VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:47:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 In the News: 19 riders implicated in Belgian blood-doping scandal http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/news-19-riders-implicated-belgian-blood-doping-scandal_351527 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/news-19-riders-implicated-belgian-blood-doping-scandal_351527#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:35:31 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351527 The Belgian press is reporting that 19 professional riders have been implicated in a doping investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens

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Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad is reporting that 19 athletes, mostly cyclists, are involved in a blood-doping scandal.

After a 2.5-year investigation, a prosecutor in Leuven, Belgium is seeking to bring Dr. Chris Mertens to trial.

Mertens, the report says, is suspected to have performed blood transfusions with ozone, which involves drawing blood, infusing it with ozone, and then putting it back into the body. Martens is also accused of having turned athletes on to doping.

Blood transfusions are banned under WADA Code.

The report claims that no fewer than 19 athletes — the majority famous and semi-famous road and cyclocross riders — are risking a suspension.

The online report is a synopsis of a larger print article.

The report states that Het Nieuwsblad has knowledge of 19 athletes who are named in the dossier.

It was not clear whether that means Nieuwsblad knows the names but is not reporting them, or if they know there are 19 names but do not know who the athletes are.

In 2013, Tom Meeusen (Fidea) was not allowed to race the cyclocross World Cup in Rome, and was questioned by prosecutors about his connection to Mertens.

Also in January, 2013, De Morgen reported that Jurgen Van den Broeck had visited Mertens, but the Lotto-Belisol rider claimed that he was only seeking treatment for inflamed sinuses.

Sporza reports that Leuven authorities have a deadline of November 14 to decide whether the case merits a court case.

Editor’s note: Check back for more updates on this developing story.

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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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Reviewed: Bontrager Flash Charger tubeless tire pump http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-bontrager-flash-charger-tubeless-tire-pump_351273 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-bontrager-flash-charger-tubeless-tire-pump_351273#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:42:42 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351273

The red handle by the gauge controls the air chamber. A down handle means you're loading the auxillary air chamber for tubeless tire seating. Then raise the handle to release that air into your tire. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

The Flash Charger works as a hand-pumped compressor, effectively inflating tubeless tires with ease

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The red handle by the gauge controls the air chamber. A down handle means you're loading the auxillary air chamber for tubeless tire seating. Then raise the handle to release that air into your tire. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

The Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump is the forehead slapper of the year. Everyone says the same thing, “why didn’t I think of that?”

It’s brilliant because it solves one of the greatest problems with modern mountain bikes. All of us want to ride tubeless tires all the time, but setting them up can be a pain, at least without a heavy compressor. The Flash Charger is a remedy and, best of all, it’s portable.

The Flash Charger at first look appears to be a plastic floor pump, almost low budget; its looks don’t measure up to its capabilities or its $120 price tag. It uses a plastic base and handle, missing the polished accoutrements that adorn Bontrager’s $110 Super Charger floor pump. The absent metallic parts could be an attempt by Bontrager to keep the Flash Charger’s weight reasonable, as the alloy air chamber that holds air for the tubeless “Flash” setup ads quite a bit of weight to the pump.

The Flash Charger is easy to use. To set up tubeless tires, first lower the red handle, then up the pressure in the pump to the green zone on the pressure gauge, which takes about 50 pumps. The last 10 or so are tougher than inflating your average tire. Then, when you’ve got your tire mounted and ready to go, attach the chuck and lift the red handle. The air stuck in the Flash chamber flies into the tire and ceases to flow from the chamber when the tire has reached an equal pressure.

The first time you use it, you’ll probably giggle at how awesome and simple it is. Why is this only just now being brought to market?

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though, and don’t think for a minute that it will replace your current floor pump. The Flash Charger does one thing very well — setting up tubeless tires — and it did so admirably with multiple sets of my mountain and cyclocross tires. But using it as a regular pump requires extra pumping, as the air pressure in the Flash chamber and tire stay equal. In a pinch, it could be used as your floor pump. It’s just not as easy to use as we’d like, and the quantity of plastic parts on it make us wary of its long term durability. Best to keep it as your go-to pump for setting up tubeless tires, much like an air compressor would be used.

Compared to its competitors, the CO2 canister and the standard floor pump, the Flash Charger wins out, no question. Against a more traditional air compressor, the Flash Charger is almost equal. A three-gallon air compressor can be bought for about $100, but the Flash Charger is 100 percent portable, only needing your feeble cyclist upper body strength to power it.

Wish I’d thought of it.

Suggested retail price: $120
We like: Easy and portable solution for setting up tubeless tires
We don’t like: Can’t easily pull double duty as a standard floor pump. All the plastic used reminds us of a far less expensive pump.
The scoop: As good as an air compressor, but human powered, and awesome.

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In the News: Hit-and-run crash leaves world champion shaken http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/news-world-champion-victim-hit-run_351514 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/news-world-champion-victim-hit-run_351514#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:10:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351514

Macey Stewart won the 2014 junior world time trial championships. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com (File).

Australian Macey Stewart was struck from behind by a car while riding in Tasmania on Thursday

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Macey Stewart won the 2014 junior world time trial championships. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com (File).

Australian newspaper, The Advocate reported Thursday that junior world champion Macey Stewart, 18, was hit by a car in East Devonport, Tasmania.

Stewart recently claimed the junior world time trial championship title in Ponferrada, Spain.

The Advocate reported that Stewart was injured in the hit-and-run crash on Tarleton Street, East Devonport, about 2:00 p.m.

She was heading south outside the Argosy Motel when the vehicle hit her from behind.

The impact threw Miss Stewart to the ground and knocked the motorist’s side rear vision mirror off.

“I took the car’s mirror off and I was lying on the road,” she said. “I looked up and I had a fairly large truck coming for me head on, so I had to scramble off the road as fast as I could.

“The driver of the vehicle who hit me stopped and got out of his car, picked up the mirror, and then drove away.

“It’s pretty shocking to think that someone can do that.”

Read the full article >>

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Video: The basics of how to dismount and remount a cyclocross bike http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/video/video-basics-dismount-remount-cyclocross-bike_351300 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/video/video-basics-dismount-remount-cyclocross-bike_351300#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:15:13 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351300

Global Cycling Network explains the basics of how to dismount and remount on a cyclocross bike.

Global Cycling Network has a basic primer to help you learn how to smoothly hop on and off your 'cross bike

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Global Cycling Network explains the basics of how to dismount and remount on a cyclocross bike.

Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.

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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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Matthias Brandle beats Voigt’s hour record, riding 51.852km http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/matthias-brandle-beats-voigts-hour-record-riding-51-852km_351283 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/matthias-brandle-beats-voigts-hour-record-riding-51-852km_351283#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:28:50 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351283

Austrian Matthias Brändle broke the world hour record Thursday in Aigle Switzerland, riding 51.852 kilometers. AFP PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI

Brandle sets a new hour record in Switzerland, riding 742 meters farther than Jens Voigt, who set the previous record last month

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Austrian Matthias Brändle broke the world hour record Thursday in Aigle Switzerland, riding 51.852 kilometers. AFP PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI

Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) set a new world hour record in Aigle, Switzerland at the UCI’s 200-meter track, riding 51.852 kilometers.

Jens Voigt set the previous record on September 18, riding 51.11 kilometers at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland. However, it only took 42 days for Brändle to ride his way into the record books ahead of the now-retired German veteran.

“Now I feel really great, but during the race it was so hard,” said Brändle. “I knew after 30 minutes that I was going to succeed. The first minutes were easy and then I wanted to go a lot faster. Halfway through, things became more complicated and I started to feel pain.”

“I’m 43 years old — there had to be one young rider who could take me on!” said Voigt.

Though he has minimal track experience, Brändle pushed through a difficult final 10 minutes to set a new best mark.

“It started in September with tests in the wind tunnel, and we made the first tests on the track before the Tour of Lombardy,” said Brändle. “Of course I’m optimistic. If you say you don’t have a good chance, you will not do it.”

Interest in the hour record was revived after the UCI revised hour record rules to allow pursuit-style bikes

“It’s been absolutely wonderful,” said UCI president Brian Cookson. “It sounds easy enough riding for one hour as hard as possible around a track, but once you get beyond 30 or 35 minutes, you’re riding through a sea of lactic acid. … [Today's ride] is another notch a bit further, but it’s not out of reach. We’ve seen a really worthy record tonight, a world-class performance.

“It’s exactly what we hoped would happen when we modernized the rules and allowed a modern pursuit-type bike. It’s exactly what we wanted to happen. We have a great older rider at the end of his career [Voigt], and now we have a younger rider very much at the beginning of his career.”

Early in the ride, the Austrian was already ahead, reaching the 5km mark after 5:49.

After 10km, the 24-year-old’s time was 11:32.027, ahead of Jens’ 12:01.336 split.

Brändle continued to extend his advantage, clocking 17:16.636 at 15km.

He had a 28-second advantage over Voigt at the at 20km mark.

Halfway through the ride, he’d gone 26km just short of 30-minute mark, on target for his goal of 52 kilometers at the end of an hour.

Brändle’s 30km split was 34:31.782, which was 1:01 ahead of Voigt’s split.

The young Austrian’s performance was steady, and when he reached the 40km mark, his average was still over 52kph, and his split was 46:07.930, 1:08 faster than Voigt at that point.

About 50 minutes in, he started to waver, and his average went below 52kph. His cadence dropped, and he began to struggle to hold the black line at the base of the track.

“I had a difficult period in the middle of the race,” he said. “But, it’s like as close as the [end of the] hour comes, the easier it goes.”

He fought through the dark final minutes and beat Voigt’s mark, but just barely, with about 42 seconds remaining in the hour.

“I’m really happy about it,” said the new world champion. “It’s really hard, and I was really on my limit.”

“I know what it’s like to be out there for one hour and it’s an achievement in itself! Bravo!” Voigt said to VeloNews via email. “He beat my record by quite a lot, actually. … You need to go through a wall of pain, and lactate, and he did great.

“I’m absolutely happy that I had the record for a while. It felt great. I was the first to re-launch the event, so I’m proud of that too. What happened today, as painful as it is, is normal. It was clear that my record wouldn’t stand. Our event was a great success and we knew we would inspire other riders and technical sponsors to give it a try. I was hoping to keep my record until Christmas maybe, but this is fine. I’m happy for him! Onwards now.”

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USA Cycling provides clarity on cyclocross nationals eligibility rules http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/usa-cycling-provides-clarity-cyclocross-nationals-eligibility_350769 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/usa-cycling-provides-clarity-cyclocross-nationals-eligibility_350769#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:25:48 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350769

Justin Lindine (Redline) is an example of an elite racer who contested both a masters race and elite race at 2014 cyclocross nationals. He won the 30-34 race that year, but with the new rules, will not be allowed to race both in 2015. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

USA Cycling clarifies rule changes made in August about cyclocross nationals eligibility

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Justin Lindine (Redline) is an example of an elite racer who contested both a masters race and elite race at 2014 cyclocross nationals. He won the 30-34 race that year, but with the new rules, will not be allowed to race both in 2015. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

In late August, USA Cycling announced a series of changes to 2014-2015 cyclocross season. The two rule changes that created the largest stir were the adjustments of qualification eligibility for cyclocross nationals, which will be held in Austin, Texas in January 7-11, 2015.

In years past, racers have been allowed to compete in both the masters and elite fields at cyclocross nationals, provided that the rider is eligible to compete in both of the respective categories.

The first of the recent rule changes prohibits racers from contesting multiple national championships and will only allow riders to compete in one event.

“We are hoping to prevent riders from ‘double-dipping.’ Our goal is to steer people into one category of racing, when traditionally, a certain segment of participants have been able to compete in two or more races,” said Pete Webber, chairman of the USA Cycling cyclocross committee.

He cited the reasoning that elite racers eligible to compete as masters often have an unfair advantage of having team support and devotion to full-time training and racing. They also might enjoy a theoretical advantage of racing on the course prior to the elite race — which takes place later during the national championships.

The second rule change relates directly to the elite races and qualification requirements.

“Elite riders are required to race in some number of Pro CX races in order to compete at nationals,” said Webber. “This is the first year with this rule, and this is something that people aren’t used to, but are accepting of.”

The new rule states that a rider is eligible to compete in the elite race if they are ranked in the top 90 riders in the Pro CX standings. Originally, this tally was to be made following the Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Oregon, December 7-8, but that race has been cancelled, so the rankings will likely considered after Baystate Cyclocross in Sterling, Massachusetts, November 30. Riders who have secured any UCI points during the season will also automatically qualify.

As expected, opposition was stated by a number of racers to both rule changes. Ultimately the cyclocross committee is hoping to create balanced fields in both the masters and elite races.

USA Cycling will proceed with the rule changes for the upcoming national championships before making the rules permanent.

The cyclocross national championships will take place January 7-11 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

USA Cycling cyclocross committee members

Commissaire — Dorothy Abbott
At-large — Stuart Thorne
UCI Race Director — Brook Watts
Coach — Mark Fasczewski
Local Association Representative — Tom Mains
Eligible Athlete (M) — Tim Johnson
Eligible Athlete (F) — Katie Compton
Masters Athlete — Pete Webber
Industry — Matt Shriver

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Ask a Mechanic: Mixing 10-, 11-speed parts http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/video/ask-mechanic-mixing-10-11-speed-parts_350871 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/video/ask-mechanic-mixing-10-11-speed-parts_350871#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:05:33 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350871

Art's Cyclery explains how to mix 10-speed and 11-speed parts successfully.

Art's Cyclery demonstrates how to use 10-speed wheels with 11-speed drivetrains and shifters

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Art's Cyclery explains how to mix 10-speed and 11-speed parts successfully.

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Reviewed: Continental Grand Prix 4-Season 28mm http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-continental-grand-prix-4-season-28mm_351086 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-continental-grand-prix-4-season-28mm_351086#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:59:44 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351086

Durable sidewalls, sticky rubber, and a Vectran puncture belt make the Grand Prix 4-Season a great all-weather training tire for those who still want decent ride qualty. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

A great option for riders who want extra flat protection but won't make the jump to a thick, uncomfortable training-specific tire

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Durable sidewalls, sticky rubber, and a Vectran puncture belt make the Grand Prix 4-Season a great all-weather training tire for those who still want decent ride qualty. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

Not too soft, not too hard. Continental’s Grand Prix 4-Season tires are something of a Goldilocks, slotted between the company’s race-oriented Grand Prix 4000s and training-tough Gatorskin tires.

The 4-Season is aimed at riders who want a bit of extra flat protection for winter training but don’t want to make the jump to a thick, uncomfortable, training-specific tire. That means it doesn’t excel in either area — it’s not as soft and supple as a true race tire, and it wears faster and offers less flat protection than Continental’s Gatorskin lineup.

But there is room for such a tire, at least for those who ride decent roads most of the time. The softer rubber and deeper tread grip better when roads are cold and covered in debris while the two-layer Vectran breaker and DuraSkin sidewall protection make the tire much more durable than its racier siblings.

Grand Prix 4-Season durability

Over 1,200 miles of riding, the Continentals suffered just one single flat, caused by a massive nail. No tire would have stood a chance.

The rubber compound is quite soft, and now, the rear tire is approximately 40-50 percent worn. The front still appears pristine, with at least 80 percent of its life still ahead.

The 4-Season now comes in both 28mm and 32mm versions in addition to the 23mm and 25mm options previously available. The casing is slightly narrower than claimed on all but the widest rims, measuring 27.7mm on a pair of wide (16mm internal width) Reynolds Aero 46 wheels.

The addition of the fat 28mm and 32mm casings makes it even more intriguing as a winter training option — if your frame has enough clearance, there’s no reason to ride narrow tires through the winter.

The larger casing (we tested the 28mm version) also improves overall durability by decreasing pinch flats. It allows for lower tire pressure and encourages a bit of dirt road adventuring.

Our test set of 28mm 4-Seasons came in at 281 and 282 grams per tire, an acceptable figure given the impressive flat protection. The 28mm Gatorskin weighs a claimed 360 grams.

Ride quality

The larger casing also makes the tire more comfortable, negating most of the ride quality drawbacks associated with a thick puncture belt. The 28mm 4-Season feels quite similar to a 25mm Grand Prix 4000s, albeit a bit slower.

The soft rubber grips well and was particularly impressive on wet surfaces. The advantage conferred by the slightly deeper grooves may be mostly mental, but the tires did feel secure when taken onto gravel roads.

The 4-Season isn’t a race tire, but it rides well and feels quick enough to be capable of a hard, fast winter group ride.

Suggested retail price: $80
We like: Grippy rubber compound and durable Vectran breaker provide a good balance between ride quality and durability
We don’t like: Too burly for racing, not burly enough for winter training on very bad roads
The scoop: A Goldilocks tire, sitting in between the GP 4000s and Gatorskin tires

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Pro Bike Gallery: Matthias Brandle’s hour record Scott Plasma http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-matthis-brandles-hour-record-scott-plasma-bike_351088 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-matthis-brandles-hour-record-scott-plasma-bike_351088#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:03:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=351088

Matthias Brändle will attempt to break Jens Voigt's hour record of 51.1 kilometers on Thursday aboard this modified Scott Plasma

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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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Interview: Charlie Kelly, author of ‘Fat Tire Flyer’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/interview-charlie-kelly-author-fat-tire-flyer_350677 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/interview-charlie-kelly-author-fat-tire-flyer_350677#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:32:04 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350677

Charlie Kelly rounds switchback No. 1 on the Repack downhill in December 1976.

Kelly promoted the original Repack races, published the first mountain bike magazine, and sold many of the first commercial MTBs

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Charlie Kelly rounds switchback No. 1 on the Repack downhill in December 1976.

Charlie Kelly is often recognized as one of the inventors of the modern iteration of the mountain bike. He recently published “Fat Tire Flyer” with VeloPress, which provides a firsthand account of the sport’s early days in Marin, California. Web editor Spencer Powlison spoke with Kelly in October to learn more about the book, Kelly’s experiences and how modern-day mountain biking compares to the days of the clunkers.

VeloNews: I’ve been riding mountain bikes since I was a pre-teen and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome to learn all of the little stories behind the history of it.
Charlie Kelly: I’ve had to listen to the phrase; ‘you invented the mountain bike’ for about 35 years, and it is so much more complicated than just inventing the bike. The actual hardware was there, but the sport came from just one place, and that’s basically the theme from the whole book.

VN: Along those lines, can you talk about the transition you made from being an avid road cyclist to riding on trails almost exclusively once the movement really took off?
CK: I have a very nice road bike, but I haven’t ridden it in three or four years, it’s just gathering dust, hanging from a hook on the ceiling. The transition is complete. I am mountain biker, I own a number of mountain bikes and my friends have been pretty good to me, giving me bikes over the years, but the transition is very much complete. One of the things that really inspired that transition if you will, we were really one of the only people that converted our bikes. When you just took that converted 1937 Schwinn, put it next to your Italian road bike, it wasn’t hard to see room for improvement. We just took it in the natural direction, but the impetus was that we were competing against each other, and I don’t know if any of the people that came up with the hardware came up with the competitive idea also, because that’s what really drove us, the competition.

VN: Can you talk about how racing drove the changes in equipment, as well as the Repack race and what it meant to your friends and acquaintances?
CK: You know, it was so special, it was like we were the only 15 people who could surf at Mavericks, and it was just so cool. It started out as a contest, with who is the fastest, but what it developed into was to just get in the zone and stay there. Because no matter how well you did against the competition, you only had five minutes to do whatever you felt like knowing that you had the place to yourself. For me, I was moderately competitive, although my friends were faster, but I could really just get in the zone and just stay there. I use skydiving as an analogy, where there is a big thrill, but only for a few seconds, where what we were doing, we could get that same thrill, but keep it going for a longer amount of time. We all became so passionate about it. It became dominant in our lives. We were looking for that edge all the time, studying the course, working on our bikes as much as possible, and it really took over some of our lives. It was so cool, that it was hard to think about anything else for a while, but now I’m used to it I guess! But when we first had this thing, we just couldn’t do enough of it. That’s why even when people come out here with modern equipment, they have a hard time doing the same speeds that we did on junk. Gravity is gravity. You only fall so fast, no matter what you’re on. And the difference is that we put an immense amount of study into what we were doing.

All I can say is that this took over our lives for probably two years and certainly mine. It was a place where I found a stage where I could be a star, and everyone loved me. I tell you, there is nothing more addicting than adulation.

VN: Speaking more about the bikes themselves, one of the bikes that comes out of the Repack races is the Breezer, and you’ve got a chapter in your book called ‘The most important bike of the 20th century,’ speaking about the Breezer.
CK: Well that’s an opinion and my opinion. … To begin, there are only 10 of them. I don’t know that such a small number of bikes could cause such a tectonic shift in the direction of cycling. By the time Joe built that bike, I had been at this thing for two years, so it didn’t just pop into existence. Even before Repack racing started, I realized that there was a lot of room for improvement on the bikes. Repack just accelerated that, but more importantly it got Joe Breeze interested in the project. Because yeah, I wanted something like [it], but I’m not the one to build a bike and I needed a friend who understood what I was trying to do, and well Joe Breeze was the perfect person, in the perfect place, at the right time. It took two years to get it done, eight months of building, but when those 10 bikes hit the road … We had a few people riding around on the coolest bikes in the world, and then we saw ‘garage entrepreneurs’ started to look into that market. That was the ProCruiser, Koski Brothers’ Trail Master, and then eventually Tom Ritchey. But that bike inspired three or four other people. That was the pebble coming off the top of the hill that became an avalanche, but when you look at the modern mountain bike, working your way upstream, that’s where it hits, with that Breezer bike. Maybe the safety bike inspired that kind of tectonic change, but we’re talking 20th century here.

VN: As we go down the line with the Breezer, you and Gary Fisher got involved and worked with Ritchey. From there, one of the things that I found interesting was learning about how the term ‘mountain bike’ was coined, the trouble with the trademarking and that sort of thing.
CK: The mountain bike is one of those things that, boy, who knows who said it first. I mean, we had to distinguish the difference between our road bikes and the bikes we rode on the mountain, Mt. Tamalpais, but it was at first just to distinguish our fancy road bikes to our bikes we rode off-road. … That was just a distinction that we made. I know that the first reference in print was in 1979 in reference to Gary Fisher and myself, and it was already as the company name, which was true, but at that time, it was just the common way to distinguish the bike. … It was just a common parlance in our group. Unfortunately, I can’t trace the etymology any more than that. … It was a casual conversational term up until that point, and I couldn’t really begin to identify when that first conversation took place.

VN: One thing I really enjoyed from the book was how you would go out and ride road centuries on your Ritchey mountain bike to promote the brand.
CK: Well, if you’re in a road race, you would never be competitive on a Ritchey bike, but a century isn’t a race and elementary skills and tactics will allow you to keep up just fine. With fat tires, you lose some of the acceleration, and you can’t climb as quickly, but once you get rolling out on the road, the tires don’t make that much difference. So that was a real selling point, that this guy on this bike could finish road centuries in reasonable time. I mean, I worked on being fast, I was never a competitive racer, but it wasn’t a race or competition, but everyone notices who is going fast, and these bikes made people realize that you weren’t giving up that much when riding them, and it was really fun. When you smoked a guy on a Masi, well, he knows he’s been smoked.

VN: In terms of racing, can you talk about the history behind NORBA, how that came to be?
CK: By 1983, there were at least four or five people in California promoting races for this type of bike. At that time, the [Specialized] Stumpjumper was out on the market and you could buy one in the store. So racing was becoming very popular, and it was real clear that you needed insurance to protect the race promoter. I quit promoting the Repack calendar because a guy got hurt, and the exposure was way too extreme. It’s OK if it’s your friends and no one will sue you, but if it’s full of strangers, it becomes a different story.

So the first order of business was to just find insurance so we could have races without having to put your house on the line, if you will. So insurance was the very first order of business.

Then came minor races rules. This is not road racing. What are the rules? The rules were pretty simple: You just had to wear shoes! … There had to be some form of rules because you aren’t going to get insurance without some sort of structure, so the whole thing was not so much to unify the thing, but find some common ground among the four or five people that were promoting competitive events. One of them, Victor Vicente, never wanted any part of that, he would say, “here are the rules, I say ‘go,’ first one to the finish is the winner.” I certainly understand the philosophy, I took part in it myself, but if you’re going to expand outside of our immediate circle, you need some protection.

So it started off with “how do you get insurance?” And you aren’t going to get it without an identifiable insurable party. That was the basis. The other part was rules. I didn’t want to it to be cyclocross. Cyclocross is infinitely replaceable machinery. And perhaps you’ve noticed, cyclocross bikes didn’t take over the world. They’ve been around for 75 or 80 years, and they didn’t take over the world because they have no practical value.

Because Repack had done so much to improve the machinery, we didn’t want to restrict the machinery. In our minds, we wanted to keep the, “You run what you’ve brung” mentality. When we created the rules we didn’t want the governing body to freeze the technology at a certain point. Part of the purpose of a racing organization should not be to freeze the technology at a certain point. It should be to encourage technology. The UCI basically froze the technology around 1955. … My feeling is, if you could run a recumbent successfully in a mountain bike race, then go for it! It won’t happen, but that’s an extreme example.

VN: Speaking of cyclocross, you mentioned in the book that you never wanted to see a pit with spare bikes for mountain bike racers, but now modern cross country races offer that type of outside assistance.
CK: Well, they didn’t let me make that rule, I made the other rule. By the way, the Tour de France had that same rule. Back in 1903 or whenever, the guy broke his fork, and had to forge it, but got penalized because a kid pumped the bellows. … One of the classic stories of the Tour. … Had the Tour kept that rule, mountain bikes would have arrived in 1915, but they didn’t. But one of the things is that the technology of mountain biking is no longer dependent on the “Run what you bring” kind of thing. I now own a stable of modern mountain bikes, but the price of that performance is maintenance. I understand the back-to-the land movement of singlespeeds, rigid one-speeds, because they are so much less maintenance now, but if it was up to me, it would be the old rule of, “you run what you bring” and if it breaks, then you’re walking. That is the real mountain bike experience.

VN: Are there any aspects of modern mountain biking that harken back to the days of Repack?
CK: There was something that struck me recently at Interbike. I was prowling through some of the clothing, and they are now making mountain bike jerseys that look like a flannel shirt. As I’m sure you know in all the photographs, flannel shirts, work shirts, were the style of early mountain bikers, because, “Hey man, jerseys? Are you joking?” I’m not sure what the inspiration was … but the new thing is to look like the old thing. I guess maybe it’s the freerider types. They’re the spiritual heirs. They’re the guys that don’t want rules. They will make their own rules. I mean, if you can do that stuff, man I’m not going to tell you how … [laughs]

Now and then I’ll be riding one of my new bikes down a trail, and I’ll say “Man, I rode the same trail on a bike made out of plumbing.” Almost no one in the world — maybe Joe, maybe Gary — can appreciate how far this thing came.

But if I appreciate one thing more any other with modern mountain bikes, it’s the brakes. I could live without suspension, but man disc brakes … If nothing else got invented in the last 30 years, that would have made me very happy right there. The big thing, back in the day was, “Man these things are hard to stop,” and you almost have to have done it [back then] to appreciate how great these new brakes are. Because man, stopping was almost not an option.

VN: Anything you’d like to add?
CK: All I can say is that 35 years ago I did something immensely cool, and it took 35 years to digest it, to understand it. I tried to write about this stuff then, but you actually need a modern perspective to write about it in a meaningful way. … I can now look at it with a little more jaundiced eye. I’ll tell anyone that I had the best bicycle adventure of the 20th century … and mountain biking took me places that I would never have been otherwise. I’m certainly fortunate in all the things that I got to see and do.

Fat Tire Flyer” is now available in hardcover from VeloPress.

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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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One mountain biker’s skinny-tire awakening http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/one-mountain-bikers-skinny-tire-awakening_350757 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/one-mountain-bikers-skinny-tire-awakening_350757#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:36:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350757

Katie Klingsporn with her new friend, Brenda. Photo: Ben Knight

Katie Klingsporn writes about turning to road cycling to get over a knee injury — and falling in love with it

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Katie Klingsporn with her new friend, Brenda. Photo: Ben Knight

I’m a mountain biker.

A cross-county cyclist whose need for rides borders on compulsive. A sucker for grunty climbs and any trail that winds through an aspen grove. I love the pale brown undulation of ribbony singletrack, the sticky traction of Slickrock, and the way the forest folds me into its quiet rustle.

So when I first swing my leg over this insubstantial little machine, this road bike, and reach for the bars, it feels all wrong.

Nuh-uh, I think, leaning over awkwardly as I pedal it away from the Durango Cyclery for my first test spin, proceeding to push the shifter inward with my right hand because it is the only option that is presenting itself.

Thirty seconds later, I’m standing over the bike about 50 feet from the shop’s door, trying to unpuzzle the gears. I had accidentally pushed it into its highest mode while attempting to climb up the street, which ground me swiftly to a halt.

I fumble and fumble, but for the life of me, cannot unlock the mystery to downshifting. It takes a sheepish trip back into the shop to discover the whole shift-with-the-brake mechanism.

On my second, more successful spin, I discover that the bike does indeed fit. And soon enough, I’m at the register, paying for my first ever road bike, and, in spite of myself, admiring it. The black and purple Trek, which had come in days before as a donation, is sleek and sturdy. Light enough to hold up with a finger. Fast looking. It also has a distinctive 90s flair that brings to mind the TV show “90210.” As a nod to that, I call her Brenda, and off we go.

It’s a foreign feeling, this road cycling thing, and a bit unexpected. That’s because I had long observed the sport of road biking with an indifference that bordered on distaste. To me, it seemed like an activity that entailed huffing exhaust fumes, sharing the road with loud trucks, and a bunch of agro guys who are busy cheating when they aren’t shaving their legs.

Why would you endure that, I thought, when you could have the solitude and beauty of singletrack?

But that was before a slow-motion bike crash on a steep section of trail outside of Telluride left me with yet another knee injury. My initial strategy of ignoring it turned out to be futile, and after spending a couple of months glumly sidelined from the kind of big summer rides I love, I succumbed to an MRI and got the diagnosis: torn meniscus. Sick of feeling like I was trashing my knee, I scheduled a surgery. My fifth.

Being a veteran of the rehab process, I thought spinning a road bike would be a great option for getting stronger in a safe way. But when I half-heartedly launched a bike search, I didn’t really expect that it would be so fruitful, and so fast. I was able to buy Brenda five days before surgery, getting out on a test ride to make sure I would be comfortable on her before stowing her in the shed.

She didn’t stay there long. After convalescing for several days and spinning a stationary bike at physical therapy, I pulled her out on a glorious sun-dappled Sunday when I couldn’t stand to be caged indoors any longer, pedaling her down the river trail and back. A small ride, but one that made my spirit flutter with liberation. Injuries have kept me down; bikes have brought me up.

In the days and weeks that followed, Brenda and I spent many an evening chasing the ever-shrinking golden light of fall through country roads, up hills, and across river valleys. What started as five-mile jaunts quickly grew to 16- and then 35-mile rides as my strength came back.

I grew to love the way she responded and accelerated, the way she whipped around corners and pushed nimbly up inclines. I found something meditative and soothing about achieving a cadence on country roads. And as my legs pumped and my wheels spun, I began to process the jumble of my life: the recent uprooting of my home for a new job, the uncertainty of my future, and the pain of what I had left behind. With Brenda, I could file away at my problems until the edges seemed a little less sharp.

And to my surprise, I grew to genuinely love this little bike, purples and all.

When I finally got back on my mountain bike, six weeks out of surgery and a little timid, it felt hugely triumphant. Rolling into the parking lot after the ride, I was buoyed by the happiness of a dusty, sweaty jaunt on singletrack.

But the return of the knobby tires hasn’t relegated Brenda to disuse.

She was there for me when I needed her most, and anyway, I rather like her company.

 

Katie Klingsporn is the former editor of the Telluride Daily Planet, where she fell in love with trails through aspens, and is now the arts and entertainment editor at the Durango Herald. She remains a mountain biker at heart, but don’t tell Brenda. 

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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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Gallery: Bamboo bikes, innovative tools, and more http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/gallery-bamboo-bikes-innovative-tools-and-more_350726 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/gallery-bamboo-bikes-innovative-tools-and-more_350726#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 20:16:45 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350726

Lennard Zinn shows us a few more things that caught his eye at some recent bike shows

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