years old, and out of the favorites Froome, Valverde, and Quintana, he has the least amount of grand tour experience — but he seems to be handling himself well.

“Yes, it’s true you enter into the Vuelta and in the first days, it’s hard because you need to have your rhythm,” said Chaves. “But I think our team is good at managing it.”

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Vuelta: Boswell enjoying life by Froome’s side http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vuelta-boswell-enjoying-life-by-froomes-side_418891 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vuelta-boswell-enjoying-life-by-froomes-side_418891#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:39:09 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418891 The Vuelta a España is Ian Boswell's second grand tour of the season and the third of his career, and he's enjoying every minute of it.

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VIVEIRO, Spain (VN) — Ian Boswell is happily taking a new step into the unknown at this Vuelta a España, riding his second grand tour of the year and doing so to help Sky teammate Chris Froome win.

After a trip home to the U.S., where he enjoyed the occasional hamburger and beer, Sky boss David Brailsford called to say he needed his help in the Spanish grand tour. The British WorldTour team obviously thought that Boswell’s grand tour debut went well last year in the Vuelta and appreciated his work in the Giro d’Italia this May, where he rode in support of leader Mikel Landa and helped Mikel Nieve win a stage and the blue mountains jersey.

“I wasn’t really even planning on doing it, it wasn’t part of the plan, but I’m really happy to be here,” Boswell said at the start line of Tuesday’s stage 4.

“After the U.S. and a break, I am back physically and mentally fresh. I wasn’t broken down at all, but coming back, I’m excited to be racing. I had a good time back home and now I’m enjoying racing.”

When Froome is pulled right and left by fans or journalists, Boswell often stands nearby smiling and laughing as if riding a three-week Tour is as easy as a weekend criterium in his home state of Oregon. Instead, serious rivals like Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are out for Froome’s blood and will strike at any moment the three-time Tour de France winner shows a weakness. Boswell has to be switched on or else.

“In the Giro, we had Mikel Landa, but with Froome, he’s a clear leader and wants us to ride a distinct style because he knows that he has a chance to win,” Boswell said.

“I enjoy the way we ride. It’s typical team Sky, we just ride on the front and the last two days, we had the red jersey so of course, we were on the front from the beginning. It’s a much more controlled style. We don’t have the red jersey now, but still we will ride a very controlled style and we ride as a unit.”

Boswell is convinced Froome can become one of the few to win the Tour/Vuelta double based on what he has seen so far in the first four days of the race.

“It was impressive in the team time trial with everyone committed and we won the race,” Boswell said. “With Chris, we come here with a real distinct goal and everyone buys into it. We weren’t really sure on how he’d go, but after seeing him in the team time trial and in stage 3 [with the 30 percent pitches of Mirador de Ézaro], everyone knows he has the fitness to win this.”

The peloton started to move forward for the start of stage 4 just as Boswell began to underline how happy he is to be riding this grand tour. Three seconds later, he clipped in and sped away.

“Hell yeah, I am happy to be here,” he wrote in a message later after the stage. “10 years ago, I was a kid who fell in love with cycling. Now, I am racing alongside a three-time Tour champion, world champion, multiple national champions, and an Olympic medalist. And to think back then, I was racing OBRA [the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association] thinking I was doing well.”

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Talansky confident he can take another Vuelta top-10 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/talansky-confident-he-can-take-another-vuelta-top-10_418803 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/talansky-confident-he-can-take-another-vuelta-top-10_418803#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:32:19 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418803 The Vuelta is the Cannondale – Drapac captain's only grand tour of the 2016 season, and he's going all in.

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A CORUÑA, Spain (VN) — The sun is out in northwest Spain, and American Andrew Talansky is smiling. The Cannondale – Drapac captain is starting his first grand tour of the 2016 season and says, with confidence, “Of course, I’m here for the classification”

Talansky has had a rough couple of years, due to crashes and family setbacks. He said this summer that he hasn’t been at his best since the 2014 Tour de France. Due to those circumstances and the desire to impress, he skipped the Tour and took aim at the third grand tour of the year.

The race began in the far northwest city of Ourense. And now, it continues to weave through Galicia for its first mountain stages. He lost 49 seconds on the Mirador de Ézaro summit finish Monday, but the steep 30 percent ramps suited other climbers better. His eyes are looking further across the horizon.

“It is about consistency and riding my race because I know how I prepared for this, I know how I’m riding,” Talansky said while prepping his bike for Tuesday’s stage 4.

“I believe what I am capable of and the team does as well, and it’s about putting together that for three weeks, not about just one day or about one single thing. I know that I’m at my best in the third week in grand tours, and the third week in this grand tour is hard. So it’s about being consistent and getting there in a good position and taking advantage of that.”

Other green-kitted Cannondale cyclists like Joe Dombrowski and Davide Formolo walked by and mounted their bikes. They will be supporting Talansky, who rode only the Vuelta in the 2011 and 2012 seasons and in 2012, then just 23, placed seventh overall behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

General manager Jonathan Vaughters took him to the Tour de France in the following years to learn. The 2013 season went well with 10th place and the 2014 season even better, until he crashed a few times. An intelligent move in the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné saw Alberto Contador and Chris Froome dislodged and netted him the overall, and placed him as a favorite for the Tour. He was flying, but crashes stopped his progress.

Last year, he returned for 11th place. This year, he wanted better — his best — and skipped the Tour to correct his course in the Vuelta.

“The way that worked out this year gets a lot of focus, skipping the Tour, but in 2011 and 2012, it was the only grand tour I did. Not much has really changed now, you just go out there and do your own thing over three weeks and see what you can do,” said Talansky, perhaps playing down the choice that he and Vaughters made this spring.

“The classification, it’s my aim, 100 percent. I want to improve on how I was in 2012 here, which was seventh. I think I can improve on that.

“I think that if anybody has been paying attention I have already shown that — OK, I’ve made a smart move and I want a Dauphiné — I’m climbing with the best people in the Tour de Suisse and I’m climbing with the best people again in the Tour of Utah. I won the queen stage there.

“I’m climbing well and I’m climbing how I was before, if not better in some cases. I think people forget that a lot of times, I will also take advantage of my time trial to get a good result.”

If it is climbing that Talansky likes then this Vuelta, apart from Monday’s ramp, suits him with its 10 summit finishes.

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Despite big mountains, Farrar still loves Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/despite-mountains-farrar-still-loves-vuelta_418758 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/despite-mountains-farrar-still-loves-vuelta_418758#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:51:19 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418758 Farrar enjoys helper role at Dimension Data. The 32-year-old American is racing at the Vuelta to help guide his teammates over the roads of

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VIGO, Spain (VN) — Tyler Farrar may burn his fair, freckled skin in the Spanish sun, but he loves the Vuelta a España. This weekend in the country’s northwest, he began the grand tour for the fifth time with an eye on helping teammates Kristian Sbaragli and Nathan Haas, but also on the next two years with team Dimension Data.

The 32-year-old from Washington, whose hair keeps getting longer and longer with his years of experience, will guide Sbaragli through the sprints and will set up Haas to attack in the medium-mountain stages. The team also brings a handful of climbers for the mountainous route.

“I certainly would not call this a sprinter-friendly Vuelta this year,” Farrar said. “There will be opportunities but certainly not nine field sprints, and I think that’s what scared away some of the sprinters.

“I love the Vuelta, it’s the favorite of my three grand tours. Each grand tour has its own character and is special in its own way. There’s this nice kind of laid-back atmosphere here. The Tour de France is so stressful and the Giro d’Italia is just kind of insane, where the Vuelta has a nice feel as a rider.”

And after spending time in Washington in July watching his team win five stages in the Tour de France, Farrar is more motivated.

“I would wake up every morning in America to check the results and see, ‘Wow, we won!’ and ‘Wow, we won again.’ It fuels the whole team on. When your team performs like that, it has a way of making everybody rise to the occasion and moves the bar.”

Farrar changed his plans over the last few years. Instead of hunting for sprint wins, he helps his teammates do so and powers leaders like Edvald Boasson Hagen in the classics. This spring, he helped Mark Cavendish and Boasson Hagen win at the Tour of Qatar and followed Boasson Hagen on through the cobbled classics he loves so much.

The plan is the same for the next two years. Whispers among the peloton say Farrar has a new contact with the South African-based WorldTour team, but the squad would not confirm it. He joined Dimension Data for 2015 after several years with the Garmin/Slipstream franchise.

“My role is fairly defined as a team now, the classics are my No. 1 priority every year supporting Edvald. The tricky thing is that for the Tour de France, we have a limited number of positions and guys that need to go for other objectives,” Farrar said.

“I really enjoy transitioning into this role since I came to the team. At this point in my career, I’ve been around a lot and I have a lot of experience. I’m more valuable doing that than being out there in chasing for results. We have some of the best riders in the world here in this team and I enjoy helping them.

“Edvald got a little sick in Milano-Sanremo and then it that just derailed him, but he still got fifth in Paris-Roubaix so you can’t say that he wasn’t far off in the classics. He definitely has his mojo back these last years. I think a big classics victory is still in the future for sure.”

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Vuelta: Froome already in driver’s seat after just one day http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/sky-ttt-puts-froome-pole-position-hunts-vuelta-win_418574 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/sky-ttt-puts-froome-pole-position-hunts-vuelta-win_418574#respond Sun, 21 Aug 2016 13:21:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418574 Sky's team time trial performance puts Chris Froome in a strong starting position as he looks to add a Vuelta title to his palmares

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OURENSE, Spain (VN) — Sky and Chris Froome are “confident” and “calm.” They face the rest of the Vuelta a España’s three weeks already in a good place after gaining seconds and even minutes on their rivals in the opening team time trial in northwestern Spain Saturday.

Froome, having twice placed second overall in the race, is out to secure his first Vuelta a España title to diversify his palmares. He already counts three Tour de France titles, taking his last one this July.

With the Tour and the Olympics, where he won the bronze medal in the time trial, it has been a taxing season. The Vuelta could be difficult for the 31-year-old Brit, but so far, things are going smoothly.

“It was one of the best starts to any of the grand tours that we’ve done,” Sky’s sports director Dario Cioni said. “Yes, one of the best. In the past we haven’t done great team time trials.”

Sky beat Movistar by a fraction of a second over the 27.8-kilometer time trial in Ourense’s countryside. They put six seconds on Orica – BikeExchange with Esteban Chaves, who placed second overall in this year’s Giro d’Italia, and 52 seconds on three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff team.

Cioni added, “This was one of the stages that we identified as a key stage for the Vuelta, a stage where we hoped to gain time for Chris so that he could face the next week with a little bit more calmness.”

This year’s Vuelta a España still must cover 3200 hard kilometers. So hard, with 10 summit finishes, many of the sprinters decided to race elsewhere.

Froome’s rivals include Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo), and of course, Contador.

“We know that he’s going to have to suffer in this Vuelta, Chris is already done the Tour and the Olympics,” said Cioni. “He’s a big racer who can do big things, also if we are a little unsure about where exactly he is fitness-wise. But I’m sure after today we did a good test where he was able to regulate and getting that second that the team needed to win the stage, he’s going to be very much more confident.”

Perhaps better for Sky, mountain helper Pete Kennaugh led the team over the finish line and took the red leader’s jersey. Instead of the immediate attention being on Froome, with post-stage press conferences and podium ceremonies, Kennaugh will take the load.

Cioni explained that it was not planned who would cross the finish line first, but that Kennaugh is a deserving winner after fighting back from a broken collarbone suffered in the Amgen Tour of California and a good Vuelta a Burgos.

He added, “Chris does not need to start with the leaders jersey as he’s done in the past already.”

Last year, BMC Racing won the opening time trial and Tejay van Garderen wore the leader’s jersey for one day. Froome pulled out in the second week due to a crash and broken bone in his foot.

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Van Garderen back to racing, hunting Vuelta stage wins http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/van-garderen-back-racing-hunting-vuelta-stage-wins_418533 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/vuelta-a-espana/van-garderen-back-racing-hunting-vuelta-stage-wins_418533#respond Sat, 20 Aug 2016 12:57:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418533 After a disappointing Tour de France in July, Tejay van Garderen returns to racing at the Vuelta, targeting stage victories

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OURENSE, Spain (VN) — Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) returns to action in the Vuelta a España Saturday, and, after a “disappointing” Tour de France, he is aiming for stage wins.

America’s grand tour star failed to reach his best at the Tour in July and fight for the overall classification. The race, as well as time at home in Colorado, helped him to reconsider his Vuelta plans.

“To do two grand tours in one season, it’s a chance to feel the legs, feel the engine, to give me a bit more depth heading into the next season,” van Garderen said. “I don’t want to ride anonymously. I want to hunt for a stage win. It’s going to be an interesting race, different to what I’m used to.

“Last year, I was very disappointed with the Tour, I wanted revenge. I basically woke up on Monday morning and tried to go back in shape and be sharp, I was nervous and stressed — all the above. This year was another disappointing Tour, but I’m really just kind of like, ‘I don’t need to jump right back into it. Just rest up a little bit.’ I’m coming in more fresh but maybe not as sharp.”

The BMC squad will lead Spaniard Samuel Sánchez in the fight for the overall classification. Van Garderen, 28, will look for other opportunities.

He considered the new approach after “struggling” through the Tour de France. Van Garderen started as co-leader with Australian Richie Porte, but quickly saw his level was not the same. In 2012 and 2014, he placed fifth overall and last year, sat third overall before falling sick and quitting in the third week. Porte placed fifth this time around, and van Garderen took 29th behind winner Chris Froome (Sky).

Back home in Colorado, he reflected. He decided that when returned to Europe for the Vuelta a España, he would race differently.

“After the Tour I went home. It had been seven months away from home. I just went home, mentally recovered, physically recovered. I was getting on the bike but no real intensity, just riding for the fun of riding,” he added.

“So I’m coming here fresher but not as sharp and by the second or third week, I hope to really come good and go for the stage win.”

Last year, van Garderen wore the leader’s jersey one day after his team won the shortened opening time trial. But he did not stay long as he was one of several stars taken out by crashes. He suffered a fractured shoulder due to a fall in the eighth stage and pulled out.

This year, the race again starts with a team time trial, 27.8 kilometers around the river that passes by Ourense.

This Vuelta a España gives him another chance and an opportunity to end his season, which includes stage wins in the Tour de Suisse and the Ruta del Sol, on a high note. When he regroups with team manager Jim Ochowicz and the trainers this winter, he will consider 2017.

“We are always looking at it with the trainers, the coaches and the team to see if there is something we could change. If we keep on with the same approach and get the same results, it won’t be too smart of us. In the past I’ve had a couple of good Tours. Maybe we’ll try to focus on what I did on those years to prepare and try to go back to that,” he added.

“In the 2015 Tour, I was right up there with the best guys. This year, even from the beginning I was struggling on the bike until I just came apart altogether. I pushed it too hard with the diet, the training, and I paid the price in the third week.”

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Vuelta: Quintana seeks revenge, Chaves could play spoiler http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vuelta-quintana-seeks-revenge-chaves-could-play-spoiler_418442 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vuelta-quintana-seeks-revenge-chaves-could-play-spoiler_418442#respond Fri, 19 Aug 2016 13:04:01 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418442 The 2016 Vuelta a España kicks off Saturday in Ourense with a strong field of GC contenders.

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SALAMANCA, Spain (VN) — Colombian Nairo Quintana Movistar, who lacked his usual spark in the Tour de France, is out for revenge in the Vuelta a España over the next three weeks.

Quintana has twice placed second overall behind Sky’s Chris Froome and was tipped to win by some in 2016, but he had to fight to simply take third. He and his Spanish Movistar team — which faces Tour rivals like Froome and those who skipped the Tour like Esteban Chaves of Orica – BikeExchange — now hope to finish the season on a high.

The race starts Saturday with a 27.8-kilometer team time trial in Ourense.

“The goal is the podium, and winning the Vuelta would be great,” Quintana said. “The podium would be a good reward for all the work that has been done. And if nothing, I’d have the podium in the Tour and in the Vuelta in the same year.”

Froome raced the RideLondon Classic and the road race and time trial in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics since winning the Tour. Quintana went home, rested, and kept quiet.

There is no reason to think the Movistar rider could not win after an early season that included overall victories at the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie, and the Route du Sud.

“I’ve been quiet after the Tour at home and trained at altitude. I returned with a big goal, this Vuelta, and hopefully, everything goes well. We have done many races this year and the Tour was very hard. I am in good condition, but will wait to see what happens in the coming days,” Quintana said.

“I do not know exactly how I feel. I did not compete after the Tour and fatigue is already noticeable now in the end of the season. Yes, I have rested well. If I have the legs, yes [I’ll attack]; if they are not there, I’ll mark the wheels.”

Either way, the Colombians could be cheering with the freckled, 26-year-old Chaves also on the start line. Chaves led the Giro d’Italia in May and held on to second overall when Vincenzo Nibali of Astana rocked the race on the final mountain day.

Perhaps Chaves is more dangerous than most. Unlike Froome, Quintana, and Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador, Chaves skipped the Tour to target the Vuelta.

“We are very happy, peaceful, and we have a very good team to face the race,” Chaves said. “And we are confident that we have done things right.

“[The Giro result] gives the team a bit more calmness, less pressure, and uncertainty. We know that this team can ride three weeks at a very good level.”

Chaves admitted he was sick for three weeks following the Giro, but recovered well. He raced the Olympics and returned to Spain, where last year he won his first grand tour stage. He rode clear of Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) to win the Caminito del Rey summit finish, won again in Sierra de Cazorla, held the leader’s jersey for six days, and finished fifth overall.

He added, “If I repeat what I did last year, that would be fantastic.”

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Viviani’s omnium gold jumpstarts Italy’s track program http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vivianis-omnium-gold-jumpstarts-italys-track-program_418263 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/vivianis-omnium-gold-jumpstarts-italys-track-program_418263#respond Wed, 17 Aug 2016 13:57:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=418263 Elia Viviani rode to the gold medal in the two-day event Monday in Rio, giving his country a boost on the boards.

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MILAN (VN) — Elia Viviani’s Olympic gold medal in the omnium on Monday in Rio de Janeiro boosted Italy’s attempt to return to track success.

The Bel Paese once ruled the two-wheeled sport – both on the road and in the velodrome – before the rise of several other countries and the crippling economic crisis. Before Great Britain came to dominate the team pursuit, Italy would regularly earn medals through the 1998 world championships.

“Viviani was able to recommence our great tradition,” Pier Bergonzi, deputy director at La Gazzetta dello Sport, wrote Wednesday. “At one time, not so long ago, we were a force and the track was a small medal mine.

“Elia’s gold medal, spectacular and moving given how he matured, is a victory of diligence, but also a huge assist for Italian track cycling. A hand out-stretched, a Madison hand-sling that our movement needs to take advantage of.”

Of the 30-odd velodromes in Italy, only one is covered and suitable for UCI-level events. That helps to explain why Italy has suffered so much in track cycling in recent memory. The 2000 Sydney Games were the last time Italy won a medal — bronze in the Madison. Four years earlier at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Italy took home two gold medals.

Great Britain discovered the rich “mine” and invested a high percentage of its national lottery money into cycling.

“We looked at it ruthlessly,” Chris Boardman, the pursuit gold medalist in 1992 and a British Cycling executive, told the Wall Street Journal. “On the track, there’s more low-hanging fruit.”

Cycling is the most funded sport in the UK behind rowing, receiving $39,740,000 in the four-year period from 2013 to 2017. Boardman explained the majority of the money is given to sports in which athletes can win medals.

“It was very clear that lottery funding is about gold medals, not even [just] medals. Gold medals in the Olympic Games — not world records, not growing the sport.”

If it were a game of Monopoly, then Great Britain is on Park Place and Italy still needs to round New York Avenue and Free Parking. As Bergonzi wrote, Viviani’s gold medal will help the country progress.

Filippo Ganna, the 20-year-old who won the individual pursuit world title in March, wrote this to Viviani on Twitter: “It was you, don’t forget, who helped us improve in this discipline. Thanks.”

Viviani sprinted to a stage win in the Giro d’Italia last year for Team Sky, but he has yet to consistently take on the bigs like Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step). He did upset Cavendish, however, in the Omnium. The Brit took home a silver to add to the country’s haul of 11 track medals in Rio. The Netherlands was next best with only two. The U.S. took two silver medals.

“I sacrifice the road because this was my big chance to win gold in the Olympics,” Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“When I returned home from the Giro, I was upset. On the other hand, Sky backed me. After pulling out, David Brailsford [team boss and former British track head] said, ‘You’re building towards a big goal, don’t give up now.'”

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Fränk Schleck to retire after 2016 season http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/frank-schleck-retire-2016-season_417181 Fri, 05 Aug 2016 13:44:34 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=417181 Frank Schleck will retire at end of 2016 after 15 years of racing, including two Tour stage wins, a third place overall, and some doping

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MILAN (VN) — Fränk Schleck says it is a hard decision, but that he will retire at the end of 2016 after 15 years of racing that include two Tour de France stage wins, a third place overall, and some doping controversy.

The 36-year-old Luxembourger with team Trek – Segafredo will likely end his career on October 1 at Il Lombardia. He placed third in the Italian one-day monument in 2005. He finished second and third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And won the Amstel Gold Race in 2006.

In the Tour de France, he stood third on the final podium in Paris in 2011. His now-retired younger brother Andy Schleck stood on the other side in second with Australian winner Cadel Evans between them.

“I could mention a lot of moments that have stood out for me, but finishing on the podium of the Tour de France has to be my proudest moment as a bike rider — that memory will never be far away,” Fränk Schleck said.

“Right now I don’t want to become too nostalgic because the season is still long, and I really want to give 100% to the team until the very end of it. I would love to get a victory in the coming months; that would be a dream, the perfect scenario, really.”

Schleck raced the Tour de France last month with Trek – Segafredo, including American Peter Stetina, in support of Bauke Mollema. When given his chance, he showed that he can still win. He took his last victory in the Vuelta a España stage to Alto Ermita de Alba.

After the Olympics road race Saturday, the American WorldTour team has him scheduled to ride the Tour of Alberta, the GP Québec, the GP Montreal, and Il Lombardia.

When he placed third in the 2005 Lombardia, he raced with CSC. The Danish team, run by former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, offered him his first full-time contract. He stayed with Riis from 2002 through 2010. In 2011, he, Andy Schleck, and Fabian Cancellara joined new team Leopard – Trek. The Luxembourg team, with management and ownership changes, morphed into the current Trek – Segafredo team.

“There is never an easy way to stop doing something you love to do, but I’ve always wanted to retire at a level where I was still competitive and fit. I’m really proud of having spent a large part of my life riding my bike for a living and, above all, I’m extremely thankful for the friends I have made along the way,” Schleck added.

“The memories of the victories and the great times I have experienced in some amazing teams will stay with me forever. I will always be a bike rider, but leaving the professional side of things will allow me to spend more time with my family and to see my two kids grow up. I have mellowed over the years, and my family and kids became more and more important to me.”

Schleck has yet to decide what he will do after he leaves professional racing behind. His brother Andy Schleck, who won the 2010 Tour de France after an anti-doping positive stripped Alberto Contador of the title, opened a bike shop at home in Luxembourg.

Fränk Schleck’s career had its problems. He raced in the CSC team where, according to a Danish Anti-Doping Agency report last year, team owner/manager Bjarne Riis knew about or encouraged some of his stars to dope.

Schleck dealt with one of cycling’s most infamous doping doctors, Eufemiano Fuentes, center of the 2006 Operación Puerto scandal. He admitted in 2008 to transferring nearly $7,800 (€7,000) to Fuentes’s Swiss bank account. He said that the payment was only for training plans. The national anti-doping agency later cleared him.

In the 2012 Tour, he left after testing positive for diuretic Xipamide and served a one-year doping suspension.

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Kwiatkowski looking forward to restart season with the Olympics http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/kwiatkowski-looking-forward-restart-season-olympics_417101 Thu, 04 Aug 2016 17:02:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=417101 After illness and a crash scuttled his 2016 plans, former world champ Michal Kwiatkowski looks to Rio Olympics for redemption.

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MILAN (VN) — Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski is “looking forward” to getting his season back on track, starting with the Olympics road race Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, after health issues slowed him down.

The 2014 world champion will form part of the Polish four-man team for Saturday’s road race along with star Rafal Majka (Tinkoff). Majka, who won the mountains jersey in the Tour de France for a second time this year, can climb with the best. Kwiatkowski climbs well and sprints strongly. They will lead the team with support from Kwaitkowski’s Sky teammate Michal Golas and Majka’s Tinkoff compatriot Maciej Bodnar.

“I reconned the Olympics last year. It’s a very hard race, but the Olympics are always difficult to predict what will happen,” Kwiatkowski said.

“I think together with Rafal Majka and Michal Golas and Maciej Bodnar, we can have great race.”

The race takes in the early Grumari circuits and then heads three times up the 8.9-kilometer Chinesa climb before its finish at Copacabana Beach.

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Portugal’s Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida) are favorites. Kwiatkowski has not had the best health in the lead-up, but he is one of cycling’s best one-day cyclists with wins in the worlds, the Amstel Gold Race, and this spring, the E3 Harelbeke. He is going off at 2000 to win.

“For sure, we are going to go for the strongest guy. I think Rafal Majka is feeling well after the Tour de France and he’s capable of having a great result there,” Kwiatkowski said. “I’ve prepared a lot to have a great race in Rio, but this season hasn’t gone how I wanted. I’m going to give my best for sure.”

Kwiatkowski, 26, signed a two-year contract with team Sky last winter. He immediately paid back the faith by winning in the E3 Harelbeke cobbled classic in March against world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

The rest of the one-day classics through Liège-Bastogne-Liège did not go as he had hoped and in the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he was hoping to earn selection for the Tour de France, he fell sick. Instead, in July, he raced the Tour of Poland at home and crashed.

“I trained hard before the Tour of Poland, but it didn’t go how I wanted. I crashed on the crucial stage, which was a pity because I couldn’t test myself in the final weekend in Poland,” he added. “I trained well. I don’t have any injuries from this bad crash in Poland. I trained well in the south of Poland before San Sebastián.”

After the Olympics, he could make Sky’s nine-man roster to support Chris Froome in the Vuelta a España.

“I’m thinking about doing the Vuelta a España, it’d be wonderful to do a grand tour this year. I’ve never done the Vuelta so let’s hope my health and shape will be enough to go there.

“I had a couple of bad moments this season, but that’s sport, I can’t … Sometimes, I don’t have influence over my health. I had some great memories from the first part of the season, and some bad, it’s a pity that I couldn’t go with the plans that I had on paper, but that’s behind me now, and I’m looking forward, that’s important.”

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Sagan heads off-road following Tour success http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/sagan-heads-off-road-following-tour-success_417057 Thu, 04 Aug 2016 12:46:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=417057 World champion Peter Sagan proud and honored to have a chance to race the mountain bike competition at Rio Olympics.

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MILAN (VN) — Road world champion Peter Sagan is “proud” to be at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games starting this weekend, where he will compete in the cross-country mountain bike race August 21.

The Slovakian, fresh off three stage wins and a fifth consecutive green jersey in the Tour de France this July, decided against the hilly road race course. He opted to return to his roots, mountain biking. As a junior, he won the world title before switching to the road and rocketing to fame.

“I’m proud to be able to race the most important mountain bike race in the calendar at the biggest sports event in the world,” Sagan said.

“It’s nice for me to return to my roots, representing my Slovakia. It is always an honor for every athlete to represent their home country in the Olympics.”

The 26-year-old took time out of his season — which also included winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the rainbow jersey — to compete in two mountain bike events. In his first in seven years, he crashed and walked to the finish line. He placed fourth in another event.

The choice to switch from road to trail seemed obvious after he previewed the road course in Rio de Janeiro in January. “This course is not for me, it is more suitable for pure climbers,” he said. “A medal here is not for me …”

An 8.5-kilometer climb on the closing Vista Chinesa circuit is repeated three times before the finish at Copacabana beach.

Sagan last lined up in the Tour de France, where he won three times and gained enough points for the green jersey. It was his last major event for team Tinkoff as the outfit is folding and he is joining German team Bora – Hansgrohe in 2017.

Owner Oleg Tinkov gave Sagan the time needed between the Tour and the end-of-season events in Canada, the one-day races in Québec and Montreal, to compete.

“I would like to thank team owner Oleg Tinkov, general manager Stefano Feltrin, and, of course, the entire team, for their support, and for a successful Tour de France that leads me into this race,” Sagan said. “Now after three stage wins and the green jersey, plus the mountains jersey for Rafal Majka, I can head to Rio confident in my shape. It will not be easy but I’m ready for the challenge.”

Swiss Nino Schurter will be the top favorite, having won the silver medal in the 2012 London Games behind Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic.

The race covers a 5.4-kilometer circuit with some singletrack, dirt, and gravel, as well as a climb of around one kilometer. Sagan will compete in a 50-man field that also includes American Howard Grotts.

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Nibali and Bahrain deal now official http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/nibali-bahrain-deal-now-official_416948 Wed, 03 Aug 2016 14:14:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416948 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali confirms that he'll race for new Bahrain team in 2017. He'll bring several other Italians aboard.

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MILAN (VN) — It’s official: Italian Vincenzo Nibali signed with the new Middle Eastern team from Bahrain Wednesday, and he will lead the squad into 2017, likely in the WorldTour.

Nibali is one of only two current cyclists alongside Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) with wins at all three grand tours in his palmarès. With his current team Astana, he won the Giro d’Italia in May for a second time.

He is the first rider announced for the team, expected to be in the 2017 WorldTour.

“I was immediately fascinated by the idea of a strong project plan built around me,” Nibali said today. “I have believed in the team from day one, because it has a clear vision and is to be carried out by some of the best professionals in the sport.

“This trust and confidence in me made me take the final decision for this new exciting adventure of my career. I can’t wait to meet their expectations at the most important races in the world wearing the jersey of Bahrain – Merida.”

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who competes in Ironman events and with show horses, announced the team in February. Nibali was immediately linked to the team, which will be the first top-level squad from the Middle East.

The 31-year-old Sicilian will close out his season with Astana, he is racing in the Olympics road race on Saturday, and will begin 2017 with Bahrain in its red and gold kit. The team did not say for how many years he signed.

It did scoop one of the most versatile grand tour cyclists. Nibali is considered one of the four “bigs” in grand tours with Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). However, out of that group he is the only one to perform in one-day monuments. Last October, he won Il Lombardia to add to a palmarès that already includes a second place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third place in Milano-Sanremo.

Bahrain – Merida will likely rely on ‘The Shark’ for some early classics like Milano-Sanremo and of course, grand tours. Next year, the Giro d’Italia will celebrate its 100th edition and the organizer will pressure the top Italian to return to defend his title. Otherwise, Nibali may decide to try for a second Tour de France title after his 2014 win.

This autumn, he and Brent Copeland will discuss their plans. The South African is leaving his management job at Lampre – Merida to head the Prince’s new team. As the name indicates, he is taking the co-sponsor, Taiwanese bike manufacturer Merida, with him.

Louis Meintjes, who was eighth in the Tour de France, and Diego Ulissi should also follow from Lampre – Merida. Nibali will bring Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli from Astana and his long-time coach Paolo Slongo.

Insiders say that Manuele Boaro (from Tinkoff), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF), and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) will also race with Bahrain in 2017.

Nibali, twice Italian national champion in 2014 and 2015, will stay true to his roots. He began racing with Italian teams Fassa Bortolo and Liquigas. He switched to Kazakh team Astana in 2013, but that team is half-Italian with manager Giuseppe Martinelli at the helm and many others from the Bel Paese.

Copeland is a long-time Como resident. He managed American Ben Spies in Moto GP and South African team MTN – Qhubeka when it debuted in Europe in 2012, but spent many years with Italy’s Lampre – Merida team. With Copeland and its base near Bergamo, and possible Italian WorldTour license, team Bahrain – Merida will feel like home for Nibali.

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Aru arrives in Rio for climbers’ Olympic road race http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/aru-arrives-rio-climbers-olympic-road-race_416923 Wed, 03 Aug 2016 13:43:19 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416923 Fabio Aru is set for his debut Olympics on a road race course that should suit the Sardinian climber and his strong Italian team.

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MILAN (VN) — Fabio Aru, winner of last year’s Vuelta a España, arrived in Rio de Janeiro for a chance to win the Olympics road race Saturday in Rio de Janeiro with Italian teammate Vincenzo Nibali.

The 26-year-old from Sardinia is racing his first Olympics. He is coming off of the Tour de France, where he sat sixth overall but slid to 13th in the final mountain day.

“It’s an ideal course for those riders who like climbs; it’s useless to pretend otherwise,” Aru told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It suits those who want to try from far, like Rui Costa or Dan Martin, who can launch a surprise attack.”

Aru will race alongside two-time Olympian Nibali, who won grand tours and last October, Il Lombardia. They are in Brazil with their Astana teammate Diego Rosa. Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi, both from BMC Racing, round out the five-man Italian team.

Only five men’s teams race with five. The U.S. team, for example, is in Rio with a two-man team of Brent Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney.

“We need to be attentive already from the opening phases of the course,” Aru added. “I’m very confident, though. We are a good group. Cohesive. We know each other well. And we are all in great condition.”

Aru counts a Vuelta overall win, and a second and third place in the Giro d’Italia in his palmarès — along with stage wins from both races — but he has never won a one-day race. A third place in the Milano-Torino is his best result of note.

The team in blue or the Squadra Azzurra will probably race for Nibali, 31, who won the monument one-day classic Lombardia last year and placed second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third in Milano-Sanremo.

“A bronze medal? I’d be happy just to come away satisfied with my ride,” Aru said. “I don’t want to have regrets.”

After the Olympics, Aru, his trainer Maurizio Mazzoleni, and Astana’s brass will sit down to discuss what went wrong at the Tour. After podiums in the Giro and the Vuelta win last September, many followers — and perhaps the rider himself — expected something more in Aru’s debut.

“I spoke with the team, we tried to find reason, but I prefer to delay the discussion until after the Olympics,” he said.

“I believe, and it’s not just a catch phrase, that you always learn more from a beating than a victory.”

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Armitstead cleared for Olympics in murky missed doping test case http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/armitstead-cleared-olympics-murky-missed-anti-doping-test-case_416799 Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:06:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416799 Lizzie Armitstead is cleared to race the Rio Olympics, despite three missed anti-doping tests over the course of the last 12 months.

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MILAN (VN) — World champion Lizzie Armitstead is ready to lead the British road team in the Olympics this Sunday after being cleared of an anti-doping violation due to three missed doping controls.

The 27-year-old Boels – Dolmans cyclist had been temporarily and quietly suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. She faced a four-year suspension for missing three out-of-competition controls in 12 months, but was cleared because she and the British Cycling showed the first one was due to the tester’s mistake.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Armitstead issued a statement on Facebook, explaining her three missed tests in detail.

Monday night, the Daily Mail reported that she won a case with sport’s high court, CAS, which freed her to compete in upcoming events including the 141-kilometer Olympic road race on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

Armitstead quit the Giro Rosa early, citing illness, and missed La Course in Paris on July 24. It is now known that she had been serving a temporary suspension since July 11. In a time of information overload, it surprised some critics that the U.K. Anti-doping did not publish the suspension or cycling’s governing body, the UCI, did not list it on its webpage for “Provisional suspensions & Anti-doping Rule Violations.” The UKAD though does not typically comment on cases before the final decisions, and the UCI may have preferred not to mention it as it was out of its jurisdiction and in the hands of the Brits.

U.K. Anti-doping was pushing for a four-year ban. British Cycling’s legal team backed Armitstead’s case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against UKAD. After a hearing on July 21, the Swiss court ruled in the athlete’s favor and struck her first missed anti-doping test on August 20, 2015.

Her legal team showed that the testing official was at fault. After contacted by the Daily Mail, Armitstead released a statement.

“Armitstead was staying at the team hotel, during the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in Sweden,” read the statement.

“CAS ruled that the UKAD doping control officer had not followed required procedures nor made reasonable attempts to locate Armitstead.”

Reportedly, the tester did not make it clear to the Swedish hotel staff why he was there at 6:00 a.m., and Armitstead did not hear the calls as she had her telephone in silent mode.

She also missed out-of-competition tests October 5, 2015 and June 9, 2016, but did not ague to clear those. She said that they were failures to update her status in the Anti-Doping Administrative Management System or ADAMS.

“The October 2015 failure was the result of a filing failure on ADAMS caused by an administrative oversight. Armitstead did not dispute the oversight,” read a statement.

“The June 2016 missed test was the result of Armitstead not updating her whereabouts on ADAMS, having had an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family.”

Armitstead won the world championship road race last September in Richmond, Virginia. This year, she won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Boels Rental Hills Classic, and a stage and overall in the Aviva Tour.

It remains unclear why Armitstead did not decide to contest the first missed anti-doping test soon after it happened, why British Cycling gave her legal backing, or why cycling’s governing body kept the case unlisted.

If she misses another test in the next months, she would again face a three-strike ban, given that she already has two on the board.

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Bahrain – Merida unveiled with Copeland at helm http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/bahrain-merida-unveiled-copeland-helm_416659 Mon, 01 Aug 2016 14:11:14 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416659 The Bahrain team gets a major boost with addition of team manager Brent Copeland and bicycle sponsor Merida, both from Lampre.

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MILAN (VN) — Cycling’s first top team from the Middle East has been unveiled ahead of an expected 2017 WorldTour debut with Italian star Vincenzo Nibali.

Over the last week, the team announced its intention to enter the top ranks and Monday, confirmed that Lampre – Merida’s team manager Brent Copeland would run the team. Along with Copeland, Taiwan’s Merida will make the switch as a co-sponsor and bicycle supplier.

“Today, we become the Bahrain – Merida Pro Cycling Team,” said Brent Copeland. “The expertise that a distinguished brand such as Merida presents to the world of cycling will contribute significantly towards the Bahrain Cycling Team reaching its ambition to become a globally recognized team.”

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa began the team earlier this year from the island in the Persian Gulf, which is smaller than Rhode Island. If successful in his bid, he would take Bahrain to the top of the cycling world — a first for a team from the Middle East. The country already hosted major events such as Formula One races.

“We are thrilled to be able to announce the Bahrain Cycling Team today, as Bahrain holds a great love for this growing sport,” said a spokesperson last week. “As a country we already compete internationally in a range of sports, and we want to continue this though our commitment to international cycling.”

Though rich, Prince Nasser will make a modest splash into cycling. Insiders say that Vincenzo Nibali, currently with team Astana and winner of all three grand tours, will be the team’s top rider.

Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff), Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF), and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) are expected to join, as well. Nibali’s long-time coach Paolo Slongo will follow from team Astana.

South African Brent Copeland managed Ben Spies in Moto GP and team MTN-Qhubeka when it debuted in Europe in 2012. He spent the majority of his career with team Lampre – Merida.

The Lampre break will not be a clean one. Copeland brings along Merida and according to some insiders, Lampre’s WorldTour license.

Prince Nasser could buy Lampre’s license from the top Italian team to be sure of his place in the WorldTour, which may be smart considering the governing body wants to trim the number of top teams from 18 to 17. Manager Giuseppe Saronni would then apply for a Professional Continental license to continue Lampre.

With the scoop, team Bahrain may also pick up cyclists such as 24-year-old South African Louis Meintjes, who rode to eighth in the Tour de France last month.

The prince needs Meintjes as he and sponsors reportedly are worried that the team may be too Italian to reach large markets. The team will race with an Italian star, base itself near Bergamo, and possibly take out an Italian license.

Bahrain – Merida will unveil more details this week.

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Sagan to Bora and other 2017 deals inked http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/saganbora-2017-deals-inked_416653 Mon, 01 Aug 2016 13:43:26 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416653 Peter Sagan signs a three-year deal with German team Bora, confirming a month of speculation about cycling's biggest superstar.

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MILAN (VN) — World champion Peter Sagan will give Bora – Hansgrohe the added punch needed to join the WorldTour in 2017, as the team announced his new contract Monday.

The German team currently races as Bora – Argon 18 in the Professional Continental division and wants to join the first division or WorldTour in 2017. With Sagan’s new three-year deal, it should be possible. This confirms a month of anticipation which began the week prior to the Tour de France.

The UCI will announce the 2017 WorldTour teams later this year in November or December. Teams Tinkoff and IAM Cycling are closing and leaving their spots.

“Since we started our sponsorship in cycling our objective was to get to the top of this sport,” said Willi Bruckbauer, owner of Bora. “Peter will help us to achieve this goal.

“He is a real star, who achieved almost everything in cycling by being focused, dedicated, and by believing in himself. At Bora we share this approach, self-belief helped us to get to where we stand now. And we are proud to go the next steps together with him.”

Sagan enjoyed his best season to date by winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the rainbow jersey, as well as three stages and his fifth green jersey in the Tour de France.

VeloNews anticipated 2017’s biggest market move in late June. Sagan needed a new team with Tinkoff closing after Russian owner Oleg decided to leave the cycling business.

Sagan had a three-year contract with Tinkoff that ran through 2017, but went searching for a new team earlier than planned. He had been linked to Etixx – Quick-Step and Astana and had been asking for a reported €6 million ($6.7 million). It is likely he will earn around €4 million ($4.47 million) with Bora.

Specialized helped make the deal happen with Bora, which currently uses Argon 18 bicycles. As with Sagan and kitchen companies Bora and Hansgrohe, the American bike company also signed a three-year deal.

Sagan brings 445 WorldTour or 3,233 World Ranking points to Bora, a number that should please the UCI license commission as it reviews applications for 2017. A new team from Bahrain with Vincenzo Nibali at the helm is also asking for a license.

Sagan is bringing with him Tinkoff cyclists Juraj Sagan, Maciej Bodnar, Michael Kolar, Erik Baska, and Rafal Majka, although the team has yet to confirm the latter. Sources also indicate they will be joined by Tony Martin, now with Etixx – Quick-Step, and Leopold König, who went to Sky after placing seventh in the 2014 Tour de France with Bora, then NetApp – Endura.

UCI rules say that teams may only sign riders starting August 1. Many already have deals in place and waited until Monday to make the announcements. The Tinkoff diaspora seems to be well underway

Australian WorldTour team Orica – BikeExchange announced Roman Kreuziger, also currently with Tinkoff, will join for the next two seasons. Team Astana welcomed current Tinkoff cyclists Oscar Gatto, Jesper Hansen, and Michael Valgren. It also hired Moreno Moser, currently with team Cannondale.

Nicolas Roche will leave Sky to support Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen at BMC Racing. “I’m super excited because BMC Racing Team is a team that rides with a lot of the characteristics that I like,” Roche said in a statement. “They’re always up the front, riding with aggression and trying to make an exciting race. I think I’ll enjoy the aggressive style of racing.”

Spaniard J.J. Lobato will leave Movistar to join LottoNL – Jumbo in the coming season. “I felt that I needed a change for 2017 and to sign for a Dutch team is important in the development of my skills in the sprints and classics,” he said.

Some teams are still waiting to announce contracts. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and John Degenkolb (Giant – Alpecin) will join Trek – Segafredo, and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) the new Bahrain project.

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Nibali and Italy prepare for the Olympics http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/07/news/nibali-italy-prepare-olympics_416353 Fri, 29 Jul 2016 14:55:47 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416353 Vincenzo Nibali is a top favorite at the Rio Olympics, which he says may be his last chance to win a gold medal on a course that favors him.

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MILAN (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali and Italy’s Squadra Azzurra are preparing for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics road race Friday in Fiuggi, south of Rome. Nibali says that it is his second goal of the season after the Giro d’Italia, which he won in May.

Nibali, twice winner of the Giro, the 2014 Tour de France, and the 2010 Vuelta a España, knows Fiuggi’s roads well. His wife comes from the area and in the city known for its magical water, they married.

“[The road race] won’t be easy, but given that course and the team we have, we can do very well,” 31-year-old Nibali said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “And given my age, I think it’ll be my last chance.”

Nibali is training with Astana teammate Diego Rosa, BMC’s Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi. Friday night, team Astana’s Fabio Aru arrives in Fiuggi.

Here Pope Boniface VIII and Michelangelo tapped into Fiuggi’s water, which flows through volcanic deposits in the nearby mountains. Soon afterward, royalty around Europe were having bottles shipped to them. Today, drinking water of the same name is sold worldwide.

The water and perhaps blessings from his in-laws might help Nibali, although he is already a favorite, along with Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Portugal’s Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida) and Ireland’s Daniel Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step). Besides success in grand tours, Nibali won Il Lombardia in 2015, and placed second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third in Milano-Sanremo.

The Tour de France left some question marks for critics, but Nibali said that he had always intended to help teammate Aru and target certain stages. On the last mountain day to Morzine, he attacked free and played for the stage win until Ion Izagirre (Movistar) rode clear.

Thursday and Friday, Nibali rode through the countryside with his teammates and with his coach Paolo Slongo. Saturday, they fly to Rio de Janeiro from Rome.

“He wasn’t yet in top form at the start of the Tour,” Slongo told the Corriere dello Sport on Friday. “Vincenzo’s worked well and in the end, left the Tour as we had hoped. A one-day race like the Olympics is always hard to interpret, but we are going to arrive in the best form possible.”

De Marchi could attack early in the 241.5-kilometer course, perhaps along the coast east toward Rio, but Caruso, Rosa, and Aru should ride close by Nibali’s side until the final circuits.

The 8.5-kilometer climb on the Vista Chinesa circuit is repeated three times. Nibali earlier this year compared it to the famous Ghisallo climb in Il Lombardia, which he won last year.

“At the start very difficult, a part with a descent, then climbing for three kilometers,” he said. “With a course this hard, I think it’ll be decided on the Vista Chinesa, in particular, on that last switchback.”

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