VeloNews.com » Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:05:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Commentary: A rest day, but the Tour de France never rests http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/tour-de-france/commentary-a-rest-day-but-the-tour-de-france-never-rests_378886 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/tour-de-france/commentary-a-rest-day-but-the-tour-de-france-never-rests_378886#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:22:02 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=378886

Chris Froome has found himself at the center of controversy at this year's Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Amid all of the chaos and commotion, the Tour de France remains equally exhilarating and exhausting — this year, more than most

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Chris Froome has found himself at the center of controversy at this year's Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Ah, a rest day.

After 16 action-packed stages that have provided more drama than a daily soap opera and more plot lines than a “Game of Thrones” season finale, the Tour de France exhales one last time Tuesday, with three summit finishes in the Alps on the horizon.

For riders, staff, journalists, and fans, it’s a welcome break in the action, as this year’s Tour de France has been a seemingly nonstop rollercoaster of emotions, laden with inspiring victories, crushing injuries, breakthrough performances, and troublesome accusations.

It’s been a Tour where two stars of the sport crashed, separately, while wearing the maillot jaune in the opening week, and both were forced to abandon the race.

It’s been a Tour where the words “cocaine,” “testicular cancer,” “pseudoscience,” “hidden motor,” and “urine” have all been in the headlines.

Ivan Basso’s announcement that his team doctor had discovered testicular cancer came on the race’s first rest day; on Monday, Tinkoff-Saxo announced that, following surgery, he has been cleared of additional treatment. News that Katusha’s affable veteran Luca Paolini had tested positive for cocaine and was sent home seems almost like ancient history 10 days later, in the middle of a race that has yet to lose steam.

It’s been a Tour in which Lance Armstrong is again riding on the roads of France, in July. And yet, for better or for worse, that’s been one of the least compelling stories of the race.

It’s been a Tour where Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) has finished second on five occasions, while his team owner, Oleg Tinkov — the Donald Trump of pro cycling — has stated that Sagan is “stronger” than race leader and Sky rider Chris Froome. (Which is, of course, a foolish statement — almost like asking which color is better, yellow or green.) In reality, of course, Sagan and Froome are very different horses for very different courses. Apples to oranges.

It’s been a Tour where the team of the maillot jaune has been booed and assaulted on the open roads, with Froome claiming to have had urine splashed in his face, Richie Porte saying a spectator punched him, and Luke Rowe asserting someone spat on him.

It’s been a Tour in which the top three riders from 2014 have not been in contention for the podium, essentially from the opening stage. Last year’s Tour winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), has looked quite ordinary, sitting in eighth overall at almost eight minutes down. The runner-up in 2014, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), suffered a nasty crash on stage 14 into Mende and is covered in bandages. Last year’s third-place finisher Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) had a dramatic first-week meltdown and is currently 19th overall.

The only riders from the top end of last year’s GC who are again fighting for the podium are Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), who was fifth overall last year and now sits in third, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who placed fourth last year and is in the same position as the race enters the Alps. The absent GC podium from last year’s race serves as confirmation that when riders such as Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) are not at the Tour, it is a different race entirely, opening the doors for second-tier GC riders to battle at one another’s level, rather than against superior GC riders. What a difference a year makes, indeed.

There have, of course, been moments of brilliance. Daniel Teklehaimanot of MTN-Qhubeka made history by becoming the first black African to wear at Tour leader’s jersey by spending four days in the KOM jersey. A week later, his teammate Steve Cummings took a jubilant stage win for the South African team on Mandela Day.

Tony Martin’s brilliant, solo stage win on the cobblestone stage — on a teammate’s bike, after a puncture, to take the race lead, after narrowly missing it for three days — stands out as perhaps the most touching moment, followed closely by his dramatic exit from the race two days later after he fell in the closing kilometer and suffered a compound fracture to his collarbone. Yet there he stood, on the podium, wearing the maillot jaune in a world of pain and emotion, knowing full well that he would be headed to the hospital for surgery rather than to the team hotel.

For Martin, a quiet rider who has always preferred to let his legs do the talking, there was perhaps no moment more telling of his character than when he and the stage 6 winner, his Etixx-Quick-Step teammate Zdenek Stybar, crossed paths in the mixed zone behind the podium following his crash. In the midst of an interview, Stybar spotted Martin’s yellow jersey and stopped to express concern for his teammate’s well-being, asking Martin if he was OK. Martin answered no, he was not, but told Stybar to “enjoy the moment” of his first Tour stage win. It was a very personal interaction, unfolding in front of millions; a moment no one wanted to see, but also a golden moment of genuine compassion and fraternity amid the chaos of fans, journalists, TV screens, and podium presentations.

A Tour of distrust

More than anything, however, this Tour has turned into one of distrust and doubt, with a chorus of accusations against Froome and Sky. Froome’s performance on stage 10, when he won the stage atop La Pierre-Saint-Martin and put minutes into his competitors, re-opened the floodgates of skepticism that had first appeared in 2013.

Froome has continually insisted he is clean, that his conscience is clear, and in the absence of definitive proof of wrongdoing, it’s understandable that he and his team would be upset about doping allegations. Anyone innocent of wrongdoing would be upset with publicly having their character questioned.

Yet it’s also understandable that, after years of deception, fans and journalists would be skeptical of all stellar performances. The sport’s history requires this. The same would be true of any team dominating the Tour de France, particularly for three of the past four editions, with two different riders who had never before won a grand tour. The same would be true of any team fielding domestiques capable of climbing among the top climbers in the sport on summit finishes, as we’ve seen both Porte and Geraint Thomas do thus far. If it were Quintana, Contador, Nibali, Valverde, or van Garderen in the same position, the same questions would be asked; the same eyebrows would be raised. As they should be.

It’s not pleasant or pretty, but this is the reality of pro cycling in the years that follow the revelations of the USADA report, and more recently, the UCI’s CIRC report. This is the Tour de France in 2015, and the situation is not likely to be different next year, no matter which rider is wearing the maillot jaune. Blaming the media for raising questions about extraordinary performances is as misguided as blaming today’s riders for the actions of their predecessors. The media’s job is to report, but mistrust is now, sadly, part of the story. Everyone involved with pro cycling — riders, directors, sponsors, race organizers, journalists, and fans — shares a piece of the blame. And though it’s not specific to the Tour de France, confronting the sport’s dark history comes to the forefront every year, like clockwork, in July.

As always, actions speak louder than words, and what’s needed now is a collective deep breath and an acknowledgement that full transparency is the only clear path out of this mess.

Full transparency means that all teams should be required by the UCI to make available every rider’s biometric race data — power output, heart rate, cadence — as well as off-bike data, such as resting pulse and body weight. Call it a “power passport,” to complement the longitudinal blood and urine tests of the biological passport. (Unlike the biological passport, however, this data would be publicly available.) Variables do exist, such as different teams using different brands of power meters, or oval versus traditional round chain rings. Algorithms to account for these variables must be developed and agreed upon by a panel of experts. This data can then be used to establish trust, as well as to inform and engage the television audience.

Then, with all this data in the public domain, we let race tactics, weather conditions, course profiles, and team strength determine the winners. Some may not approve, but if all agree to the same terms, no one has an unfair advantage. Similar to the use of race radios, accessing another team’s biometric data would simply be a technological advance that is available to all. And similar to the biological passport, which should remain in the hands of the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency, every team would be held to the same standards.

On Tuesday’s rest-day press conference, Sky revealed Froome’s data from the 15.3km climb up La Pierre-Saint-Martin. Sky’s Tim Kerrison, head of athlete performance, countered a France Televisions study that estimated Froome’s power-to-weight data from stage 10 as 7.04 watts per kilogram. Kerrison claimed Froome’s average watts output was 414 rather than the 425 claimed by the French expert, and that his true watts per kilo translated to a figure of 5.78 watts per kilo. The team said it has shared a “billion points of data” with the UK Anti-Doping Agency. Whether it will be enough to satisfy Sky’s vocal critics, such as South African professor of exercise physiology Ross Tucker — who has been adamant in his calls for transparency in power data — remains to be seen. But it’s a start.

What’s clear is that times have changed. This is an age of affordable power meters and pro racers setting Strava KOMs, an age when the science of cycling physiology is no longer understood only by a handful of specialists, and an age when red flags are raised, in real time, over social media. The scrutiny — the so-called “pseudoscience” — is not going to disappear; if anything, it’s only going to intensify. The genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back in. And let’s face it, words alone won’t change anything. We’ve heard it all before.

And so, here we are, on the Tour’s second rest day — a day that once again delivered drama, without resolution. Some things remain the same, while others, it appears, simply refuse to change.

And yet the Tour marches on. As it has been for the past four years, Sagan will almost certainly wear the green jersey in Paris on Sunday. He’ll likely stand next to Froome, in yellow, and Quintana, in white, just as it was in 2013. Amid all of the chaos and commotion, the Tour remains equally exhilarating and exhausting.

So, to everyone whose July is focused on the biggest, most beautiful race in cycling, enjoy the rest day. Here’s to hoping for a bit of rest — or, at least, an exhalation. And perhaps, in time, a resolution.

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Lea Davison riding a high after career-best World Cup result http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/lea-davison-riding-a-high-after-career-best-world-cup-result_377484 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/lea-davison-riding-a-high-after-career-best-world-cup-result_377484#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 13:40:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=377484

Lea Davison took second place at the World Cup cross-country event in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Photo courtesy USA Cycling.

The national XC champ discusses her silver-medal ride in Switzerland, the rest of her 2015 season, and her road to Rio 2016

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Lea Davison took second place at the World Cup cross-country event in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Photo courtesy USA Cycling.

American Lea Davison’s second-place finish last weekend in Lenzerheide, Switzerland — her best-ever finish at a World Cup cross-country event — was a “huge confidence boost” on her quest to become the first U.S. rider to win a World Cup since Alison Dunlap in 2002.

While Canadian Catharine Pendrel has won 11 World Cups (and two World Cup series titles), and compatriot Geoff Kabush took a win on home soil in Bromont in 2009, no North American man or woman has done so since Dunlap won two — and the overall series title — in 2002, while wearing the rainbow jersey of world champion.

Over the past five years, Willow Koerber and Georgia Gould have reached the podium, both on several occasions, but neither was able to secure that elusive World Cup victory.

In Lenzerheide, under hot, dry, and dusty conditions, Davison saw a front-row start go up in smoke when she pulled out of a pedal on the course’s first main climb and lost position. She spent the first half of the six-lap race clawing her way back, ultimately catching and passing Swiss rider Jolanda Neff (Stoeckli), and then Pendrel, to finish exactly one minute behind Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).

A four-time world cross-country champion and the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Dahle Flesjaa, 42, registered a record 29th World Cup victory. The Lenzerheide event was the third of six cross-country races on the 2015 World Cup calendar.

Davison’s result — one better than the bronze medal she took at last year’s world championship — moved her into fourth in the World Cup series rankings, and served as added motivation as the Specialized rider prepares for the second half of her season, which will include a defense of her national XC title in Mammoth Mountain, California, on July 18, followed by two North American World Cup events in early August.

Earlier this week, VeloNews caught up with Davison by phone to discuss her silver-medal ride in Switzerland, the rest of her 2015 season, and her road to Rio 2016.

VeloNews: Was this result a surprise? Did you start the race believing you could fight for the win?s
Lea Davison: It was and it wasn’t. I knew I had it in me, especially after the bronze medal at the world championships last year. I have been building and gaining momentum as the season progresses on, and it’s nice to actually do it, and to do it this early in the season. I have my eye on the North American World Cups, and of course the world championships, and to make it happen, to have my career-best result, earlier than that, is fantastic.

VN: How did the race play out?
LD: It was a very different course than the other World Cup courses. It was very technical, and there were not a lot of passing opportunities. The entire thing was held on rough, bumpy, technical singletrack. There was one main pavement climb, which we started on. The start was important, and I was on the front row, ranked eighth, which I was happy about. I had a good start, but then I pulled out of my pedal, which was not ideal. I was able to get [the cleat] back in quick, but on the first half of the first lap I’d dropped back to about 14th position. I was stuck in some traffic, and I lost about 45 seconds on the leaders in the first lap. I just put my head down, and told myself I needed to pass as many people as possible on the first two laps, because it typically just explodes from there, the time gaps just get bigger.

By the third lap I was able to get on the podium; I passed Maja [Włoszczowska] for fifth. Jolanda was coming back from behind, and for laps four, five, and six, it was Jolanda and I battling, which was fun. It was in Switzerland, so I felt like I was racing the entire country. The fans were crazy, just awesome, that country really loves cycling. I was feeling good, and I was riding the entire second half of the lap better than her, so coming into last lap, behind Jolanda, I knew I would make a move on the first climb. I attacked, and got a gap, and then I could see Catharine [Pendrel] in second. I was closing in on her, and halfway through the last lap I passed her. But then she passed me back, so I got on her wheel, and attacked her in the last feed zone, which was kind of the only place to attack. I put some time in her and came in second.

VN: What is there to say about Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, winning her 29th World Cup at age 42?
LD: The first half of the race she rode away from Catharine. I never even saw her. She’s 42, she’s just unbelievable. It’s cool to see the women’s World Cup so competitive. You have Gunn Rita, and she’s battling with Jolanda, who is young enough that Gunn-Rita could be her mom, you have the old-school racers and the newbies coming up, and I’m somewhere in between. You have the whole spectrum of races, and ages. Irina [Kalentyeva] is up there, she’s been at it for years, and she was fifth [in Lenzerheide].

VN: If this was a “very different course than the other World Cup courses,” and you had your best-ever result, is it fair to assume that rough, bumpy, technical courses work to your advantage?
LD: I was feeling really good. I worked a lot on dialing in my lines, making sure I had the entire course dialed, that I knew where I was going. The course didn’t have three steep climbs like the others — only one main climb — and then the whole thing was punchy power climbs, which I think is an advantage for me. But I feel like I can ride on the whole spectrum of courses, really.

VN: So you are back in the States for the next month?
LD: Yep. I’m racing the North American World Cups, Mont-Sainte-Anne, then Windham. I’m in the States until then, headed to Mammoth for the national championships, then back to Vermont, which is my home base for the season.

VN: Will you be going to nationals with the mindset that the jersey is yours to lose?
LD: Of course I want to keep it, it’s such an honor to ride the World Cups in the U.S. national champion’s jersey. I have won two in a row, and the year before [2012], I won the short track championship, and Georgia won the cross-country.

VN: Is Georgia Gould your biggest threat for the national title?
LD: We have a solid crew of American ladies. Georgia (Luna) is the main rival, but there is also Erin Huck (Scott 3Rox). Chloe [Woodruff] has been riding well, she had her best-ever World Cup finish, in 17th. We were doing hot laps together, and she was very strong. Evelyn Dong [Sho-Air-Cannondale] could come out strong. All those girls live at altitude too, so I will be going in there with a healthy respect. It’s going to be a good race. The last time I was in Mammoth was for nationals, and I won the U23 title, so I have some good juju on that mountain.

VN: You’ll be based in Vermont, which is not far from Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham, so travel and jet lag won’t be an issue for you. Do you feel like a win at one of the North American World Cups is within reach?
LD: That result [in Lenzerheide], and how it all played out, was a huge confidence boost. I couldn’t be more excited to race those World cups, especially in my backyard. Each venue is a five-hour drive from Vermont, so I will have my friends and family there. It will be so much fun.

VN: Who coaches you?
LD: My coach is Andy Bishop. He used to race on the road, with 7-Eleven, and then he switched to mountain bike and rode for Subaru-Gary Fisher. He also lives in Vermont. I’m actually the only one he coaches; it’s a way for him to keep his hand in the cycling world. He’s been my coach for eight years. We work really well together.

VN: How does this performance, in July 2015, fit into your plan to peak in August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro?
LD: I’d say it’s working out really well so far. That’s what you want, to be building, to be clocking in better results, and gaining confidence. It’s a great thing, this year is a big test year for the Olympic year. Things are always different, and worlds this year is at elevation [in Andorra] while Rio is at sea level. But it’s been great to test out our build-up to big events. It’s working.

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Martin, Pinot a study in contrasts during tense final hour on cobblestones http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/martin-pinot-a-study-in-contrasts-during-tense-final-hour-on-cobblestones_377063 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/martin-pinot-a-study-in-contrasts-during-tense-final-hour-on-cobblestones_377063#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:25:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=377063

Despite finishing on a teammate's ill-fitting bike, Tony Martin rode away from the field to claim yellow. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

In stage 4 of the Tour, Tony Martin and Thibault Pinot each suffered late-race mechanicals, but the two saw drastically different outcomes

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Despite finishing on a teammate's ill-fitting bike, Tony Martin rode away from the field to claim yellow. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

During Tuesday’s stage 4 of the Tour de France, Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Thibault Pinot (FDJ) both suffered late-race mechanicals at almost the exact same time and place — with about 20km remaining in the cobbled stage. But the two riders reacted in very different ways, and that made all the difference.

Both men had started the stage looking for redemption after several days of disappointment. Martin had finished second in the opening time trial and then was kept out of the maillot jaune due to time bonuses — first when Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) took third in the stage 2 sprint, and again when Chris Froome (Sky) finished second atop the Mur du Huy on stage 3. Three days, three times second overall — and by less than a second after stage 3.

Pinot, who had come to the Tour as a GC contender after a surprising third overall finish last year, had seen his podium ambitions slipping away over the first stages. He conceded 1:28 on stage 2 when he was caught out in the crosswinds, then lost his nerve — and legs — on the run in to the Mur du Huy after witnessing FDJ teammate William Bonnet crash heavily. Pinot began stage 4 nearly three minutes down on Froome, in need of a miracle to be back in the GC battle.

Instead, he suffered a mechanical on the penultimate section of cobblestones with 22km to go, when he was no longer able to shift his rear derailleur. A long wait for a spare bike saw the 25-year-old Frenchman lose his temper, yelling first at teammate Mathieu Ladagnous and then aggressively dressing down an FDJ team mechanic.

A few kilometers later Pinot was off the bike again, waiting for a new bike, kicking the ground while on the verge of exploding at his team caravan vehicle during the second bike swap. Altogether, it was very public meltdown from a French rider during a key stage of France’s biggest race.

FDJ team manager Marc Madiot told the media that Pinot’s issues were related to a failure of his Di2 battery, though it’s more likely the connection between the battery and the rear derailleur rattled loose on the cobblestones.

”I had a mechanical, and then it went full gas,” Pinot said. “It’s a shame. I could have received assistance, but who from? Mathieu [Ladagnous], who is much taller than me? It’s sure that when you have car number 13, you must expect to wait for your car a long time.”

The FDJ team web site lists Ladagnous as 1.81 meters tall (5-foot-11) and Pinot as 1.8 meters (5-foot-10), although team bios are often inaccurate.

Unlike Pinot, Martin didn’t wait around for a team car. When he punctured — at the same time that Pinot was struggling with his bike — the German quickly swapped bikes with teammate Matteo Trentin, who is three inches shorter than Martin, but, according to Martin, runs a higher saddle position.

In addition to what must have been an awkward fit, Martin also had to contend with Trentin’s brake setup, which is the complete opposite of how Martin runs his brakes. Despite all of this, Martin rejoined the lead group with 13km to go, paced by teammates Julien Vermote and Michal Golas. As soon as they made contact, Golas went all out to bring Martin up to the front of the bunch, where he rejoined teammates Zdenek Stybar, Rigoberto Uran, and Mark Cavendish.

“Before the last cobbled section I had a flat tire,” Martin said. “The car was not there because he was stuck in traffic. Matteo was next to me, and he said straight to me, I should take his bike. I took it, but the only problem was that his seat position is a few centimeters higher, and his brakes are opposite to mine, so I had to remember to brake the other way around. So I was not just focused on my legs, I was also focused on the brakes. It was super difficult, I started riding just to finish the stage, to stay with the best, and to not lose time, because I know there are still a few stages for me.”

Of course, that’s not how it played out. With 4km remaining, Martin went from defense to offense. As the favorites marked each other, he attacked. He quickly opened up a gap that gave him not just the stage win but the first yellow jersey of his career.

“In the last 4 to 5km, everyone was together,” Martin said. “I was looking around, and no one was willing to ride on the front, so I just decided to take a risk and attack. I knew the final, I came here to see the finish last month, I was really focused on this stage, it was super hard, in a head wind, but somehow I made it. I think today I had the luck that I’ve missed the last days. Now all the pressure from the last days comes off, and I am super happy, and super thankful to the team. They supported me day by day, even though I missed the jersey for a few days. They again gave 100 percent for me. I tried to give it back, and somehow it happened. I’m so happy now for the team.”

Tuesday night, Martin and his Etixx squad were celebrating both the stage win and the maillot jaune, while Pinot and his FDJ managers were recalibrating. In the end, the Frenchman lost 3:23 on the stage and fell to 30th overall, 6:30 behind Froome, his sights surely turning toward stage wins and perhaps a run at the king of the mountains competition.

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With pave on tap and yellow jersey in reach, cobbles riders face team dilemma http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/with-pave-on-tap-and-yellow-jersey-in-reach-cobbles-riders-face-team-dilemma_376834 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/with-pave-on-tap-and-yellow-jersey-in-reach-cobbles-riders-face-team-dilemma_376834#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 21:03:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=376834

The 2014 Tour de France's cobblestone stage was a dramatic day of racing. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

As cobbles specialists sit within striking distance of the yellow jersey, stage 4 will be a glimpse into the sacrifices teams make for GC

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The 2014 Tour de France's cobblestone stage was a dramatic day of racing. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

In the days before the Tour de France started, 2013 winner Chris Froome (Sky) predicted that the first week of this Tour de France would play out like “nine one-day classics” before the race for GC hits the mountains.

Froome’s assessment has proven correct thus far, with Sunday’s windy stage to Zélande, reminiscent of the coastal battles of Gent-Wevelgem, and Monday’s crash-marred stage, finishing with an uphill sprint on the Mur du Huy, the climb made famous at Flèche-Wallonne.

And the next serving at this “classics buffet” will be perhaps the most substantial — Tuesday’s stage 4 will cross over seven sectors of cobblestone roads, or pavé, utilized in the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix. Six of these sectors come within a 30km span of the stage finish, with the last sector coming 13km from the line.

Froome, who took ownership of the maillot jaune on Monday atop the Mur, is one of several major GC leaders whose team roster also contains a cobblestone classics specialist — and one who happens to also be well-positioned to take the race lead at the finish in Cambrai on Tuesday afternoon.

Virtual GC of cobblestone specialists whose teams have GC contenders

1. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing
2. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 0:03
3. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky, at 0:35
4. Zdenek Stybar, Etixx-Quick-Step, at 0:36

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), fourth on the cobbles at the Tour last year and sixth at Paris-Roubaix a few months earlier, currently sits sixth on GC, 31 seconds behind Froome. His team leader, Alberto Contador, lost a bit of time on the Mur du Huy, and currently sits eighth overall, 36 seconds down — or five seconds behind Sagan.

Even higher on the classification is Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), who finished third at Paris-Roubaix in April, and fourth in 2013. Van Avermaet sits fifth overall, 28 seconds behind Froome. He also sits 15 seconds behind his teammate, American Tejay van Garderen, who would surely benefit from his guidance across the pavé.

While others in the race, such as current Roubaix champion John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and runner-up, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step), will have free rein to contest for the stage win, it’s likely that Sagan, Van Avermaet, and Thomas will be forced to ride in the service of their GC leaders. (Three-time Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing was forced to abandon the Tour with fractured vertebrae.)

Stybar sits in a most unusual position, in that his Etixx teammate, Rigoberto Urán, while twice second overall at the Giro d’Italia, has never contended for victory at the Tour de France and has not been viewed as a podium threat.

Also complicating matters at Etixx is German TT specialist Tony Martin, who has sat second overall behind three different riders for three consecutive days. While Martin has no Roubaix pedigree, the three-time world time trial champion finished 17th on the Tour’s pavé last year, 2:02 down on stage winner Lars Boom. He, too, could well ride into the maillot jaune Tuesday, assuming he can stay within reach of the front of the race.

“I didn’t expect to even be this close,” Martin said Monday. “I am looking forward to tomorrow. The whole team is motivated for the cobbles and we will again fight for yellow.”

In Sky’s case, it’s a bit more straightforward — the team would not “gain” the maillot jaune if Thomas were to go up the road, as Froome is already holding the race lead. And in order for Thomas to take the yellow jersey, he’d need to take over 30 seconds from Van Avermaet and Sagan. However, given that Froome will also have classics stars Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe pulling him across the stones, Thomas may be given a bit of freedom.

“It’s a great position to be in going into the cobbles stage tomorrow,” Froome said. “Hopefully, being in yellow will motivate the whole team to stay together tomorrow and stay safe over the pavé.”

When each scenario is taken into consideration, it’s an interesting glimpse into the gambles and sacrifices, teams must make when prioritizing the general classification above all else.

Last year, when the Tour visited the cobbles on stage 5, it was Vincenzo Nibali, already wearing the yellow jersey, who emerged as the best-placed GC contender across the cobblestones, aided by super-domestique Jakob Fuglsang. The winner that day, Boom, now rides in Astana colors. This time around, no Astana riders are in in contention to take the maillot jaune, with Nibali the team’s best-placed rider, 13th overall, 1:38 behind Froome.

A better example of a cobblestone star riding with dual purpose across the pavé at the Tour came in 2010, when Cancellara shepherded Andy Schleck across the cobbles. Along with Cadel Evans, Schleck was the only major GC favorite to finish in the six-man front group. Cancellara didn’t win the stage — that honor went to Thor Hushovd — but he was able to take the maillot jaune by finishing sixth on the stage, in the same time as Hushovd.

Thomas finished second that day, while Contador rode well, finishing 13th, 1:13 behind the front group, and, memorably, 55 seconds ahead of Lance Armstrong, who had punctured on the cobbles, the beginning of his unraveling at his final Tour de France.

What’s likely is that this time around, cobblestone stars like Sagan, Van Avermaet, and Thomas will only be given leash to run in the context of their team leaders, and their relative position to GC rivals — i.e., if Contador has distanced Froome late in the race, Sagan may be allowed to contest for the win in the closing kilometers.

Sagan, who has worn the green jersey for nearly 60 days in his career but has never worn yellow, was characteristically muted on the subject, saying only, “We have to ride for Alberto [Contador] tomorrow. It will be a very dangerous stage. We will see.”

Posed the question on Twitter, Tinkoff road captain Michael Rogers replied, “Difficult Q to answer right now. Decision most likely to be made during the stage tomorrow.”

Van Averamet struck a similar tone as Sagan, deferring to his team leader, though he did directly address his own ambitions, saying, “The cobbles suit me a little bit better, and it is also not totally flat, which is good for me. There is a little bit of uphill on the cobbles, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. The main goal is Tejay for sure, but I hope to go for a stage victory.”

And when it’s all said and done, perhaps the only thing that’s certain about the cobblestones is uncertainty — even for a cobblestone specialist, protecting a team leader is easier said than done. Crashes, punctures, and poor positioning can all see large time gaps open quickly. In 2010, on the same stage that Cancellara shepherded Andy Schleck to through to the front group, his older brother Frank was one of the pavé’s first casualties, breaking his collarbone and exiting the Tour. It’s a very real scenario, and one that could change the dynamic of the stage, and GC, in an instant.

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Italy’s Barbara Guarischi wins stage 1 of Giro Rosa http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/italys-barbara-guarischi-wins-opening-stage-of-giro-rosa_376363 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/italys-barbara-guarischi-wins-opening-stage-of-giro-rosa_376363#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 16:59:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=376363 By finishing second on the stage, Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) is the new race leader, taking the maglia rosa from Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla)

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Italy’s Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM) won the 102km stage 1 of the Giro Rosa in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in a field sprint.

By finishing second on the stage, Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) is the new race leader, taking the maglia rosa from the shoulders of Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla) winner of the opening 2km prologue on Friday.

“I waited until 100m to go because there was a headwind and when I won, I was overwhelmed,” Guarischi said. “It was too much. I’m so happy.”

The stage win came as redemption for Guarischi, whose season was derailed by a broken rib in a crash

Guarischi’s victory was made possible by a superb lead-out from her Velocio teammates, especially European Games gold medalist Alena Amialiusik, who put Guarischi in position for the final sprint. Guarischi’s teammate Tiffany Cromwell finished third.

The stage was marked by a two-rider breakaway from Malgorzata Jasinska (Alè-Cipollini) and Ana Maria Covrig (BePink-La Classica); the peloton caught the duo about five kilometers from the finish line.

On Sunday the Giro Rosa leaves Slovenia and arrives in Italy; stage 2 starts in Gaiarine, and ends in San Fior.

Top 10, stage 1 (Kamnik – Ljubljana, 102.5 km)

1. Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM) 2h32’23”
2. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) +0”
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) +0”
4. Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal Ladies) +0”
5. Floortje Makaaj (Liv-Plantur) +0”
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) +0”
7. Annalisa Cucinotta (Alè-Cipollini) +0”
8. Anna Zita Maria Stricker (Inpa Sottoli Giusfredi) +0”
9. Mia Radotic (BTC City Ljubljana) +0”
10. Anna Trevisi (Inpa Sottoli Giusfredi) +0”

General classification after stage 1

1. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) 2h35’06”
2. Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM) +4”
3. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla Pro Cycling Team) +5”
4. Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) +6”
5. Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) +7”
6. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) +7”
7. Ellen Van Dijk (Boels Dolmans Pro Cycling Team) +8”
8. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla Pro Cycling Team) +8”
9. Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) +8”
10. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Pro Cycling Team) +9”

The leader’s jerseys of the 26th Giro Rosa, after stage 1

Pink Jersey: Lucinda Brand (Rabo – Liv)
Ciclamino Jersey: Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla Pro Cycling Team)
Green Jersey: Malgorzata Jasinska (Alè-Cipollini)
White Jersey: Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo-Liv)
Blue Jersey: Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM)

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Aussie Rohan Dennis wins stage 1 time trial, takes Tour’s first yellow jersey http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/race-report/aussie-rohan-dennis-wins-stage-1-time-trial-takes-tours-first-yellow-jersey_376354 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/race-report/aussie-rohan-dennis-wins-stage-1-time-trial-takes-tours-first-yellow-jersey_376354#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:56:10 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=376354

Rohan Dennis (BMC) did the ride of his life to win the Tour de France's stage 1 time trial and claim the first yellow jersey of 2015. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG

The 25-year-old Australian took his first stage win at the Tour de France, and this one came with best possible prize — the maillot jaune

The post Aussie Rohan Dennis wins stage 1 time trial, takes Tour’s first yellow jersey appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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Rohan Dennis (BMC) did the ride of his life to win the Tour de France's stage 1 time trial and claim the first yellow jersey of 2015. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG

In stifling heat and over a 13.8km course that presented 19 challenging corners, 25-year-old Australian Rohan Dennis took his first stage win at the Tour de France, and this one came with best possible prize — the maillot jaune of race leader.

Dennis (BMC Racing) finished five seconds ahead of Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step), with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) in third, six seconds down.

Dennis, who in January won the Tour Down Under and then went on to set a world hour record on the track, averaged 55.45 kph, quicker than the fastest-ever prologue ridden at the Tour de France, ridden by Chris Boardman in 1994.

Top 10, stage 1

  • 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, in 14:56
  • 2. Tony MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 3. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :06
  • 4. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :08
  • 5. Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :15
  • 6. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :23
  • 7. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM CYCLING, at :23
  • 8. Adriano MALORI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :29
  • 9. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :30
  • 10. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :32

 

Top 10, GC

  • 2. Tony MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 3. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :06
  • 4. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :08
  • 5. Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :15
  • 6. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :23
  • 7. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM CYCLING, at :23
  • 8. Adriano MALORI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :29
  • 9. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :30
  • 10. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :32

With the win, Dennis became the seventh Australian to wear the Tour’s yellow jersey.

“Everything went perfect,” Dennis said. “We went with the tactic of going off early — no stress, you don’t have to sit around all day, just set a benchmark and make everyone else chase me, and it worked out perfectly.”

Martin, the German national TT champion, was unsatisfied with second place.

“I was coming here to win. Second place… it’s still a good result, but it’s not the result I wanted, Martin said. It’s a big disappointment. I couldn’t imagine that the heat would play such big role. I was cooking. I couldn’t do my usual power. I already felt in the second half that it wouldn’t be a big result.”

Cancellara, who has won the opening time trial at the Tour de France to take yellow on five occasions, and who stated earlier this week that this might be his final Tour de France, was also clearly disappointed.

“What can I say?” Cancellara said. “I knew it would be a few seconds, that every meter would count. I tried to give the maximum. There was a lot of heat. Too bad I didn’t win, but that’s sport.”

Among the stage favorites, Tom Dumoulin was the biggest loser. The Dutch rider, who had hoped to take the stage win (and maillot jaune) on home soil, finished eight seconds down on Dennis, fourth on the stage. “Dennis was really strong,” he said. “He has done better than me. I’ve done everything right. I took the corners really well. I heard the crowd supporting me. It was extraordinary, but unfortunately I didn’t make it.”

The biggest loser of the day was Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang, who crashed, but was able to finish the stage.

Among the major GC favorites, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the big winner, 43 seconds down on Dennis but seven seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Sky), 15 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), and 18 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) put in a solid performance, finishing one second faster than Nibali.

“We’re all more or less in the same time,” said Nibali. “The differences aren’t important.”

Asked about wearing the Tour’s yellow jersey, Dennis said it was “a little bit of a shock.”

“It’s a dream. I’ve always wished to have this and now it’s happening,” he said. “It was almost surreal, but a few emotions came out for sure.”

The Tour continues Sunday with a flat 166km stage from Utrecht to Zeeland, remaining in the Netherlands for a second day.

Photo gallery: Tour de France, stage 1.

Stage 1 results

  • 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, in 14:56
  • 2. Tony MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 3. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :06
  • 4. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :08
  • 5. Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :15
  • 6. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :23
  • 7. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM CYCLING, at :23
  • 8. Adriano MALORI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :29
  • 9. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :30
  • 10. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :32
  • 11. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :33
  • 12. Geraint THOMAS, TEAM SKY, at :33
  • 13. Alex DOWSETT, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :36
  • 14. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :37
  • 15. Bob JUNGELS, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :38
  • 16. Dylan VAN BAARLE, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at :38
  • 17. Rigoberto URAN URAN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :40
  • 18. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ, at :41
  • 19. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :41
  • 20. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM, at :42
  • 21. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at :43
  • 22. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :43
  • 23. Lars BOOM, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :44
  • 24. Daniel OSS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :44
  • 25. Svein TUFT, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :45
  • 26. John DEGENKOLB, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :45
  • 27. Lieuwe WESTRA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :45
  • 28. Zdenek STYBAR, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :45
  • 29. Sylvain CHAVANEL, IAM CYCLING, at :45
  • 30. Rein TAARAMAE, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :45
  • 31. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :45
  • 32. Luke DURBRIDGE, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 33. Simon YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 34. Michael ROGERS, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :47
  • 35. Jérémy ROY, FDJ, at :47
  • 36. Sep VANMARCKE, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :49
  • 37. Martin ELMIGER, IAM CYCLING, at :50
  • 38. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING TEAM, at :50
  • 39. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :50
  • 40. Jerome COPPEL, IAM CYCLING, at :51
  • 41. Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :53
  • 42. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :55
  • 43. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :56
  • 44. Daryl IMPEY, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :57
  • 45. Andriy GRIVKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :57
  • 46. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :58
  • 47. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :58
  • 48. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :58
  • 49. Markel IRIZAR ARANBURU, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :58
  • 50. Jean-Christophe PERAUD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :59
  • 51. Georg PREIDLER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :59
  • 52. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :59
  • 53. Steve MORABITO, FDJ, at 1:00
  • 54. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:00
  • 55. Damien GAUDIN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:00
  • 56. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:01
  • 57. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:01
  • 58. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:02
  • 59. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:04
  • 60. Manuel QUINZIATO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:04
  • 61. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:05
  • 62. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, at 1:05
  • 63. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:06
  • 64. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:06
  • 65. Richie PORTE, TEAM SKY, at 1:06
  • 66. Pieter WEENING, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:07
  • 67. Thomas LEEZER, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:07
  • 68. Peter KENNAUGH, TEAM SKY, at 1:08
  • 69. Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:08
  • 70. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:08
  • 71. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:08
  • 72. Reto HOLLENSTEIN, IAM CYCLING, at 1:09
  • 73. Marcel SIEBERG, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:10
  • 74. Ian STANNARD, TEAM SKY, at 1:11
  • 75. Jack BAUER, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:11
  • 76. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:11
  • 77. Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:11
  • 78. Emanuel BUCHMANN, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:12
  • 79. Mathias FRANK, IAM CYCLING, at 1:12
  • 80. Marcel WYSS, IAM CYCLING, at 1:12
  • 81. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at 1:12
  • 82. Winner ANACONA GOMEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:13
  • 83. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:13
  • 84. Julien VERMOTE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:13
  • 85. Romain SICARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:13
  • 86. Zakkari DEMPSTER, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:14
  • 87. Ryder HESJEDAL, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 88. William BONNET, FDJ, at 1:15
  • 89. Kristijan KOREN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 90. Andrew TALANSKY, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 91. Laurens TEN DAM, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:15
  • 92. Bartosz HUZARSKI, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:16
  • 93. Daniele BENNATI, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:16
  • 94. Nelson Filipe SANTOS SIMOES OLIVEIRA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:16
  • 95. Daniel MARTIN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:17
  • 96. Stef CLEMENT, IAM CYCLING, at 1:17
  • 97. Adam YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:18
  • 98. Sebastian LANGEVELD, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:19
  • 99. Lars Ytting BAK, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:19
  • 100. Stijn DEVOLDER, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:19
  • 101. Nicolas ROCHE, TEAM SKY, at 1:20
  • 102. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:21
  • 103. Louis MEINTJES, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:21
  • 104. Serge PAUWELS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:21
  • 105. Tyler FARRAR, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:22
  • 106. Greg HENDERSON, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:22
  • 107. Florian VACHON, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:22
  • 108. Simon GERRANS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:22
  • 109. Alberto LOSADA ALGUACIL, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:23
  • 110. Bram TANKINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:23
  • 111. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:23
  • 112. Thomas VOECKLER, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:24
  • 113. Matthieu LADAGNOUS, FDJ, at 1:24
  • 114. Nicolas EDET, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:24
  • 115. Florian SENECHAL, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:24
  • 116. Danilo WYSS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:24
  • 117. Michal GOLAS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:24
  • 118. Andreas SCHILLINGER, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:25
  • 119. Paul VOSS, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:25
  • 120. Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:25
  • 121. Ramon SINKELDAM, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:25
  • 122. Matteo TRENTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:26
  • 123. Mark CAVENDISH, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:26
  • 124. Thomas DE GENDT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:26
  • 125. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:26
  • 126. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:26
  • 127. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:27
  • 128. Dmitriy GRUZDEV, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:27
  • 129. Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:27
  • 130. Alexandre GENIEZ, FDJ, at 1:27
  • 131. Michele SCARPONI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:28
  • 132. Christophe RIBLON, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:30
  • 133. Rafael VALLS FERRI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:30
  • 134. Jarlinson PANTANO, IAM CYCLING, at 1:31
  • 135. Pierrick FEDRIGO, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:31
  • 136. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:31
  • 137. Grégory RAST, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:31
  • 138. Dominik NERZ, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:31
  • 139. Jan BAKELANTS, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:32
  • 140. Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ, at 1:32
  • 141. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:33
  • 142. Jens DEBUSSCHERE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:33
  • 143. Julien SIMON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:33
  • 144. Anthony DELAPLACE, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:33
  • 145. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:34
  • 146. Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:34
  • 147. Damiano CARUSO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:34
  • 148. Jan BARTA, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:35
  • 149. Bryan NAULLEAU, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:35
  • 150. Marco HALLER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:35
  • 151. Cyril GAUTIER, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:36
  • 152. Reinardt JANSE VAN RENSBURG, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:37
  • 153. Koen DE KORT, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:37
  • 154. Nathan HAAS, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:37
  • 155. Albert TIMMER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:39
  • 156. Matteo TOSATTO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:40
  • 157. Eduardo SEPULVEDA, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:40
  • 158. Ruben PLAZA MOLINA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:40
  • 159. Dmitrii KOZONCHUK, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:41
  • 160. Alexis VUILLERMOZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:42
  • 161. Filippo POZZATO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:42
  • 162. Geoffrey SOUPE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:43
  • 163. Davide CIMOLAI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:43
  • 164. Ivan BASSO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:45
  • 165. Mark RENSHAW, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:46
  • 166. Pierre ROLLAND, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:46
  • 167. Adam HANSEN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:47
  • 168. Laurent DIDIER, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:47
  • 169. Johan VAN SUMMEREN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:48
  • 170. Kenneth VAN BILSEN, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:48
  • 171. Sam BENNETT, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:48
  • 172. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:49
  • 173. Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:50
  • 174. José HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:50
  • 175. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:51
  • 176. Bryan COQUARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:51
  • 177. Michael SCHÄR, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:51
  • 178. Jacopo GUARNIERI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:51
  • 179. Yohann GENE, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:53
  • 180. Luke ROWE, TEAM SKY, at 1:54
  • 181. Luca PAOLINI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:55
  • 182. Kristijan DURASEK, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:55
  • 183. Angelo TULIK, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:57
  • 184. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:58
  • 185. Frédéric BRUN, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:01
  • 186. Sébastien CHAVANEL, FDJ, at 2:02
  • 187. Jose Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 2:09
  • 188. Roy CURVERS, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 2:12
  • 189. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 2:13
  • 190. Ben GASTAUER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 2:14
  • 191. Nacer BOUHANNI, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 2:14
  • 192. Arnaud GERARD, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:18
  • 193. Pierre-Luc PERICHON, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:23
  • 194. Perrig QUEMENEUR, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 2:24
  • 195. Giampaolo CARUSO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 2:24
  • 196. Armindo FONSECA, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:25
  • 197. Brice FEILLU, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:28
  • 198. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:36

 

General classification

  • 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, in 14:56
  • 2. Tony MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 3. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :06
  • 4. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :08
  • 5. Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :15
  • 6. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :23
  • 7. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM CYCLING, at :23
  • 8. Adriano MALORI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :29
  • 9. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :30
  • 10. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :32
  • 11. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :33
  • 12. Geraint THOMAS, TEAM SKY, at :33
  • 13. Alex DOWSETT, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :36
  • 14. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :37
  • 15. Bob JUNGELS, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :38
  • 16. Dylan VAN BAARLE, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at :38
  • 17. Rigoberto URAN URAN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :40
  • 18. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ, at :41
  • 19. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :41
  • 20. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM, at :42
  • 21. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at :43
  • 22. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :43
  • 23. Lars BOOM, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :44
  • 24. Daniel OSS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :44
  • 25. Svein TUFT, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :45
  • 26. John DEGENKOLB, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :45
  • 27. Lieuwe WESTRA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :45
  • 28. Zdenek STYBAR, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :45
  • 29. Sylvain CHAVANEL, IAM CYCLING, at :45
  • 30. Rein TAARAMAE, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :45
  • 31. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :45
  • 32. Luke DURBRIDGE, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 33. Simon YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 34. Michael ROGERS, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :47
  • 35. Jérémy ROY, FDJ, at :47
  • 36. Sep VANMARCKE, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :49
  • 37. Martin ELMIGER, IAM CYCLING, at :50
  • 38. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING TEAM, at :50
  • 39. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :50
  • 40. Jerome COPPEL, IAM CYCLING, at :51
  • 41. Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :53
  • 42. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :55
  • 43. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :56
  • 44. Daryl IMPEY, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :57
  • 45. Andriy GRIVKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :57
  • 46. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :58
  • 47. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :58
  • 48. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :58
  • 49. Markel IRIZAR ARANBURU, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :58
  • 50. Jean-Christophe PERAUD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :59
  • 51. Georg PREIDLER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :59
  • 52. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :59
  • 53. Steve MORABITO, FDJ, at 1:00
  • 54. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:00
  • 55. Damien GAUDIN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:00
  • 56. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:01
  • 57. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:01
  • 58. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:02
  • 59. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:04
  • 60. Manuel QUINZIATO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:04
  • 61. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:05
  • 62. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, at 1:05
  • 63. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:06
  • 64. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:06
  • 65. Richie PORTE, TEAM SKY, at 1:06
  • 66. Pieter WEENING, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:07
  • 67. Thomas LEEZER, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:07
  • 68. Peter KENNAUGH, TEAM SKY, at 1:08
  • 69. Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:08
  • 70. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:08
  • 71. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:08
  • 72. Reto HOLLENSTEIN, IAM CYCLING, at 1:09
  • 73. Marcel SIEBERG, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:10
  • 74. Ian STANNARD, TEAM SKY, at 1:11
  • 75. Jack BAUER, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:11
  • 76. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:11
  • 77. Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:11
  • 78. Emanuel BUCHMANN, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:12
  • 79. Mathias FRANK, IAM CYCLING, at 1:12
  • 80. Marcel WYSS, IAM CYCLING, at 1:12
  • 81. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at 1:12
  • 82. Winner ANACONA GOMEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:13
  • 83. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:13
  • 84. Julien VERMOTE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:13
  • 85. Romain SICARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:13
  • 86. Zakkari DEMPSTER, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:14
  • 87. Ryder HESJEDAL, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 88. William BONNET, FDJ, at 1:15
  • 89. Kristijan KOREN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 90. Andrew TALANSKY, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:15
  • 91. Laurens TEN DAM, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:15
  • 92. Bartosz HUZARSKI, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:16
  • 93. Daniele BENNATI, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:16
  • 94. Nelson Filipe SANTOS SIMOES OLIVEIRA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:16
  • 95. Daniel MARTIN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:17
  • 96. Stef CLEMENT, IAM CYCLING, at 1:17
  • 97. Adam YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:18
  • 98. Sebastian LANGEVELD, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:19
  • 99. Lars Ytting BAK, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:19
  • 100. Stijn DEVOLDER, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:19
  • 101. Nicolas ROCHE, TEAM SKY, at 1:20
  • 102. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:21
  • 103. Louis MEINTJES, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:21
  • 104. Serge PAUWELS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:21
  • 105. Tyler FARRAR, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:22
  • 106. Greg HENDERSON, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:22
  • 107. Florian VACHON, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:22
  • 108. Simon GERRANS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:22
  • 109. Alberto LOSADA ALGUACIL, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:23
  • 110. Bram TANKINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:23
  • 111. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:23
  • 112. Thomas VOECKLER, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:24
  • 113. Matthieu LADAGNOUS, FDJ, at 1:24
  • 114. Nicolas EDET, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:24
  • 115. Florian SENECHAL, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:24
  • 116. Danilo WYSS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:24
  • 117. Michal GOLAS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:24
  • 118. Andreas SCHILLINGER, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:25
  • 119. Paul VOSS, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:25
  • 120. Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:25
  • 121. Ramon SINKELDAM, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:25
  • 122. Matteo TRENTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:26
  • 123. Mark CAVENDISH, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:26
  • 124. Thomas DE GENDT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:26
  • 125. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:26
  • 126. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:26
  • 127. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:27
  • 128. Dmitriy GRUZDEV, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:27
  • 129. Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:27
  • 130. Alexandre GENIEZ, FDJ, at 1:27
  • 131. Michele SCARPONI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:28
  • 132. Christophe RIBLON, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:30
  • 133. Rafael VALLS FERRI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:30
  • 134. Jarlinson PANTANO, IAM CYCLING, at 1:31
  • 135. Pierrick FEDRIGO, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:31
  • 136. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:31
  • 137. Grégory RAST, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:31
  • 138. Dominik NERZ, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:31
  • 139. Jan BAKELANTS, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:32
  • 140. Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ, at 1:32
  • 141. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:33
  • 142. Jens DEBUSSCHERE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:33
  • 143. Julien SIMON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:33
  • 144. Anthony DELAPLACE, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:33
  • 145. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:34
  • 146. Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:34
  • 147. Damiano CARUSO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:34
  • 148. Jan BARTA, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:35
  • 149. Bryan NAULLEAU, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:35
  • 150. Marco HALLER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:35
  • 151. Cyril GAUTIER, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:36
  • 152. Reinardt JANSE VAN RENSBURG, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:37
  • 153. Koen DE KORT, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:37
  • 154. Nathan HAAS, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:37
  • 155. Albert TIMMER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:39
  • 156. Matteo TOSATTO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:40
  • 157. Eduardo SEPULVEDA, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:40
  • 158. Ruben PLAZA MOLINA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:40
  • 159. Dmitrii KOZONCHUK, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:41
  • 160. Alexis VUILLERMOZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:42
  • 161. Filippo POZZATO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:42
  • 162. Geoffrey SOUPE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:43
  • 163. Davide CIMOLAI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:43
  • 164. Ivan BASSO, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:45
  • 165. Mark RENSHAW, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:46
  • 166. Pierre ROLLAND, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:46
  • 167. Adam HANSEN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:47
  • 168. Laurent DIDIER, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:47
  • 169. Johan VAN SUMMEREN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:48
  • 170. Kenneth VAN BILSEN, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:48
  • 171. Sam BENNETT, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:48
  • 172. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:49
  • 173. Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:50
  • 174. José HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:50
  • 175. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:51
  • 176. Bryan COQUARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:51
  • 177. Michael SCHÄR, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:51
  • 178. Jacopo GUARNIERI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:51
  • 179. Yohann GENE, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:53
  • 180. Luke ROWE, TEAM SKY, at 1:54
  • 181. Luca PAOLINI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:55
  • 182. Kristijan DURASEK, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:55
  • 183. Angelo TULIK, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:57
  • 184. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:58
  • 185. Frédéric BRUN, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:01
  • 186. Sébastien CHAVANEL, FDJ, at 2:02
  • 187. Jose Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 2:09
  • 188. Roy CURVERS, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 2:12
  • 189. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 2:13
  • 190. Ben GASTAUER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 2:14
  • 191. Nacer BOUHANNI, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 2:14
  • 192. Arnaud GERARD, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:18
  • 193. Pierre-Luc PERICHON, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:23
  • 194. Perrig QUEMENEUR, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 2:24
  • 195. Giampaolo CARUSO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 2:24
  • 196. Armindo FONSECA, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:25
  • 197. Brice FEILLU, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 2:28
  • 198. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:36

 

Best young rider

  • 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, in 14:56
  • 2. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :08
  • 3. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :30
  • 4. Bob JUNGELS, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :38
  • 5. Dylan VAN BAARLE, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at :38
  • 6. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ, at :41
  • 7. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :41
  • 8. Luke DURBRIDGE, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 9. Simon YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :46
  • 10. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :58
  • 11. Georg PREIDLER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :59
  • 12. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:01
  • 13. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:06
  • 14. Emanuel BUCHMANN, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:12
  • 15. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at 1:12
  • 16. Adam YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 1:18
  • 17. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:21
  • 18. Louis MEINTJES, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:21
  • 19. Florian SENECHAL, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:24
  • 20. Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:25
  • 21. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:27
  • 22. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:34
  • 23. Marco HALLER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:35
  • 24. Eduardo SEPULVEDA, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at 1:40
  • 25. Kenneth VAN BILSEN, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:48
  • 26. Sam BENNETT, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:48
  • 27. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:49
  • 28. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:51
  • 29. Bryan COQUARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:51
  • 30. Luke ROWE, TEAM SKY, at 1:54
  • 31. Angelo TULIK, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:57
  • 32. Nacer BOUHANNI, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 2:14

 

Points classification

  • 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, 20 points
  • 2. Tony MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, 17 points
  • 3. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK FACTORY RACING, 15 points
  • 4. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, 13 points
  • 5. Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, 11 points
  • 6. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, 10 points
  • 7. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM CYCLING, 9 points
  • 8. Adriano MALORI, MOVISTAR TEAM, 8 points
  • 9. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, 7 points
  • 10. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, 6 points
  • 11. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, 5 points
  • 12. Geraint THOMAS, TEAM SKY, 4 points
  • 13. Alex DOWSETT, MOVISTAR TEAM, 3 points
  • 14. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, 2 points
  • 15. Bob JUNGELS, TREK FACTORY RACING, 1 point

 

Teams classification

  • 1. Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo, in 46:06
  • 2. Trek Factory Racing, at :03
  • 3. Bmc Racing Team, at :08
  • 4. Movistar Team, at :10
  • 5. Etixx – Quick Step, at :12
  • 6. Team Giant – Alpecin, at :34
  • 7. Iam Cycling, at :40
  • 8. Team Sky, at :48
  • 9. Astana Pro Team, at :54
  • 10. Orica Greenedge, at :59
  • 11. Tinkoff – Saxo, at 1:08
  • 12. Fdj, at 1:10
  • 13. Mtn – Qhubeka, at 1:34
  • 14. Team Cannondale – Garmin, at 1:46
  • 15. Lotto Soudal, at 2:01
  • 16. Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2:11
  • 17. Bora-argon 18, at 2:16
  • 18. Team Katusha, at 2:21
  • 19. Lampre – Merida, at 2:41
  • 20. Team Europcar, at 2:54
  • 21. Cofidis, Solutions Credits, at 2:55
  • 22. Bretagne-seche Environnement, at 3:08

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Lampre-Merida hedges bets with double threat in Qinghai Lake http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/lampre-merida-hedges-bet-with-double-threat-in-qinghai-lake_376312 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/lampre-merida-hedges-bet-with-double-threat-in-qinghai-lake_376312#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 14:20:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=376312

Gang Xu (left) and Taiwanese road champion Chun Kai Feng (right) give Lampre-Merida a one-two punch at China’s Tour of Qinghai Lake. Photo courtesy Tour of Qinghai Lake.

Gang Xu and Chun Kai Feng give Lampre-Merida a one-two punch at China’s 13-stage Tour of Qinghai Lake

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Gang Xu (left) and Taiwanese road champion Chun Kai Feng (right) give Lampre-Merida a one-two punch at China’s Tour of Qinghai Lake. Photo courtesy Tour of Qinghai Lake.

Xining, CHINA — Missing one rider on their seven-man roster due to Rui Costa’s brother Mário having visa issues, Lampre-Merida is feeling the pressure heading into the 13-stage, 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake, which starts on July 5 with a 121km Xining Circuit.

Held on along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of around 9,000 feet, the Tour of Qinghai Lake is considered the “highest” international road cycling race in the world.

As the only WorldTour squad on the startlist, the Italian team is making no secret that this is a race they must control.

“Yes of course, there is pressure,” Lampre-Merida road captain Gang Xu told VeloNews. “Qinghai Lake is a very different race, and the outcome will depend on the condition of our rivals. [But] We are a WorldTour team so we have to win a stage and win the race.”

The 31-year-old Chinese rider is hoping to reverse a string of three DNFs after a solid showing at the Tour of Turkey, dating back to the Giro d’Italia in May and followed by GP du canton d’Argovie and the Tour de Suisse.

“Qinghai Lake is the top race in the Asia Tour,” said Xu, a former Tour de Korea stage winner. “For me, our team and our sponsors it’s very important. I want to win at least one stage and I will have a good look at everyone else in the first week to determine my own chances for GC.”

Aside from riders from Southeast, AirGas-Safeway, Synergy Baku and RTS-Santic, which features Colombian Mario Rojas and Iranian Hossein Alizadeh, one rider who Xu acknowledges could be a legitimate stage contender is Lampre teammate Chun Kai Feng. The reigning two-time Taiwan road champion has shown great promise since joining the team late last year, including two top-10 mountains classification finishes, including eighth at Tour de Taiwan in March, and second at Tour of Japan, in May.

However, the 26-year-old neo-pro is downplaying his personal ambitions prior to the start of the race.

“It is important for me to support my team and continue learning,” said Feng, a three-time Tour de Taiwan KOM. “I will do my job, whether that is collecting [bidons] or working on the front, and hope the team can do something to get a result.But if the opportunity for me to get in a break is there I will take it.”

Joining Xu and Feng is climbing specialist Tsgabu Grmay, as well as Ilia Koshevoy, sprinter Luka Pibernik, and GC hopeful Mattia Cattaneo.

“Overall we will try with Cattaneo, but he has not raced in 40 days due to right knee injury,” Lampre-Merida sports director Bruno Vicino told VeloNews. “We did not bring a pure sprinter to the race, so we will be looking for Xu and Feng to each try for a stage win or two. Xu has been very supportive in the European races and is our leader at Qinghai Lake, so we will see how he performs in that role.”

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews.

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A conversation with Cannondale manager Jonathan Vaughters, part two http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/a-conversation-with-cannondale-manager-jonathan-vaughters-part-2_375916 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/a-conversation-with-cannondale-manager-jonathan-vaughters-part-2_375916#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:54:48 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=375916

Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

The Cannondale-Garmin team founder discusses a variety of issues with VeloNews as his team gears up for another Tour de France

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Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

The American team Cannondale-Garmin announced its 2015 Tour de France roster Monday, with a squad built around GC contender Andrew Talansky, with Irishman Dan Martin and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal riding in wildcard roles. Dutch rider Sebastian Langeveld will serve as road captain, with Finnish-born Brit Charly Wegelius in the position of sport director.

One week before the Tour team announcement, team founder Jonathan Vaughters met with VeloNews for a wide-ranging, hour-long interview on a variety of topics.

In the first half of the interview, published Wednesday, Vaughters discussed his team’s slow start to the 2015 season, the team’s objectives at the upcoming Tour de France, his predictions on how the general classification will play out on the road, his relationship with top American GC contender Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and what a rivalry between van Garderen and Talansky would mean for American cycling.

In the second half of this interview, published below, Vaughters discusses his relationship with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Roman Kreuziger’s bio-passport case, the strained relationship between the UCI and Tour organizer ASO, Sky’s thwarted attempt to house its riders in RVs at grand tours, and the different directions his life has taken outside of the pro cycling caravan.

VeloNews: Let’s turn to current events. Secretary of State John Kerry recently suffered a broken leg while riding his bike in Switzerland on May 31. You’ve had a bit of a relationship with him — we’ve seen photos of him riding in a Garmin team kit. What can you tell us about that relationship, and whether or not you’ve had any contact with him since his cycling accident?

Jonathan Vaughters: If I’m not mistaken, his father was U.S. ambassador to France at some point in time, so he spent quite a bit of his youth growing up in France, watching the Tour de France. He loves the Tour, and cycling in general. I got to know him in 2008, when he was in town for the Democratic national convention. We went on a couple of bike rides. He’s a really impressive athlete. You run into a lot of these older guys who are really strong uphill, because they train all the time … John was strong uphill, but he can also descend like a maniac. We came down from Jamestown, which is not that steep, but on the sweepers he was not hitting the brakes at all. He was cutting right on the yellow line, not on the brakes. So he is a super impressive bike handler. We’ve stayed in touch since then, and whenever the team does well, he’ll send me a small congratulations note. Obviously he’s been a bit busier since he’s been Secretary of State. But he wrote one of my letters of recommendation to go back to college. Anyway, really great guy, and it’s unfortunate that he crashed, but we all know that is what can happen in bike riding.

VN: We recently saw Tinkoff-Saxo rider Roman Kreuziger walk away from a bio-passport case, with the UCI and WADA dropping their case just as it was supposed to go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That was the first time we’ve seen this happen. Kreuziger insisted he was innocent all along, and went to the Mayo Clinic to undergo tests that would prove the abnormalities in his bio-passport could have been caused by something other than blood doping. This is was unprecedented, and now, instead of facing a four-year ban, Kreuziger will be racing the Tour de France. You’re familiar with all parties involved — what’s your take?

JV: The first thing to understand is that the biological passport is an indirect testing method. It’s analogous to saying “there’s smoke over there, so there’s definitely fire.” That’s true a lot of times, but not always, and it’s using regression modeling to determine whether or not the statistical anomalies are large enough to indicate there was doping. Any time you are using an indirect testing method, from a legal standpoint, it’s incredibly open to interpretation. It’s the equivalent of, say, in a criminal case, saying, “Well I saw that guy enter a building, and one hour later there was a dead person in that building, therefore that guy killed that person.” Which could be true, or it could not be true, but it’s very precarious, legally. The UCI and WADA cannot afford to lose a bio-passport case, because if they do, it sets a precedent that makes it much easier to lose bio-passport cases moving forward.

VN: You don’t feel as though that’s what happened with the Kreuziger case?

JV: No, I think they dropped it because they had some sort of information that said, “OK, we’re right on the edge here.” If they lost it, it would kill the bio-passport entirely, so they probably decided, instead of killing it entirely, let’s just let this one go.

One common misinterpretation is that bio-passport’s most common use is to try to come up with positives based on fluctuating blood values. That’s probably how it used about five percent of the time. The other 95 percent of the time it is used to target people with highly suspicious values — to use standardized testing, over and over and over again, looking for anything from EPO to plasticizers, or to see if the person they are targeting is doping, and slips up, and they nail him, or if he is doping, and maybe the targeted testing gets him to stop. There are multiple possibilities there. But the primary use of the bio-passport is to target athletes.

With Kreuziger, they were going after an actual bio-passport case, which was considerably different than earlier ones. Earlier cases, from 2008 and 2009, and even the Jonathan Tiernan-Locke case, had values that had much greater fluctuations, from 45 hematocrit to 53. Kreuziger’s were more subtle. And you have to remember, there are sample-time issues — When was the sample taken? Was it taken before the stage, or after the stage? In that case, there were some samples that had been taken after the stage. There are things that we don’t even know about, for example, if a sample is left at room temperature for over a certain amount of time, the red blood cells actually expand, which changes the hematocrit value. This is completely conjecture, but maybe there was a sample that was left too long, and they looked at the lab technician’s notes, and it took an hour and 15 minutes before it was put through the machine, as opposed to 15 minutes, or whatever … there are so many issues — transportation, execution, sample collection — that never hit the public.

The blood profile is one little piece of what the bigger picture actually is. I would imagine that the UCI came up with something that they felt was not 100 percent provable. And, unfortunately, for people who are advocates for clean cycling, it’s always, in my opinion — and this is Jeffersonian — better to let 100 guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent person. I don’t know if Kreuziger was innocent or guilty. I have no idea. What I do know is that giving someone a four-year suspension — which, in cycling, is basically a lifetime suspension — you better be very sure. Because the first time an innocent person gets a lifetime suspension, that’s tragic. It’s unfortunate if a few dirty athletes sneak through the system, but a clean guy, out of the sport, who was totally innocent — that’s tragic. I think the UCI and WADA have to be aware of that. And they are.

VN: Speaking of the UCI, one of the most interesting stories bubbling under the surface is ASO swatting down the UCI’s calendar reform. As owners of the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and other races, ASO holds a lot of power in the sport — probably the most power of any entity. The UCI, it seems, is the international federation, but not the most powerful organization in pro cycling. What’s your take on this power struggle — and which direction do you see it going?

JV: The first thing to understand is that the ASO sending the threatening letter to the UCI about potentially leaving the WorldTour is not on the basis of the calendar reforms. I mean, I’m sure they have some gripes with the calendar reform not being perfect, but as part of the greater reforms, it was put forward to them, voted for, and passed the pro cycling council, basically the advisory board for pro cycling. The vote was 6-2, with three abstentions, so it was a fairly contentious vote that would give teams a three- or four-year license, so that it would get teams out of this year-to-year cycle of trying to get a license.

Contractually, for almost every WorldTour team, relegation down to Pro Continental, not being in the WorldTour, is death. Your sponsors can’t withstand that, and they won’t. There is no promotion relegation in cycling. High-level sponsors are either in the WorldTour, or they are done with cycling.

Whereas this gave the teams a fairly long runway, to be able to work with a certain level of security, ASO fundamentally does not like that. They want to remain in the position that they can unilaterally decide whether a team exists or not. They would say “well, no, we only want to be able to decide whether a team can come to the Tour de France or not,” but it’s the same thing. If my team was unable to go to the Tour de France, our sponsorship contracts would be cancelled.

And so the question in all of this battle is — should one race organizer, one private entity that is not the governing body, have the power to determine which teams are allowed to continue in existence, and which aren’t? That’s what it boils down to. They would like to remain in the position that they have that power, and the teams and athletes would prefer that they have not have that unilateral power.

VN: In a sense, doesn’t the UCI have that power with its License Commission, which decides which teams should be in the WorldTour?

JV: Unfortunately, the due process under the UCI, the way it was supposed to work, with the pro cycling council, where this measure was voted for and passed, the people voting for it were clearly team representatives and athlete representatives, it passed. But it got stymied in the management committee, which is not so straightforward, and there was not a vote, it just sort of got shelved back and that shows you that perhaps the UCI is the governing body, but that the ASO has an enormous amount of backroom strength because of their financial position. Right now I am very pessimistic as to whether the reforms go through, because I think ASO doesn’t want them to go through. They would prefer the situation remain as is, where they have ultimate unilateral power.

VN: I can’t think of many examples where ASO has torpedoed a pro team’s existence. Mercury-Viatel should have been invited to race the Tour in 2001, and that helped kill the team, but that was almost 15 years ago.

JV: ASO doesn’t use that power very often, they are sort of a benevolent dictator, if you will, but in my opinion, it’s wrong that they have that unilateral power to do that, but it is correct to say that they don’t often choose to go down that route.

VN: Here in the U.S., we’ve seen that after 10 years of running the Amgen Tour of California for AEG Sports, Medalist Sports will not be running the race moving forward, with ASO “increasing its presence” at the event. ASO has managed TV production at the Amgen Tour since 2010, we’ve seen them assume ownership of the Vuelta a España, and it appears they may be doing the same with the Amgen Tour. What does this mean, in the context of this ASO/UCI power struggle?

JV: Little by little, they are becoming a monopoly, effectively, in cycling. The only race organizer that is even close to their level of operational competence is RCS, which runs the Giro d’Italia, but I think the ASO is becoming more powerful in the world of cycling, and I think the move to run the Tour of California is just a symptom if that.

VN: I know you got an MBA last year, and I want to ask you about that in a minute, but, from a strictly business perspective, can you blame ASO for what it is attempting to do — monopolize control over pro cycling? Isn’t that just a smart business model?

JV: No, I can’t blame them. They are trying to expand their business. They are trying to bring maximum profit to their shareholders. They are an immensely profitable company. They are actually divesting out of many of their media outlets and newspapers and investing more into their sports outlets, selling the media rights of those properties. Of course, it’s a very good business model. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have many checks and balances at this point in time. There are hundreds of athletes that, unlike almost any other top-level pro sport in the world, are not being directly or indirectly compensated from their own image rights — their media rights, their TV rights, their image rights are being sold by ASO.

Imagine that post-race TV interview, you win the race, you come to the interview, the backdrop is ASO sponsors, and that interview is being sold to media channels, through ASO, but in the end, people are tuning in to hear what the athlete has to say. It’s akin to having actors in a movie, but they’re not being paid. Brad Pitt is not being paid, but the production studio is. It’s a strange model, and it needs to change, but the issue is, and this goes back to the unilateral force we discussed — how do we change it? The only way is to say, “We’re not going to do your event until you give our athletes their share of their rights here.” And there’s no team that can withstand even the threat of not doing the Tour de France. Even a mention of not doing it and sponsors are up in arms. There is not a good balance at this point. But sure, if I were a shareholder of the ASO, I’d be happy about that imbalance.

VN: What did you think of Team Sky putting Richie Porte in an RV at the Giro d’Italia, and the UCI shutting down their attempt to do the same with Chris Froome at the Tour de France?

JV: Listen, I understand the spirit of the ruling is equitable competition — everyone needs to deal with the same conditions. That was the way the Tour de France was founded. But at the end of the day, looking at other modern sports, motorsports … when they are doing the traveling road show, which cycling uniquely does, this isn’t Major League Baseball, or the National Football League, where you can always stay at the Ritz Carlton downtown when you’re playing baseball games, or whatever. You’re sometimes staying out in the middle of nowhere. Other sports, that have a high travel component to remote areas like that have already gone down the RV route, for sleeping. It seems like, it’s a good thing to consider, long term. I understand the short-term thinking, we need to keep everyone on the same page, but in the long term, end of the day, it comes down to this — these athletes today, your Contadors, your Froomes, are being paid anywhere from 2.5 million euros to 5 million euros. And if they sleep in a hotel room that has bed bugs, or they get food poisoning, or the air conditioning hasn’t been cleaned in three years and they get some kind of sinus infection … really? You’re going to explain to a sponsor that the athlete they are paying 5 million euros a year has a bad back because the mattress sucked last night? I think that’s pretty tough.

VN: Let’s talk about your MBA from the University of Denver. After your racing career you briefly got into real estate, then you launched Slipstream Sports, which became one of the biggest American teams in cycling. Then you got involved in the governance side of the sport, somewhat, as the president of the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling) for a number of years. That was back when Pat McQuaid was president of the UCI, and the sport was in a bit of turmoil. And then you decided to step away from your day-to-day with the team and get a masters degree in business. There was some speculation that that might have been part of a long-term strategy of someday running for UCI president yourself. What was the motivation there, with the MBA?

JV: [Laughs] Well, it wasn’t to run for UCI president. I think that seems like the most horrible job in the world. Listen, after years of serving on the CADF, the anti-doping board of the UCI, and serving as president of the AIGCP, the teams’ union, and years of sitting on the board of directors for the UCI, I realized that there are very, very few people in pro cycling that have any sort of business education, not so much business acumen. They’re all old bike racers. This is a big part of the reason ASO is so dominant; they actually do have business acumen, so they run circles around everyone else. And they have 100 years of history to back it up. At the end of the day, it’s hard to be critical and say, “These guys sitting on the board of directors are just a bunch of old bike racers, what do they know about moving the business prospects of professional cycling forward” …. Well, what was I? I was an ex-professional bike racer with no business education whatsoever. I was basically criticizing myself. So I figured I should go and fix that.

We were at a juncture with the team where I could step back, I could step back from the AIGCP, I could step off of this board, [Brian] Cookson was coming in, it just seemed like a good time for me to let someone else take the reins for a while. Charly Wegelius has proven to be a very competent director with great managerial skills, and he really stepped in. Louise Donald, our chief operating officer, came all the way up from just doing logistics … we have people with incredibly high levels of competence on our team, so I could take the time to step away and go do this.

It was a really interesting process. I loved going back to school. I was not focused on any one particular thing, it was just developing my brain, and just putting a few letters behind my name, for pride’s sake.

VN: You graduated last August, you’ve had some free time since then, and you’ve taken up flying. How did that come about?

JV: Flying requires such a high degree of focus. It’s a lot to learn. And I figured that, coming out of the MBA program, my study skills were pretty refined, and honed, and I thought, “Well, I’m 41 years old, I’ve got good study skills now, but that’s not going to last forever. I see guys in the flight club who are retired and learning to fly at 70, and that’s very hard, if not impossible to do. I have wanted to learn how to fly an airplane since I was a little kid. I subscribed to flying magazines, and went to every air show I could. I went to Oshkosh with my grandpa, which is this huge air show in Wisconsin. And I was finally in a position where I could actually get this done, I’m going to go get my pilot’s license. I love the intensity of it, and the concentration it requires. It’s been an adventure.

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A conversation with Cannondale manager Jonathan Vaughters, part one http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/a-conversation-with-cannondale-manager-jonathan-vaughters-part-one_375767 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/a-conversation-with-cannondale-manager-jonathan-vaughters-part-one_375767#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:16:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=375767

Cannondale-Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters, at the 2015 team launch in Manhattan. Photo: Tim De Waele/TDWSport.com.

Part one of a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Cannondale-Garmin team founder Vaughters ahead of the Tour de France

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Cannondale-Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters, at the 2015 team launch in Manhattan. Photo: Tim De Waele/TDWSport.com.

The American team Cannondale-Garmin announced its 2015 Tour de France roster Monday, a squad built around GC contender Andrew Talansky, with Irishman Dan Martin and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal riding in wildcard roles. Dutch rider Sebastian Langeveld will serve as road captain, with Finnish-born Brit Charly Wegelius in the position of team director.

One week before the Tour team announcement, team founder Jonathan Vaughters met with VeloNews for a wide-ranging, hour-long interview on a variety of topics.

In the first half of the interview, published below, Vaughters discusses his team’s slow start to the 2015 season, the team’s objectives at the upcoming Tour de France, his predictions on how the general classification will play out on the road, his relationship with top American GC contender Tejay van Garderen, and what a rivalry between van Garderen and Talansky would mean for American cycling.

In the second half of this interview, to be published Thursday, Vaughters discusses his relationship with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Roman Kreuziger’s bio-passport case, the strained relationship between the UCI and Tour organizer ASO, Team Sky’s thwarted attempt to house its riders in RVs at grand tours, and the different directions his life has taken outside of the pro cycling caravan.

VeloNews: Team selection for the Tour de France must be very difficult for any team manager or director. What can you tell us about Cannondale-Garmin’s Tour squad this year?

Jonathan Vaughters: We’ve been pretty organized in our team selection this year, and we’ve got a lot of younger riders this year, so the team selection for the Tour de France, which is typically a race for more experienced riders, has been a little easier on us this year than in years past. It’s all based around what our objectives are in the race. It’s not necessarily the top nine guys in the team, it’s the top nine guys in the team that can work together as a unit to accomplish the goals that we’re looking for.

VN: What are those goals? Andrew Talansky is obviously your GC rider, but beyond that, what are the objectives?

JV: Andrew has had a bit of a rough year this year, but he’s starting to show some signs of life. He did well at the Dauphiné. He’s good for a Tour de France like this one, where you have a lot of crosswind stages, cobblestones, a lot of hard fighting early on … He’s a pretty robust rider when it comes to that sort of thing. So he’ll be the GC focus, without a doubt. And of course we’ll have Dan Martin along with him. And Dan prefers to focus on stage wins. If we can get a good GC out of that, then that’s a bonus. If we can have two guys that are up in that front group, or even three — maybe Ryder Hesjedal recovers in time from the Giro d’Italia — it’s always better. Dan will be more focused on stage wins, the Mur du Huy [stage 3] being the first one.

VN: When you look at this year’s Tour, we have three former Tour champions in the field — Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Chris Froome (Sky), and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) — as well as Nairo Quintana (Movistar), a Giro winner and Tour runner-up. How do you see the GC playing out?

JV: I think the GC has a number of different components, with time trialing not being a very big one this year. The early stages, crosswind splits, crashes … With a race the level of the Tour de France going to Holland, where there are 1,000 roundabouts, if there’s even a puff of wind, it won’t come out of it in one piece. That’s your first component.

The second component is obviously the cobblestone stage. The Mur du Huy is an interesting stage, and I don’t think the time gaps will be enormous on that, but it will be interesting to see who wins, and who are the guys in the top 10. Who are the guys that have the teams to position them at the bottom of the Mur du Huy? And then who can do a good climb? That will be interesting, but I’m not expecting big time gaps. And the cobblestones [stage 4] will have big time gaps. If it rains, even bigger time gaps.

And then, up in the north of France, more opportunities — crashes, splits … This is the way the Tour de France goes. It’s evolved a lot, even in my time, even since 2008 through now. If we go back to pre-2008, you’d have one team, maybe two teams, that were having five, six, seven guys pulling on the front to keep their team leader out of trouble. Now the Tour de France has six, seven, eight teams that are trying to do the same thing. And it’s changed the dynamic of the race, because you’re getting this constant drag race on the flat stages that, from a viewer’s standpoint, you might not even be aware of, but it’s gotten progressively more tense.

Then we get to the team time trial [stage 9]. Again, there will be some differences there, and that’s an indicator of whose team is strong and whose isn’t. I don’t think the differences will be enormous, but they are going to be there. And then the race becomes more straightforward; it’s just a horsepower race in the mountains.

VN: The team time trial could be pivotal. Whichever GC rider comes out of that with an advantage can ride defensively in the mountains. You can imagine a scenario where a team like Movistar excels in the TTT, and Quintana heads into the mountains without ever needing to go on the offensive.

JV: I’ve already stated that Quintana is my race favorite. I think he’s good in the crosswinds, he’s an excellent bike handler, he’s good in any conditions. If it’s hot, he’s good, if it’s freezing cold and snowing, he’s good. He only takes risks when he needs to, and he’s really good when he needs to be. I think he’ll be good on the cobblestones — not great, but good enough. If you’re looking at his major rivals, Froome, Contador, and Nibali, to me, of cobblestone riders, he’s the second best, with Nibali being the best. Movistar is going to go fast in the team time trial. And while I think there will be days where Froome and Contador will be better than he is in the mountains, I think that, over the full 10 days in the mountains … He doesn’t seem to have bad days. I put that together, and he’s my personal favorite.

VN: What do you think of Contador’s attempt at the Giro-Tour double, and what you saw from him at the Giro d’Italia?

JV: Yeah, well, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Contador, for sure. He was obviously pretty tired in the last week of the Giro, but then bounced back to win Route du Sud. That means he’s back on form, he’s not too fatigued. Contador has a good team for the crosswind stages, he’ll be reasonable on the cobblestones — not great, not bad. He’ll be good in the team time trial, not great. So then it comes down to Contador needing to be more explosive in the mountains than Froome and Quintana and Nibali on the mountaintop finishes. While I think early, in the Pyrenees, we may see some of that, I think the third week is going to be hard for him. Doing the double is one thing. He’s also a 33-year-old athlete doing the double, and not a guy who started racing later in life; he’s been racing since he was 13 years old, so there are some miles on the engine. If he’s going to have a problem, it’s going to be very late in the race.

VN: One of the riders that’s shown well in the lead up to the Tour is Tejay van Garderen, finishing second overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, behind Chris Froome. He was once a member of the Slipstream Sports organization. He’s now with BMC, which is a bit of a rival American squad … any regrets about losing him from the organization?

JV: I mean, it’s always a regret. We did everything we could to hold onto Tejay. Initially he went off to the Rabobank development team, and from there, on to HTC, but I’ve always had a keen interest in him, I think he’s a great talent. I remember meeting him when he was about 14, at the top of Mount Evans for the hill climb, which was one of the last bike races I ever did. He’d just won the Category 3 race, or maybe the junior race, and he was super enthusiastic, and super competitive, always very talented rider, knows how to deal with pressure. He’s just a solid competitor.

VN: What did you think about what you saw from him at the Dauphiné, as the only rider able to go up against Froome in the mountains?

JV: He definitely burned some matches, trying to pull off the victory there. He had to go deep, that last day, trying to hold Froome’s wheel. Of course, with the long history I have with Tejay, I was cheering for him that day. Listen, I think he’s going to do a good Tour de France. For him to be on the podium — and I would say the same for Talansky — for either of them to sneak into that second, third, fourth area, they’re going to need luck. They’re going to need to make sure that they are always in the front in the crosswind splits. They’re going to need to nail the cobblestone stage just right, and make sure they don’t have any untimely punctures. They can’t get sick. For both of those guys, to be hunting for the podium, they’re going to need luck, as any rider does, but for them, they’re going to need it to go perfectly for that to happen. And I hope for it, just for a reinvigoration of enthusiasm in American cycling. A rivalry between Talansky and Tejay would be good to see at the Tour de France.

VN: Let’s talk about the national road championship. This may be a sore subject, but it’s not the first time your squad has had several riders in the lead group late in the race without taking the stars-and-stripes jersey. This year there were three Cannondale riders in the front group, with Joe Dombrowski finishing second to Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing). It seemed as though Alex Howes was the fastest finisher in that group, but then we saw Dombrowski attack, and Busche follow. Those two worked together until Busche attacked late, and won, with Dombrowski second, and Howes fourth. What happened there?

JV: Well, listen, information is never perfect in races like that. We don’t have race radios. The guys even have trouble communicating amongst themselves. But Joe was working for Alex. Alex was not on a great day, he was on a mediocre day. The last time, after the big climb, Joe had to drop back and get Alex and drag him back to the front group. At that point and time, they had established the tactic that they wouldn’t just go straight for the lead-out, because Kiel Reijnen [UnitedHealthcare] was still there. So the tactic was to attack, and try to get a guy away, solo. The thing is, is that Joe, as incredibly talented and strong of a bike racer as he is, he has almost no experience being in a situation where you’re trying to tactically win a bike race. He sort of went from a basic level of racing to Team Sky in such a short period of time, and a lot of that was based on winning bike races by going up a mountaintop finish climb, fast.

VN: Dombrowski has been primarily — almost exclusively — a stage racer.

JV: Yeah, and so he did what he was supposed to do, he attacked, but he wasn’t by himself. And if you watch the footage, where the more experienced rider would immediately look under their shoulder and see they have a guy with them, and let up, Joe went a full 45 seconds, or a minute, and then he looked back and realized he had Busche with him. At that point in time he started sitting on him, but it was a little too late in the situation. So it was a bit of lack of experience. Again, Alex wasn’t feeling great. On a better day, he might’ve been able to respond to Busche, and then be in that group, but Alex wasn’t on a particularly great day. And then Kiel Riejnen had a puncture at that moment, and you could say that we could’ve just pulled hard to make sure he was gone, and then won it that way, but if you look, Kiel still beat Alex in the sprint [for third], so it wasn’t as cut-and-dried as it seemed. I think Joe learned from his mistake, and water under the bridge at this point.

VN: The team was off to a slow start this year, with a lot of young riders, and hadn’t really taken that big win until Davide Formolo won stage 4 at the Giro d’Italia. Not long after, Talansky won the national time trial championship. When you look at the first half of the season, how do you rank the team’s performances, through June?

JV: Yeah, it’s our slowest start ever, as an organization. Maybe 2008, we weren’t that great, other than the Amgen Tour of California, which started really early back then [in February]. We’ve had a very, very slow start to the season. We’ve had massive organizational turnover. As opposed to doing a hard, hard training camp in November or December, we went out on sailboats, because I felt like we had to get the social aspects of the merger sort of put to rest before we started concentrating on the task at hand. And that was very successful, but obviously I knew the early season might be a little rough for us, because we haven’t done a more typical build-up, into it. We have a lot of new riders who just don’t have experience, don’t have the foundation to be able to pop into form in the early part of the year. Races like the cobbled classics are 50 percent strength and 50 percent experience, and basically that 50 percent of experience was just eliminated on our team this year. We have a young team, and lot of enthusiasm. We had some bad luck, too, but as disappointed as I was with our slow start, it wasn’t entirely unanticipated. I think for the Tour de France, and the rest of the season, things are rolling in the right direction. We had two guys in the top 10 at the Dauphiné. The Tour de France squad looks strong. The power numbers that everyone is putting out are getting better. I’m confident that we’ll have a good Tour de France, and a good rest of the season, but it took six months to get the team to gel.

VN: Formolo’s stage win at the Giro must’ve come as a sigh of relief after such a slow start.

JV: That was a very major sigh of relief. He’s a great kid, and an unbelievable talent. He’s very determined. We selected him last-minute for the Giro, but it wasn’t really last-minute. We just didn’t want any pressure on him. We didn’t even want internal pressure from him. We just wanted him to do the Giro for fun. It was his first time, and he’s a 22-year-old kid. And we pulled that off by basically throwing him in at the last minute. He’s going to be an incredible rider in a few years.

Read part two of the interview >>

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Top 10 Twitter accounts to follow during the 2015 Tour de France http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/top-10-twitter-accounts-to-follow-during-the-2015-tour-de-france_375745 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/07/news/top-10-twitter-accounts-to-follow-during-the-2015-tour-de-france_375745#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:22:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=375745

Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) grabbed a quick selfie before the start of stage 10 in 2014. Twitter often lets fans hear the news straight from the riders themselves. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

If you want an inside look at the Tour de France, here are 10 Twitter accounts that are sure to give you all the juicy details this July

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Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) grabbed a quick selfie before the start of stage 10 in 2014. Twitter often lets fans hear the news straight from the riders themselves. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

As the Tour de France approaches, Twitter users will be carefully curating their feeds to be sure they are following all the right riders, teams, and analysts. As with so many things, events unfold in real time on Twitter, with unprecedented speed and access. For some, following along on Twitter as the race unfolds has become almost as commonplace as watching live TV footage. And while the official account for Le Tour focuses on live race updates, with accurate information in both French and English, it’s those from inside the caravan that are most interesting. Here are 10 you should be following, if you’re not already.

The GC contenders

Chris Froome (Sky)
431,000 followers
Of the four major GC favorites, Sky’s Chris Froome is the most active on Twitter. He’s the most open as well, sharing opinions, personal photos, and above all — as shown here in a reply to Peter Sagan — that he has a sense of humor. When he’s not staring at his stem on the bike, Froome is often staring at his Twitter feed off the bike.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo)
941,000 followers
Though his tweets don’t often disclose a whole lot — Contador remains as diplomatic on Twitter as he is in post-race interviews — he is a frequent tweeter in Spanish and English, and will be the most-watched rider in July as he attempts a historic Giro-Tour double.

 

The animators

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
400,000 followers
The rider known as “Spartacus” has also spawned a German-Swiss-English dialect endearingly referred to as “Fabianese.” The former world time-trial champion and leader of Trek Factory Racing, Cancellara’s blend of experience and authority has made him, at times, a de facto spokesman for the pro peloton, particularly when it comes to issues such as weather protocol and rider safety.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing)
14,000 followers
The young Australian and former Hour Record holder will be riding in support of American Tejay van Garderen at BMC Racing. And while van Garderen doesn’t update his Twitter feed often, Dennis is fairly regular with his, providing a glimpse inside the pro peloton.

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
249,000 followers
One of the biggest characters in pro cycling, Sagan’s Twitter account is a mix of sponsor-correct posts and (mostly successful) attempts at humor in a second language. When he’s winning races, Sagan’s account serves as a window into the world of the three-time green jersey winner; when he’s not, it tends to go quiet. (A parody account, Tweeter Sagan, has its moments of comedic gold.)

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal)
59,000 followers
The Australian workhorse has one of the most amusing Twitter accounts in pro cycling, keeping it light and entertaining as he pokes fun at the absurdities involved in the life of a pro cyclist. In May, he finished the Giro d’Italia, his 11th consecutive grand tour; follow along as this fan favorite makes his way through an attempt at a 12th.

Alex Dowsett (Movistar)
56,000 followers
The British national TT champion and former Hour Record holder will be starting his first Tour on July 4. He’s a regular Twitter presence, frequently joking about the inner workings of pro cycling. He’s also one of the few English speakers from the Movistar squad, offering insight into the team of GC contender Nairo Quintana.

The teams

Oleg Tinkov (Tinkoff-Saxo owner and manager)
193,000 followers
There’s perhaps no Twitter account in pro cycling watched more closely than that of Tinkoff team owner and manager Oleg Tinkov. The wealthy Russian businessman not only runs one of the most powerful teams in the sport, but he’s also the most outrageous and outspoken personality in the sport. Whether it’s boasting about his team or personal accomplishments or taking a swipe at other riders and teams — or his own riders — Tinkov’s account is so unpredictable and unfiltered that, when he first joined Twitter, many suspected it was a parody account. Rest assured, it’s not.

Jonathan Vaughters (Cannondale-Garmin founder and manager)
92,000 followers
A frequent Twitter user since its inception, Vaughters has been known to go off-script on social media from time to time, using the platform to criticize major power players in the sport such as Tour owners ASO and UCI management. He provides a singular insight into the Cannondale team, and also regularly engages with fans and journalists alike.

Etixx-Quick-Step
139,000 followers
Every team in the Tour has a Twitter account, but the Belgian Etixx-Quick-Step squad of Mark Cavendish, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, and Zdenek Stybar has, perhaps, the most thorough, and accurate, in terms of live race updates. And while no team account is perfectly objective, the Etixx account does the best job of providing impartial race information.

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Ian Crane back on bike, piecing life together after horrific 2014 accident http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/ian-crane-back-on-bike-piecing-life-together-after-horrific-2014-accident_374122 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/ian-crane-back-on-bike-piecing-life-together-after-horrific-2014-accident_374122#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:23:06 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=374122

Photo by Andy Bokanev, www.bokanev.com.

After a life-threatening crash at USA Pro Challenge 2014, Crane endured brain surgery and a long recovery, but now he's back on the bike

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Photo by Andy Bokanev, www.bokanev.com.

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Updated: Gilbert out of Tour de France amid conflicting statements http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/gilbert-out-of-tour-de-france-amid-conflicting-statements_374023 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/gilbert-out-of-tour-de-france-amid-conflicting-statements_374023#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:00:09 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=374023

Gilbert won a pair of stages at the Giro d'Italia in May, but said knee pain from a crash in April will keep him from starting the Tour de France in July. Photo: Jim Fryer | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

The decision comes days after Gilbert questioned if he still needed to earn a spot on BMC’s Tour team despite winning two Giro stages

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Gilbert won a pair of stages at the Giro d'Italia in May, but said knee pain from a crash in April will keep him from starting the Tour de France in July. Photo: Jim Fryer | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

(This story has been updated from its original version, following a phone conversation with BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz -Ed.)

BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert has withdrawn from the Tour de Suisse and will not compete at the Tour de France next month, the team announced Tuesday, citing a “small, non-displaced fracture on Gilbert’s lower leg.”

The announcement comes three days after Gilbert arrived at the start of the Tour de Suisse questioning if he was there to earn a spot on BMC’s Tour de France team, though he is fresh off winning two stages at the Giro d’Italia.

Gilbert told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday he was still waiting for word on his Tour de France selection, adding that it was affecting his mental preparation.

“It’s hard to motivate yourself when you have no insight into your program,” Gilbert told Het Nieuwsblad. “Do they want me there? I have heard nothing. You should call [BMC team manager Jim] Ochowicz. Do you have his number? I think this is already a very bizarre situation. No, I do not understand their approach.”

The former world champion intimated then that his pair of stage wins at the Giro, as well as finishing second in the points competition, meant he should not have to prove his form this week at the Tour de Suisse in order to be selected for the Tour de France.

“I’m not a neo-pro anymore,” said Gilbert, who turns 33 on July 5. “I have nothing more to prove, especially after my two stage victories in the Giro. [BMC Racing management] refuse to show me that confidence. I am fresh after the Giro, I climbed better than ever without having to overdo it. Furthermore, there are many opportunities for me in the first week of the Tour. I’m here [at the Tour de Suisse] to try to show that I’m good.”

However on Tuesday, a BMC team statement announced that a recent MRI had shown a small fracture to Gilbert’s postero-lateral tibia head, which led to knee pain. The team added that the fracture was “likely related to his crash at La Flèche Wallonne in April,” which came several weeks before his two Giro stage wins.

In the same statement, Ochowicz said he and Gilbert had spoken and mutually agreed the 2012 world champion would not participate in this year’s Tour de France, adding that the team was all-in for American Tejay van Garderen, who finished second overall to Chris Froome (Sky) on Sunday at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

“We had a productive and open discussion regarding his current health and the second part of his season and goals,” Ochowicz said. “The eight riders that we do select to support Tejay van Garderen will be chosen based on current health and performance. We want the best eight candidates at the start in Utrecht and right now Philippe is not at his best.”

Gilbert was also quoted in the team statement, saying that, while he was disappointed to miss the Tour, he is already looking ahead to big goals for the latter part of the season. (Audio recording can be heard here.)

“Of course, I was motivated for the Tour because it is going to pass in a part of Belgium and there is also the nice finish on the Mur de Huy,” he said. “But the Tour de France is every year. It is not like I am missing something like the Olympic Games. So every year you have a chance to do it and I have already done it a few times and have had a lot of success at this race already.

“Also, a big goal for me is always the worlds and Il Lombardia, which is one of the nicest classics of the season,” Gilbert said. “I know with these problems, I can maybe go to the Tour, but not at 100 percent. Even if I do this, I will finish the Tour completely empty and that will mean I will do everything — the Tour and the end of the season — at 80 percent. So at this point, I have to make a choice to skip the Tour. My first objective is to feel healthy again and not feel the pain anymore.”

Gilbert’s current contract with BMC runs through the 2016 season. He last rode the Tour in 2013. In 2011, he won the first stage and held the yellow jersey for one stage.

Reached by phone Tuesday and asked to explain the discrepancies between Gilbert’s statements on Saturday and BMC’s announcement, Ochowicz said that he didn’t care to directly address the Het Nieuwsblad story, but he acknowledged that the team had been waiting to see how van Garderen rode at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and how Gilbert rode at the Tour de Suisse, before making any decisions.

“I’m not going to address what Philippe may or may not have said to a Flemish journalist,” Ochowicz said. “I don’t even know what he said; there is no exact English interpretation that I know of. I’m not going to base facts on what some journalist at Het Nieuwsblad wrote, or try to clarify something I can’t read. I don’t need to know what was reported there. I sat in the hotel room with Philippe last night and discussed it with him.

“We see the Tour de France course in October, and we meet in December with the riders, and we talk to a certain group of them that the course suits,” Ochowicz continued. “It starts with 14 riders in December, and by the time you get here, maybe you have 11 or 12 of them who are healthy, and fit enough. These selections are difficult, and they are based on current physical condition, health, and performance. Even in Tejay’s case, he comes out of the Dauphiné in second place overall, after a close fight with Chris Froome, so some would consider him a favorite, but we were uncertain about Tejay, he had some problems in earlier stage races, some incidents that happened.

“We’re selecting people based on current health and performance. Philippe did a great Giro, but prior to that he had a serious crash at Flèche Wallonne. He was able to recover enough at the Giro, he had a great performance there, and the team helped him a lot there. We came out of the Giro with at least three or four candidates for the Tour that did the Giro, and we have to evaluate whether they’ve recovered from that, and that’s not something that happens the day after the Giro. An evaluation takes place. In Philippe’s case, we knew a week ago that he did an MRI, we knew something was going on there. The medical staff released him to do Suisse, but after a few days of racing, he didn’t feel comfortable about his knee. There was no point to push him into the Tour, when he still has the whole second half of the season, from San Sebastian to Lombardia.

“This year’s Giro was pretty tough, by all accounts, and Philippe just couldn’t get the feeling back to race, which is probably going to be the case with other people as well,” Ochowicz said. “There was no reason to bury him into the Tour de France, and maybe lose him for the rest of the season, when we have 11 or 12 candidates still standing.”

Ochowicz said that BMC Racing will be “100 percent wrapped around Tejay” at the Tour, adding that the team expects to announce its nine-man roster for the race sometime after the Tour de Suisse, which ends Sunday.

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Armstrong: I risk ruin in Landis lawsuit http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/armstrong-i-risk-ruin-in-landis-lawsuit_373424 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/armstrong-i-risk-ruin-in-landis-lawsuit_373424#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 22:47:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=373424

The legal battle between Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Department of Justice continues as the government calls Armstrong's claims "baseless." Photo: AFP PHOTO | Gabriel Bouys

Lance Armstrong admits he will risk financial ruin when his $100 million whistleblower lawsuit goes before a jury in the United States

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The legal battle between Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Department of Justice continues as the government calls Armstrong's claims "baseless." Photo: AFP PHOTO | Gabriel Bouys

LONDON (AFP) — Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong admits that he will risk financial ruin when his $100 million whistleblower lawsuit goes before a jury in the United States later this year.

The latest of the American’s many legal problems has seen his former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis, the man whose evidence helped to expose Armstrong’s doping offenses, bring a case to court for damages.

Due to the team being sponsored by the American postal service, the U.S. federal government has joined Landis in claiming $100 million, one third of which would be awarded to Landis himself for originally bringing the suit.

Armstrong, who revealed he has sought counseling following his public doping confession in January 2013, is confident of victory in the legal battle, but the fallen seven-time Tour de France winner concedes that he is worried.

“I mean, the whistleblower case is a $100 million case. If I lost, we would not be sitting at this table anymore,” Armstrong told a group of journalists, including AFP, at his home in Aspen, Colorado.”We wouldn’t be sitting in this home anymore. We wouldn’t be sitting in any home. I don’t have $100 million.

“We like our case is all I will say. I’m not going to jinx myself. But I don’t know. How do you guys see it? Say the jury says: ‘Pay up $100 million.’ Floyd Landis gets $33 million. Is everybody at this jury happy with that? I would think what everybody thinks — there’s no logic to that.”

Few athletes — few people — have ever suffered such a calamitous fall from grace as Armstrong, who inspired millions by beating cancer and going on to win one of the world’s hardest sporting events multiple times before being exposed for the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Looking like a fool

While he insists that he is not in the “dark place” that anti-doping former cyclist Christophe Bassons recently claimed he is, Armstrong does admit to seeking professional help.

“Counseling is so funny because people are like, ‘Are you weak or something?’ But we hire coaches in every other facet of life, whether it’s cycling, or another sport or business,” said Armstrong. “I have been going to counseling off and on for a while. And more and more lately, actually. We can all be better people. And God knows I could.”

Although the 43-year-old admits that he was “a complete dick for a long time”, he says he cannot apologize for everything.

“I’m not going to be sorry for certain things,” he said. “I’m going to be sorry for that person who was a believer, who was a fan, who supported me, who defended me, and ended up looking like a fool. I need to really be contrite and sorry about that. And I am. I’m more worried about Mary-Jane in Ohio, and Doug in Pennsylvania, or Liam in Birmingham, or wherever.

“Listen, if I could walk the world and face-to-face apologize, I would.”

Armstrong, who claimed he lost $75 million in sponsorship and endorsement income on the day he confessed to his serial doping three years ago, is also still in touch with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

USADA CEO Travis Tygart has offered a reduction in Armstrong’s lifetime ban from competitive sport in return for further cooperation. Armstrong believes such a lifting of the suspension is “highly unlikely,” but in any case, the Texan claims he has “nothing new” to offer Tygart.

Froome in crosshairs

Armstrong will return to charity work next month when he completes two or three stages of the 2015 Tour de France route for the Cure Leukemia organization. He continues to harbor regrets over the impact of his doping revelations on Livestrong, the charitable foundation he formed in 1997, which subsequently severed its ties with him.

“I see the negative side of it, real people really hurt by it,” he said. “I don’t have to make a case for me, but you can at least see what it’s done to the sport. I do know it had a real negative effect on the fact that Chris Froome or whoever, they’re still answering questions about some old guy. Sponsors left, races folded, the media totally turned.

“The industry, just look at the trend. You guys [in the British media] probably live in a bubble because Britain has ridden this wave behind [Bradley] Wiggins, Froome and Sky, but there’s been a lot of negative fallout.

“Most importantly, I can tell you exactly what happened to the Foundation, what a drop in fundraising [there was] which directly relates to helping real people. You are talking about an organization that was raising $50 million a year serving 500,000 people. So say they do $25 million, that’s still a lot of money, but they serve 250,000 people. Still a lot, but it’s 250,000 people without services. That’s a lot of people.”

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Tinkoff-Saxo management: Suing UCI over Kreuziger case ‘definitely a possibility’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/tinkoff-saxo-management-suing-uci-over-kreuziger-case-definitely-a-possibility_373179 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/tinkoff-saxo-management-suing-uci-over-kreuziger-case-definitely-a-possibility_373179#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 19:57:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=373179

Tinkoff-Saxo general manager Stefano Feltrin said the team has not ruled out suing the UCI over the Roman Kreuziger case. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Czech rider Roman Kreuziger may not be filing a lawsuit against the UCI or WADA for damages, but that doesn’t mean that his employer

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Tinkoff-Saxo general manager Stefano Feltrin said the team has not ruled out suing the UCI over the Roman Kreuziger case. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Czech rider Roman Kreuziger is not filing a lawsuit against the UCI or WADA for damages or to reclaim legal expenses, but that doesn’t mean that his employer won’t.

Kreuziger’s team, Tinkoff-Saxo, paid his wages throughout 2014, including several months that saw the Czech rider sidelined due to the UCI’s biological passport case, which was ultimately dropped on Friday, just days before it was to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The UCI and WADA have not yet offered any explanation as to what “newly obtained information” brought them to the conclusion that there was “no basis to proceed further.”

Tinkoff-Saxo voluntarily pulled Kreuziger from the 2014 Tour de France, but when he was not provisionally suspended by the UCI, the team attempted to enter him into competition at the Vuelta a España, which the UCI prevented with provisional suspension, which was upheld by CAS.

However that was overturned in September when the Czech Olympic Committee cleared Kreuziger of any wrongdoing, and he returned to racing for the final events of the 2014 season.

In all, Kreuziger raced 37 days in 2014, compared to 73 in 2013, 67 in 2012, and 65 in 2011. By contrast, he has already raced 34 days in 2015 and is expected to take the start at the Tour de France, riding in support of Alberto Contador.

In 2013, Kreuziger finished fifth at the Tour, one spot behind Contador. A rider of Kreuziger’s caliber — top five at the Tour de France, winner of the Amstel Gold Race, Tour de Romandie, and Tour de Suisse — can command a salary of over 1 million euros per season.

Further complicating matters, Tinkoff-Saxo paid Kreuziger’s salary while he was sidelined by suspect blood values that occurred in 2011 and 2012, when he was riding for Astana. Kreuziger signed with Tinkoff-Saxo in 2013, and was first notified of his questionable blood values just prior to the 2013 Tour de France.

Ultimately, during 2014 the Tinkoff team paid a seven-figure salary to a rider who was only able to participate in half of his normal race days, due to suspicious values recorded while a member of another team, in a case that was ultimately dropped with no explanation. And while missed racing days are measurable, quantifying damages to the team’s image is for less straightforward.

Asked if the team is considering filing a lawsuit, general manager Stefano Feltrin said that they were, but that there is much more to discuss.

“I have to say, we are carefully considering this possibility,” Feltrin said. “It’s definitely a possibility. But it’s not the most important aspect of this entire story. There is a lot more to learn form this story, hopefully a new way of dealing with these problems. This situation has obviously been of great impact on the team. We said a year ago that we believe the biological passport is a wonderful tool, but it can be improved upon. The problem is how you manage it.”

“The Roman Kreuziger case shows that it was poorly managed, and it created a lot of problems. We would like to understand what were the facts behind the decision to drop the case five days before the hearing. We would like to get the UCI’s view on the full story. We would like to understand how to deal with the huge impact this thing had on all people involved. Obviously Roman was the person who was most impacted, and I understand his position to move forward, to forget the whole story, but as a team we should consider what this meant for us, and how the UCI intends to deal with it. At the moment [a lawsuit] is a possibility. We are at the stage that we need to review the facts, and to understand the other party’s decision.”

Feltrin added that the team has not heard any more, from the UCI or WADA, on what, exactly, led to them dropping the case. “Only what they posted online,” he said.

“If you couple this with the Astana case, you have to ask yourself some questions,” Feltrin said. “This way of managing the regulatory aspect of cycling has an impact on all teams and race organizers. Last year the timing was terrible, asking Roman to pull out right before the Tour de France. The Astana case put the Giro d’Italia in jeopardy. What if their license had been pulled, in late April? What would have been the impact for the race? There is a need for a more transparent and coordinated way of managing the sport.

“Teams are already struggling desperately for survival because of the economic cost and difficulties in finding new sources of revenue and income. In other sports, the jersey-sponsorship model is an old model, but in cycling this is the only source of revenue, other than manual contribution from race organizers, merchandising, and hospitality. More than 95 percent of a team’s budget is covered by uniform sponsorship. And if you have uncertainty, if you have these difficulties on the regulatory side, you have a desperate battle for survival.”

Feltrin stressed that, while the Tinkoff team is considering suing for damages, it’s more interested in making sure no rider will again spend two years defending himself against a bio-passport case that is ultimately dropped.

“The money and economics has an impact, but it’s not the most important thing,” he said. “Seeking compensation for damages is possibility, but the bigger part is ‘how do we manage this in the future?’ I would be much happier to not seek compensation if I was told this would not happen in the future because of this, this, and this — if I was told that a team would not be put under scrutiny over what happened two years before a rider joined the team.”

Feltrin also pointed out to the damage done to the team when a person of authority, such as UCI president Brian Cookson, told Cyclingnews.com in August 2014 that Kreuziger’s bio-passport values showed “serious anomalies” that led UCI and CADF experts to believe there was “a very strong indication of manipulation.”

(In that interview, Cookson also agreed that bio-passport cases take “too long to resolve,” adding that the UCI would seek provisional suspensions, treating bio-passport violations as the equivalent of a positive A-sample drug test.)

“There were statements made that there was strong evidence of wrongdoing,” Feltrin said. “Of course, when it comes from up high in UCI management, it has an impact on the team. We all know those things are reflected on the team where the rider is at the moment, not where the rider was two or three years before. It’s a Tinkoff-Saxo rider. In their stories, journalists use photos of the rider who is under suspicion in the clothing of his current team, not the former team where the alleged violation occurred. Our team was nowhere to be blamed, but we took blame and criticism. Some of the regular haters, on social media, were saying ‘Oh, it’s no mystery why the UCI dropped the case — they took money from Tinkoff. Case solved.’ We’ve suffered from this, and that’s why it’s important that there is a lesson learned, and an assurance that it won’t happen in the future.”

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Kreuziger attorney: No lawsuits against UCI or WADA planned http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/kreuziger-attorney-no-lawsuits-against-uci-or-wada-planned_373005 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/kreuziger-attorney-no-lawsuits-against-uci-or-wada-planned_373005#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 18:18:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=373005

Roman Kreuziger, pictured hugging teammate Peter Sagan after a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, will not pursue a lawsuit against the UCI or WADA after they jointly agreed to drop their bio-passport case against the Czech rider. Photo: Iri Greco, BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Though he missed much of the 2014 season due to a suspension, Roman Kreuziger will not file lawsuit for damages or legal expenses

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Roman Kreuziger, pictured hugging teammate Peter Sagan after a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, will not pursue a lawsuit against the UCI or WADA after they jointly agreed to drop their bio-passport case against the Czech rider. Photo: Iri Greco, BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Though he missed much of the 2014 season due to a provisional suspension, and his name may well forever be associated with doping, Roman Kreuziger will not file a lawsuit for damages, or to reclaim legal expenses.

Jan Stovicek, the Czech attorney for Roman Kreuziger told VeloNews Monday that Kreuziger would not seek compensation or reimbursement. Stovicek successfully helped his client become the first athlete to avoid a sanction after facing doping charges based on the bio-passport system, which monitors blood values, and fluctuations, over an extended period of time and can trigger a sanction without a positive drug test.

“Roman took the position to drop all of this behind him. It’s history for him,” Stovicek said. “He’s happy it’s closed, he wants to look forward, to focus on racing, to the Tour de France this year. He doesn’t wish to bring up any claims, or any damages.”

The UCI sanctioned the Tinkoff-Saxo rider in 2014 for anomalies in his biological passport during two distinct periods — from March to August 2011 and April 2012 to the end of the 2012 Giro d’Italia — when he was riding for Astana.

Kreuziger was left off Tinkoff’s Tour de France squad last year due to the charges. He resumed racing last September after the Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of the charges, but the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) reopened the case a month later when the UCI appealed the Czech committee’s decision.

On Friday the UCI and WADA said in a joint statement that, “based on the availability of newly obtained information … [they] have come to the conclusion that … there is, at this stage, no basis to proceed further.”

The decision to drop the case came days before a CAS hearing, which was scheduled for June 10. A major part of Kreuziger’s defense was the explanation that his elevated reticulocyte count was due to taking L-Thyroxine for hypothyroidism, which, according to Kreuziger, was supported by his visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis.

Stovicek said that he did not know which specific piece of evidence had convinced the UCI or WADA, adding that the Czech Olympic Committee, which had initially requested Kreuziger visit the Mayo Clinic, sent his physical examination to CAS, the UCI, and WADA, in February.

“We don’t know, we didn’t get any official notification what was the new gathered information, so we can only guess,” he said. “The fact is we have been working on this case for a long time — me for one year, and Roman for two years. Over time we sent a lot of information, including six expert opinions on the explanation of his blood values, problems with how his samples were improperly transported, stored and analyzed, his polygraph results … and of course, Roman went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a famous institution, on the request of the Czech Olympic Committee, where he was physically examined. I think this element was important.

“In my opinion this is a question for UCI and WADA. We don’t know what made them decide, we can only guess that it was all the information we presented over time, since November, when it was presented in CAS proceedings. In my view it’s like a mosaic, you put it all together, and you have the results. Obviously we were convinced from the beginning that Roman never doped, but I can only guess what information caused them to withdraw the appeals.”

Asked if Kreuziger’s Tinkoff-Saxo team might take action to reclaim damages after paying his salary during missed competition in 2014, Stovicek said he did not know, and that he could not speak on behalf of the team.

“The position of the team may be something different, I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s reasonable to open court proceedings, to start a fight, it’s not really positive for anyone. For me personally, I share Roman’s view, he doesn’t want to waste more time, more money, more stress … he wants to focus on racing. I think it is in benefit of all parties to see it this positive way.”

Tinkoff-Saxo management had no immediate comment. Following Friday’s announcement, the team issued a statement that it would “evaluate the implications of this decision,” adding that “no further comments will be made at this stage.”

Stovicek said that he was very happy to have seen the case dropped, stressing that both he and Kreuziger view the bio-passport as an effective and important tool in combating doping in sport, but that cases need to be considered more efficiently so that athletes don’t miss large chunks of time during the process.

“I am very happy, of course, because the whole time I have been believing strongly in Roman, and because I knew how it impacted his morale, his psychology,” Stovicek said. “It’s not easy to compete when you are worrying about the future, so I’m glad that it’s over, it’s a big relief for Roman. Also, I’m glad that the bio-passport shows to be an efficient tool, and that it’s able to identify if people have doped or not doped. I think it will be a most important tool for the anti-doping fight. I think it’s very important to work with this tool to make it more perfect in its application; it will be crucial in future years.

“Our hope is that in the future we all will be able to develop application of bio-passport so that it is more efficient and can be enforced with shorter delays,” Stovicek added. “It’s something we all need to work with, but the application must be more efficient. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a long-term adjustment by experts, but maybe in time the application is more developed, and after more experience, it will be more efficient, with shorter delays.”

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One week before CAS hearing, Roman Kreuziger is a man at a crossroads http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/one-week-before-cas-hearing-roman-kreuziger-is-a-man-at-a-crossroads_372583 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/06/news/one-week-before-cas-hearing-roman-kreuziger-is-a-man-at-a-crossroads_372583#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 14:56:20 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=372583

At the 2012 Giro d'Italia, while riding for Astana, Roman Kreuziger sat fifth overall after 16 stages, but dropped out of GC contention on the Passo Giau on May 23, finishing 11:26 down on stage 17 winner Joaquim Rodriguez at Cortina d’Ampezzo. Blood tests from May 24 showed a significant rise in hemoglobin and a drop in reticulocytes. The sample was taken at 10:07 a.m. prior to stage 18. The following day, May 25, Kreuziger rebounded to win stage 19 at l’Alpe di Pampeago. Photo: AFP/Luk Benies.

On June 10, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will meet to decide the Czech rider’s fate, and the stakes could not be higher

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At the 2012 Giro d'Italia, while riding for Astana, Roman Kreuziger sat fifth overall after 16 stages, but dropped out of GC contention on the Passo Giau on May 23, finishing 11:26 down on stage 17 winner Joaquim Rodriguez at Cortina d’Ampezzo. Blood tests from May 24 showed a significant rise in hemoglobin and a drop in reticulocytes. The sample was taken at 10:07 a.m. prior to stage 18. The following day, May 25, Kreuziger rebounded to win stage 19 at l’Alpe di Pampeago. Photo: AFP/Luk Benies.

Roman Kreuziger is a man at a crossroads. On Wednesday, June 10, an arbitration panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, will meet to decide the Czech rider’s fate, and the stakes could not be higher.

Accused of using prohibited substances and/or prohibited methods, Kreuziger faces a ban from competition that could extend four years. And should the CAS panel rule in Kreuziger’s favor, the validity of biological passport program that UCI and WADA use to scrutinize biomarkers — enabling them to determine whether doping has taken place in the absence of a positive test — will be called into question. (On Friday, the UCI and WADA announced they would drop the case against Kreuziger -Ed.)

At the core of the matter is the accusation that Kreuziger’s blood values between 2011 and 2012, while riding for Astana, are consistent with manipulation, either through micro-dosing with EPO, blood transfusions, or both.

A high-profile rider with overall wins at the 2008 Tour de Suisse and 2009 Tour of Romandie, as well as the winner of the 2013 Amstel Gold Race, Kreuziger spent the 2011-2012 seasons with Astana before joining Tinkoff-Saxo at the start of the 2013 season.

Biological passport data taken from early April through late May 2012 — the period that Kreuziger prepared for, and competed in, the Giro d’Italia — shows a concurrent drop in hemoglobin and reticulocytes, followed by a spike in hemoglobin concurrent with a rise, and then dramatic drop, in reticulocytes.

During the final 10 days of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Kreuziger’s hematocrit rose from 43.2 to 48.1, finishing higher than his pre-Giro value of 45.1 — an anomaly, as most athletes see a decrease of hematocrit/hemoglobin “after physical effort of sufficient duration and intensity due to plasma volume expansion,” as the UCI attests; i.e., during the final 10 days of a grand tour.

A rise in hemoglobin and a drop in reticulocytes, or immature blood cells, can be indicative of blood transfusions, as the body shuts down creation of its own red blood cells. A higher than expected hematocrit and elevated reticulocyte percentage can also be indicative of the use of EPO to artificially stimulate production of red blood cells.

Kreuziger argues that he has never exceeded the limit values in his biological passport; part of his defense is that his elevated reticulocyte level is due to the prescription drug L-Thyroxine, which he takes for hypothyroidism. He has never tested positive for doping.

Whichever way the CAS panel swings, it will be the end of a long saga that Kreuziger has called “Kafkaesque.”

The UCI first notified Kreuziger in June 2013 that its Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CAFD) regarded his data as suspicious. He went on to finish fifth at the 2013 Tour de France, one position behind Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Alberto Contador.

In October 2013, Kreuziger provided the UCI with two exculpatory medical opinions he had requested, but in May 2014 the governing body informed him that it did not accept his explanation for the passport abnormalities. He followed up with a third opinion arguing that the fluctuations in his profile could not be attributed solely to doping methods and that the conclusions of CAFD’s Experts Panel “had limited scientific supporting evidence.”

Tinkoff-Saxo sidelined Kreuziger from riding the 2014 Tour de France, but when the team attempted to start him at the Tour of Poland and Vuelta a España last summer, the UCI handed him a provisional ban. Kreuziger appealed, with CAS upholding the provisional suspension.

On September 22 the Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of any wrongdoing, and after sitting out much of the season, Kreuziger raced the season-ending one-day events at Lombardia and Paris-Tours. The UCI and WADA appealed that decision, meaning that next week’s hearing will be the second time Kreuziger’s case will be heard at CAS, one year, 11 months, and 14 days since his first contact from the UCI about his biological passport discrepancies.

Last fall, the Czech rider posted his blood values online, dating back to 2007, and followed up with a trip to the Mayo Clinic, in the U.S., to prove that he suffers from an under-active thyroid. In January he passed a lie-detector test administered in Prague by British specialist Terry Mullins, claiming that it supports his innocence.

Kreuziger is now home in Pilsen, about 90km southwest of Prague, after riding in the service of Contador as part of Tinkoff-Saxo’s winning squad at the Giro d’Italia. Though he’s finished in the top-five overall at both the Giro and the Tour de France, Kreuziger did not ride at that level last month. He finished 28th overall, and was not able to support Contador in the mountains during the crucial final week of the race.

Though his CAS hearing follows the Giro by two weeks, Kreuziger did not speak with the media about his case in May, instead choosing to focus on the race. He agreed to do an interview with VeloNews once the race had finished. He also updated his website on Wednesday, one day after the interview, stating, “I consider the biological passport to be an excellent tool. However, clear rules must be set for its use. What purpose do the limit values serve if a person can be accused, like me, without reaching these limit values?”

Kreuziger’s defense has worked before, at least in front of his national Olympic Committee. It’s also been rejected, by CAS, although that was based on a provisional suspension from competition prior to a sanction, rather than based on a conclusive four-year ban. Which way CAS rules next week will prove pivotal — for Kreuziger, the UCI, WADA, and the future of the sport.

(Full disclosure: Because English is not his first language, and because of the sensitive nature of his upcoming hearing, Kreuziger and his attorney, Jan Stovicek, asked that all questions be presented via email, before the phone interview, and that he have an opportunity to review his quotes before publication to be sure his answers were understood clearly. Though unconventional, VeloNews agreed, under the condition that it had final editorial control. Kreuziger answered all questions put before him, and though a few of his responses where slightly revised via email, the changes were made solely for clarification; in no instance was the tone or direction of any of his answers significantly altered.)

VN: Are you nervous about the upcoming CAS decision?

RK: Of course I’m nervous. This is not just about my professional career, it’s about my future; it’s about my life. It’s already been a long time, since Corsica at the 2013 Tour de France, almost two years, so it’s been very long. On the other hand, I’m very happy that it’s going to be decided. I’m self-confident, and I’m happy I will soon know the final decision. For me it’s very important to have the decision. It’s never easy to perform while also thinking so much about the future. It’s nice to have family around you … I have a daughter now, and I’ve passed the time with my family. It recharges the batteries; it’s another form of motivation. Sport is important, it’s my life, but with family you understand what’s really important. In addition to my family, I’ve also received a lot of support from the fans, there are many on my side.

VN: How have you been received in the pro peloton since you returned to racing?

RK: When I came back [in October 2014], I had not been in the peloton since the Tour de Suisse [in June]. That was a long period, but I was always focused to get back to the races, and I kept my level high. In terms of the peloton … when you are in the races, everyone has something to do. You are with team, and everyone is motivated for the races. I didn’t speak about it with anyone. Last year Bjarne [Riis] was there, so we spoke, but with the other guys, I kept it out of the conversation. I was nice to get back to racing, to speaking about racing, and the races, and not about the case. It was not the time to speak about it, at the dinner table.

VN: You’ve been in the top 10 of a grand tour on four occasions since 2008, but at the Giro d’Italia you were not riding near the same level as in years past. Why not?

RK: I did everything to be in the best shape for the Ardennes, those races were my goal for the season. I expected the CAS hearing before the Giro d’Italia, so I wasn’t originally thinking about Giro. Last year I didn’t do a grand tour, so I was missing that in my legs. I would say I was performing well for the first two weeks. Then, after the stage 14 time trial, I had a small tear in my gluteus muscle. I was not used to being on the time trial, especially for so long [59.4km]. It was so tight the osteopath couldn’t even massage it. After the TT, I was almost not able to walk. Then, on the stage to Aprica, with the Mortirolo, I had stomach issues, and I was almost not able to eat for three days. The stages that finished in Cervinia and Sestriere were really hard for me. When you have diarrhea and fever, it’s very hard to recover.

Overall I’d say my level at the Giro was okay. At a grand tour, it’s a very [high] level, and the racing every day was full gas. I’ve never done such a hard grand tour; it was really intense every day. There was never one day easy, you can ask any rider and they will confirm it. And then I had my issues, first at the time trial, and then my stomach issues. It’s not nice for me to be in the grupetto, but I had high moral, and I wanted to finish. We had Alberto [Contador] in pink and it was important to finish with the whole team, with all nine riders, and the guys were all very supportive of me.

The race was really hard, and not just for me. I’m a bit more like a diesel, and last year I did less races due to the short suspension in July, until I was cleared by the Czech Olympic Committee. I missed the Tour and the Vuelta. I used to do two grand tours each season, this year I did many one-day races, and with the engine, you can train all you want, but race pace is always a little different.

VN: You say that you condemn doping and cheating in sport. What do you make of what’s happened with your former team, Astana, with its WorldTour license being brought into question over the winter, followed by several highly impressive performances by the team at the Giro d’Italia?

RK: I think it’s easy … If you look at the list of riders from Astana, they’re not really specialists for classics, they were almost all climbers for grand tours. I think they came with a strong climbers team, and they did really well, much better than others expected. If you have 15 riders in the front group, and there are six from Astana, sure, it was surprising. They were there, they did a lot of work, but they didn’t win. They had many strong people, but you need to have the right tactic to be there with the best.

As far as the team’s WorldTour license … It’s not for me to comment about Astana, how they get their license or not. If anyone did something wrong, the investigators should go in and understand what’s wrong and bring it into the light.

I think it’s good to be more open, like I’m doing with my case, so that everyone can see what’s happened. I would not like to put suspicion on Astana. It’s true they perform really strong. There are so many climbers — riders like Tanel Kangert, and Dario Cataldo — and on other teams they would also perform well. I think Astana just organized their preparation well for the Giro d’Italia. I hope that their A group is not going stronger than their B group at the Tour de France, because the level of the B group at the Giro d’Italia was really good.

VN: A major part of your defense is the explanation that your elevated reticulocyte count is due to taking L-Thyroxine for hypothyroidism. Are you still taking L-Thyroxine? And if so, is your reticulocyte count still elevated?

RK: Yes, of course, I have been taking it for 10 years. I increase the dosage every two years. If I were a journalist, sitting behind a computer, it’s still something I would have to take. It’s not something you can be without; it’s something your body needs, whether you are an athlete or an everyday, average person. I have been increasing the dosage every two years. I started with 50 micrograms per day, now 125 micrograms. It’s something in the family, both of my sisters have it as well. And I would say that my reticulocyte count isn’t elevated. It’s still a little bit higher than normal people have, but just a little bit on a higher level.

VN: Part of your defense is that you maintain you have kept “within the parameters” of the biological passport. However a recent study by France Télévision’s “Stade 2” micro-dosed athletes with EPO, and although they received a performance benefit, their values also weren’t outside biological passport parameters; the notion behind micro-dosing is to gradually change blood values so that they don’t raise alarms in the passport. How do you respond to the notion that an athlete can cheat while staying “within the parameters”?

RK: It’s true, I read about the study, and it’s very alarming. I think they should use the study to improve the passport, and catch the liars. There are many factors involved, you have to have many dates, and many tests, to analyze everything individually. In the bio-passport, you have to have clear rules, not just “highly likely.” And this is not just for cycling but for all sports.

I underwent tests at Mayo Clinic, on request of the Czech Olympic Committee. I underwent a lie-detector test. For 10 years I have suffered from hypothyroidism. My passport is clear. I am open. I published all the details. Everyone can see on my website. I hope people look there to see that I am a clean rider.

What can I do more now to prove I am innocent? I did all my best to clear my name. Now it is up to judges, I do firmly believe that common sense will prevail.

I can repeat what I’ve said many times, yes, I condemn doping. I participated in two Olympic Games, and maybe it’s old-fashioned, but to me, the Olympic Charter is not just a piece of paper. I hope that common sense will prevail. I have done everything I have been able to do. My conscience is absolutely clear. I hope that in Lausanne, the judge, the committee, will check it over well. Over the next week I’m sure I will become more and more nervous. I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s still something serious when you go before a judge, you don’t know what you can expect.

It’s been a long fight, and I hope to show my innocence, so that I can continue with my job, as a bike racer, which is something I’ve loved since I was a child.

VN: Whatever the ruling is, it will be a big decision for you, personally, but also for WADA and the UCI, which are both deeply invested in the success of the bio-passport system. There are major implications for both agencies should you be cleared of any wrongdoing.

RK: It can happen that, you look at numbers, and make a determination, but they should also listen to the explanation, like with me, and my use of Thyroxine. There are two parts to this, the tests, and also the explanation. I’ve said many times I did nothing wrong. Nobody else has shown all their tests and all of the dates. I have nothing to hide, and I wanted that everyone can see all the numbers. And I have to stress out: The biological passport is a great tool and I fully support it. But clear rules need to be set.

Of course it’s difficult, but with the support I’m getting, people can see this is something strange. And if I should win, it’s not against the bio-passport, it’s just that everyone has to look at everything in close detail. But I’m relaxed, the arguments are on my side.

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Dombrowski content, if not satisfied, with fourth overall at California http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/dombrowski-content-if-not-satisfied-with-fourth-overall-at-california_371141 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/dombrowski-content-if-not-satisfied-with-fourth-overall-at-california_371141#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 21:17:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=371141

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) had a strong ride in stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California, the queen stage, which climbed Mount Baldy.
Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The Cannondale-Garmin climber rates his California performance as "Okay. Not bad. Not great.”

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Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) had a strong ride in stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California, the queen stage, which climbed Mount Baldy. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Ask Joe Dombrowski how he would rate his performance at the Amgen Tour of California, where he finished fourth overall, and he sounds like someone asked to describe an unremarkable meal or movie.

“It was okay,” Dombrowski told VeloNews. “Not bad. Not great.”

Dombrowski, and the Amgen Tour, returned to Mt. Baldy last week for the first time since 2012, where the young American had his breakthrough ride while a member of the Bontrager-Livestrong team, finishing fourth on the stage at age 21. He went on to win the GiroBio that year, ahead of Fabio Aru (Astana), and signed a two-year contract with Sky, however he lost much of the past two seasons due to a weakness in his left leg that was ultimately diagnosed as Iliac Artery Endofibrosis. Dombrowski had surgery in August, and spent the second half of the 2014 season recovering. He signed with Cannondale-Garmin in September.

Though he raced the Amgen Tour last year in support of overall winner Bradley Wiggins, this year was to be Dombrowski’s first attempt at a GC result in California since his 2012 breakthrough. He arrived in Sacramento proclaiming he was “fit and fast,” but picked up what he believes to be the same virus that forced teammate Andrew Talansky to withdraw on the first stage.

On Baldy, Dombrowski was in the lead group of three riders until Sergio Henao (Sky) launched an attack that prompted a race-winning counterattack by Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step). Dombrowski finished fourth on the stage, passed by American Ian Boswell (Sky) in the final kilometer. He finished the race fourth overall, 37 seconds off the final podium.

“Overall, my performance was, I think, good,” he said. “Looking at it in the broader picture, it was successful in some regard, because coming off the last few years, with my health problems, putting together a real GC result is a step in the right direction for me. In that regard, it was successful. I wouldn’t say I went out and smashed it. I got a little bit sick during the week. I think Andrew Talansky was the first to get it, and then it passed around our team. Overall, my Tour of California was … alright.”

Asked to compare his time on Baldy to his 2012 ride, Dombrowski said they were quite comparable, though he said the circumstances of the hilly stage where much different. In 2012, Chris Horner, down on the classification, was on the move in the breakaway, forcing GC teams to chase up Glendora Mountain Road and across the ridge on a hot spring day. In 2015, the breakaway held no danger men, with Tinkoff-Saxo looking to preserve Peter Sagan as long as possible before the steep slopes of Baldy.

“Time-wise, it was about the same as in 2012,” Dombrowski said. “It wasn’t as hard of a stage this time. We rode the other climbs much easier than in 2012. We had a pretty big group over the first climb. The pace wasn’t quite as on as it was when Horner was in the breakaway. On that stage it was intense all day, like a European-style mountain stage. This time around it was slower-paced until we hit Baldy. Time-wise it was about the same, but the stage as a whole, was ridden easier. And last time it was hot, this time was kind of cold, actually.”

Dombrowski said that he averaged around 375 watts, or 5.7-5.8 watts per kilogram, on the final 5km — the steepest slopes of Baldy. (He weighs 143 pounds, or 65 kilograms.)

“As you may have seen on TV, I had a pretty big drop in power around 3-4km to go,” he said. “I went from feeling pretty good to not feeling very good. Around the last 25 minutes we were doing 5.7, 5.8 watts per kilo. Nothing amazing. Altitude comes into play a bit, at least at the top there, and that varies from rider to rider. Alaphilippe was maybe closer to 6 watts per kilogram.”

Like many American pros, Dombrowski is taking his a week’s worth of California fitness to this weekend’s USA Cycling national road championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Joining him from Cannondale-Garmin will be Talansky, Alex Howes, Ben King, and Ted King.

For Dombrowski, it will be the first time he’s raced a professional national championship.

“I’ve looked at the course profile, but I’m not familiar with it” he said. “I haven’t ridden it. It sounds like there is a climb every lap that, if ridden hard, is moderately selective.”

Though Cannondale will bring five strong riders, Dombrowski cited the “strange dynamic” that WorldTour riders can face when racing nationals against full domestic squads.

“First off, it’s nationals, and everyone wants to win,” he said. “There’s teamwork, of course you want to see your teammate win nationals, but every rider that starts, it would be nice to win. That’s combined with fact that, often times, full domestic squads, like a SmartStop or Jelly Belly, have an entire team at the race, where maybe BMC has two or three riders in the race. It can be hard for WorldTour guys to overcome that. If it’s a selective group and it comes down to playing the numbers game, you can only follow so much.”

Last year many pointed to Howes as having been the strongest rider in the field, though he finished a disappointing third. He’ll return as a top favorite.

“The course doesn’t seem to stand out to suit any one kind of rider in particular, but given the nature of the race, and the way nationals often races, it’s kind of a toss-up. If had to guess, someone who can climb and has a good kick at the end would be good bet. Obviously, the harder they go on the climbs, the fewer sprinter-type of riders will be there in the final. If I were to name someone as a favorite, I’d say Alex Howes would be a good bet. He won’t get dropped on the climb, and he can win a sprint out a group of 10-15.”

After nationals, Dombrowski said he would head to the Tour de Suisse, and possibly the Tour of Austria, before the Tour of Utah, and then the Vuelta a España. He’s also hoping to be selected to USA Cycling’s world championship squad, as the worlds will be held in his home state of Virginia.

“I’d love to do worlds, being from Virginia, this year would be cool,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll know whether I’ve been selected until a few weeks before the race. I would love to do it, but it will depend on how the latter part of my season goes, how everyone else is going, and what they are looking for in terms of team support and in terms of a leader.”

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Oss on California KOM: ‘We were on the dance floor, so we danced’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/oss-on-california-kom-we-were-on-the-dance-floor-so-we-danced_370991 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/oss-on-california-kom-we-were-on-the-dance-floor-so-we-danced_370991#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 16:44:10 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=370991

Daniel Oss picked up a bass guitar to celebrate taking the KOM jersey. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The tall Italian, a 176-pound sprinter and classics star, joked that it was the first KOM jersey of his career, and “maybe the last one”

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Daniel Oss picked up a bass guitar to celebrate taking the KOM jersey. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

PASADENA, California (VN) — It wasn’t a particularly hilly route for the Amgen Tour of California this year, but it still came as a surprise to see BMC Racing’s Daniel Oss, a 176-pound sprinter and cobbled classics star, standing on the final podium wearing the king of the mountains (KOM) jersey.

The tall Italian, who took the opportunity on the final podium to pose with a bass guitar, joked afterward that it was the first KOM jersey of his career and “maybe the last one.”

After spending the second stage in a four-man breakaway, Oss first donned the KOM jersey following stage 3 when he rode in the breakaway with eventual stage winner, and race leader, Toms Skujins of Hincapie Racing.

Oss swept the first three KOMs on stage 3 before Skujins sailed off to a solo victory on Mt. Hamilton. Oss took second across Mt. Hamilton, and with Skujins wearing yellow, the Italian assumed the KOM jersey that belonged to the young Latvian rider.

“We were in the breakaway, and we arrived at a good point for the [KOM] classification,” Oss said. “We were on the dance floor, so we danced.”

After Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the stage 6 time trial and took the race lead, Skujins traded the yellow jersey for that of the KOM leader. But the following day, the queen stage, offered three opportunities for KOM points. When Oss made it into the day’s breakaway and Skujins did not, the jersey was his. In total, Oss spent more than 10 hours — 200 miles — in front of the peloton over the 700-mile, eight-stage race.

“I was looking for good condition, to see what I could do, and also to do something for the team,” Oss said. “It’s strange to see an 80kg [176-pound] rider in the KOM jersey, but the race went in a good way for me. I went in a breakaway on a day when there was a lot of KOMs, and I accumulated a lot of points. I arrived in second place for this jersey, and then we fought until the last day. Why not?”

Oss said he would next race at the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Italian road national championship, and then the Tour de France.

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Plot twist: Peter Sagan’s unlikely path to California supremacy http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/plot-twist-peter-sagans-unlikely-path-to-california-supremacy_370677 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/plot-twist-peter-sagans-unlikely-path-to-california-supremacy_370677#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 14:12:19 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=370677

Peter Sagan rode to a surprising overall win in California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Sagan surprises everyone by staying close to the climbers on Mt. Baldy and then delivering the GC win on the final stage

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Peter Sagan rode to a surprising overall win in California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

PASADENA, California (VN) — The chain of events that led to Peter Sagan’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) overall victory at the Amgen Tour of California Sunday in Pasadena were as thrilling as they were unexpected.

The road to Sagan’s improbable victory began with five straight podium finishes, and the time bonuses each brought. His path to the top step of the classification was accelerated by a snowstorm and a venue change that dramatically suited his strengths. What followed was an impressive display of man against mountain, finally ending at the Rose Bowl with a bike throw and a photo finish.

It was an exciting, unforeseen conclusion to a story that seemed to begin with just a few major characters, and little room for a plot twist.

One of the things that set this year’s Amgen Tour of California apart from every other edition was the fact that there was no real pre-race favorite in the peloton.

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) was on hand and fresh off three sprint wins at the Tour of Turkey, all but assured to take several sprint victories against a sprint field that had seen Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) and Ben Swift (Sky) cancel their flights due to injuries and illness. Sagan was back for a sixth straight year, looking to add to his tally of 11 stage wins and five straight green jerseys. But on the GC side, there just wasn’t the same firepower.

Dutch rider Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the only returning champion in the field, but his fitness was questionable due to a knee injury sustained earlier this season.

The same was true for American Lawson Craddock (Giant), who finished third overall in 2014 but missed much of the spring season due to numerous broken bones sustained in a crash at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.

Young French rider Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx) was coming off a revelatory spring, including a second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but he was unproven at weeklong stage races and also on long, sustained climbs.

Colombian Sergio Henao (Sky) was viewed as the most likely GC favorite, largely based on his second overall to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in early April.

The long, steep climb to the summit finish of Mt. Baldy on stage 7 was always going to be the most decisive in the race, with the flat 15-mile time trial in Big Bear Lake on stage 6 the next-most important for the general classification.

For the first few days, everything seemed to follow the script. Cavendish won the first two sprints and took the race lead. Stage 3 brought a minor plot development, and a fresh new character, when Toms Skujins, a young rider on the Hincapie Racing development team, soloed to victory and the race lead. Sagan delivered an uphill sprint to win on stage 4, and Cavendish made it a hat trick on stage 5.

But when race owners AEG Sports and organizers Medalist Sports were forced to relocate the stage 6 time trial due to a snowstorm in Big Bear Lake, the narrative tilted in Sagan’s favor.

What first seemed to be a logistical nightmare for the Amgen Tour organization — just imagine reassigning 500 hotel rooms in 24 hours — ended up rewarding them with the most thrilling finale a race organizer could conceive. The entire general classification was decided on the final stage, in the final sprint, and by a photo finish, with Sagan finishing three seconds ahead of Alaphilippe.

If one were to tally all of the bonus seconds earned by Sagan and Alaphilippe over eight stages, the French rider actually covered the 707 miles faster — Sagan earned a total of 32 bonus seconds over the week, while Alaphilippe earned only one. But that’s ultimately immaterial, as both men raced over the same course, with the same rules in place.

Rather than bonus seconds, it was the 10km time trial at Magic Mountain, a short, technical course that demanded equal parts power and bike-handling prowess, which changed the game.

Sagan’s victory on that stage, and the time gaps he opened — 45 seconds over Alaphilippe, and another 10 on Henao and Gesink — gave him motivation to attempt the unthinkable, to try to stay within contact of some of the best climbers in the sport on a 7km climb with an average gradient of nine percent.

Alaphilippe showed his class by responding to Henao’s acceleration at 4km to go with a winning counterattack, while further back, Sagan muscled his way up Mt. Baldy, pedaling at a much lower cadence than the much lighter climbers. And though he was suffering, the Slovakian champion never gave up the chase, sprinting across the line and collapsing at the finish. He ceded his GC lead by just two seconds.

With bonus time on offer on the final stage — at one intermediate sprint as well as on the finish line — the entire eight-stage race was going to come down to bonus seconds. And while Alaphilippe did his best, finishing third in the intermediate sprint behind Cavendish and Sagan, it proved an impossible task in the end.

Sagan was the next-best sprinter in the field, and though he barely managed to finish third at the line, in a photo finish with Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), he’d done just enough to deliver the Amgen Tour its most thrilling finale in 10 editions.

“We really tried, but give credit to Tinkoff-Saxo,” Cavendish said. “They were strong, and they rode well. Even when they all finally exploded, Peter just chased things down on his own, he was still there. He really wanted that. He’s been consistent, he was on the podium every day, and I think, finally, he deserved it. We’re obviously disappointed but we tried everything, they tried everything, and they came out on top.”

On the final GC podium, the muscle-bound classics rider was flanked by a pair of lean climbers. With the exception of Mt. Baldy, where he finished sixth, Sagan had stood upon the podium every day of the race. Alaphilippe would have to be content with a stage win, second overall, and the best young rider’s jersey — on top of Cavendish’s four stage wins and the points jersey.

“It was so close today, but I feel good,” Alaphilippe said. “At the finish Mark Cavendish won the stage, and that’s good for the team. It’s a good experience for me, for sure. I’m a little disappointed about the general classification, but it’s already been a good performance from me. And it’s Peter Sagan in front of me, so…. I’m really happy about my victory yesterday, and today, one more time with Mark. It’s been a good experience for me. I’m really happy.”

And for Sagan, whose spring classics campaign delivered no victories, he seemed as surprised as anyone that he proved to be the central character of this year’s GC battle.

“I never imagined this. It’s a surprise. I think for me, and for everybody, this is a surprise,” Sagan said. “I was just riding for stage victories, day by day, and then I was in this situation to do well on the climb, and not lose too much time, and then today, here, I finished third, and… there you have it. I’m very happy. It’s crazy. But this is cycling, sometimes you have luck, and sometimes you lose. I’ve said before, cycling is very difficult, but it can also be very nice.”

The 2015 Amgen Tour of California also served as a reminder — Sagan’s story is far from finished.

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Alaphilippe in yellow, but Sagan poised to win California overall http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/alaphilippe-in-yellow-but-sagan-poised-to-win-california-overall_370549 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/alaphilippe-in-yellow-but-sagan-poised-to-win-california-overall_370549#comments Sun, 17 May 2015 02:14:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=370549

Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe on the climb to Mt. Baldy.
Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Peter Sagan will stand on the overall podium of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday in Pasadena. But which step will he stand upon

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Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe on the climb to Mt. Baldy. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

ONTARIO, California (VN) — Barring disaster, Peter Sagan will stand on the overall podium of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California on Sunday in Pasadena. But which step will the Slovakian national champion stand upon?

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider surpassed all expectations on the steep slopes of Mount Baldy Saturday, nearly preserving his 45-second lead over young French phenom Julian Aliphilippe (Etixx-Quick-Step), who won the stage and now leads the race by the slimmest of margins — just two seconds.

Sagan stayed within himself and fought all the way across the line to stay within 47 seconds of Aliphillipe; he finished sixth on the stage, ahead of top climbers like Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo).

It was a performance that was as phenomenal as it was unexpected. On Friday, after joking that he’d won on the last-minute 10km time trial course at Magic Mountain because the race organization had “designed a course just for me,” Sagan said that the only way he could stay in yellow on Saturday was if the race organizers would, again, “design a course just for me.”

The final stage of the race is short — just 65 miles. And with bonus time on offer at one intermediate sprint as well as the stage 8 finish line, Sagan is very much the favorite to win the overall.

The intermediate sprint, which comes at the end of the first of nine three-mile circuits in Pasadena, offers bonus time of three, two, and one seconds to the top three across the line, while the final sprint offers ten, six, and four seconds to the first three finishers.

Though Alaphillipe’s teammate Mark Cavendish has proven to be the fastest sprinter in this race, winning every field sprint he’s contested, Sagan also won a reduced bunch sprint, twice finished second to Cavendish, and once finished third, proving he’s the next-best sprinter in the field.

Most importantly, Sagan doesn’t need to beat Cavendish to win the overall — he simply needs to pick up enough bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint or finish in the top three at the finish, and he needs to finish ahead of Alaphillipe as well.

And while it’s a safe assumption that Cavendish will win both sprints, it may be, in some ways, a moot point — there are 16 other teams in this race, and it’s likely a breakaway will go clear, something Etixx will very much encourage. But even if a breakaway should gobble up the intermediate sprint bonus time, Sagan would still only need to finish second or third in the final sprint (and ahead of Alaphilippe).

What’s certain is that the Etixx leadout train, and specifically Cavendish’s leadout man Mark Renshaw, will be on high alert Sunday; they will be, literally, “defending the jersey,” with everything on the line in one final, frenetic day of racing.

However there is no guarantee that Sagan will still have the legs to sprint at his best after smashing the 10km time trial at Magic Mountain on Friday, and then climbing out of his mind on Mt. Baldy on Saturday. The toll of those efforts was apparent as he crossed the line on Baldy, as he nearly collapsed, and was wheezing heavily for several long seconds.

“I wanted to be in the front in order to secure my position in the GC as much as I could, in view of Sunday’s fast stage,” Sagan said. “I did my best and everything will now be decided in the sprints. We will aim at the overall victory.”

And while it might be a stretch to say that Alaphilippe’s post-race comments were conceding defeat, it certainly sounded as though he realizes that fending off Sagan will be a difficult task, bordering on impossible.

“It won’t be easy to defend my position,” Alaphilippe said. “It is clear Sagan is faster than me, so we will see tomorrow what will happen. I don’t want to put pressure on myself for the GC.

“For the stage, I think we have to go with our original plan to try and win with Mark. He’s won three stages already and is going really well. Then we will see if we can defend the yellow jersey. If not, it won’t be the end of the world. We have won four stages here so far out of seven. I had the best young rider jersey going into this stage, and Mark has the points jersey. So, we’ve already done plenty here, and we are simply trying to add to what we’ve already accomplished. The 2015 Amgen Tour of California will be a race I never forget.”

The same could be said for Sagan if he takes the overall win, which would be the most significant GC victory in a palmares that has primarily consisted of stage wins, points jerseys, and spring classics victories such as Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke (he has two overall stage race wins, both in 2011, at the Giro di Sardegna and Tour of Poland).

It’s certain Sagan will stand on the GC podium in Pasadena. Will it be on the top step? Smart money says yes.

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