VeloNews.com » Road http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:51:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Who is Matthias Brandle, the new hour record holder? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/matthias-brandle-new-hour-record-holder_351520 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/matthias-brandle-new-hour-record-holder_351520#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:31:55 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351520

Matthias Brande eclipsed the hour mark Thursday on a Swiss track. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP

The Austrian lengthened the mark to 51.852 kilometers Thursday in Switzerland

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Matthias Brande eclipsed the hour mark Thursday on a Swiss track. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP

MILAN (VN) — Matthias Brändle is the man of the hour after setting the new hour mark Wednesday on the UCI’s track in Aigle, Switzerland, but little is known about team IAM Cycling’s Austrian.

“Why did I choose to do this?” Brändle asked himself midway through his 51.852-kilometer ride. “Every pedal stroke felt harder and harder toward the end of the hour.”

The 51.852 mark topped the 51.115-record set by Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) in September. It prodded media around the world to talk about the 24-year-old. His name — with the must-have umlaut — stands beside cycling’s greats who have taken on and beat the hour record, names like Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx, and Chris Boardman.

“It won’t change his life,” IAM Cycling owner Michel Thétaz told VeloNews.

“He’s been moving up step by step over the last years, he’s a very sound guy. He’s not going to be carried away by being one of the hour men. He’ll be back on the road in 2015.”

The record could become a turning point for such a young rider’s career. It is something for him to think about when he returns home to Vorarlberg in western Austria. His father will be happy to have him back. He takes any extra jerseys or shorts from his son and joins him on rides, putting in 8,000-9,000 kilometers a year.

Brändle’s hometown borders Liechtenstein and Switzerland, but he’s Austrian and the first rider from his country to break the record. He is also the youngest hour record holder in 57 years, since Frenchman Roger Rivière broke it for the first time in 1957 at 21 years old.

At 20 years old, Brändle was also the youngest cyclist in 30 years to finish the Giro d’Italia in 2010, his first grand tour. He explained when the Giro d’Italia reached its finish in Verona’s Roman Arena that he wanted to become a grand tour rider. Since then, he has switched teams from Geox to NetApp to IAM, but kept his vision.

IAM Cycling races in the second division and relies on wildcard entries into the grand tours. In 2014, it received one of the coveted four invitations to race the Tour de France, but Brändle was overlooked when the Swiss team selected its nine cyclists.

IAM also left Brändle out of the Vuelta a España team, but sent him to the GP Ouest France-Plouay to help its star rider Sylvain Chavanel win, and to the Tour of Britain, where Brändle won a pair of stages back-to-back. At the same time, he set his sights on the hour record.

Following his grand tour debut in Italy at age 20, he helped Geox teammate Juan José Cobo beat Chris Froome (Sky) at the 2011 Vuelta and animated the 2012 Giro with team NetApp.

The big three-week races are still on his mind. His goal is to make it onto next year’s team for the French grand tour and to wear the leader’s jersey by applying his time trial skills in the first stage in Utrecht and his climbing skills in the following stages.

“It’s so hard to make the grand tour teams. This year, we had 13 riders going for the nine-man team and we had to leave Matthias off,” Thétaz said.

“You see him in the stages, though, he can do 250km and win. He’s a breakaway rider, a stage winner like what we saw in the Tour of Britain this year.”

Merckx, Boardman, Voigt, and now Brändle. He said last night that he does not pretend that his name will stay on the top of the list forever, but it is there now.

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Cycling Canada says country did not have ‘organized system’ for doping http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cycling-canada-says-country-organized-system-doping_351271 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cycling-canada-says-country-organized-system-doping_351271#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:03:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351271

A new, independent report released by Cycling Canada indicates that there is no systemic culture of PED use in Canada

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A report recently issued by an independent agency working on behalf of Cycling Canada found that there is no overarching doping program in the country, but that the nation should increase its efforts to build a better educational platform to discourage the use of performance-enhancing drugs regardless.

The report, entitled “National Consultation on Doping Activity in the Sport of Cycling,” looked at several areas of sporting ethics, such as the culture of cycling and PEDs, decision making, and testing. Ultimately it found that though there were isolated cases of PED use, those decisions were not part of a national culture of PED use in elite cycling.

“We are pleased to hear that the report confirms that there is no ‘culture of doping’ in Canadian Cycling,” said Greg Mathieu, chief executive officer of Cycling Canada, in a release. “We have been very clear in the past that Cycling Canada does not tolerate any athletes who try to cheat on their way to better performances. … We believe that it is possible to win at Olympic Games, world championships, or any other international or national events without the use of any doping agents.”

The findings come after a high frequency of confessions from riders from North America to using PEDs, via the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) “reasoned decision.” The USADA report and investigation centered around Lance Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team.

Canadians Ryder Hesjedal, Michael Barry, Seamus McGrath, and Chris Sheppard admitted to using PEDs. In an excerpt from his autobiography, “Yellow Fever,” Dane Michael Rasmussen said he taught Hesjedal, McGrath, and Sheppard how to use EPO before the 2003 world mountain bike championships. Barry admitted to using PEDs in his time on Postal.

“I thought to keep competing and be ‘professional,’  I had to do it. Looking back, of course I know it was wrong — it was stupid and wrong. I had the best results of my career well after I stopped doping. When I was doping, I was trying to show I was professional, to ‘be professional.’ At the time I thought it was just something I had to do. I was wrong,” Hesjedal wrote in an email.

Of the 64 people contacted to give information to the Canadian report, 32 interviews were conducted, largely with riders. Twenty-one people did not respond, seven declined, and four were unreachable. The consultants also note that one “important” subject has recently agreed to an interview; that information shall be released later.

The report does not included names and largely serves as an anecdotal, however thorough, examination. While it isn’t groundbreaking by any means, it does shed light on the prevailing culture of silence. As an example, an “interviewee testified to having been approached by an American teammate who was pushing tramadol, a prohibited substance. This interviewee also witnessed a suspicious situation involving another American teammate. In 2012, the interviewee found a syringe in this person’s shoe. Upon making this discovery, the interviewee confronted the teammate, who admitted to using EPO. As far as the interviewee knows, this athlete never tested positive.”

Interviewees also said suspicious situations should see immediate investigation by anti-doping authorities once reported. “However, the interviewees never reported their concerns to the sporting authorities,” the report reads, also noting it’s “easier” to acquire PEDs in Europe than North America.

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Pantani’s Giro ban examined, Gotti ‘ready to concede’ 1999 Giro http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/pantanis-giro-ban-examined-gotti-ready-forgo-win_350983 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/pantanis-giro-ban-examined-gotti-ready-forgo-win_350983#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:39:16 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350983

Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) was poised to win the 1999 Giro d'Italia ahead of Ivan Gotti (Polti). But he was expelled from the race before the final mountain stage after a doping test. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

A new investigation into the 1999 Giro suggests that organized crime may have led to Pantani's expulsion from the race

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Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) was poised to win the 1999 Giro d'Italia ahead of Ivan Gotti (Polti). But he was expelled from the race before the final mountain stage after a doping test. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Ivan Gotti is ready to give up his 1999 Giro d’Italia win if a new investigation centered on Marco Pantani’s expulsion from that race shows foul play linked to the mafia.

“I’ll accept the decision that arrives,” Gotti told Italy’s Il Tempo newspaper Tuesday.

“Rewriting the story is not a problem in respect to what happened to poor Marco. If they were to assign him that Giro, I would not feel privy to anything. I’m ready to concede.”

The 45-year-old Italian from Bergamo won the 1999 Giro by 3:35 over Paolo Savoldelli and by 3:36 over Gilberto Simoni. It was his second Giro win after his 1997 victory. He also placed fifth overall at the 1995 Tour de France.

The 1999 win came under a cloud of scandal as Pantani, winner of the 1998 Giro and Tour the year before, was excluded the morning before the final mountain stage, following an anti-doping test.

Pantani won the Madonna di Campiglio stage on June 4 and held the race leader’s pink jersey by 5:38 over Savoldelli and 6:12 over Gotti. Before he could leave the ski village the next morning, June 5, testers checked his hematocrit level. His blood showed 51.9 percent — above the 50 percent limit — indicating use of EPO, a banned blood-booster drug.

“Il Pirata” had to sit out two weeks. He returned to win two stages in the 2000 Tour de France, but those were his last two victories as he faded from competition and died due to cocaine overdose on February 14, 2004.

History could be rewritten, however. The public prosecutor in Forlì, in the region of Emilia-Romagna near Pantani’s home in Cesena, is examining if the mafia and sports fixing had a hand in Pantani’s exclusion that morning. Already, Prosecutor Sergio Sottani called career criminal Renato Vallanzasca. Vallanzasca said over the years that the Camorra [an Italian crime syndicate] was involved, and in 1999, he was warned against betting on Pantani’s win.

Romano Cenni, head of the Mercatone Uno company that sponsored Pantani’s 1999 team, has heard enough and already hired a lawyer to push for changes. He wants the overall classification to be rewritten to how it stood the evening Pantani won at Madonna di Campiglio, and he wants winner’s pink jersey from Gotti.

“I cannot say if it was a conspiracy, an error, or other circumstances, but what I am sure of is that new facts are emerging that, together with those already assessed, demonstrate that the decision taken in respect of Marco Pantani, and team Mercatone Uno, should be amended and revised,” Marco Baroncini, Cenni’s lawyer, told Italy’s TGCOM television.

“Mercatone Uno, and in particular its president, Romano Cenni, would like that Pantani is given back what was unjustly taken away.”

Cenni and his lawyer will be able to draw on the evidence of the criminal inquiry in Forlì for their sporting case. They will likely have to wait until the inquiry closes to begin their push for Gotti’s pink jersey.

At the same time, just 33 miles away in Rimini, a separate investigation is looking into the possibility that Pantani was murdered. Pantani’s family hired a lawyer that argues that men forced their way into Pantani’s hotel room and made him to drink water diluted with lethal amounts of cocaine against his will.

Any sporting case will look at the outcomes of the Forlì and Rimini investigations, and back over Pantani’s career. Besides two previous cocaine overdoses, Pantani’s hematocrit read high, 60.1 percent, after a crash in the 1995 Milano-Torino and his urine collected en route to the 1998 Tour win showed evidence of EPO according to a 2013 French senate report.

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Froome remains undecided about 2015 Tour de France plans http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/froome-remains-undecided-about-2015-tour-de-france-plans_350783 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/froome-remains-undecided-about-2015-tour-de-france-plans_350783#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:56:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350783

Chris Froome could skip the 2015 Tour de France because the route does not suit his style. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 2013 Tour de France champion is still undecided about the 2015 race despite the mountainous parcours

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Chris Froome could skip the 2015 Tour de France because the route does not suit his style. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Chris Froome (Sky) remains undecided if he will race next year’s Tour de France, reiterating his initial reaction that the 2015 route isn’t ideal for his style of racing.

Speaking to the Spanish daily AS during a recent critérium in Japan, the 2013 Tour winner said nothing is decided about his coming season’s schedule.

“We haven’t even started to discuss yet with the team, something we’ll do in the next few weeks and months,” he told AS. “I haven’t discounted any race yet. This Tour features very little time trial kilometers and a lot of climbs. It’s an unbalanced Tour, but the Tour is always the most important race. This Tour doesn’t favor the most balanced rider, but nothing is decided yet.”

Froome made headlines earlier this month when he suggested after taking a first glance at the 2015 Tour route that he might skip it entirely.

As he told AS, nothing appears to be decided yet. Froome will sit down with Sky management and coaching staff to decide the best possible option. With the Giro d’Italia offering more time trial kilometers, Froome has also hinted he might race the Giro instead.

“We will make an agreement by consensus,” Froome explained. “I wouldn’t consider it impossible to win both the Giro and Tour, but it would be very demanding, with little rest or recovery. I see it more realistic to aim for the Giro-Vuelta double, with the possibility to recover, and hit two peaks of form.”

Froome crashed out of his Tour defense in July, but bounced back to finish second in the Vuelta a España to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

For 2015, Froome knows he will face plenty of competition from all sides.

“Injuries really hurt me this season,” Froome told AS. “In this sport, one day you’re up, the next you’re down. Contador confirmed his class at the Vuelta, he was better than me. Nibali also demonstrated his quality at the Tour. Alberto is probably my biggest rival right now, but you cannot forget Nibali, Purito, Valverde, or Quintana.”

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Brajkovic joins UnitedHealthcare through 2016 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/brajkovic-joins-unitedhealthcare-2016_350791 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/brajkovic-joins-unitedhealthcare-2016_350791#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:52:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350791

Janez Brajkovic is a strong time trailer and can also compete for general classification wins. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 30-year-old brings a wealth of experience to the U.S.-based Pro Continental team

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Janez Brajkovic is a strong time trailer and can also compete for general classification wins. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Janez Brajkovic has signed a two-year deal with UnitedHealthcare, the team announced late Wednesday.

Brajkovic, who first turned professional in 2005, has won three stage races during his career, one world title, and one national title. Now 30, he brings a wealth of experience to the U.S.-based Pro Continental team.

“I’m very excited to join the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. I’m extremely motivated and I know we’ll have great years together,” Brajkovic said in a press release. “I’m ready to lead when appropriate, and also to work for my new team as the race and situation demands it. Teamwork is a very strong component with this program and I’m looking forward to contributing to that.”

The team added that Brajkovic’s goals for 2015 will be competing in weeklong stage races in Europe and the United States, including the Amgen Tour of California, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and the USA Pro Challenge.

A strong time trialer, Brajkovic was the 2004 world under-23 champion in the discipline. He also won the 2011 Slovenian national time trial title.

In stage racing, Brajkovic has a trio of victories: the 2007 Tour of Georgia, the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné, and the 2012 Tour of Slovenia. He finished second and fourth in two stages at the 2006 Vuelta a Espana and held the leader’s jersey for two days.

In 2012, Brajkovic rode to ninth in the Tour de France.

“Jani was looking for a team where he could be a leader and get back to his winning ways, where teamwork is a primary focus. An atmosphere in which the team will rally behind him and one that he can also give back to,” general manager Mike Tamayo said. “We can provide that tight-knit community and level of support to get Jani back to a place where he is winning races. He’s a great fit for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, as a rider and a personality.”

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MTN-Qhubeka has Tour-sized goal for 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/mtn-qhubeka-has-tour-sized-goal-for-2015_350775 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/mtn-qhubeka-has-tour-sized-goal-for-2015_350775#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:00:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350775

MTN-Qhubeka lined up at several UCI WorldTour races in 2014, including the Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

The squad wants to make history as the first African-registered team to race in the Tour de France

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MTN-Qhubeka lined up at several UCI WorldTour races in 2014, including the Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

MILAN (VN) — MTN-Qhubeka, after racing the 2014 Vuelta a España, aims to become the first African team in the Tour de France next year.

“The big goal is the Tour for 2015,” team principal Doug Ryder told VeloNews. “The Giro d’Italia was our goal for 2014, but everyone knows what happened there with the unfortunate and disappointing miss. After the Vuelta this year, our goal is the Tour de France.”

The South African team made history in the Vuelta when it rolled off the start ramp in its yellow and black colors. Never before had an African team raced one of cycling’s big three-week stage races.

Prior to MTN, Barloworld flew South Africa’s flag, but it was registered in Great Britain and counted mostly non-African cyclists in its team. MTN is African at heart, which it showed with a nine-man roster at the Vuelta a España that included six cyclists from the continent.

Ryder hoped to field his team in the Giro d’Italia last May, but when the invitations for the second division teams were announced, MTN was overlooked in favor of home teams and also Colombia, with its Italian connection. What was “unfortunate and disappointing” for the team was that organizer RCS Sport invited Neri Sottoli, who had two riders test positive for banned blood booster EPO during the 2013 edition.

MTN’s future looks as bright as their yellow kits, thanks to another year of experience and several big signings. For 2015, MTN welcomes American Tyler Farrar (from Garmin-Sharp) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) — both of whom are Tour de France stage winners — Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Theo Bos (Belkin), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Giant-Shimano), and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing).

The team hopes that the riders’ experience in UCI WorldTour teams will rub off on its budding cyclists like South African Louis Meintjes and Eritrean Merhawi Kudus. The star power could also give them the extra edge needed to receive an invitation to the world’s biggest cycling race in July.

“Given the riders we signed and the Tour’s massive focus on the northern and southern parts, we are perfectly suited,” added Ryder. “We have a big classics focus in our team that is suited to the northern part and an African climbing group suited to the southern part of the race in the Alps and Pyrenees.”

Second division teams may participate in the grand tours alongside the WorldTour teams via wildcard invitations. Tour organizer ASO announced its four wildcard second division teams in January for the 2014 race. Bretagne, Cofidis, IAM Cycling, and NetApp-Endura received the nod.

ASO is expected to announce its wildcard teams again in January, but first it should name the ones that will compete in its Paris-Nice and Critérium du Dauphiné stage races.

“It’s about starting off the season well, being visible, showing that we can compete,” Ryder said. “I feel that we did enough in the Vuelta, showing guts and finishing with all nine riders. The Vuelta loved that passion and having a team rising above its level. We can continue to do that in the 2015 Tour.

“I hope we are standing at the head of the queue for the big ASO events now. That’s our goal, and the hope.”

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Report: USA Pro Challenge boosted Colorado economy by $130 million http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/report-usa-pro-challenge-boosted-colorado-economy-130-million_350761 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/report-usa-pro-challenge-boosted-colorado-economy-130-million_350761#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:09:38 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350761

This year's USA Pro Challenge provided a significant boost to Colorado's economy. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The economic impact from the 2014 race was $130 million, according to a new report

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This year's USA Pro Challenge provided a significant boost to Colorado's economy. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Editor’s Note: This information was provided by the USA Pro Challenge. VeloNews has not confirmed these figures.

The economic impact of the seven-day USA Pro Challenge was $130 million on the state of Colorado, according to a new report.

Sponsorship Science, a global sports research firm, conducted the study after the August 18-24 race.

Fans living inside and outside of Colorado who traveled at least 50 miles to watch a stage contributed $130 million on food, lodging, transportation, and entertainment during the race — a 12 percent increase from last year’s total.

Sponsorship Science claims the uptick in spending was due to fans staying more nights in hotels and an increase in hotel fees.

Almost 71 percent of people who traveled to the race from outside the state said they would return for the 2015 edition.

“Seeing the enthusiasm and passion from the fans lining the streets during the 2014 USA Pro Challenge really gave a sense of the growing support for the sport of cycling in the U.S.,” USA Pro Challenge owner Rick Schaden said in the report. “This race showcases Colorado to the world and creates an incredible economic impact locally that can be felt throughout the year. Further, it was great to see an increase in television viewership.”

In terms of television coverage, NBC, NBC Sports Network, and Universal Sports dedicated 30 hours of broadcast time to the race, and it was viewed in more than 175 countries and territories.

A few more statistics from the Sponsorship Science report:

— Spectators traveled in groups, with the average party consisting of three people.

— The average hotel stay for spectators increased in 2014 to 5.3 nights.

— 53 percent of race attendees live in households with income exceeding $85,000 and within that group 32 percent had household incomes in excess of $120,000.

— More than half of spectators in attendance reported they ride a bike for fitness, with 47 percent saying they engage in road cycling a lot.

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Q&A: USADA CEO Travis Tygart on fighting the doping battle http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/qa-usada-ceo-travis-tygart-on-fighting-the-doping-battle_350348 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/qa-usada-ceo-travis-tygart-on-fighting-the-doping-battle_350348#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:57:44 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350348

U.S. Anti-Doping CEO Travis Tygart. Photo: AFP PHOTO | JOHN THYS (File).

USADA CEO Travis Tygart speaks to Matthew Beaudin about the doping fight and trying to clean up the sport for good

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U.S. Anti-Doping CEO Travis Tygart. Photo: AFP PHOTO | JOHN THYS (File).

Editor’s note: In the November issue of Velo magazine, senior writer Matthew Beaudin explored the different paths taken by Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, and others after they confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers. This interview with USADA CEO Travis Tygart appears in part in that story, entitled “Shades of Grey.”

VeloNews: It seems like some of the guys who were involved have gone on to have successful careers in the bike industry, while others maybe not so much, at least for now. Do you think things have played out fairly for those who were involved and gave the affidavits? How do you see it now culturally, as well as professionally?
Travis Tygart: They’re obviously a brave group of riders, to come in and tell the truth. They put their careers at risk by coming in, rather than doing a duck-and-dive — retire and then walk away. Our hope is that they’ve been all embraced, not for the doping that they did, but hopefully they can be embraced for when given the opportunity to come in and take the stand with hopes of doing the right thing — that was to be truthful and to take the stand on a sport that had a deep and justified view on doping to hopefully change that.

VN: Some guys have had good luck, Christian Vande Velde is a broadcaster, and some guys have been quieter and are no longer in the forefront. You certainly did your job, but do you ever feel a bit of a tug for what might have hurt those guys in the long term?
TT: Nothing we did was aimed at hurting anybody. It was the decisions they made to violate the rules and use performance-enhancing drugs. Our hope was always to be realistic about the pressure that they faced and the culture that they lived in and just hold them accountable under the rule, but do it in a way that was fair and appreciated, where they fell on the hierarchy of culpability. Make no mistake, there were true victims out there that didn’t participate in the doping. Maybe they didn’t win or have success, so they left the sport prematurely. Those are the true victims and those are the people we should be talking about more. They were the ones who got more violated.

VN: Do you think the sport is at a better place now for giving second chances than say where it was 10 years ago?
TT: Our hope was a full truth and reconciliation was established immediately upon our recent decision. That was why we were hopeful that Lance was going to come in in June. Having that open disclosure would’ve been huge and a wave of riders would’ve felt empowered enough to spark a dramatic cultural shift. It’s taken a lot longer than we hoped, largely it was out of our control, but you’ve got three of the most powerful people in the history of the sport held accountable for their failure to address the issues. Being [Former UCI President Pat] McQuaid, the [UCI] general secretary, and [UCI] general counsel, and now they’re all gone. They were replaced about a year ago with a completely new leadership team. This new group took office completely looking after clean athletes’ rights. So this review [the Cycling Independent Reform Commission] they’re doing hopefully closes the book on the chapter, but you know, we have to remain vigilant at all levels going forward because this board particularly with its history, has to let go the temptations given how difficult it is and what the benefit of drugs can provide to it. In addition to that culture is an ongoing battle to ensure that clean athletes’ rights are upheld.

VN: It seems that USADA and other organizations have proven themselves as able to catch things when it comes to usage, but how do you predict things for the future? How do you take a longer view and what specifically do you look for?
TT: The heart of it is that it’s an ethical and cultural decision to be made by teams, trainers, sport directors, and athletes, and whether they’re going to participate in these types of conspiracies to defraud with the use of these PEDs. So it starts at the top and certainly USADA alone can’t change the global culture of cycling as a whole, but it really starts with leadership at the top and that the risk reward analysis is structured so that it’s against someone taking that risk. No one in their right mind is going to violate the rules if that means putting things like their relationship with family and friends at risk, simply because they want to win. But because it is so costly, there needs to be incentivizes to not take that risk and the people who play by the rules should be compensated handsomely.

VN: Isn’t the nature of cops and robbers that someone is going to be ahead? Are we even aware about any substances that maybe aren’t even out there yet?
TT: Look, I think what you just said about cops and robbers is unfortunate that you’re even using that analogy to sport, because this is sport. This is what kids grow up dreaming and hoping about. The athletes aren’t criminals, at least they shouldn’t be. The ills of criminal organizations or criminal intent have invaded sport and I’m certainly not ready to buy off on that yet, but I think at the end of the day, for at least the Americans that we’ve dealt with, they are just overly competitive so we’ve just got to create an even playing field that allows them to succeed without having to use doping or other criminal activity in order to be successful.

The Biological Passport is a great tool. Sure it’s not a cure-all, but it’s an important tool for now and it’s not just for blood testing. We’ve been doing urine analysis for several years now, so the ability to retain samples with testing at a later date, use intelligence gathering, and the use of law enforcement is critically important. We have to continue to be vigilant.

The bias should be towards clean sport, where the past, the bias has been towards dirty sport and I think the truth hit the power over since the reasoned decision came out and the truth prevailed.

VN: When fans watch a race like the Tour de France and see a rider succeed, do you feel they can believe someone is racing clean?
TT: I think every athlete deserves the presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise. I think absolutely that sports fans should believe what they see. I mean look, it puts a huge burden on those of us in the trenches, doing our best to protect clean athletes. It puts a big burden on us to ensure that testing is as good as it can be and look, we dream of the day that we remove any doubt because we have a testing system that can not only detect whether or not someone is using something, but also takes a different view by proving that someone is clean. That’s something we’ve talked about and been dreaming about for years. Of course we’re not there yet, but its something that we are working towards.

VN: The reasoned decision was certainly a groundbreaking piece of work and is something that will most likely be around for a very long time. How do you look at that and feel about having your name attached to something that is going to resonate for such a long time?
TT: It is what it is. We simply did our job to protect clean athletes’ rights and however it’s remembered, it’s remembered. The effort isn’t over, we’re still pushing ongoing cases and we’re still hopeful that the review that the UCI is doing is going to continue to push it in the direction we always wanted, which was a restart of a really dirty culture and moving into an environment that promotes a clean one.

While certainly we hear from athletes, coaches, experts, team owners, and others that it’s a totally different sport today then what it was in the recent past, certainly with the Postal Service days. You know, if one athlete’s right to compete is violated, then that’s a problem in our eyes and we’re going to try to continue pushing the culture away so that doesn’t happen.

VN: Do you feel like fairness is a subjective thing at this point when it comes to how those who provided information and confessed to doping themselves are treated?
TT: I think fairness goes to the rules and having a judgment call to see where it’s allowed. Certainly, we could’ve given some of the riders who got six months two years, but in our mind that wasn’t fair or right under the rules. Our hope was that they would come in and participate and be a part of the solution rather than retire and leave the sport behind. We also thought they would not give that same fairness to coaches and team directors who violated the rules.

As you can probably see, the greater good was to completely clean the system out and around here, the term is, “dismantle the system” because the structure of doctors, coaches and team directors had two parts to their salary. Part of their pay was to help riders train and race, but the other part was to help racers use the drugs in order to win. So we saw that if there were people in sport still that hadn’t been caught, they’d most likely continue to do what they’d been doing.

So our decisions were to be fair within the rules, use discretion judiciously and thoughtfully. At the end of the day, there was a process for anybody who didn’t agree with our decisions. The UCI or WADA could’ve appealed, but no one felt the need to do so during the given time period.

VN: At what point will you be able to declare success, or is that something that’s never achievable for an anti-doping agency?
TT: When not a single athlete’s right is violated to compete on a level playing field. That’s the point when we’ve had success and I can tell you that the USADA staff is dedicated day in and day out, weekends, 24/7, hoping to achieve that, if we can.

VN: Well certainly that’s the goal, but is the task itself Sisyphean?
TT: I think that when one clean athlete’s right is upheld and decision to do it the right way is vindicated it’s a success. Not necessarily because of us, but sport and athletes have to appreciate that and some of them certainly do.

This is a tough and ugly fight sometimes and shame on us if sometimes we are tired, dreary, or unwilling to battle that, but it’s probably no different an effort than for athletes who are trying to represent this country and win — the right way. But we care about those athletes and those that represent the integrity of clean sport and everything that good sport can do for society.

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Aru to lead Astana at Giro, will help Nibali in France http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/aru-to-lead-astana-at-giro-will-help-nibali-in-france_350720 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/aru-to-lead-astana-at-giro-will-help-nibali-in-france_350720#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:40:21 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350720

Fabio Aru will have his turn at captaining Astana at the Giro next year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Sardinian is poised to make a run at winning his first grand tour next May

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Fabio Aru will have his turn at captaining Astana at the Giro next year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Sardinian Fabio Aru’s ranking within team Astana could significantly change for 2015, as he appears slated to race both the Giro d’Italia and, in support of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, the Tour de France.

“Aru is maturing. It’s only right that we give a young rider his chance to lead his own race,” Astana trainer Paolo Slongo told VeloNews. “The idea would be to let him race the Giro as captain and to send him to the Tour to help Vincenzo and to gain experience.”

At the start of 2014, many followers were asking “Who’s Aru?” In 2013, he helped Nibali win the Giro but failed to make headlines outside his home country.

Of course, Americans following Joe Dombrowski’s Baby Giro winning ride in 2012 might remember the three-letter name, A-R-U. To clinch the overall win on the Gavia Pass, Dombrowski put nearly three minutes into all of his rivals except for Aru, who finished at 43 seconds and placed second overall to Dombrowski at 25 seconds the next day.

In another important amateur stage race, the Giro della Val d’Aosta, Aru rode away with the overall title in 2011 and 2012. At the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, he placed second behind Rory Sutherland on the Flagstaff Mountain summit finish.

He completed his transition into the professional ranks last year when he won the Montecampione stage and placed third overall behind winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in the Giro d’Italia. Astana then took him to the Vuelta a Espana, where he won two mountain stages, one ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and one over Chris Froome (Sky).

By the end of 2014, the answer to the Aru question became clear: The 5-foot-11 Sardinian is a climber and a grand tour contender.

“After my second win [in the Vuelta], Alberto Contador rode to my side and said, ‘Hola, champion.’ I could hardly believe it,” Aru told Italy’s Tutto Bici website.

“Look, I know that I did something important [in 2014], but I still have to improve a lot.”

Aru could improve his time trialling. He lost almost a minute and a half to Contador in the Vuelta’s long time trial. At the Giro next year, the organizer planned a 59.2km time trial where Aru could lose even more time.

Astana’s desire to save Nibali for the Tour, though, might allow Aru the chance to lead the turquoise team in the Giro against Alberto Tinkoff-Saxo’s Contador and Froome. Nibali, if he did race in May, would guide Aru and then rely on him for help in the Tour later in July.

“Vincenzo would be sorry not to race the Giro d’Italia, but at the same time, he’s the Tour defending champion,” Slongo said. “He could have Aru race along at his side at the Tour, a little to help in the overall battle and a little to gain experience, since he’s never raced the Tour de France before.”

Nibali will meet with the team in Tuscany at the end of November to decide his schedule, but he is also going to consider his emerging team-mate.

“Fabio’s a talent,” Nibali told the Italian press at a gala two weeks ago. “He deserves his space and my schedule will be thought out according to this.”

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Contador and Tinkoff-Saxo heading to Mount Kilimanjaro http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/contador-and-tinkoff-saxo-heading-to-mount-kilimanjaro_350699 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/contador-and-tinkoff-saxo-heading-to-mount-kilimanjaro_350699#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:22:38 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350699

Tinkoff-Saxo has a new mountain to climb: Mount Kilimanjaro, whose summit is 5,895 meters above sea level. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Nearly 80 Tinkoff-Saxo riders and staff members will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa as part of a team-building camp

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Tinkoff-Saxo has a new mountain to climb: Mount Kilimanjaro, whose summit is 5,895 meters above sea level. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

It seems everything Oleg Tinkov does is over the top, so it shouldn’t be a total surprise that the Russian businessman is bankrolling an ambitious, potentially hazardous team-building camp to Africa next week.

Boot camp-style training camps have become the rage among many top teams. Cyclists and staff typically decamp to some remote corner of Europe, undergo some moderate, albeit muddy rigors that would make any Outward Bound instructor proud, and come out of it more unified. That’s the idea, at least.

Bjarne Riis pioneered the notion more than a decade ago, often dressing up in fatigues, doing his best General Patton impersonation, and putting his troops through the ringer in the woods of Sweden, in the warm waters of Lanzarote, or, two years ago, in Israel.

The rational is that riders and staff create a bond that will carry them through the intensity and stresses of the racing season. Other teams have picked up the idea, but Riis and Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov are taking the plan to new heights — quite literally.

Alberto Contador, newcomer Peter Sagan, and the other nearly 80 riders and staff are heading to Africa later this week for an intense, weeklong trek to try to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, towering at 5,895 meters, high above the African plains.

“Team members have been asking me to organize a team-building trip. I talked to the management, I got the green light from Oleg Tinkov, and I started planning it,” Riis said in a release announcing the trip last week. “This will be a very good challenge for everybody, and I look forward to see how the team reacts under this kind of stress and difficult situations, climbing in such high altitudes.”

No easy feat

The itinerary itself is quite ambitious by any standard. Not only must all the riders and staff travel to Tanzania in East Africa, they will eventually gather at Machama Gate at 1,828 meters above sea level, inside the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is no easy feat. As the highest point on the African continent, it is also the tallest, freestanding mountain in the world, meaning climbers must endure dramatic elevation gains in just a few days. The route includes a demanding trek of six to eight hours per day for four days through deep forests before tackling high altitude and ice fields near the summit. The idea is to reach the Kilimanjaro summit on November 5 with all staff members and riders.

Some have wondered if the camp is simply too risky or dangerous for Tinkoff’s payroll, estimated to top $25 million annually. Is it worth the risk to Contador or Sagan falling ill or suffering serious injury, perhaps jeopardizing their 2015 season, to build team spirit? Riis certainly seems to think so in his and Tinkov’s quest to build the “world’s best team.”

“For me, the [best team] is the team that has a bit of everything: points, victories, but also members that are proud to be part of it,” Riis explained. “We want a team that has values and works with the values, and such a trip as this one [to Africa] will help us create a very strong and united group.”

Tinkoff has closed out its roster for 2015, with a total of 30 riders for next season. Six new faces join the team, including Peter and Juraj Sagan, Macej Bodnar, and Ivan Basso (all from Cannondale), as well as Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Robert Kiserlovski (Trek). Sean Yates and Bobby Julich are expected to join the sport director staff as well.

The core of the team remains intact, with five departures. Nicki Sorensen and Karsten Kroon are both retiring, with Nicolas Roche going to Sky, Rory Sutherland to Movistar, and Marko Kump to Adria Mobili.

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Kreuziger’s lawyer responds to UCI/WADA appeal in doping case http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/kreuzigers-lawyer-responds-to-uciwada-appeal-in-doping-case_350708 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/kreuzigers-lawyer-responds-to-uciwada-appeal-in-doping-case_350708#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:58:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350708

Roman Kreuziger and his legal team are fighting doping allegations stemming from his biological passport. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Czech rider's lawyer releases a statement and presents new evidence after the UCI and WADA press on with case

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Roman Kreuziger and his legal team are fighting doping allegations stemming from his biological passport. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Less than a week after the UCI and WADA announced they will appeal a ruling that cleared Roman Kreuziger in a doping case, Kreuziger’s legal team is defending the Czech rider.

Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) showed anomalies in his biological passport between March and August 2011, and April 2012 until the end of that year’s Giro d’Italia.

“We firmly believe that common sense will prevail. I should stress that the Czech Olympic Committee’s Arbitration Panel, the supreme independent body dealing with breaches of anti-doping regulations in the Czech Republic, cleared Roman of any wrongdoing,” said Dr. Jan Stovicek, Kreuziger’s legal counsel. “Roman Kreuziger has never exceeded the basal (extreme) values of the biological passport — if guilt is to be apportioned in such a case it begs the questions, what purpose do the basal values in an athlete’s biological passport actually serve? And, what are the clear criteria for determining guilt?

“Roman Kreuziger is thus innocent and should be treated accordingly.”

After joining Tinkoff in 2013, Kreuziger won the Amstel Gold Race and finished fifth at the Tour de France, riding in support of Alberto Contador.

Following his 2013 Amstel Gold win, however, Kreuziger admitted to having worked with controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari during 2006 and 2007. In 2002, the Italian Olympic committee (CONI) banned Ferrari from working with athletes in Italy.

Tinkoff kept him out of this year’s Tour de France but then grew frustrated by the UCI and attempted to start him in the Tour of Poland. Kreuziger was then provisionally suspended on August 2.

On September 22, the Czech Olympic Committee cleared Kreuziger of wrongdoing, and he returned to competition on October 1 in Italy’s Milano-Torino race — knowing full well that the UCI would appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In addition to releasing a statement, Stovicek sent a letter to a Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) panel, presenting new evidence in the case. He claims Kreuziger has a thyroid condition for which he takes medication, and that the blood samples taken from him were mishandled.

“We are all in the same boat in the fight against cheats in sport. We are in agreement with colleagues from the UCI and CADF experts that the biological passport is a fantastic tool,” Stovicek said. “However, it needs to be used correctly and fairly. There is currently a lack of clear rules for determining what is and is not a breach of anti-doping rules. This lack of transparency opens the way for speculation, and this devalues the credibility of the entire system. This is something none of us want.

“Anti-doping regulations serve to protect decent athletes, and should not be a tool for bullying them. I understand that the UCI wants to demonstrate an uncompromising stance in the fight against doping in cycling. You cannot measure everyone by a different scale. It’s the same as accusing someone of murder because they have kitchen knives at home.

“The case of Roman Kreuziger is a very important precedent not just for cycling, but for all sports. Today it is Roman in the dock, but tomorrow it could be any other athlete. We are confident that the CAS will decide this case quickly and impartially and will not permit an honest man to be prevented from carrying on his profession. We should not allow the fight against doping to become a witch hunt.”

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Q&A: Leipheimer on doping — and moving on from the past http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/qa-leipheimer-on-doping-and-moving-on-from-the-past_350351 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/qa-leipheimer-on-doping-and-moving-on-from-the-past_350351#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:04:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350351

Levi Leipheimer, pictured at the 2012 Tour of Utah. Leipheimer spoke with Velo for a magazine story on the perceptions of those who had confessed to using PEDs. Wil Matthews | VeloNews.com

Levi Leipheimer talks to VeloNews about his doping past and his current relationship with cycling

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Levi Leipheimer, pictured at the 2012 Tour of Utah. Leipheimer spoke with Velo for a magazine story on the perceptions of those who had confessed to using PEDs. Wil Matthews | VeloNews.com

Editor’s note: In the November issue of Velo magazine, senior writer Matthew Beaudin explored the different paths taken by Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, and others after they confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers. This interview appears in part in that story, entitled “Shades of Grey.” The interview has been condensed. 

VeloNews: Things seem to have gone differently for some of those who confessed. How’s the reaction been, and why does it seem to differ from rider to rider?
Levi Leipheimer: Each one of us in that group has had the same exact amount of negative reactions and positive reactions, in the extreme both ways. Maybe in reality there is a difference, but it all depends on who you’re looking at in each person with each case. We’ve all gone separate ways. Christian has gone on to do TV, so it’s very easy for people to relate to him. They see him talking and see that he’s human, so that’s part of his story. George is out there promoting his clothing a lot. You mentioned that you saw him at the race.

I’m more in my community, doing things here, like local mountain bike races … For sure guys like Christian, George, Dave, Tom have all been the target of what the Internet has become, which allows everyone to have a voice and express their opinion. Does that reflect reality; do you get to read everyone’s opinion? No. A lot of people are just more vocal and good at being loud. There’s definitely more negativity than positivity, but real life reactions, one-on-one and face-to-face … it’s been 100 percent positive. Crusher for example, I had so many conversations with people who were stoked to be there, to improve themselves, to have fun.

VN: Are you OK with where things are at? Is it as good as it is going to get with people’s attitudes towards not only you, but everyone involved? Will it ever get better for you and the others? Where does it sit with you?
LL: First off, I’d say that this whole thing has without a doubt made me a better person. It’s made me realize a lot of things. How you treat people, if you’re nice to people, if you respect people and I’ve made the effort to be better at that. I’m not saying I was a complete [expletive] before, but it reinforced that belief and I’m looking at the positive side of it.

Do I want to make excuses for what we did in the past so that people could be compassionate to our troubles? Well in the picture with everything that’s going on in the world, I think that it’s not something to focus on.

It was an unfortunate era in cycling and none of us are proud of what we did, but we did [it] and we can’t change it. It’s part of who I am, my history, and there’s nothing I can do to change it, but I’m doing the best I can to move forward and I’m being the best person I can. Hopefully that’s what matters to everyone in the end. I think 99 percent of people that I meet or hear from are supportive and forgiving and somewhat understand that it wasn’t just black and white, but very gray. We compromised ourselves, but it’s over now, done with.

VN: Do you think people are in a place now to move on or are people still stuck in the past with this sort of thing?
LL: I don’t know. For us, we lived it for so long. We were aware of the whole mess for such a long time, over a decade or more. The public are catching up, so that’s different. It’s a perspective that happened to me a long time ago. I can understand that people are upset because they were under the impression that our sport was clean and we were in a different reality. I completely understand that people were disappointed. I feel bad that I let so many people down, and I always will. Hopefully with time, the perspective of the sport and how much better it is now and how it’s been a process and a struggle. Now that anti-doping has improved, it’s raised a lot of awareness and it’s a focus. And whenever you have a focus on something the awareness increases and it usually gets better.

VN: Has cycling has been a positive or negative, in the end?
LL: Without a doubt it’s a positive thing. It’s just a complicated story and like everything, you can’t be proud of everything in your life. But cycling has been so much to me. It fills something inside of me. When I was 13 years old and started watching the Tour and riding a road bike, I felt a part of me that I had never felt before. It gave me purpose and meaning and nothing else does that. I still go out on my bike … it’s inspiring, it refreshes my soul, it’s therapy. It’s the same thing for me as it is for anybody, it’s just such a big part of my life and there is no way it can be negative to me. I just made some decisions that I’m not proud of.

VN: What’s your response to watching races? When you watch cycling what do you feel?
LL: I’m a fan of the sport, I’ve always watched races, whether I was 13 or 19 dreaming of racing the Tour or racing the Tour, I always watched the sport. I’m a huge fan; I still watch it today. I have this privileged perspective of having been there before, so I still have the sensations when I’m watching. My heart rate goes up when I watch a field sprint, I feel the suffering when they’re going up the mountains. There is absolutely no bitterness toward the sport. Sure I don’t miss the travel, the nonstop stress of performing your best every time, but I miss that feeling suffering up a climb with the five best climbers in the world, I miss that feeling. But I had [it], so I’m happy to move on.

For me now … the community that gave so much to me along the way, literally hundred and hundreds of people … The gran fondo is just about going out doing this epic huge ride and getting young kids and the next generation of kids excited about cycling. I ride a lot with the younger guys around here and just try to pass along knowledge. Knowledge that I didn’t know I had until I started helping people with riding and training and how they view the bike.

VN: They probably appreciate it, too. I mean, I doubt parents are saying, “you better not listen to Levi because he made bad decisions so many years ago.”
LL: Well, I think that it’s important to address both. Parents make mistakes when they’re younger and they don’t want their kids to make those same mistakes, so I don’t want those kids to go into an environment with an overwhelming amount of pressure like I did. When confronted, I told the truth and have gone on the record multiple times talking about what I did. It hasn’t been easy, it draws a lot of scrutiny and criticism. I did my part with USADA, above and beyond any sort of agreement. Everything they’ve asked of me, I’ve done it. I went to Atlanta and sat in a room with experts and scientists and answered their questions so I could make it better.

When I was 13, I didn’t think I needed to take drugs to race in the Tour. Everything was little by little, making the line in the sand, moving it and moving it and it was a long process that brought me to where I am.

VN: A long process back, too. Do you think it’s taken a long time for people to soften up people’s feelings?
LL: I think it’s case by case. If you read a few comments on the Internet, you realize that this isn’t what it’s really like. If you talk to people face-to-face, 99.99 percent of the people have given it some thought and that it’s not black and white. I think with time that other percentage will soften up and understand it.

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Nibali defends Astana record; hints at Giro-Tour double http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/nibali-defends-astana-record-hints-giro-tour-double_350589 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/nibali-defends-astana-record-hints-giro-tour-double_350589#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 19:24:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350589

Vincenzo Nibali hasn't ruled out the possibility of tackling the Giro d'Italia prior to a run at defending his title in the 2015 Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali defends his Astana team despite recent doping cases, and hints he might race the Giro d'Italia next year

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Vincenzo Nibali hasn't ruled out the possibility of tackling the Giro d'Italia prior to a run at defending his title in the 2015 Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali staunchly defended his Astana team’s battered reputation, and hinted he might race the Giro d’Italia ahead of a Tour de France defense in 2015.

Speaking to the Spanish daily AS over the weekend during the Critérium of Saitama in Japan, Nibali said a pair of EPO positives involving the Iglinskiy brothers, and another case from a stagiaire, does not reflect a deeper problem for his team’s ethics.

“This is a case involving one family, who has recognized their mistake, and a rider that’s not even part of our team, but from a continental team,” Nibali told AS. “Just because two riders have made an error doesn’t mean all the others are doing it as well. That wouldn’t be fair. I already said during the Tour that my goal is that people can respect what I have achieved in a legitimate manner, and that I’ve enjoyed my success thanks to the biological passport and the controls.”

Nibali’s comments come in the wake of new questions about Astana’s commitment to clean racing. After a string of positives that were revealed inside a month, the UCI has promised a review of the Kazakhstan-backed team managed by ex-pro Alexander Vinokourov, who previously served a suspension for doping.

Last week, UCI president Brian Cookson told VeloNews that the UCI license commission would review Astana’s situation in the coming weeks.

“It’s safe to say that everyone was very disappointed by this turn of events,” Cookson told VeloNews. “But if we assume that there have been three cases, that’s something that’s obviously very, very serious, and that’s why we’ve referred it to the licensing commission, asking them to look into all the issues around that and make recommendations as to what impact these issues should have on the license of Astana. That’s the right and proper process.”

Astana management has insisted the team races clean, and that the Iglinskiy positives are isolated cases, and do not reflect deeper problems within the team. The team pulled out of the Tour of Beijing earlier this month to abide by “self-suspend” rules imposed by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), a volunteer advocacy group among teams promoting a more credible peloton that backed Astana in recent meetings in Paris.

Nibali, who turns 30 next month, finds himself in the awkward position of having to defend his Astana colors when new doubts have arisen about the team.

“I don’t believe they will take away our license, I am convinced of that. Astana suffers due to its past, for things that happened in another era,” Nibali continued. “Vinokourov wasn’t even the manager when the team signed Jakob Fuglsang, Fabio Aru, and myself, precisely with the objective of changing the image of the team and earning some credibility. Since then, we apply the biological passport, we are members of the MPCC, and we do internal controls. What else can we do? The sponsors in Kazakhstan are very angry with the Iglinskiys, and I strongly believe that our sport is cleaner today compared to other times in cycling.”

Possible Giro start for 2015

Nibali, who remains under contract with Astana through the end of 2016, said he wants to focus on new challenges, which includes a defense of the yellow jersey and perhaps a start at the Giro d’Italia, which he won in 2013. Nibali also emphatically shot down the notion promoted by Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov of racing all three grand tours in the same season.

“It’s impossible to complete this triple of the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta [a España],” he said. “Everyone knows how tiring a three-week grand tour is, and how tired you are after winning one. Obviously, I am going to defend the yellow jersey, but I haven’t discounted a possible start at the Giro. But if you go all out for the [Giro], it would wipe you out for the [Tour]. We’ll talk about this later at a meeting of the sport directors.”

Nibali also defended his yellow jersey against suggestions that it “came easy” without such riders as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at the line, or the sudden departures of top rivals Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Sky) due to crashes.

“I wanted to take them on, including Quintana, in a head-on confrontation. Either way, I’ve already beaten them in other races,” Nibali said. “Crashes are part of the game. You never know what’s going to happen, and things can happen to everyone in the peloton, from first to last.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Nibali likes the look of the 2015 Tour route, which is short on time trials, long on mountains, and includes another stage over cobblestones. After riding so well across the cobbles in 2014, Nibali is hoping for more of the same next year.

“I like the cobbles, but maybe next time, you’re not so lucky. I wouldn’t categorize myself as a man for Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, despite the fact that things went so well over the cobbles in the Tour,” he said.

“I like the Tour route a lot. In the first week, there are two ‘walls,’ the nerves that come with the Tour, and the cobbles again,” he continued. “In my opinion, l’Alpe d’Huez will have the last word, a mythical climb to decide the GC just a day ahead of Paris. Perhaps the organizers were thinking as well of young French climbers, such as Thibaut Pinot or Romain Bardet.”

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Team SmartStop announces 2015 roster http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/team-smartstop-announce-2015-roster_350602 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/team-smartstop-announce-2015-roster_350602#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 18:35:47 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350602

One of the season's biggest surprises, Eric Marcotte continues with Team SmartStop in 2015 after his breakout national championship victory put his team on the map. SmartStop has bolstered its roster for other major races next year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Team SmartStop brings on big talent for 2015, aiming for top GC and time trial results at major domestic races

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One of the season's biggest surprises, Eric Marcotte continues with Team SmartStop in 2015 after his breakout national championship victory put his team on the map. SmartStop has bolstered its roster for other major races next year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

After a year of surprising upsets and consistent results, Team SmartStop has finalized its roster for the 2015 racing season, supporting 13 riders for the upcoming year.

U.S. national champion Eric Marcotte and USA Cycling National Racing Calendar winner Travis McCabe will return to Team SmartStop in 2015.

SmartStop will also bring back Canadians Rob Britton, team captain Zach Bell, and U23 Canadian time trial national champion Kristofer Dahl.

Jure Kocjan, winner of the 2014 UCI America’s Tour, will return in 2015, bringing his experience and leadership to the squad.

Sprinter Shane Kline, all-rounder Travis Livermon, and climbers Julian Kyer and Flavio De Luna round out the group of returning riders.

In 2015, Team SmartStop will welcome three new faces to the team. Time trial specialist and WorldTour veteran, Evan Huffman will be joined by Bobby Sweeting, another strong time trialist, coming off time with the 5Hour Energy team.

“I noticed a consistent weakness,” said team director Michael Creed, “We were inconsistent in our time trials, but with the addition of Evan and Bobby we have made up for that.”

SmartStop’s final new hire is promising climber Chris Butler. After putting in a top performance at the Tour of Utah earlier this year, Butler aims to help SmartStop grow its GC prospects and climbing abilities for the upcoming season.

2015 Team SmartStop roster

Zach Bell
Rob Britton
Chris Butler
Kristofer Dahl
Flavio De Luna
Evan Huffman
Shane Kline
Jure Kocjan
Julian Kyer
Travis Livermon
Eric Marcotte
Travis McCabe
Bobby Sweeting

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UnitedHealthcare women’s team announces 2015 roster http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/unitedhealthcare-womens-team-announce-2015-roster_350597 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/unitedhealthcare-womens-team-announce-2015-roster_350597#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 18:23:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350597

The UnitedHealthcare women's team announced its 2015 roster. After a sterling first season, the American team hopes for more success in the coming year. Photo: UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team

UnitedHealthcare announced its women's roster for the 2015 season, adding Linda Villumsen, Abby Mickey, and Laura Brown

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The UnitedHealthcare women's team announced its 2015 roster. After a sterling first season, the American team hopes for more success in the coming year. Photo: UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team

In its inaugural year, the UnitedHealthcare women’s team consistently put up impressive results across both the domestic and international calendars. Sweeping all three of the American road titles between Alison Powers and Coryn Rivera, UnitedHealthcare brought a mix of young riders and experienced veterans to the races in 2014 and plans to build upon its success next year with its 2015 roster.

Sprinters Rushlee Buchanan, Hannah Barnes, Cari Higgins, and Coryn Rivera will be staying on in the coming year, continuing to refine what they call the ‘Blue Train.’ Team captain Lauren Tamayo will be joined by climbing star, Katie Hall and all-rounders Ruth Winder, Scotti Wilborne, and Alexis Ryan.

The team adds some promising new riders for 2015. Linda Villumsen will bring her experience as a three-time winner of both the Danish road race and time trial championships. Abby Mickey, a promising young American climber, is also coming aboard. Lastly, Olympic bronze medalist and time trial specialist Laura Brown will ride for UnitedHealthcare in 2015.

“We have a well-rounded and tremendously capable squad assembled for 2015,” UHC general manager Michael Tamayo said, “One that represents the talented riders of today, as well as the up-and-coming talent of the future. We’re excited to hit the road and start racing.”

2015 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team women’s roster:

Rushlee Buchanan
Lauren Tamayo
Coryn Rivera
Hannah Barnes
Alexis Ryan
Katie Hall
Carrie Higgins
Scotti Wilborne
Ruth Winder
Linda Villumsen
Laura Brown
Abby Mickey

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UCI president: ‘Potential’ for Armstrong redemption http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/ucis-president-potential-armstrong-redemption_350148 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/ucis-president-potential-armstrong-redemption_350148#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:56:38 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350148

Lance Armstrong met with the CIRC commission earlier in 2014. Now, UCI president Brian Cookson has suggested that may be an avenue for redemption for the American. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

In part of an interview with VeloNews senior writer Matthew Beaudin, UCI president Brian Cookson discusses Lance Armstrong and redemption

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Lance Armstrong met with the CIRC commission earlier in 2014. Now, UCI president Brian Cookson has suggested that may be an avenue for redemption for the American. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Should Lance Armstrong be allowed back into the realm of professional cycling?

That, of course, depends on who one asks. The one-time seven-time Tour de France champion is currently banned for life, after an exhaustive effort by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dropped reams of affidavits from former teammates, who admitted to their own doping and implicated Armstrong.

UCI President Brian Cookson has a nuanced take on the man who was once the sport’s biggest star and who has given information to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) panel, which is investing the systemic doping culture that existed in professional cycling.

“I think that there is potential for redemption for him and anyone, really. I think it all depends on what [Armstrong] said to the commission and if he was prepared to talk about his or other people’s involvement and whether he’s genuinely contrite and deserving of redemption,” Cookson said. “I think it has to be said that what Lance did, not that he was the only one or only one involved, but it all depends on what Lance said to the commission and what they come up with. … we have to acknowledge and approve of any redemption in the sentence in the sanctions that he got. I think that [USADA CEO] Travis Tygart has been saying the same sort of thing anyway and I don’t think there is any conflict there between USADA, but let’s see what Lance has been saying to the commission.”

The CIRC commission is expected to make its findings known and release a report in January of 2015. The CIRC efforts dovetail with the work already done by USADA. Eight active riders were sanctioned after the anti-doping agency’s “reasoned decision” came down. Of the eight total, six were American riders. Did they pay a higher price than others of their era, many of whom have neither confessed nor been caught? Cookson is measured in his response.

“I think that is a narrow way of looking at it. The American rider [Armstrong] was also the biggest rider in the world, and was also the only one win seven Tours, he was the one who climbed highest and ultimately fell the lowest. If you look around as well, there were people who gave evidence and received reduced sanctions, so that arrangement was worthwhile from their point of view,” he told VeloNews in a lengthy interview.

Cookson said some have paid more than others, given the fact that “Armstrong and U.S. Postal weren’t the only team involved in doping,” he said. The UCI president has also asked the CIRC panel how those involved in past cheating should be dealt with now, in the modern iteration of the sport. For example, Cookson wants to evaluate how those with previous doping issues function on teams now.

“I want to be able to look at that again, in light of what comes out of the independent commission. All of the information that comes out of that will be helpful going forward. We need to have a mechanism that can look at the sport and decide who can stay in the sport and who needs to be thrown out,” Cookson said. “And when we have that mechanism, it needs to be robust and sustainable in court, and I can guarantee that if we excluded someone from their main source of income, that they’ll challenge it. So we need to make sure that what we do is truly defensible.”

Cookson also said the current relationship with USA Cycling is solid. The connection between the American organization and the UCI strained as the sport’s governing body found itself at odds with USADA; USA Cycling attempted to stay in the middle.

“It’s very strong,” Cookson said. “ … I don’t think there are any problems there at the moment. We have a few Americans on our commissions, so all of those people contribute very positively and I think that the USA is a very major part of cycling now and we need places like the USA to help the sport and I’m glad that we have a very good working relationship with them.”

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Seven notable neo-pros of 2014 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/7-notable-neo-pros-of-2014_350513 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/7-notable-neo-pros-of-2014_350513#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:55:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350513

Adam Yates won the Tour of Turkey, an eight-day stage race, this season. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

These WorldTour rookies impressed on the bike this season, earning podium spots and top-10s throughout the year

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Adam Yates won the Tour of Turkey, an eight-day stage race, this season. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — The 2014 cycling season showed neo-pros not just ready to learn, but to impress in their debut year. Yates twins Adam and Simon, Nairo Quintana’s younger brother, Dayer and many more challenged the seasoned cyclists for wins. VeloNews highlights seven stand-out debutants.

Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge): The Brit had the most impressive debut in the UCI WorldTour ranks this year thanks to several wins — the Tour of Turkey and GP Industria e Commercio (ahead of Davide Formolo, below) — and placings – sixth in the Critérium du Dauphiné and fifth in the Amgen Tour of California.

“This year has just been a learning experience,” he told VeloNews, indicating fans will see much more from him in 2015. The expectation is that Yates will win more week-long stage races in 2015 and become Britain’s next Tour de France challenger.

Simon Yates (Orica): The 22-year-old, alongside Adam, should also dominate stage races in the coming years. He lacked Adam’s wins, but he made his Tour de France debut in 2014.

“The Tour de France is not Turkey,” Yates said in July. “I can look forward to a grand tour and not feel so nervous about it, and have that experience of doing a longer race than normal.”

Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano): The Texan ended his season with a series of DNFs, but that should not cast a shadow over his 2014 season. While settling into the Dutch WorldTour team, he placed third overall and won the youth classification in the Amgen Tour of California, and made his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España. Wins, perhaps in a stage race, appear to be around the corner in 2015.

“You have this crop of young riders coming up,” the 22-year-old explained. “We’ve all raced against each for the past couple of years. To see them get success, you think that could be you up there as well.”

Davide Formolo (Cannondale): The 22-year-old from Verona recorded his best result of the year after 220 kilometers in the Italian National Championships, finishing second behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who one month later won the Tour de France. Like Nibali, he considers himself a climber.

Jonathan Vaughters said of his new rider, “[He] can already lead the team in week-long stage races and will apprentice to [Ryder] Hesjedal in the 2015 Giro.”

Dayer Quintana (Movistar): Quintana’s debut was not as impressive as his older brother Nairo’s in 2012, but is worth noting. The 22-year-old Colombian won the summit finish to Kitzbüheler Horn, at 1,670 meters above sea level, in the Tour of Austria ahead of Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) and Peter Kennaugh (Sky).

He said in a press release afterwards, “This win convinces myself I’m not just Nairo’s brother — I can win as well, things are achievable when you take efforts.” After week-long stage races, Movistar should debut Quintana in a grand tour next year.

Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp): The Dutchman will likely keep one photograph at home to remember his 2014 season, the one of him standing on the podium as the Tour of Britain winner ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky). In 2015, fans could see more of the same.

“In the future I would like to develop into a classics rider, Paris-Roubaix and Flanders, and also in races like [the Tour of Britain],” he said in a press release. “I am probably too heavy to be a grand tour rider!”

Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma): The Frenchman can charge up climbs and keep up during sprints, as he showed with his debut win in stage 4 of the Tour de l’Ain ahead of Daniel Martin (Garmin). He also placed fifth in the GP Ouest France-Plouay, a 229.1km race, behind winner Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling).

“It’s a matter of training and improving, and of course it’s also a question of experience,” Alaphilippe said in a press release. “I will work to improve in these kind of races.”

Besides the seven riders above, many more — including Chad Haga (Giant), Niccolò Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), and Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) — should be watched over during the 2015 season.

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Marcel Kittel sprints to victory in 2014 Criterium de Saitama http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/marcel-kittel-sprints-victory-2014-criterium-de-saitama_350488 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/marcel-kittel-sprints-victory-2014-criterium-de-saitama_350488#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:38:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350488

Marcel Kittel out-kicks Peter Sagan to win the second Criterium de Saitama in Japan. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Marcel Kittel takes a sprint victory in the 2014 Criterium de Saitama, with Peter Sagan second

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Marcel Kittel out-kicks Peter Sagan to win the second Criterium de Saitama in Japan. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

TOKYO (VN) — Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won a sprint finish ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) to claim the Criterium de Saitama on Saturday.

The 60km race around a 3km circuit is held by Tour de France organizers ASO. The “Criterium de Saitama by La Tour de France,” to give it its full title, is a publicity event aimed at attracting Japanese investment to the Tour while boosting the profile of road cycling in the Asian country.

Last year’s inaugural race was won by 2013 Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky), in front of 200,000 spectators.

The winner of this year’s Tour, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), got a break going early with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). The two were overhauled at midrace by a move led by Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Tinkoff’s Michael Rogers.

With three laps to go Nibali went it alone, just a few seconds up on a chase group including Kristoff, Sagan, Kittel, Romain Bardet (Ag2r), Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr), and Yukiya Arashiro and Fumiyuki Beppu, riding as the Tour de France Japan team.

The two Japanese riders took the lead as the last lap approached, but they couldn’t hold off the chasing sprinters. In the final straight, the man who won four stages of the 2014 Tour took the victory ahead of Sagan and Kristoff.

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Chris Butler moves to SmartStop for 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/chris-butler-moves-smartstop-2015_350457 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/chris-butler-moves-smartstop-2015_350457#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:37:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350457

After two years at BMC, then time spent with Champion System and Hincapie Sportswear Development, Chris Butler is making the move to Team SmartStop. He's eager to grow into his role as a GC rider. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Climbing star Chris Butler will move to Team SmartStop for the 2015 season

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After two years at BMC, then time spent with Champion System and Hincapie Sportswear Development, Chris Butler is making the move to Team SmartStop. He's eager to grow into his role as a GC rider. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Coming off a strong year with the Hincapie Sportswear Development, Chris Butler, 26, will make the jump to the successful upstart Team SmartStop next year.

Proving himself as one of the most promising riders in the sport, Butler had strong performances against WorldTour riders at both the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Pro Challenge, but hopes to build upon his results next year when moving into a GC role for SmartStop.

“I started talking with [Michael] Creed a while ago. I saw what he was doing with SmartStop and knew that I wanted to be a part of that,” said Butler. “SmartStop has been working really hard to get into some really big races in hopes of showcasing its talent.”

For 2015, SmartStop plans to race the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour of Utah, and the USA Pro Challenge, and it aims to secure invitations at international races like the Tour de San Luis and the Tour of Langkawi.

Butler raced for BMC Racing in 2010 and 2011, then spent two years with Champion System, before joining Hincapie Sportswear in 2014.

“I’d really like to make the move back to WorldTour at some point in my career, and I know that the only way to do that is to race and get results in bigger international events,” said Butler. “My goal for 2015 is to target the Tour of Utah, now that it’s an 2.HC event, and hopefully be able to finish in the top six on GC to prove that I’m capable of riding at the highest level.”

Along with Butler, SmartStop will add another former WorldTour rider, Evan Huffman to the 2015 roster, in hopes of adding more depth to their already outstanding group of riders. Huffman is coming off of a two-year stint with Astana that was largely fruitless for the young American.

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Taylor Phinney Q&A: Recovery, the Tour, and the crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/taylor-phinney-qa-recovery-tour-crash_350454 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/taylor-phinney-qa-recovery-tour-crash_350454#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:07:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350454

Taylor Phinney won a stage at the Tour of California in 2014, but suffered a season-ending crash shortly after during the national road race. In an interview with VeloNews, he looks to next season. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

After a long recovery from traumatic injury at nationals, Phinney is gunning for a full recovery — and yellow

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Taylor Phinney won a stage at the Tour of California in 2014, but suffered a season-ending crash shortly after during the national road race. In an interview with VeloNews, he looks to next season. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

At this point, what happened to Taylor Phinney that day is well known. An in-race motorcycle slowed down in front of him and others during a descent of the USA Cycling road national championships. He smashed into a guardrail. His left leg snapped as a toothpick does under a heavy thumb.

What happens next, though, is the unknown. Phinney has worked and rehabbed. He’s suffered through watching the races, feeling like he’s losing ground every single day as the peloton barrels forward. He talked with VeloNews recently about his recovery and his ambitions for next season.

VeloNews: How are you doing? How’s the leg? How are things?

Taylor Phinney: Things have been good. I’ve been getting out on the velodrome here in Boulder, getting back to roots, riding behind the moto getting back my leg speed. But things are progressing, slowly but surely. I thought I’d be back to 100 percent in October, but I still have a little ways to go. Just getting the strength back in my left leg — not using it for six weeks takes it about nine months to [get to] where I had it before.

VN: Is that what they’re saying, nine months until it’s back to fully functioning?

TP: Well they said six to nine months, but I can still do stuff. I can ride and still put out some watts, but I want to make sure that my left leg is equally as strong as my right leg before I start doing some serious training. I feel like that’s an important thing for me.

VN: Does it still hurt?

TP: Yeah, it starts to hurt if I push too hard around my knee, so I’m just trying to not make it hurt and just ride. I’m happy that the season is over now, just because it’s one more thing that I don’t have to think about now, but now that the season is over, it’s like everyone is at the same place now. But I’m still working and improving, so hopefully I can start training with everyone else when the time comes. For now, I’m not too fixated on what everyone else is doing.

VN: When next year rolls around, is there a time when you want to be 100 percent ready or will the progression be more as it comes?

TP: My biggest goals that I’m hoping to be 100 percent ready for are the Tour and worlds in Richmond. I want to be ready for the classics, but I just don’t know whether I’ll be ready to handle that intensity at that point. It’s hard to have a full long-term plan, but I’m quite sure that by May or June — a year after the accident — that I’ll be at 100 percent.

VN: Has the team been supportive of you, not putting a ton of pressure on?

TP: Yeah, they’ve been telling me to be conservative. I talk to them just about every week to check in and they speak with the doctors. I talk to a lot of the riders, they want to have me back, to at least be at the dinner table to make people laugh, but I’ll be back there eventually.

VN: You did a conference call shortly after the crash once you had some time to think about what happened. To me you seemed not too mad or upset with the situation then. Do you still feel that way or are you mad about what happened?

TP: I don’t get mad about it. I’ve learned a ton about myself over the past couple of months. I’ve had some really good times and some really bad times, and I’ve gained a whole new appreciation of what bike racing means to me and the ability to be mobile and the freedom of riding the bike when I could barely walk, but still pedal a bike. My relationship with the bike itself is completely different now. When you’re going through a hard time, it really is a nice escape and it allows you to filter all of the shit that you have built up in your mind. I had the relationship with the bike before, but I never went through anything as difficult or trying as this, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’ve really matured a lot, which you hear about all the time, but never really appreciate until you’ve actually gone through something like it. I have a new perspective now, things mean something a bit more to me. Just life in general and mobility and the ability to live and breathe and be a contributing person to society. It all has a whole new meaning to be healthy and I’m just grateful to getting back to being healthy, and it’s something I’ve always been grateful for, being around my dad [Davis Phinney has Parkinson’s disease —Ed.], but it really puts it in a new light when it’s you. When you can’t walk, when you need an assistant and you’re constantly trying to get better, but the recovery isn’t happening daily, but every week or month, so it’s tough to see the slow progression of the recovery.

VN: It must be hard for you, being so healthy and fit your whole life to ask for help or to need it.

TP: Yeah, I went to my friend’s soccer game the other day, and I can walk now, but my left side is still weaker. I can ride a bike a lot better than I can walk right now, but I went to this game and just desperately wanted to run around and kick a soccer ball, but there is nothing I can do about that, I simply can’t physically run yet. … But I tried to kick the soccer ball afterwards and went to kick and planted my left leg, my bad leg, as I was about kick and then just collapsed. I couldn’t hold myself up like that, so it was pretty embarrassing, I ended up in some weird pose on the ground.

VN: We saw Cadel and Hushovd retiring, what do you think of the team next year? It will obviously be a bit younger.

TP: It’s always too bad when you lose legends of sport. Thor and I have a really close relationship, he’s one of my favorites to room with, so announcing his retirement wasn’t a surprise but it was a bit of a shock to me. I know that Cadel had been thinking about it for awhile, but this allowed the team to open the door to a bunch of new riders and I think that’s the best direction to take the team — make it younger, get the energy levels up and I’m looking forward to getting back to it and forming a bond with the younger riders who are coming up.

VN: The Tour is going to be the big goal next year?

TP: Yeah, if I can come back and do Paris-Roubaix, that would be the best thing, but the Tour is a massive goal for me, especially with the short punchy prologue [The Tour's opening 14km time trial will be considered stage 1, not a prologue —Ed.]. So being able to put on the yellow jersey and maybe winning the world championships are things that I’m trying to look forward to. Obviously, there is a lot of stuff that needs to happen before I can check off those boxes, but I’m just happy that the Tour is back to putting prologues in. It’s nice of them.

The post Taylor Phinney Q&A: Recovery, the Tour, and the crash appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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