VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:52:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Brajkovic joins UnitedHealthcare through 2016 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/brajkovic-joins-unitedhealthcare-2016_350791 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/brajkovic-joins-unitedhealthcare-2016_350791#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:52:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350791

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more statistics from the Sponsorship Science report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a mountain biker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No easy feat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pro Bike Gallery: Lars van der Haar’s Giant TCX Advanced Pro http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-lars-van-der-haar_350383 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-lars-van-der-haar_350383#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350383

The Dutch rider uses Shimano’s full suite of components on his Giant

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Magazine Excerpt: Shades of gray http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/magazine/magazine-excerpt-shades-gray_350618 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/magazine/magazine-excerpt-shades-gray_350618#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:22:01 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350618

Pick up the November issue of Velo magazine to read the complete article, "Shades of gray."

Some who confessed to doping have been accepted back into the sport, others have not. What's the difference?

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Pick up the November issue of Velo magazine to read the complete article, "Shades of gray."

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the November 2014 issue of Velo magazine.

That guy’s a doper. A cheater. A liar. Can’t stand him.

That guy seems all right. Yeah, he used to dope, but so did everyone else.

The conventional definition of the word “perception” pertains to the inexact and shifting merger of action and reaction that is constantly calibrating itself, given the context. Perception is both impermeable and porous. Judgments are formed unconsciously. We like or loathe, often before we’ve had a chance to think why.

During July, millions of people heard Christian Vande Velde’s voice commentating on the Tour de France for NBC Sports. If confessing to past use of PEDs ever hurt the former rider, he was certainly able to recover.

Also during July, hardly anyone saw Dave Zabriskie or Levi Leipheimer. Perhaps the riders chose to keep it that way, or perhaps they didn’t have such an option as Vande Velde. It’s hard to know.

Zabriskie finished his term with Garmin-Sharp at the end of the 2013 season, and walked away from the sport quietly. At the close of the 2012 season, Leipheimer was sacked by Omega Pharma-Quick Step following his public admission to using PEDs; after several last-ditch efforts to join a team in 2013 came up empty, he has since faded away from the professional side. But he continues to race, and some riders and fans of the sport seethe when he wins a mass-participation event (as he did at the Crusher in the Tushar this July).

Doper.

More than 7,000 people ride Levi’s GranFondo in Santa Rosa, California. It fills up every year.

Good guy.

In August, George Hincapie signed autographs outside the Hincapie Sportswear team bus in Aspen, Colorado, at the start of the USA Pro Challenge. The next day, one of the team’s riders, Robin Carpenter, won the stage into Crested Butte; Hincapie’s name was, once again, thrust into the international spotlight. In addition to the apparel company, Hincapie has his name on a gran fondo, and owns a luxury hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains that caters to cyclists. Business seems good, if exposure is any indicator.

Eh, everybody did it.

Tom Danielson sat out the Tour de France, won the Tour of Utah, and was lambasted by a fan in Colorado during the USA Pro Challenge, eventually flipping the man off as he pedaled his way through the Garden of the Gods on a hot August afternoon.

Doper.

A few days later in Boulder, more fans waited outside the Garmin bus to cheer for Danielson than for any other rider on the team. “He was the most popular rider to come out of the bus. I’m just pointing that out,” manager Jonathan Vaughters said. Danielson finished second overall in Colorado.

Good guy.

There is a select crop of riders who embody the binary of the sport; they are the past and present in the same person, as the sport carries its past with it up the long climb to redemption.

“I think there is a small group of people, mainly your cat. 3, cat. 2, maybe even cat. 1 type of riders that feel like they had something personally taken away from them as a result of the doping culture that existed in cycling,” Vaughters said. “And, you know, I don’t think there’s anything I’m going to say, or anything anyone else is going to say, that’s going to convince them differently on that. And they’re angry about that. And that’s unfortunate, but at the same point in time, they’re entitled to be angry.”

Meanwhile, amid the wreckage, Lance Armstrong continues his public relations journey, plodding through a perpetual legal snowstorm, and, generally, making his way back toward some form of acceptance.

A recent Esquire magazine cover line wondered how Armstrong was doing “in exile.”

Armstrong was nowhere to be seen in Aspen during the Pro Challenge, though he lives there, and though, in 2009 and 2010, he played a critical role in bringing the event into existence.

Meeting him in the exile of the Denver International Airport on a September day this fall, hat low, shades on, Armstrong seemed just fine. At this point in his story, which is bound to change yet again, he said cycling was still a positive for him.

“I’m in a comfortable position. I mean, I still have a few things to take care of, but I’m comfortable. I’m sitting here waiting for a connection and not flying on a f—king Gulfstream anymore, but that’s okay. Shit happens; it’s all good, man,” he said.

Subscribe to Velo magazine >>

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Gallery: Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cyclocross/gallery-manitoba-grand-prix_350679 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cyclocross/gallery-manitoba-grand-prix_350679#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:41:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350679

Pendrel wins her second race of the weekend in Winnipeg, while Kabush makes up for Saturday's disappointment

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Gallery: Gateway Cross Cup, day two http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cyclocross/gallery-gateway-cross-cup-day-two_350626 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/cyclocross/gallery-gateway-cross-cup-day-two_350626#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:40:04 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350626

Fresh faces claim victory on Sunday in St. Louis with Brian Matter and Sunny Gilbert capping off the weekend with perfect rides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Giro start for 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Team SmartStop roster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team women’s roster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kabush beats hometown favorite van den Ham in Winnipeg http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/kabush-beats-hometown-favorite-van-den-ham-winnipeg_350588 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/kabush-beats-hometown-favorite-van-den-ham-winnipeg_350588#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:15:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350588

Geoff Kabush beat Michael van den Ham in a thrilling sprint at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross. Photo by David Lipnowski

Kabush gets redemption after missing out on national title the day before, narrowly out-sprinting Winnipeg local rider Sunday

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Geoff Kabush beat Michael van den Ham in a thrilling sprint at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross. Photo by David Lipnowski

After losing out to Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel-POC) in Saturday’s national championship race, Geoff Kabush (SCOTT 3Rox) came to the line hungry for a win at the Manitoba Grand Prix on Sunday.

“Coming up just short yesterday is frustrating and I wanted to be a bit more aggressive [today],” Kabush said after the race. “It’s a tough course to get too aggressive on because it’s so fast and tactical you can waste some energy, so I certainly wanted to be at the front and kind of dictate the pace and split it up a bit more.”

True to plan, he sat third wheel as Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo) took the holeshot. Durrin dabbed in the same place as Rochette in the women’s race earlier that day, but quickly recovered to join the fastest men. A group of six leaders soon formed with Durrin, Kabush, Michael van den Ham (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes), Garrigan, Aaron Schooler (Focus CX Team), and Andrew L’Esperance (Norco Factory Team) from Halifax.

Durrin took charge at the front with Kabush. Midway into the race, a front flat left Durrin with a long trip to the pit. Vancouver’s Craig Richey (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) chased. Garrigan, tired from the previous day’s solo ride, got shed by the leaders with L’Esperance.

The second half of the eight-lap event was all about the fight for first between van den Ham and Kabush which ensued as gray clouds rolled in, bringing cold gusty winds. The large raucous crowd chanted “Michael, Michael” when the two reached the sand pits together.

Kabush put in some digs but couldn’t shake van den Ham. The pair built a gap of almost 10 seconds to Schooler, who chased alone ahead of Garrigan and Richey.

Halfway into the final lap Schooler came within a few bike lengths of the two leaders. He caught them a couple of times and then tailed off.

Coming into the finish, Kabush tapped his 22 years of racing experience to beat van den Ham in a sprint. Garrigan got fourth after Schooler who rounded out the podium.

“I caught them and then they cranked it up for the sprint, and then I just got a little bit gapped,” Schooler said. “I was basically sprinting with them; I’m just not a good sprinter.”

In the end, tactics won the race as Kabush had predicted. “It just came down to positioning the last couple of laps and saving a little bit of energy for the sprint,” Kabush said. “I’m happy. It’s been really exciting racing here and a great weekend, and it’s certainly nice to get a win under my belt for this ‘cross season. Michael [van den Ham] was really strong. I’m probably not going to be popular in Manitoba now, beating the hometown hero. But I want to win as much as Michael does.”

Van den Ham’s result came on top of third place in Saturday’s nationals. “One of my goals for this season was to get a top five at nationals and get a podium at a UCI race. So to get both of those and more in the same weekend, it’s fantastic,” the 23-year-old said.

“I’m very happy that I managed to be battling with Geoff for the win. … With his race experience he might have outsmarted me a little bit, but I have a few years to get that tactical sense.”

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Pendrel prevails at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/pendrel-prevails-manitoba-grand-prix-cyclocross_350583 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/pendrel-prevails-manitoba-grand-prix-cyclocross_350583#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:00:19 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=350583

Catharine Pendrel won the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross, wearing her newly-won national champion's kit. Photo by David Lipnowski

Newly-crowned Canadian national cyclocross champion thrills home crowd in Winnipeg with a narrow victory over Durrin

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Catharine Pendrel won the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross, wearing her newly-won national champion's kit. Photo by David Lipnowski

Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) won the elite women’s race at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross by slipping away from her rivals in the final minutes of racing. The UCI C2 race wrapped up the three-day Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg.

The battle for UCI points and the win got started when Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) rode away with the holeshot for the second time of the weekend. Pendrel, who had claimed her second Canadian cyclocross championship the day before, slotted into the front group.

The course’s tricky off-camber turns claimed their first victim early in lap one when Rochette lost traction and put a foot down. The mishap sent her back to seventh in a twisty grass section and helped Gabby Durrin (Neon Velo) take charge of the group that began to distance the field.

Durrin gained some separation over Pendrel, Ellen Noble (JAM Fund Cycling Team), and Mical Dyck (Stan’s NoTubes). In the first pass through the sand pits, riders slowed, holding up Pendrel, allowing Durrin to peel away. Rochette and Natasha Elliott (Cycle-Smart) chased.

In the second lap, Pendrel escaped from her group to pursue Durrin alone. The Canadian nibbled away at Durrin’s 10-second lead and caught her with one lap to go. Rochette, who had moved up to third on course, trailed 20 seconds behind, riding alone ahead of Noble.

At the end of the back-to-back double sand pits, Pendrel got the jump on Durrin in the last lap. “At the concrete steps by the sand, she cut in a bit faster and was able to power away,” Durrin said. “I never quite got back on her, and then she was gone.”

Pendrel won her second race in two days with just a four-second advantage over Durrin. Rochette, the best U23 rider at the finish, arrived 30 seconds later. Noble held on for fourth ahead of Dyck.

In the end, Durrin felt content with her effort, saying, “It’s great to race with Catharine [Pendrel] because she’s a super champion. I felt good. I was thinking of what Mike [Garrigan] did to win yesterday and thought, ‘Maybe it will work, maybe I can stay away.’ But when you’ve got Catharine who is super strong coming up behind you, it’s tough.”

Pendrel said she fed off the energy from the crowds cheering for their Canadian riders.

“Definitely when I went to the front, the crowd got a lot louder so that was a really cool experience,” the Luna rider said. “It was fun to win the national championship and then race other nations and have Canada come out on top. That was a really neat aspect of today.”

Pendrel will compete at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati next weekend.

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