News – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:44:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News – 32 32 Chad Haga Vuelta Journal: Secret coffee and a birthday flat Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:36:17 +0000 After 10 days of racing in Spain, Chad Haga gets a break. But this race is made better by his secret coffee routine, special team

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A 10-stage block of racing before the first rest day in the Vuelta a España is a tough way to kick things off, but having survived it, the feeling of being nearly halfway done and still have two rest days is very nice, indeed. My legs were getting a bit tired there for awhile!

But grand tours are a test of mental as well as physical stamina, and I thought the Vuelta had broken my mind a few days ago when the sense of deja-vu came over me. “We were just here,” I assured myself, worried that I was losing it. I pulled out my race book and looked at the map. Relief came when I saw that after a week of touring Spain, we were indeed right back where we started.

So there’s your rest-day update: I’m not physically or mentally cracked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m slowly losing my mind to the grand tour vortex, but that’s more to do with the race’s theme song than anything else. The Vuelta organizers have forced us to choose between a good start position or our sanity: The song is about two minutes in length and plays on an endless loop at the start line. I’m going to hear that synthesizer flute in my dreams for weeks!

It’s not my first grand tour, though, and I’ve finally gotten smart. In anticipation of the mental fatigue, I brought along my secret weapons: Enough dark chocolate for a few nibbles per day and my mobile coffee kit. As an early riser and a lover of fine coffee, nothing cracks me faster than long mornings (our races usually start at 1 p.m.) with terrible coffee, so I made an investment in my mental health.

HagaCoffee kit
My shoebox of happiness

Some riders take the highly sought-after single room in grand tours (nine riders instead of the usual eight) by brute force in the form of snoring, or through the unfortunate case of sickness. I played the long game, showing my directors in three grand tours that not even a month of late starts can alter my up-with-the-sun schedule. It finally paid off when I landed the single room here, so that my odd schedule wouldn’t disturb my teammates. Then Warren [Barguil] got sick and abandoned, we downsized, and I’m back to my morning ninja routine as I escape from the room in semi-darkness. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

The racing, I can assure you, has been hard. WorldTour racing is always hard. Combine it with unrelenting terrain and oppressive heat, and you’ve got a recipe for a very tired peloton. I enjoyed a day in the breakaway on stage 4, managing eighth place with a strong ride, somehow fighting off cramps in the final kilometers. It was refreshing and motivating to finally be fighting for the win again, just making me that much hungrier. I’ll keep trying, but first I needed a few days to recover from the effort.

I celebrated my 28th birthday on stage 7, but a poorly timed flat ended my chances of contributing to the team’s sprint goals on one of the few stages that even slightly resembled a normal sprint opportunity. To cap off a disappointing day, that night’s hotel was a 2-star truck stop — the kind of place that made me very glad for our new mattress and pillow sponsor and mobile AC units, and the soigneur who hauled it all up two flights of twisting stairs. We were all on the bus early the next morning, hastily exiting through the lobby-slash-convenience store. It’s not always a glamorous life, but thankfully that was our only 2-star hotel for the Vuelta and we get three nights at a 4-star resort over the rest day to help us forget.

My belated birthday present came the next day, when the Vuelta served up a gentle all-day tailwind on flat, wide roads. Even including the 20-minute “spin” up the 20-percent grade of La Camperona with my 32-tooth cassette, I averaged 160 watts for the day. The easiest grand tour stage I’ve ever had, by a long shot!

Then there are stages like yesterday’s, where it looked for awhile like we would keep attacking until the feed zone. It seems that with a rest day within reach, we’re all willing to light every match in the book. The rampant success of breakaways only makes the fight harder!

The best rest days are the ones that come before you need them, and I’ve made the most of mine. Now the race really gets down to business as we start working our way around the country, and I’ll fend off the grand tour stupor with great coffee, some chocolate, and, if things get really desperate, a map. If only I could persuade the sound tech to change the track …

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First Ride: Giro Cinder helmet Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:14:22 +0000 Giro's Cinder is a good helmet at a good price. It looks good and fits great, but riders who live in consistently hot climates might want a

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FLIMS, Switzerland (VN) — At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the new Giro Cinder helmet for Giro’s popular Synthe, but the Cinder is a different beast entirely. For starters, this MIPS-equipped lid comes in at a much lower price point — $150, compared to $270 for the MIPS-equipped Synthe  — and there are a few subtle stylistic changes. The Cinder is a great choice for riders who love the Giro fit and aesthetics, but don’t mistake this helmet for a Synthe replacement, especially if you prefer lots of venting.

The Synthe MIPS is my go-to helmet, so I was excited to try out the Cinder and see how it compared. In terms of fit, the two feel very similar, likely due to the Roc Loc 5 retention system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here: Giro’s retention system is the best on the market, and the Cinder reaffirms that notion. The Synthe, however, uses the Roc Loc Air system, which, unlike the Roc Loc 5, keeps the helmet slightly off your head for improved airflow. This turned out to be a bigger difference than I had anticipated.

Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari |

It wasn’t until I started grinding up a sustained, 40-minute climb in the unusually grueling Swiss heat that I found a real issue with the Cinder: It doesn’t vent nearly as well as the Synthe does. To be fair, there wasn’t a breeze to be found, and I was battling midday sun. But even on the long descents that preceded that leg-busting climb, the lack of airflow through the helmet and over my head was noticeable. Smaller vents and the difference in Roc Loc systems seem to really set apart the top of the line Synthe from this more affordable Cinder. I can see the Cinder being an easy helmet to reach for on chilly mornings, but during the heat of summer, it might be best left on the shelf.

Aesthetically, the Cinder looks very cool. It’s got that same svelte style as the Synthe, but the rear of the helmet differs slightly, with swooping lines instead of the Synthe’s pinched look. The Cinder also has a slightly larger head form than the Synthe, so it will look a bit bigger on your head. I actually didn’t notice the bigger head shape until someone pointed it out, though.

Despite those concessions, the Cinder is a good helmet at a good price for a MIPS-equipped brain bucket. It looks nice and fits great, but riders who live in consistently hot climates might want to drop the extra cash for the more airy Synthe.

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From wheelchair to start line: Malori returns to WorldTour Tue, 30 Aug 2016 18:03:12 +0000 In the course of one year, Movistar's Adriano Malori has gone from nearly paralyzed to racing again in the Canadian WorldTour races this

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Is Adriano Malori afraid? Seven months after a crash at Tour de San Luis, which almost paralyzed him, the Italian returns to the WorldTour peloton at GP de Quebec and GP de Montreal, September 9 and 11. Perhaps he is, but not for the reasons you might imagine: “I’m afraid I’ll start crying as I roll to the start and see all the riders there, the finish banner — all the atmosphere around a race, where I wanted so badly to be.”

During a season plagued by tragic crashes, such as the death of Antoine Demoitie in Gent-Wevelgem, and Stig Broeckx, who remains in a vegetative state after another motorcycle-caused crash, the Italian’s story stands out as one of hope and recovery.

Stage 5 of that Argentinian race in January might have held opportunity for Movistar’s Malori, silver medalist at world time trial championships the season prior. Instead, at 65kph, the 28-year-old hit a rough patch of road and crashed into seven months of recovery and rehabilitation, which he says changed his life for the better.

After taking almost one month to regain consciousness at a hospital in Argentina, with a face full of titanium plates, Malori returned to Europe with his girlfriend, who’d immediately flown to his side days after the crash. But the gravity of his injury was still opaque to the three-time Italian TT champion.

“I took for granted that I would have that shoulder operated and would be back for racing in Tirreno-Adriatico,” he says. “After all, my leg was slowly getting back to move … I wasn’t thinking that anything was going wrong. Then, that doctor opened my eyes about the reality: ‘Adriano, we’re not operating you. We don’t have to. The problem with your shoulder is that your brain has been disconnected from the right-hand side of your body.’ Disconnected. I just couldn’t bear those words. I spent a whole hour crying, to exhaustion, completely hopeless.”

Malori’s rehabilitation began at Centro Neurológico de Atención Integral (CNAI), near Pamplona, Spain. For two months he spent about five hours a day doing therapy. He soon added rides on a stationary trainer to the regimen.

Photo: Movistar Team
Photo: Movistar Team

“I came into the center half-paralyzed, on a wheelchair, and I left on 28 April on my own, having even gone on bike rides few days before being released,” he says. Thinking the progress would continue, Malori returned to his hometown, near Parma, Italy. But he continued to struggle with mobility in his right side and realized about a month later that he’d have to return to CNAI to complete the rehabilitation. “The only thing I wanted was to be a professional athlete again,” he adds.

Throughout June and July he ignored the Tour de France, married his girlfriend, and working diligently at the CNAI for periods of two weeks with trips home to Italy in between. And on August 5, he left the facility for good, confident, but also with a fresh perspective.

“When you’re admitted to the CNAI and soon improve a lot, till the point that you get up from the wheelchair in just 10 days, regaining strength in all parts of your body — then, you look in the eyes of people around you, who are taking the same efforts but don’t improve, and you, who were feeling worse than them, you’re ‘overtaking’ them at full speed — they look at you with eyes that you never forget,” he recalls. “They don’t admire you because of being a Movistar Team rider, wearing that expensive watch, or having an amazing sports car. They just admire you because you’re able to move. That really changes your views on everything. That brings a tear to our eye. And you start giving things their real value.”

With a number pinned on in Quebec in early September, Malori may shed another tear. But after his 2016 ordeal, he says there are no fears or doubts: “I’m more than ready.”

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FSA unveils its new group: Wireless (mostly) and electronic Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:52:27 +0000 Global Cycling Network takes a close look at the new FSA K-Force WE. This drivetrain is partially wireless.

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Stetina stays with Trek – Segafredo for two more years Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:20:47 +0000 American climber Pete Stetina extends his contract with Trek – Segafredo for two more years, looking to be fully recovered from traumatic

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One year and four months — that’s how long it has been since Pete Stetina, 29, crashed into an unmarked metal traffic post in Spain, breaking his right tibia, patella, and four ribs. If his consistent 2016 season — including second place in the Amgen Tour of California’s queen stage — wasn’t proof enough that the climber has recovered, Tuesday’s announcement that he’ll race with Trek – Segafredo for two more years is clear confirmation.

“I’m beyond excited to continue with Trek – Segafredo. They believed in me when I was sidelined last year, and loyalty means a lot to me,” Stetina said in a team statement. “I will finish this year content, but not satisfied. If you had told me last year, while I struggled to walk, that I would recover my leg strength, show my potential in the California mountains, and race the Tour de France as a high mountain domestique, I would have taken that deal in a heartbeat!”

Stetina is likely to be more valuable as a top support rider in the mountains with the arrival of Alberto Contador in 2017 to the ascendant Trek team. The American squad, which brought on co-sponsor Segafredo coffee company in 2016, has also bolstered its classics line-up with John Degenkolb, who will aim to fill Fabian Cancellara’s shoes, as the Swiss strongman retires this autumn.

For his part, Stetina wants to ride for his own results in the coming seasons, in addition to his work as a domestique.

“But I am still hungry: I missed that big result. I’ve already got an eye toward 2017, when I can have a normal winter training, and not play catch-up all spring but actually race in the front. As usual, I’ll take my chances in one-week races especially in the USA, and support my Trek – Segafredo teammates in the high mountains of the WorldTour and grand tours.”

Trek – Segafredo also announced that Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu would continue with the team through 2018.

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Defiant Contador vows to go down swinging, takes swipe at sprint rules Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:58:14 +0000 Alberto Contador accuses race organizers of hyping up crashes that leave GC riders injured and off the back, says he'll fight on a the

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GIJON, Spain (VN) — A defiant Alberto Contador vows to go down swinging in this Vuelta a España, but first insisted that cycling organizers must reconsider the dynamics of sprint finales.

Contador’s hard crash in Thursday’s sprint finish, a day ahead of three decisive climbing stages severely handicapped his GC options. On Monday’s uphill finale at Lagos de Covadonga, he paid the price, and ceded so much time that he considers his chances of overall victory as “limited.”

“Looking back, maybe I should have been more cautious. Sometimes I am too impulsive, but that’s me. I cannot change the way I race,” Tinkoff’s leader said during a rest-day press conference Tuesday. “We are very far back on GC, and the chances for victory are small.”

Contador couldn’t hide his frustration about the impact his Friday fall is having on this Vuelta. The veteran Spaniard crashed out of the Tour de France in July in similar fashion, and put everything on the line to be in top condition to take on Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Sky’s Chris Froome on home roads in Spain.

Contador came into the Vuelta looking sharp, but hitting the deck in a high-speed impact came at the absolute worst time. His body is covered in scrapes and bruises, and he’s been racing with physio-tape wrapping up his left leg and arm. The day after the crash, Contador posted a series of blistering comments on Twitter about how dangerous the sprints have become. When asked Tuesday, Contador expanded his thoughts, even suggesting that race organizers use crashes to promote their events.

“Cycling in the past few years has changed. Before, the GC riders used to stay back, but now there are some who seem to try to take a few seconds in the sprint finishes,” Contador said. “I am not one to criticize the tactics of others, everyone can do what they want, but what is true is that the sprinters don’t want us [GC riders] fighting for position with them in the sprint.

“These are moments of a lot of tension, and it creates a lot of risk. Is it a spectacle when a GC rider goes home as a result of a crash?” Contador continued. “You see the promotion videos of races, they always include the crashes of the previous edition. If the spectacle of the race is the crash, perhaps we should think about this.”

Contador’s comments have revived the debate about how to manage the finish line sprints. Several years ago, the UCI moved the “safe zone” on flat finishes to three kilometers to go, meaning that anyone crashing or suffering a mechanical would not lose time if they were inside the main pack.

Alberto Contador entered the 2016 Vuelta as an odds-on favorite, but so far, he's had nothing but misfortune. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Alberto Contador entered the 2016 Vuelta as an odds-on favorite, but so far, he’s had nothing but misfortune. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Riders are criticizing the time splits that race juries impose on splits in the final kilometers. Rules state that if there is a gap of one second between riders, the race jury can consider that a split in the bunch, and take time gaps. Differences are not taken from the last rider to the next, but rather from the first rider in the group to the first rider in the trailing group, meaning that splits can be several seconds even for a small splits in the bunch caused when a rider sits up after pulling for a sprint. Race juries are wildly unpredictable about how they impose gaps, so that’s why the GC riders are so nervous about staying near the front of the peloton.

“Maybe the UCI needs to reconsider these rules about splits,” said Tinkoff sport director Steven De Jongh. “If there is a true split in the peloton, a time split should be taken, but make it five seconds, not just a small gap when a rider might lose the wheel.”

Contador’s comments on Twitter generated a lot of reaction, including some criticizing him for trying to be too close to the front of the peloton during the sprint.

“People can say what they want, but the majority of the peloton thinks like I do on this topic,” Contador said. “Every day we risk our lives in the sprints. I am not going to be the one to carry the banner to change the rules, but at the minimum, we should reflect upon this question.”

In the meantime, Contador will try to revive his chances in this Vuelta. Now fifth overall at 2:57 back, he admits it is unlikely he can topple Quintana and Froome to win, but that doesn’t mean he is throwing in the towel, either.

“I am going to try to give the maximum,” Contador said. “I realize that I am three minutes behind Quintana, and he is demonstrating that he is in great form. I am glad there is some difficult terrain ahead of us, but many of the stages only feature one hard climb. I will continue in the Vuelta, not just to race, but to try to do something.”

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Dombrowski’s Vuelta: Fetch bottles, hunt for stage wins Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:12:53 +0000 The American is helping escort his Cannondale – Drapac teammates across Spain but also has a stage win on his mind.

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — American Joe Dombrowski of Cannondale – Drapac is warming up to the Vuelta a España as the race enters its second week in northern Spain. And ideally so because he says it is time for him to win a grand tour stage.

Dombrowski escaped Monday with teammates Pierre Rolland and Moreno Moser, but nothing came of it. The Vuelta, though, offers many more chances.

“I was really close [to winning a stage] a number of times in the Giro and I would love to do it here,” Dombrowski said. “Much like the Giro, before stage 10 or so, I didn’t really do anything. I was there helping, but nothing on my own. I hope it’ll be similar to this year. We don’t have big mountain stages, but I think things will open up more when we get to the latter half of the race.”

Dombrowski and his green-kitted teammates will spin around Asturias during Tuesday’s rest day and look over the road book to see the stages to come.

Monday’s stage to Lagos de Covadonga was the first long finishing climb in the race and showed the intentions of Dombrowski and Cannondale. In the coming weeks, he could target the Aubisque and Aramón Formigal stages.

“Thus far it’s basically been two items of business for us. Andrew Talansky is here for GC, so we are looking after him and then the rest of us are all looking for stages where we can,” Dombrowski said. “There’s nothing that has suited me super well yet. Once we get into the latter half of the race, there should be more opportunities for me.”

Australian Simon Clarke, who joined Cannondale from Orica-GreenEdge this year, will organize the troops on the road and perhaps play a role in Dombrowski’s success. Though the sport directors supply information before and during the stage, Clarke orchestrates his and his teammates’ movements.

“He has a good understanding of where the most efficient place in the bunch is. He is always switched on,” Dombrowski said.

“One thing that he does that I think is good for us is that he gives people specific roles. Typically, he will come up to you once the break has gone and give you a job for the day. It’s amazing what giving someone a specific set of instructions can do because then they can just focus on that.

“For example, maybe you have a rider who isn’t great in fighting for position and it’s more costly for him to be fighting for position all the time versus set backing and then when they need to be, ride at the front. Simon is very good at that and a very good motivator.

“My job is to get in the breaks and if not, getting bottles and jackets if the weather is bad and just sticking around, especially for a mountaintop finish to help Andrew.”

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New Stages GPS computer and online training platform Tue, 30 Aug 2016 04:01:49 +0000 Stages enters the GPS market with the Dash computer, designed to work closely with the company's new Link online platform.

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Stages Cycling announced two new products, the Dash GPS computer and Link online training platform, to complement the company’s wide range of crank-arm-based power meters. The single, streamlined system promises to simplify data collection and analysis for athletes and coaches while offering online coaching and education to enhance training.

“When a rider buys a power meter, they’re looking for something more than a number — they have a goal,” said Pat Warner, SVP of Stages Cycling. “This new Stages ecosystem enables all riders to maximize their performance and meet their goals, with a simple and intuitive interface featuring unrivaled customization, and training programs that learn and adapt from each rider’s unique characteristics and achievements.”

Stages’s new Dash GPS computer is loaded with customizable features and data fields. The head unit can change between landscape and portrait views and a split screen feature allows for elevation and workouts to be displayed alongside real-time metrics. As you’d expect from a power meter company, the computer is optimized for detailed training metrics and workout plans. Using the Link online platform, athletes can wirelessly download on-screen workout descriptions to the Dash and receive automated on-bike ride prompts.

3 wide with logoDash Computer Features:

  • Bluetooth and Ant+ power meter and device pairing
  • Automatic FTP and zone updates when paired to Stages Link training program
  • Data field customization with five screen options and 16 fields per screen
  • Rechargeable battery with micro USB
  • Compatible with third-party Ant+ and Bluetooth sensors

As of right now, the Dash computer does not have turn-by-turn navigation. Users can use Stages Link to load course files on to the Dash, which will plot as an overlay on the breadcrumb trail. Stages plans to add push notifications from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to support turn-by-turn navigation in the future.

Home screen calendar with workout quick view opened copyStages’s cloud-based Link training platform pairs with the company’s Dash computer and power meters. Through the online website and smartphone app, athletes can create goals, schedule workouts, and create custom training plans that continually recalibrate based on their performances.

The program captures power files wirelessly from the Stages Dash computer or other Ant+ or Bluetooth devices and will keep your FTP zones up to date based on your daily training date.

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Americans Abroad: Guarnier locks up WorldTour title Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:30:16 +0000 Megan Guarnier has wrapped up the Women's WorldTour overall with a fifth-place finish in France. Also, Americans impress at Tour de

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Welcome to this week’s edition of “Americans Abroad,” our weekly check-in with the American pros in the European peloton. VeloNews will publish these updates every Monday throughout the season.

With only one race remaining on the Women’s WorldTour calendar, the Madrid Challenge, American Megan Guarnier has sewn up the overall title in the inaugural season of the WWT. She sprinted to fifth place Saturday in the GP de Plouay-Bretagne behind surprise winner Eugenia Bujak.

For Guarnier, 31, and her dominant Boels – Dolmans team, the 2016 season couldn’t have gone much better. She won the overall at the Amgen Tour of California and the Giro Rosa, repeated her national championship title, and won the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.

Ian Boswell (Team Sky)

With his teammate Chris Froome sitting third overall after stage 10 Monday, Boswell is working as a super domestique in the Vuelta a España, in 63rd place overall.

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale – Drapac)

Dombrowski, a man for the mountains, got into the stage 10 breakaway, working to set up teammate Pierre Rolland for a shot at the win. The 25-year-old American was 54th after Monday’s stage to Lagos de Covadonga.

Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data)

Farrar has been on domestique duty in Spain, but his teammate, Omar Fraile leads the mountains classification at the Vuelta, so there could be more work ahead for the veteran sprinter. Farrar was 171st overall following stage 10.

Chad Haga (Giant – Alpecin)

Riding his second grand tour of the season, Haga has been seeking out breakaway opportunities, making the move in stage 4. After Monday, he was 109th on GC.

Ben King (Cannondale – Drapac)

Also in the breakaway on stage 4, King rode to third place that day on the uphill finish won by Lilian Calmejane. Heading into Tuesday’s rest day, King was 50th overall. Read more about Ben King >>

Kiel Reijnen (Trek – Segafredo)

Reijnen has been riding in support of his teammates, who’ve racked up a few top-three finishes so far this Vuelta. The versatile sprinter from Washington was 134th overall after Monday. Read more about Kiel Reijnen >>

Alexis Ryan (Canyon – SRAM)

Ryan raced GP de Plouay-Bretagne, finishing 44th while her teammate, Elena Cecchini, sprinted to second place in France.

Carmen Small (Cylance)

Also at the France WWT race, Small made the winning move along with Guarnier and sprinted to seventh.

Evelyn Stevens (Boels – Dolmans)

Stevens rode to 63rd place at GP de Plouay-Bretagne.

Andrew Talansky (Cannondale – Drapac)

Talansky was the top American in the overall at the Vuelta, 12th on GC after stage 10. He’s been riding consistently on the race’s early summit finishes, but has yet to mix it up at the front.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)

Van Garderen sat in 131st overall at the Vuelta after Monday. His Colombian teammate, Darwin Atapuma, held the overall lead for four days in the first week of the race.

Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling)

Warbasse has been active in the Vuelta breakaways, making the stage 4 move with his fellow Americans and finishing 11th that day. Like King, he’s trying to secure a 2017 contract. Warbasse was 38th overall after stage 10.

Tayler Wiles (Orica – AIS)

Wiles finished 61st at the Women’s WorldTour race in France on Saturday.

Tour de l’Avenir

Neilson Powless put an exclamation point on a strong showing for the Americans at the sport’s most prestigious under-23 race, winning the final stage in France and placing 18th overall. His teammate Adrien Costa was third on GC after eight days of racing. William Barta ended the week 43rd, Logan Owen was 55th, and Sep Kuss finished 103rd.

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Froome has his hands full against fresh rivals at Vuelta Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:56:14 +0000 This Vuelta a España sees a different version of Froome. The stubborn and tenacious qualities of his character are coming into play.

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — This isn’t the Chris Froome who is blowing everyone out of the water. This isn’t the Team Sky that is railing it over the climbs to leave opponents frustrated and exasperated.

This Vuelta a España sees a different version of Froome. The stubborn and tenacious qualities of his character are coming into play. Outgunned by Movistar, and outclassed by a superior Nairo Quintana, Froome is refusing to buckle. And it’s potentially setting the stage for a wild second half of the Vuelta.

After a hugely successful season that included his third yellow jersey and his second Olympic medal, Froome is digging in when conventional wisdom might suggest lying on the beach instead.

“At this point in this season, coming after the Tour or the Olympics, I’m just hanging on to what I have left,” Froome said. “I’m trying to get through the best I can.”

On Monday, Froome revealed just how hard it is to crack him. Quintana had him on the ropes early on the Covadonga climb, but Froome did not panic, despite falling nearly one minute off the pace. He used his teammates in expert fashion, patiently reeled in faltering rivals, and ended up finishing third on the stage, just 25 seconds behind Quintana.

“I climbed at the best pace that I felt the most efficient way to get up there according to how the legs are feeling,” Froome said. “Obviously, Nairo is in great form, and we’ve seen that in the last few days. I have to be happy with where I’m at and just to keep doing my thing.”

After climbing to third, now at 58 seconds back, Froome is facing a Quintana full of confidence who is also refusing to let down his guard. With a long time trial waiting in the final week, it’s Quintana who is calling Froome the favorite to win the 2016 Vuelta at the race’s midway point.

“It’s a big gap,” Froome said of his difference to the Colombian. “If I can get more time back that would obviously be ideal, but if not, I will have to make do with what I have. … I hope that over the next few days I will find an opportunity to go for it, or just to defend the position that I’m in, and wait for the TT.”

The Froome of late August is a very different rider than what we’re accustomed to seeing in the middle of July, but we have seen him before. The Froome of late summer has kicked, clawed, and scraped his way onto the 2014 Vuelta podium in similar fashion. This year, he is still holding out hope that he can become the first rider to win the Tour-Vuelta double since the Vuelta was moved to the latter part of the racing calendar in 1995.

“Chris is feeling better as the Vuelta unfolds, and I think he will be stronger in the final week,” said Sky teammate David Lopez. “After the Tour and the Olympics, it’s natural that he is not at his best level. He’s had the travel, the time differences, and a lot of commitments, but he is here fighting. I believe that he can win. That is what we are racing for.”

Froome is never one to give up, and to beat Quintana, he might have to throw the Team Sky playbook out the window and race on instinct. Already Tuesday, Froome was forced to improvise, and the results were fascinating.

“Yes, it was good for the morale but also at the same time, I was hearing on the radio that Quintana was a good 40 seconds up the road, that was pretty tough, too,” he admitted.

“[I was] not necessarily riding by numbers but riding on feeling today, just riding with what I felt I could do on the climb in the most efficient way to get up there, not to lose every more time,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe if I’d gone, really pushed myself at the beginning, I would’ve lost even more time. I felt like that was the quickest way for me to get up there today.”

Whether that is quick enough for victory or another podium remains to be seen. Quintana knows he needs more time on Froome before the time trial. How much is hard to say. It sets the stage for a thrilling matchup between the peloton’s top two riders for the second half of the Vuelta.

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Wary of a stubborn Froome, Quintana wants more time Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:06:26 +0000 Quintana content to ride into Vuelta's first rest day with the red jersey, but he's wary of Froome, who lurks in third overall, riding

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — Three minutes. That’s how much time Nairo Quintana wants on Chris Froome before he can breath easy in the 2016 Vuelta a España.

The Colombian climber blew apart the peloton and cracked Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador on Monday to reclaim the red leader’s jersey in a dramatic climbing stage up Lagos de Covadonga, but Sky’s Froome stubbornly fought back after getting gapped early to keep his GC aspirations alive.

Quintana won in dramatic fashion, and took red going into Tuesday’s first of two rest days. Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde slotted into second overall, 57 seconds back, and Froome scraped his way into third, lurking at 58 seconds back. With a 37km time trial waiting in Calpe on stage 19, Quintana knows he needs more time. How much?

“Three minutes,” Quintana said. “Froome is still very close, especially when you look at what lies ahead, so we have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, to distance him even more. If we arrive with these same time differences, he remains the big favorite.”

That means one thing: Quintana and Movistar will keep attacking. That’s good for fans and media watching the Vuelta, but bad for just about everyone else in the race.

“As it is now, I consider Froome the number-one favorite,” Quintana continued. “I find it difficult to understand his racing style, but little by little, we are understanding the tricks of his strategy, and we hope to find the way to open even more advantage to him.”

Movistar was intent on taking it to Froome and the other GC rivals in one of the Vuelta’s most famous climbs. Despite the arrival of the Angliru climb in 1999, the Lagos de Covadonga has been the climb of reference in the modern Vuelta. Some of the biggest names have won atop the climb deep in Spain’s Picos de Europa, and Quintana was motivated to add his name to the list.

Movistar ramped up the pace over the Cat. 1 Mirador del Fito to ensure that a big breakaway that included Joe Dombrowski and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale – Drapac) would be reeled in. Only Robert Gesink (LottoNL – Jumbo) would make things complicated, finishing second in the stage at 24 seconds back.

Movistar’s Ruben Fernández took big pulls that spit Froome out of the back of the GC group on the lower ramps of Covadonga, and at one point, the three-time Tour champion was almost one minute behind the attacking Quintana. Contador initially tried to follow Quintana, but went too deep too soon, and got popped on La Huesera sector, some 800m at 10 percent, and ceded 1:05 to Quintana on a day when he couldn’t afford to lose more time to the favorites.

Photo: Tim De Waele |
Photo: Tim De Waele |

“The climb turned out too long for me,” Contador lamented at the line. “I took a gamble to climb with Nairo, and it didn’t work out. My legs could not manage the final kilometers. I hope to rest tomorrow and try again Wednesday.”

Quintana even shook off a crash early in the stage, when the peloton jammed up as the breakaway was still trying to from. Quintana was knocked to the ground, but as he’s been doing so far in this Vuelta, he got right back up, and has been the top climber through the first half of the race.

“I feel pretty banged up, so I hope it doesn’t cost me,” Quintana said of his crash. “I have some scrapes on my elbow, hip, and knee. Thank God, tomorrow we have a well-deserved rest, and I can try to recover a little bit.”

Despite the close call, Quintana finds himself in the enviable position of being ahead of Froome, instead of behind, like he has been during the three editions of the Tour de France he’s raced against Froome. And his Movistar team is clearly stronger than Sky so far in the race. Quintana is a rider who feeds off confidence, and when things are going well, it is hard to knock him off balance.

“We hope things continue like they have. I am back in the leader’s jersey. I had very good sensations, and I had a lot of motivation to win this stage. I always dreamed of winning this stage, and I did it today,” he said. “It’s better to be ahead than behind. I have always been confident about my capacities. During the Tour de France, I wasn’t in top health, and I was suffering. Here, so far, I have had no problems at all, and I can race at my full capacities.”

Tuesday is the Vuelta’s first of two rest days, and then it’s right back at it, with the short but very steep Peña Cabarga climb in Santander.

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Vuelta: Reijnen puts in hard miles for Trek teammates Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:37:20 +0000 American Kiel Reijnen is racing the first grand tour of his career and said he's enjoying the experience in Spain.

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — American Kiel Reijnen is putting in the hard miles at the Vuelta a España, his first grand tour, while working for his Trek – Segafredo teammates.

This grand tour will likely set up Reijnen for the coming year when the American WorldTour team takes on a new dimension when classics star John Degenkolb and multiple grand tour winner Alberto Contador join it for 2017.

“The schedule I had this year had a lot of hard races, and that should pay off big time next year,” Reijnen said.

“I really like races like the Vuelta, some really hard courses. Any course where you have to stick your nose into the wind every day and take some risks. I enjoy those races. That happens in stage races and with some classics.”

The sun shined brightly at the start of stage 9 in northern Spain. Reijnen, who is from Washington, sat on his bike and looked ahead to the start line. Ahead, he and the peloton would face another one of the Vuelta’s many summit finishes this year.

“Of the three grand tours, I think this one has the most appeal for me,” he added. “I like the vibe here. I think I’ve done more racing in Spain than I’ve done anywhere else this year.”

The 30-year-old made a huge jump this year, after several years racing with U.S. Pro Continental teams like UnitedHealthcare and Team Type 1, he signed with Trek – Segafredo for 2016. The team, with guaranteed starts in all WorldTour races, fielded him in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Ardennes classics, the Tour de Suisse — and now his first grand tour.

It came at the right time. This off-season, Contador will arrive with a handful of helpers and Degenkolb will fill the void left by Fabian Cancellara. Showing his sprinting/climbing legs in the Vuelta will come in handy for Reijnen to earn spots in the top 2017 races.

The team assigned him to help Niccolò Bonifazio, who already had to abandon, and Fabio Felline over the three weeks in Spain. He is doing so and gaining new levels of experience.

“The course this year is particularly hard. I think the profiles are deceptive. There’s been a lot of climbing. The media keeps saying that there’s not a lot of sprinters here, but the reason is because it’s a hard race to survive,” Reijnen said.

“I’m just going with the flow. I came here with decent things and I’m not too stressed. The team has ambitions, we want to win stages with Fabio and I was leading out for Niccolò Bonifazio. I’m happy to oblige. Fabio has great form and I think he can win a stage.”

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Don’t like laces? Giro’s new Factor Techlace may be the ticket Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:21:30 +0000 Giro has made a lace-up that’s easy to reach for on daily rides, especially for a guy like me who tends to fidget with fit frequently.

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FLIMS, Switzerland — I have to confess, I don’t love lace-up shoes. They look cool, but I often have trouble finding the lacing sweet-spot and I’m left either stopping mid-ride to tighten the laces or dealing with hot spots on the top of my high-volume foot after over-tightening. Giro, the very brand that made laces on cycling shoes cool again, stands by lace-ups but also admits adjustability is an issue, so they’ve solved that problem with its new Factor Techlace shoes.

Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Photo: Dan Cavallari |

It’s essentially a semi-lace design that you don’t have to tie; instead, a Boa closure provides its signature adjustability over the top of your foot, and the laces are fitted to two Velcro closure straps. The idea is to give you that supple, secure feeling over the front of the foot with the laces, but to also combine that feeling with the on-the-fly adjustability of Velcro straps. The Boa provides the exceptional security we’ve come to love, now with a 1mm-per-click adjustment.

In theory, the combination should give you the best of comfort and adjustability with none of the drawbacks. Here’s how Giro got there.


The new lacing setup is called Techlace, and it’s not just a catchy name: Giro has created a patent-pending lace/strap system that lends the benefits of consistent snugness with easy adjustability. The laces wind through lace holes like any other shoe, but the ends (known as aglets) snap into a plastic fitting on the Velcro straps, creating the heart of Giro’s patented system. The laces are replaceable and only take a few minutes to swap out, and Giro offers 12 different lace lengths — along with six colors for as much customization as you want (the Boa dial also comes in four colors).

Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Boa Ip1

There are three ways to adjust the Ip1 closure from Boa: Turn to tighten, turn in the opposite direction to loosen, and pull away from the shoe to release the lace. Each turn in either direction offers 1mm of micro-adjustability. It’s quick and easy to do on the fly, so as your foot expands or contracts over the course of your ride, you’ve got fit options while you’re rolling along. The stainless-steel lace is comprised of seven strands that are woven with seven strands; that’s 49 total strands. The whole thing is then coated in Nylon for durability over time in all the nasty conditions in which you’re likely to ride.

The rest of the package

Easton provides the outsole, using its EC90SLX carbon to create a thin and strong platform that sets the tone for this race-ready shoe. It’s mated to a Teijin EvoFiber SL microfiber upper with a gloss finish. And it’s all built around the same last as Giro’s popular Empire SLX shoe, so you should generally be familiar with the fit if you’ve ridden the company’s lace-ups. The Factors, however, fit slightly wider than the Empires. (Giro reps also mentioned a new, wider, high-volume fit is in the works for both the Empire and the Factor.)

At an advertised 210 grams per pair (Size 42.5), the Factors are clearly a race-bred design, and the $350 price tag reinforces that notion. They are available in sizes 39-50 with half sizes in between, and the Factors are also offered in a women’s specific model called the Factress (36-43 with half sizes).

First (and second) ride

Over the course of two days in Switzerland, I put in about 110 miles and about 12,000 feet of climbing on the Factors. My initial impressions are very good, and the Factors miss perfection only by small measures. While I can’t yet speak to durability, I can say Giro achieved its goal of an exceptional fit and on-the-fly adjustability.

First, Giro made a wise decision using the Empire last. It’s an exceptionally comfortable, wrap-around feel that fits my foot well (high volume but with short toes; I wear a size 44). But I did get some rubbing around the inside of my ankle where the upper seemed to be quite stiff. I’m thinking this won’t be a problem the more I wear the shoes and break them in, but by the end of our big day on the bike (10,000 feet of climbing over 61 miles), my left ankle was definitely feeling the pinch. Expect a break-in period, but if you like the overall fit of the Empire SLX shoes, you’ll be right at home with the Factors.

Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | The general shape and fit is reminiscent of the Empire SLX shoes. Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari | Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Onto the big show: the Boa and the Techlaces. I really like this setup. There are two gold-standard shoes on which I base my assessment: the Giro Empire SLX for its exceptional fit and unbeatable style; and the Bontrager XXX Road Shoe for its reliable fit, adjustability, and aesthetics. I reach for the XXX shoes more than any other in the quiver. The Factors stack up and perhaps even beat both the XXX and Empire SLX in terms of fit, comfort, and even aesthetics.

The Boa closure, closest to the ankle of the three securing points, is Boa’s top-of-the-line buckle and works like a charm. The 1mm of adjustment per click is the key here: Where the Empires lack immediate micro-adjustability, the Factors pick up the slack and offer that tailored feel I’m chasing (usually in vain). And you can micro-release by turning the dial the other way, making on-the-fly adjustments very easy. Bontrager uses two Boa closures on the XXX shoes, which offers that adjustability in two locations across the foot; the system works well, but the Factor eliminates an entire buckle, which should in theory make for a lighter shoe. More importantly, the laces help avoid hot spots and create a sort of “hugging” feel over the forefoot.

That’s due to the supple feel Giro promises with the laces. I have to say, they’re right: Laces, especially across the forefoot, do offer an exceptional and consistent snugness. No hotspots, no foot movement unless I want it. And if I do want it, snugging up the laces is just a matter of tugging the Velcro strap. Easy peasy.

I still love my Bontragers, and they’re still my go-to shoes for the moment, but they’ve got some competition in the garage now. Giro has made a lace-up that’s easy to reach for on daily rides, especially for a guy like me who tends to fidget with fit frequently. I’ll keep you posted if the Factors can unseat my Bontragers in the long-term.

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King hunting for a job, dreaming of a burger Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:03:36 +0000 Ben King of Cannondale – Drapac is daydreaming about eating a burger as he tries to secure a contract for next season.

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LUGONES, Spain (VN) — The Vuelta a España is hard enough as it is. Crashes, mountains, and tired legs make the Spanish grand tour one of the season’s hardest races.

Add the pressure of earning a contract, and the Vuelta becomes just that much more intense for riders looking to secure their respective futures. Cannondale – Drapac’s Ben King is still smiling each morning, including Monday ahead of the grueling Lagos de Covadonga, but he would like to already have a contract in his pocket going into 2017.

“It is pretty late in the season, and I still don’t have a contract. So I am working on that,” King said before Monday’s start. “It is extra, unrelated stress, but I am doing my doing my best to enjoy the Vuelta and do my job.”

Every season, the peloton plays a high-stakes game of musical chairs. As teams fold and new ones come on, riders are caught in the middle, working contacts and posting results as they try to secure their professional cycling future.

King, 27, is already an eight-year veteran of the WorldTour peloton, and has been posting steady results since joining the Slipstream organization in 2014. A stage win last year at Critérium International and another in stage 2 at the Amgen Tour of California confirmed his growing maturity and experience.

He nearly scored his first career grand tour stage win in this year’s Vuelta, riding to third in stage 4 out of the winning breakaway. King is hoping results like that help him secure something for next season before the Vuelta closes out.

“As soon as possible. If it’s possible [to stay with Cannondale]. I am open to anything at this point,” King said. “Riding well here, and finish strong with Andrew [Talansky], and go into breakaways, that definitely doesn’t hurt.”

King comes to the Vuelta on double-duty: helping Talansky ride for the overall and sneaking into breakaways when he can.

“Every bullet you can save for later on goes a long way. Grand tours are about efficiency, and knowing when it is appropriate to use the energy,” King said. “It’s not been an easy race up to now, but I still wake up feeling chipper in the mornings.”

Cannondale comes to the Vuelta with a dynamic team mixed with stage-hunters and Talansky for the GC. So far, the team has been active in the breakaways, riding to three top-10s through eight stages in the Vuelta. Talansky started Monday’s stage 13th overall, with Lagos de Covadonga poised to further shake up the GC.

“We are halfway through, and I am feeling good. We have been present in the breakaways, and we’ve been close a couple of times. I think it’s only a matter of time,” King said. “The main priority is to protect Andrew, but having someone in the breakaway can play into that strategy, and it gives everyone an opportunity as well.”

The Vuelta eases into its first of two rest days Tuesday, giving King and the other Cannondale riders a chance to decompress and reload going into the second half of the race. With the season winding down, King is also thinking about the good things that wait for him back home in Virginia.

“I have started thinking about hamburgers,” he said with a laugh. “I will be back in the USA soon after this, so I am daydreaming a little bit about that. Something with bacon, caramelized onions, and barbecue sauce. That is hard to come by here in Europe.”

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Young American Costa ‘grateful and honored’ to ride for Etixx Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:52:48 +0000 The 19-year-old has ridden to impressive results this season, including a runner-up at the Tour of Utah.

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — Hot off a third-place result at the Tour de l’Avenir, Adrien Costa is set to join Etixx – Quick-Step as a stagiaire for three European races to have his first major taste in the pro peloton.

The 19-year-old American is among three stagiaire riders to join the Belgian outfit for the reminder of the 2016 season. Team officials confirmed Costa will race the Tour of Britain (September 4-11), GP de Wallonie (September 14), and Primus Classic Impanis (September 17).

“I will be looking to help the guys as much as I can while learning as much as I can about the next level,” Costa said. “I am extremely grateful and honored to be able to see the inside of a WorldTour team and get some exposure to that level. There’s really no pressure. I just want to keep having fun.”

If riding the way Costa has been during 2016 is “fun,” it will be interesting to see how he handles racing with the elite pros in Europe.

By any measure, Costa has had an impressive season with Axeon Hagens Berman. He became the first American to win the Tour de Bretagne, rode to second at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and capped it off with a stage win and third overall at the Tour de l’Avenir. Teammate Neilson Powless won the final stage in the Alps as the new generation of Americans continues to score impressive results.

“I think [Costa] has had one of the best years an under-23 rider can ask for,” USA Cycling under-23 manager Michael Sayers said. “I hope he is satisfied with his season in general. Getting on the podium here is an incredible accomplishment and traditionally, anybody in the top 10 at Tour de l’Avenir goes to the WorldTour.”

A two-time world junior time trial runner-up, Costa will likely ride at the Qatar world championships in October. Costa will race at least one more season in the U23 ranks before looking for a professional contract.

No other Axeon riders secured stagiaire rides this fall, but three are joining WorldTour teams for 2017. U.S. national road champion Greg Daniel and Portuguese U23 champion Ruben Guerreiro are both bound for Trek – Segafredo, while the highly touted Tao Geoghegan Hart is going to Team Sky.

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Cyclocross champ Van Aert takes road win at Schaal Sels Sun, 28 Aug 2016 19:45:31 +0000 Cyclocross wunderkind Wout Van Aert takes a road victory at Schaal Sels

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Wout Van Aert, reigning cyclocross world champion, put his talents on display out on the road Sunday at Schaal Sels — insofar as the Belgian one-day event with a wonderfully creative parcours can be called a “road race.”

The 21-year-old, riding for the Crelan – Vastgoedservice continental squad, took the victory after powering clear of a small lead group on a stretch of dirt road in the final five kilometers. Perhaps it’s not so surprising after all that the star ‘cross rider might thrive on a parcours rife with gravel, dirt, and cobblestones.

It’s not the first time Van Aert has taken a road win this season. He nabbed a prologue victory in May at the Baloise Belgium Tour, and that was on paved roads throughout.

Having racked up two nice wins and a few other strong results in his road forays this season, Van Aert could be forgiven for considering diving deeper into road racing as his career progresses. Etixx – Quick-Step’s Zdenek Stybar and Astana’s Lars Boom are both recent examples that it can certainly be done — though cyclocross fans could be forgiven for preferring that the Belgian wunderkind stick to racing in the mud full-time.

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Ceasefire ahead of Covadonga shootout Sun, 28 Aug 2016 19:03:47 +0000 The Vuelta's top overall favorites play it conservatively in stage 9 with Monday's challenging climb to Lagos de Covadona looming

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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — In what’s been a great Vuelta a España for the breakaways, the GC favorites were content to let yet another pack of stage hunters chase glory in an apparent ceasefire ahead of Monday’s battle at Lagos de Covadonga.

With the brutally steep Covadonga climb on tap in stage 10, Movistar was happy to see David de la Cruz (Etixx – Quick-Step) ride to victory and take the red leader’s jersey from Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

“It is a perfect situation for us,” said Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), breathless at the line. “Tomorrow is a hard day. Everyone is very tired. You have to take it day by day.”

Movistar controlled the peloton in the 164.5-kilometer stage across the mountains of northern Spain, and kept de la Cruz and the other breakaway riders on a short leash. De la Cruz started the day at 2:46 back, and when he hit the base of the short but steep Alto del Naranco with a lead of over three minutes on the pack, he knew the jersey might be ripe for the taking. De la Cruz dropped Dries Devenys (IAM Cycling) with 500 meters to go to deliver Spain’s first stage win of this year’s Vuelta, and jumped from 15th to first, now 22 seconds ahead of Quintana.

De la Cruz, an improving Spanish rider who also earned his first pro win at Naranco, knows he won’t be in red for long.

“If we had two sprint stages, maybe we could keep it, but with Covadonga tomorrow, I know it won’t be easy,” De la Cruz said. “I have been feeling pretty good in the mountains, but if I am sincere, I don’t expect to keep it for long. I will sweat and fight for the jersey as long as I can, and that’s all you can do.”

The Naranco climb has delivered some fireworks in earlier Vueltas, with riders such as Joaquim Rodríguez and Laurent Jalabert lighting up the climb. In 2013, Chris Horner took the red leader’s jersey for good there en route to winning the overall title.

This year, however, the GC favorites were keeping their powder dry for Monday’s ascent of the fearsome Lagos de Covadonga climb. The basic metrics — it’s 12.6km long with an average grade of 7.3 percent — don’t reveal the full suffering the climb entails. The infamous La Huesera sector, which holds an average grade of 15 percent for nearly one kilometer, can crack GC ambitions.

Movistar believes it will put Quintana back in red in 24 hours’ time.

“It was a complicated stage, and the breakaway went away after setting a hard rhythm, but it was OK to lose the lead,” said Movistar’s Ruben Fernández of stage 9. “Tomorrow at Lagos is very hard, so let’s if we can take back the jersey. The Vuelta is very long, so we don’t want to pull all day.”

Movistar is confident, with Quintana and Valverde defending their one-two spots on the “virtual” GC of bona fide overall contenders with relative ease up the Naranco climb. Local hero Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing), who lives on the flanks of the climb and who has a statue honoring his 2008 Olympic victory along the route, attacked late out of the GC group, but otherwise, all the favorites were thinking about the Lagos.

“I feel better. The legs responded today,” said Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), still licking his wounds from a crash Thursday. “The start was a little bit hard, maybe because my injuries ere stiffened up, but the legs warmed up during the race. You cannot stop, so you have to keep fighting. The Lagos climb motivates you, and these are mountains I like, so let’s see how the legs respond, and then we will take a measure of the situation.”

Many are wondering what they can do to crack the Movistar stranglehold on the race. With Contador still battered and bruised — now seventh at 2:01 back — and Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) looking a touch off his explosive best — now fifth at 1:19 back — all eyes are looking to Sky.

Chris Froome finished safely in the favorites’ group, with Quintana vigilant on his wheel. That’s going to be a familiar scene, as Quintana vows to ride defensively against Sky, putting Froome under pressure to attack him.

After Quintana dropped Froome at La Camperona climb on Friday, Froome cannot afford to cede more time to the Colombian climber at Lagos. If he does, winning an elusive Vuelta could turn very complicated.

“Yesterday was more a good result for Nairo than a bad result for Chris,” said Sky sport director Dario Cioni. “Chris likes it when it’s hard all day, and yesterday was flat until the final climb. Movistar has three guys in the top 10, and we have two. That shows in which teams the better climbers are.”

They won’t have to worry about flat roads Monday. The route is a rollercoaster over a string of unrated climbs across Asturias before hitting the Cat. 1 Alto de Mirador ahead of the “especial” summit at Covadonga.

Despite its fame, the climb is rarely a race-breaker. More than anything, it will reveal just how much Froome wants to win the Vuelta, and how bad Quintana wants to make up for the disappointment of July. The forecast might be forgiving, with clouds and a 20 percent chance of showers. In rainy Asturias, that’s as sunny as it gets.

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Naesen takes surprise win at Bretagne Classic Sun, 28 Aug 2016 15:28:05 +0000 Oliver Naesen takes a surprise win in Plouay at the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France

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IAM Cycling may be shutting its doors at the end of the season, but that hasn’t stopped the team from putting on a show out on the road these past few weeks. 25-year-old Oliver Naesen nabbed the team’s third WorldTour win since July at Sunday’s Bretagne Classic Ouest-France in Plouay.

The Belgian jumped into a three-man escape alongside Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale – Drapac) and Guillaume Martin (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) after the early breakaway was caught with around 50 kilometers left to race. The move did not initially appear to be particularly threatening, but the trio worked well together over the lumpy parcours and brought a 30-second advantage into the final climb. Martin was dropped with less than 5km to go, but Bettiol and Naesen pushed on.

BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet and Lampre – Merida’s Rui Costa tried to bridge the gap on the ascent, but hard-charging bunch reeled them. The peloton pulled to within 10 seconds of the escape going over the ascent, but organization in the pack unraveled on the ensuing descent, allowing the duo off the front to battle it out for the stage win.

Naesen proved fastest in the finale, arriving at the finish with plenty of time for a two-handed celebration of the surprise victory.

Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff, the defending champion, outsprinted Orica – BikeExchange’s Michael Matthews at the line to take third place behind Bettiol.


  • 1. Oliver NAESEN, IAM CYCLING, in 5:58:46
  • 3. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at :05
  • 7. Daniel HOELGAARD, FDJ, at :05
  • 8. Giacomo NIZZOLO, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :05
  • 9. Matteo TRENTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 12. Loic VLIEGEN, BMC RACING TEAM, at :05
  • 13. Danny VAN POPPEL, TEAM SKY, at :05
  • 15. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF, at :05
  • 16. Samuel DUMOULIN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :05
  • 17. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :05
  • 18. Yoann OFFREDO, FDJ, at :05
  • 19. Ben GASTAUER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :05
  • 22. Martin ELMIGER, IAM CYCLING, at :05
  • 23. Tom BOONEN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :05
  • 24. Dimitri CLAEYS, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :05
  • 25. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at :05
  • 26. Tiesj BENOOT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :05
  • 28. Anthony ROUX, FDJ, at :05
  • 29. David TANNER, IAM CYCLING, at :05
  • 30. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :05
  • 32. Bryan COQUARD, DIRECT ENERGIE, at :05
  • 33. Sylvain CHAVANEL, DIRECT ENERGIE, at :05
  • 34. Jens DEBUSSCHERE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :05
  • 35. Gianni MOSCON, TEAM SKY, at :05
  • 36. Pavel BRUTT, TINKOFF, at :05
  • 37. Guillaume MARTIN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :05
  • 38. Oscar GATTO, TINKOFF, at :09
  • 40. Søren Kragh ANDERSEN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :09
  • 41. Ignatas KONOVALOVAS, FDJ, at :09
  • 42. Sonny COLBRELLI, BARDIANI CSF, at :09
  • 43. Marco MARCATO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :09
  • 44. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :09
  • 45. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING TEAM, at :09
  • 46. Jasper STUYVEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :09
  • 47. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :09
  • 48. Sam OOMEN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :20
  • 50. Geoffrey SOUPE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :40
  • 51. Javier MORENO BAZAN, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :40
  • 52. Reto HOLLENSTEIN, IAM CYCLING, at :40
  • 53. Pim LIGTHART, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :40
  • 55. Daniel MCLAY, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at :40
  • 56. Davide CIMOLAI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :40
  • 57. Lorenzo ROTA, BARDIANI CSF, at :40
  • 58. Simone VELASCO, BARDIANI CSF, at :40
  • 59. Julien LOUBET, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at :40
  • 60. Nikolas MAES, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :40
  • 61. Jonathan FUMEAUX, IAM CYCLING, at :40
  • 62. Davide MARTINELLI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :40
  • 64. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :45
  • 65. Edoardo ZARDINI, BARDIANI CSF, at 1:17
  • 66. Thomas DEGAND, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 1:17
  • 67. Marinus Cornelis MINNAARD, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 1:17
  • 68. Enrico BARBIN, BARDIANI CSF, at 1:17
  • 69. Francisco José VENTOSO ALBERDI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:17
  • 70. Jasha SÜTTERLIN, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:30
  • 71. Gaetan BILLE, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 1:30
  • 72. Michael SCHÄR, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:30
  • 73. Manuel SENNI, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:30
  • 74. Frederik BACKAERT, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 1:30
  • 75. Moreno HOFLAND, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:30
  • 76. Cédric PINEAU, FDJ, at 1:30
  • 77. Marcus BURGHARDT, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:30
  • 78. Thomas LEEZER, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:30
  • 79. Kanstantsin SIUTSOU, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 1:30
  • 81. Roy CURVERS, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:30
  • 82. Adam BLYTHE, TINKOFF, at 1:30
  • 83. Lukasz WISNIOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:30
  • 84. Jesus HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:30
  • 85. Maarten WYNANTS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:30
  • 86. Pierrick FEDRIGO, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 1:34
  • 88. Timo ROOSEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 2:07
  • 90. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:03
  • 91. Grégory RAST, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 3:03
  • 92. Arman KAMYSHEV, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 3:03
  • 93. Luke ROWE, TEAM SKY, at 3:58
  • 94. Lars Petter NORDHAUG, TEAM SKY, at 3:58
  • 95. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 4:01
  • 96. Sep VANMARCKE, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 4:01
  • 97. Iljo KEISSE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 4:01
  • 98. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 4:01
  • 99. Jacopo GUARNIERI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 4:01
  • 100. Cyrille GAUTIER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 4:01
  • 101. Mathew HAYMAN, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 4:08
  • 103. Amaël MOINARD, BMC RACING TEAM, at 4:08
  • 105. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at 4:56
  • 106. Ben SWIFT, TEAM SKY, at 4:56
  • 108. Simone ANTONINI, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 5:14
  • 109. Aleksei TCATEVICH, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:14
  • 110. Alexis GOUGEARD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 5:58
  • 111. Sondre HOLST ENGER, IAM CYCLING, at 5:58
  • 112. Nicola BOEM, BARDIANI CSF, at 5:58
  • 113. Víctor DE LA PARTE, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 5:58
  • 115. Matej MOHORIC, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 5:58
  • 116. Fabien GRELLIER, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 5:58
  • 117. Jaroslaw MARYCZ, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 5:58
  • 118. Eduardo SEPULVEDA, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 5:58
  • 119. Marco HALLER, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:58
  • 120. Arnaud GERARD, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 7:41
  • 121. Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ, at 7:41
  • 122. Oliver ZAUGG, IAM CYCLING, at 7:41
  • 123. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 7:41
  • 124. Michal KOLÁR, TINKOFF, at 7:41
  • 125. Jan HIRT, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 7:41
  • 126. Olivier LE GAC, FDJ, at 10:38
  • 127. Boy VAN POPPEL, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 10:38
  • DNF Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ

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Bahrain – Merida signs Sonny Colbrelli Sun, 28 Aug 2016 13:28:38 +0000 Punchy Italian Sonny Colbrelli will ride for Bahrain – Merida in 2017

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Bahrain – Merida announced the signing of punchy Italian Sonny Colbrelli on Sunday. The 26-year-old has ridden for Bardiani – CSF his entire pro career.

Colbrelli is in the midst of a strong season that has seen him take several Continental Tour victories to go along with a podium performance at the Amstel Gold Race. He has twice finished in the top 10 at Milano-Sanremo as well, suggesting that he’ll provide the brand new Bahrain squad with a one-day threat and stage hunter to complement the GC firepower of marquee signing Vincenzo Nibali (currently with Astana).

Despite the notable Italian pickups, however, the team is still several riders short of a full roster. That makes it more than likely that the Brent Copeland-managed outfit will continue to roll out further transfer announcements in the coming weeks.

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Contador shows he’s still in the fight at the Vuelta Sun, 28 Aug 2016 12:54:15 +0000 Alberto Contador bounces back from stage 7 crash with strong stage 8 ride to gain time on all of his rivals bar Nairo Quintana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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