VeloNews.com » News http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 22 Aug 2014 03:52:11 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Voigt’s final hurrah: Not on top, but does it really matter? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/voigts-final-hurrah-top-really-matter_342063 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/voigts-final-hurrah-top-really-matter_342063#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:51:38 +0000 Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=342063

Voigt was met with more applause on the podium than the stage winner or the race leader. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

In the end, it didn’t matter if Jens Voigt had won or lost in Colorado Springs. He'd put on a show, one last time

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Voigt was met with more applause on the podium than the stage winner or the race leader. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — In the end, it really didn’t matter if he’d won or lost.

Jens Voigt, the 42-year-old German whose career has spanned two decades, was off the front, alone, battling against the wind, the peloton, and his own inner demons, one last time.

In his final race, in what has been a season-long farewell tour, the fan favorite from Trek Factory Racing was doing what he’s done best since the Clinton administration — suffering, tempting fate, attempting to defy the odds.

After making it into the day’s 12-rider breakaway, Voigt attacked with 40km remaining on stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado Springs Thursday, on the third of four 25km circuits that included a steep climb leading into the red-rock wonderland of the Garden of the Gods, followed by as a short kicker 2km from the finish line.

Voigt’s advantage was never more than 90 seconds over his former breakaway companions, but topped out at a good three minutes back to the main peloton, which consisted of an odd mix of motivated sprint teams and GC contenders.

Teams that missed the move, such as Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies and Garmin-Sharp, chased early, while teams with top sprinters, such as SmartStop, Hincapie Sportswear, and Cannondale, drove the effort late, despite the efforts of Voigt’s Trek teammates to slow the chase at the front.

On a day that wasn’t expected to impact the general classification, there was little question as to what the thousands of fans along the course hoped to see. Signs proclaiming Voigt’s catchphrase, “Shut Up Legs!” were abundant. T-shirts reading “Jens! Jens! Jens!” lined the finishing straight. Voigt had won a race at least once in every one of his 16 years as a pro, and had been winless, up to this point, in 2014. Twitter was ablaze with support for the old man who could, the hard-working father of six; there was a nearly universal desire to see the cagey, charismatic Voigt go out on top.

Within the final 10 kilometers, it was anyone’s guess as to whether the veteran breakaway specialist would hold off the hard-charging pack. The gap had fallen to one minute, and it was coming down quickly.

With 5km to go, the gap was 35 seconds. With 2km to go, and one short, steep climb remaining, the gap was under 20 seconds. Would he hold it, and win one last time? Or would he be absorbed by an unsentimental peloton? And in the end, did it matter?

Voigt’s performance, a month out from his 43rd birthday, had already been a victory of sorts. The oldest rider in the pro peloton had, once again, put on a show. He’d brought the drama. He’d given it everything, against all odds, alone, again. He’d accomplished what he’d set out to, what he’d said was his main objective coming into the race, when he hoped only to have the opportunity to “try one of my stupid breakaways one last time.”

In the end, Voigt was caught inside the final kilometer, steamrolled by hungry, younger bike racers looking to create their own legacies. Cannondale’s Elia Viviani won the stage ahead of Martin Kohler (BMC Racing). Voigt finished 67th, 52 seconds down, completely spent.

Yet during the podium celebration, where Voigt was awarded as the stage’s most aggressive rider, the cheers were, by far, the loudest of the day.

With a hard mountain stage looming on Friday (Voigt said he’d likely hide in the peloton and recover), an uphill time trial on Saturday, and a likely field sprint on Sunday, Voigt had taken his final opportunity, and he’d given his all. And in that sense, he’d gone out on top.

After the stage, VeloNews asked Voigt if — even though he hadn’t taken the stage win — he had been able to soak up the experience of one final, odds-defying breakaway, and if that wasn’t a victory in itself.

Voigt’s response was, like the man himself — energetic, entertaining, and filled with emotion.

“Despite the fact that I was hurting, yes, I was also soaking it up,” he said. “I saw all the signs on the roads — ‘Shut up legs,’ and ‘Farewell, Jens.’ I could hear the people on the road, the fans. And it felt like it was my home crowd. I wanted it like that, one more time in the last week of my career. I felt obliged to show it one more time, to try to win in the fashion they would expect.

‘Maybe, in a bizarre way, it was fitting it ended like this,” he continued. “This is the story of my life — from 20, 30, even 40 breakaways, maybe one works. This was the typical breakaway, you give it all, and you get caught. It was a perfect example of my career — you put it all on the line, you’re taking risks in looking stupid.

“I like today. It was a good day, and I’m really happy that I had it. To be honest, I was a little emotional on the podium. I think I had maybe more applause than the yellow jersey, and I was the closest to crying since the birth of my first child, 19 years ago. I was really close to having tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful and emotional moment for me, and I am happy to one more time be on the podium, with these other amazing riders. I’m happy. I feel like I accomplished something, in my last race. It was a success. I was operational today. I was a force to reckon with. I made it hard for those guys to chase me down, and they only caught me with 800 meters to go.”

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Viviani wins Pro Challenge stage 4, thwarting Voigt’s solo heroics http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/viviani-wins-pro-challenge-stage-4-thwarting-voigts-solo-heroics_342023 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/viviani-wins-pro-challenge-stage-4-thwarting-voigts-solo-heroics_342023#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:07:07 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=342023

Elia Viviani wins the sprint in downtown Colorado Springs. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Jens Voigt rocked the Garden of the Gods with a 27-mile solo attack — nearly long enough for the 42-year-old to survive for a win

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Elia Viviani wins the sprint in downtown Colorado Springs. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Cannondale’s Elia Viviani sprinted to victory in Colorado Springs in stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge.

But that wasn’t the day’s big story. Instead, aging breakaway artist Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) stole the spotlight with a 27-mile solo attack that lasted nearly long enough for him to survive for a win.

As the peloton waffled in their efforts to chase the 42-year-old leader, the gap grew.

After the final circuit in the Garden of the Gods, it looked like Voigt might have hung on to win a stage in his farewell race.

The gap slowly began to drop from 1:25, to down below one minute, to 20 seconds with a couple miles remaining. But as Voigt tackled the rise before the final kilometer, the peloton had him in its grasp.

The lone leader was overtaken in the last kilometer of racing, Viviani showed his sprinting class, taking his first major win since June’s Tour of Slovenia.

“Oh it’s difficult to close with Jens,” said Viviani. “He’s a strong man, he’s a legend man. It’s ever difficult to close [him down when he is away].”

“[It was] not disappointing, I was just ‘dammit it didn’t work,’” said Voigt. “I mean okay on the last climb, yeah I lost time on the last climb because they were fresh … I was just trying to hang on I had a minute on top and I thought it maybe was 50-50. … Once you start out there you might as well go to the end.”

Another big break goes early

A breakaway of 12 riders made their move only moments after the stage officially began.

Their gap grew as large as four minutes.

Along the way, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) reclaimed the king of the mountains (KOM) jersey, winning three intermediate climbs in the Garden of the Gods.

As for the intermediate sprints, UnitedHealthcare’s Danny Summerhill took charge. A fixture in this Pro Challenge’s breakaways, the Coloradan earned maximum points on the first and second trips through Colorado Springs. With that, he momentarily surpassed his teammate Kiel Reijnen, who led the green jersey competition at the start of the day.

Heading into the final half of the race, a combination of Garmin-Sharp and UnitedHealthcare rode at the front of the peloton to keep the gap manageable, around 2:20.

With 27 miles to go, just before the third KOM sprint, Voigt counterattacked after his teammate Laurent Didier made a move that was brought back by the chase. Jacques-Maynes followed Voigt, won the KOM sprint, then drifted back to the chasers, who were about 20 seconds behind.

Voigt pressed on alone through the punchy, curvy roads in the Garden of the Gods.

A nail-biting pursuit

With 20 miles to go, the 42-year-old had a one minute gap over the chase group. The peloton was 2:45 behind the lead.

The field caught the remainder of the chase with about 11 miles to go, at the base of the steep climb up Ridge Road to the KOM line. At that point, Voigt’s lead had fallen to 1:25.

Robbie Squire attacked the field after the KOM, with 9.5 miles to go. But he only dangled off the front, eventually being brought back by a peloton driven by Tinkoff-Saxo, Garmin-Sharp, and Cannondale.

With around five miles left, Fränk Schleck and Laurent Didier moved to the front, disrupting the chase for their teammate in the lead. The gap was 55 seconds.

BMC moved to the front in the final miles, likely protecting Tejay van Garderen from danger.

However, most of the pacemaking was left to Cannondale in the finale.

For a few minutes, in the closing miles, it looked like Voigt would pull it off.

His gap dropped, but eventually it held steady around 20 seconds

On the final rise into the right-hand bend that introduced the last kilometer of racing, the peloton had the leader in its sights.

With 750 meters left, the peloton pushed past the intrepid German, led by SmartStop.

The sprint’s impetus came from a leadout by Hincapie Sportswear Development’s Tyler Magner. Elia Viviani (Cannondale) was tight on his wheel and made a decisive jump, not to be challenged as he rode to his first win at this year’s USA Pro Challenge.

“After these three stages … it’s very difficult with the altitude,” said Viviani. “The first stage we worked all day, and we got nothing. Today, we did the perfect tactic, and in the last lap made strong work for the first victory for Cannondale.

“This is the last race for Jens, but I think he is the same as a young rider, same as a first [year] pro rider. Always he [is] the dangerous man. … Every day he go to the breakaway and attack. I [am] proud for Jens.”

Voigt was not altogether dejected on the line. He was pleased with his effort, and willing to put a positive spin on the ill-fated breakaway.

“You put it all on the line, you roll the dice, and it works or it doesn’t work,” said Voigt. “I can’t complain.

“I was trying to win it in my way. Other teams try to win it in their way. That’s just how it turns out in the end.

“I don’t think I did a mistake, or I could have done anything better. I took as many risks as I could downhill. I was working as hard as I could on the flats and the climbs.”

Martin Kohler (BMC) finished second, and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) sprinted to third, a surprising result from a rider who rode to the same placing in Wednesday’s mountain stage.

The GC standings remained unchanged, with van Garderen holding his lead over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Ben Hermans (BMC).

Even the young race leader saw Voigt as the sentimental favorite. “I was pulling for [Voigt],” said van Garderen. “I was hoping he’d stay out there. But the sprinters teams, they don’t have many chances in this race, so they were pretty keen on getting him back, but I was rooting for him.”

Reijnen kept the green jersey with a fifth-place finish, nudging past teammate Summerhill on points. “I gotta be honest, I’m impressed Viviani was able to hang on,” Reijnen said. “It was kind of a grueling day. … Maybe he was a little fresher than some of us. It was always going to be tough to beat him [today].”

Friday’s stage 5 will take the riders on a 104-mile ride from Woodland Park to Breckenridge.

Full stage 4 results.

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Vuelta a Espana start list http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/preliminary-vuelta-espana-start-list_341121 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/preliminary-vuelta-espana-start-list_341121#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:00:28 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341121

Twenty-two teams will line up at the start of the Vuelta, August 23 in Jerez de la Frontera

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Ag2r-La Mondiale
Carlos BETANCUR
Maxime BOUET
Hubert DUPONT
Damien GAUDIN
Patrick GRETSCH
Yauheni HUTAROVICH
Lloyd MONDORY
Rinaldo NOCENTINI
Sebastien TURGOT

Astana
Fabio ARU
Mikel LANDA MEANA
Tanel KANGERT
Daniil FOMINYKH
Alexey LUTSENKO
Paolo TIRALONGO
Andery ZEITS
Andrea GUARDINI
Jacopo GUARNIERI

Belkin
Stef CLEMENT
Laurens TEN DAM
Robert GESINK
Moreno HOFLAND
Wilco KELDERMAN
Paul MARTENS
Maarten TJALLINGII
Robert WAGNER
Martijn KEIZER

BMC Racing
Samuel SANCHEZ
Cadel EVANS
Philippe GILBERT
Steve MORABITO
Dominik NERZ
Manuel QUINZIATO
Rohan DENNIS
Lawrence WARBASSE
Danilo WYSS

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
David ARROYO
Antonio PIEDRA
Amets TXURRUKA
Pello BILBAO
Francesco LASCA
Javier ARAMENDIA
Karol DOMAGALSKI
Luis MAS GUILLERMO
Luis Leon SANCHEZ

Cannondale
George BENNETT
Maciej BODNAR
Guillaume BOIVIN
Paolo LONGO BORGHINI
Damiano CARUSO
Alessandro DE MARCHI
Oscar GATTO
Matthias KRIZEK
Peter SAGAN

Cofidis
Yoann BAGOT
Jerome COPPEL
Romain HARDY
Gert JOEAAR
Christophe LE MEVEL
Guillaume LEVARLET
Luis Angel MATE MAROONES
Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA
Romain ZINGLE

Europcar

Dan Craven
Jimmy Engoulvent
Romain Sicard
Yannick Martinez
Natnael Berhane
Jérôme Cousin
Maxime Mederel
Bryan Nauleau
Vincent Jérôme

FDJ.fr
Nacer BOUHANNI
Kenny ELISSONDE
Murilo FISCHER
Laurent MANGEL
Thibaut PINOT
Anthony ROUX
Geoffrey SOUPE
Johan LE BON
Cedric PINEAU

Garmin-Sharp
Nathan BROWN
Andre CARDOSO
Koldo FERNANDEZ DE LAREA
Nathan HAAS
Ryder HESJEDAL
Dan MARTIN
David MILLAR
Andrew TALANSKY
Johan VANSUMMEREN

Giant-Shimano
Nikias ARNDT
Warren BARGUIL
Lawson CRADDOCK
John DEGENKOLB
Johannes FROHLINGER
Chad HAGA
Koen DE KORT
Tobias LUDVIGSSON
Ramon SINKELDAM

IAM Cycling
Marcel AREGGER
Jonathan FUMEAUX
Sebastien HINAULT
Pirmin LANG
Matteo PELUCCHI
Vicente REYNES
Johann TSCHOPP
Aleksejs SARAMOTINS
Patrick SCHELLING

Katusha
Giampaolo CARUSO
Sergei CHERNETSKIY
Alexander KOLOBNEV
Dmitriy KOZONCHUK
Alberto LOSADA
Daniel MORENO
Joaquin RODRIGUEZ
Iurii TROFIMOV
Eduard VORGANOV

Lampre-Merida
Winner ANACONA GOMEZ
Damiano CUNEGO
Elia FAVILLI
Roberto FERRARI
Christopher HORNER
Przemyslaw NIEMIEC
Filippo POZZATO
Maximiliano RICHEZE
Josè Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ

Lotto-Belisol
Sander ARMEE
Jens DEBUSSCHERE
Adam HANSEN
Greg HENDERSON
Pim LIGTHART
Maxime MONFORT
Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK
Vegard BREEN
Bart DE CLERCQ

Movistar
Andrey AMADOR
Jonathan CASTROVIEJO
Imanol ERVITI
Jose HERRADA
Gorka IZAGUIRRE
Adriano MALORI
Nairo QUINTANA
Alejandro VALVERDE
Javier MORENO

MTN-Qhubeka
Gerald CIOLEK
Jacques Janse VAN RENSBURG
Merhawi KUDUS
Louis MEINTJES
Sergio PARDILLA
Kristian SBARAGLI
Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT
Jay THOMSON
Jaco VENTER

Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Tom BOONEN
Gianluca BRAMBILLA
Tony MARTIN
Wout POELS
Rigoberto URAN URAN
Martin VELITS
Nikolas MAES
Pieter SERRY
Carlos Verona

Orica-GreenEdge
Samuel BEWLEY
Esteban CHAVES
Simon CLARKE
Mitch DOCKER
Brett LANCASTER
Michael MATTHEWS
Cameron MEYER
Ivan SANTAROMITA
Adam YATES

Sky
Dario CATALDO
Philip DEIGAN
Christopher FROOME
Pete KENNAUGH
Vasil KIRYIENKA
Christian KNEES
Mikel NIEVE
Luke ROWE
Kanstantsin SIUTSOU

Tinkoff-Saxo
Alberto CONTADOR
Chris Anker SORENSEN
Daniele BENATI
Jesus HERNANDEZ
Matteo TOSATTO
Michael VALGREN
Olivier ZAUGG
Sergio PAULINHO
Ivan ROVNY

Trek Factory Racing
Julian ARREDONDO
Fabian CANCELLARA
Bob JUNGELS
Yaroslav POPOVYCH
Jesse SERGENT
Jasper STUYVEN
Kristof VANDEWALLE
Haimar ZUBELDIA
Fabio FELLINE

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Cannondale-Slipstream merger a reflection of Italy’s economic woes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/cannondale-slipstream-merger-a-reflection-of-italys-economic-woes_341987 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/cannondale-slipstream-merger-a-reflection-of-italys-economic-woes_341987#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:09:22 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341987

Cannondale will merge with Slipstream Sports after this season, which will leave just one UCI ProTeam registered in Italy. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The squad's 2015 merger with Slipstream Sports indicates how far Italian cycling has fallen from its glory days

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Cannondale will merge with Slipstream Sports after this season, which will leave just one UCI ProTeam registered in Italy. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — The closure of Cannondale/Liquigas after 10 years reflects the current economic plight in Italy. The squad’s general manager Roberto Amadio explained simply that the situation in Italy does not support first division teams.

“This is a refection on the Italian economy,” Amadio told VeloNews.

“It’s a hard time for all the Italian companies, above all for sport. Cycling lives only on sponsorship, and this is a reflection on the economics and politics in Italy. Nothing more.”

On Wednesday, Garmin-Sharp CEO Jonathan Vaughters announced that his team will lose its title sponsor for next year but will welcome Cannondale to the mix. The American bike company (Cannondale is owned by a Canadian company, Dorel Industries — Ed.) has been sponsoring Italy’s top team for four years but with the merger of the teams, it will now back Vaughters’ outfit as its bike and title sponsor through 2017.

Slipstream Sports, the American sports management group behind the current iteration of Garmin-Sharp, has yet to confirm which riders or staff from the 2014 Cannondale squad it will take on board. Vaughters, however, said he will offer to keep all eight riders with existing Cannondale contracts, a list that includes Moreno Moser and under-23 world champion Matej Mohoric. Davide Formolo already confirmed he would join Slipstream’s 2015 team.

The 2014 version of Cannondale consists of 69 people — 28 riders, 12 soigneurs, 10 mechanics, six sport directors, three doctors and coaches, two drivers, and one team manager, cook, secretary, press officer, and hospitality manager.

Amadio began his team with Italian sponsor Liquigas in earnest in 2005. Cannondale joined as a bike supplier and took over the license of the team in 2013. Along the way, the 51-year-old Italian guided the team to three grand tour wins and three green jerseys at the Tour de France.

Ivan Basso, who won the Giro d’Italia for the team in 2010 and also won the race in 2006, and Peter Sagan have already signed contacts to join Tinkoff-Saxo next season.

“I’m sad to see these riders go, for sure,” Amadio said. “In 10 years, I’ve created good teams with good young talents, from Roman Kreuziger to Vincenzo Nibali, Peter Sagan to Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato to Ivan Santaromita … They were all my riders.

“The current crop includes Formolo, Moser, and Mohoric … For sure, I’m sad to see them go, but that’s how cycling goes. I’m sure they’ll do well, they are great riders.”

Amadio said Cannondale is leaving behind one of cycling’s prized, 18 first-division licenses in the process. He has no intentions to find a new sponsor and continue the team. He will instead ride out the 2014 season — he is now in Spain with Sagan for the Vuelta a España — before deciding his next move.

“It’s too early to say what everyone’s going to do,” added Amadio. “The team is trying to organize itself, the mechanics, the masseurs and the staff. We’ll have to see in this period if they are able to find work. They are all great people, so I think that most of them will be able to find a solution.”

Times are tough, however, in Italy. Earlier in August, the nation’s economy slid back into a recession for a third time since 2008, with national public debt still hovering at 2 trillion euros ($2.65 trillion). Without Cannondale in Italy, only Lampre-Merida remains the country’s only first division team for 2015.

“Italy has the riders, resources and directors who are smart, capable and able to build great team. When the economy returns to a good level in Italy, the big teams will return, as well,” Amadio said. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait a few years before that happens.”

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Heat, early TT to set tone for Vuelta a Espana http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/heat-early-tt-set-tone-vuelta-espana_341976 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/heat-early-tt-set-tone-vuelta-espana_341976#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:32:11 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341976

The 2014 Vuelta a España will treat the peloton to some of the hottest weather of the season, as well as some of the most difficult climbing. Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Hilly as ever, the Vuelta favors climbers, but this year's champion will need a strong time trial game to prevail in the Spanish heat

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The 2014 Vuelta a España will treat the peloton to some of the hottest weather of the season, as well as some of the most difficult climbing. Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (VN) — Everyone agrees that a string of brutal climbing stages in the third week across northern Spain will crown the eventual winner of the Vuelta a España, but Africa-like heat and a mid-race time trial will put a decisive stamp in the first half of the season’s third grand tour.

After a summer racing in unseasonably cool weather, the peloton will face extreme heat for the first time in a major race all year, with temperatures expected to climb into the high 90s throughout the first week across sunbaked Andalusia.

Add a challenging, 36.7km individual time trial on stage 10, and the first half of the Vuelta will serve to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“Most of the time differences at the Vuelta are not that big, so the time trials will be crucial,” said Lotto-Belisol sport director Mario Aerts. “The toughest part of the Vuelta is in the last eight stages, with three climbing stages before the second rest day.”

In fact, the first half is book-ended by two time trials. The Vuelta opens with an evening team time trial on the streets of Jerez de la Frontera, and ends with the rolling, challenging time trial at Borja at stage 10.

Teams such as Movistar, Garmin-Sharp, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Sky should be in the running for the opening-day spoils, and their leaders may gain some time against GC rivals.

The inclusion of an individual time trial on stage 10 at the Vuelta’s equator could have a major impact on how the GC plays out in the climbs looming in the Vuelta’s second half.

Riders such as Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who crushed a similar course during the Giro d’Italia in May, and Chris Froome (Sky) could take significant gains on climbers such as Joaquin Rodríguez (Katusha), Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

In fact, Horner admitted he’s worried about the TT prowess of some of his rivals going into his title defense.

“Froome is most difficult because he time trials so well. It’s difficult to put odds against the guy not being a favorite,” Horner said. “The problem I have is that I don’t TT that well, so I need to make up time somewhere else. Last year, I had best climbing legs, and the TT they had was a shorter one, and I came with an amazingly strong team, we’ll see how this year shakes out.”

The Vuelta remains, at its core, a climber’s course, even though this year’s edition puts the brakes on an ever-increasing extremism in route selection seen in recent few years.

Last year’s Vuelta found a new limit, with 14 uphill and summit finales, including several key climbs in the first week.

This year’s course offers only six true mountaintop finishes, with three time trials, and a few more options for the pure sprinters than the Vuelta’s served up over past editions.

Two climbs before the first time trial, at La Zubia on stage 6 and Valdelinares in stage 9, typically spit a few pretenders out the back, and serve as a barometer of who can win the race.

On paper, the first half would favor Froome and perhaps even Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who both could take gains and defend them in the mountains.

Of course, a rider a must have the climbing legs to match the inevitable attacks surely to come in Asturias.

One rider for whom the first half of the Vuelta fits like a glove is Nairo Quintana. Not only will he be protected by a strong and motivated Movistar team, he will be able to defend in the Borja time trial. Quintana nearly won a shorter time trial en route to the overall at the Vuelta a Burgos last week, and he’s been working hard to limit his losses against the clock. If Quintana rolls out of the first half of the Vuelta in the pole position, it will be very hard for anyone to challenge him in the mountains.

“I’ve been working hard on my time trialing. I know it’s an important discipline, especially if I want to win grand tours,” Quintana said last week. “With my build, I know I will never be able to beat the specialists, but on ground that favors me, I can defend well, and perhaps even take time.”

And then there’s the short, 9.7km final-day time trial waiting in Santiago de Compostela, though at that distance, it will likely not prove decisive after such a brutal final week.

The real GC battle should unfold in northern Spain, with hard climbing finales at Sabero, Covadonga, and Farrapona on stages 14-16, and then a potential race-breaker at Ancares in the wilds of Galicia on the penultimate day.

The Vuelta opens with a world-class start list, perhaps its best in years, but the heat of Andalusia and the mid-race time trial will likely see more than a few of the marquee starters lose options for overall victory.

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Riders, directors, call for weather standards and clearer rules http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/riders-directors-call-weather-standards-clearer-rules_341904 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/riders-directors-call-weather-standards-clearer-rules_341904#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:53:45 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341904

Perfect skies greeted the peloton for stage 3 at the USA Pro Challenge, a far cry from Tuesday's rainy, muddy conditions. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The weather-induced neutralization of stage 2 at the USA Pro Challenge is generating much discussion in the peloton

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Perfect skies greeted the peloton for stage 3 at the USA Pro Challenge, a far cry from Tuesday's rainy, muddy conditions. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

MONARCH MOUNTAIN, Colorado (VN) — The high Colorado sun pushed the clouds away at the start of the third stage at the USA Pro Challenge in Gunnison on Wednesday, and Tuesday’s thunderstorm-induced neutralization was fading away with the morning’s dew.

The brief stoppage, which occurred on the descent into Crested Butte and about seven miles from the finish line, was originally supposed to come atop the muddy Kebler Pass. It ultimately did not play a huge role in the race, and the general classification sat, likely, where it would have been anyway. But there was something about it that just didn’t square with the peloton. Yet again this season, an attempt to neutralize a race had failed, though the peloton did stop as it headed into Crested Butte; at the Giro d’Italia, it didn’t seem like the leaders ever slowed down at all.

“I’m still trying to understand the logic of the decision that was taken,” Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Rogers said. Rogers has been involved in the two aforementioned neutralizations, or lack thereof.

“To me it didn’t make sense to neutralize it, or stop the race. Because seeing we’d already passed the dangerous section. I can understand that without the radios it’s not easy to communicate the message. But also I think, once again, I said this at the Giro, we just need clear rules for extreme racing conditions. And I hope the UCI comes out with some rules saying, all right, above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or below X, and then the jury can make proper decisions. But with the ambiguous state that the current rule says, how can they make a decision?”

That much riders and directors can mostly agree on.

Racers are going to race regardless, and the sport’s promoters have contracts to honor and television schedules to consider. All of that results in pressure to have a race when, perhaps, a race should be altered.

“I honestly think there needs to be protocol that’s adopted universally,” said UnitedHealthcare’s Lucas Euser. “All the organizations that run our sport need to come together collectively to make sure there are proper protocols and measures that can be taken under extreme conditions.”

Road racing is a sport like no other; its arenas are streets and mountains, all under the canopy of weather. The flock of riders has different goals and ambitions, but singularly, they all want to finish. As fast as possible.

“We go forward. And we go forward fast. And we want to get to that finish line. And we’re hungry for the victory. And I understand under extreme conditions like [Monday’s] there’s some miscommunication and things got a little bit out of control,” Euser said. “But in the end everybody was on the same page. Everybody was doing the same thing. And I think the race organizers and the UCI commissaires did everything they could under the circumstances. And I think it was fair. I think that today we move on and we race our bikes again.”

Hincapie Sportswear Development rider Robin Carpenter parlayed the precious seconds of his break into a stage win, and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) moved closer to the lead, which he now holds. Van Garderen was annoyed at the stoppage at the time, but now he is taking a longer view.

“We wanted the stage win [Tuesday]. I’m not disappointed at all. I think it was an amazing ride by Carpenter,” said van Garderen, who won Wednesday’s stage 3. “But at the end of the day I can’t be too disappointed because in the end I was beaten by [Alex] Howes at the line anyways. I wasn’t out for revenge or anything. It was more like, ‘we’re just out to do our best.’”

The neutralization itself is a singular moment in the race, but one that’s connected to larger issues in the sport and a lack of standards.

“It just needs to be standardized. X meters above sea level, X degrees, raining. Race off. Because I really feel for the commissaires in a lot of situations,” Garmin-Sharp sport director Charly Wegelius said. “Because the rules, as they stand at the moment, leave so much open to interpretation.”

Furthermore, it’s not even clear what neutralization really means. Couple that with a lack of race radios — and even a failure of organizational radios, as occurred Monday — and it’s a looming issue in the middle of a surging bike race.

“Is it stopping? Is it not stopping? The whole thing about the red flags at the Giro. I don’t even think that’s in the rules. So they need to be clearer, and those decisions need to be made much more in advance,” Wegelius said. “Trying to stop a race at that stage — it’s like a herd of cattle. It’s just not going to happen. Also when the race is so split up like that, quantifying who’s behind is actually more important I think than who’s in front with the time gaps, because that’s really race-changing stuff.”

While most called for hard-and-fast rules, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies sport director Eric Wohlberg saw a need for some grey area, rather than black and white.

“The safest thing is to just let the guys race for the most part,” Wohlberg said. “If there’s a train wreck in front of them then you’ve got to stop the race, or if there’s lightning strikes on the side of the road, then you’ve got to do something about it. That weather was epic, you know, the riders will get themselves safely down the hill. They crash on beautiful, dry roads, too. On a shitty road like that they’re actually going to be pretty cautious.

“I think the rules — there’s a lot of grey areas in the rules and sometimes you just can’t have black and white. Hopefully the officials have the knowledge and personal experience of riding in those conditions as a rider to know what the guys can take and what they can’t take.”

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Danielson unable to match van Garderen’s poise — and legs — at Pro Challenge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/danielson-unable-to-match-van-garderens-poise-and-legs-at-pro-challenge_341901 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/danielson-unable-to-match-van-garderens-poise-and-legs-at-pro-challenge_341901#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:33:50 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341901

Tom Danielson attacked several times during stage 3, but he was unable to shake his rivals. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Garmin-Sharp suffered a blow on Tuesday when Tejay van Garderen won stage 3 at the USA Pro Challenge to take the race lead

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Tom Danielson attacked several times during stage 3, but he was unable to shake his rivals. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

MONARCH MOUNTAIN, Colorado (VN) — On the day the Garmin-Sharp team announced a new sponsorship deal that will keep the Jonathan Vaughters’ outfit very much alive, a big day at the USA Pro Challenge wasn’t in the cards.

On the gradual pitch of Monarch Pass, against a headwind, the Garmin squad suffered a setback when Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) distanced themselves from Garmin’s GC man, Tom Danielson. As it stands now, Danielson, who is fresh off a Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah win, is third, 36 seconds back of stage winner van Garderen with four stages remaining.

Tactically, Garmin tried to make the race hard early on, knowing the climb’s shallow depth didn’t suit the feathery Danielson’s strength on the steeps.

“We made a plan to race it super aggressively, and it didn’t really turn out the way I wanted it to,” Danielson said at the finish line. “We wanted to force them to ride and use their guys. Yeah. It turned out kinda disappointing.”

Van Garderen and Majka jumped ahead with about a kilometer remaining and weren’t seen again by the others. Garmin, though, felt it wouldn’t be able to wait around and get hit with a late attack by van Garderen, even though that’s exactly what happened.

“We knew with the grade of it being relatively easy, and with the headwind, it wasn’t down Tom’s street. Ergo the tactic that we chose, you know?” said Garmin sport director Charly Wegelius. “They went away with their legs, Majka and Tejay. So full respect to them. Can’t win ’em all. You ride to win and that’s how it is. And we’ll see how [Danielson’s] feeling tomorrow.”

For van Garderen, Garmin was the team to watch, and the race leader proved strategically keen during a hectic race.

“[Garmin] were obviously really aggressive today. They were even aggressive on day one. … I just think they’re going to keep being aggressive. The best part is that I think Garmin’s playbook is pretty easy to read,” van Garderen said at the post-race press conference. “I remember back in 2012 they had four GC guys … and they would use all of them and it was really hard to keep them under control. Now, it’s looking like Danielson is really their only guy. … So I think he’ll probably be aggressive but it’s not that much of a concern because now we only need to watch one guy.”

Thus far, BMC has proven to be the strongest team in the race, controlling the past two stages, and its leader seems to have done what’s necessary, at least for today, to defend his title from last year. If Danielson was his No. 1 concern, van Garderen showed Wednesday he’s in control of that matchup.

“Danielson. All due respect to Danielson,” van Garderen said. “But I think he just got a little nervous. … It never seemed like he wanted to commit to an attack. Every time he saw I was on his wheel he just kind of sat up. … But at the same time, he didn’t want anyone else going up the road … so I could just sense that he was nervous. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll just sit behind him.’”

Asked if van Garderen had done enough up Monarch to win the overall, Danielson said, only, “Ah. I don’t know.”

The race marches on to Colorado Springs next, and there’s the Vail time trial looming, in which van Garderen is favored. Garmin, though, certainly won’t lie down.

“No,” Wegelius said. “You know us better than that.”

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Busche fighting for podium spot at Pro Challenge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/busche-fighting-podium-spot-pro-challenge_341919 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/busche-fighting-podium-spot-pro-challenge_341919#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:59:47 +0000 Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341919

Matthew Busche dropped from 5th to 6th overall on stage 3, sitting 46 seconds behind Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). Photo by Neal Rogers.

While Gamin and BMC have spent the first three days of the USA Pro Challenge watching each other, the Wisconsin native is quietly vying for

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Matthew Busche dropped from 5th to 6th overall on stage 3, sitting 46 seconds behind Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). Photo by Neal Rogers.

MONARCH MOUNTAIN, Colorado (VN) — While Gamin-Sharp and BMC Racing have spent the first three days of the USA Pro Challenge closely watching each other — with each team taking ownership of the race lead at one point — Wisconsin native Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) is quietly vying for a podium finish.

Busche was active on the final climb to Monarch Mountain Wednesday, pushing the tempo late after the group had whittled down to a select group of GC contenders. He finished eighth, 45 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and now sits sixth overall, 46 seconds down.

A pro since 2009, and the U.S. national road champ in 2011, the 29-year-old Busche finished 11th overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah two weeks ago. Among his best stage-race results are second overall at the 2012 Tour of Utah, and sixth overall at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. His best result at the Pro Challenge was eighth, in 2012. He finished 98th in his Tour de France debut last month.

At the start of stage 3, in Gunnison, Busche said the Monarch stage would be “a test.”

“It’s been a good first two stages for me. I’ve been in the right places at the right time,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty strong. Hopefully it’s a good sign that I’ve recovered from the Tour and am reaping some of those benefits. Today will be another test.”

Following the stage, VeloNews asked Busche to rate his performance on the Monarch climb.

“It was kind of up and down,” he said. “The first time up Monarch, when [Tom] Danielson attacked, I got dropped. But the team did an awesome job to help bring me back on the downhill, and on those circuits [in Salida.] I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond on the last climb. Evidently I responded okay. I think everyone was pretty dead. It’s been a hard race, with the altitude and everything. I just did my best to follow the attacks.

“There was a big lull at 3km to go, and I decided I should try something,” Busche continued. “I got a gap. I don’t really know what happened behind, but when they came by, I saw Tinkoff pulling, full gas, so I don’t think there’s anything different I could have done. I basically went all in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. At least I tried.

“I’m happy that I tried, but a little disappointed that I probably lost something [on GC] in the end, but I guess it’s better to go down fighting than to go down without trying. It’s not over. It’s a long race yet. There’s still plenty of racing. Maybe someone else will crack, or I’ll have a really good time trial. We’ll see what happens.”

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Q&A with USA Pro Challenge race leader Tejay van Garderen http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/qa-usa-pro-challenge-race-leader-tejay-van-garderen_341912 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/qa-usa-pro-challenge-race-leader-tejay-van-garderen_341912#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:40:55 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341912

Van Garderen returned to the USA Pro Challenge GC podium on Wednesday. He won stage 3 and took the leader's jersey. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

After winning stage 3 of the Pro Challenge and taking the overall race lead, van Garderen met with the press

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Van Garderen returned to the USA Pro Challenge GC podium on Wednesday. He won stage 3 and took the leader's jersey. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

After winning stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge Wednesday at Monarch Mountain and taking the overall race lead ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo rider Rafal Majka, BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen met with the press to answer questions about the stage, his biggest rivals, and what’s next at the seven-day stage race.

Q: Have you ever finished a race at this altitude? And how did your preparation at altitude, in Aspen, help you manage to day’s summit finish?
TVG: No, not unless the USA Pro Challenge has finished higher than this, otherwise this is the highest I’ve ever finished. Monarch [elevation 11,312 feet] is much higher than the [Passo dello] Stelvio, the highest road we climb in Europe, so this altitude was unlike anything that’s ever been raced. I was in Aspen for two weeks before the race. I used those days to scout out [Tuesday’s] stage [with McClure Pass and Kebler Pass], then I stayed in Salida to scout out today’s finishing climb. Spending the last two weeks at altitude makes huge difference.

Q: Which riders were you most concerned with in the final five kilometers?
TVG: [Tom] Danielson [Garmin-Sharp] was the biggest concern, then Majka. We were in a good position, and we also had Ben Hermans, so we could play with that a little bit. Danielson was the biggest concern with us. Now I’m thinking we’re going to need to watch Majka the most.

Q: Was today a bit of retribution for all the havoc Majka created in the mountains at the Tour de France?
TVG: I was never in any direct battles with Majka at the Tour. He’s a good guy; he’s always joking, he always has a big smile on his face. He was the first to congratulate me at the finish. He’s part of this younger generation of cyclists. I have a huge amount of respect for him, but I am definitely ready to battle with him this week.

Q: Did Garmin’s repeated attacks cause you concern, or were you relaxed about them?
TVG: I felt pretty well under control. The team rode incredibly. It was a little confusing out there because Garmin had the jersey, but they didn’t want to control. They kept jumping and riding aggressively; it was a confusing tactic. So, just to simplify things, we put on our team on front, to keep things from getting out of hand. After riding all day yesterday, and a portion today, I think it’s awesome I was able to pay them back with a stage win and the yellow jersey.

Q: What can you say about Tom Danielson’s tactics and strategy? How did you play your own strategy off of what he was doing?
TVG: The thing is, Danielson, all due respect to him, but I think he got a little nervous. He wanted to attack on his own, but he never seemed like he wanted to commit to an attack. It seemed like every time he saw me on his wheel, he sat up. He also didn’t want anyone else to go up the road, so not only was he doing his own attacks, he was jumping with all the other attacks. I could just sense that he was nervous, so I thought, okay, I’ll just sit behind him, he’ll wear himself out a bit with all his jumping, and then all I need is just one solid move, and that’s all it took.

Q: Did you ever feel like you were in difficulty? Do you feel like a climb like this — long, and high, but not terribly steep — perfectly suits your strengths?
TVG: It wasn’t the steepest climb out there, but I’m no stranger on doing well in steep climbs. This year at the Tour we had Col de Pla d’Adet, and Hautacam. Those are much steeper than anything you find in Colorado, Utah, or California. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a bit steeper. That makes it harder for weaker guys to follow when there’s attacks, so you’re only dealing with five guys instead of 15.

Q: It seemed like the past couple days it’s taken almost two hours for the breakaway to go. Is there a reason for that?
TVG: Yeah, it has to do with the fact that the yellow jersey didn’t want to defend. Yesterday UnitedHealthcare had a tactic to neutralize the breakaway through the first two sprint bonuses to secure Kiel Reijnen in the green jersey; then they said they weren’t racing for GC, and would let the GC teams control. So then it was up to us, as defending champions, to do so. Today we thought Garmin was going to control for the jersey, but every attack they tried to put someone in the move. And that didn’t bode well for us, because then we would have to chase. If you have a strong team interested in defending the jersey, it’s easier to get a break to go.

Q: Thursday’s stage, a circuit race in Colorado Springs, looks to be one of the easier stages on paper. Do you have any perspective on that?
TVG: When I look at the Garden of Gods circuit, I see a 17-percent grade, four times; that’s not that easy. I think we have the strongest team here. Ben Hermans is still in third place overall, and he hasn’t even touched the wind yet. If we need to, we can pull him out and have him defend, because he’s got a big engine that we’ve kept fresh this whole time. But I don’t think we’ll even need to because I think the rest of the team is up to the challenge.

Q: What was it like in the wind today? Was it strong enough to keep people from attacking, or was it just not steep enough? Was there a headwind?
TVG: There was a headwind. It definitely makes it easier to follow. But then again, if you can jump and get the gap, it also makes it harder to close the gap. So if you are really explosive and can get that gap, you can keep it. If you are just going to grind out a tempo, then that’s easier to do in a tailwind.

Q: If you’re Garmin, if you’re Danielson, what’s your next move?
TVG: They were obviously really aggressive today. Even on day one, they were aggressive with Howes almost getting the stage win. I think they’re probably just going to keep being aggressive. The best part is Garmin’s playbook is pretty easy to read. Back in 2012, they had four GC guys with [Peter] Stetina, [Alex] Howes, [Tom] Danielson and Christian [Vande Velde], and they would use all of them and it was hard to keep them under control. Now it’s looking more like Danielson is there only guy; Howes is 2 minutes down. I think Tom will probably be aggressive; it’s not that much of a concern because we only need to watch one guy.

Q: Did today’s win have anything to do with revenge after yesterday’s neutralization, and a potential missed stage-win opportunity?
TVG: We wanted the stage win yesterday. But I’m not disappointed at all, it was an amazing ride by [Robin] Carpenter. It was unfortunate what happened, but at end of day, I can’t be too disappointed. In the end, I was beaten to the line by Alex Howes. You never know if you’re if going for the stage win, when you get that extra motivation, but Howes would have had that extra motivation as well. I wasn’t out for revenge or anything today; we were just out there to do our best.

Q: Was it course recon, the race situation, or the gradient, that helped you decide to make the final move?
TVG: It was the feel of the race. I was assessing the attacks from Danielson, looking at his body language. At beginning of the climb, his attacks were really strong, but towards the top, they were starting to get a little bit weaker. Before, he would attack and make a really hard tempo and we’d all be suffering on his wheel. Then he’d look around, and they just got a little weaker so I knew he’s tired; got to hit him when he’s tired.

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Van Garderen wins stage 3, takes overall lead in USA Pro Challenge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/van-garderen-wins-stage-3-takes-overall-lead-usa-pro-challenge_341870 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/van-garderen-wins-stage-3-takes-overall-lead-usa-pro-challenge_341870#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:10:54 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341870

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) wins Stage 3 at Monarch Ski Area, ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The American wins stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge with peerless climbing prowess and rides his way into the GC lead at the Colorado tour

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Tejay van Garderen (BMC) wins Stage 3 at Monarch Ski Area, ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) won stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge with his peerless climbing prowess.

On the climb to Monarch Mountain, he also rode his way into the GC lead at the Colorado tour.

An elite group of GC contenders entered the final ascent up the east side of Monarch Pass at the end of a 96-mile stage from Gunnison to Monarch Mountain. As the race climbed to 10,000 feet above sea level, the leaders traded jabs to little effect.

First, Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp) and Daniel Jaramillo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) went. Then it was Bruno Pires (Tinkoff-Saxo). Carter Jones (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) also tried their hands at solo moves.

But none of them stuck until the lead group saw the red kite, and van Garderen dealt the most decisive blow, followed only by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Though this year’s Tour de France king of the mountains tried to overtake the American on the final ramp, van Garderen found another gear, won the stage, and earned himself the yellow jersey.

“I don’t know that [attack] wasn’t really the plan,” said van Garderen. “We were kind of thinking, ‘let’s just keep it on same time,’ and you know because I’m pretty confident for the TT, but when I saw Danielson’s attacks were getting weaker toward the end, I could sense he was getting a little tired, and I just went for it.

“[Majka] is definitely a strong rider, not only for the overall but also for the stage. Yeah, [he] was definitely a concern. … I was actually really surprised because he’s pretty quick to the line, I didn’t think I was actually gonna be able to stick it there [to win].

“GC is the most important [for me], but if you have a chance for a stage [win] you’re not going to give it away.”

Behind Majka, Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) finished third.

Stage 3 photo gallery.

Race splits on early climb

The day’s flat, early miles saw a number of ill-fated attacks that rarely got more than 10 seconds’ advantage on the field.

Things finally got serious at around 31 miles into the race, when Garmin-Sharp’s Acevedo wound up the pace and got a slight advantage.

The elevated pace at the base of the west side of Monarch pass saw a small group of about 15 separate from the front of the peloton.

Acevedo’s lead grew to 1:15 on the long category 1 climb.

However, the chase group, which had been pared down to seven, caught the leader just before the day’s first king of the mountains sprint.

The front group included: Ben Hermans (BMC), van Garderen, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Jones, Majka, Acevedo, Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Hermans was first over the top of Monarch Pass, followed by Danielson, then Poljanski in third.

As they reached Salida, a large chase group caught the breakaway, resulting in a group of 23 riders, including the day’s overall leader, Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp).

With 32 miles to go, Rogers set out alone, making a solo breakaway on the Salida circuit.

With a confused chase group, the gap went out to 25 seconds.

“Obviously I had to have a go,” said Rogers. “There was a bit of confusion there … what, you know, the teams wanted to do. Obviously Garmin rode very aggressively the first time up the climb. [They] had two, we had three. Ideally it would have better if someone had come with me, or two guys. … It was tough out there with the headwind.”

Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare) and Jaramillo tried to bridge but were brought back by the main chase group at the end of the circuits in Salida. By that point, Rogers had a 1:30 lead.

Showdown on Monarch Mountain

BMC set tempo into the final climb with all four riders taking the front of the chase.

Coming into the final eight miles of the day, Rogers’ gap began dropping precipitously. Sure enough, the chase, led by BMC’s Michael Schär, made the catch with 5.3 miles to go.

Acevedo and Jaramillo attacked with 3.9 miles to go.

Brent Bookwalter (BMC) kept the tempo high as the two Colombians dangled off the front. They were soon brought back to the group.

Then, Jaramillo went to the front again, winding up the pace for a moment, then causing the lead riders to look at each other, opening the door for another attack from Acevedo. That move was also to no avail.

As the pace fluctuated, Howes was dropped with 3.6 miles to go.

Pires was next to go, but he never got a significant gap over the lead group. The high altitude, steady grade, and headwind all contributed to cautious racing tactics among the GC favorites.

But with three miles to go, Danielson tried to make another move. Hermans quickly jumped on his wheel, not letting a gap grow.

Jones went next, with the same result as all the earlier moves on the climb.

With the lead group reeling from the flurry of attacks, Busche made an attack that finally stuck. Tinkoff-Saxo quickly went to the front to chase back the seven-second gap.

The former U.S. national champion was brought back with one mile to go.

“There was a big lull at 3k to go, and I decided I should try something,” said Busche. “I got a gap. I don’t really know what happened behind, but when they came by, I saw Tinkoff pulling full gas, so I don’t think there’s anything different I could have done. I basically went all in. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, At least I tried.

“[I'm] happy that I tried but a little disappointed that I lost something [on GC] in the end, but I guess better to go down fighting than go down without trying. It’s not over … long race yet.”

As Majka’s final teammate pulled off the front with one kilometer to go, van Garderen attacked, and only Majka could follow.

The defending USA Pro Challenge champion drove the pace up the final incline, leading out Majka through the final right hand bend up to Monarch Mountain.

Though the Pole tried to swing around van Garderen’s left side, he could not match the BMC rider’s final kick.

“Today the final was really fast,” said Majka, “and for the win I tried to pass Tejay, but he is too strong for me. I am a little tired with the Tour, Poland, and now Colorado.”

Van Garderen now leads Majka on GC by 20 seconds. Hermans sits third, 23 seconds behind, and Danielson and Tvetcov round out the top-five in fourth and fifth, respectively.

“My biggest advantage is the time trial and to already have as solid buffer going into that that gives me a lot of confidence,” said van Garderen. “Majka is looking strong and my teammate Hermans is looking strong.

“I love being home [in Colorado]. I love this race. Every year I’ve done this race, I’ve taken away something from it. I look forward to this race every year … yeah, this is awesome.”

Thursday, the peloton will face a punchy 70-mile circuit race in Colorado Springs, through the Garden of the Gods.

Full stage 3 results.

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Vinokourov and Kolobnev charged with bribery http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/vinokourov-kolobnev-charged-bribery_341862 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/vinokourov-kolobnev-charged-bribery_341862#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:20:22 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341862

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) went head-to-head in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Vinokourov's 2010 win has always been tainted by rumors of bribery. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Former professional Alexandre Vinokourov is accused of buying 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège from Alexandr Kolobnev

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Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) went head-to-head in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Vinokourov's 2010 win has always been tainted by rumors of bribery. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

BRUSSELS (AFP) — Alexandre Vinokourov and Russian Alexandr Kolobnev have been charged with bribery by Belgian justice authorities.

The two will face trial later this year, Belgian media reported on Wednesday.

The now-retired Olympic road race champion Vinokourov, 40, is accused of paying 150,000 euros to the 33-year-old Kolobnev to allow him to win the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège one-day classic.

Kolobnev is still competing for the Katusha team.

Vinokourov, who is now managing the Astana team — which includes Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali — allegedly made the offer to Kolobnev as they geared up for the sprint finish.

According to Belgian media, the investigators possess several email exchanges which detail 150,000 euros being transferred from Vinokourov’s Monaco account to that of Kolobnev’s in Switzerland. Vinokourov has always denied the accusation and claimed it was a loan.

However, Liege prosecutor, Philippe Richard has charged the pair, and the trial is set to take place in a few months’ time, according to the SudPresse media group.

Vinokourov was thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping, resulting in the expulsion of the whole Astana team from the race.

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Slipstream Sports confirms Cannondale sponsorship http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/slipstream-sports-confirms-cannondale-sponsorship_341719 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/slipstream-sports-confirms-cannondale-sponsorship_341719#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:01:36 +0000 Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341719

In 2015, Cannondale will sponsor the Slipstream Sports team currently known as Garmin-Sharp. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

In addition to the obvious bike sponsorship, Cannondale brings eight riders under contract, as well as potential staff members

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In 2015, Cannondale will sponsor the Slipstream Sports team currently known as Garmin-Sharp. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Don’t call it a merger. Call it a marriage.

That’s what Jonathan Vaughters said in announcing the new relationship between Cannondale, the American bike manufacturer, and Slipstream Sports, the American sports management group behind the Garmin-Sharp UCI ProTeam.

With Brixia Sport, the Italian management group behind the current Cannondale team, closing up shop at the end of the season, the American bike manufacturer is shifting its equipment sponsorship into Slipstream Sports, which was seeking a title sponsor to replace Garmin, its title sponsor since 2008.

Earlier this year, Cervélo, Garmin’s bike sponsor since the merger of Garmin and Cervélo TestTeam in late 2010, announced it would be sponsoring MTN-Qhubeka in 2015, lending credence to the rumors that Slipstream Sports’ riders would be riding Cannondale bikes in 2015.

Cannondale will back the team through 2017.

“Technically, it’s not a merger,” Vaughters said. “It’s still Slipstream Sports, LLC, as the owner and management of the team. Cannondale becomes a large shareholder. Slipstream chairman Doug Ellis remains the primary shareholder.”

In addition to the obvious bike sponsorship, Cannondale brings eight riders under contract, as well as potential staff members — directors, soigneurs, mechanics — that may or may not find a home into the Slipstream organization.

“For the riders under contract with the current Cannondale team, we will offer all eight of them contracts under the terms they had in place,” Vaughters said. “It’s undetermined at this point which will accept, and which might not. As far as our riders go, we have 14 riders under contract for next year, and they all will be honored. Anyone who had a contract in this scenario will be honored. There is nobody who has a 2015 contract that we are shuffling off to the side.”

Among those eight riders are 2012 Tour of Poland winner Moreno Moser, 2013 under-23 world champion Matej Mohoric, Kristijan Koren, Alan Marangoni, and Elia Viviani.

One rider contracted with Cannondale, Davide Formolo, has already signed a Slipstream contract. Formolo, 21, was second to Vincenzo Nibali at the Italian national road championship in June, and seventh overall at the Tour de Suisse.

Vaughters said that Slipstream Sports’ policy is that the team does not sign any contracts until management has reviewed a rider’s entire UCI blood profile, adding that it has not yet gotten to that point among many of the eight riders coming over from the Italian team.

Vaughters said the eight riders would have until the UCI’s WorldTour registration date of October 15 to decide, though he doubted it would take that long.

Among the 14 riders who have contracts with Slipstream Sports for are Andrew Talansky, Daniel Martin, Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson, Ben King, Nathan Haas, Sebastian Langeveld, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Nick Nuyens, Nate Brown, André Cardoso, Norman Hansen Lasse, Ramunas Navardauskas, and Dylan Van Baarle.

“On the whole the riders [that may be] coming over are a very young, super young bunch,” Vaughters said. “Many are first-year pros, but they are an unbelievably talented bunch of young riders.

“In terms of our overall objectives, it will still be Sebastian Langeveld for the classics, Andrew Talansky for the grand tours, Dan Martin for the Ardennes, with Ryder Hesjedal kicking around in there. We will be a team with a lot of young talent. In addition now we have an incredible crop of talent including Formolo who can already lead the team in weeklong stage races and will apprentice to Hesdjal in the 2015 Giro. There’s also Moreno Moser who’s already capable of winning WorldTour races as shown by his win in the 2012 Tour of Poland, and his third-place on Alpe d’Huez in the 2013 the Tour de France.”

Should all eight riders move over to Slipstream Sports, Vaughters said there would remain five spots available to fill the team’s roster of 27 riders.

American riders still seeking contracts for 2015 include Cannondale rider Ted King and Garmin’s Phil Gaimon.

“Eight guys have been extended offers, but they might decide they would rather go ride for another team. They’re not obliged to ride with us, but we hope they will” Vaughters said. “Until all of that becomes apparent, we don’t know our final 2015 roster.

“Cannondale will be a title sponsor, no matter what” he said. “As of today, the name of the team is Team Cannondale. There is the possibility of another brand moving into the first name, or second name, of the team’s title. Either way, the budget is secure and similar to our 2014 budget. But as of August 18, it’s Team Cannondale for 2105. We are still looking for a co-title on either end of that in order to reinforce our program in the years to come. But we’re very fortunate to have a great partner in Cannondale for the next three years, and the security that comes with that.

“Garmin will still be involved, on a very large scale. As of now, Garmin won’t be a title sponsor, but that is still an ongoing discussion. Garmin does have a contract with Slipstream Sports, and I think Garmin will be in the sport for a long time.”

Vaughters, who recently graduated from the University of Denver with an MBA, said that he never thought he’d be using lessons learned from a mergers and acquisitions course so soon after graduation.

“This is one of the most complex deals to be put together in pro cycling,” Vaughters said. “It entails a sponsorship component, and also a team ownership component. Cannondale receives two seats on Slipstream Sports’ board of directors. It’s a real marriage, and that’s been interesting from a business perspective. This deal is much more complex than just ‘give us this and we’ll put your logo on our jersey.’ There are some very interesting added business elements.”

Vaughters said that he didn’t know who would fill those board seats, but imagined that one would likely be taken by Cannondale CEO Peter Woods, and the other might be occupied by global brand manager Bob Burbank, stressing that it was yet to be determined.

“Cannondale is excited to team up with Slipstream to create the next evolution of Cannondale Pro Cycling with the most progressive and innovative team in the peloton,” said Woods.

Vaughters also emphasized that the team will remain American-registered, English speaking, and based in Girona, Spain.

“There is nothing changing about that, the management and direction of the team will be conducted in English,” he said. “Although the majority of our staffing will be similar, we’re always looking for new and qualified staff members, and in our recruiting for 2015 staff, people from the Cannondale team will be given priority.”

As for the team’s color scheme — Cannondale has used a lime green in line with its former title sponsor, Liquigas, while Slipstream Sports has utilized a blue-and-white argyle theme for years — Vaughters said that lime green and argyle will, well, merge.

“We’re leaving the possibility open that someone comes in as a first-name title sponsor,” he said. “But as of today, it’s going to be green argyle for next year.”

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CAS upholds Roman Kreuziger suspension http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/cas-upholds-roman-kreuziger-suspension_341837 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/cas-upholds-roman-kreuziger-suspension_341837#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:04:42 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341837

The CAS denied Roman Kreuziger's appeal to race the 2014 Vuelta. He remains provisionally suspended for biological passport irregularities. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Kreuziger failed in his effort to enter the Vuelta a España, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a provisional suspension

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The CAS denied Roman Kreuziger's appeal to race the 2014 Vuelta. He remains provisionally suspended for biological passport irregularities. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Czech rider Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) failed in his effort to enter the Vuelta a España, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a provisional suspension on Wednesday amid a doping probe.

The CAS said it had rejected Kreuziger’s appeal, which he filed on August 5 in a last-ditch effort to join this year’s edition of the Vuelta, which begins Saturday.

“In accordance with the rider’s request and the UCI’s agreement, the arbitration procedure was conducted on an expedited basis,” the Swiss-based tribunal said.

Kreuziger’s case was therefore heard on Wednesday by a three-member CAS panel of arbitrators from Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland.

“Roman Kreuziger remains provisionally suspended pending a decision on his alleged anti-doping rule violation,” the CAS said.

The full grounds for the ruling would be issued over coming weeks, it added. On August 2, the UCI provisionally suspended Kreuziger for an anti-doping rule violation based on his biological passport.

Kreuziger, 28, finished fifth in last year’s Tour de France but was told by his team that he would not be take part in this year’s edition of the race after the problems were initially discovered.

He will now face disciplinary proceedings for the anomalies in his biological passport, which relate to the periods between March and August 2011, and April 2012 until the end of that year’s Giro d’Italia. At that time he was riding for Astana.

Tinkoff-Saxo has criticized the fact that Kreuziger and his team were notified by the UCI less than 24 hours before he was due to start the Tour of Poland, without solid evidence of any wrongdoing.

In addition to dashing his Vuelta hopes, the CAS decision may also prevent his participation in the world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, September 21-28.

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Will the 2015 Giro d’Italia finish in Milan? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/will-the-2015-giro-ditalia-finish-in-milan_341830 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/will-the-2015-giro-ditalia-finish-in-milan_341830#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:28:16 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341830

It's still unknown which cities will be awash in pink next May during the Giro d'Italia. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Organizer RCS Sport will announce the full route in October, but reports claim it could swing through Tuscany on its way to Milan

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It's still unknown which cities will be awash in pink next May during the Giro d'Italia. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

MILAN (VN) — The Giro d’Italia organizer recently announced the first three stages of the 2015 edition, but it still has a lot on its plate including possible visits to the Abetone, Mortirolo, and Finestre climbs along with a finish near its headquarters in Milan.

The coastal region of Liguria in Italy’s northwest will host the Grand Départ of the 98th edition May 9-31. RCS Sport already named the first three stages — with finishes in Sanremo, Genova, and La Spezia — and on August 4, the Liguria region gave the green light to a $2.66 million investment host the start.

The path of the 2015 Corsa Rosa remains a mystery after the May 11 finish in La Spezia, but details are slowly making their way to the surface.

An idea would be to take the Giro to Sicily to honor Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who won the Tour de France in July and grew up in Messina, but logistically that may be too far. Traveling to Italy’s big islands of Sicily and Sardinia costs money and may not happen until the race celebrates 100 editions in 2017.

The Giro instead could skirt down the coast from Liguria to Tuscany where Nibali, from the age of 16, developed into a star. Stage 4 could climb Abetone and stage 5 could start in Montecatini Terme, just 18 kilometers down the road from where Nibali lived for 12 years. It would be a big return to Tuscany, which the Giro skipped last spring, as the 12km Abetone climb would serve up the first summit finish.

Though not making the trip to Sicily, the Giro is expected to travel through the Lazio and Campania regions before heading north along the Adriatic side via Molise and Le Marche. After a possible visit in Emilia Romagna, the race could then dip in and out of the Alps in the north going east to west.

Local press in Veneto suggested city officials are asking for a stage to mark 100 years since World War I and are leaning toward a time trial from Belluno to Feltre. The Giro would surely visit the high passes that helped small Colombian climber Nairo Quintana (Movistar) win this year’s race. Though not all the passes are known yet, Giornale di Sondrio wrote that the race would climb the Mortirolo that averages 10.4 percent and the Gavia Pass at 2,621 meters above sea level.

Not to forget the region that brought the Giro the Barolo time trial stage punctuated with its red wine hills, the race should return to Piedmont for the last weekend of the race, May 30 and 31. The final mountain stage, like in 2011, could climb the gravel roads of the Colle delle Finestre (2,178m) and finish in Sestriere.

Turin was due to host the final stage, but La Stampa reported it could not come up with $1.33 million that is required. Instead, Turin could host the stage 21 start and Milan could have the honor of hosting the finish and winner’s party as Trieste did this year. The arrival will tie in well with the world fair, or Expo Milano 2015.

Of course, RCS Sport will only confirm this and every stage after La Spezia at the route presentation October 6 in Milan.

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Small-budget teams finding success at USA Pro Challenge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/small-budget-teams-finding-success-at-usa-pro-challenge_341747 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/small-budget-teams-finding-success-at-usa-pro-challenge_341747#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:44:52 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341747

Robin Carpenter's stage 2 victory at the USA Pro Challenge came at the expense of the larger teams in the peloton. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The smaller teams are up against bigger budgets in Colorado, but they don't seem to mind

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Robin Carpenter's stage 2 victory at the USA Pro Challenge came at the expense of the larger teams in the peloton. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

CRESTED BUTTE, Colorado (VN) — Small teams. Small budgets.

Thus far, huge results.

Two stages into the USA Pro Challenge, it’s clear the lower-budget teams came to race. Smaller teams are two for two, with the heavy hitters stalled and waiting for the general classification.

It’s not easy for the little squads in Colorado. A single rider on one of the major teams can command more in a salary than an entire team budget. The big wheels are hard to follow, the lines unforgiving. It hasn’t mattered.

Hincapie Sportswear Development rider Robin Carpenter soloed to win Tuesday’s sopping stage 2 into Mt. Crested Butte after surviving a break and weathering a tense neutralization. In Aspen on Monday, UnitedHealthcare’s Kiel Reijnen worked over friend and brief foe Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) to take the win and, briefly, the leader’s jersey.

This is a riddle that the smaller teams try to solve time and time again. Davids throwing stones at Goliaths, in fiscal terms.

“It’s a tall task. It’s a big ask of a team like ours to go up against teams whose individual riders have salaries bigger than our entire operating budgets,” Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies manager Jonas Carney told VeloNews. “Our men’s team, women’s team, ’cross team. I mean when we have to race against Peter Sagans and Mark Cavendishes, that one guy makes more money than our whole team. We’re trying to figure out a way to beat that guy? You know? It’s definitely hard, but we’re incredibly motivated at these races.

“These are the biggest races that we get to do. We just try to pick an objective that’s attainable. Racing for a stage win. We know that we can be competitive in the sprints. We know that we can be opportunistic. And part of it is just really taking chances. Taking risks. Sending guys up the road.”

Those risks do pay off. Optum won a stage at the Amgen Tour of California this year on the wings of Will Routley, for example. And though the big teams have big riders and big money, sometimes that can work against them, too. It’s the age-old story of lesser teams getting up for big games while the heavies are looking for breathers.

“We should use that against them,” SmartStop director Michael Creed said.

Sure, but how?

“On your toes. Be the first one to punch. … just don’t f— around. Just go for it. And we do it with respect,” Creed said. “We respect all these ProTour guys. And yeah, some of them don’t want to be here. And we have to use that against them.”

So far, it’s worked out for the smaller teams. It becomes increasingly hard in the coming days, though, as the GC fight picks up just like the road does. Certainly, the underdogs won’t stop biting.

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Race stoppage in Colorado draws peloton’s ire http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/race-stoppage-colorado-draws-pelotons-ire_341742 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/race-stoppage-colorado-draws-pelotons-ire_341742#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 02:31:08 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341742

Once the race reached the dirt roads leading to Kebler Pass, BMC took over the front. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Reviews among the peloton over Tuesday's controversial neutralization on Kebler Pass did not appear to be mixed

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Once the race reached the dirt roads leading to Kebler Pass, BMC took over the front. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

CRESTED BUTTE, Colorado (VN) — There was no question about it, the race was on. Up and over the dirt roads of Kebler Pass, BMC Racing had it lit up, and was bearing down on the last remaining breakaway rider, Robin Carpenter.

The weather had done, was doing, its worst. Curtain-thick rain fell. Thunderstorms dimpled the air. Lightning creased a sullen sky. Water greased the dirt roads.

The stage was in its waning miles, and the mud-speckled peloton was barreling into Crested Butte and toward the first uphill finish of this young USA Pro Challenge. The sharp end was now.

And then, the riders stopped.

Rather, they were stopped, by race officials, about seven miles from the finish at Mt. Crested Butte, in a swift, and controversial, neutralization. Reports from a person close to the call paint a confusing picture, where a call to neutralize was made atop the climb but failed to reach the riders, who flat-out raced the wet dirt descent.

By the time the riders reached the pavement they were stopped, cold and growing colder, and not pleased about any of it.

“There was lighting and a hail storm on that descent. At that time, the decision was made to neutralize the race the safety of the riders,” race director Jim Birrell said in a statement. “We held them there for the time gap for 45 seconds, which was the gap between Carpenter and the last chase group.”

Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear) was allowed to start about 45 seconds ahead of the field, the shrapnel of seconds remaining from his break. By the time the group started chasing in earnest, the young rider was about 1:20 up the road, with a short climb to the finish awaiting. He held to win on by seven seconds.

Reviews among riders did not appear to be mixed.

“Bullshit!” a BMC rider yelled, while other racers shivered.

“I certainly support the decision to neutralize the race. As the weather continued to deteriorate, so did our communication,” Birrell said. “Not everyone got to hear the message over the neutralization because of the loss of communication.”

The general sentiment was that the neutralization came too late, and that the race was in the clear by that point anyway; the dirt was over, and there was seven miles of road left to the line. Riders who were dropped came back and lined up next to those who had been out front, like aggressor Tejay van Garderen, who was visibly, and verbally, annoyed with the stoppage.

Van Garderen won a finish here, and his BMC team worked on the long climb up Kebler to make the race rough. BMC’s Michael Shär argued with the official, but to no avail. The racehorses were bridled now, kicking and stomping. A group that was whittled to some 25 riders was at 60 again.

“Again our livelihood & hard work affected by incompetence of officials. Chief comm should be sent home NOW…” BMC’s Brent Bookwalter tweeted. Shär wondered if an official could be sent home in the middle of the race. Gamin-Sharp rider Ben King even made a “not” joke on Twitter.

“Really cool that we ride through an insane thunderstorm on muddy roads and then get neutralized with ten km to go after all the danger. Not,” King tweeted.

“I wasn’t personally in the situation to make that final call, as our Chief Commissarie was,” Birrell said. “Whatever resources and data she was collecting gave her insight to green light the race pause, the delay of which was about two minutes.”

When the stage was over, BMC appeared to be both clear winner (van Garderen finished third on the day and moved into third overall) but also could have taken more had the gas stayed on.

“It went well,” van Garderen said after the stage. “We had a plan to make it hard up Kebler Pass and the boys did an amazing job. I think everyone was on the limit. Lots of guys were dropped. Obviously there was that big confusion with us stopping on the wet and cold rainy downhill after we had done all the dirt … we were out to make something happen on this stage. Mission accomplished.”

For all his calm, the defending champ was also put off by the call.

“If you were gonna neutralize it because of how dangerous the race was you need to do that before the dirt. But we had already ridden all the dangerous sections and we had 10k to go all on pavement and then they just stop us in the middle of the road,” he said. “And the rain was coming down hard and we’re out there in lycra. When you stop, moving like that, you get pretty cold. We were out there shivering and freezing. We wanted to keep going.”

Some riders, he said, wanted to quit racing completely. That didn’t make sense to the BMC rider, either. Carpenter could have taken minutes.

“He’s gonna go and take 10 minutes and run away with the race. Second of all, we had a plan from the beginning and we were riding all day,” van Garderen said. “I think it was fair, because all the GC guys still came to the base of the climb on the same time, and it was obvious we were still racing.”

This is not the first controversial stoppage — or attempt — this season, even, nor will it be the last. At this season’s chilly Giro d’Italia, race organizers badly botched an attempt to neutralize the race, resulting in days of angst among the peloton and Rigoberto Uran’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) pink jersey vanished.

Frequently, weather conditions draw the ire of riders and those associated with the teams, and, frequently, people point toward the lack of established benchmarks in regard to starting, or finishing, a race, be it heat, cold, or, in this case, rain and lightning. All told, there is a lack of organization at the top of the sport, as noted by Bookwalter, on his Twitter account.

“One thing is CLEAR… The CPA, AIGCP, AIOCC, and UCI must create a new protocol for Stage Neutralization/Cancellation/Modification,” he wrote.

The USA Pro Challenge resumes Wednesday, from Gunnison to a finish up Monarch Pass.

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After two stages, GC taking shape at USA Pro Challenge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/two-stages-gc-taking-shape-usa-pro-challenge_341736 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/two-stages-gc-taking-shape-usa-pro-challenge_341736#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 02:26:39 +0000 Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341736

BMC on the front during stage 2, on the dirt roads of Kebler Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

A few GC conclusions after two stages of the USA Pro Challenge, as the race heads into a decisive summit finish atop Monarch Mountain

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BMC on the front during stage 2, on the dirt roads of Kebler Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

CRESTED BUTTE, Colorado (VN) — Tejay van Garderen looks solid. Tom Danielson suffered in the rain and mud over Kebler Pass, but sits nine seconds behind the defending champion. Danielson’s Garmin-Sharp teammate, Alex Howes, is in the race lead, 11 seconds over BMC’s Ben Hermans. And if Rafal Majka is going to crack in the high mountains, he’s not showing any signs, though he’s now 32 seconds behind on the GC. Trek Factory’s Matthew Busche, 13 seconds down, is the only rider in the top five overall that does not ride for either BMC Racing or Garmin-Sharp.

These are a few of the GC conclusions after two stages of the USA Pro Challenge, as it heads into a summit finish atop Monarch Mountain on Wednesday.

While Keil Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) and Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear) each upset the WorldTour teams to take the first two stage wins, the battle for the overall is shaping up into a battle not just between van Garderen and Danielson, but between BMC Racing and Garmin-Sharp, with Busche and Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) very much  wildcards.

Howes sits in the race lead after finishing second on the opening stage, taking three seconds over Hermans and 12 over van Garderen, and then finishing second again on stage 2, seven seconds behind Carpenter and immediately in front of van Garderen. Hermans sits second, with van Garderen third, Busche fourth, and Danielson fifth, 22 seconds down.

The big races on American soil are often a battle between the two biggest American teams. Garmin won the Pro Challenge in 2012, with Christian Vande Velde ahead of van Garderen; van Garderen won the race last year, with Danielson in third. In the last three editions of the Amgen Tour of California, BMC has one it once, in 2013, while Garmin has twice finished second, in 2012 and 2014.

BMC’s Peter Stetina said the underlying GC rivalry between the two teams became crystal clear on stage 1, after Howes and Reijnen went up the road.

“They’re watching us, and we’re watching them,” Stetina said. “It was a confusing finish on stage 1, because it was selective only at the very end, and then it became tactical. We had a moment where we didn’t cover Howes’ and Kiel’s move at the very end. Then Ben got up the road, and we were riding for Tejay, so we weren’t sure, do we chase Ben down, and keep Tejay in the same time, or let him go for the stage?

“It ended up we got stuck in the middle. Tejay lost a few seconds, but it wasn’t bad, and all the guys we’re really worried about on GC were right with us. We surprised ourselves. We had five guys in the top 25, we didn’t even know what to do with our numbers, because we’re here to ride the GC for Tejay, but then we started to think maybe we should hit the stage. Now we know you should never give up the opportunity to win a stage. We’ll look for redemption now.”

Danielson said that Garmin found itself in a similar, confused situation on stage 1, with Howes up the road, attacking for the stage win, and Hermans following suit. Two weeks ago Hermans finished second to Danielson on a summit finish at the Tour of Utah, and finished that race fourth overall, 1:46 behind Danielson.

“We learned a lot abut BMC tactics, that they’re willing to send guys up the road,” Danielson said. “We had a team plan [on stage 1] and we didn’t exactly stick to it. We wanted Alex to go for the stage, but we also wanted to control the front group, so I was hoping there would be more (teammates) that could help, because there were a lot of BMCs up there, and Hermans went away with Alex when he attacked. He’s a guy we didn’t want getting time.”

After stage 2, Hermans was content with the team’s GC status. “We wanted to win the stage with Tejay,” Hermans said. “The plan was that Tejay could go for the stage and I would watch the moves of Tom Danielson and the other dangerous guys. At the end, I dropped Danielson and Busche and the other guys were behind. So I think we did a good job with the team.”

Stetina added that Majka and Frank Schleck should not be counted out as overall threats, though he said that at the start of stage 2, before Schleck lost 3:35 in Crested Butte.

“I think Majka is the real deal. You can never cancel these guys out. Frank Schleck, too. But I think in terms of overall team power, that’s still where it lies [between Garmin and BMC]. In the U.S races, both teams really care about this. Tejay and I are both Colorado natives, and Garmin has a lot of natives, and the team has Colorado roots. Every year it comes down between these two teams. But these guys are really strong. Majka especially.”

Majka said he would use the rivalry between Garmin and BMC to his advantage.

“For sure, they are the strong teams,” Majka said. “[On stage 1], I was alone because my guys were suffering in the altitude. So was I, but still I finished in the front group.”

Van Garderen said that, for the moment, he views Howes, Busche, and Carter Jones (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), all as threats to the GC.

“The big surprise has been Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura] losing time,” van Garderen said. “He said he got a little sick a couple days ago, but I wasn’t expecting him to lose so much time on a day like [stage 1]. Majka’s looking good. Danielson’s looking good. And even a couple of the guys who might have been second-tier contenders were able to snag a few seconds, like Matt Busche, Carter Jones and Alex Howes.”

Howes, however, said he had no ambitions of racing for the overall win. “I have no hopes or dreams of crushing [the stage 6] time trial. I can’t time trial my way out of a wet paper bag. They will do their thing and hopefully I will pass this along to Tommy D. tomorrow.”

Asked if the GC would ultimately come down to a battle between BMC and Garmin, van Garderen said it was too soon to make that call.

“It’d be a mistake to discount Majka, or even [NetApp rider] Tiago Machato would be a mistake to underestimate. Obviously being in our hometown, there’s big motivation for Danielson and I. But it’s more than a two-horse race.”

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James Martin, of New Jersey, receives sanction for rule violation http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/james-martin-new-jersey-receives-sanction-rule-violation_341714 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/james-martin-new-jersey-receives-sanction-rule-violation_341714#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:11:01 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341714 Martin, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey has received a two-year suspension for committing an anti-doping rule violation by failing to appear for

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Colorado Springs, Colo. — USADA announced today that James Martin of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, an athlete in the sport of cycling, has received a two-year suspension for committing an anti-doping rule violation by failing to appear for testing.

Martin, 40, failed to appear to provide a sample at the New Jersey Criterium Championships on May 18, 2014, in Evesham Township, New Jersey. Failure to appear for testing is a violation of the applicable rules under the USADA Protocol for Olympic Movement Testing and the International Cycling Union (UCI) Anti-Doping Rules, both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Martin’s two-year period of ineligibility began on August 15, 2014, the date the sanction was imposed. As a result of the violation, Martin has been disqualified from all competitive results achieved on and subsequent to May 18, 2014, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

In the last few years, Martin has competed in a mix of masters and open-category races.

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Robin Carpenter rides alone to win rainy USA Pro Challenge stage 2 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/robin-carpenter-rides-alone-win-rainy-usa-pro-challenge-stage-2_341692 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/robin-carpenter-rides-alone-win-rainy-usa-pro-challenge-stage-2_341692#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:20:33 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341692

Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development) won Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge with a bold breakaway in the rain over Kebler Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

22-year-old endures a day-long breakaway, rain, muddy roads, and a race restart for a breakthrough win

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Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development) won Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge with a bold breakaway in the rain over Kebler Pass. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development), 22, won the biggest race of his young career in stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge. The day’s stage went from Aspen to Crested Butte, over several major mountain passes.

A consummate breakaway artist, Carpenter spent the day out front in a variety of different groups, but in the end, his efforts on the climb up Kebler Pass earned him the victory.

Though the race was marred by rainy weather and muddy roads on the unpaved climb before Crested Butte, the young rider was unfazed. He even faced a more unusual curveball when race officials neutralized the descent and then stopped Carpenter and the rest of the field before restarting them all on the final paved part of the descent. The restart was based on the time gaps at the top of the penultimate climb.

Carpenter kept driving the pace, regardless of these surprises and was rewarded with a major win.

Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) netted another second place finish today, ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC), but today’s finish was a bit sweeter for the Boulder, Colorado-based rider, as he assumed the overall race lead.

Stage 2 photo gallery.

Large, long-range breakaway

The day’s early breakaway finally stuck after the first intermediate sprint, about 16 miles into the 105.4-mile stage. Tyler Magner (Hincapie Sportswear Development) took maximum points. Race leader Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) was second, and Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop) was third.

The early escape was a large one, including: Michael Torckler (Team SmartStop), Joe Lewis (Hincapie Sportswear Development), David de la Cruz (NetApp-Endura), Dion Smith (Hincapie Sportswear Development), Matej Mohoric (Cannondale), Jai Crawford (Drapac), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Jesse Anthony (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare), Luis Davila (Jelly Belly), Kirk Carlsen (Jelly Belly), and Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development).

Over the first king of the mountains (KOM) climb, a category 1 ascent of McClure Summit, de la Cruz was first, followed by Jacques-Maynes, then Torckler. At that point, the break’s advantage was 3:10.

Torckler was the highest-placed rider in the break on GC, 59 seconds behind the Reijnen.

Garmin-Sharp and BMC were careful to maintain the peloton’s pace to avoid giving the break too much leash.

With about 27.5 miles to go, Torckler crept off the front of the break as the Kebler Pass climb kicked up.

Not wanting to be left out, Anthony, Carpenter, and Jacques-Maynes also left the group as the dirt road continued up at a steady grade. Their efforts split the chasing group, resulting in a new lead group with eight riders — Davila, Lewis, Carlsen, and Smith also bridged the gap.

Davila, the former Mexican national champion, was not satisfied with the group, and rode away on his own, bringing Jacques-Maynes along with 25 miles to go. Though they didn’t get away, the effort pared the breakaway down to six riders, with Lewis, Torckler, Anthony, and Carpenter catching back on.

As the climb eased, Mohoric, de la Cruz, and Torckler bridged up to the six leaders.

With the peloton only a minute behind, toward the top of the pass, the breakaway began to disintegrate.

Carpenter escaped alone, five miles from the top of the climb. Jacques-Maynes and Davila gave chase.

The stormy weather that had threatened all day, finally delivered the promise of rain, making the top of the Kebler Pass climb wet and muddy. Perhaps benefitting from those conditions, Carpenter extended his lead over the peloton to more than one minute. The remainder of the break was caught before the day’s second-to-last KOM.

On the climb’s final slopes, the day’s leader, Reijnen, was dropped from the peloton.

Neutralization and confusion in the rain

As he crested the climb, the lone leader’s advantage over the peloton had fallen to 45 seconds. Due to the inclement conditions, race officials neutralized the descent to Crested Butte.

However, there seemed to be some miscommunication between the officials and the peloton. The race officials stopped Carpenter, and then the rest of the field, when they reached pavement after a wet and muddy descent.

Tensions ran high in the front group, with one BMC rider shouting, “unacceptable” at the official. Van Garderen said “it’s a little late,” suggesting that his group did not ride the dirt descent in a neutralized manner. Michael Schär was also seen arguing with the official, indicating that BMC was making a bid to gain time on the race’s first mountain stage.

After the race, Schär tweeted, “Is it possible to DSQ the jury of a race? If yes, today we should do it in @TourofColorado — no reason to stop the race AFTER the danger zone”

Despite protests, the officials started Carpenter with a 45 second gap. Once the leader reached Crested Butte, his gap was out to 1:20. The peloton’s chase seemed to have been disrupted by the stoppage.

The 22-year-old kept grinding up the final climb to Mount Crested Butte, ripping off his jacket and pushing on through the rain.

Behind, the peloton’s final selection — about 16 riders — chased, but remained out of sight of the leader.

With one kilometer remaining, van Garderen and Howes attacked out of the field, quickly eating into Carpenter’s advantage.

But the young Hincapie Sportswear Development rider would not be denied the glory of a stage win, crossing with a six-second lead, enough time to raise his arms to the rainy sky in celebration.

Behind, Howes came around van Garderen for second place. With Reijnen out of the GC picture, the Garmin-Sharp rider took the overall lead with his final effort into Mount Crested Butte.

As for his overall GC ambitions, Howes said, “I don’t think there’s … everyone knows I can’t time trial for my life. This is not my jersey to keep.”

The new leader seemed unfazed by the day’s weather, saying, “We both [he and van Garderen] grew up in pretty cool climates, we’ve spent a lot of times training in nasty Colorado weather, so we got some cold, nasty Colorado weather.”

Wednesday, the race will tackle what may be its hardest mountain stage, a 96-mile ride over Monarch pass to Salida, then back up the pass to finish at Monarch Ski Area.

Full stage 2 results.

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Craddock, Haga to Vuelta for total of six Americans, two Canadians http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/craddock-haga-vuelta-total-six-americans-two-canadians_341648 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/craddock-haga-vuelta-total-six-americans-two-canadians_341648#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 19:02:58 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=341648

Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano) is one of eight North Americans taking the start at the Vuelta a España Saturday in Jerez de la Frontera. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Six U.S. riders and two Canadians head a solid North American contingent for the season's final grand tour, the Vuelta a España

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Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano) is one of eight North Americans taking the start at the Vuelta a España Saturday in Jerez de la Frontera. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

A solid contingent of North American riders is heading to the Vuelta a España this weekend, including WorldTour rookies Chad Haga and Lawson Craddock, who both were tipped Tuesday by Giant-Shimano to make their respective grand tour debuts.

Haga, 25, rode well in the final time trial at the Vuelta a Burgos on Sunday, stopping the clock for a season-best fourth place, while Craddock, 22, was third overall at the Amgen Tour of California in May. Both have been consistent all season, and have earned a spot on the Giant-Shimano lineup for the Vuelta.

“If I were to be selected, I will try to finish the thing,” Craddock told VeloNews in a telephone interview earlier this month. “We’ll be going with a strong team, with [Warren] Barguil for the GC, and [John] Degenkolb for the sprints. So if I am selected, I will be going there to help Warren out in the GC, and help John in the sprints.”

As Craddock mentioned, leading Giant-Shimano will be Warren Barguil, the promising young French rider who won two Vuelta stages last year, and who will be making a push for the GC. John Degenkolb returns to the Vuelta, in part to prepare for the world championships in Ponferrada in northwest Spain. Degenkolb returns to the Vuelta for the first time since 2012, when he won five stages.

Though the start list has yet to be finalized, the inclusion of Haga and Craddock brings the American tally for the Vuelta to six.

Defending champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) is headlining the U.S. contingent. At 42, he will be the oldest rider in the Spanish tour. Horner has battled injury and illness all season long, but after riding to second at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, looks to be pedaling into his best fitness of the season, just in time to take on all challengers as he defends his Vuelta crown.

“The form is better this year than it was last year,” Horner told reporters last week at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. “I just need the health to clear up a little bit. Hopefully, this next week I’ll take it easy, let the lungs clear up and after that I’ll be 100 percent and ready to go on to win something at the Tour of Spain.”

Two more grand tour rookies also got the call ups by their respective teams. Larry Warbasse, 24, will be starting for BMC Racing, which brings Cadel Evans, Philippe Gilbert, and 2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez. The other is Nathan Brown, 23, who will be part of an equally deep Garmin-Sharp team.

Andrew Talansky headlines Garmin-Sharp, with an eye on avenging his bitter exit from the 2014 Tour following a pair of devastating crashes. Talansky, who took a huge victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, will be looking to maximize opportunities, and will ride for the GC if he discovers his form in his return to competition after the Tour.

Two Canadians will also start, including 2012 Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal adding additional firepower to a deep Garmin-Sharp squad. Hesjedal skipped the Tour de France for the first time since his Tour debut in 2008, in part to focus on the Giro d’Italia, and later to reload for the Vuelta and late-season goals. Along with Daniel Martin, Hesjedal and Talansky will give Garmin three cards to play in the GC.

Fellow Canadian Guillaume Boivin, 25, will be making his second Vuelta start. He started last year’s Vuelta, but abandoned in stage 14. With Cannondale lining up with Peter Sagan, Boivin will be working to close down breakaways and set up Sagan for stage victories.

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