VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 19 Apr 2015 00:32:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Sea Otter Tech: Tifosi, Pactimo, Mash and more http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/sea-otter-tech-tifosi-pactimo-mash-and-more_367097 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/sea-otter-tech-tifosi-pactimo-mash-and-more_367097#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:27:52 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367097

Logan VonBokel grabs some pix of goodies from Tifosi, Pactimo, Mash and more

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Eric Marcotte adds another stars-and-stripes jersey to his collection http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/eric-marcotte-adds-u-s-pro-crit-championship-to-his-road-title_367088 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/eric-marcotte-adds-u-s-pro-crit-championship-to-his-road-title_367088#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 22:30:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367088

Eric Marcotte takes the sprint for his second national championship in a year.
Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Catching a small but talented field off guard, Eric Marcotte rockets away through the final corner to win the pro men's national crit title

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Eric Marcotte takes the sprint for his second national championship in a year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) shot through the final corner first to win the men’s USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championship on Saturday.

He’ll be easy to pick out at any of the other races he starts for a while, save time trials — having already won the U.S. road race title, Marcotte will sport stars-and-stripes kit for both road races and crits.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “The field wasn’t super deep but it was really really talented. The strongest riders and teams were out front. You just had to catch them off guard and that’s what I did.”

Just 39 riders started the two-hour men’s crit, run in warm weather in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, on a rectangular 1-mile course with a hairy final corner followed by a downhill fight to the finish.

Defending champion John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) made it into an early move that was quickly snuffed by a frenetic pace. Optum-Kelly Benefits, Hincapie Racing Team, SmartStop and Lupus Racing Team all combined to keep the pedal to the metal.

With 60 laps to go Brad White (UHC) led a charge that pried about eight riders off the front, quickly building a seven-second lead. The move cracked the field into four segments with 57 laps remaining, and the first two groups — once they combined into a lead move of 15 — had some real horsepower.

Among those in the group were White, Murphy, Luke Keough and Adrian Hegyvary (UHC); Scott Zwizanski, Tom Soladay, Eric Young and Tom Zirbel (Optum); Oscar Clark and Ty Magner (Hincapie); U.S. road champion Marcotte and Travis McCabe (SmartStop); Hogan Sills (Astellas Cycling Team); and Isaac Howe (Champion Systems).

With 50 laps to go Optum’s Soladay led a push that took Clark, White and McCabe off the front of the group, but it didn’t stick. Still, the acceleration helped take the lead group out of sight of the main field.

Magner, Soladay, Murphy and Marcotte were next to go, chased by Howe. They got about a half minute’s worth of daylight with 42 laps to go, but it was not a harmonious move; twice it nearly came to a halt, and finally the escapees sat up and drifted back to the others.

There was something of a cease-fire then before riders tried to escape the lead group two or three at a time. Nothing stuck, and with 30 to go the chase — led by Optum — was suddenly in in the picture, 25 seconds behind.

With just over 24 to go Hegyvary punched it, and his move presaged yet another split that seemed uncommitted to the cause — this time six riders who shot away only to sit up a couple of laps further on down the road.

Fifteen laps out UnitedHealthcare massed on the front of the lead group, just in time to see Soladay jump away, hoping to avoid going head to head with even a reduced edition of the Blue Train.

The Optum rider opened up a respectable gap with a dozen laps remaining. There was no panic behind, but perhaps there should have been, because Soladay wasn’t fooling, and a light rain was beginning to fall.

UHC was leading the pursuit, four strong, with three Optums lined up behind just in case Soladay faltered. But with eight laps to go the gap was still hovering around 12 seconds, with White on point for the Blue Train.

Just outside five to go the gap shrank dramatically and Hincapie’s Clark jumped away, trying to ride up to Soladay. Again, no panic among the UHC riders, who stayed parked on the front of the chase.

A lap later all the players could see one another — and Zirbel jumped, sailing past Clark and racing up to his fading teammate. This time UHC reacted swiftly — White and Murphy followed, along with Marcotte, and just like that it was all back together with three laps to go.

UHC took charge once again with two laps to go, with SmartStop right behind. Clark tried another attack, but it didn’t work, and as the bell rang UHC began setting up to deliver Keough to the line.

Or so they thought. Until SmartStop’s Marcotte rocketed up the side of the road and into the final corner in the lead, and he held on to add the national crit title to his trophy case.

Magner took second with Keough third.

Marcotte said all the late attacks “mixed up the typical script that UHC usually does” and gave him the chance he needed.

He added that his victory might take a little time to absorb: “This is the second crit I’ve raced since June of last year.”

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Kendall Ryan dodges crash to win U.S. women’s pro crit championship http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kendall-ryan-dodges-crash-to-win-u-s-womens-pro-crit-championship_367082 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kendall-ryan-dodges-crash-to-win-u-s-womens-pro-crit-championship_367082#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 20:05:42 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367082

Kendall Ryan collects the U.S. women's national criterium championship. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

A last-corner crash derails the UHC train, but Tibco's Kendall Ryan keeps the rubber side down and pulls the stars and stripes on

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Kendall Ryan collects the U.S. women's national criterium championship. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB) escaped a last-lap pileup to win the women’s USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championship on Saturday.

The 90-minute race was run in warm conditions in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, on a narrow, rectangular 1-mile course with a downhill dash to the line.

There were a couple of crashes early on as the 55-rider field settled down to work, with UnitedHealthcare patrolling the front on behalf of defending champion Coryn Rivera.

With 33 laps to go 2011 road champ Robin Farina (BMW-Happy Tooth) had a go. If she was hoping that someone would join her, she would be disappointed — the field seemed content to let her dangle just a few seconds off the front, working up a nice sweat in the 75-degree temperatures.

Colavita-Bianchi and Pepper Palace came forward with 27 laps remaining, and a lap later Farina was back in the bunch while UHC resumed control at the front.

First Pepper Palace, then Colavita moved up and tried pushing the pace. Jessica Prinner (Colavita) edged off the front with 22 laps to go, but she didn’t stay out there long.

With 20 to go, nearly an hour into the race, the field was trimming itself down and despite a flurry of escape attempts it seemed a breakaway was not in the cards.

Lindsay Bayer (Pepper Palace) had a dig, but Lauren Tamayo (UHC) quickly marked her. Then Amanda Miller (Pepper Palace) tried her luck, but no soap.

With 12 laps remaining it was all together. And then, suddenly, a three-woman break took off with nine to go, including Miller (Pepper Palace), Alexis Ryan (UHC) and Lauren Stephens (Tibco).

In the bunch, Tina Pic (Pepper Palace) was marking Rivera as UHC massed at the front some seven seconds down.

Without Ryan lending a hand, the break was doomed, and it all came back together with six to go.

A couple laps later Tibco sent Stephens up the road again and UHC led the chase.

UHC was breathing down Stephens’ neck in short order, though, and the catch came with just over two laps to race.

Erica Aller (Colavita) was lurking near the front, as was Samantha Schneider (ISCorp) So, too, was Rivera, parked on the back of the UHC train.

Bell lap: With a field sprint in the offing UHC had three riders on the sharp end of the bunch — and then boom, the Blue Train derailed in the final corner, the leadout rider sliding out and Erica Allar (Colavita), Rivera, and Ruth Winder (UHC) all hitting the deck.

Ryan stayed upright and took the win ahead of Pic with Brianna Waller (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) third.

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Kristin Armstrong off U.S. Pan Am roster as USAC revises team selection http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kristin-armstrong-off-u-s-pan-am-roster-as-usac-revises-team-selection_367077 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kristin-armstrong-off-u-s-pan-am-roster-as-usac-revises-team-selection_367077#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 04:21:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367077 Tayler Wiles will take Armstrong's place after confusion over USA Cycling's discretionary team selection criteria

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Two-time Olympic time trial gold medalist and two-time world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-Sho-Air) has been pulled from the U.S. Pan Am Championships team after confusion over the team selection criteria.

Late on Friday, USA Cycling announced an updated roster for event to be held in Leon, Mexico, May 5-10. Velocio-SRAM’s Tayler Wiles will take the slot originally given to Armtrong earlier this week in the individual time trial. Carmen Small (Twent16-Sho-Air) will also race the Pan Am TT.

On her team’s website, Armstrong wrote:

“I know that nothing is given in this sport, success takes significant hard work and preparation. When I made the decision to return I committed myself to this regimen and I don’t want anything given to me. Like always, I want to earn it on the road.

“Like a lot of you, I just learned that this criteria for selection had changed recently, and now USA Cycling has decided to revert to their older criteria. If under this “new” criteria I am not selected I will not only fully support USA Cycling’s decision but more importantly the athletes that will be representing the USA in Mexico.”

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In the News: Taxi driver guilty in Burry Stander case http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/in-the-news-taxi-driver-guilty-in-burry-stander-case_367071 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/in-the-news-taxi-driver-guilty-in-burry-stander-case_367071#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 21:45:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367071

Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander died in 2013 after being struck by a car in South Africa while riding. Photo: AFP PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI (File).

The taxi driver accused of killing Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander has been found guilty of culpable homicide in South Africa

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Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander died in 2013 after being struck by a car in South Africa while riding. Photo: AFP PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI (File).

News24 reports that taxi driver Njabulo Nyawose, who was driving the vehicle that struck and killed Olympic cyclist Burry Stander, has been found guilty of culpable homicide and failing to obey a traffic sign.

NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said Nyawose was convicted in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Friday by Magistrate Charmaine Barnard.

Stander, 25, died on January 3, 2013 when he was hit while cycling in Shelley Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast in South Africa.

Read more >>

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Video: UnitedHealthcare TTT training camp http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/video-unitedhealthcare-ttt-training-camp_367068 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/video-unitedhealthcare-ttt-training-camp_367068#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:40:40 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367068

UnitedHealthcare will head into USA Cycling national team time trial championships as one of the favorites to win both the men's and women's races.

UnitedHealthcare will race team time trial nationals this weekend in South Carolina, and is also aiming for TTT worlds this fall in Virginia

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UnitedHealthcare will head into USA Cycling national team time trial championships as one of the favorites to win both the men's and women's races.

This video is courtesy of the UnitedHealthcare team.

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Gallery: Sea Otter day one: Raleigh, 3T, Yeti, and more http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-sea-otter-day-one-raleigh-3t-yeti-and-more_367025 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/gallery-sea-otter-day-one-raleigh-3t-yeti-and-more_367025#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:15:32 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367025

Logan VonBokel finds a prototype gravel bike from Raleigh, some new apparel from Yeti, remote-control lights, and much more

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Buyer’s Guide: Baggy shorts http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/2015-buyers-guide/buyers-guide-baggy-shorts_363637 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/2015-buyers-guide/buyers-guide-baggy-shorts_363637#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:05:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=363637

Look good and ride in comfort on the trails this summer with four solid baggy shorts for mountain bikers of all stripes

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$84, PanacheCyclewear.com
Good styling, functional pockets, great fit — you can pick all three. Even better, the Panache Ride shorts are competitively priced. The Ride Short is lightweight and available in two subdued colors, all black and blue, dumping the “moto look” for a design that we actually wear whether we’re on our bikes or not.

Buy Similar From:

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Wide-open women’s Fleche should serve up exciting race http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/wide-open-womens-fleche-should-serve-up-exciting-race_367019 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/wide-open-womens-fleche-should-serve-up-exciting-race_367019#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:44:13 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367019

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot delivered the goods atop the Mur de Huy at the 2014 women's Flèche Wallonne. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

In the absence of five-time winner Vos, all eyes will be on world champ Ferrand-Prévot who faces challenges from several big names

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Pauline Ferrand-Prevot delivered the goods atop the Mur de Huy at the 2014 women's Flèche Wallonne. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

With the absence of five-time Flèche Wallonne winner, Marianne Vos (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013), the race could be wide open when the best of the women’s peloton gathers in Huy, Belgium next Wednesday. Without her prolific Rabo-Liv teammate, world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot will have to defend her 2014 title with one less arrow in the quiver.

Wearing the rainbow jersey, the 23-year old Frenchwomen will be marked from the start. And her rivals may be more dangerous than ever.

England’s Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), runner-up to ‘PFP’ last year at the top of the Mur de Huy, has already notched three wins this season, plus the overall at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. At the end of March, she won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda ahead of Ferrand-Prévot.

Armitstead’s American teammate Evelyn Stevens, winner of the 2012 Flèche, could also pose a threat, though she has yet to win a race this season, aside from the team time trial at the Women’s Tour of New Zealand.

Perhaps Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) will pose the most formidable challenge to the Boels-Dolmans ladies. She’s on good form, having won the women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) in a solo move earlier this month. Plus, she knows how to ride well at Flèche, placing second in 2013 and third in 2014.

25 teams: The leaders

Australia
Orica-AIS: Johansson (S), Scandalora (I)

Belgium
Lensworld.eu Zannata: De Vuyst (B)
Lotto-Soudal Ladies: Cecchini (I), Daams (B)
Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo: Druyts (B)

Canada
Canadian National Team: Pilote-Fortin (Can)

France
French National Team: Souyris, Lesueur (F)
Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86: Pader, Biannic (F)

Germany
Velocio-SRAM: Amialiusik (Blr), Brennauer (G), Cromwell (Aus),

Great Britain
Matrix Fitness: Trott (GB)
Wiggle-Honda: Longo Borghini, Bronzini (I), Cordon (F)

Italy
Ale Cipollini: Berlato, Tagliaffero (I)
BePink-LaClassica: Valsecchi (I)
Inpa Sottoli Giusfredi: Ratto (I)
Servetto Footon: Neff (Sui)

Kazakhstan
Astana Acca Due O: Solovey (Ukr)

Netherlands
Boels Dolmans: Armitstead (GB), Stevens (USA), Van Dijk (Nl)
Parkotel Valkenburg Continental Team: Rooijakkers (Nl)
Rabo-Liv Women : Ferrand Prévot (F), Brand (Nl), Van der Breggen (Nl)
Liv Plantur: Pieters (Nl)

Norway
Hitec Products: Becker (All), Guderzo (I)

Russia
Russian National Team: Kozonchuk (Rus)

Slovenia
BTC City Ljubljana: Bujak (Pl)

Spain
Bizkaia Durango: Ilinykh (Rus)

Switzerland
Bigla: Moolman Pasio (SA), Van Vleuten (Nl)

United States
U.S. National Team: Small (USA)

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Photo Essay: USA Cycling women in Europe http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/photo-essay-usa-cycling-women-in-europe_366694 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/photo-essay-usa-cycling-women-in-europe_366694#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:48:31 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366694

Many of the top American pro women test their early season form at classic European races, like the Ronde van Vlaanderen

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Phil Gaimon Journal: Fish fry http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/rider-journal/phil-gaimon-journal-fish-fry_366993 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/rider-journal/phil-gaimon-journal-fish-fry_366993#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:30:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366993

Phil Gaimon (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) rode to to the line alone to win stage 3 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Photo: Nate King

Gaimon burns some fish, returns to Redlands, and celebrates with a bit of fudge, with an eye to bigger races to come this season

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Phil Gaimon (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) rode to to the line alone to win stage 3 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Photo: Nate King

I had a rough few weeks when I got back from Portugal at the beginning of March. Between jet lag and fatigue from a month of racing in Europe, I wasn’t able to put together a good block of training, so I signed up for the San Dimas Stage Race to see where my fitness was. The stage 1 uphill time trial suits me perfectly, and I’ve won it twice, but I finished fourth this year. Not what I’d hoped for, but not bad.

I was tempted to continue the stage race and try to improve on my GC, but I nearly died crashing myself in that race in 2013. I thought I’d conquered my fear last fall when I returned to the scene of the crash. I found the spot where my body was helicoptered from a puddle of blood to the hospital where they sewed my face back on. I stood on that spot, and I danced. Then I peed on it. I probably won’t get to dance or pee on my own grave, but this was pretty close.

The ultimate conquering of fear is to get back on the horse, but I decided to head to Big Bear instead, to do some long rides with teammate Mike Woods, and get a little altitude into my system. As much as I wanted to conquer the San Dimas circuit race fear, I had bigger fish to fry.

The Tour of California is a fish.

Actually, I did fry a salmon for dinner one night in Big Bear. That is, first I fried it, then I forgot about it on the stove, so it was also blackened.

I put in some good miles and hard climbing in Big Bear, and went to all my favorite restaurants. I didn’t go to the fudge shop, but not because I was watching my calories. It was because they close at 8 p.m. (who closes at 8, and who wants fudge before 8?). A few days later, after a good result in the stage 2 ITT at Redlands, I went to the fudge shop by bike, dragging half my team with me (they’d wondered why I wanted a 45-minute cool-down). Before you call me a hypocrite for eating fudge that early, I left it in the bag and ate it at 9 p.m. that night.

I was sitting second overall after the time trial, ahead of the GC riders we were most worried about. With a mountaintop finish the next day, the team liked my odds to take yellow. Tom Zirbel led me into it, and then Bjorn Selander, Will Routley, and Jesse Anthony lined up at the front from the bottom of the climb. Every time I looked back, the group was smaller and smaller. Mike Woods was up next, and his super pull left everyone behind us gasping. I just had to counter Gavin Mannion’s attack at 600 meters to go, taking the stage and the race lead.

After that, aside from a crash on my butt in the criterium (it hurts to wipe now), there wasn’t much stress. The Sunset circuit is notorious for GC shakeups, but our climbers rode perfectly, Tom Zirbel took insane Tom Zirbel pulls, while Pierrick Naud and Tom Soladay ripped the twisty part of the course. They kept the break close, and team Jamis helped us bring it back, with Cal Giant behind us, ready to pull for their two jersey-wearers if we needed it. I barely saw the wind.

It was touching to return to Redlands. I’m not a crier, but every time I edited that chapter in my book, I’d tear up. Some of the folks who made it special last time were missing, but most were still there, and I have a lot of new friends from my time in Big Bear and LA. My fiancée was racing, so I even had someone to take care of my podium flowers. So many familiar faces and kind words (on and off the bike), I felt like I went out to lunch and it took three years.

When I won the overall at Redlands in 2012, it was my first big win. My team wasn’t invited to the Tour of California that year, so I went back to Georgia and had a good celebration. Perhaps a little too much celebration. This time, the win still felt great after such a team effort. We went out for burritos and had a beer, but we’ll celebrate later. We have bigger fish to fry.

I didn’t mean that literally, but I think I will cook a fish tonight. I’ll keep an eye on it this time.

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Casino in the Limburg: Amstel Gold Race http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/casino-in-the-limburg-amstel-gold-race_366950 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/casino-in-the-limburg-amstel-gold-race_366950#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:04:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366950

The final climb up the Cauberg to the finish of the 2014 Amstel Gold Race showcased the decisive move by eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Dozens of favorites line up for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, where a string of climbs and narrow roads makes for a tense day of racing

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The final climb up the Cauberg to the finish of the 2014 Amstel Gold Race showcased the decisive move by eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

The Netherlands’ most important one-day race is named after a beer, and with a course packed with so many turns, climbs, and curves, at the end of the 258km test of nerves and legs, most riders might need a drink.

Anyone who thinks the Netherlands is flat has never been to the Limburg region, tucked in the southeast corner of the country. The Amstel Gold Race loops over a seemingly endless string of short but steep climbs around Valkenburg, with no less than 33 numbered climbs, totaling more than 13,100 vertical feet in climbing. Held over a mix of narrow farm tracks and urban roads loaded with traffic furniture, Amstel Gold Race is one of the most tense, nerve-wracking days of racing. Avoiding trouble and having strong team support are key for any of the aspirants to reach the last of three ascents up the decisive Cauberg climb.

The favorites: Take your pick
There are close to a dozen riders pedaling into Maastricht with realistic chances of winning. It’s hard to pick one favorite when nearly every major team brings a legitimate candidate for the podium. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has never won Amstel Gold, and will be shooting for the stars. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) is defending champion, and has put renewed focus on the Ardennes this season, with eyes on a fourth career victory at Amstel Gold. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) are all capable of victory.

Other former winners include Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty), Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini), and Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher (CCC Sprandi-Polkowice).

“The big objective are the Ardennes,” Kwiatkowski said, who remains winless in the rainbow stripes. “It would have been nice to have gotten results at Basque Country, but you have to remember to arrive fresh for these classics, because there are many who have prepared very well for them, like Valverde, [Sergio] Henao, Gilbert, or Purito [Rodriguez]. I’d love to win Liège, but Flèche or Amstel would be just as good.”

Astana brings a loaded team, with Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, Lars Boom, Jakob Fulgsang, and Luís León Sánchez.

Additional contenders include Jan Bakelandts (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), or Sky’s Henao and Mikel Nieve.

How to pick a winner? Throw a dart at the startlist.

The course: Lots of climbs, lots of nerves
Two things mark the Amstel Gold Race; its endless string of climbs (33 in total), and a very nervous day of racing. The race starts in the central market of Maastricht, a bustling college town along the Meuse River. Until 2003, the race used to finish in the city center, or just south of town. Organizers moved the finish to the Cauberg climb to provide a more climactic finale, and since 2013, to a finish line just over one kilometer past the Cauberg summit, in the same place where the 2012 world championships finished.

The race consists of a series of loops. After rolling out of Maastricht, the course swings north, then east, covering the upper reaches of the Limburg region. It barrels through Valkenberg, where fans pack bars and the roadway for an all-day party, in what’s the first of three passages up the Cauberg. More loops take in an ever-tightening string of climbs. There’s almost no time for recovery, and once the race kicks up in the final hour, it’s very difficult to regain contact for anyone who’s blown out the back. Long-range attacks from 20km out have stuck, but since the finish line was moved to the Cauberg, the climb has proven to be the decisive part of the race. Teams will be working to position their leaders at the sharp end of the peloton at the base of the Cauberg, and then sit back while the contenders turn on the turbos. Anyone who starts too soon can get reeled in. Timing is critical up the Cauberg, with the ideal attack coming on the upper third of the climb, with hopes of having the legs to drive it home through the false-flat finish.

Steady winds that invariably kick up in the afternoon can also be a factor, especially for riders trying brave, solo moves in the closing kilometers.

Amstel Gold Race is also known as one of the most nervous and tense races of the year. The race is held over a mix of very narrow, uneven farm roads, and on modern urban roadways littered with an endless array of chicanes, traffic islands, roundabouts, and other traffic furniture designed to slow down vehicle traffic. Concentration and positioning are critical, as pileups and crashes are inevitable.

Geography lesson: Not the Ardennes
Though often bundled into Ardennes week for the convenience of headline writing, the Amstel Gold Race is not part of the Ardennes. Geographically, the race is held in the Limburg region. The nearby Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are fought out over the steep escarpments of the Belgian Ardennes, but Amstel Gold Race is held in the geographically and geologically separate region of Limburg. That doesn’t quite lend to tight headline writing, does it?

Cauberg, Gilbert’s favorite
The emblematic climb of Amstel Gold Race is without a doubt the Cauberg. In terms of altitude or distance, it hardly ranks up there with the major cols of the Pyrénées or Dolomites. Far from it. By any measure, it’s little more than a large hump. Just 1,200 meters long, with a maximum grade of 12 percent, the pros can grind up it in the big ring. But the otherwise non-descript hill has seen some major drama in world championships and during Amstel.

“I love the Cauberg. It’s my favorite climb in all the world,” Gilbert said. “If the finish was in Maastricht, I would have never won. You can take the climb in the big ring. It’s a power climb, with big speed, and then the finish is perfect.”

It’s easy to understand why he loves it. He’s won Amstel Gold three times, and the 2012 world title after attacking up the climb.

Weather: Spring, with afternoon wind
Mild, spring-like conditions will continue to hold over Limburg through the weekend. Temperatures should be ideal, with a forecasted high of 63 degrees for the afternoon with mostly sunny skies. There is little chance of rain, but northeasterly winds could kick up in the afternoon, with gusts up to 9mph, which would give the pack a tailwind heading up the final assault of the Cauberg.

History: Half-century of racing
The Netherlands has a deep history in cycling. In fact, the country boasts more bikes per capita than almost any nation on earth, and the bike is an everyday part of the fabric of life. Despite producing some big champions, the country never had a major, one-day race on par with the monuments in nearby Belgium and France. In 1966, locals decided to organize the first edition of the race. Now a half-century later, it’s not quite a “monument,” but it’s secured its place as Holland’s most important one-day race as well as a high degree of prestige inside the peloton. Jan Raas holds the record with five victories, with defending champion Gilbert sits behind him with three.

The Limburg is also hotbed for cycling. In addition to the Amstel Gold Race, the region has hosted the world road cycling championships no less than six times, including the last in 2012. And who won that? Gilbert, who called the Cauberg his favorite finishing hill in Europe.

VeloNews’ pick: Matthews
Brabantse Pijl is always a good barometer of who’s going well coming into the hilly classics. Based on the season he’s had so far, with big wins at Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), and third at Milano-Sanremo, we’re going with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). He’s clearly upped his game, and he’s due for a big win. He should be able to get up and over the Cauberg with the fleetest, and will have the finishing kick to win out a reduced bunch. Close seconds are Gilbert and Valverde.

Outsider pick: Rebellin
Rebellin … Why not? The 43-year-old Italian, blemished by a two-year doping suspension after the 2008 Olympics, keeps hanging around, and he keeps posting good results. He was fifth at Brabantse Pijl, and this could be his last hurrah. There are whispers that the Giro d’Italia organizers do not want him nor scandal-tainted teammate Schumacher to be part of the team’s Giro-bound squad, so Rebellin will do everything he can to win now, with the outside hope of convincing the Italians otherwise. That’s what an outsider is, right?

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Sea Otter day one tech: Helmets, sunglasses, and more http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/sea-otter-tech-day-1-helmets-sunglasses-and-more_366952 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/gallery/sea-otter-tech-day-1-helmets-sunglasses-and-more_366952#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 14:16:01 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366952

Logan VonBokel checks out some of the new offerings on display at Sea Otter, including a line of Giant helmets

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Kwiatkowski targets Ardennes classics for victory in rainbow stripes http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kwiatkowski-targets-ardennes-classics-for-victory-in-rainbow-stripes_366991 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kwiatkowski-targets-ardennes-classics-for-victory-in-rainbow-stripes_366991#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 13:54:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366991

Michal Kwiatkowski takes the rainbow jersey to the Ardennes classics starting Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The reigning world champion wants to notch his first win of the year in the rainbow jersey

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Michal Kwiatkowski takes the rainbow jersey to the Ardennes classics starting Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Pole Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) is going to the Ardennes classics this week to win and to win big, and he wants to take his first victory in the world champion rainbow jersey.

He will line up in all three classics: the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday, the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, and the most famous one, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday, April 26.

“You always must have big ambitions to progress. Hopefully my condition is good enough to be competitive with the other favorites. It is difficult, especially with the rainbow jersey, but I never give up,” Kwiatkowski said in a press release.

“It’s tricky to win a race with the rainbow jersey, it’s not easy. But to be clear, I’m going for the win, not for a second place.”

The 24-year-old has historically performed well in the Ardennes classics. In 2013, he rode to fourth in Amstel and fifth in Flèche; in 2014, he took fifth in Amstel and third in both Flèche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The 2014 season brought more than just podium places, of course. He won eight times, including the Volta ao Algarve overall, the Strade Bianche, and the prologue in the Tour de Romandie. The big one, however, came in September when he led Poland’s team to victory in the world championship road race in Ponferrada, Spain.

He has one win this year, but that was a prologue time trial to kick off Paris-Nice and so he was wearing his Etixx skin suit instead of the rainbow bands. Over 6.7 kilometers, he nudged out Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) — the current hour record holder — and three-time world time trial champion and German teammate Tony Martin.

The signs are pointing toward a rainbow victory soon, given his past run in the Ardennes classics and the season to date. Kwiatkowski, like many Ardennes contenders, just finished the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) stage race in Spain. He bagged a few top fives and placed eighth overall behind Spain’s Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha).

“The big goal is the Ardennes classics,” Kwiatkowski said.

“It would have been great to get results in País Vasco, but I have to remember that I’ll need to be fresh and strong at the end of those classics because there are many others preparing for those races as well, like Alejandro Valverde, Sergio Henao, Philippe Gilbert or ‘Purito’ [Rodríguez]. I’m thinking a lot about the Ardennes and the efforts I’ll have to make.”

Belgium’s Etixx team would welcome the win. Though it is the top team with Katusha in terms of victories (18 so far this season) Etixx failed to pull off a win in one of the prized cobbled classics. An Ardennes win would be the next best thing, and doing so in style with the rainbow jersey would be the icing on the cake.

After the Ardennes classics, Kwiatkowski will take a rest. He will build toward the Tour de France with a training camp at altitude in May, the Tour de Suisse, and the national championships.

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USA Cycling to reconsider 2015 Pan Am team http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/usa-cycling-to-reconsider-2015-pan-am-team_366990 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/usa-cycling-to-reconsider-2015-pan-am-team_366990#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 13:50:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366990 USAC says new selection criteria were not published according to protocol; Kristin Armstrong may not be included on Pan Am team

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In a statement issued late on Thursday, USA Cycling announced that it has reconvened its selection committee to reconsider the recent nominations to the 2015 Pan Am Championships after it was determined that modifications to the “principles of athlete selection” were not published in a timely manner.

The committee reconvened on Friday, and after that, USA Cycling issued another statement with further explanation.

“We always try to ensure than any changes to athlete selection criteria are published well before athletes are impacted by them,” said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling president and CEO. “Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case, so we have asked the Selection Committee to review their nominations based on the proven, well known and long-standing criteria.”

The Friday statement went on to explain how the selection process works, reading:

Nominations to important events such as the 2015 Pan Am Championships often occur in two steps. The first is to consider and nominate any athlete who meets the published automatic criteria. If any open spots still remain after the automatic nomination process, the Committee will then consider athletes who have requested consideration for discretionary positions.

While the discretionary nomination process necessarily involves a level of subjectivity, several years ago USA Cycling defined the parameters that should guide discretionary nominations in an attempt to add a level of objectivity to this process. The Principles of Athlete Selection identify three broad categories for consideration in the discretionary nomination process: 1) Medal Capability; 2) Ability to Enhance Team Performance; and 3) Future Medal Capability.

The updated principles of athlete selection were published too late to be used in the selection process to the 2015 Pan Am Championships. When the selection committee first convened to deliberate on the nominations to this event, they used the most recently-published discretionary criteria and were not aware of the publication date.

The selection committee’s revised nominations will be announced promptly, according to a USA Cycling media statement.

This could mean that two-time world TT champion and two-time Olympic TT gold medalist Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-Sho-Air) might be left off the team. She was set to come out of retirement for the Pan Am time trial, despite not having raced any major events since her win at the 2012 Games.

On her team website, Armstrong wrote the following:

“As I started to chart my comeback races, I saw Pan Am’s as a great opportunity. I examined the criteria, and felt like I had a very good chance of obtaining a spot due to my past Olympic success and the recent power numbers I’ve been producing in training. This led me to believe not only did I meet the criteria for selection but more importantly that I had a good shot at success in Mexico.

“I know that nothing is given in this sport, success takes significant hard work and preparation. When I made the decision to return I committed myself to this regimen and I don’t want anything given to me. Like always, I want to earn it on the road.

“Like a lot of you, I just learned that this criteria for selection had changed recently, and now USA Cycling has decided to revert to their older criteria. If under this “new” criteria I am not selected I will not only fully support USA Cycling’s decision but more importantly the athletes that will be representing the USA in Mexico.”

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A Case for Suffering: The Heroic http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/a-case-for-suffering/a-case-for-suffering-the-heroic_366801 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/a-case-for-suffering/a-case-for-suffering-the-heroic_366801#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:29:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366801

Eroica California is a celebration of the golden age of cycling, an event in which the beauty of fatigue and the taste of accomplishment can be acutely experienced. It is modeled after L'Eroica, the original vintage cycling event held among the rolling hills and white gravel roads of the Chianti region of Italy since 1997. Here, the author stands beside a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, with his borrowed orange De Rosa mounted to the roof rack, near the top of Cypress Mountain, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Chris Case | VeloNews.com

Chris Case takes on the challenging terrain of Eroica California, and learns something of what it was to ride in the golden age of cycling

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Eroica California is a celebration of the golden age of cycling, an event in which the beauty of fatigue and the taste of accomplishment can be acutely experienced. It is modeled after L'Eroica, the original vintage cycling event held among the rolling hills and white gravel roads of the Chianti region of Italy since 1997. Here, the author stands beside a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, with his borrowed orange De Rosa mounted to the roof rack, near the top of Cypress Mountain, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Chris Case | VeloNews.com

Editor’s note: Velo managing editor Chris Case is on a quest to ride and race the most fascinating and challenging cycling events around the world. Follow his journey on Instagram and Twitter: @chrisjustincase. Questions or concerns for his well-being? Send him a note.

The light was flickering like an antique cinema projector, hazy shafts of sun casting down upon the dirt double track, through the thick canopy of a hollow, secluded canyon.

Light. Shadow. Light. Shadow. Flick, flick, flick.

This was my vision, out of focus in the noontime light, but there nonetheless: Coppi, climbing, crouched into a coil of potential energy, his long nose guiding him like an unstoppable ship.

This was what flashed before my eyes and through my mind while climbing Cypress Canyon — far from Gaiole in Chianti, or the Strade Bianche, the birthplace of the original L’Eroica — inside this perforated tunnel of trees near the Central Coast of California.

This was Eroica California. Part Italy. Part America. A Civil War reenactment for cycling, brought to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Find yourself a bike, and be sure it was made before 1987, complete with downtube shifters, toe clips, and external cable routing into the hoods. Find yourself a jersey, make sure it’s wool, and preferably plastered with an Italian surname. Get your black shorts, your bright white socks, and a “hairnet” helmet if you can. You’re ready for Eroica (the events outside of Gaiole, of which there are now four, one each in California, Japan, England, and Spain, all go by the title Eroica, and the original remains L’Eroica, or “The Heroic”).

The day before I had been handed a Crayola orange De Rosa, the bottom bracket recently returned to a state of function, the tubular glue still wafting through the air as I re-familiarized myself with the art of kicking into a set of toe clips. For period-correct footwear, there are a few options to choose from, assuming you don’t have 25-year-old shoes decaying in your closet. I chose a classic black pair from Vittoria’s Line 1976 — Italian-made leather which I wore with pleasure, both because of the yesteryear styling and the out-of-the-box comfort.

The bike harkened back to an era of racing that predates my birth; luckily, it fit like Ugo De Rosa made it himself to my specifications. And, authentic to the epoch, the tubulars were narrow (22mm), the gearing constrained (53-42 in front, a six-speed, 12-26 cassette in the rear, which offered a wider range than the original equipment would have), and the braking rather grim.

It was time to conjure the spirit of Coppi and Bartali, Géminiani, and Merckx.

We set off in the Champagne air of a Paso Robles morning, perched upon antique steel before the sun had had a chance to rise. If you squinted, you could take yourself back to another time, the darkness aiding in the imagining of a bygone bicycling script. Hunched, rocking bodies atop clicking-clacking machines. Old cables, friction shifters, cold fingers. The hypnotic silhouettes of symmetric, contouring combs of vines.

If you wanted to be in Italy, you were.

By sunrise, we had reached the first checkpoint — if you were heroic enough to take on the 127-mile route, this was the first of five checkpoints where you received a stamp confirming your arrival — amid the olive trees of Olea Farm. Breakfast would be nothing other than Belgian fries cooked in luscious olive oil, sprinkled with Himalayan salt. Ketchup and salsa for your pleasure. Big bowls of olive oil and spices lined long tables beside sliced baguettes.

A glorious day was upon us. Until it wasn’t. Pfft, pfft, pfft. Air, under pressure, evacuating through a tiny hole, intermittently interrupted by the revolutions of the wheel. Mile 40.

If, like me, you aren’t a part of the generation that rode “sew-ups” to train on, puncturing a tubular far from anywhere is a requirement for understanding the spirit of L’Eroica, a ride back through time when hard was harder and long was longer.

This is when my new friend and riding mate Chuck Teixeira became my impromptu guide to the essence of 1974. It isn’t that changing a tubular on the side of the road is difficult, but there is comfort in having someone who has done it hundreds of times beside you, if only to convince you that riding for another 90 miles isn’t suicidal.

No glue? Use that rear brake to heat up the rim, melt some fumes, and get one percent more adhesion through the magic of thermal dynamics. Or so he told me.

Given the ramshackle state of the spare tire that was affixed beneath my saddle, (something I didn’t realize until it was too late), I could only cling to the paradoxical premise that an old tire that was beat to hell but still kicking was a sturdy tire that had put up with a lot of shit and was ready for more.

It can be done, trust me, said Chuck’s poise. I was less alarmed at the insanity of riding glueless as I was incredulous at the adoption of clincher technology. So what if you died around the next bend, changing tubulars was efficient. Rip one off, slide one on. Just try not to turn that much.

This is when Chuck told me about the first time he rode tubulars. At the mid-point in this particular out-and-back century, he pulled into the parking lot to turn around and head home. It had been straight roads all day, until now. In front of the gathered crowd, he turned, both the tires slid off, and he crumpled to the ground. He rode gingerly back the 50 miles to the finish, bloody and embarrassed. But he always remembered to glue his tubulars to his rims after that.

We set off down the winding roads, my front tire cozily bonded, my shoddy rear spare, complete with cuts in the sidewall and tumors beneath the tread, merely lounging around a whirling hoop, ready and waiting to drift off.

The roads eventually led us to our next checkpoint, amid the forest on the lower slopes of Cypress Mountain. From here, we were headed over the Coast Range on a rustic back road, complete with 20 percent grades, and, ultimately, paradisiac views of the Pacific Ocean.

But paradise would have to wait a while. Tubular eruption number two. Mile 60.

Things just got a bit more difficult. I had no more tires. But I had Chuck, who insisted I take his spare.

“No way! I’ll figure something out. I can’t take that from you,” I said.

“Yes, come on, take it. It’s a long walk out and it’s good karma for me,” he said. Then he set off on his immaculate Teledyne Titan, all 16 pounds of early titanium technology and “Drillium” trimmings, up the climb, knowing I’d likely catch him by the top.

While I sat there in the sun, peeling another tubular off and tossing another on, the flies buzzing and the soil parched, absorbing the scenery and the circumstances, I could only think of one thing: bike racers from long ago. Eugène Christophe and the Pyrenean blacksmith shop, forging forks to ride on. The absurd number of miles and the frequency of mechanical misadventures that defined the early years of racing. All alone; figure it out; ride on.

I rode on. And 200 meters up the road, I was standing next to Chuck again.

This time, it was Chuck who had punctured. “I’m going to need that tire back, Chris.”

We laughed; it was not our day. We considered the options; it seemed my day was about to get a bit longer, a bit harder. The only way out of this jam was to walk or ride my way up the steepest climb of the day, with one good tire and a very small cluster of gears. I leaned my bike against the edge of a dilapidated bridge and took a photo of its knackered state.

“That’s it, make the most of it, Chris,” Chuck said as he drifted away into the distance.

This was a bike ride; I was riding this bike. And it was going to get me to at least the top of this climb, maybe farther. Then, I’d figure something out.

Riding on a flat tire on dirt isn’t too hard; you just have to mind the off-camber switchbacks that can peel the tire from the rim and into your brakes. And try not to hit every rock since this isn’t your bike. True to the spirit of the golden age of cycling, steep just became steeper.

Though I held out hope that I would eventually find a solution to carry on with two intact tires, I also reasoned there was a good chance I was nearing the end of my inaugural Eroica. I drilled it. I passed a lonely figure who grumbled at my rate of ascension. “I’m lighter since I have less air in my tires than you…” I yelled when I was already past him, trying to be gentlemanly about it all.

And then I saw it. The vaporous haze of Pacific Ocean views. A water station. People. Cars. Not a tubular in sight, and 13 sinuous miles of catastrophic tarmac between me and the town of Cambria.

Hero status would have to wait until next time.

The gathered support staff snapped photos of me. Maybe I looked as depleted as Octave Lapize as he crested the Tourmalet in 1910 and famously screamed “Murderers!” to the gathered officials. Or, I’d like to think, maybe I struck as handsome a figure as Anquetil after a fifth Tour victory.

In any case, I was offered a ride down the mountain. My riding time was through.

Jim was the proud owner of the most appropriate sag wagon there could be for this day: a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI, adorned with a checkered flag racing stripe, lowered and stiffened for racing, with one roof-rack tray and red vinyl seats.

I saluted the fine folks gathered at the aid station as I bid them arrivederci, and was promptly swooshed down the hill toward the sea, by a piece of historic Italian machinery.

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UnitedHealthcare heads to crit nationals with two defending champs http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/unitedhealthcare-heads-to-crit-nationals-with-two-defending-champs_366941 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/unitedhealthcare-heads-to-crit-nationals-with-two-defending-champs_366941#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 21:03:00 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366941

John Murphy won the 2014 U.S. criterium national championships after lapping the field alongside teammate Brad White and a group of 13. Photo: UnitedHealthcare

Coryn Rivera and John Murphy aim to defend their national crit titles as the race moves to a new time slot, this Saturday in South Carolina

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John Murphy won the 2014 U.S. criterium national championships after lapping the field alongside teammate Brad White and a group of 13. Photo: UnitedHealthcare

The blue and white UnitedHealthcare kit might as well have a target on the back this weekend at USA Cycling pro criterium national championships because the team heads into Saturday’s race with defending champs in both the men’s and women’s races in Greenville, South Carolina.

Coryn Rivera, 22, has proven herself as one of the top sprinters on the U.S. criterium circuit, and she’ll look to keep her stars-and-stripes jersey for another year.

“We are going to Greenville as a team with confidence and momentum. We are looking to keep the stars and stripes on the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train,” she said in a team press statement.

But when the UHC team takes to the .95-mile route through downtown Greenville, it will be up against the likes of Erica Allar (Colavita-Bianchi), who won the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) last year and was second behind Rivera at 2014 nationals. Samantha Schneider (ISCorp-SmartChoice MRI) rounded out last year’s crit nationals podium, and she too will be a rider to watch.

For her part, the youthful Rivera plans to rely on a strong team, which she credits for her success in 2014. “It was total team execution last year at crit nationals; we had just come off of a great weekend of crit racing at the Gateway Cup, and we proved, as a team, we are the best crit squad in the country.”

John Murphy is Rivera’s counterpart in the UHC men’s squad, and he also cited his team as a major component in his plans to double-up as criterium national champion.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be a national champion, but it’s impossible to do it without a strong team behind you,” he said.

An experienced group will back Murphy in Greenville, including Tanner Putt who recently returned from a successful early season campaign in Europe. Putt rode in an early breakaway at Scheldeprijs just two weeks ago. Putt will be joined by Brad White, who shared the 2014 podium with Murphy. They’ll also have support from Luke Keough, who was the top rider in the NCC last season.

The UHC squad will likely see challenges on a few fronts. Champion System-Stan’s No Tubes will bring a five-rider squad which includes Isaac Howe, who was fifth in last year’s NCC.

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Eric Young could also be a rider to watch. He won four races last season, including stage 5 at the Tour of Utah, and will have a strong team at his disposal, including Tom Zirbel and Phil Gaimon, who recently won the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Team SmartStop will also have a six-man squad in Greenville, including the reigning national road race champion, Eric Marcotte.

Among the many X-factors in Saturday’s race, perhaps the greatest unknown is how the domestic peloton will perform in the new, late-April time slot. Previously, the championships were held in September after a full summer of U.S. racing.

Rivera acknowledged this change, but looked on the positive side of things, saying, “We’ve only done a couple crits so far this year, but our teamwork hasn’t changed. It has been an honor representing the stars-and-stripes this year, even if that has only been three crits.”

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Video: GCN’s tips to perfect your climbing http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/video/video-gcns-tips-to-perfect-your-climbing_366936 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/video/video-gcns-tips-to-perfect-your-climbing_366936#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:39:50 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366936

Global Cycling Network's tips to improve your climbing.

Looking to hit the hills this season? Here are a few tips from Global Cycling Network to help improve your climbing form and technique

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Global Cycling Network's tips to improve your climbing.

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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Peter Stetina: ‘I am lucky to be alive’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/peter-stetina-i-am-lucky-to-be-alive_366838 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/peter-stetina-i-am-lucky-to-be-alive_366838#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:15:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=366838

Peter Stetina's 2015 season has been thrown into disarray after a catastrophic crash in Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He had planned to be BMC's protected rider for GC in the Amgen Tour of California, but now he is simply focused on rehabbing from multiple injuries. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (file)

In an exclusive interview, Peter Stetina speaks to VeloNews about his horrific crash, outrage over rider safety, and plans for a comeback

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Peter Stetina's 2015 season has been thrown into disarray after a catastrophic crash in Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He had planned to be BMC's protected rider for GC in the Amgen Tour of California, but now he is simply focused on rehabbing from multiple injuries. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (file)

BMC rider speaks out about horrific crash

Peter Stetina (BMC Racing) prides himself on being a safe racer. You never see him taking risks in the sprints or doing anything crazy on the downhills. Probably that’s why he’s never been in the hospital in his 10-year pro racing career. Until now.

On April 6, in the final sprint to the finish line in the opening stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), it didn’t matter how careful Stetina — or anyone else — was in the peloton that day. Just 400 meters from the finish line, on the right side of the finish straight, two metal poles, about one meter high, remained in the roadway. In images that later went viral on the Internet, the only safety measure to highlight the danger were small, orange traffic cones sitting on top of the poles.

Stetina, 27, was riding safely in the middle of a reduced lead group of about 60 riders. It wasn’t his type of finale, so he was tucked in, content to ride in with the lead group. Without warning or even time to react, he struck the first metal pole at full speed. He estimates his speed was about 60kph (37mph). His right leg took the full impact with the pole, and he catapulted over his bike, breaking three ribs as he crashed onto the pavement. Stunned, he immediately felt the searing pain in his leg. He tried to get up, as bike racers always do, but he couldn’t. The next morning, outraged cyclists protested in a pre-stage strike.

Nearly two weeks later, Stetina remains in a Spanish hospital. He’s undergone surgery to repair a broken tibia and patella. Gone in an instant are his primary season goals of the Amgen Tour of California podium and a return to the Tour de France. Instead, he’s facing months of rehabilitation and painful recovery. With luck, he’s hoping to be on a flight back to the United States in the coming days.

Stetina took a call from VeloNews to recount the crash, the extent of his injuries, and his reflections on how two metal poles were left unattended and unmarked at a WorldTour-level race. Here are excerpts from the interview:

VeloNews: Peter, thanks for taking our call. First, can you update everyone on where you are and how you are doing?
Peter Stetina: I am still in Spain. I am still in the hospital. I’ve been here since my crash last Monday. It was a pretty bad break and pretty heavy duty surgery. The doctors, they’ve been pleasant, and every day it’s been a bit better. The doctors are surprised at the recovery rate of an elite athlete, but it was a big one. I’ve been bed-ridden for 10 days in a hospital in Bilbao. After the crash, they whisked me through, the whole flashing, searing pain, and trying to deal with everything. The hospital has been really good. They’ve been keeping me on pain medication. The crash happened last Monday, and by Thursday, I was stable enough to undergo surgery. Since then, the pain has started to subside. It’s been the worst week of my life.

VN: Any idea when you might be able to return to the United States?
PS: The problem is trying to fly internationally. I’ve got to be a bit more patient. The plan is to go Friday to Charles De Gaulle in Paris. It’s a short flight, and they have a Sheraton inside the terminal, so I can have a layover to sleep without having to move around, then Saturday, a long flight from Paris to Park City, Utah, where I meet up with Max Testa and Erik Heiden [Park City Medical Center], and begin my rehab.

VN: Do you have anyone with you at the hospital, anyone from the team, family or friends?
PS: My wife is here now. This [BMC] has got to be the best team in the world, with the insurance they have, the doctors they have. They’ve been dealing with insurance, with ambulances, flights, all the hospital details. Dyanna, my wife, flew out. The good thing about the Basque Country race is that there were no hotel transfers, so the team was just 10km from hospital, so someone from the team was always coming by to visit.

VN: So how did the surgery go, and what are the prospects of recovery?
PS: It was a very big, invasive surgery. One minor ligament was torn, and that needed reattachment. I have a plate in my tibia, and my kneecap was reconstructed. The kneecap was shattered. The good thing, if there is a good thing in all of this, is that it was all bones. There was no tendon damage. Bones heal faster, and they’re more durable. No one is saying this means a career-ending injury.

VN: That’s good news. Looking back at the accident, what do you remember of the crash?
PS: We came over a climb, and there were about 60 guys in a select group. I was in the middle of the group, 30th or 40th wheel. We rounded a bend with about 400 meters to go, and a lot times in sprints, the peloton will serpentine from side to side. Then there were green metal parking poles, poles placed so that people cannot park in front of garbage containers. They’re about one meter high. Sometimes they can be removed or lowered into the ground, but no one had done anything. I don’t know what’s going to happen legally. There is a lot of outrage about this incident. Someone put an orange cone on the tip of the pole. There was no protection, nothing. Obstacles in the middle of a field sprint with 400 meters to go? A few guys got around it. At 60kph, I didn’t have time to even react. I looked up, and plowed knee-first right into the metal pole at 60kph. Some guy clipped one in front of me. We couldn’t believe it. Even if they had had padding or hay bales, or a moto-referee waving flags, or even had cars parked on the side of the road. Two poles in the middle of the road. There was open road before them, and open road after them.

VN: What happened immediately after impact? Did you remain conscious?
PS: I was fully conscious the whole time. I slammed into the pole, and maybe I hit the other pole, because I also broke three ribs. I was on the ground, and I tried to get up. There’s so much adrenaline after a crash, I could move my arms and upper body, but my leg wouldn’t move. My team director was there, and he was holding me down, holding my head, telling me not to move. It was just searing pain. The tibia fractured, and my knee cap was shattered. It was instantaneous pain.

VN: Have you ever experienced anything like this before?
PS: Nothing like this has happened during my career, no. This just shouldn’t happen in a bike race. This was blunt-force trauma. I am known as one of the more cautious riders in the bunch. I am not taking risks, and I don’t crash at all. By far, this is the worst injury of my career. I’ve never even been in the hospital before.

VN: Have you had any contact with the race organizers or anyone from Spain?
PS: I cannot talk about that right now. I am just trying to get out of the hospital, and get my recovery going. Those are issues for agents, team managers, the UCI, officials; I just want to start my recovery.

VN: What happens once you return to the U.S.?
PS: Once I am out of the hospital, and back in Utah, we can make further evaluation, and make a comeback plan. I plan on racing again, hopefully by the end of this season. We will see. Nobody has said this is a career-ending injury. This is a comeback.

VN: What are your emotions considering that California and the Tour de France were on your radar this season?
PS: California was my big goal. The team was giving me 100 percent support for it. I was so excited about the race. In fact, today I was supposed to be doing recon of the Mount Baldy stage. The way the course lended itself to a high-altitude time trial and a true climber’s finale, I really felt this was my year to challenge for the overall. Everything we did so far this season was working to peak for California. There will be more Californias, more Colorados. I am not yet 30.

VN: So right now you’re hoping to be able to race by the end of the year, but it’s too early to say when?
PS: I’ve got to get to Utah, and we can start rehabbing. Start with bending the knee, then starting to train, but initially, it will be six- to eight-weeks of no weight-bearing on the leg. But every day it changes. Things are almost fluctuating by the hour. The rehab plan will be more definitive once I can meet with doctors in Utah.

VN: Were you aware of the public outrage via social media about how fans reacted to the crash and the fact the poles were left in the roadway?
PS: It was pure outrage. Even the nurses in the hospital were saying something like that should never happen. There’s been a lot of movement in terms of a riders’ union becoming stronger, with things like extreme weather protocol and rider safety. If we’re bumping bars in little more than glorified underwear, we don’t need things that risk human safety. Sport is not supposed to be dangerous. It’s about entertainment, about who’s the strongest. Protocols need to be taken more seriously. I think things are moving in the right way, but I hope what happened to me, and others, is not just thrown out the window. I hope people learn from this, and use it as an example, and make serious changes.

VN: Is there anything you would like to say to fans?
PS: It’s been unbelievable how many people have reached out, and the outpouring of support from thousands of people. Och [BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz] made a surprise trip to visit. We have been so appreciative of everyone’s thoughts and messages. We have read every message, be it from Facebook, Twitter, emails, it’s been incredible. I am lucky to be alive. Something like this could have been a lot worse. Bones heal. I still love cycling too much to give it up.

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2015 Buyer’s Guide: Custom road http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/2015-buyers-guide/2015-buyers-guide-custom-road_363178 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/2015-buyers-guide/2015-buyers-guide-custom-road_363178#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:40:55 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=363178

If you need (or want) something special, these two custom bike builders might have just the right frame for you

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$8,200 (frameset), BaumCycles.com

Beautiful design, incredible paintwork, and tailored craftsmanship 
lie behind every Baum frame. As with other exclusive items, Baum is 
a choice for those wise enough to value true quality and service over marketing hype and short-term image. Each frame is designed and built to personal specifications. Material, tube diameter, and tube thickness are individually selected and tuned to provide the highest possible levels of comfort, performance, ride quality, steering precision, and satisfaction

Frame: Titanium (custom butted in-house); English-threaded bottom bracket; scalloped and bi-ovalized chainstays; custom selected and butted tubes; custom geometry
Fork: Enve or 3T Funda Team
Component Highlights: Chris King or Tune headset; Enve or 3T Team stem (painted to match)
Weight: 4.5 lbs (frameset)

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