VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:56:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Tour de Yorkshire will debut in 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/tour-de-yorkshire-will-debut-2015_356709 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/tour-de-yorkshire-will-debut-2015_356709#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:34:48 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356709

Fans came out in force for the 2014 Tour de France's swing through Yorkshire. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Northern England is set to host a three-day stage race organized by ASO in partnership with British Cycling

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Fans came out in force for the 2014 Tour de France's swing through Yorkshire. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Tour de France organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, to be held in Northern England, May 1-3, 2015.

On Monday, ASO named Bridlington, Leeds, Scarborough, Selby, Wakefield, and York as host cities for the UCI 2.1-category race.

The full route details will be revealed on January 21, 100 days prior to the race.

Director of the Tour de France at ASO, Christian Prudhomme, said, “I am delighted we are returning to Yorkshire where we saw the grandest ever Grand Départ for the Tour de France. It is clear the people of Yorkshire are passionate about cycling and we can’t wait to bring them this new race.”

More than 3 million people turned out to see the Tour de France in Yorkshire and the economic impact has been estimated at more than £100 million ($156 million). Organizers say the new race will build on the hugely successful Grand Départ and is at the heart of Cycle Yorkshire, the legacy of the Tour de France.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said, “This is another huge milestone for Yorkshire as we position the county as the cycling heartland of Europe. This is the first-ever Tour de Yorkshire; I am confident it will become a huge annual event and something that will raise Yorkshire’s profile year on year.”

British Cycling is supporting the new race and president Bob Howden said, “This new annual race partnering Welcome to Yorkshire and ASO with British Cycling will help to maintain the legacy progress gained so far, helping us to achieve our collective goals of inspiring more people to get on their bikes and get active. Events of this caliber show to the world that Britain has what it takes to be the par excellence deliverer of iconic world class showpieces.”

Organizers will also offer a gran fondo-style event where the public can ride the same route as the pros will ride on the third and final day.

Bernard Hinault, five-time Tour de France winner, said: “The Tour de France has had a sportive alongside it for many years, and it’s a unique experience for amateur riders to ride at L’Etape; so to have this similar experience available at the Tour de Yorkshire will be magnifique and something all keen riders will want to be part of.”

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Gerrans injury leaves door wide open for rivals and teammates http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/gerrans-injury-leaves-door-wide-open-rivals-teammates_356696 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/gerrans-injury-leaves-door-wide-open-rivals-teammates_356696#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:07:00 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356696

After breaking his collarbone on Sunday, Simon Gerrans will vacate his role as Orica-GreenEdge's team leader for the early-season races, notably Australian nationals and Tour Down Under. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Matt White feels January is up for grabs, while late-season starts could see teammates Gerrans and Matthews face off at worlds in September

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After breaking his collarbone on Sunday, Simon Gerrans will vacate his role as Orica-GreenEdge's team leader for the early-season races, notably Australian nationals and Tour Down Under. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Just one week after telling VeloNews that January racing was his first major priority of the season, reigning two-time Australian road race champion and three-time Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) will be unable to defend either crown next month after suffering a broken collarbone during a routine training ride aboard a mountain bike on Sunday.

Gerrans’ injury comes three weeks after teammate Michael Albasini damaged his own shoulder after crashing his cyclocross bike in Europe.

Gerrans, 34, who signed a three-year contract extension in July after the “biggest win of his career” at Liège-Bastogne-Liège three months earlier, underwent surgery on Monday and is now shifting his focus to the spring classics in March, thus leaving the team’s strategy for Australian road nationals and the TDU in question for Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White.

White spoke with VeloNews on Monday from his home in Sydney and claimed Gerrans was in the “best form of his career” and “highly disappointed” with the injury. According to White, the team will speak with its sports science personnel and medical staff in the next 24 hours before taking next steps concerning the two races.

“We have not made a final decision at the moment,” said White. “It’s a challenge for us to fill the gap left behind and see what we can come up with in January.”

“My gut feeling at the moment would be we would be leaning toward backing Daryl Impey for the Tour Down Under.”

As far as nationals go, White believes the Gerrans’ absence leaves the door wide open, particularly for a retiring Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and compatriot Richie Porte (Team Sky), both of whom finished second and third respectively behind Gerrans to start the year.

“For the national championships it totally changes the bike race for everyone including Richie Porte and Cadel Evans,” said White. “To simplify the nationals there are two ways to win it and that’s either in the early break or in the final lap.

“If you’re taking the early break, it’s a gamble which has paid off at times in the past, like it did two years ago with Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge). Or you can rely on GreenEdge and the fact that if we aren’t happy with the composition of the break, we will shut it down.

“Now if you take ‘plan B’ out of the equation, then everyone wants to be in the break, because at the end of the day, neither Cadel Evans or Richie Porte have got the teammates to control the final like we have. So it’s going to make for some more aggressive racing than normal, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Evans and Porte in the mix early.”

White also tentatively ruled out the notion of bringing in 24-year-old Canberra native Michael Matthews in from his home base in Monaco as a replacement for Gerrans.

“We will probably be leaving Michael Matthews on his original program which is him starting his season at Paris-Nice,” said White of the 2010 under-23 world road champion, who was forced to miss the Tour de France due to an injury sustained during a training accident just days prior to the start.

“We still have four weeks until the Tour Down Under, but Michael Matthews has been preparing to go in March,” White told VeloNews. Matthews late-season start is intended to keep his legs fresh for a shot at the UCI road worlds in September. “Bringing his season forward by seven weeks isn’t fair on him and could then change his plans for Richmond.”

However, White also admitted that the delayed start for Gerrans could mean the 2014 silver medallist may now target next year’s course in the Eastern U.S. as well.

“Simon wasn’t going to put as much focus on the worlds next year,” said White. “With the program we were running with him, he would have been lucky to not be running on fumes by the time he got to Richmond. But now he’s not going to start racing until mid-March.

“The world champs obviously have nothing to do with [Orica-GreenEdge], so I suppose the lead-up period will decide who’s going well.

“Gerrans obviously has a lot more experience on that level, but Michael Matthews is on a very steep learning curve at the moment when it comes to big championship events,” added White, referring to Matthews’ stage wins and days spent in the leader’s jerseys at the 2014 Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia.

Editor’s note: Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews.

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USA Pro Challenge announces stage 6 start, finish towns for 2015 race http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/usa-pro-challenge-announces-stage-6-start-finish-towns-for-2015-race_356697 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/usa-pro-challenge-announces-stage-6-start-finish-towns-for-2015-race_356697#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:00:16 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356697

Stage 6 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge will go from Loveland to Fort Collins, as it did in 2013. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The stage will start in Loveland and end in Fort Collins, as it did in 2013

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Stage 6 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge will go from Loveland to Fort Collins, as it did in 2013. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Stage 6 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge will start in Loveland and end in Fort Collins, Colorado, locations that were determined by a fan vote. All of the host cities for the August 17-23 race have now been announced.

Earlier in December, the race unveiled the host cities for stages 1-5 and 7. A circuit race in Steamboat Springs will kick things off, while the race will conclude with a stage from Golden to Denver.

Fans provided more than 20 start and finish options for the sixth stage before Loveland and Fort Collins were chosen, race organizers said.

“Loveland and Fort Collins have been such great host cities in the past and we’re looking forward to visiting them again,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “Last year, we gave fans the chance to weigh in on the final stage of the race and we got a huge response with people voicing their support for the two different options. This year, the fans once again showed their passion for the sport through an overwhelming number of responses regarding where Stage 6 should take place.”

Fans were asked to give their ideas for stage 6 on Facebook and on the race website following the announcement of the other host cities. With the fans’ opinion taken into account, Loveland and Fort Collins were chosen.

“It has been incredible to witness the outpouring of support from the Northern Colorado community who has rallied together to bring back the USA Pro Challenge in 2015,” said local organizing member Eric Thompson. “We are honored to have been selected for Stage 6 next summer and look forward to sharing the excitement with cycling fans that made it happen.”

2015 USA Pro Challenge route

Stage 1: Monday, August 17 – Steamboat Springs circuit race
Stage 2: Tuesday, August 18 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin
Stage 3: Wednesday, August 19 – Copper Mountain Resort to Aspen
Stage 4: Thursday, August 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge
Stage 5: Friday, August 21 – Breckenridge individual time trial
Stage 6: Saturday, August 22 – Loveland to Fort Collins
Stage 7: Sunday, August 23 – Golden to Denver

More specific details of the race route will be announced in the spring. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) has won the last two editions.

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World champ Kwiatkowski aims for 2015 Sanremo and Ardennes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/world-champ-kwiatkowski-aims-2015-sanremo-ardennes_356683 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/world-champ-kwiatkowski-aims-2015-sanremo-ardennes_356683#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:25:39 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356683

Michal Kwiatkowski is ready to disprove the age-old "curse of the rainbow jersey," aiming to win Milano-Sanremo, or one of the Ardennes classics. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Team director Bramati says Kwiatkowski will be able to gain motivation from his newly-won rainbow jersey, despite weighty expectations

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Michal Kwiatkowski is ready to disprove the age-old "curse of the rainbow jersey," aiming to win Milano-Sanremo, or one of the Ardennes classics. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski can aim high since he has already reached big goals, including becoming World Champion at 24 years old. For 2015, his target is a classic: Milano-Sanremo or one of the three Ardennes races.

“That’s the plan,” Omega Pharma-Quick Step sports director, Davide Bramati told VeloNews.

“We are waiting to finalize his schedule, but he will race Milano-Sanremo and return for the Ardennes classics, where he was already on the podium in two of them this spring.”

The Polish cyclist begins his season in Argentina at the Tour of San Luis, January 19. He will use the Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice stage race as a build-up to Milano-Sanremo on March 23 and of course, return to the three Ardennes races, April 20 to 27.

In 2013, Kwiatkowski placed third in La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“The Paris-Nice organizer will not announce its route until February 3, but we will start to look around at the rumors and decide if he will race Tirreno-Adriatico or in France ahead of Sanremo,” Bramati added.

“We are very attentive to his schedule and needs. Argentina, for example, is a good place for him to start. He began there two years before, went on to place second overall at the Volta ao Algarve, fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico behind the three strongest in grand tour cyclists — Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, and Chris Froome. Why not go back? In Poland, it’s cold in January.”

Kwiatkowski just completed a team training camp in his new Etixx-Quick-Step gear in Oliva, Spain. After passing Christmas at home in Poland, he will return to Spain for the end of the year and stay there until the next training camp in January. He’ll leave Spain for the team’s presentation on January 14th and then fly to Argentina on January 15th.

Colombian teammate Rigoberto Urán will race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2015. Kwiatkowski’s focus will probably turn toward the Tour de France after Ardennes week. He placed 11th in the 2013 Tour and 28th in 2014.

“How can he improve? We know that he has a lot of space to improve, we knew that two years ago. This year, he made big steps in time trials. In any one-day race, he’s going to be supported, but in grand tours he is going to take his time and learn. His moment will come, but for grand tour cyclists that usually is when they are 28 to 30 years old.”

The 2015 season will be his first in the rainbow jersey. He won it at the world championship road race on September 28 in Ponferrada, Spain, with a solo escape on the final lap. He held off the small bunch sprint led by Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE), who broke his collarbone training on his mountain bike Sunday.

“He’s different, he’s in a rainbow jersey, but that’s it. Nothing’s changed for him with the jersey, he’s still calm and focused like before. He’s open to the fans, quiet and respectful,” Bramati continued.

“The worlds rainbow jersey isn’t going to give him a big head. He’s young; it can be difficult to have the jersey at such a young age, but I’m convinced that he has the head for it. He has the right mindset. In fact, in crunch moments, in certain race finals, he can draw on that jersey and gain motivation. They say it’s a weight to carry, but it also is a fountain of motivation.”

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Abu Dhabi to host UCI road race in October http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/abu-dhabi-to-host-uci-road-race-in-october_356679 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/abu-dhabi-to-host-uci-road-race-in-october_356679#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:00:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356679

The Dubai Tour kicked off with the 2014 edition. American Taylor Phinney won the overall. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Abu Dhabi officials announced the four-day Abu Dhabi Tour, the latest in a series of races in the oil-rich Middle East

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The Dubai Tour kicked off with the 2014 edition. American Taylor Phinney won the overall. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Abu Dhabi will host a four-day race in October in what is the latest chapter in a decade-long boom in cycling in the oil-rich Middle East.

Officials from Abu Dhabi and RCS Sport, which will help produce and promote the race October 8-11, made the announcement Monday. The race will be rated as a 2.1 on the Asia Tour Calendar and will slot into the hole left by the Tour of Beijing, which ended its five-year run in October.

The race is the second for the United Arab Emirates, to go along with the Dubai Tour, which will hold its second edition in February, with defending Tour de France champ Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) among the confirmed starters. It also marks another coup for RCS Sport, which continues to push its cycling and gran fondo events around the globe.

“This important goal is in line with RCS Sport’s strategy focused on extending its activities towards new international markets,” said Lorenzo Giorgetti, director of RCS Sport and Events JLT, the UAE wholly owned subsidiary of RCS Sport, in a press release.

“RCS MediaGroup is proud to announce this partnership with Abu Dhabi,” said Pietro Scott Jovane, CEO of RCS MediaGroup, in the release. “For our group, sport is one of the strategic assets that we continue to foster through both our core media platforms, La Gazzetta dello Sport and Marca, and our sport business and events operations, RCS Sport and Last Lap. Sport is a natural driver for our internationalization and a fundamental vector of social development, which is one of the values perfectly represented by cycling.”

Middle East countries are investing in cycling in a dramatic way. Not only do they see the sport as a platform to promote a healthy lifestyle and its tourism assets, but it also ties in nicely with the region’s push for credibility in international sports. As a core Olympic sport, cycling is an ideal and relatively cheap way for nations to build credibility in the international arena.

The Tour of Qatar, with strong links to Tour de France owners ASO, got the ball rolling in 2002. The race is now established as a way to ramp up the classics season. With strong crosswinds and good weather, many of the top classics stars use the five-day Qatar race to build for the Belgian races.

Nearby Oman joined the party in 2010. Also with the backing of ASO, the race has since grown to 2.HC status, and with more challenging terrain compared to the flatter Qatari courses, it sees GC stars kick-starting their seasons in the fine winter weather of the Middle East. Chris Froome (Sky) has won the past two editions.

The United Arab Emirates was watching with interest, and jumped in with a highly successful debut edition of the Dubai Tour in February. Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) won stage 1 and the overall, while Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the three other stages.

Riders say they like the mild weather and world-class amenities that come with racing and training in the region. The events give teams an alternative for early-season racing far removed from the inconsistent late-winter weather of Europe. And organizers pull out all the stops to assure that teams and riders feel welcome, with deluxe accommodations and lucrative prize money and appearance fees. Last year at the Dubai Tour, the race also featured guest appearances from sports icons such as Diego Maradona and Formula One driver Fernando Alonso.

The Abu Dhabi Tour comes online just as Qatar is set to host the UCI Road World Championships in 2016, another sign that cycling enjoys major backing in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates started backing Continental team Sky Dive Dubai this year, which has European pros such as Francisco Mancebo, Vladimir Gusev, and Andrea Paolini on its roster.

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2014 Comeback of the Year: Lea Davison http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/mtb/comeback-year-lea-davison_354268 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/mtb/comeback-year-lea-davison_354268#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:00:49 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354268

Lea Davison claimed the bronze medal in the cross-country at 2014 world mountain bike championships in Norway. Photo: AFP PHOTO | NTB SCANPIX | GEIR OLSEN | NORWAY OUT

Lea Davison had to face another long rehabilitation from a torn labrum in 2014, but she delivered with world championship medal

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Lea Davison claimed the bronze medal in the cross-country at 2014 world mountain bike championships in Norway. Photo: AFP PHOTO | NTB SCANPIX | GEIR OLSEN | NORWAY OUT

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.

In January, she was unconscious, lying on a table in Vermont, a labrum tear to her right hip being surgically repaired. In September she was overjoyed, standing on a podium in Hafjell, Norway, a bronze medalist at the world cross-country championship.

For Lea Davison, the 2014 season didn’t just deliver the best result of her career — it was a glimpse into the realm of what is possible, a test of the mental as much as the physical.

Following surgery, Davison had to first learn how to walk correctly again, before thinking about pedaling a bike. Exercise amounted to crutching around her house, or range-of-motion exercises in a local pool. Her first ride back was in Santa Barbara, at a USA Cycling women’s mountain-bike skills camp in early March, where she pedaled the granny gear for 30 minutes. Increased pain in April forced her to take a week completely off the bike, missing the Sea Otter Classic. She didn’t truly begin training until late May.

The turning point in her season, Davison said, was the technical and difficult seven-day B.C. Bike Race, in June. She came away from that event with the form needed to defend her national XC championship, ahead of Georgia Gould (Luna).

“The goal at B.C. Bike Race was just to ride, but I was so excited about racing again that I went for the win on the first stage and got the leader’s jersey,” Davison said. “Then, I was locked in a tight battle for the overall with Wendy Simms the whole week. I raced myself into the ground, but I ended up with the win, by a mere one minute after 18 hours of racing … and I couldn’t really breathe. My diaphragm was completely cramped by the end because I hadn’t breathed that much in over a year. It was a gamble with the race ending two weeks before the national championships. Luckily, it paid off.”

A national championship medal is not the same as one from a world championship, but there were indications that Davison was returning to world-class form. A fourth-place at the Mont-Sainte-Anne cross-country race in August tied her career-best at a World Cup. But for a rider who was ecstatic to finish 11th at the 2012 Olympic Games, a podium finish in Hafjell was well beyond expectations.

“It means the world to me. When I came down that finish straight at the world championships with a bronze medal, it was like I had won that race,” Davison said. “With all the hard work I put in, to go from crutches in January to getting the best result of my career, it gives it even more meaning. It was literally like my wildest dream had come true.”

Davison, 31, had been through a similar surgery in April 2010, forcing her to miss the rest of that season, and rebounding with a 2011 season that was, at the time, her best to date. Still, this time around, there was no guarantee that she’d be competitive midway through the same season in which she had the surgery.

“I definitely had my doubts, but all I could do was my best,” Davison said. “An experience like this really has a way of making me focus on the things in my control. It was so easy to focus on what everyone else was doing, all of the base miles my competitors were putting in, all of the races everyone did from March to July. But, I absolutely couldn’t. I couldn’t focus on results. My only focus was to do everything in my power to heal my hip, get back on the bike, and feel back to normal. Luckily, all of my sponsors stuck with me through this bumpy road. That support really makes a big positive impact during a time like this. Look what can happen when there’s a good support network around an athlete combined with hard work — so much is possible.”

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Top 14 stories of 2014: Riding with Eddy http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-riding-eddy_355013 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-riding-eddy_355013#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:30:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=355013

This spring, tech writer Logan VonBokel had the opportunity to ride on a star-studded group ride with some of the legends of Belgian cycling. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Logan VonBokel tells the story of hopping in on Eddy Merckx's local group ride and rubbing elbows with legends of the sport

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This spring, tech writer Logan VonBokel had the opportunity to ride on a star-studded group ride with some of the legends of Belgian cycling. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Editor’s note: To close out the year, we are counting down the top 14 stories of 2014. VeloNews and Velo magazine’s editorial staff voted this piece, from the June 2014 issue of Velo, as one of our favorite stories of the year.

After three days in Belgium, the Visit Flanders tourism board laid out the following day’s agenda. Our group of American journalists would be going for a bike ride through the hallowed lands of the spring classics. While on much tamer roads than the previous day’s ride, which took us over various parts of the Ronde van Vlaanderen course, today we would be riding with a local cyclist, and a dozen or so of his friends.

The local was Eddy Merckx, and many of his friends were also his former teammates.

I found myself struggling to speak for much of the ride; the cumulative palmares of the group would rival that of a Tour de France peloton and, yes, I was a bit gun shy. The other five journalists and I stayed at the back of the two lines of friends. We stood out like sore thumbs.

Everyone else rode Eddy Merckx bikes of various generations and wore black kits covered in Eddy Merckx logos. We were on loaners, Eddy Merckx EMX-525s, and we didn’t know where the ride was going. We didn’t belong and we felt it, more so than the friends and teammates at the front — they weren’t fazed by our nervous presence.

The pace was brisk, but not fast; it was steady and easy to sit in. We’d been told Merckx was recovering from an injury sustained in a crash on this very group ride a few months earlier, though he didn’t show it. He doesn’t ride uphill much anymore. The roads around his home are mostly flat, and wrap like ribbon around the countryside, much like paved singletrack. After about 10 miles, Merckx, forever the patron, shouted some directions in Flemish and floated back in the group.

Then the group began to rotate. The paceline on the left moved forward, while the right moved backward, like a dual paceline, but the rotations were slower, the pulls longer. This system ensured that you pedaled next to a different person every five to 10 minutes as you inched closer to the front of the group.

I didn’t want to be on the front. I didn’t want to go too fast, or even worse, too slow. As I was sitting second wheel, the rider in front of me started half-wheeling another of the American journos, or perhaps it was the other way around. Regardless of who had half-wheeled whom, the ride started going much faster as the one-upmanship skyrocketed at the front end. Then shouts came from the back; I asked former Molteni team member Karel Rottiers what was being said.

“They’re yelling to slow down, that when you move up there it’ll keep getting faster,” he said. Apparently, the black kit I was wearing was terrifically slimming on this day.

The ride rotated again and I found myself on the front with 1981 Milano-Sanremo winner Alfons “Fons” de Wolf. “We ride for 3k here, and then you rotate over,” he said. I fumbled with my Garmin, changing it to display kilometers as quickly as I could. Then, feeling far too confident, I asked him how far we had until the sprint. I was partially joking, as he still looked like he could best any rider on his home roads.

A few kilometers later, as we came around one of the last turns, I felt a hand on my hip, and panicked, imagining I was doing something wrong. No.

De Wolf shouted at me to go. I was riding next to Merckx at this point, and Merckx said that this was the last little rise, and that it was all downhill back to the brewery. I went nowhere. This wasn’t my ride, and there was no way I was going to open up a town-line sprint. Let me remind you that I was riding next to the Eddy Merckx. The greatest cyclist, ever, without question.

Back at the Palm Brewery, in Londerzeel, we were able to catch the end of E3 Harelbeke. In the conference room of the brewery, the journalists, Merckx, and all of his friends spectated. While we couldn’t understand everything the former teammates said to one another in Flemish, the collective sigh that passed through the room when Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder went from on the attack, to out the back, was one of unmistakable disappointment.

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Photo Essay: 2014 Cyclocross World Cup Namur http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/gallery/photo-essay-2014-cyclocross-world-cup-namur_356649 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/gallery/photo-essay-2014-cyclocross-world-cup-namur_356649#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:40:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356649

Dan Seaton photographed the fast, muddy racing action at the Belgian citadel on Sunday

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Gerrans breaks collarbone, will miss Tour Down Under http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/gerrans-miss-tdu-aussie-champs-broken-collarbone_356638 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/gerrans-miss-tdu-aussie-champs-broken-collarbone_356638#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:08:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356638

Simon Gerrans won't be able to defend his 2014 Tour Down Under title after breaking his collarbone. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Gerrans will also miss the Australian national championships because of the injury

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Simon Gerrans won't be able to defend his 2014 Tour Down Under title after breaking his collarbone. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

It’s hardly the Christmas present 2014 Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) was hoping for.

Gerrans snapped his collarbone while mountain biking over the weekend, and will miss the chance to defend his titles at the Australian national championship and at the Santos Tour Down Under next month.

Gerrans, 34, was scheduled to undergo surgery on his left shoulder Monday, and admitted he will not be at a top level to race in January.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how well the recovery goes from here, I don’t think I am going to be in any condition to be racing at a high level in January,” Gerrans said in a team release. “With that in mind I think it is better to take my time, make sure the recovery goes well and get all the rehab done so I don’t have any ongoing issues.

“Looking on the bright side, what it does do, is force a bit of a break now and mean that I can work towards some goals later in the season and be a lot fresher,” Gerrans continued.

Gerrans crashed Sunday while training off-road, landing hard on his left side.

“About halfway through my mountain bike ride I became a little unstuck, came down and landed pretty heavily on my left side,” he explained. “I knew straight away as I hit the ground that I had broken my left collarbone. From there I had a little bit of a walk to get down to a point where I was picked up by a four-wheel drive and went directly to Mansfield hospital to get cleaned up and have the x-ray to confirm.”

Team officials said Gerrans would likely need 10 days off the bike before he can resume training, meaning that he will have to recalibrate his season focus toward the spring classics. Orica was building its entire TDU team around Gerrans, but will now have to reset its goals for the UCI WorldTour opener.

“He is the ultimate professional, and he will be back on the bike in no time and hunting down his next victory before we know it,” Orica sport director Matt White said. “In terms of the team this summer, there is no doubt it is a huge hit, but we have some really motivated guys who are looking really strong. Now it is their chance to step up and deliver in a very important period for us and we are really confident they can do that.”

Gerrans will likely make his season debut in Europe to tune his form ahead of an assault on the spring classics.

The crash puts an unfortunate ending to his otherwise superb 2014 campaign, which included victories from January to October, among them Liège, second at the world championships, and victories in the Canadian WorldTour races.

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Gallery: Cyclocross World Cup #4, Namur http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/cyclocross/gallery-cyclocross-world-cup-4-namur_356589 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/cyclocross/gallery-cyclocross-world-cup-4-namur_356589#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:20:40 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356589

The fourth round of the 'cross World Cup delivers plenty of action on a classic, heavy course in Belgium as Nash and Pauwels take wins

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Compton satisfied with podium finish after asthma issues at Namur http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/compton-satisfied-podium-finish-asthma-issues-namur_356603 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/compton-satisfied-podium-finish-asthma-issues-namur_356603#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:33:41 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356603

Katie Compton overcame allergies and asthma for a third place finish that helped to keep the World Cup overall close. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

The U.S. national champ was content with her third-place finish after breathing issues threatened to end her race early

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Katie Compton overcame allergies and asthma for a third place finish that helped to keep the World Cup overall close. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

American cyclocross champion Katie Compton said she was content with her third-place finish at Sunday’s World Cup race in Namur, Belgium, after breathing issues nearly ended her race early.

The threat of an asthma attack, combined with a missed pedal at the start, forced Compton to stay within herself over the muddy, hilly course at Namur. The Trek Factory Racing rider, who has been crowned World Cup series champion the past two seasons, never saw the front of the race, where world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) and Katerina Nash (Luna) battled for the victory.

Instead, Compton worked her way through the field, finishing third, 1:07 behind Nash, and 34 seconds behind Vos, who was returning to cyclocross after her traditional break after the road season.

Though she’s won 10 consecutive national titles, Compton’s career has also been beset with physical struggles, including crippling leg cramps, hypothyroidism, and allergy-induced asthma that has hindered her at key events, including the 2014 world cyclocross championship in Hoogerheide, where she finished a disappointing ninth.

Asked if third place in Namur is a result that she could be satisfied with, Compton answered, “Yeah, because I was on the edge of having an asthma attack the whole time. The way I’m feeling, and the way training has gone, today was actually really a successful day for me. Today, I’m really happy. I felt like today I won, because I finished the race. I was able to manage my breathing enough to get to the finish.”

Compton blamed her asthma on mold, and said she came into the race knowing that Nash and Vos would set a speed that would be difficult for her to match.

“I knew Katerina was riding fast, and I knew Marianne was going to ride fast, so they were off the front and I was like, ‘I’ve got to cut my losses and just finish as high as I can,” Compton said. “It was so hard out there today, it was more like a time trial. If you could ride faster, you were going to ride faster, and I couldn’t.”

Though she started on the front row, Compton missed a pedal at the start, and found herself well behind the leaders from the gun.

“I missed my pedal at the start, which is odd because I’ve been doing starts — and hill starts — and I still missed my pedal,” Compton said. “So that sucked, but I actually didn’t lose so much time, I was probably in tenth or fifteenth spot. So I was able to pass a few girls and be patient. I didn’t feel that great today, so I knew I couldn’t go too deep. So I just slowly picked people off and rode steady.”

Compton also said she could take solace in the fact that she rode a technically clean race, devoid of crashes that slowed down both Vos and French champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv), who finished fifth.

“Technically I felt pretty good. I was able to push hard on enough sections to not lose time,” Compton said.

As for the World Cup series, a third consecutive overall win is still a very real possibility for Compton — with two events remaining, she sits one point behind Belgian Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) who finished sixth in Namur, with Belgian Ellen Van Loy in third, a distant 32 points down.

“I’m one point back [in the World Cup overall] so of course [it’s still a goal],” Compton said. “But I want to win a race, that would be nice. I really just want to feel well and ride better. We still have Zolder [December 26] and Hoogerheide [January 25] — Hoogerheide has never been a good course for me, so we’ll see how that one goes. But I like Zolder, and it’s a fast race, so we’ll see.”

As for her asthma issues, Compton said that a week spent training in Mallorca, Spain, prior to Namur hadn’t solved the problem, but she was optimistic that time spent at her home in Colorado Springs, following Zolder, would alleviate the issue.

“I’m going to go home, and I think that once I’m in a desert climate it will be better, “Compton said. “The mold here is really bad, I’ve got to get out of Europe. So I’m going to go home after Zolder and hopefully train and recover and feel good for Worlds. That’s the goal.”

VeloNews.com correspondent Dan Seaton contributed to this report from Namur, Belgium

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North American Woman of the Year: Katie Compton http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/cyclocross/north-american-woman-year-kaite-compton_354264 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/cyclocross/north-american-woman-year-kaite-compton_354264#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:00:52 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=354264

At the end of the 2014 cyclocross World Cup, Compton claimed the top step on the podium for a second consecutive year. She made history one year earlier, as the first American to win the series. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Compton claims three Velo awards: International Cyclocross and North American Cyclocross Woman, and North American Woman of the year

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At the end of the 2014 cyclocross World Cup, Compton claimed the top step on the podium for a second consecutive year. She made history one year earlier, as the first American to win the series. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.

American Katie Compton has been winning international cyclocross races so consistently, and for so long, it’s sometimes easy to overlook her world-class caliber.

It’s not accurate to say that Compton is without peer — Marianne Vos has proven a formidable opponent, particularly at the world championships — but in the context of an award that acknowledges consistent performances across the calendar, Compton has proven to be the most dominant rider in women’s cyclocross, and the most impressive North American woman in pro cycling across all disciplines.

Over the 2013-2014 season — which started slowly for her due to injury and illness during the summer of 2013 — Compton won 14 races from 21 starts, including five of seven World Cup events, sealing her second consecutive World Cup series title. She is the only American, man or woman, to ever win the UCI’s prestigious World Cup series.

In January, Compton also clinched an incredible 10th straight national championship. The last American woman to win the stars and stripes jersey at a national cyclocross championship was six-time winner Alison Dunlap, in 2003.

Compton has been awarded Velo’s North American Cyclocross Woman of the Year title for the past decade, but this marks the first time she’s been awarded North American Woman of the Year, which spans across all disciplines; it’s also the first time she’s been awarded International Cyclocross Woman of the Year.

“It’s pretty sweet to win all three categories,” Compton said in October. “I’m really happy with last year’s season, especially after some preseason setbacks, and these awards just top it off.”

A powerful rider who excels in sloppy, difficult conditions, Compton’s biggest adversary has always been her health. Over the past decade she’s dealt with crippling leg cramps, thyroid imbalances, and debilitating allergies, and through it all, she’s tailored her training, travel, and diet as needed to compete at the sport’s highest level. In October, she won her 100th UCI cyclocross race, as she continued to split time between the U.S. and her adopted home in Belgium pursuing a third straight World Cup crown.

Still, Compton, who turns 36 in December, knows her window of opportunity to win a world title is beginning to close. Vos, who is nine years younger, holds two significant advantages — youth, and experience. The Dutch rider, who splits her season between road and ’cross, has seven world cyclocross titles to her name. When it comes to a rainbow jersey, the pressure is on Compton, every world championship one more opportunity to execute a flawless performance against the most impeccable woman to race on two wheels.

Whether Compton’s dream scenario comes true at the world championship in Tabor, Czech Republic, in February, or in Zolder, Belgium, in 2016, or never, it’s something she refuses to dwell on.

“Of course I want to win a world championship. Everyone wants to,” Compton told VeloNews earlier this year. “Especially having been so close. But if it never happens, it doesn’t happen. I have had tons of success, I have overcome a lot of physical issues, and I have been able to win, and do well, and I am pretty proud of that. I’m not going to keep doing this forever, trying to win worlds … one of these days, I’m either going to be retired or I’ll win one. We’ll see. I’m okay with what I have accomplished, and where I am. I am still striving to win worlds, but it’s a hard thing to accomplish.”

A world championship, however, is not everything in pro cycling, and over the last 12 months, Katie Compton has proven to be the most dominant woman in cyclocross, as well as the most dominant North American woman in all of pro cycling.

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Kevin Pauwels wins cyclocross World Cup in Namur http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/pauwels-wins-namur_356578 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/pauwels-wins-namur_356578#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:18:21 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356578

Kevin Pauwels secured his overall lead in the World Cup with an impressive win in Namur. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Pauwels plays his cards perfectly, riding a patient race on a heavy course and making the winning move on the final lap

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Kevin Pauwels secured his overall lead in the World Cup with an impressive win in Namur. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won the fourth round of the cyclocross World Cup in Namur, Belgium on Sunday.

Wearing the white World Cup leader’s skinsuit, the Belgian made his move on the final lap, and proved to be the most sure-footed on a difficult, hilly course, getting the best of Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) and Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus).

Early in the race, a group of seven riders broke off the front of the field. The lead group began to slowly pull apart during the first 20 minutes of racing, until Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) attacked with six laps to go. Van der Haar took up the chasing duties, and with a big effort, he bridged alone to the 26-year-old Belgian leader.

“This is a couse where you can actually do something on your own, and I saw an opportunity to go when Meeusen went, and I felt I was really strong uphill,” Van der Haar said. “So I just went full gas to him and then just did my own race.”

Behind, Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and Pauwels battled for third place.

“In the beginning of the race I wasn’t better than the rest, so it was fast enough for me,” Pauwels said. “I was always in the back of the [front group]. But I rode all the race at my own rhythm, and in a race like this it’s better not to go too deep in the beginning. Always ride your own speed.”

When they came through with five laps to go, Van der Haar had faded and was riding with van Kessel and Pauwels.

The chasers persisted and brought Meeusen back, a little over the race’s halfway mark.

With four laps left, van der Haar attacked on one of the course’s many steep hills, early in the lap. The Dutch champion quickly got a gap, and the increased pace caused Meeusen to drop from the chase.

Walsleben, who’d been lurking in fifth place, overtook Meeusen, and soon had the podium in his sights.

“It wasn’t my intention to close the gap to the leaders, I was just was riding at my own speed as fast as I could,” Walsleben said. “But then, obviously, I was coming closer to the first two, and then I thought I had a chance. But, of course, they were riding a little bit for tactics, the last couple of laps. So I could come close, but I knew they were looking at each other.”

On a high-speed descent, van Kessel crashed on a right-hand corner and lost his chance at the podium.

With three to go, van der Haar’s advantage had grown, and Pauwels, the World Cup series leader, chased alone. Walsleben sat in third position.

Undeterred, Pauwels slowly reeled in van der Haar, and by the penultimate lap, the 30-year-old Belgian had returned to the front of the race. Pauwels moved ahead of van der Haar after a trip through the pits. The two traded the lead a few times but waited to attack.

On the final lap, the two leaders slowed a bit, and began to play tactical games, offering Walsleben a ray of hope, as he chased close behind. But it was not meant to be. Pauwels accelerated away from van der Haar and extended his lead on a brutally technical off-camber section.

“Just before the off-camber I felt good, and I had a little gap,” said Pauwels. “On the off-camber I came back on the penultimate lap to Lars. I didn’t know, but in the last lap I suddenly saw that I had a gap, so I presumed that Lars made a mistake. But I didn’t know, but it was in the same place again.”

Van der Haar was forced to settle for second place, and Walsleben stayed close to finish third.

“It became a bit tactical, and I wanted to see if I could beat Pauwels,” van der Haar said. “And I did really good in the next-to-last lap, but in the last lap I wanted to do the same, like go in the front in the off-camber bit. But I got a lot of stuff in my eyes just before I wanted to go over, and I just couldn’t see how I wanted to do it. So then I just stayed put. And then you come to the off-camber and I was just like, ‘Ok, now I have to do it. I have to do it.’ And of course, it goes wrong. So I lost a lot of time.

“Then, a little bit later, I made another mistake where Walsleben was almost back in my wheel,” van der Haar continued. “And I made myself so angry, I was like, ‘No way, that’s not going to happen.’ So I just pushed myself so hard that I was still the second place.”

With two events remaining, Pauwels is poised to claim the World Cup series overall.

“The World Cup is looking very, very good. We have two races to go, so it’s not sure yet,” he said. “Friday in Zolder I will try to lose as few points as possible on the other guys. But it’s looking really, really good. Zolder remains the most important race of the Christmas period, even though I have a big lead in the classification. I’m feeling strong, but not super strong. Maybe because I trained very intensely during the training camp in Mallorca, so maybe it will come back next week.”

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Katerina Nash wins Namur World Cup http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/katerina-nash-wins-namur-world-cup_356574 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/katerina-nash-wins-namur-world-cup_356574#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:09:41 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356574

Katerina Nash broke rode away from Marianne Vos to earn a solo victory in Namur. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Marianne Vos claims second, and Katie Compton is third in Namur at the fourth round of the cyclocross World Cup

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Katerina Nash broke rode away from Marianne Vos to earn a solo victory in Namur. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Czech Olympian Katerina Nash (Luna) claimed her first World Cup cyclocross victory of the season on Sunday.

After winning the Czech Republic’s national cyclocross championship title the weekend before, Nash took on a muddy course and a competitive field in Namur, Belgium, the fourth round of the World Cup.

“It wasn’t easy, but it was a good ride,” said Nash. “I had two tiny little hiccups, but overall I just had a really good day and I’m super excited about it. I raced here two years ago and I just knew I wanted to come back to Namur. I really like the course and the steep ups and downs. So I’m really happy to come here and have a really good ride.

Rabo-Liv’s Marianne Vos captured second place, and American Katie Compton (Trek) rounded out the podium in third. Vos had a fast start and an early lead, but Nash chased her down and then forged on alone to win.

“Marianne got a gap and I just slowly worked my way up toward her, and we rode just briefly together,” Nash said. “I just felt stronger, and I wanted to go because you never know, you know? You can have a flat tire, anything could happen, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta go, I’ve got to keep going hard.’”

Until recently, Nash, 37, had raced primarily in the U.S. during the fall season. However, the Luna rider has had no problem stepping up to the international level of competition, besting the reigning world champion, Vos, by 34 seconds.

“It was not a win, but I’m quite happy with a first ride,” said Vos. “This is a hard one, and I knew up front that it was going to be really tough. I was happy with the start, I had some advantage, but I knew it was going to be hard to stay in the lead.

“I saw Katerina coming, and I tried to keep up but I didn’t have anything left, so I had to take my own rhythm and had to let her go. But I’m really happy with second place in my first race, and I hope that the rhythm will come race by race.”

Compton finished over one minute behind the day’s winner after battling with world road champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Belgian Sanne Cant, who held the series lead going into Namur, had a disappointing showing, finishing sixth. However, she managed to hold the World Cup leader’s jersey, thanks to a strong final lap that saw her move up from eight place.

“Today I’m really happy,” said Compton, who is still struggling with asthma. “I felt like today I won because I finished the race. I was able to manage my breathing enough to get to the finish. And then, I also rode a clean race. Technically I felt pretty good. I was able to push hard on enough sections to not lose time.

“I knew Katerina was riding fast, knew Marianne was going to ride fast, so they were off the front and I was like, ‘I’ve got to cut my losses and just finish as high as I can.’”

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Top 14 stories of 2014: Will CIRC make a difference? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-will-circ-make-difference_355031 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-will-circ-make-difference_355031#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:30:38 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=355031

The UCI is taking a big step forward with its review commission, but is it enough? Photo: AFP

Cycling's independent commission is a big step toward repairing the sport, but Steve Maxwell points out a number of shortcomings in its

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The UCI is taking a big step forward with its review commission, but is it enough? Photo: AFP

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Nys, on poor condition: ‘I don’t know what’s wrong’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/nys-poor-condition-dont-know-whats-wrong_356564 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/nys-poor-condition-dont-know-whats-wrong_356564#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:54:38 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356564

Sven Nys' (Crelan-AA Drink) string of bad form and bad luck has left the Belgian champion and his team searching for answers. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

After a poor performance at the Essen Bpost Bank Trofee, Sven Nys said he doesn't know what is wrong with his condition, which has slipped

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Sven Nys' (Crelan-AA Drink) string of bad form and bad luck has left the Belgian champion and his team searching for answers. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

After a disappointing performance Saturday at the Essen stop of the Bpost Bank Trofee series, Belgian national champion Sven Nys (Crelan AA Drink) said he doesn’t know what is wrong with his condition, which has slipped dramatically over the past six weeks.

Nya finished 13th on Saturday, almost three minutes behind winner Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), losing his lead in the BPost Bank Trofee series classification.

“The series classiciation, I can forget it,” Nys told Sporza. “I do not know what’s wrong. For me this is a big question mark.”

Nys announced, via Twitter, that he would not race at Sunday’s Namur World Cup event.

The Essen race was a return to competition for the 38-year-old Nys, who took two weeks off, after finishing fourth at the December 6 Bpost Bank event in Hasselt, instead heading to Spain for a training camp in Mallorca.

Nys started the season out well, with wins at CrossVegas, Soudal GP Neerpelt, and the Bpost Bank Trofee in Ronse — all in September and early October.

His last win came on November 11, at Soudal Jaarmarktcross Niel. He twice finished eighth in November, including at the World Cup event at Milton Keynes in Great Britain.

Prior to the start of the Essen race, the 2013 world champion said he felt back to his former self, however he fell off the pace early, and was never a factor.

“Despite two weeks away, it’s just not right,” Nys said. “At the moment I am riding at 50 percent of my potential. I can ride an hour at tempo, but as soon as I want to accelerate, I feel that I don’t  have the strength. I just do not ride at my level.

“I have to draw conclusions, and my ambition is scaling back. I have to draw a line through this [series classification] ranking. It’s over. I do not know what to do now. Rest? I do not know.”

Nys told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that he would likely skip all of the upcoming Christmas-week races, including the New Year’s Day race in his hometown of Baal, named after him, focusing instead on the Belgian national championships, held January 11 in Erpe-Mere, and the world championships, held in Tabor, Czech Republic, on February 1.

“I think it is better for a while to switch completely and change my frame of mind. Namur is tomorrow, which I certainly will not do, and Heusden-Zolder will come too soon after. I can better focus on the championships early next year, the Belgian championships and the world championships in Tabor early February. Whether I start in my own ’cross race, in Baal, on New Year’s Day, I will decide later.”

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Van Aert solos to victory in muddy Essen race http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/van-aert-solos-victory-muddy-essen-race_356557 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/race-report/van-aert-solos-victory-muddy-essen-race_356557#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 15:30:26 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356557 The 20-year-old phenom soloed to victory at a muddy edition of the race in Essen, Belgium, the fifth round of the 2014-15 Bpost Bank Trofee

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Twenty-year-old phenom Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) soloed to victory at a muddy edition of the Grand Prix Rouwmoer cyclocross race in Essen, Belgium, Saturday, the fifth round of the 2014-15 Bpost Bank Trofee.

Van Aert took to the front early on the first lap, and never looked back. He was initially joined by his teammate, Rob Peeters, with Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) bridging across to form a lead group of three.

Belgian national champion Sven Nys (Crelan AA Drink), the Bpost series leader who returned to competition after a spell of poor form saw him retreat to Mallorca for training, sat in a large chase group, 11 seconds back after one lap.

After two laps, the leading trio had stretched its lead to 17 seconds, as those in the chase group began eyeing each other rather than pushing the pace.

Heading into the third lap, Van Aert picked up 15 seconds of time bonuses for the series classification, with Peeters taking 10 seconds, and Meeusen taking five.

On the third lap, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) rode clear of the lead chase group, attempting to bridge across to the leaders, while Nys could not maintain contact and drifted to the back of the chase.

After three laps, the trio’s lead over Pauwels was 12 seconds, while the main chase group was a full 29 seconds down.

On the fourth lap, Van Aert went solo as Pauwels made his way up to Peeters and Meeusen. That threat from behind promoted a reaction from Meeusen, who rode away from Peeters.

Heading into the fifth lap, Van Aert held an 11 seconds over Meeusen, with Peeters caught by Pauwels a few seconds behind; Nys trailed almost a full minute down.

With four laps remaining, Van Aert continued to push the pace, alone at the front, with Meeusen chasing alone, followed by Pauwels, with Peeters on his wheel.

With three to go, Meeusen sat 37 seconds back of Van Aert, with Pauwels and Peeters 51 seconds down.

With two laps to go, Van Aert’s lead stretched to 42 seconds as it became clear that Meeusen was racing for second place.

Van Aert crossed the finish line on the final lap with a massive 58-second lead over Meeusen, with Pauwels and Peeters a full 1:30 down.

At the finish, Van Aert’s lead was 1:06 over Meeusen, with Peeters in third, 1:40 back, and Pauwels fourth, at 1:50.

With the win, the U23 world champion also took the Bpost series lead, 1:50 ahead of Nys, with Pauwels in third, at 1:56.

Nys, who had led the series, finished the race in 13th, 2:50 down, prompting his team manager, Jan Verstraeten, to tell Sporza, “Nys is still not as he should be. We will continue to look for the cause.”

Several top riders were absent, including 19-year-old star Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus). Belgian Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) sat out the race due to illness.

World champion Zdenek Stybar, who lives in Essen, has historically used the Essen race as his return to racing after a long road season, but after a shoulder injury in October, Stybar has opted to sit out the remainder of the season. Still, the world champion wrote on Twitter Saturday that it “hurt” not to be on the start line.

In the women’s race, Dutch rider Sophie De Boer (Kalas-NNOF) defeated Belgian national champion Sanne Cant. American Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing) did not compete, while American Arley Kemmerer finished 13th, 3:27 down.

Laurens Sweeck (Corendon-Kwadro) won the U23 race, 18 seconds ahead of Michael Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).

In the junior race, American Brannan Fix finished fourth, 29 seconds behind winner Roel van der Stegen; American Cooper Willsey was 10th, 1:12 down.

On Sunday, the sport’s best racers will compete in Namur, Belgium, for the fourth round of the UCI World Cup series. World champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) will make her return to the World Cup circuit.

The Bpost Bank Trofee series resumes on December 30, with the Azencross in Loenhout.

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Top 14 stories of 2014: 10th anniversary of Pantani death http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-10th-anniversary-pantani-death_355033 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-10th-anniversary-pantani-death_355033#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=355033

Prosecutors are reviewing new documents concerning the death of Marco Pantani. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Pantani's biographer says that much of the media coverage surrounding the Italian's death has been self-indulgent and profit-oriented

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Prosecutors are reviewing new documents concerning the death of Marco Pantani. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

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In the News: Stapleton agrees to conditional settlement in Armstrong case http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/news-stapleton-agrees-conditional-settlement-armstrong-case_356552 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/news-stapleton-agrees-conditional-settlement-armstrong-case_356552#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:10:14 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=356552 Lance Armstrong's longtime business associates have agreed to pay $500,000 to the U.S. government as part of a conditional settlement

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USA Today reports that Bill Stapleton and Barton Knaggs have agreed to conditional settlements in the Armstrong case.

Two of Lance Armstrong’s longtime business associates have agreed to pay $500,000 to the United States government as part of a conditional settlement in a lawsuit filed by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis.

Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, and Barton Knaggs, Armstrong’s longtime business partner, also have agreed to pay $100,000 to the law office of Landis’ attorney, Paul Scott.

If approved by the U.S. government, the settlement would release Stapleton, Knaggs, and their agency, Capital Sports & Entertainment, from Landis’ lawsuit in exchange for their combined payments of $500,000 to the government and $100,000 to Scott.

Read more >>

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Top 14 stories of 2014: A tale of two breakaways http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-tale-two-breakaways_355035 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/12/news/road/top-14-stories-2014-tale-two-breakaways_355035#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:45:39 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=355035

BMC Racing's Michael Schär (left) saw a more than four-minute lead over the top of the last climb – 38km from the finish – reduced to seconds inside the final kilometer of the 210km race. Hincapie rider Joey Rosskopf (right) was caught 3km from the finish. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

At the Tour of Utah, breakaway companions Michael Schär and Joey Rosskopf were on opposite ends of the spectrum between agony and ecstasy

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BMC Racing's Michael Schär (left) saw a more than four-minute lead over the top of the last climb – 38km from the finish – reduced to seconds inside the final kilometer of the 210km race. Hincapie rider Joey Rosskopf (right) was caught 3km from the finish. Photo by Casey B. Gibson.

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