News – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:38:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News – 32 32 Wiggins was ‘fully aware’ of corticosteroid’s reputation Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:20:48 +0000 Bradley Wiggins told UK newspaper The Guardian he was "fully aware" that corticosteroid Triamcinolone Acetonide had a checkered past.

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Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins was “fully aware” that the corticosteroid he obtained a Therapeutic Use Exemption for in 2011, ’12, and ’13 had a reputation as a performance enhancer. But Wiggins asserts that the substance was “the best course of treatment” for his allergies.

In an extensive interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Wiggins discussed his legal use of banned substance Triamcinolone acetonide, his history of nagging allergies, and the timeline for his use of the banned substance. Wiggins said he was “fully aware of this drug and the taboo surrounding it all … the misuse and the abuse of this drug in the past”

The interview is the most comprehensive media hit that Wiggins has done since his TUE information was made public two weeks ago by hacking team “Fancy Bears.” The hacks also revealed TUE information on a number of cyclists, including Fabian Cancellara, Chris Froome, and Jack Bobridge, among others.

Wiggins’s TUE leak has stirred controversy among current and retired pro cyclists. Multiple retired professional cyclists have said that Triamcinolone acetonide, also known by its trade names Kenacort and Kenalog, was commonly abused by cyclists as an illicit way to drop weight and battle inflammation. Retired Scottish rider David Millar told UK newspaper The Telegraph that the substance should be banned outright, and that it was one of the “most potent” drugs he used during his career.

Wiggins told The Guardian that he understands that his use of the drug appears suspicious, but that fans and the media shouldn’t assume that the substance he was taking was a performance enhancer. He said that the sport’s long history with drug abuse has likely influenced peoples’ perception of his TUE for the corticosteroid.

“I saw the hoo-hah a couple of years ago with Froome with the Tour of Romandie inhaler and the last-minute TUE, racing on it. I saw the hysteria that caused and I understand in the post-Armstrong all that came with that,” he said.

Wiggins insisted that the drug was a last-ditch method to treat his chronic allergy to pollen, which he’s suffered since he was a teenager. Wiggins said he first began struggling with hay fever at the age of 15, and the problem progressively worsened during his 20s. He tried to treat the allergies with allergy medication Clarityn, nasal sprays, and other methods.

He said the allergies first impacted his professional career in 2003, when he was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia after missing the time cut.

“Uncontrollable sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, the urge to rub my eyes constantly, and in doing that the eyes becoming bloodshot … extreme,” Wiggins said. “My breathing became restricted, like breathing through a straw at times.”

Starting in 2004 Wiggins began working with doctors to try and cure the allergies. Starting in 2008 Wiggins began receiving TUE for Salbutamol, a well-known inhaler treatment for asthma and allergies. The treatment did not eliminate the allergies, Wiggins said.

Wiggins said he never discussed the allergies before because he was worried that the problems would come off as an excuse for his bad performances. The allergies hampered him at races throughout his career, he said, but he kept the problems to himself. He also didn’t write about the allergies in his book, “My Time.”

“It wasn’t something I was going to shout from the rooftops and use as an excuse and say, ‘My allergies have started off again.’ That’s convenient isn’t it Brad, your allergies started when you got dropped. I didn’t mention it in the book. I’d come off a season of … I’d won everything that year. When I was writing the book I wasn’t sat there thinking, ‘I’d better bring my allergies up.’ I was flying on cloud nine after dominating the sport all year.”

Wiggins does not believe the Triamcinolone acetonide gave him an advantage during his races. He said the substance hurt his performance at the 2011 Tour de France, where he eventually crashed out. As the race went on, Wiggins said he felt himself weakening, and believes the substance may have “tipped him over the edge.”

“I’d probably have been better without it, because I was already at 70 kilos at the Dauphiné having worked with Nigel Mitchell all year and got down to this weight, starving myself doing seven-hour rides without breakfast, and I was climbing well, but I was borderline, and in taking this I cured one problem but gave myself another,” Wiggins said.

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No worlds for Costa, eyeing 2017 improvements Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:04:01 +0000 After missing out on a selection for the worlds time trial, up-and-comer Adrien Costa chooses to end his season and gear up for 2017.

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Adrien Costa, a winner of time trial medals in the past two world championships, won’t be racing in Qatar next month.

The 19-year-old phenom, who enjoyed a breakout season in his first year racing at the U23 level, will not be taking a crack at the time trial world title. Despite winning silver in 2014 and 2015 in the junior world time trials, he was not selected to race against the clock for the Doha worlds in October.

“I was disappointed, not to be selected,” Costas said. “I was on the podium on the last two years as a junior, and after winning the time trial at the Tour de l’Avenir, I thought that would be enough.”

Earlier this month, USA Cycling confirmed that Geoffrey Curran and Neilson Powless — two of Costa’s teammates on Axeon Hagens Berman — would race the time trial, based on qualification criteria. Costa was initially selected to compete in the road race, but he decided that the flat, sprint-friendly course was hardly ideal for his style of racing.

“At the end of the day, with the flat circuits for the road race, I am not sure it is worth the travel and energy to extend my season for four more weeks,” Costa said. “I prefer to settle in at home, have some down time for the first time in a long time. It’s not the worst thing in the world. I will have a chance at the U23 world title again next year.”

Even without Costa, the U.S. U23 team will have solid chances for the podium. Powless was second to Costa at the Avenir time trial, 10th at the Amgen Tour of California time trial, less than a minute slower than Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), and won a TT at the Tour de Beauce.

Curran, racing this week at the Olympia’s Tour, was second in the time trial on Thursday, and beat both Powless and Costa to win the U23 national time trial title in June.

Costa, meanwhile, is decompressing for a superb first season in the U23 ranks. He performed consistently across the season, splitting his calendar between the United States and Europe. In May, he became the first American to win the weeklong Tour de Bretagne, and followed that up with third at the Rhone-Alpes Isère Tour. In June, he won a time trial stage at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, took second overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and won a time trial and third overall at the Tour de l’Avenir. He rounded out his season with a stagiaire stint with Etixx – Quick-Step.

Costa will race 2017 with Axeon Hagens Berman, and he’s already hoping to build on his success from this season.

“Winning the overall at the Tour de Bretagne was big. I wasn’t expecting that. I was hoping to be up there and racing hard, but I didn’t expect to be the one that everyone was watching,” Costa said. “That was a big change when I went to the Tour de l’Avenir, because every time I stood out of the saddle, it seemed like the entire peloton did, too. Next year, I hope to race a calendar similar to what I would see at the WorldTour level, racing hard from March to September.”

And that schedule will likely include a return trip to the world championships to race for gold in the U23 time trial in Bergen, Norway. Right now, Costa is happy to cool his jets, sign up for some classes at Oregon State University, and enjoy the downtime.

“I am done racing for the season,” Costa said. “I stopped riding to take my true off-season a few days ago, and I will be off the bike for two or three weeks. By mid-November, I will start into some more structured training on the road. It will go quick. The first team camp is in January, and it’s off to Europe again.”

Read a full interview with Costa in the next issue of VeloNews.

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Editors’ Picks: Il Lombardia Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:24:18 +0000 VeloNews editors name their favorites for the final WorldTour race of the season, the Il Lombardia monument.

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Here are our rapid-fire predictions for Saturday’s Il Lombardia, the final WorldTour race of the year.

John Bradley, editor in chief
Pick: Esteban Chaves

Chaves likes racing in Italy, where he finished second in the Giro. He was also third at the Vuelta and won the Giro dell’Emilia last week. He has the skills and the form.

Spencer Powlison, news director
Pick: Romain Bardet

I liked how Bardet kept attacking to the end in Milano-Torino on Wednesday — he was right with that group of top favorites. Plus, he was second in Giro dell’Emilia the week prior. The young Frenchman is coming around, and his descending skills will help on Lombardia’s sinuous roads.

Fred Dreier, executive editor
Pick: Miguel Angel Lopez

Lopez is probably hyper-motivated to salvage the back half of the season after he crashed out of the Vuelta. As we saw at Milano-Torino, Lopez is climbing really well right now. I think he has the legs to stay with Chavito, and I think he’s faster in a sprint.

Chris Case, managing editor
Pick: Greg Van Avermaet

After defying logic to climb his way to Olympic gold, Greg can never again be discounted on hilly courses. Second in Quebec, first in Montreal, his late-season form is as good as it was this summer. A monument victory is next in line.

Caley Fretz, senior editor
Pick: Rigoberto Uran

Uran looked exceptionally comfortable at Milano-Torino this week, cruising into third behind his teammate Michael Woods. He’s motivated, fit, and his third at Lombardia in 2012 is proof that he likes the race.

Andrew Hood, European correspondent
Pick: Fabio Aru

Lombardia is always a tough one to call. My hunch tells me Fabio Aru will deliver the big Italian win to close out the season, with Diego Ulissi coming a close second.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
Pick: Esteban Chaves

He’s still looking strong after a long season of racing and Lombardia is extra hilly this year, which will suit the micro Columbian. Plus, who doesn’t want to root for Chaves and his entertaining Orica team?

Gregor Brown, reporter
Pick: Esteban Chaves

He has obviously come away from the Vuelta a España with great form. He powered clear from his rivals on the San Luca climb to win the Giro dell’Emilia last week. With that form, and considering the ride he had last year in Lombardia, he should win this year. If not, bet on Simon Yates.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
Pick: Dan Martin

Martin, the 2014 winner, would be among the favorites for Il Lombardia no matter what, but with defending champ Vincenzo Nibali skipping the race, Alejandro Valverde uncertain due to a reported illness, and Joaquim Rodriguez returning from semi-retirement, the Irishman has a particularly nice opportunity to nab a third career monument this weekend. On the one hand, he has shown strong form with several great results in big races this season; on the other, motivation should be pretty high, as he hasn’t actually won that much in 2016.

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Clean slate, new team for struggling Ferrand-Prévot Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:15:38 +0000 The multi-discipline world champion departs Rabo – Liv for the German squad with a colorful kit.

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Multi-discipline world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot has signed a four-year deal with German team Canyon – SRAM, leaving her longtime home of Rabo – Liv as it morphs into Fortitude Pro Cycling.

It will be a fresh start for the French star after she struggled throughout the 2016 season, failing to win a single race. The dearth of results was amplified by its proximity to her incredible 2014 and 2015 seasons, when she held rainbow jerseys in four separate disciplines.

“After five great years spent with the best riders in the world I’m glad to announce I’ll be riding for CANYON//SRAM Racing next year,” Ferrand-Prévot said. “Thank you to Canyon and the team for giving me the opportunity to join a super talented and strong lineup, and believing in me for the coming years.”

It will be the first team change since Ferrand-Prévot, 24, turned professional. She first signed for Rabo – Liv in 2012 and was with the team throughout her multi-discipline dominance.

Canyon – SRAM was created from the ashes of Kristy Scrymgeour’s Velocio – SRAM program for the 2015 season. Team manager Ronny Lauke took over the license and pulled in Canyon and Rapha as major sponsors.

“We are happy to welcome such a young but already proven athlete to our modern program,” Lauke said. “Pauline obviously has a lot of potential, and we believe with our international roster and our approach to the sport, that she can develop further.

“With her abilities to race in all areas Pauline has created a unique career already and it will bolster our already high quality in the team, especially in the mountains.”

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Romain Bardet: Stop TUEs that treat ‘imaginary illnesses’ Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:55:08 +0000 Therapeutic Use Exemptions have allowed several riders to legally take otherwise banned substances for medical reasons.

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COMO (AFP) — Tour de France runner-up Romain Bardet on Friday called for rigorous independent checks of controversial Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) where athletes can benefit from massive cortisone boosts with no threat of a doping ban.

A hacking group earlier this month revealed that Tour de France champion Chris Froome had twice benefitted from TUEs earlier in his career.

“It’s up to the authorities to take a strong stand,” the 25-year-old Frenchman told AFP. “Why not have a truly independent medical team at the World Anti-Doping Agency? The current committee just bases its decisions around what team doctors say.

“We need a definitive end to a system where an unscrupulous doctor can prescribe cortisone for imaginary illnesses.”

Froome, who won his third Tour de France title in four years this summer, said Tuesday: “I take my position in sport very seriously and I know that I have to not only abide by the rules, but also go above and beyond that to set a good example both morally and ethically.”

British cycling great Bradley Wiggins was also revealed by the hacking group “Fancy Bears” to have been granted a TUE to treat asthma. He was allowed to have an injection of the powerful steroid triamcinolone just days before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, as well as the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Triamcinolone has been described by several former dopers as one of the most effective performance-enhancing drugs and it is believed to help athletes lose weight without losing power, postpone fatigue, and aid recovery.

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2017 Tour rumors: Germany to France, via Belgium Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:33:48 +0000 Various news reports suggest the race will travel through Belgium after its grand depart in Germany.

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MILAN (VN) — The 2017 Tour de France, according to various reports, will skip the country’s northwest where it began this July to ride through the Jura Mountains, Pyrénées, and the Alps.

The Tour next year will start in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1, organizer ASO announced last winter. The race will kick off with a 13-kilometer time trial Saturday and a stage start from Düsseldorf the next day.

Various Belgian newspapers report that the race will travel south through Belgium’s Wallonia region. Stage 2 should finish in Liège and stage 3 could start in nearby Verviers before entering the Tour’s homeland.

The 2016 Tour began in Normandy, a region where troops landed on the D-Day invasion in 1944. In 2017, the Tour may not even come close to the area. Instead, various sources say the race will continue south toward the Jura Mountains and then cut to southwest France for the Pyrénées.

The race will return to La Planche des Belles Filles, reports France Bleu Besançon, where Sky’s Chris Froome won his first Tour stage in 2012. Froome went on to place second behind teammate Bradley Wiggins that year, and later won the 2013, 2015, and 2016 editions. The climb in the Jura Mountains runs 5.9 kilometers and reaches 14 percent in the final 200 meters, where Froome surged past Cadel Evans for the win.

The Grand Colombier and Mont du Chat could host another Jura battle a week in, on the Sunday before the first rest day. Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper reported this week that stage 9 will travel up the hardest of the four sides of Grand Colombier and the 8.7km Mont du Chat before racing 25km down to Chambéry.

The rest of the Tour is coming into focus slowly. The riders will likely fly from Chambéry to Périgueux to continue the second chapter of the 2017 race.

The mountain stages in the Pyrénées and Alps will have most cyclists and fans tuning into the route presentation October 18. What ASO presents will play a part in who could win the 2017 edition.

ASO announced on Twitter that it would return to Pau, the city in the southwest that has often seen the riders off to their Pyrénéan battles. La Dépêche wrote that the Peyragudes ski station could host a stage finish as it did in 2012 when Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde won. If so, it will likely include the Peyresourde in the 15.4km summit finish.

The third and final week remains unclear. The Champs-Élysées finish in Paris is almost guaranteed for Sunday, July 23.

The Tour could ride into the history books. The race is expected to climb the 18.1km Col du Galibier from the north side and finish in Serre Chevalier on Friday (stage 19). Saturday, before the final stage in Paris, it could finish on the Col d’Izoard at 2,360 meters above sea level for the first time. Le Dauphiné Libéré reported that the stage will start in Briançon and climb Col de Vars (2,109 meters). In addition, it would be the L’Etape du Tour.

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Preview: Aru, Rodriguez seek Lombardia win Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:48:50 +0000 Saturday's Il Lombardia will feature two new climbs as organizers look to mix things up at the "Race of the Falling Leaves."

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MILAN (AFP) — A host of challengers, including fellow Italian Fabio Aru and Spain’s former two-time champion Joaquin Rodriguez, will saddle up looking to snatch Vincenzo Nibali’s crown at Il Lombardia on Saturday.

But to do so, they would do well to remember if, and how, they raced the 2014 edition.

Astana’s Nibali, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone in a crash at the Olympics, won his maiden Lombardia crown in Como just outside Milan last year. He won’t be there to defend his title this weekend.

But the organizers’ decision to alternate the start and finish towns between Bergamo and Como for 2014-2017 means this year’s “Race of the Falling Leaves,” like in 2014 when Ireland’s Dan Martin triumphed, finishes in Bergamo.

The race’s marquee Madonna del Ghisallo climb — a 10.6-kilometer ascent at an average gradient of 5.2 percent — now comes just 65km into the 241km race instead of in the final third.

Seven climbs follow suit, two of which have been included for the first time as organizers look for drama in what is the European cycling season’s finale.

The world championships will be held in Doha next week, so for some, Il Lombardia — one of cycling’s five monuments — is a chance to show, gauge, and hone their form ahead of their national teams’ respective bids to secure the coveted rainbow jersey.

Aru is a former Vuelta a Espana winner whose sole win this season was a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

But the 26-year-old Italian warmed up for a tilt at Nibali’s crown by finishing sixth in Milano-Torino this week, a race the finished atop Superga.

Aru was given an extra boost after teammate Miguel Angel Lopez triumphed by 9 seconds over Canadian Michael Woods.

But the Italian faces tough opposition.

Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) pulled out of Milano-Torino with an illness but is expected to be among the challengers after successive runner-ups in 2012 and 2013.

Whether Rodriguez feels the same motivation remains to be seen.

Spain’s 2012 and 2013 winner has been forced to come out of retirement after his Katusha team insisted he race the autumn classics.

Dutchman Wout Poels, the Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion, leads the hopes of British outfit Sky amid scrutiny and suspicion following reports the team’s former star, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, used medicine to gain an unfair advantage on his rivals.

Sky has claimed just two top-10 finishes at the race in six attempts, including Rigoberto Uran’s third-place finish in 2012.

Uran on Wednesday finished third at Milano-Torino, only 14 seconds behind Angel Lopez.

All the riders still in the race at the 176km mark, however, will face the fresh challenges of two new climbs for 2016: the Sant’Antonio Abbandonato and the Miragolo San Salvatore.

The Abbandonato, 6.5km long at an average gradient of 8.9 percent but with sections at 15 percent, begins after 176.1km of racing.

Almost 10km after the summit, the peloton heads into the unknown again with the 8.7km ascent of San Salvatore (7 percent average).

They both come before the day’s final major challenge, the 6.9km Selvino climb, whose summit is 28.3km from the finish.

Just to make sure the Lombardia champion is worth his salt, the Bergamo Alta — a small climb which features cobbles and grades up to 12 percent — has been placed 4km from the finish.

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Commentary: Bradley Wiggins went too far Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:36:08 +0000 Every sport has a murky, gray area separating gamesmanship from low-grade cheating. Should Bradley Wiggins be punished for his TUE scandal?

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Every sport has a murky, gray area separating gamesmanship from low-grade cheating.

Soccer players flop around like rag dolls in hopes of drawing a foul. Pitchers coat the ball in loogies and vaseline to make it dart past a swinging bat. Water polo players kick, jab, and gouge each other whenever the referees look away. Even Ironman triathletes ride as close as possible to the no-draft zone in hopes of gaming the system.

When I first examined the recent kerfuffle involving Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins, and the leaked TUE information, I saw a situation that falls on the gamesmanship side of this murky divide. Yes, Wiggins used a banned substance in the lead-up to the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012, and the Giro d’Italia in 2013. Yes, the banned substance was a corticosteroid, which have long been used by boxers, NFL players, and, yes, cyclists as a weapons-grade version of Ibuprofen.

OK, this is the part of the column where I say that Wiggins and Team Sky have stated that they obtained the corticosteroids to treat his lifelong asthma, and that the substance wasn’t used to boost his performance. The fact that the substance he took is a popular PED was, like, you know, just a coincidence.

So yes, at first glance, I did not view this as cheating, even of the low-grade variety. Whether you like it or not, Wiggins and Sky went through the steps to legally obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) from the UCI. The onus was on the UCI and the World Anti Doping Agency to tell Wiggo and Sky to buzz off, but neither organization did.

Sure, it’s a slimy brand of gamesmanship, but not drastically worse than the soccer player who flops, the base runner who steals the pitch signals, or the NFL defensive back who fakes an injury to stop the clock.

Over the past few days, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve gradually inched Wiggins across the murky line toward the low-grade cheating side things. What changed my mind were a handful of conversations with PED experts and retired professional cyclists, plus the avalanche of good writing that has appeared on the subject.

Here’s the thing: The substance that Wiggins took legally — a potent corticosteroid called triamcinolone acetonide (Kenacort) — is a familiar PED amongst cyclists of a certain age. It’s not some obscure, mysterious substance, it’s doping’s version of the Tic Tac. If you raced during cycling’s full-gas doping era, Kenacort was just another performance booster in your war chest of banned pills, creams, and vials of injectable solutions.

And Kenacort isn’t just uber-Ibuprofen that helps an athlete overcome aches and pains. Cyclists use it primarily as a way to burn off pesky chunks of weight in the lead up to a big race. Yeah, it’s a bona-fide corner cutter.

And that’s why this whole thing isn’t just gamesmanship. Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky found a way to take a substance that everybody in the cycling world knows will make a cyclist’s life easier.

Like all endurance sports, cycling is built on process: You train, you rest, and you race. If you’re a rider preparing for a grand tour, you also spend a few weeks or months cutting calories hopes of getting down to race weight. Yeah, you starve yourself.

Guess what — starving yourself sucks! One could write volumes on the zany methods cyclists use to starve themselves, from locking their cupboards and buying smaller dishes, to hiring food gurus and dietitians, to eating nothing but boiled vegetables and gruel.

For some cyclists, weight-centric neurosis is a big deal. Every extra ounce hangs over their heads, especially on climbs. It’s the same brand of neurotic thinking that persuaded racers in the 1980’s to drill holes into every metal component on their bicycles, or modern-day racers to tinker with their heavy gear. Shave the weight or haul it up the hill.

So let’s say you’re a grand tour hopeful who is entering the Tour de France with the weight of your nation on your back. Maybe you drank too many pints of beer in the offseason, or you couldn’t say no to the peanut M&Ms or the post-meal dessert. For whatever reason, you’re just not as light as you wanted to be. There’s a solution for you: Kenacort. It’s like holding a blowtorch up to a stick of butter.

Of course melting away a few pounds doesn’t transform a rider into a grand tour champion. Kenacort isn’t rocket fuel, like EPO or blood transfusions. It’s a comparatively low-grade booster.

But allowing riders like Wiggins to take it sets a dangerous precedent for a sport that’s trying to create space between its current generation and the dopes from the bygone era. Let’s say you’re a staigiare and you learn that your team recently exploited a loophole to allow its marquee rider to get down to race weight the old-school way. When it comes time to starve yourself before a race, why not ask team management if they’ll seek out that loophole on your behalf?

Every sport has its way of punishing low-grade cheating. If umpires catch a MLB pitcher using a belt sander to scuff up the baseball, they’ll hand down a suspension from between six to 10 games. NBA players who flop earn a $5,000 fine for a second offense (first one gets a warning). Tom Brady got dinged four games for deflating footballs (sorry, Patriots fans, it’s been proven).

What do we do with Wiggins?

It’s tough to say. I honestly do not believe Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France because he took Kenacort. He crushed that race, and finished 6:19 ahead of third-place Vincenzo Nibali (Froome was second). Would a couple of extra ounces of chocolate chub slowed him down that much? It’s hard to say.

No matter if it’s gamesmanship or low-grade cheating, I’m not sure we need to punish Wiggins or Sky. Perhaps the whole world knowing Wiggins took Kenacort under Sky’s guidance is their just dessert.

And as we now know, Brad Wiggins loves dessert.

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Movistar, Trek shore up bases to take on ‘Fortress Froome’ Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:19:05 +0000 Trek – Segafredo and Movistar amass their respective forces for 2017 in hopes that strong teams can challenge Sky's Tour de France

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It takes a team to win a grand tour, and two major squads have shored up their bases by keeping key domestiques for next season’s big battles.

Trek – Segafredo, bolstered by the arrival of Alberto Contador next year, and Movistar, anchored around Nairo Quintana, both confirmed important front-line workers for 2017.

Trek announced contract extensions for Spanish veteran Haimar Zubeldia and Luxembourger Laurent Didier while Movistar confirmed four key workers — Rory Sutherland, JJ Rojas, Winner Anacona, and Imanol Erviti — will be back next year. Those moves mean that both teams will have strong support around their respective captains, and will be ready to take on “Fortress Froome” at Team Sky in the 2017 Tour de France.

“I am a domestique, and I look forward to the next two years to continue in this support role,” Didier said in a team release. “It was very important continue in a team where they know me and how I work as well.”

Didier re-ups for two years, while Zubeldia signed on for one more season in what will be his 20th in the peloton. Both riders will provide support to Contador, who joins from Tinkoff and brings Jesus Hernández with him. Trek is also rebuilding its classics program around John Degenkolb following the retirement of Fabian Cancellara, but the squad will also be firmly focused on the grand tours with Contador on board along with Bauke Mollema.

“The team has taken another dimension with Contador and Degenkolb joining us next year,” Zubeldia said. “I raced with Alberto some years ago, so we already know each other, and it’s important to me that he is also a Spanish guy. I will have a bigger role next year supporting both Mollema and Contador, and that is also very motivating for me.”

Movistar also reconfirmed its front-line offense for Quintana, who will target the 2017 Tour with renewed confidence after winning the Vuelta a España after a thrilling battle with Chris Froome (Sky).

Sutherland, who rode both the Giro and Vuelta for Movistar, and Erviti give Movistar brawn in the flats and crosswinds. The addition of Daniele Bennati will also help in the trenches. Rojas, who is recovering from a horrible crash at the Vuelta, has also slotted into a pure helper’s role after giving up on the bunch sprints. Anacona has emerged as one of Quintana’s most useful helpers in the mountains.

This year’s Vuelta reconfirmed just how important a solid team is during a grand tour. Unlike the Tour de France, where Sky brought its A-team, Froome was left isolated in a few key moments during the Spanish grand tour. Movistar’s coup in the 120km stage to Formigal torpedoed Froome’s hopes of winning the Spanish tour and helped secure Quintana’s second major grand tour victory of his career.

After two active seasons on the rider marketplace, Sky has kept a low profile so far going into 2017 in terms of big signings. Like Movistar and Trek, it has re-upped some of its most consistent performers, with renewed contracts with Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe.

Here’s a complete list of rider transfers for 2017 >>

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King, Thwaites sign with Dimension Data Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:59:26 +0000 After three years with Cannondale, Ben King will transfer to South African team Dimension Data, along with Brit Scott Thwaites.

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American Ben King and British rider Scott Thwaites will join Dimension Data for 2017.

King, 27, heads to the African team after three years with Cannondale – Drapac. The former U.S. national road champion won a stage of Criterium Internationale in 2015 and took a stage of the Tour of California this year. He recently capped his 2016 campaign with a strong ride at the Vuelta a España. A proficient breakaway artist, King believes his style should fit in well with his new team.

“The team races with guts and everyone gets opportunities,” he said.

“I love to race my bike for the pleasure and beauty of it, the lifestyle it encourages, and the people and places I get to build relationships with through it. However, as I’ve matured as a rider, I’ve found that motivation and drive hinge more on ‘why’ than on ‘what’ we do,” he said. “Promoting and professionally representing Qhubeka gives my involvement in cycling another higher purpose and fills me with pride.”

King has a European base in Lucca, and will remain in the Italian city.

“Ben King had an incredible La Vuelta showing great depth and consistency, and we see Ben taking a leadership role in mentoring and leading our climber group of riders based out of our training center in Lucca,” said team principal Douglas Ryder.

Dimension Data is currently fighting for its spot in the WorldTour, as one of four teams seeking three remaining positions.

Thwaites, 26, has spent his entire pro career within various iterations of the Bora – Argon 18 program. A strong one-day racer with podium results at Le Samyn and Ronde van Drenthe, he’ll be tasked with supporting and learning from his new team’s classics stars.

“After steadily improving over the last four years in the classics and beginning to break into the top 20, I was looking for a team with some experienced classics riders and knowledgeable directors to help me continue to improve,” he said. “I am really looking forward to supporting Edvald Boasson Hagen in the classics whilst learning from him and sports directors like Roger Hammond to enable me to also fight for top results.”

Dimension Data also confirmed its signing of Tour of Utah winner Lachlan Morton, who has raced with U.S. domestic team Jelly Belly for the last two seasons and was King’s teammate in 2014.

Here’s the complete list of rider transfers for 2017 >>

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Rabo – Liv will become Fortitude Pro Cycling for 2017 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:46:29 +0000 The Rabo – Liv team may be folding, but world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos will form a new team with several current teammates.

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Rabobank – Liv is closing up shop at the end of this season, but it appears the core of the program will live on. A new venture, dubbed Fortitude Pro Cycling, will be anchored by world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos and is to be built on an new, egalitarian sponsorship model.

Vos will be joined by five of her Rabo – Liv teammates and five newcomers. The team loses two major stars in Anna van der Breggen and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, but retains Vos’s star power, Polish champion Katarzyna Niewiadoma, and Dutch champion Anouska Koster.

Vos announced the new team on Thursday but made no mention of title or equipment sponsors. Instead, it appears that the team will seek to combine sponsors of all sizes to generate a workable budget.

“Small businesses, mom-and-pop shops, larger companies with a sizable workforce, multinationals; really, all businesses that believe in our message and are interested in professional cycling are welcome to become part of the Fortitude Pro Cycling enterprise,” said team manager Eric van den Boom, who currently manages the Rabo – Liv program.

“We’re keen on collaborating with businesses and offering unique opportunities that, at least in the women’s peloton, are rather exceptional. The goal is create value for everyone involved.”

Fortitude Pro Cycling Roster: Rotem Gafinovitz, Yara Kastelijn, Lauren Kitchen, Jeanne Korevaar, Anouska Koster, Riejanne Markus, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Anna Plichta, Valentina Scandolara, Moniek Tenniglo, and Marianne Vos.

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Reviewed: Clement’s LCV and the difficulty of avocado shopping Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:08:01 +0000 Buying road tires is like buying avocados. Sometimes you have to feel quite a lot of them to get it right.

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Weight: 215 grams
Star Rating: 9/10

Buying road tires is like buying avocados. Sometimes you have to feel quite a lot of them to get it right.

You squeeze and squeeze, dumping those that are too hard or too soft. This one flats too much; that one is firm as a rock. “What am I even looking for?” you ask yourself, exasperated, as avocadotire after avocadotire fails the test.

But you know a good one when you feel it.

You feel it with a pair of Continental GP4000s IIs. You feel it with the new cotton-walled beauties from Specialized and Vittoria. You feel it, too, with Clement’s LCV. They somehow break the connection between a seam in the road a bump from your saddle. They whir instead of drag on bad pavement. They stay inflated most of the time. (This is key.)

On the spectrum from green (Gatorskin) to guacamole (Specialized’s first attempt at the Turbo Cotton), the LCV is about 2 hours short of perfectly ripe. It’s a race-worthy tire with a chip on its shoulder, capable of taking daily abuse. Buy the 25mm, or better yet the 28, and you’ll be pleased with both the ride quality and the durability.

The LCV uses a clever vulcanized casing that incorporates variable thread counts, improving durability where it’s needed (the middle of the tread) while retaining supple sidewalls. That makes it surprisingly durable considering its low weight (our pair of 25mm LCVs weighed in at 217 and 214 grams per tire, about 10 grams lighter than the GP4000s II) and thin casing.

I had zero flats in 1,500 miles of testing, which included extensive off-pavement groad time. Even more impressive was the lack of rear tire wear. The rear tire wore about 20 percent slower than I’ve come to expect from similar high-end offerings. Don’t expect it to be as tough as a Clement Strada LGG or a Maxxis Refuse or a Vittoria Rubino, though. This is not a winter tire, nor is it a training tire.

Both tires, front and rear, did suffer a few small cuts, though none were deep enough to affect the casing. This is to be expected when you take a race-worthy tire off the pavement.

Aesthetically, I prefer the classic look of a cotton sidewall. But cotton sidewalls tend to be much less durable than that of the LCV. I’ve put long gashes in two different Turbo Cottons. The LCVs are still going strong.

It’s difficult to test cornering grip without falling down. It’s like asking someone to find the edge of the Grand Canyon in a blindfold. But if you tiptoe out toward the brink of sanity slowly enough, you do get a good idea where the big drop probably lies.

In the corners, the LCV is slightly less confidence inspiring than a GP4000s II, particularly in the rain, where the Contis truly shine. It is on par with the Turbo Cotton and Corsa Competition. On a moderately wide rim (Campagnolo Bora Ultra 35, 24.2mm outer width) a 25mm LCV produces a nice round profile, further improving cornering confidence.

On a pair of race wheels, I’d stick with a pair of ultra-fast Specialized or Vittoria cotton tires. But to ride and enjoy every day, the LCV and GP4000 are more alluring. The performance and durability gap between the two is all but imperceptible.

At $75 each, the LCV is not a cheap tire, though no tire with comparable function can be found for much less.

Is a pair worth $150? I guess that depends on how you feel about a really good avocado.

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Tour de San Luis canceled, sends riders scrambling Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:49:11 +0000 The stage race was held for 10 years dating back to 2007, but reports say the 2017 edition has been canceled.

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MILAN (VN) — Nairo Quintana, Peter Sagan, and Vincenzo Nibali will have to look for somewhere else to race in January. Thursday morning, reports trickled through from Argentina that the country’s major stage race, the Tour de San Luis, would not run in 2017 due to financial problems.

Local journalist Marcelo La Gattina reported the news via Twitter about the race that was due to run January 17-22.

Those stars and many other cyclists, like American Andrew Talansky (Cannondale – Drapac), welcomed the heat of central Argentina in mid-January to start their seasons. Most viewed it as a low-key alternative to the WorldTour-ranked Santos Tour Down Under, which sees much more aggressive racing from Australians and teams hoping to score early points.

“[The Tour Down Under] is too hard, it’s a WorldTour race,” said Mark Cavendish, who raced in 2013, 2014, and 2015. “[It’s] stressful. Physically it’s not any more demanding than it is here, but with WorldTour points available it’s stressful racing. If I was able to go well enough to win in the Tour Down Under then I don’t think I could do well again in July.”

Many others preferred the South American sun to the South Australian seaside race. Funding and fan support put the Tour Down Under race on another level.

“The weather is fine, there is a good organization and the race is suitable to build a solid base for the rest of the season,” said Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski.

Since it began in 2007, top professionals began flying to San Luis via Buenos Aires to begin their season. This year, Quintana (Movistar), world champion Sagan (Tinkoff), and Nibali (Astana) lined up. Quintana placed third, while his brother and teammate Dayer Quintana won the overall.

Sagan already confirmed that he would debut with new team Bora – Hansgrohe in the Tour Down Under next year, slated for January 17-22. The organizer promised bigger names for 2017. It reportedly is also expecting Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Chris Froome (Sky) on the start line.

The entire season will feel different in 2017 with several races now promoted from HC to WorldTour status. Following the Tour Down Under, cyclists can continue to the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race one week later and now, race for WorldTour points.

The month of February looks busier. Instead of three Middle East races, there are now four: the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Qatar, the Tour of Oman, and the Abu Dhabi Tour. Both Qatar and Abu Dhabi have WorldTour status this year.

If one does not start his season in January, he can still put in plenty of miles around the Persian Gulf before heading back to Europe for the traditional classics and tours.

Argentina may still have an option in the new five-day Tour de San Juan. The race in the western part of country near its border with Chile should have 2.1 status and run from January 24-29.

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Mathieu van der Poel is just fine, thanks for asking Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:00:00 +0000 Mathieu van der Poel is finally emerging from another layoff due to knee injury. Cyclocross needs him, as does his key rival Wout Van Aert.

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The 21-year-old former cyclocross world champion wants you to know he’s not worried. A year after missing almost half the ‘cross season after multiple surgeries aimed at resolving a knee injury he sustained in a bad fall at Tour de l’Avenir, he is watching from the sidelines again. If you’re a cyclocross fan — or, more importantly, a fan of cyclocross being competitive — it’d be easy to worry.

Mathieu van der Poel, son of 1996 world champion Adrie, and leader of the recently re-christened Beobank – Corendon team, is the only man proven capable of beating Wout Van Aert. Van Aert, himself the reigning world and Belgian champion, won nine races during his Dutch rival’s absence last year and never finished worse than second place.

“It’s pretty annoying actually. You see the other guys and they are already in good condition. The races have begun…”
– Mathieu van der Poel

If you want to see cyclocross become something more than the Van Aert show, you should be rooting for van der Poel’s recovery too.

And he wants you to know, he’ll be back.

“It’s going pretty well,” he told VeloNews in an interview just before Cross Vegas. “I’m doing long rides now to make a good base to start the cyclocross season. Especially long rides now, so my condition is going pretty good, and then I can start doing some interval training on the ‘cross bike shortly.”

In fact, van der Poel believes he has completely licked the injury that caused him so much trouble in 2015 before this latest bout of trouble. He stormed through the second part of the cyclocross season, all but sweeping the final month of races. Shaking off any lingering questions about how well he had recovered, he was even pursuing Olympic aspirations on the mountain bike.

That bid fell apart thanks to the same bad luck that led to the sidelines this season. He jokes about it now.

“In my preparations for my mountain bike career — if you can call it that,” he explains, interrupting himself with a laugh before going on. “I made a couple of crashes that caused my knee problems to come up again. They are not very serious injuries, just always the little things that keep annoying me and prevents my muscles from working how they should work.”

But, after a minor surgery and positive prognosis, he says there is nothing to worry about. No long-term implications, no concern about his ability to race. He will be back at it soon.

Mathieu van der Poel couldn't defend his world championship title in 2016. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Mathieu van der Poel couldn’t defend his world championship title in 2016. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Not soon enough for American fans, however. Van der Poel missed two World Cup stops in the United States, and will return only in time for the start of the Superprestige series, at home in the Netherlands, in Gieten on October 2.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

“It’s pretty annoying actually,” Van der Poel says. “You see the other guys and they are already in good condition. The races have begun and now I’m missing Las Vegas and Iowa for the second time, the World Cups in America. But my focus is now on getting 100 percent back again and doing the best I can to make a good season after all.”

“He is the one guy who can beat Wout [Van Aert] for the moment.”
– Sven Nys

One thing he learned last season is how long it takes to catch up with the sport after a long layoff. He will still be deep in training when he makes his return, while his competitors will already be in full race mode, and he is prepared for a long, slow build back to the top of the sport.

“I have made myself clear, it’s too difficult to be on my best level already tomorrow — already the second of October,” says van der Poel. “It’s just a bit too early. I’m in the fourth week or the third week of training on my bike, so it’s kind of short days. But I hope to make it in decent shape.”

Meanwhile, van der Poel may not be worried about his condition, but others in the sport are.

Sven Nys, now team leader for the Telenet – Fidea Lions, worries that thanks to his injuries, van der Poel is not progressing.

“He is the one guy who can beat Wout [Van Aert] for the moment,” says Nys. “But he has a lot of injuries the last few months, the last few years. And you see that the level of Wout is going up every year and because of the injuries, Mathieu is staying on a level just below. He needs to have a little bit more luck the next few months and then we’ll see some nice battles between them.”

“Cyclocross needs Mathieu van der Poel. The fans are looking forward to big duels. And, to be honest, I need him too.”
– Wout Van Aert

Niels Albert, two-time world champion who now serves as Van Aert’s Crelan – Vastgoedservice team director, says much the same thing.

“I think Mathieu van der Poel is a really strong guy, but now he has some injury in his knee,” says Albert. “So hopefully he comes really soon, because the cyclocross lives on duels, between Wout and Mathieu van der Poel or Wout and Lars van der Haar. But both riders, Mathieu and Lars, are injured … So hopefully for those guys and hopefully for the races they come soon.”

In an interview with the Belgian website last month, Van Aert himself said he was eagerly awaiting van der Poel’s return.

“I hope from the bottom of my heart the knee problems don’t become a recurring story,” said Van Aert. “Cyclocross needs Mathieu van der Poel. The fans are looking forward to big duels. And, to be honest, I need him too.”

Van der Poel and Van Aert. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Van der Poel and Van Aert. Photo: Tim De Waele |

“I think he is my biggest opponent, especially because he knows my strategy in races, and I know his strategy,” Van Aert continued. “When we are both on our highest level you can’t say before the race it’s going to be like this or that. We always need to see in the final the details that make the difference. I think we get to almost the same level in the last years by racing together, so of course he is my biggest opponent.”

Van Aert knows well what happens when one rider dominates the sport. His run of successes early last season set fan expectations sky high, but left his own motivation flagging. He, like van der Poel, is a competitor; he thrives on the battle as much as the win. In the absence of another serious contender — and there are undoubtedly a few riders aspiring to a place near the top of the sport, Michael Vanthourenhout and Laurens Sweeck, for example — van der Poel is the only man who can elevate the competition on which Van Aert thrives.

“It’s something that we both need,” van der Poel says. “In order to give the spectators some great battles, and to bring each of our levels up.”

Van der Poel and Van Aert battled at the Namur World Cup. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Van der Poel and Van Aert battled at the Namur World Cup. Photo: Tim De Waele |

And indeed, the two seem to be inextricably linked. Both riders came to the forefront in the wake of Sven Nys’s disastrous 2014–15 season. Nys long dominated the sport, but by November of that season had fallen apart in the wake of a divorce and excessive training.

Van Aert, then the under-23 world champion, and van der Poel, also a U23 rider, both dipped their toes in the waters — or mud, maybe — of elite racing that year. In spite of being just 19 at the time, the pair emerged as the top riders in the sport more or less simultaneously. By the end of the season both young men had foregone their eligibility for developmental races, and instead battled to a dramatic finish in the elite 2015 world championship race in Tabor, Czech Republic.

“I think he is my biggest opponent, especially because he knows my strategy in races, and I know his strategy.”
– Wout Van Aert

It was van der Poel who earned the first set of rainbow stripes as a professional. Van Aert followed a year later, in Zolder, Belgium. But the battle fans expected fizzled toward the halfway point of the race when van der Poel and Van Aert became entangled on a tricky off-camber corner. Van der Poel lost close to 30 seconds and did not recover. Van Aert, miraculously, regained the front of the race.

Van der Poel says now he doesn’t know if he could have won a second world title that day, or even if he could have delivered a real duel. Things would have been different without the bobble, but he is looking forward, not back, he says. He knows there will be many more duels with Van Aert. But everybody is an important rival, he adds.

“Everybody we have at the starting line, we need every rider there. Not everybody can win the race or be in the top 10, but we need them all. If you’re just starting with 10 riders, it’s not spectacular.”

He names Sweeck and Vanthourenhout as important — and dangerous — rising stars. And he says he shares a connection with Belgian rider Klaas Vantornout, who he considers a friend. “We both have a passion for sports cars,” van der Poel says. “That gives us something to talk about.” Vantornout, a two-time Belgian champion, known for reserve away from the bike and his ferocity on it, was one of van der Poel’s biggest supporters during his injury last season.

Of course he shares the strongest bond with his older brother, David. “We do everything together,” he says. “Most of the time we go out with just two and do all our trainings together. We are in the same team. It’s something that creates a bond.”

There is less sibling rivalry than a healthy sense of competition. And although Mathieu seems to have pulled away in competition, he says his brother can still make him suffer on the bike. “It’s not really a rivalry,” he says. “But in training we can hurt each other and bring each other to a higher level.”

Van der Poel won the Middelkerke Superprestige after a disappointing world championships race in 2016. Photo: Tim De Waele |
Van der Poel won the Middelkerke Superprestige after a disappointing world championships race in 2016. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel has been focused on carving out his own identity. He is not just the son of a racing legend, but the grandson as well of Raymond Poulidor, an eight-time Tour de France podium finisher and one-time Vuelta a España winner.

“[My dad] helped me a lot in the beginning especially,” says van der Poel. “Now I’m sort of going my own way and making my own decisions. But in the beginning when you don’t know a lot about the sport, it’s helpful that he could give advice.”

He jokes now, about how much advice his dad gives him and how much of it he ignores. He laughs about the universality of parents who continue to act like parents long after their children consider themselves grown. “I think that’s the same in every family,” he says.

Maybe, but not every family has fatherly advice that flows from one world champion to another. For a kid who has seemed destined for cyclocross greatness his entire life, van der Poel seems remarkably normal, grounded. He talks about racing with maturity and poise — says he always races to win, because that’s what the fans expect.

It’s never been a better time to be a cyclocross fan. And you can thank Mathieu van der Poel for that. And, in Gieten he’ll remind you why that is.

He talks about his fellow riders, thoughtfully. Says he thinks the American World Cups are good for the sport, but hard on the teams who foot the travel bill, and he would prefer to invest in attracting a more international field to races in Belgium. Genuinely, he seems to care about the sport and recognizes his responsibility, as a former world champion, to be an advocate and ambassador for it.

At 21 he really is still just a kid, but, entering his third year as an elite, he is poised and professional, a veteran.

When Nys announced his impending retirement a few years ago, there were murmurs of worry. Nys is a singular figure, the most prominent and successful racer in the sport’s history. At the height of his career, his presence alone could determine the financial success (or not) of a race.

Now Nys is gone, busy with a new career as leader of the Telenet – Fidea squad, but the sport has never looked better. In Van Aert Belgium has a champion and likely successor to Nys. In van der Poel, the Dutch have a perfect counterpoint, their own champion, a skillful and crafty rider, to help restore balance to one of the great international rivalries in cyclocross. Still young, the pair could dominate for another 15 years, even if they can’t match the longevity of Nys’s incomparable career.

It’s never been a better time to be a cyclocross fan. And you can thank Mathieu van der Poel for that. And, in Gieten he’ll remind you why that is.

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MTB Gallery: One run at Mammoth Mountain Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:41:24 +0000 We take a ride down Mammoth Mountain, from its barren, 11,000-foot peak, down the Kamikaze downhill, and all the way back to town.

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We took a weekend trip to Mammoth, California this fall to ride the local gran fondo, but first, we wanted to check out the growing bike park, which now is clocked at 3,500 acres with 80 miles of singletrack. Here's a look at one run down this iconic mountain. Photo: Peter Morning First, to get to the summit, ride the Panorama Gondola, which is appropriately named for its expansive views of the eastern Sierra mountains. Photo: Peter Morning The mountain's peak rests 11,053 feet above sea level, making it the tallest ski resort (or mountain bike resort) in California. Photo: Peter Morning Right off the top, there's nothing but thin air, rocks, and moon dust. Photo: Peter Morning A lot of the singletrack from the peak is rough, loose, and natural, but Mammoth has been finding ways to mix in jumps and other new-school features. Photo: Peter Morning Although Mammoth Lakes has a modest population a bit over 8,000 people, the resort hosts a 10-event town race series, which is casual, fun, and best of all, free. Photo: Peter Morning Mammoth is a five-hour drive from either San Francisco or Los Angeles, but the mountains nearby  are vast, rugged, and undevelopped. Yosemite National Park is nearby, on the other side of the ridge. Photo: Peter Morning Of course, we had to ride a bit of the iconic Kamikaze racecourse. In 1985, Bill Cockroft, now a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, organized the first Kamikaze downhill. The high-speed event lives on as part of the annual Kamikaze Games in September. And yes, it is scary-fast. Photo: Peter Morning A ride from the top takes you through a variety of terrain, getting into pine forests down lower on trails like Shock Treatment. Photo: Peter Morning From the top of Mammoth, you can ride trails all the way back to the town of Mammoth Lakes, almost 3,000 feet of descending. Photo: Peter Morning

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Best wheelie in the pro peloton — has Sagan met his match? Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:01:20 +0000 Perhaps it is time to crown a new king of the wheelie. Niccolo Bonifazio may have just out-done Peter Sagan when it comes to one-wheel

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Even a casual cycling fan knows that Peter Sagan is the king of wheelies (on a road bike, at least), from his victory salute at Gent-Wevelgem 2013, to his many exploits in the grupetto on the Tour de France’s mountain stages.

But perhaps it is time to crown a new king of the wheelie. On Tuesday, World Cup downhill pro Wyn Masters (who must know a thing or two about wheelies) posted this incredible Instagram video of Trek – Segafredo’s Niccolo Bonifazio riding effortless wheelies and nose wheelies.

Of course, Sagan’s wheelies earn points — both style and difficulty — for the one-handed and sometimes no-handed flourishes. However, Bonifazio’s stunts are downright jaw-dropping when you consider that he’s balancing on one wheel, feathering rim brakes on his aero race bike. Now, we at VeloNews have tested Trek’s Madone, and give it credit for having good brakes overall, but these calipers don’t come close to the modulation a disc brake would afford.

That doesn’t seem to stop the Italian. And though he can’t match Sagan’s palmares (few can!), we bow down to Bonifazio as the peloton’s new king of wheelies.

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Milano-Torino: López out-climbs Woods Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:26:04 +0000 With patience, and then a fierce final attack, Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez won Milano-Torino Wednesday atop the Superga climb.

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With patience, and then a fierce final attack, Colombian Miguel Àngel López won Milano-Torino Wednesday atop the Superga climb outside of Torino Italy.

Into the final kilometer of the 186km race, the finishing kick at the end of a mostly flat Milano-Torino, Michael Woods and López were locked in a two-man fight. Woods went early, likely eager for a chance at the biggest win in his young career, but Astana’s López followed and countered with about 500 meters to go, winning the Italian fall classic.

Top-10 results

  • 1. Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 4:13:36
  • 5. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :21
  • 6. Fabio ARU, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :23
  • 9. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :36
  • 10. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :40

Cannondale – Drapac’s Canadian first-year, Woods, managed to hang on for second place, while his teammate, Rigoberto Uran mopped up the final podium position in third.

“[Miguel Àngel López] was so strong today! I got a good head start on the mountain climb. But he just paced it really well. I tried to attack him but I just wasn’t as strong as him in the final. However I’m really happy with my performance,” said Woods.

López won the Tour de Suisse in June, but was forced to abandon the Vuelta on stage 6 due to multiple crashes.

“Thanks to the team I achieved this magnificent victory here today despite the loss of Michele Scarponi who crashed — I dedicate this achievement to him,” said López. “Diego Rosa, who was also involved in the crash, did a tremendous job for me as well as Dario Cataldo in bringing back the breakaway. We always speak during the race, that enabled us to change tactic on the way … It was smart to try to go away before the final ascent. I didn’t expect to win today. It’s beautiful.”

Once a sprinter’s race, Milano-Torino reworked its route in recent years to finish on the 4.9km climb, which averages 9.1 percent and maxes out at a 14 percent gradient.

Full results

  • 1. Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 4:13:36
  • 5. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :21
  • 6. Fabio ARU, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :23
  • 9. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :36
  • 10. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :40
  • 12. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at :40
  • 13. Domenico POZZOVIVO, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :47
  • 14. Giovanni VISCONTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :52
  • 17. Daniel MARTÍNEZ, WIL, at 1:10
  • 18. Pierre LATOUR, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:14
  • 19. Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:24
  • 20. Damiano CUNEGO, NIPPO – VINI FANTINI, at 1:26
  • 21. Diego ROSA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:29
  • 23. Sam OOMEN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:43
  • 24. Matvey MAMYKIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at 1:59
  • 25. Hubert DUPONT, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:59
  • 26. Alexis VUILLERMOZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 2:06
  • 27. Manuel SENNI, BMC RACING TEAM, at 2:07
  • 28. Edoardo ZARDINI, BARDIANI CSF, at 2:14
  • 29. Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 3:24
  • 30. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:26
  • 31. Przemyslaw NIEMIEC, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 3:28
  • 32. Frank SCHLECK, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 3:28
  • 33. Mikel LANDA MEANA, TEAM SKY, at 4:04
  • 35. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 4:21
  • 36. Cristian RODRIGUEZ MARTIN, WIL, at 4:58
  • 37. Peter KENNAUGH, TEAM SKY, at 5:22
  • 38. Javier MORENO BAZAN, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 5:34
  • 39. Tobias LUDVIGSSON, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 5:42
  • 40. Jesper HANSEN, TINKOFF, at 5:42
  • 41. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF, at 5:42
  • 43. Sergey FIRSANOV, GAZPROM-RUSVELO, at 6:32
  • 44. Cristian RAILEANU, WIL, at 6:32
  • 45. Ryder HESJEDAL, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 6:40
  • 46. Lorenzo ROTA, BARDIANI CSF, at 8:13
  • 47. Stefano PIRAZZI, BARDIANI CSF, at 8:13
  • 48. Simone VELASCO, BARDIANI CSF, at 8:13
  • 49. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at 8:14
  • 50. Julien BERNARD, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:14
  • 51. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:14
  • 52. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 8:14
  • 53. Michal GOLAS, TEAM SKY, at 8:14
  • 54. Jan HIRT, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 8:14
  • 55. Aydar ZAKARIN, GAZPROM-RUSVELO, at 8:14
  • 56. Simone PETILLI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 8:14
  • 57. Laurent DIDIER, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:14
  • 58. Julen AMEZQUETA, WIL, at 8:14
  • 59. Wout POELS, TEAM SKY, at 8:14
  • 60. Gianfranco ZILIOLI, NIPPO – VINI FANTINI, at 8:14
  • 61. Riccardo ZOIDL, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:14
  • 62. Andre Fernando S. Martins CARDOSO, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 8:14
  • 63. Dayer Uberney QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 8:14
  • 64. Víctor DE LA PARTE, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 8:14
  • 67. Cyrille GAUTIER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 8:14
  • 68. Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE, TEAM SKY, at 8:14
  • 69. Sergio Miguel MOREIRA PAULINHO, TINKOFF, at 8:14
  • 70. Dylan TEUNS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 8:14
  • 71. Amaël MOINARD, BMC RACING TEAM, at 8:14
  • 72. Vasil KIRYIENKA, TEAM SKY, at 10:09
  • 73. Pawel POLJANSKI, TINKOFF, at 10:15
  • 74. Lorenzo FORTUNATO, TINKOFF, at 10:15
  • 75. Fredrik LUDVIGSSON, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 10:31
  • 76. Davide REBELLIN, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 11:21
  • 77. Peter VELITS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 11:38
  • 78. Yonder GODOY, WIL, at 11:38
  • 80. Sindre SKJOESTAD LUNKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 11:39
  • 81. Matteo DRAPERI, WIL, at 11:39
  • 82. Branislau SAMOILAU, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 11:39
  • 83. Martijn TUSVELD, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 11:39
  • 85. Egor SILIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at 11:39
  • 86. Alexander FOLIFOROV, GAZPROM-RUSVELO, at 11:39
  • 87. Artem OVECHKIN, GAZPROM-RUSVELO, at 11:39
  • 88. Adrian HONKISZ, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 11:39
  • 89. Sylwester SZMYD, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 11:39
  • 90. Artur ERSHOV, GAZPROM-RUSVELO, at 11:39
  • 91. Rein TAARAMAE, TEAM KATUSHA, at 11:39
  • 92. Pavel BRUTT, TINKOFF, at 11:45
  • 93. Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 11:56
  • 94. Matteo MONTAGUTI, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 12:01
  • 95. Alessandro DE MARCHI, BMC RACING TEAM, at 12:01
  • 96. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 16:41
  • 97. Marcin MROZEK, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 16:41
  • DNS Andrea FEDI, WIL

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Dimension Data picks up domestic climber Morton Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:07:41 +0000 Lachlan Morton, likely the most talented climber on the U.S. domestic circuit, will return to the big leagues in 2017, riding for Dimension

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Lachlan Morton, regarded by many as the most talented climber on the U.S. domestic circuit, will return to the big leagues in 2017, riding for Dimension Data. Morton confirmed to VeloNews that he will make the move, one day after CyclingTips reported that he will transfer to the South African team that wears black and white.

The 24-year-old Australian won the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah in August with a flourish of panache, winning with a long-range attack on the final stage to Park City, defeating Cannondale – Garmin’s Andrew Talansky, who would go on to finish fifth overall in the Vuelta a España. Morton also won the climber-friendly Tour of the Gila in New Mexico earlier in the 2016 season.

Morton raced with Garmin – Sharp in the WorldTour for three seasons before moving to Continental team Jelly Belly – Maxxis, where he’s been for two years.

Although Dimension Data is currently a WorldTour team, there is some concern that it may not make the cut in 2017, as the UCI intends to pare down its roster of first-tier teams to just 17. Currently, Dimension Data is ranked 18th with one WorldTour race remaining, Il Lombardia.

More on Morton, and the Outback adventure that rekindled his love for cycling >>

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Quintana won’t rule out Giro/Tour double in 2017 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:44:45 +0000 The Colombian won the Italian grand tour in 2014 but has yet to win the Tour de France.

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MILAN (VN) — Colombian Nairo Quintana remembers his first grand tour win well and says that for that reason, for the race’s charm and high Alpine passes, he wants to return to the Giro d’Italia. He may compete in 2017 but says he needs to see the route and talk with Movistar management first.

Quintana debuted in the Italian grand tour in 2014 and won the overall title. His team took him there with the idea of gaining experience after he had placed second in his Tour de France debut a year prior behind Chris Froome. He placed second again in the 2015 Tour and was third this summer. In September, he won Spain’s grand tour, the Vuelta a España.

Another attempt to win the Giro is on Quintana’s mind, however.

“I hope soon because the Italian climbs are ones that are most suited to a climber like me,” Quintana told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport about when he might return. The newspaper began the race in 1909, and in 2017 it will celebrate its 100th edition.

“My next season is centered on the Tour, the only grand tour [win] that I’m missing,” Quintana said. “But this does not mean automatically that I won’t be at the Giro. We are waiting to see the route and then I’ll speak with the team.”

The 2017 Giro d’Italia will begin May 5 on Italy’s Sardinia island with three stages, but the rest is unknown until the presentation October 25. The route is expected to snake south to north, with summit finishes to the Oropa Sanctuary, the Stelvio Pass, the Pordoi Pass, and the Piancavallo ski resort in the Dolomites.

No one has won the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year since Marco Pantani in 1998. And counting the Italian, only seven riders have done so in cycling’s history.

“It’s certainly intriguing. But in the last years it’s been ‘easier’ race the Giro and Vuelta at a high level, or the Tour and the Vuelta,” Quintana said. “The Giro demands a lot. Then racing the Tour means that you find yourself up against rivals that are all, no one excluded, at 100 percent.”

Quintana cannot stop thinking of the Giro, though. The stage to the Formigal ski resort two weeks into this year’s Vuelta reminded him of the Stelvio stage to Val Martello. In 2014, he rode clear with a small group over the Stelvio Pass that was blanketed with snow. He won the stage and took over the pink jersey. In the Formigal stage, he and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff rode clear immediately with a group and left their rival Froome behind. Though he already had the lead, the stage paved the way to his Spanish title.

“The Stelvio stage and Formigal stage were both ‘locura’ [insane] days,” Quintana said. “That [Giro] victory had more resonance. It was the first, it showed my capacity.”

Movistar must wait a few weeks for the Giro and Tour organizers to present their routes: the Giro in Milan on October 25 and the Tour in Paris on October 18.

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VN Show: Can we trust Bradley Wiggins? Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:54:58 +0000 Cycling’s latest controversy involves Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins, and a pesky group of Russian computer hackers called Fancy Bears.

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Cycling’s latest controversy involves Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins, and a pesky group of Russian computer hackers called Fancy Bears. Why is this story important to cycling? What impact will it have on Wiggins’s legacy? How can Sky fans still maintain their allegiance without worry (note: they can)? We break down the TUE/Wiggins story from a fan perspective on this week’s VeloNews Show.

Plus, we examine triathlon’s newest aero bike, which features lots of cargo room and a giant aerodynamic spike for some reason.

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