VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:21:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 ASO adds partner to improve Tour de France viewing experience http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/aso-adds-partner-improve-tour-de-france-viewing-experience_362253 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/aso-adds-partner-improve-tour-de-france-viewing-experience_362253#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:17:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362253

Dimension Data will be used to improve the viewing experience for ASO events.

The ASO has announced a partnership with Dimension Data to improve the viewing experience for its suite of cycling events

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Dimension Data will be used to improve the viewing experience for ASO events.

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organizer of the Tour de France, has announced a partnership with Dimension Data to improve the viewing experience for its suite of cycling events.

The partnership will “revolutionize the viewing experience of billions of cycling fans across the globe,” according to an ASO statement. The statement provided few details as to what such a revolution might look like, or how it might be actuated.

The statement, and an accompanying promotional video, did provide some clues. The overarching goal is clearly to improve broadcasting, specifically to “deliver and share the best race information speedily and in real-time with race commentators and the global viewing public.”

Television and other viewing methods, such as the Tour de France’s own mobile app, appear in the promotional video.

The promotional video also shows a number of on-screen telemetrics, accompanied by the Dimension logo, including GPS positioning and real-time speed data. It does not make any mention of onboard cameras, or live footage from those cameras.

The ambition, according to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, “is to provide our cycling fans around the world with concise, reliable information on the Tour de France and all our other races by enhancing the content of our TV broadcast and our supporting digital platforms.”

The ASO owns a suite of major races, including Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Critérium du Dauphiné, the Vuelta a España, and La Course be Le Tour de France. Dimension Data will be a technology partner at all of these events as well.

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Contador, Sagan link up for first time at Tirreno-Adriatico http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/contador-sagan-link-first-time-tirreno-adriatico_362238 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/contador-sagan-link-first-time-tirreno-adriatico_362238#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:17:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362238

Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan now wear the same jersey, aboard the Tinkoff-Saxo team. They'll have to balance their divergent aspirations at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de France, but the team insists it's possible to aim for both yellow and green jerseys. Photo: AFP PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG (File).

Can Contador's GC ambitions coexist with Sagan's aims to return to his winning ways at next week's Italian stage race?

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Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan now wear the same jersey, aboard the Tinkoff-Saxo team. They'll have to balance their divergent aspirations at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de France, but the team insists it's possible to aim for both yellow and green jerseys. Photo: AFP PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG (File).

It was the blockbuster trade of the season. Peter Sagan’s move to Tinkoff-Saxo gave the already-loaded team another deadly weapon.

Cycling’s latest super-duo will match up for the first time this season as Tinkoff-Saxo will bring Alberto Contador and Sagan together in the same jersey in the same race for Tirreno-Adriatico next week.

Contador made his season debut at Ruta del Sol, where he went mano-a-mano with Chris Froome (Team Sky) in a gripping battle that saw the two grand tour favorites separated by two seconds. Sagan, meanwhile, opened his season in the desert, with seven top-fives during the tours of Qatar and Oman, but no wins. Sagan lines up this weekend in Italy at Strade Bianche to make his European debut before linking up with Contador for Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17).

With Contador as defending champion, Tinkoff-Saxo will bring an ace squad, but Sagan will have his chances.

“Alberto is in good shape, and we, like him, believe that he can target the overall win. He’s of course using the race to build shape ahead of the Giro, but for a rider like Alberto, it doesn’t mean that you can’t target Tirreno as well”, said general manager Bjarne Riis in a team release.

“It’s a versatile route, where some of the days definitely suit Sagan. We have a strong team, so I see it as a great opportunity to have Alberto and Peter in the same race.”

Many are wondering how Tinkoff will balance the strengths and ambitions of two superstars such as Contador and Sagan. Cycling has been full of stories of riders bashing egos on and off the bike. So far, it seems like that won’t be a problem, primarily because Tirreno could well be the first and last race they’ll take on together until the Tour de France in July.

After Tirreno, Contador will race the Volta a Catalunya in late March in Spain ahead of the Giro d’Italia. From there, it’s unlikely he will race again until the Tour. Sagan, meanwhile, will have a heavy classics schedule, before a likely return to the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour de Suisse, and the Tour.

The big question is how the team will balance Sagan’s quest to win stages with Contador’s goal of the overall title. Again, team management insists that won’t be a problem. At Tirreno, any potential conflict of interests likely won’t play out during the weeklong race across Italy. Tinkoff-Saxo will want to control the race to set up Contador for the GC, so Sagan will be able to catapult off the team’s work and freelance in his hunt for stage victories.

At the Tour, that scenario could play out along similar lines, but with a chance of more friction over the long, three-week battle. Contador is desperate to win another yellow jersey, while Sagan will want to win what would be a fourth-straight green points jersey.

Are those two goals realistic under the same house? Lotto couldn’t work it out between Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen, nor could Telekom with Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel. Team brass says the two goals are not necessarily incompatible.

“Both [Contador and Sagan] have said it’s possible to achieve both. It can beneficial for the two of them to each chase their own goals,” general manager Stefano Feltrin told VeloNews in an earlier interview. “Ultimately, it’s a sporting question, and Riis will have the final answer, but we don’t see it as a problem at all. In fact, it’s a bonus for us.”

For Tirreno, most of the media attention will be focused on the season’s first showdown between the “Fab Four,” as Contador faces off against Froome again, with defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 2014 Giro champ Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also at the line.

“It will definitely mean that we’ll see the intensity of the race increase, not least from the media. It will be interesting for everyone to follow, but you can’t compare it to the Tour, where they’ll all meet again, as they are in different stages of their preparations,” Riis said in the team release.

Riis said this year’s course is not nearly as challenging as last year’s, and suggested that the team time trial could prove decisive.

“It’s a versatile parcours, where there’s terrain for different kinds of riders. It, of course, requires a strong rider to win, but also a strong team,” Riis said. “We’re focused on the team time trial, as this is an important discipline for us in general, and it could also prove decisive for the GC, if the time gaps are small on Terminillo.”

One thing is sure. Sagan will get his chances. Or, to put it more bluntly, he will take his chances. He wants to win, and if he cannot claim his first victory this weekend in Tinkoff colors in Italy, he will be even more motivated for Tirreno.

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Preview: Women’s Strade Bianche rides into the unknown http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/preview-womens-strade-bianche-rides-unknown_362228 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/preview-womens-strade-bianche-rides-unknown_362228#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:32:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362228

The Strade Bianche's scenery is stunning, and its hilly, gravel roads are punishing. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Saturday's first-ever Strade Bianche women's race offers a course of moderate length, with punishing hills

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The Strade Bianche's scenery is stunning, and its hilly, gravel roads are punishing. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

In the world of pro cycling, staid tradition often means we rarely see an entirely new race on the calendar. Some races grow in prominence and others fade, but there is usually a point of reference when we look ahead to prognosticate.

True, the men’s peloton has raced Strade Bianche since 2007 — and in that time, its become a fan favorite, offering aggressive racing, beautiful scenery, and unpredictable finishes.

Can we expect the inaugural women’s event to play out like the men’s race? Perhaps, but the racing dynamic is by no means guaranteed to be the same.

What we do know is that the peloton will tackle 103 kilometers of racing. That’s 24km shorter than La Flèche Wallone and last year’s worlds, and 37km shorter than Ronde Van Vlaanderen. But what it lacks in distance, it makes up for with relentlessly rolling hills, including 15-percent, 18-percent, and a 16-percent gradient climbs in the final 20km.

Of course, the race also features its namesake white gravel roads. Five sectors on gravel add up to a total of 17.4km, with the longest section — 9.5km — coming about halfway through the race.

The first rider to the line in Piazza del Campo in Siena will need a combination of technical handling skills for the rough, sometimes loose roads and good climbing legs for the short, steep kickers.

The hot hand: Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) is on a tear, having won two stages, the GC, and points classifications at the Ladies Tour of Qatar in February. Although that race is quite flat, she’s proven herself in hillier courses, taking second at last year’s La Flèche Wallone and finishing with the front group in Ponferrada at 2014 worlds.

American hopeful: Shelley Olds (Bigla) has the experience to tackle a race with a lot of unknowns. This is her eighth season as a pro. The 34-year-old also has a quick turn of speed and was in the mix at last autumn’s worlds, sprinting to sixth place. Her Bigla team is new this season and surely motivated to establish its place in the peloton.

Ready to win: Emma Johansson leads one of the strongest women’s teams on the circuit, Orica-AIS, into Strade Bianche, but she’s yet to notch her first win of the season. The Swedish national champion made it onto the podium this week at Le Samyn, placing third, and her form seems to be ramping up for the major spring classics

Italian favorite: The locals will surely be pulling for Italian star Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda). A third place finish at last year’s Flèche and second in 2013, plus a fifth in last year’s Giro Rosa, are just a few indicators of her climbing prowess. Plus, she medaled at worlds in 2012, proving she can rise to the occasion when the chips are down

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Uran says he ‘loves’ Giro’s stage 14 TT course http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/uran-says-loves-giros-stage-14-tt-course_362222 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/uran-says-loves-giros-stage-14-tt-course_362222#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 17:35:04 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362222

Rigoberto Uran won the Giro's stage 12 individual time trial in 2014, and after previewing the 2015 TT course, he's confident he can rise to the occasion again. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

After previewing the Giro's long individual time trial course, Uran feels confident. He says the course suits him "perfectly"

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Rigoberto Uran won the Giro's stage 12 individual time trial in 2014, and after previewing the 2015 TT course, he's confident he can rise to the occasion again. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Rising Colombian star Rigoberto Uran previewed the potentially decisive 59.2km individual time trial course slated for this year’s Giro d’Italia, and the GC favorite said, “It’s a nice parcours that I really love.”

Riding alongside Etixx-Quick-Step teammate Gianluca Brambilla in Treviso, Italy this week, Uran said the time trial “can be key, because energy levels of all riders will be at the limit after that amount of racing. It could be important for the GC because, after about an an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes of time trialing, time differences can be pretty significant.”

Uran won the stage 12 time trial in last year’s Giro and went on to finish second overall in the race behind Movistar’s Nairo Quintana. The Etixx GC leader is also the reigning Colombian national time trial champion.

Etixx-Quick-Step trainer Koen Pelgrim agreed that stage 14 will be a worthy test. “It will be difficult to properly distribute your energy, because after 30 kilometers, it is flat, but if you start too fast you can lose a lot of time in the second part, which is more difficult with some tough climbs,” he said in a team release.

With his fellow Colombian, Quintana, focused on the Tour de France this season, 2015 may be the year for Uran to claim his first grand tour title, and Etixx’s first-ever GC victory at a grand tour in its 13-year history.

“I am confident,” said Uran. “I like the parcours a lot. It suits me perfectly, and I worked hard”

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Video: 10 riders to watch at Tirreno-Adriatico http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/video-10-riders-to-watch-at-tirreno_362216 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/video-10-riders-to-watch-at-tirreno_362216#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:35:39 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362216

Global Cycling Network names 10 top riders to watch at Tirreno-Adriatico next week.

Global Cycling Network names the top riders to watch at Tirreno-Adriatico, which get underway next Wednesday

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Global Cycling Network names 10 top riders to watch at Tirreno-Adriatico next week.

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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Video: Col Collective rides the Col du Tourmalet http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/video/video-col-collective-rides-the-col-du-tourmalet_362211 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/video/video-col-collective-rides-the-col-du-tourmalet_362211#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 15:12:45 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362211

Mike Cotty takes us up the Col du Tourmalet, the climb used more than any other in the Tour de France

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Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of The Col Collective. 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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UCI announces changes, modernization to Athletes’ Commission http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/uci-announces-changes-modernization-to-athletes-commission_362191 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/uci-announces-changes-modernization-to-athletes-commission_362191#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:56:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362191

UCI President Brian Cookson said "the Athletes’ Commission will be one of the driving forces behind our sport." Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Members of the Athletes' Commission will now hold a seat on the commission of their respective discipline within the UCI

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UCI President Brian Cookson said "the Athletes’ Commission will be one of the driving forces behind our sport." Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The UCI’s Athletes’ Commission, a group tasked with providing a direct link between riders and the governing body, will see an organizational shakeup and a modernization this season.

The new-look Athletes’ Commission will place its members on the corresponding UCI commission overseeing their discipline — the road representative will sit on the UCI’s road commission, for example — providing a direct line to top-level decision making. The president of the Athletes’ Commission, who will be elected by the other commission members, will sit on the UCI Management Committee.

“With members serving on the corresponding commission of their discipline, and a president sitting on the UCI Management Committee, the Athletes’ Commission will be one of the driving forces behind our sport,” UCI President Brian Cookson said in a UCI statement.

The commission was first introduced in 2011. Since that time it has made a number of recommendations that have been instituted, including equal prize money for men and women and the world championships and an increase in the ban for riders caught doping. It has also weighed in, with only moderate effect, on the race radio debate.

Olympic disciplines (road, track, BMX, mountain bike) as well as para-cycling will see an even split between male and female representatives. Elections will now take place online, with members elected by their peers. Members must be active or recently retired riders. The new commission will be in place in May, according to the UCI statement, and members will remain within the commission until 2017.

The commission will include two members, one male and one female, from road, track, BMX, mountain bike, and para-cycling. The non-Olympic disciplines of cyclocross, trials, and indoor cycling will be represented by a single member.

The objectives of the Athletes’ Commission, according to the UCI statement, are to improve riders’ training and racing conditions and to improve communication between the UCI and riders.

The changes are the fulfillment of a pledge made by Cookson during his election campaign in 2013.

“I am personally very pleased with the new birth of the Athletes’ Commission. During my campaign for the UCI Presidency, I voiced my support for a major role for the athletes,” Cookson said. “By being the ones training and racing every day, they are the essence of cycling and therefore the ones best placed to give their feedback on many different issues touching our sport.”

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Ask a Mechanic: Routing cable through handlebars http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/video/ask-mechanic-routing-cable-handlebars_362197 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/video/ask-mechanic-routing-cable-handlebars_362197#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:29:33 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362197

This week, Art's Cyclery shows us how to properly feed cable housing through handlebars

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Prime opportunities await sprinters, GC riders at Paris-Nice http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/prime-opportunities-await-sprinters-gc-riders-at-paris-nice_362179 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/prime-opportunities-await-sprinters-gc-riders-at-paris-nice_362179#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:15:05 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362179

Paris-Nice 2015 will offer a mountaintop finish midway through the eight-day race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Paris-Nice route this year will offer something for everyone in the peloton

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Paris-Nice 2015 will offer a mountaintop finish midway through the eight-day race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Beginning Sunday, twin plot lines will course south from Maurepas, a suburb outside Paris, toward Nice and the Mediterranean Sea. One is doused in yellow, built around two time trials and a tough mountaintop finish. Another is green, a matchup of the sprinters, fighting for the four stage wins on offer. The two combined will tell the story of the first real stage race of the year.

Paris-Nice, or the “Race to the Sun” as it has been optimistically dubbed, races across France from March 8-15. A Tour de France in miniature, it often provides insight into climbs and stages Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organisation will use for the grand boucle in coming years. The race compresses sprints, mountaintop finishes, and time trials into a single week.

It is a race of opportunity this year, and it sees the return of a more traditional route after the experimentation of 2014. The sport’s top GC men — Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Chris Froome (Sky), and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), as well as last year’s champion Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) — have opted for its Italian equivalent, Tirreno-Adriatico. That leaves the French race to riders on the rise, those who are expected to be nipping at the favorites’ heels come July, and to super domestiques now given a shot at personal victory.

Sky’s Richie Porte, who falls into the second camp, stands out as the Paris-Nice favorite, as he won the Col d’Eze time trial in 2013 and does well on medium-length climbs like the one found at the finish of stage 4. He comes backed by Tour champion Bradley Wiggins as well as Geraint Thomas, Bernard Eisel, and new signing Nicolas Roche.

The sprinters will have a chance to weave their narrative through the early stages. With the exception of the flat, 6.7-kilometer prologue outside Paris, the early stages are tuned for them. Stages 1, 2, 3, and 5 all finish flat and fast. With John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), and Bryan Conquard (Europcar) all present, each should prove to be a tough battle.

The race could be lost on the Croix de Chaubouret, a 10km climb at 6.7 percent, found at the end of 204km on the fourth stage, and won on Col d’Eze, host of the final, 9.6km uphill time trial.

The climb, in other words, will serve to separate the wheat from the chaff. A race so early in the season will inevitably see a few good climbers without top race form, and they will suffer on the Chaubouret’s steep slopes.

Should the winner on stage 4 take a time gap over 30 seconds, it could prove decisive for the overall. But anything less and the race will come down to that final time trial. In 2013, the last time the Col d’Eze TT was featured in Paris-Nice, Porte won by 23 seconds over Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin).

A few things to watch for as the week progresses:

American faceoff

They insist their rivalry is friendly, but as the top two American stage racers — Talansky and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) — continue to progress, there will be that inevitable moment when the two clash at the very top. Will that happen at Paris-Nice? Probably not, as it’s simply too early in the season to put much weight into any difference between them. But don’t believe for a minute that one is not keeping a close eye on the other.

Talansky has done well at the race before, finishing second overall in 2013 behind Porte. He enters in good form, noting on Twitter Tuesday that his coach, Jesse Moore, had once again “timed things just right.” He brings a strong team as well, backed by Alex Howes, stage winner Tom Jelte-Slagter, Ben King, Ted King, and rouleur Jack Bauer.

Van Garderen was fourth in 2013, 59 seconds behind Talansky. He’ll have hour-record holder Rohan Dennis at his side, along with Philippe Gilbert and climbing talent Peter Velits.

The French connection

Two of the three French GC stars from last year’s Tour de France will toe the start line in Maruepas. Jean-Christophe (known in the peloton as JC) Peraud and Romain Bardet, both from Ag2r, will always seek to perform well in front of home crowds. The eyes of the French are on Bardet in particular, who is labeled (along with FDJ’s Thibault Pinot) as the next Great French Hope.

The course suits Peraud, who was third here in 2013, more so than Bardet. But both will want to ride with the best up Chaubouret.

“I’ll be happy just to follow wheels initially, then I’ll see what I’m capable of. I’m hoping that my condition will improve stage by stage, and that I’ll be able to do something decent towards the end of the week,” Peraud said.

Wiggins as best supporting actor

Wiggins will ride in one of his final races for Sky in support of teammate Porte, a strong favorite for the overall title. It is team firepower like this that makes Porte such a heavy favorite this year.

Cast off the rainbow curse

There’s no such thing as a “rainbow curse.” The stats prove that. However, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) did have a sub-par year in the rainbow stripes in 2014, with an overall win at the Tour de Suisse and a second at Paris-Nice the only notable highlights. He was focused last year on the Tour de France, when in fact he seems far more adept at tackling those races closer to the length of Paris-Nice. Perhaps he’ll return to utilizing his strengths this year.

VeloNews darkhorse pick: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)

This darkhorse is not so dark. Majka proved his mettle in the Tour last year and has backed that up with a win at the Tour of Poland and a fourth overall at the USA Pro Challenge in August. He will be Tinkoff’s protected rider at Paris-Nice and the course suits him well, particularly the steep stage 4 climb.

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Book Excerpt: Ned Overend on high-intensity training for masters http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/training-center/book-excerpt-ned-overend-high-intensity-training-masters_362176 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/training-center/book-excerpt-ned-overend-high-intensity-training-masters_362176#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:24:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362176

Ned Overend has more championship titles to his name than he has fingers to count them. The age-defying 59-year-old relies on high-intensity training and Strava to stay fast. Photo: Wil Matthews

Multi-time, multi-discipline national champion — and world mountain bike champion — Ned Overend explains how he stays so fast at age 59

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Ned Overend has more championship titles to his name than he has fingers to count them. The age-defying 59-year-old relies on high-intensity training and Strava to stay fast. Photo: Wil Matthews

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the new VeloPress book, “Fast After 50,” by Joe Friel. For more, read the entire excerpt of the chapter on high-intensity training.

I turned 59 in 2014, and I have maintained a high level of fitness since I first began endurance racing in the late 1970s. Training with an emphasis on high-intensity intervals has been my preferred method of preparing for events throughout my career, which includes racing mountain bikes, road bikes, cyclocross, and Xterra triathlon. I made a few forays into long-distance events such as the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and the Ironman triathlon, but my preference is racing for one to four hours.

I embrace a higher-intensity/lower-volume regimen partly because I love to suffer but also because of the race results I’ve achieved with this philosophy. I have a short attention span for training rides. I like the excitement of pushing the pace both on the climbs and descents as opposed to riding at a slower pace for a longer ride. A long ride for me is about three hours, and I rarely do more than one a week.

Early in my career, I noticed that I was able to compete with and often beat riders who trained at much higher volumes, sometimes putting in 20 to 30 percent higher volumes than I did. I’m not saying that my peers should have been training differently, just that I could compete at the highest level while practicing my preferred method of relatively low volume. Racing with a high fitness level while training the way I prefer is a big motivator and the primary reason I have had longevity in endurance sports. As I get older, I need more time to recover, especially from longer rides. This need for recovery time combined with less time to train has made me emphasize intensity over volume even more.

Several studies have shown that, although we all lose a certain percentage of our VO2 max over time, maintaining a schedule of high-intensity training significantly cuts the rate of decline in VO2 max.

The two key factors that make training with high intensity possible and beneficial for the aging athlete are proper recovery and the motivation needed to push yourself. Here’s how I manage these at age 59.

I’ve learned that by reducing volume, I’m more rested for high-intensity sessions, and by being rested, I can push myself harder during the intervals. Getting quality recovery by including massage, stretching, hydration, nutrition, and sleep enables me to build momentum in my fitness program.

For motivation, I find that a mix of joining group workouts and using the website Strava is effective in helping me to push my intensity to high levels. Whether it’s our local Durango, Colorado, Tuesday-night ”world championships” or the Specialized Bicycles lunch ride, whenever I ride in a group training situation, I’m motivated to push myself. I know a lot of riders avoid these group rides because their egos get hurt if they get dropped, but the best way to get better at group rides is to do them. Learn when to pull and when to sit in, and determine what strategy you need to stay on as long as possible. Suffering is less noticeable in a group dynamic; you don’t have as much focus on the pain of the effort when you are making sure that you hang on to the wheel in front of you. Jumping across gaps or working with other riders to maintain a gap becomes a type of shared group pain, and I find it helps me push harder than when I train alone.

Strava plays a big role in my specific high-intensity intervals. I have always pushed myself on certain segments in my training rides. If I am training for a power race, I do intervals on the flats and rollers. If there is race coming up with long climbs, I simulate that in my training. Now that Strava has become popular, course segments have start and finish lines, and I’m racing not only my own PR but also that of every other rider on Strava. With the help of the Strava segments, I’ve learned how to pace myself, where to go hard, and where to conserve effort in order to reduce my time. It’s a great motivational tool.

I think the major reason I’ve been a successful endurance racer is that I’ve determined the right intensity/recovery ratio for me. It’s not static — it changes with my personal stress level, altitude, age, illness, injury, and more. I’m careful not to deceive myself by greedily overtraining because going hard has no value without proper recovery.

Joe Friel’s groundbreaking new book “Fast After 50” is for every endurance athlete who wants to stay fast for years to come. For runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, and cross-country skiers, getting older doesn’t have to mean getting slower. Drawing from the most current research on aging and sports performance, Joe Friel — America’s leading endurance sports coach — shows how athletes can race strong and stay healthy well past age 50. In “Fast After 50,” Friel offers a smart approach for athletes to ward off the effects of age. Friel shows athletes how to extend their racing careers for decades — and race to win. 

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Kreuziger faces difficult defense based on WADA and CAS history http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/kreuziger-faces-difficult-defense-based-wada-cas-history_362167 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/kreuziger-faces-difficult-defense-based-wada-cas-history_362167#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:49:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362167

If history is any guide, Roman Kreuziger faces an uphill battle as he appeals a biological passport doping sanction in the courts. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Roman Kreuziger has an uphill battle ahead as WADA and UCI appeal biological passport doping sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport

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If history is any guide, Roman Kreuziger faces an uphill battle as he appeals a biological passport doping sanction in the courts. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger faces a difficult legal battle to defend himself against accusations that he doped, based on past cases. Both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that an athlete has never won in appeal of a biological passport case.

WADA told VeloNews, “All passport cases brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have resulted in sanctions.”

The sports high court in Lausanne, Switzerland, CAS, confirmed the same but noted that it reduced the ban of Turkish track and field athlete, Alemitu Bekele two years ago.

Bekele said that high-altitude training, an abortion, and bouts of malaria skewed her results, not EPO and blood transfusions. To the CAS, however, she simply appealed the length of her ban that was set at the maximum of four years. In March 2013, the court’s panel took into account the gravity of her case and time already served and reduced the ban to two years and nine months.

Kreuziger began his season in Tinkoff-Saxo’s yellow colors at the Tour of Oman last month, and is due to race Strade Bianche on Saturday and Tirreno-Adriatico next week. It is unclear which race results he would forfeit if his CAS appeal is unsuccessful.

His passport case stems from the 2011 and 2012 seasons when he raced with team Astana. Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, said that its experts have enough evidence to indicate that Kreuziger manipulated his blood via doping in the same period he won a stage in the Giro d’Italia and the race’s young rider’s classification.

In 2013, Kreuziger won the Amstel Gold Race and placed fifth in the Tour de France. He also admitted that he worked with banned doctor Michele Ferrari as a first-year professional, but said it was simply for training plans and not doping.

After sitting out half of 2014, the Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of wrongdoing. Kreuziger explained that UCI’s medics mishandled his samples and that his under-active thyroid gland may have affected his passport’s numbers.

The UCI and the WADA disagree, both appealed the committee’s decision to the CAS, insisting that Kreuziger serve a doping ban.

Kreuziger remains upbeat about his fight. At the Tour of Oman, Kreuziger told VeloNews, “There are people who’ve won [CAS biological passport cases]. In athletics. [Claudia] Pechstein. In cycling, too.”

The CAS found German speed skater Pechstein guilty in 2009 after she argued that genetic abnormalities triggered her case. What is particular in her case is that a Munich civil court essentially questioned CAS’s validity as a high court when, in January 2015, it agreed to hear her case.

Kreuziger will face the CAS next. The court has yet to set a hearing date, but history suggests he could lose his passport battle.

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Boeckmans beats the odds to win Le Samyn http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/boeckmans-beats-odds-win-le-samyn_362162 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/boeckmans-beats-odds-win-le-samyn_362162#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:23:12 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362162

Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to his second victory in 2015 at Le Samyn.

Lotto-Soudal's Kris Boeckmans spoils Etixx-Quick-Step's party, jumping the sprint early and outgunning Meersman in sprint finish

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Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to his second victory in 2015 at Le Samyn.

Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) may have been outnumbered by Etixx-Quick-Step in the final move, but the Belgian surprised the boys in blue in the finale to win Le Samyn on Wednesday.

At the end of the 201.2km race from Quaregnon to Dour, Belgium, an elite group of eight came to the line after a rough section of cobblestones in the closing kilometers.

Four Etixx riders lined up the final kick for sprint ace Gianni Meersman, but Boeckmans, who had one teammate in the move as well, jumped early and took it to the line for his first-ever win at Le Samyn. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) was third.

“Each victory is an explosion of joy. The last cobblestone section was the decisive moment; there the group was torn apart,” Boeckmans said. “I commenced the cobblestone section in the fifth place. The man before me failed to keep up. Then, I knew it was going fast. At that point, we were at three kilometers from the finish line.”

Early on, three riders were off the front: Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), and Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie-Bruxelles). With 63km to go, the gap was just shy of six minutes.

De Gendt attacked the breakaway with 61km left. Ten kilometers later, he had a 49-second lead over the two chasers.

Smukulis then left De Winter behind, riding in pursuit of the lone leader. With 43 kilometers left, Smukulis was dangling 59 seconds behind De Gendt.

Trek Factory Racing went to the front to drive the peloton with 36km to go, bringing the gap down to 1:45 and stringing out the field. Smukulis was not long for the chase. Around 34km to go, the peloton brought back the Katusha rider, and De Gendt’s lead had been shaved to 1:38.

Etixx-Quick-Step picked up the chase, and with 28km to go, the De Gendt’s lead was down to one minute. In part, the Etixx squad was setting up for a nasty, narrow section of pave, the Rue de Bellevue, which came just before the finish in the 24.7-kilometer circuit around Dour.

De Gendt gave up on his solo move with 21.5km remaining. A group of seven had sprung off the front of the peloton and quickly caught the early leader.

The new breakaway move contained Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), and two others. The group forced Etixx to chase again, with an eight-second gap.

With nearly 12 kilometers left, Van der Sande suffered a puncture and was dropped. Then, Petit made a solo move on a short rise, and the rest of the break was caught.

Soon, Petit was also caught by the field, and with 10 kilometers left, FDJ’s Johan Le Bon attacked. His move was quickly covered, as the front group was strung out at top speed.

Ahead of the final, decisive section of cobblestones, the peloton’s pace eased, and Etixx patrolled the front of the group, delivering their riders in good position on the Rue de Bellevue. The field split, with a group of eight off the front with 1.5km left. Etixx-Quick-Step had placed four riders in the final selection.

Boeckmans jumped early after a long lead-out by Etixx. Meersman tried to come around on the left, but left it too late and was unable to close the gap in the final 50 meters.

“We went to the finish with this small group,” said Boeckmans. “I started my sprint at 200 meters. I tricked Gianni Meersman so he couldn’t pass me anymore. I rode a good sprint.

“Furthermore, the whole team was impressive today. We rode the perfect race. The peloton had given the escapees with Thomas six minutes, which is very dangerous when Thomas rides in front. They had to ride really fast to close the gap. This was in our advantage. The rest of the team countered each attack in the final, and I just had to make sure to be in the front.”

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Photo Essay: Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies in Portugal http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/photo-essay-optum-kelly-benefit-strategies-portugal_362090 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/photo-essay-optum-kelly-benefit-strategies-portugal_362090#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:45:02 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362090

American team Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies took on the Volta ao Algarve in February. Here's a look at the Portuguese race experience

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Merckx’s Axeon team feeds top talent to WorldTour http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/merckxs-axeon-team-feeds-top-talent-to-worldtour_362148 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/merckxs-axeon-team-feeds-top-talent-to-worldtour_362148#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:42:43 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362148

Axel Merckx met up with his father Eddy at the recent Tour of Qatar. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Under the management of Axel Merckx, Axeon has seen plenty of talented cyclists ride through its ranks

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Axel Merckx met up with his father Eddy at the recent Tour of Qatar. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Axel Merckx has helped 18 cyclists — including Taylor Phinney and Joe Dombrowski — graduate to UCI WorldTeams over the last six years, a success rate he said is thanks to Axeon’s independence.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Merckx told VeloNews. “It’s a formula that works, not for everyone but for a big majority of the guys out there.

“I’m really proud of the team, it’s something that we’ve built up over the years. I’m trying to keep it going as long as I can.”

The Belgian former professional and son of cycling great Eddy Merckx announced in December a new look to his team for 2015. Bissell stepped down from the title sponsorship and took a smaller role, and the team was rebranded as Axeon.

Axeon is not a company, but a name that Merckx wants to help establish in cycling.

“One that is sustainable, with longevity that the fans and athletes can recognize,” Merckx said. “It’s a mix between the Axel Merckx Project and Neon Adventures, a group that invests in youth.”

Over the last six years, Merckx directed the team known as Trek-Livestrong, Bontrager, and in 2014, Bissell. In his stable, he had Phinney, who eventually signed with BMC Racing, Dombrowski (Sky), Ian Boswell (Sky), Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin), and many other talented cyclists.

Merckx said the freedom his team offers when cyclists want to move up to the professional ranks is better than that offered by the WorldTour farm teams.

“We have a great program that’s independent and riders are free to go where they want after they have been with us,” added Merckx. “You don’t want to be categorized with some team from the start. Once you enter that program, you are already ‘in the company’ and it’s hard to move away and move on. With us, you are free to go wherever you want.”

BMC, Etixx-Quick Step, Sky, and other WorldTeams have their own development teams or are linked to continental teams.

“I don’t blame the big teams for doing so, you want to have those young riders as soon as you can, but at the same time, you can’t forget that it’s not always the best path for them,” Merckx said.

“You want to make them come to you, you don’t want to force them to come to you by signing them early, telling them we’ll pay you X amount more. They are 18 and 19, and they need to think long-term.

“Those teams have a lot of background and resources for development, but the racing part of it has to remain, that’s the difference in being a part of a WorldTour team and being a part of a team like mine. You’re going to go to the start line under a big team with a big brand, with a lot of pressure, or you are going to go to the start line with big ambition, no pressure.”

Axeon plans to start in several big races in 2015, including U23 Paris-Roubaix, the Amgen Tour of California, the USA Pro Challenge, and the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Its roster includes 12 cyclists, two at the club level.

2015 Axeon roster

Geoffrey Curran (USA)
Greg Daniel (USA)
Daniel Eaton (USA)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR)
James Oram (NZ)
Logan Owen (USA)
Chris Putt (USA)
Keegan Swirbul (USA)
Ruben Guerrero (POR)
Justin Oien (USA)
*Will Barta (USA)
*Phil O’Donnell (USA)

*denotes club riders

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Chantal Blaak wins women’s Le Samyn http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/chantal-blaak-wins-womens-le-samyn_362147 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/chantal-blaak-wins-womens-le-samyn_362147#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:40:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362147

Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) won the women's Le Samyn on Wednesday. Photo: Anton Vos | Cor Vos

Boels-Dolmans' Blaak claims her first win of 2015 at the Belgian midweek race

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Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) won the women's Le Samyn on Wednesday. Photo: Anton Vos | Cor Vos

The Boels-Dolmans team continued its storming start to 2015 with a win at Le Samyn on Wednesday, courtesy of Chantal Blaak. The Belgian race started in Quaregnon and finished in Dour after 112 kilometers of racing. Le Samyn was Boels-Dolmans’ eighth win to date this season. It was also Blaak’s first win of 2015

Hailing from the Netherlands, which is also her team’s home base, Blaak bested fellow countrywoman Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv). Third place went to Orica-AIS’ Emma Johansson.

Blaak sprinted to win after a lead group of six, which included her teammate, Megan Guarnier, was brought back to the peloton. “Megan controlled this lead group for us, but did not cooperate with the others, because she did not want a sprint with riders like Emma Johansson and Amy Pieters,” said Blaak.

“When the peloton came really close in the final kilometers, Ellen van Dijk motorpaced me to the group. When we closed the gap, I had to start sprinting right away. Last Saturday we were very strong as a team in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; it was a shame we could not win that race. That’s why we really wanted this victory.”

Blaak, 25, rode to a fourth-place finish at Omloop, which van der Breggen won. She also tuned up her form at the Ladies Tour of Qatar in February, where her teammate, Lizzie Armitstead, won the GC.

“It’s incredible how good we are doing at this moment, everybody is racing very strong,” said Blaak. “It didn’t take any time at all to fit in with [the] riders [on Boels-Dolmans].”

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Stress Test: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 long-term review http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/stress-test-shimano-dura-ace-9000-long-term-review_361971 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/road/stress-test-shimano-dura-ace-9000-long-term-review_361971#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:36:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=361971

The chainrings may be expensive, but they last quite long and the ability to swap between compact and standard rings on the same crank is brilliant. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

After living with it for two years, it's clear to us that Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 is the best mechanical group in the world

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The chainrings may be expensive, but they last quite long and the ability to swap between compact and standard rings on the same crank is brilliant. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Two years, over 10,000 miles, one conclusion: Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9000 mechanical group is the best human-powered drivetrain the world has ever seen.

If you’re a weight-weenie, look to SRAM, home of the best weight/cost ratio in the industry. If heritage and beauty are paramount, there can be nothing but Campagnolo and its striking carbon curves. But if clever, precise engineering and absolutely flawless performance gets you flush in the face, Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 is the group for you.

One can argue cost/benefit ratios and aesthetics and personal ergonomic preferences until the cows come home, but to do so is to miss the point. In the 9000 drivetrain, Shimano has a kit so impeccable it rivals the company’s own electronic groups. Shift performance — and that’s what really matters here — is in a class of its own.

How do we know? We’ve been living with it for over two years. That’s the idea behind Stress Test reviews, which you will see more frequently on VeloNews in the coming months.

Normally, gear moves through the VeloNews tech department relatively quickly, out of necessity. A few months on a single product is all review schedules allow. But for this round of Stress Test, we put Dura-Ace on the machine of a separate tester, who thrashed it across two full seasons. He reported back, and we combined those notes with our own opinions formed from shorter test periods.

In this review, we will skip long lists of features in favor of a narrow focus on those we feel matter. There are already plenty of stories that can tell you what Dura-Ace 9000 can do; we want to tell you what it does.

This is the first of three Stress Test reviews of top-tier mechanical groups, a category we still feel merits close inspection. SRAM Red is up next — expect that in a few weeks — and Campagnolo Record will follow. We want another few months of riding on the Record group before forming firm opinions.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000: What we love

A good group doesn’t distract with gimmicks. It simply works, when and how you want it to work.

Swipe the left shifter, in either direction, at any time, under any load, and the shift is perfect, instantaneous, and reliable. It’s uncanny.

The updated front derailleur now features a longer arm for more leverage. Combined with the new ultra-stiff chainrings and the front shifting comes incredibly close to the power and accuracy of Di2, with the added benefit of human-touch finesse.

The one-size-fits-all spider is so clever that it’s been widely mimicked in the two and a half years since its debut. Racers love the freedom to swap between standard and compact chainrings on the same crank, to alter gearing to suit various courses. Pro mechanics now travel with piles of rings, not boxes of cranks.

The chainrings used to be incredibly expensive, more costly than many complete cranksets, but have recently plummeted in price (read into that what you will, relating to Shimano’s product cycles). They are impressively durable, too. Rings were changed once, at 7,000 miles, though they still had quite a bit of life left.

Rear shifting quickly becomes an act of muscle memory, requiring no thought or planning. Tap and go. No second-guessing, no easing up a gear. Shimano’s slick cables and housing keeps rear shifting smooth for a very long time — perhaps too long, as you will see below.

Both front and rear derailleurs are designed for even lighter action than before, harkening back to the glory days of Dura-Ace 7800. The ideal weight behind each click of the shifter is a matter of personal preference, and some testers did make it clear that 9000 felt a bit too light, particularly for those used to the hard click of SRAM or Campagnolo.

The brakes are standout performers amid a sea of excellence. SRAM’s cam-actuated Red brakes offer great power and modulation, but are finicky to keep adjusted properly. Dura-Ace offers more power (but only just), even better modulation, and easy setup. 9000 brakes are designed for today’s wider rims, though they do lose some power on rims over 25mm or so (outer width). They are heavier than SRAM and Campagnolo, too, but they also work better.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 durability

Over more than 10,000 miles of riding, through wet, salt-covered Colorado winters, muddy Belgian springs, and hot summers, Dura-Ace proved admirably durable in most areas.

During that time, our long-term tester replaced two chains, one set of chainrings (swapping to sub-compact 52/36, not changed due to wear), one cable (see below), and one cassette. The threaded bottom bracket had to be removed twice, threads cleaned and re-greased, and then re-installed. That was the extent of the mechanical service. The object was to ride this group into the ground. That still hasn’t happened. It even survived a car crash.

The shifters have not developed any extra play, and the rubber hoods are still in excellent condition, sticky and comfortable as ever. The internals have never been thoroughly cleaned, yet still function flawlessly.

The rear derailleur pulleys spin perfectly and are only lightly worn, despite receiving zero maintenance.

The rear derailleur body is still firm, with none of the lateral play that some old Shimano derailleurs begin to show after a few years of rough treatment. The front derailleur functions as if new.

The cassette, with its set of titanium cogs and carbon body, does not last as long as it should. In fact, just buy an Ultegra cassette, which offers all the shift performance for one-third of the price.

There has been talk in various corners of the Internet of Dura-Ace cassettes creaking, caused apparently by fractures in the carbon body that holds the cogs together. We had no such issue, nor have we encountered any such failure firsthand. But, again, we suggest an Ultegra cassette.

The lone problem: Shifter eats cables

It took 7,000 miles, but a small point of failure in the otherwise spotless record of Dura-Ace 9000 did finally raise a nasty, ragged head. The shift cable frayed and almost snapped on our right shifter.

The problem centers on the cable routing as it exits the shifter. A small plastic plug slots into the shifter around the exiting cable, forcing the cable into a tight bend. After many thousands of shifts, the cable begins to fray, and can then snap.

First, shifting suffers, as the cable can no longer move freely. Then, it can snap altogether. (We pulled out the cable, hanging on by a single thread, before it had a chance to completely sever.)

It’s a problem we’ve seen elsewhere — a mention on social media here or a link to a forum post there. As it did with our system, it seems to take a minimum of about 6,000 miles on a single cable before fraying begins, and many are running cables far longer than that without issue.

The fix? Shimano sent us new cables, with an updated outer coating. The cable that failed on us was from the first generation of 9000. Shimano representatives also recommended adding a bit of the company’s grease on that tight corner.

We applied the grease, and replaced the cable, and all seems to be well. The lesson: Simply replace your cables at reasonable intervals, and the fraying issue should not present itself.

It is important to note that the brake cable has no such problem. A broken shift cable is certainly a nuisance, but a broken brake cable would be downright dangerous.

Trickle-down

If Dura-Ace 9000 has a flaw, it isn’t in the drivetrain itself. It’s in its little brother, Ultegra 6800.

Ultegra is a bit heavier, sure. It doesn’t look quite so classy, either; the lines on the crank are a bit chunkier, the rear derailleur less graceful. But the performance is every bit as incredible.

Front shifting with Ultegra is as good as Dura-Ace. Tap the left shifter, even under heavy load, and the chain pops over without argument. The ultra-stiff chainrings and clever leverage ratio translate well to the cheaper group.

Rear shifting is equally crisp, and the Ultegra cassette seems to last longer than the Dura-Ace version.

The question, then, is why go Dura-Ace? If you are consumed by weight-weenieism, you’re probably already salivating at Red or Record. The answer is simple: if you can afford it, there is nothing better. The improvements over Ultegra are slim, but we ignore the law of diminishing returns every day, when buying cars, groceries, and certainly bike parts. If you must have Dura-Ace, buy it. Just throw an Ultegra cassette on there, please.

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Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies starts season with wins on two continents http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/optum-starts-season-wins-two-continents_362087 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/optum-starts-season-wins-two-continents_362087#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:59:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362087

Mike Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) claimed his first professional victory at the Clássica Internacional Loulé on Sunday. Photo: © João Fonseca

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies' Woods claims his first international win in Portugal, while Zwizanski takes the title in Chico Stage Race

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Mike Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) claimed his first professional victory at the Clássica Internacional Loulé on Sunday. Photo: © João Fonseca

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies started its 2015 season with convincing wins in both California and Portugal.

Across the pond, Canadian Mike Woods won Sunday’s Clássica Internacional Loulé, soloing away from the field to claim his first professional victory. And just 10 days prior, Woods notched a fifth-place result in the fifth stage of Volta ao Algarve, which was won by Team Sky’s Richie Porte.

“Racing at Algarve definitely had an impact on my performance today,” Woods said on Sunday. “Throughout that race, I really felt like I was riding at a level that I have never ridden at before, and this gave me a big confidence boost. Combine that with a solid recovery week and our team pre-riding all of the course and we felt like we had a shot at winning.”

With 12km to go, Woods used a short hill as a launchpad for his winning move. He attacked twice on the kicker and was clear after his second move. There was a lull in the field, and the chase became fragmented, helping Woods open the gap he needed.

“The team was phenomenal today, even though we had some guys that are really sick and some who were not able to start. When Guillaume told me to attack with 10km to go in the race, I had the confidence to do it, and a solid sense of where I needed to launch.”

Meanwhile in California, Scott Zwizanski won the overall title at the Chico Stage Race, a four-stage, three-day event, which finished on Sunday.

“My form may be good, but this was certainly a team win,” Zwizanski said. “We worked together well and took advantage of every opportunity that was given to us to win the race together. The behind-the scenes guys like [Tom] Soladay and [Bjorn] Selander might not be on the podium, but their hard work and tactical savvy made everything possible.”

In the end, the Optum squad stood together on the final podium, having won the team prize, a feat that was also achieved by the European squad at Loulé that same day.

Although Alison Tetrick didn’t have the same firepower for support in Chico — she was the only Optum rider in the race — she still won Saturday’s road race stage and finished fourth on GC, despite a mechanical that spoiled her ambitions for the overall title in the final-day time trial.

“Alison was particularly strong and enthusiastic with her new teammates at camp,” Optum women’s performance director Patrick McCarty said. “It is absolutely no surprise to me she smashed the competition at her first race after this camp. Unfortunately, she had some bad luck in the TT that derailed her chances at winning the overall, but that certainly won’t be happening at most races, so we are very happy with her result.”

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Gerrans returns at Strade Bianche http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/gerrans-returns-strade-bianche_362078 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/gerrans-returns-strade-bianche_362078#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:08:31 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362078

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is ready to return to the peloton after missing out on early season Australian races with a broken collarbone. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

A crash while mountain biking in December led to Simon Gerrans' longest time away from the bike, but he's back and ready to race Saturday

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Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is ready to return to the peloton after missing out on early season Australian races with a broken collarbone. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

After his longest break from racing since turning pro 11 years ago, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) returns to competition this weekend at Strade Bianche.

The veteran Australian crashed three months ago, leaving him with a broken clavicle, and with a snap of the bone, he was forced to forfeit a chance to defend his title at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.

Coming off an intense training camp in South Africa, Gerrans vows to make up for lost time.

“I’m always excited to get racing underway, but this year more so than ever,” Gerrans wrote on his personal website. “Now that I’ve gone such a long period without racing, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it again and getting the season started.”

Gerrans, 34, hasn’t raced since coming oh-so-close to the rainbow jersey with second behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) at the world championships last September in Spain.

A mountain biking crash derailed his plans to open the 2015 season at the Tour Down Under and vie for the Australian national championship. Now back to full health, Gerrans was training with teammate Daryl Impey in South Africa, including rides across Kruger National Park.

After Strade Bianche this weekend and GP Nobili, also in Italy, on March 19, Gerrans will race the Volta a Catalunya before heading into the Ardennes, for Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Missing from his tentative schedule is Milano-Sanremo, the race he won in dramatic fashion in 2012. He’s also swapped Paris-Nice for Catalunya, with hopes of avoiding illness or a physical setback in the French race that’s often held under nasty weather conditions.

The ideal is to be firing on all cylinders in time for his Liège defense in late April.

“For my first few races, I may be at a bit of a disadvantage due to a lack of race fitness. I will be lining up against guys that have done a few races already this year, and they’ll obviously have more top-end fitness than myself,” Gerrans said. “The plan last year was to race only half of Paris-Nice to get some racing in the legs, and head home before I got sick. But even after going home midway through the race, I still came down ill off the back of it. The program change was made even before I was injured in December.”

Gerrans’ late start could be a blessing in disguise. While he admits he will be short of top-end form coming into the early season races, he’s hoping he will be fresher and even stronger for the Tour de France, where’s he hopes to add to stage wins from 2008 and 2013, and the world championships, held on a course that suits him in Richmond, Virginia, in September.

“I think the late start will work in my favor,” he said. “It should enable me to be a lot fresher for my goals to come, particularly in the later parts of the season.”

For Strade Bianche, Orica-GreenEdge will be racing across the white roads of Tuscany for the first time in team history.

“We are certainly not favorites. We haven’t got any race experience here, so we are going in for a bit of a hit out, but the best way to go for a hit out is to have a go to try to get a result,” said sport director Neil Stephens in a team release. “To a degree, we are coming in from the shadows.”

Joining Gerrans in his 2015 season debut will be Esteban Chaves, Magnus Cort, Luke Durbridge, Matthew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Svein Tuft, and Adam Yates.

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In the News: Woman dies after feedzone crash in Belgium http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/news-woman-dies-feedzone-crash-belgium_362075 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/news-woman-dies-feedzone-crash-belgium_362075#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:20:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362075 A 54-year-old woman is hit in a feedzone at a Sunday race in Belgium. She died Monday in a hospital

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Sporza reports that a 54-year-old woman has died after being struck by a rider during a race in Belgium on Sunday. The victim, who was the wife of ex-pro Ludwig Wynants, was taken to a hospital but succumbed to her injuries on Monday.

She was hit by an 18-year-old racer in the Brustem-Sint-Truiden race, an event for elite riders without pro contracts. The rider said a sudden gust of wind caused the crash. He suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury.

Read more >>

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In the News: Wellens retires from professional cyclocross racing http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/news-wellens-retires-professional-cyclocross-racing_362072 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/news/news-wellens-retires-professional-cyclocross-racing_362072#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:51:14 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362072

Bart Wellens announced his retirement from professional cyclocross on Tuesday. Photo: TDWSport.com (File).

Two-time world cyclocross champion Bart Wellens ends his 15-year career after a season of disappointing results and back pain

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Bart Wellens announced his retirement from professional cyclocross on Tuesday. Photo: TDWSport.com (File).

Sporza reports that two-time world cyclocross champion Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) announced his retirement on Tuesday. He told Sporza that he made the decision after an underwhelming 2014-15 season that was hampered by back pain.

Wellens is also implicated in the ongoing investigation into Belgian doctor Chris Mertens, who is accused of providing ozone therapy to top athletes.

The 34-year-old Belgian won the rainbow jersey in 2003 at Monopoli, Italy and a year later in Pont-Château, France. He also won the cyclocross World Cup in 2003 and the Superprestige series in 2004.

Read more >>

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