VeloNews.com » News http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:23:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Gallery: SuperCross Cup, Sunday http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-supercross-cup-sunday_354106 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-supercross-cup-sunday_354106#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:23:13 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354106

Kemmerer repeats on Sunday, and Werner atones for Saturday's crash, winning the final day of racing in New York

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Tour de France to start in Manche in 2016 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/tour-de-france-start-manche-2016_354124 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/tour-de-france-start-manche-2016_354124#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 19:56:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354124

The Tour de France will start in the Manche department in 2016. The race last visited the area in 2013 with a time trial that finished at Mont-Saint-Michel. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tour de France set to kick off the 2016 race in the Manche department, in Normandy, near the English Channel

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The Tour de France will start in the Manche department in 2016. The race last visited the area in 2013 with a time trial that finished at Mont-Saint-Michel. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — The 2016 edition of the Tour de France will start in the Manche department in Normandy, organizer ASO said Monday.

It will be the first time the Tour, first raced in 1903, has started in that department, most famous for its hilltop island abbey, Mont Saint-Michel.

Manche, named after the French term for the English Channel that separates the country from Britain, has played host to a Tour stage 23 times since 2011, most recently in 2013 when stage 11 finished at Mont Saint-Michel. Tony Martin won that individual time trial.

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The exact town that will host the Grand Départ will be revealed at a press conference on December 9.

The 2015 edition, where Italian Vincenzo Nibali will be defending his title, will begin in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

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Gallery: Spa-Francorchamps Superprestige 2014 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-spa-francorchamps-superprestige-2014_354046 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-spa-francorchamps-superprestige-2014_354046#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:52:05 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354046

The Superprestige series tackles a brutal course that included heavy mud and extremely steep run-ups

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Gallery: SuperCross Cup, Saturday http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-supercross-cup-saturday-2_354006 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-supercross-cup-saturday-2_354006#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:32:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354006

Kemmerer takes it to the line for a shocking win, and Cameron Dodge is best in the elite men's race

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Twice is nice as Driscoll and Nash repeat at CXLA Sunday http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/race-report/twice-nice-driscoll-nash-repeat-cxla-sunday_353978 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/race-report/twice-nice-driscoll-nash-repeat-cxla-sunday_353978#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:44:30 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353978

Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo) got off to an early lead, but Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) chased her down midway through Sunday's race. Photo: Philip Beckman | PB Creative

Nash and Driscoll sweep the Los Angeles cyclocross weekend on another warm and dusty day in Southern California

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Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo) got off to an early lead, but Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) chased her down midway through Sunday's race. Photo: Philip Beckman | PB Creative

Much like they did on day one, Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) confirmed their great mid-season form, winning the second day of CXLA on Sunday to make it a clean sweep.

In addition to collecting their pay and UCI points in SoCal, Driscoll, Nash, and the rest of the racers worked on their late-season tans on a warm, dry, dusty, and sometimes wildly gusty day at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park.

The highly-decorated Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) produced a Hollywood sequel to Saturday’s win by charging past early leaders Courtenay McFadden (GE Capital-American Classic), Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo), and Nicole Duke (Marin Bikes-Spy) on the second of six laps. Just like the day before, the four-time Olympian built on her lead every lap to eventually win by 42 seconds. The rest of the elite women’s field was spread out all over the park, with McFadden holding on for second, Miller third at one minute, Duke fourth, and local rider Amanda Nauman (SDG-Bellwether) rounding out the top five.

In the men’s elite event, Saturday winner Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) looked to be in trouble after the first lap, sitting eighth place with an uncomfortable look on his face. Adam Craig (Giant Factory Off-Road Team), on the other hand, looked ready to improve on his previous day’s runner-up finish, moving into the spotlight alone for for several laps. But Belgian transplant Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) was having none of that, chasing down and then capturing Craig at the halfway mark.

Driscoll then found his legs, and with four to go, clawed his way to the front. Like Nash, once on the front, he was gone. Unlike the day prior, Berden was able to turn the tables on Craig for second place, 36 seconds behind the winner. Craig’s teammate, Carl Decker, was fourth, and Zach McDonald (Cyclocross Project 2015) was fifth.

Bear Development Team’s Lance Haidet won Sunday’s Junior 17-18 UCI event ahead of Brennan Fix (Boo Bicycles/TrainingPeaks) and Liam Dunn (Clif Bar Development CX Team).

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Behind the Barriers TV: Sven Nys interview http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/video/behind-barriers-tv-sven-nys-interview_353975 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/video/behind-barriers-tv-sven-nys-interview_353975#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:23:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353975

Cyclocross legend Sven Nys sits down with Behind the Barriers TV for another episode of Cross Talk.

What does it take to be arguably the best cyclocross racer in history? Former world champion Nys sits down with BTB TV to talk

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Cyclocross legend Sven Nys sits down with Behind the Barriers TV for another episode of Cross Talk.


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Peloton’s musical chairs sometimes a cruel game http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/pelotons-musical-chairs-sometimes-cruel-game_353936 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/pelotons-musical-chairs-sometimes-cruel-game_353936#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:47:52 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353936

Several high-profile riders are facing uphill battles when it comes to securing a job for 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Riders still without a contract face a precarious future as 2014 comes to a close, and several big names are still waiting on the sidelines

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Several high-profile riders are facing uphill battles when it comes to securing a job for 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Down to the wire. It happens every fall. Cycling’s transfer window, called the “silly season,” is a time of tension and nerves for dozens of riders heading into the winter still sitting on the bubble.

What happens over the next few weeks will decide the fate of plenty across the peloton, ranging from older riders trying to hang on for one more season, to young guns still scratching to secure their place in the big leagues.

“If you do not have a contract by now for next year, it’s very complicated,” said rider agent Andrew McQuaid, who represents such riders as Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche. “Team budgets are mostly closed, and plans are already set for the coming year.”

Cycling’s musical chairs is a high-risk game built on relationships, luck, and connections, all played out in the brutal reality of a wide-open, free-agent market. Injuries, crashes, and a few inches away from a big win and second place can mean the difference between staying in the game or going home, usually for good. Once on a top team, riders are forever playing a nervous balancing act of staying in the game, especially in a sport where contracts longer than two years are reserved for a handful of top superstars, such as Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan.

Every season has its wrinkles and quirks. Last year saw the closure of two UCI ProTeams, with Euskaltel-Euskadi and Vacansoleil-DCM both shutting down. With the WorldTour shrinking to 18 teams, there was a flood of riders trying to secure contracts.

A few high-profile deals

Going into 2014-15 saw relative stability in the free-agent market. Despite a few high-profile moves, including Sagan’s transfer to Tinkoff-Saxo for three years, and Edvald Boasson Hagen’s move to MTN-Qhubeka, this year sees most major teams in the peloton relatively quiet on the transfer market.

“We were quiet this year in terms of transfers. We only have two new riders for 2015,” said Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matthew White. “We are building the young talent we have, and don’t have a lot of new guys entering the team. We’re happy with what we have right now.”

The major exception was the merger of Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale at the WorldTour level, which saw a few riders squeezed out as the two teams combined rosters. Plus, the on-again, off-again project involving Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, which looks to be targeting 2016, added another unknown twist to the market.

“There were three major factors in the market this year,” McQuaid said. “First, the Alonso team didn’t happen, and second, the Cannondale, Garmin merger. Another big factor is teams are starting to look at reducing their teams in light of possible reduction of squads to 22 riders in the future.”

McQuaid was referring to ongoing discussions to reform the UCI racing calendar, which could see a major reduction from team rosters from 30 to as low as 22 per day. Those details still need to be hammered out, but a new-look calendar could be in place by as soon as 2017, so teams already have that on their radars. If that plays out, the game of musical chairs will only get tighter in the coming seasons.

Several teams were active in the rider market, including MTN-Qhubeka, which saw the African-based team pick up Boasson Hagen (Sky), Theo Bos (Belkin), Tyler Farrar (Garmin), and Matthew Goss (Orica). In addition to Sagan, Tinkoff picked up Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), and Pavel Brutt (Katusha).

Most of the high-profile transfer deals are tacitly agreed upon months before the official August 1 opening of the trading season. Giovanni Lombardi, the ex-pro who is now Sagan’s agent, said it took months to hammer out all the details in Sagan’s move from Cannondale to Tinkoff.

This season also saw a flood of high-profile retirements, including Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who retires in February, Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing), Jens Voigt and Danilo Hondo (Trek), David Millar (Garmin), Karsten Kroon and Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff), and such U.S.-based riders as Jeff Louder, Ben Day, Martijn Maaskant, and JJ Haedo.

Nervous on the bubble

By November, anyone still sitting on the sidelines is rightfully nervous they might have to find a new line of work.

There are a few big names still waiting to see how their future shakes out. On Sunday, Baden Cooke confirmed to VeloNews that 2013 Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner, 43, has signed with a U.S. team. 2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, 36, will not be returning to BMC after one season with the U.S.-registered team, and is waiting to see whether or not he continues competing.

Veteran Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, 42, was not re-upped with Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and is among several Italians considering his options.

“I’d like to race for another year or two, but I could stop and start a new life,” Petacchi told Tutto Bici. “What can I say? I hope that I can find a team that works out for me, an ‘old man’ who doesn’t feel so old, and who would like to continue.”

Other riders with uncertain futures include Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma), former Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens, Thomas Dekker, and Steele Van Hoff (all Garmin). Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Davide Vigano (Caja Rural), Sylvester Szmyd (Movistar), Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Paolo Longho Borghini (Cannondale), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana), and Thomas Peterson (Giant-Shimano) are other veterans who have not extended with their respective teams and whose futures remain unconfirmed.

It helps to have an agent, and there are dozens of representatives working on the behalf of riders. A good agent is well-connected and is constantly trolling the peloton looking for leads and securing rides for their riders, which allows the racers to focus on racing while the agent does the “dirty work” of negotiating salaries and conditions.

But even that is no guarantee, especially for riders who work as “gregarios” and post few individual results.

“It is wrong that a rider like Longo Borghini doesn’t have a contract for next season,” said Lombardi, who is Longo Borghini’s agent. “Teams would rather have a rider who can win a race or two a season, and not work at all, rather than someone who will give their body and soul for their team captains. Teams are wrong in this point. A big captain needs to have riders with whom they can be 100 percent confident, and always be at their side.”

The importance of relationships cannot be underestimated. Francisco Ventoso was “saved” last week by Movistar when the team found a slot, and money, to keep him in the bigs for another season. Ventoso was a former winner who slotted into a leadout role for Juan José Lobato and almost got squeezed out.

“Running a team today is much more complicated than it was in the 1980s,” said Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué. “In 1987, our entire team budget was 70,000 euros. Today, the teams are much bigger and more international. It’s not easy to make all the pieces fit. Ventoso is an important rider to us, and we made it work.”

Riders can also find contracts thanks to key financial backing. It’s not uncommon for sponsors to pay a team to slot a rider on their lineup. The latest example was Dan Craven from Namibia, who joined Europcar mid-season in 2014 after a new team co-sponsor from Africa signed on. He quickly proved his worth, finishing the Vuelta a España, and is already confirmed to stay with the team for 2015.

Then there’s always hope. After 2013, Horner didn’t sign with Lampre-Merida until January. Adam Blythe went from the WorldTour in 2013 with BMC Racing to the Continental level, a no-man’s land that’s usually a one-way street, but Orica picked him up for 2015. Even more dramatic was Dominique Rollin, who didn’t even race in 2014, only to be picked up by Cofidis to help ex-FDJ teammate Nacer Bouhanni in the sprints.

Coming into December, there’s nothing trivial about “silly season” for riders who are caught out without a contract as 2014 comes to a close.

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At team camp, Aru builds toward 2015 Giro http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/at-team-camp-aru-builds-toward-2015-giro_353931 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/at-team-camp-aru-builds-toward-2015-giro_353931#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:58:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353931

Fabio Aru won stage 15 at the Giro d'Italia this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 24-year-old from Sardinia will ride to win the Giro d'Italia in May

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Fabio Aru won stage 15 at the Giro d'Italia this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Italy’s rising grand tour star Fabio Aru is meeting this week with his Astana teammates in Tuscany and building toward the Giro d’Italia.

“The reality,” he told Tutto Bici, “is that I’ve been building for the 2015 season since I finished the Giro di Lombardia on October 5.”

The 2015 season could be huge for the 5-foot-11, 143-pound Aru based on this season’s results. In only his second full year as a professional cyclist, he won the mountain stage to Montecampione and placed third overall in the Giro d’Italia behind Colombians Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

The 24-year-old comes from southwest Sardinia, one of the most inconvenient places for a budding cyclist. Tour de France winner and Astana teammate Vincenzo Nibali also happens to come from Italy’s other major island, Sicily. Like Nibali, Aru had to move to the mainland in order to pursue his career.

Aru moved to Bergamo as an amateur, won the Giro della Valle d’Aosta in 2011 and 2012, and finished second in the 2012 Baby Giro behind American Joe Dombrowski. With the 2014 Giro, though, he confirmed his arrival to Italian cycling.

Aru used this summer’s Vuelta a España to spread his name. He won two mountain stages, one in front of Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and one ahead of Briton and 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky).

“2014 was fundamental for my career,” Aru continued. “I had some new experiences, riding in the Vuelta and the worlds, that will help me quite a bit as a cyclist. Clearly, though, I’m very happy with the results I achieved in the Giro and Vuelta.”

This week, Astana will likely talk about the four recent doping cases within the team. News that the fourth cyclist, Victor Okishev from the Astana’s feeder team, tested positive arrived last week.

The team in turquoise will also talk about where it will send its men to race in 2015. Aru is slated to race the Giro and return to help Nibali in the Tour or the Vuelta.

“The responsibility does not scare me, rather it’s pleasing to have it because it means that the team believes in me,” Aru added.

“I like the Giro course for 2015. It’s hard and has more climbing meters than in 2014. The 60-kilometer time trial does not scare me and we are planning specific training to get the best result.

“The most important days of the Giro? For sure, it’s going to be the time trial and the Sestriere and Mortirolo stages.”

The 59.2km time trial, the longest race against the clock in six years, could entice Froome to race the Giro along with Aru and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) instead of the Tour. Nibali and Quintana have their eyes on the Tour.

The Giro d’Italia will also feature seven mountain stages. Four are in the high mountains and they are all summit finishes: Madonna di Campiglio, Aprica, Cervinia, and Sestriere.

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Agent confirms Horner to join U.S. team in 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/agent-confirms-horner-join-u-s-team-2015_353923 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/agent-confirms-horner-join-u-s-team-2015_353923#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:03:05 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353923

Chris Horner, pictured at the 2014 Tour of Utah, will be racing with a U.S. team in 2015. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Chris Horner's agent has confirmed that his client will ride for a U.S. team in 2015, and said an announcement is coming very soon

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Chris Horner, pictured at the 2014 Tour of Utah, will be racing with a U.S. team in 2015. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

American Chris Horner will ride professionally in 2015, and the 43-year-old is poised to return to a U.S. team next season.

Baden Cooke, agent for the 2013 Vuelta a España champion, confirmed with VeloNews on Sunday that an announcement is imminent.

“Chris has signed with a U.S. team,” Cooke wrote to VeloNews. “It will be announced very soon.”

Earlier this month, Lampre-Merida confirmed it would not extend Horner’s contract after one season with the Italian team. The rumor mill has since gone into overdrive about where Horner could land for next season.

Cooke’s confirmation Sunday is the most specific hint yet about where cycling’s oldest grand tour winner will race next season.

So where could Horner land? Cooke would not reveal which team the veteran American is poised to join, or at which level.

It appears there are more closed doors than open doors. Cannondale-Garmin confirmed its 2015 roster last week, as did Professional Continental team United Healthcare, which signed Janez Brajkovic from Astana to bolster its ambitions to secure its first grand tour invitation next season.

Novo Nordisk, the other U.S. Pro Continental team in 2014, introduced a policy in 2013 of signing only riders who are diabetic.

It seems unlikely Horner would race at a small, continental U.S. team simply to continue his  long career. His six-figure salary with Lampre in 2014 was likely on par with the entire budget of many U.S. continental squads. And it seems a stretch for a rider who beat Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), to become the first American to win the Vuelta little more than one year ago, would join a small team with a limited domestic racing calendar.

U.S. Continental squads, such as Jelly Belly, have been suggested, which the squad quickly denied, with team manager Danny Van Haute telling VeloNews, “That’s a good rumor. It’s all it is. The problem is, I don’t have the money … I’m sure Chris doesn’t want to work for just beans.”

The other two major U.S. teams at the World Tour-level — BMC Racing and Trek Factory Racing — certainly would have room on their respective rosters for a rider with Horner’s credentials, if they wanted him.

BMC Racing is firmly backing Tejay van Garderen as its GC man for present and future, but with a few key retirements, including Thor Hushovd and Cadel Evans, who will conclude his career at the Santos Tour Down Under in January, BMC might have some room on its roster.

Money is certainly not an issue for team owner Andy Rihs, and with the departure of Samuel Sánchez, as reported by CyclingTips last week, the BMC team could use a rider with Horner’s experience to carry team colors in such races as the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta.

Trek Factory Racing could be another option in what will be an important transition year for the U.S.-registered team. Though Horner left the team over money at the end of 2013, both parties are already familiar with one another. And with the retirement of Andy Schleck, and the arrival of Bauke Mollema (ex-Belkin) as a possible new GC candidate, the team could use some established firepower in the major races as the Dutchman develops into a leader.

Both of those teams, however, have been opaque about their interest in Horner. The answer, it seems, is imminent.

No matter where he lands, Horner looks to keep racing in 2015. Last year, Horner joined Lampre-Merida quite late in the game, signing in January, so don’t be surprised if he comes up big yet again.

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Gallery: UCI Cyclocross World Cup No.2, Koksijde http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-uci-cyclocross-world-cup-2-koksijde_353898 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cyclocross/gallery-uci-cyclocross-world-cup-2-koksijde_353898#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:00:42 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353898

The World Cup takes on Koksijde's sand dunes. A familiar face wins the women's race, and a fresh name is tops in the men's contest

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Pauwels wins Spa-Francorchamps Superprestige http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/pauwels-wins-spa-francorchamps-superprestige_353914 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/pauwels-wins-spa-francorchamps-superprestige_353914#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:36:32 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353914

No one else in the photo: Pauwels soled to victory after van der Haar slipped in the woods on the final lap. Photo by Tim de Waele.

After Lars van der Haar slipped in the woods on the final lap, Kevin Pauwels soloed to the finish to win the fifth round of the

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No one else in the photo: Pauwels soled to victory after van der Haar slipped in the woods on the final lap. Photo by Tim de Waele.

Belgian Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won the Superprestige Cyclocross race at Spa-Francorchamps Sunday, ahead of Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea).

After van der Haar slipped in the woods on the final lap, Pauwels soloed to the finish to win the fifth round of the Superprestige series, which included a new venue at the famous Spa-Francorchamps Formula One car circuit in the Wallonia region of southern Belgium.

The inaugural Spa-Francorchamps event, also called the Grand Prix de la Région Wallonne, replaced the former GP Wallone event held in Dottignies. The new course featured several steep climbs, as well as rutted mud sections that saw some riders choosing to run rather than ride the bumps.

The battle for the win was contested by Pauwels, who finished second to Wout van Aert on Saturday at the Koksijde World Cup, and van der Haar, the Dutch national champion, who sat out the Koksijde World Cup on Saturday due to illness.

Van der Haar and Pauwels led by 30 seconds with three laps remaining. Behind, a chase group came together containing Mathieu Van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Meeusen, Corné Van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), and Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink).

However, on the final lap, van der Haar slipped in the woods, opening the door for Pauwels to solo away. Van der Haar was quickly back on his bike, but could not close the gap so late in the race.

Meeusen, who had punctured early and was forced to run his bike to the pits, could only wonder what might have been, finishing third, while Van der Poel rode to fourth.

Adams took fifth, with Vantournout sixth, van Kessel seventh, and Nys a distant eighth.

Pauwels now leads the Superprestige series, with 63 points, tied with van der Haar (but ahead based on participations), with van der Poel third, at 62 points. Three events remain, with the final event held February 14 in Middelkerke.

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Nash, Driscoll win first day of CXLA http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/race-report/nash-driscoll-win-first-day-cxla_353894 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/race-report/nash-driscoll-win-first-day-cxla_353894#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:47:47 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353894

Jamie Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) attacked out of the lead group in Saturday's CXLA race and rode alone to win. Photo: Philip Beckman | PB Creative

On a dry, sunny Saturday in Los Angeles, Katerina Nash and Jamie Driscoll win with solo efforts

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Jamie Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) attacked out of the lead group in Saturday's CXLA race and rode alone to win. Photo: Philip Beckman | PB Creative

Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and Jamie Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) each claimed solo victories at the first day of CXLA in Los Angeles, the only UCI-level cyclocross weekend in California this season.

Pro ‘cross action kicked off Saturday at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park, a new venue for CXLA. Classic California blue skies and dry, short-sleeve conditions greeted the racers as they took on a 2.5km course featuring considerable climbing and enough technical trickiness to keep even the most savvy bike handlers on their toes.

Nash wasted little time jumping to the front of the 20-rider UCI elite women’s field and was never caught in the 45-minute race. At the finish, the Czech Olympian had more than a minute lead over Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo), who had gapped Courtenay McFadden (GE Capital-American Classic). Nicole Duke (Marin Bikes-Spy) and Emily Kachorek (Squid) rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Driscoll escaped a lead group of six that formed at the front of the UCI elite men’s race around the halfway point of that hour-long event. Two laps later he was able to climb away to a solo lead on the course’s longest, hardest ascent. Adam Craig (Giant Factory) and Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) got the better of Shawn Milne (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo) to form the final chase group. Craig dropped Berden on the final lap, but both were well behind Driscoll, who cruised in with a 20-second cushion. Milne held on for fourth, with Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) completing the top five.

Saturday at CXLA also included a UCI-categorized Junior 17-18 event, won by Liam Dunn (Clif Bar Development CX Team). Brannan Fix was runner-up, followed by Eric Brunner.

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Van Aert wins men’s cyclocross World Cup Koksijde in solo fashion http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/van-aert-wins-mens-cyclocross-world-cup-koksijde-in-solo-fashion_353873 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/van-aert-wins-mens-cyclocross-world-cup-koksijde-in-solo-fashion_353873#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:50:16 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353873

Wout Van Aert rode, ran, and pushed his bike to victory at the Koksijde World Cup to claim a solo victory. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

The Belgian rides alone for the second half of the race to claim victory

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Wout Van Aert rode, ran, and pushed his bike to victory at the Koksijde World Cup to claim a solo victory. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team) rode to a solo win at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup Koksijde on Saturday.

The Belgian rode ahead of Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) about halfway through the race, and he never looked back — or slowed down. Van Aert finished the race alone, crossing the line 42 seconds faster than Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and 53 ticks ahead of van der Poel.

“It was pretty amazing to cross the finish line alone, with a big gap in front of the others,” said Van Aert. “I never thought that before the race I could finish the race that way, but it’s incredible to win the race.”

When Van Aert and van der Poel were at the front, a large group battled for third place on the sandy course. As the race wore on, however, the field began to stretch out.

Van der Poel faded, which allowed Pauwels to surge past him with a handful of laps remaining. The chase was on from there, but Pauwels, who hails from Belgium, was unable to reach Van Aert.

With riders still vying for third behind him, Pauwels kept up his chase and was able to hold off the charging racers to grab second.

“I didn’t know the guys were gone,” Pauwels said referring to Van Aert and Van der Poel. “I suddenly found out Van Aert was leading by 35 seconds!

“The [World Cup leader's] jersey was the most important today. It’s good Mathieu was in between me and the rest. … Once I attacked, I also didn’t know Mathieu was there. I had a pretty good lap, but I think Wout was much stronger”

Van Aert dedicated his win to Belgian racer Niels Albert, who retired abruptly in May with a heart condition. Albert is now the sport director for Van Aert’s Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team.

“It’s a really special race for my team leader Niels Albert,” Van Aert said. “Before the race he asked me to do something special, and this victory is for him.

“He always gives me advice, so that’s not a big difference. But today he has the experience in this race on how to win it. He won it at the worlds and also last year. So he knows how to control the race when you’re alone in the front. And that’s the most difficult part of the race, you have a gap, but you have to hold on that gap. And you can only do that if you find the right rhythm, and that worked out perfectly.”

The course is known for its very difficult sandy sections. With huge ruts from the other races happening at Koksijde, only a few riders could ride the soft sand, while many ran. If there wasn’t anyone around them, they had a decent chance of making it. But riders in groups were forced to dismount and either shoulder their bike or push it.

Van Aert, the reigning under-23 world champion, won the Koppenbergcross round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series in early November.

“I’m still very young, and I can win races like this right now, and I hope I can win more races in the future,” Van Aert said. “Now it’s too soon after the race to make big statements, but this is a great start of my career with two big victories [in Koksijde and on the Koppenberg] in one month, and I hope the rest of the season I can hold on this kind of shape.”

Earlier on Saturday, another young rider, 16-year-old American Gage Hecht won the junior race in Koksijde. He finished ahead of two Belgians, Alessio Dhoore and Stefano Museeuw.

Dan Seaton contributed to this report.

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Cant wins women’s World Cup ’cross race in Koksijde http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cant-wins-world-cup-cross-race-koksijde_353868 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/cant-wins-world-cup-cross-race-koksijde_353868#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:16:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353868

Belgian and European champion Sanne Cant claimed a World Cup win on the dunes of Koksijde. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

The Belgian finishes ahead of two Dutch riders to claim victory

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Belgian and European champion Sanne Cant claimed a World Cup win on the dunes of Koksijde. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) rode to victory in the women’s race at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup stop in Koksijde on Saturday.

The Belgian finished ahead of Dutch riders Sabrina Stultiens and Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF), who placed second and third at six seconds back in the Belgian race. Koksijde is the second stop of six on the Cyclocross World Cup.

“I’m in really good shape I think and today I think I was not the best of the three, but I had a good plan in my head,” Cant said. “And if you are in good shape, it all goes well.”

The difficult course had several sandy sections, which slowed down the racing and saw several riders either crashing or quickly dismounting to carry/push their bikes through the soft, thick stuff.

“The sand was really difficult. I was in front all the time, but it was not easy to get a gap. But the last lap I did it,” Cant said. “The sand, I really ride good in the sand, but it’s very hard, because it’s dry and there are a lot of sand sections.”

American Katie Compton had an asthma attack and suffered from allergies during the race and finished 10th.

“I just had an asthma attack and allergies,” Compton said. “I don’t know, I was just struggling with allergies even yesterday pre-riding, and just today going hard like that. And then I’m coming back from being sick, so I don’t have the fitness, and the sand, the fitness, the asthma attack, a little bit of everything, I just couldn’t go fast today.

“It was hard, it was a really hard day and just, on a sand course like this, you just can’t — there’s no hiding. You have a bad day and it’s not like you can sit on someone’s wheel and recover. So yeah, I just suffered and did the best I could and wasn’t quite fast enough.”

Dan Seaton contributed to this report.

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In the News: Moab BLM bans electric bikes on non-motorized trails http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/news-moab-blm-bans-electric-bikes-non-motorized-trails_353861 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/news-moab-blm-bans-electric-bikes-non-motorized-trails_353861#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:22:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353861

Moab BLM officials have confirmed that electric-assist mountain bikes will be treated as motorized vehicles, and therefore not allowed on mountain bike singletrack in Moab. Photo: Daniel Dunn | VeloNews.com

Moab authorities will not permit electric-assist mountain bikes on trails designated for non-motorized traffic

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Moab BLM officials have confirmed that electric-assist mountain bikes will be treated as motorized vehicles, and therefore not allowed on mountain bike singletrack in Moab. Photo: Daniel Dunn | VeloNews.com

MTBR.com reports that the Moab field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has posted updated guidelines to their website putting electric-powered bicycles in the same category as gas-powered vehicles, effectively banning them from numerous trails in and around the Utah mountain bike mecca.

While motor-assisted bicycles are now not allowed on mountain bike trails, they are permitted on any motorized route open to motorcycles and off-road vehicles. This includes portions of classic trails like Porcupine Rim, where e-bikes are permitted on the “Jeep road” sections, but not the singletrack.

Read more on MTBR.com >>

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Rwanda aims to become a hub for African cyclists http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/rwanda-leads-way-african-cyclists_353857 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/rwanda-leads-way-african-cyclists_353857#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:54:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353857

Janvier Hadi (Louis Garneau) of Rwanda rode in the break on stage 4 of Tour of Alberta, and would take the most aggressive jersey that day. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com (File).

Cycling in Rwanda is on the rise, in no small part due to the the Tour of Rwanda, which attracts and increasingly strong field

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Janvier Hadi (Louis Garneau) of Rwanda rode in the break on stage 4 of Tour of Alberta, and would take the most aggressive jersey that day. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com (File).

KIGALI, Rwanda (AFP) — Three years ago, Janvier Hadi pedaled a singlespeed bicycle taxi. This week, he won the prologue of the Tour of Rwanda, a success mirroring the growth of cycling in his country.

Born into a family of modest farmers, the 23-year-old took up the sport seriously after taking part in a race in the south Rwandan town of Butare.

“I heard there was a race for a singlespeed bike. … It was like a test, and I won; I got first place,” he told AFP.

“At first I thought that because I was young I didn’t have the strength like some of the others … but when I beat them, I thought finally, I can do this cycling,” he said smiling, and proudly wearing his winner’s yellow jersey after his win in the capital Kigali.

Cycling in Rwanda, as in the rest of Africa, is growing as a sport.

“We started with five riders and five-speed cycles from the 1980s, but most of the gears were not working, they were wrecks,” said Jonathan Boyer, the first American to have raced the Tour de France in 1981, and who in 2006 became the first coach of Team Rwanda.

Cycling in Rwanda “grows gradually,” said Boyer, explaining that like Hadi, many racers are former bicycle taxi drivers, who build strong muscles pedaling up Rwanda’s rolling hills, transporting people and goods. The Rwanda Cycling Federation has around 100 members.

One of Africa’s toughest races

“Cycling in Rwanda is still very young,” said federation president Aimable Bayingana. “We have not really a long history of cycling, we are building the sport, evolving at the same time as the Tour of Rwanda.”

In June, the country opened a training center in the northern town of Musanze with modern equipment, which is hoped to become a regional training center for African cycling. The Tour of Rwanda is gradually gaining a place as a key race on the continent.

Experts say the tour of Rwanda — dubbed the land of “a thousand hills” — is one of the toughest races in Africa.

Riders on the eight-day tour, which finishes Sunday, battle over 934 kilometers (580 miles) and climb some 19,500 meters (64,000 feet) with peaks rising to 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) high. Cyclists race up and down through coffee, tea, and banana plantations.

“This is a country where the hills are really tough,” said Cameroonian racer Damien Tekou. “But we came to win.”

Organizers estimate over two million spectators will see the race, nearly a fifth of Rwanda’s 11 million people.

The race’s reputation is growing, with 14 teams taking part this year, with cyclists from across the continent — including Algeria, Burundi, Morocco, Eritrea, Ethiopia — as well as from Europe too, from France, Germany, and Switzerland.

“When we compete with Europeans here it means that we Africans are developing,” added Tekou, adding his dream was the continent would soon rise up the ranks on a wider international stage.

Changing image of Rwanda

Yves Beau from the team Bike Aid — which includes Eritrean cyclist Mekseb Debesay, who is in the running to win the UCI’s Africa tour ranking — says the sport is becoming more organized.

There are increasing number of competitions held each year across the continent, he notes.

But while, for now, African cyclists are sometimes hampered by a lack of often expensive kit and the best bicycles, he believes things will improve in the future.

“I think they really have the qualities to make good cyclists,” Beau said.

Boyer points not only to Rwanda, but to Ethiopia and Eritrea, which he said have a large pool of talent, although tapping that will require serious training and investment.

For Rwanda, it offers more than the sporting race alone.

Hadi says it provides a different image of Rwanda abroad than just the memories of the 1994 genocide when an estimated 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days.

“We must move forward, to change the image of the country, so that people think not just of genocide but say, ‘Rwanda has good cyclists,’” he said.

“Like in Kenya, people talk about their marathon runners, so in Rwanda we in Rwanda we have strong riders.”

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Erica Zaveta hits her stride with the Amy D. Foundation http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/erica-zaveta-hits-stride-2014-racing-amy-d-foundation_353833 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/erica-zaveta-hits-stride-2014-racing-amy-d-foundation_353833#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:11:30 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353833

Erica Zaveta solos in for the win on day one of the 2014 Gateway Cross Cup. Photo: Matt James

Erica Zaveta rides for the Amy D. Foundation, honoring the fallen rider's memory and progressing as a young cyclocross pro

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Erica Zaveta solos in for the win on day one of the 2014 Gateway Cross Cup. Photo: Matt James

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on the Raleigh bicycles website.

Dan Dombroski held a stacked resume in his hands. It listed collegiate gold medals in mountain biking and cyclocross, solid results in road races, and a history of international-caliber racing. The name on this resume might not be familiar to all cycling fans, but Erica Zaveta has steadily been working her way to the top of the sport.

The Erwinna, Pennsylvania native had applied for the Amy D. Foundation’s first racing scholarship, a program intended to help promising young female riders progress to the top of the sport. Dombroski established the foundation days after his 26-year-old sister, Amy, was killed on a training ride in Belgium in October 2013.

Zaveta was selected from about 34 applicants based on her racing potential and ability to represent Amy Dombroski’s spirit and the Foundation. Wearing a blue and orange Amy D. Racing skinsuit in her first race of the season at CrossVegas, the biggest U.S. ‘cross race, she finished an impressive ninth against the strongest women in the country.

Now 25, Zaveta began her competitive career 10 years ago on the road. She tried cyclocross for fun before she turned 18 and won a junior state championship. At Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, and later at Brevard College, she blossomed in collegiate cycling.

“Collegiate for me was really, really huge,” said Zaveta. “It was an opportunity to race everything … mountain bike, even track for one season. I jumped in as many ‘cross races as I could.”

While at Lees-McRae in 2011, Zaveta’s teammates and friends Carla Swart and Megan Baab were hit and killed by vehicles in separate training accidents. “I guess one of the biggest connections I feel with the Dombroski family is that feeling and how long [grieving] takes,” Zaveta said.

Zaveta met Amy Dombroski in Europe during a mountain bike World Cup in 2012. New to international racing and living in a foreign country, Zaveta was struggling. Dombroski provided the medicine she needed: a friendly face, and an offer to help with questions and team opportunities.

Many aspects of cyclocross appeal to Zaveta — the 40-minute race intensity, opportunities to improve in every lap, and an individual pace combined with head-to-head racing. The friendly, fun atmosphere hooked her right away.

“When you get too serious about it, you realize you’re running around in a field with a bicycle — it gives you a good perspective,” Zaveta said.

Racing alongside the Raleigh-Clement team, Zaveta has hit personal best after personal best. First came a top-five result in mid-October. Two weeks later, she won her first UCI race at Gateway Cross Cup in St. Louis, Missouri.

When this season’s more intense racing schedule required different training, Mani and Jamey Driscoll, supplied advice.

“That for me is really a confidence booster, knowing what they’re doing and how I can incorporate it,” said Zaveta of the Raleigh-Clement riders. “Ben [Berden] has been helpful in a lot of different ways, encouraging me … They’ve really been awesome.”

Mani, who took part in the scholarship selection process, shares her expertise in technical skills and the tactical elements of racing, like when to wait, or when to attack.

“She’s a great girl, really nice and humble and willing to learn, so it is really cool to be around her,” Mani said, speaking about Zaveta earlier in the fall. “I think she is going to have a great season. It’s going to be good mojo for everyone [on the team]. I’m really happy about what they did in memory of Amy. I think it’s a great program that will help Erica get a step higher.”

As the season has progressed, Zaveta has noticed her improvement throughout the year, yet remains willing to grow into her career.

“When I won collegiate mountain bike nationals for division one, that was really cool,” Zaveta said. “It meant a lot to me, but right now I just feel like a totally different athlete. And it doesn’t feel temporary. … I definitely would say it’s my best season racing bikes so far.”

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Week in Tech: Velocio-SRAM, Bontrager 29+, power meter updates, and children’s bikes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/week-tech-velocio-sram-bontrager-29-power-meter-updates-kids-bikes_353801 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/week-tech-velocio-sram-bontrager-29-power-meter-updates-kids-bikes_353801#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:42:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353801

Though Trek does not have a 29+ bike in its lineup, yet, Bontrager brought the 3"-wide Chupacabra to market, and if you're lucky enough to own an RS-1, a 29+ tire might be one of the most fun upgrades you make this year. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

The latest tire size trend, SRAM teams with Velocio, Quarq offers power meter trade-in, and high-end kids' bikes, in time for Christmas

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Though Trek does not have a 29+ bike in its lineup, yet, Bontrager brought the 3"-wide Chupacabra to market, and if you're lucky enough to own an RS-1, a 29+ tire might be one of the most fun upgrades you make this year. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

SRAM steps in as Velocio title sponsor

Component company SRAM has stepped in as the second title sponsor of the Velocio women’s cycling team, formerly called Specialized-lululemon. The squad will be known as Velocio-SRAM in 2015.

The team, which raised about $100,000 in crowdfunding earlier this year, will also be supported by sales of Velocio team clothing, which is now available for pre-order. Team owner Kristy Scrymgeour continues to seek another major sponsor.

Read more >>

Bontrager’s new Chupacabra 29+ tire

You can never have enough wheel and tire sizes, apparently. 29+ is the latest; it’s not quite a fat-bike tire, and and it might even be compatible with your existing bike. Bontrager’s Chupacabra 29+ tire can be your bike’s big upgrade this winter. It had never crossed our mind that we could cram a 29+ tire into one of our existing 29ers, but thanks to local pro, Brady Kappius, we learned that a 3.0 tire fits just fine in a RockShox RS-1.

Bontrager’s Chupacabra weighs in at a hefty 878 grams, but this tire isn’t about counting grams. At $120 the Chupacabra is pricey. Surly also offers a 29+ tire. Its 29×3” Knard retails for $65 and is available now.

The Chupacabra is expected to hit retailers near the end of this year. We will be logging some time on it soon.

SRM offers spider-only power meters

SRM is taking its renowned power meter and stripping it down to bare bones. It is offering four spiders compatible with Specialized, Cannondale, Rotor, and SRAM crank arms for $1,490 through the SRM website — we have heard that select dealers and coaching companies may offer them for less.

The new products still sound expensive, especially when compared to Stages meters, but when compared to Quarq’s Specialized- and Cannondale-compatible spiders, the SRM spiders are more than $300 cheaper. If you already own a Quarq, and are looking to upgrade to a new power meter, keep scrolling down.

Read More >>

Quarq trade-in

Quarq is inviting current owners to trade in their old Quarqs for new models. The trade-in program is good through the end of the year, and customers can upgrade to a brand new power meter for $900.

The new power meters are available with Quarq’s new magnet-free cadence measurement, thanks to an accelerometer in the spider. Buyers will have to remove their chainrings and crank arms and send back only the spider. Upon receiving your old spider, Quarq will send out a new spider of your choice.

Read More >>

Trailcraft Cycles children’s mountain bikes

Mountain bikes for kids are inherently inexpensive and therefore usually very heavy. Trailcraft, based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, hopes to change that with its high-end titanium and aluminum 24” hardtails.

The Trailcraft Pineridge hardtails are designed around Stan’s 24” wheels. Chainstays are quite short, to help children pop the front wheel off the ground, and corner with confidence. Trailcraft created its own cranks with 152mm arms, 32×22-tooth chainrings, and a bashguard to protect it all, as small wheels mean lower bottom brackets.

The Trailcraft bikes will be produced in small batches, but can deliver by Christmas if you order soon. The complete Aluminum Pineridge 24 retails for $1,700 and can be purchased through Kickstarter, but you won’t need to wait for Trailcraft to reach their goal, they’ll ship in a week or two, and it will make a great gift this holiday season — just hope that your kid doesn’t grow out of it too fast.

Read More >>

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Astana announces new sponsor for women’s team http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/astana-launches-womens-team_353826 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/astana-launches-womens-team_353826#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:17:10 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353826

Astana is stepping up its commitment to its women's squad, which placed 10th at world team time trial championships in 2014. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Astana is investing in women's professional racing with an Italian-based team of about 15 young riders it hopes to develop

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Astana is stepping up its commitment to its women's squad, which placed 10th at world team time trial championships in 2014. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Olympic time trial champion and former world time trial champion Zulfia Zabirova will join forces with Maurizio Fabretto to launch Astana’s new women’s cycling team in 2015. The team will field a roster of about 15 riders, mostly young athletes that it hopes to develop into seasoned pros.

The team will be officially named Astana-Acca Due O, and it will be registered in Kazakhstan. Many of the riders will come from Eastern Europe, but the team will also have strong Italian flavor. It will have a headquarters in Cornuda, Veneto, and sponsor Acca Due O is an Italian water treatment company.

“The project is very exciting,” said Zabirova, supervisor of the entire sport management, “And so is the challenge: [Our] long-term goal is to bring Astana to be the first team in the world within four years. During last edition of Asia championships and world championships we saw encouraging things by young Kazakhs. “We have very professional coaches and sport directors, and I’m sure that they’ll know how to let them show their full potential.”

The Astana BePink women’s team placed 10th at 2014 world team time trial championships in Ponferrada, Spain.

The team had a few notable victories in 2014, including Alena Amialiusik’s wins in the Belarus national road and time trial championships, Doris Schweizer’s stage 1 win at Tour de Bretagne Féminin, and Amialiusik’s stage 5 win at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche.

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Quintana, Valverde to share leadership at 2015 Tour, Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/quintana-valverde-share-leadership-2015-tour-vuelta_353815 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/11/news/quintana-valverde-share-leadership-2015-tour-vuelta_353815#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:22:51 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=353815

After Movistar's dual-leader strategy payed off in the Vuelta, the Spanish team plans to send Quintana and Valverde to the Tour. Though Quintana is their best hope for yellow, Valverde will be ready to step in if things go wrong. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File)

Movistar aims to break the mold with a two-leader plan for the Tour de France that focuses on Quintana but keeps Valverde on deck

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After Movistar's dual-leader strategy payed off in the Vuelta, the Spanish team plans to send Quintana and Valverde to the Tour. Though Quintana is their best hope for yellow, Valverde will be ready to step in if things go wrong. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File)

PAMPLONA, Spain (VN) — Don’t expect behind-the-scenes drama between Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana heading into the 2015 Tour de France.

A house united is always stronger than a house divided. That’s the philosophy behind Movistar’s provocative decision to bring both Valverde and Quintana as leaders to both the Tour and Vuelta a España.

Valverde promised there would not be a repeat of the soap opera that engulfed Team Sky as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome fought publicly and privately for control of the British team.

“This is nothing like Froome and Wiggins, far from it,” Valverde said Friday during a press conference. “I have no problem working with Nairo. We’ve been together these past two seasons, and we get along well. First, we go to the Tour with the idea of riding for Nairo, and then we’ll see what happens.”

There is no rancor between Quintana and Valverde, and they’re friends on and off the bike. And Valverde is the first to admit that the 24-year-old Colombian has a better chance of winning the Tour than he does.

“It’s very clear that Nairo has the qualities to win the Tour. I can be close, but it’s more complicated for me,” Valverde continued. “For the Tour, first we’ll back Nairo, then me. We’re a lot stronger together than he or I riding alone.”

Movistar is clearly taking a different approach to the Tour. Most major teams are backing one lone leader, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Froome, and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) enjoying complete backing from their respective teams. Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue said the team has the “good fortune” to have two riders capable of leading who are also committed to working together.

“With Nairo and Alejandro working together, we have better chances of success. We are stronger together, rather than dividing our strength with distinct calendars,” Unzue said. “They can share the responsibility of the race between them. We go with Nairo as leader, but [with] Alejandro we have the assurance of a leader who has the experience that few in the peloton can bring to the Tour.”

This season, Movistar split the pair, sending Quintana to the Giro, which he promptly won, while Valverde got his shot at the Tour, where he finished a disappointing fourth.

Going into 2015, Unzue sat down with riders and staff to gauge the team’s mood and ambitions for a new season. The veteran Spaniard manager said they took lessons out of the 2014 Vuelta a España, when both Valverde and Quintana shared leadership. Quintana crashed out, but Valverde picked up the baton, and rode to third overall behind Contador.

Movistar is hoping to apply that Vuelta template to the 2015 Tour, with Quintana is the top captain, and Valverde poised in the wings if anything happens.

Movistar boss Unzue also confirmed that Quintana will not defend his Giro d’Italia crown, and instead will target the Tour and Vuelta double, with Valverde at his side.

“We have the Giro for younger riders who are looking for their chance to lead, such as Beñat Intxausti, Jesus Herrada, or Ion Izagirre,” Unzue said. “We believe the time is right for Nairo to target the Tour, and this route is ideal for him, as well as Alejandro.”

The decision to join Valverde and Quintana at the hip for the Tour simply reflects the reality within the Movistar camp. Valverde, 35, couldn’t quite reach the podium in 2014, finishing fourth, but he remains an explosive and productive rider who is a factor in any race he starts. And Quintana, despite winning the Giro in impressive fashion in May, remains relatively inexperienced at just 24.

“We cannot forget that Nairo is still a ‘chaval,’ and he is still progressing as a rider and a leader,” Unzue continued. “Valverde brings a depth of experience and tranquility that is invaluable to Nairo. And with Nairo there, Valverde doesn’t have to carry the entire weight of the team by himself. They’re stronger as a partnership working together.”

Quintana, too, seemed content to have WorldTour winner Valverde as his wingman. Not only will it give Movistar a one-two GC punch that the other top rivals will not have (assuming both survive the Tour’s treacherous first week), but it helps take the pressure off each of them.

“It could be a complicated situation, but we manage it well,” Quintana said. “It fills me with pride that a rider like Alejandro would vow to help me in the Tour. I am convinced that we are stronger together than ride separately.”

Sharing Tour leadership typically has backfired — look no further than the intrigue of the 1986 Tour with Greg LeMond battling Bernhard Hinault — but with Valverde and Quintana, it just might work.

Perhaps neither will start as a five-star favorite, but they will present a formidable pair that will create complications for their rivals.

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