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Gallery: Velocio-SRAM training camp

1 hour 47 min ago

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  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Wiles

    Tayler Wiles leads the team on a descent. The 25-year-old American raced at the 2014 UCI world road championships. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Cromwell and Wiles

    Tiffany Cromwell (L) and Tayler Wiles tackle a climb with the team. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Cromwell

    Australian Tiffany Cromwell finished fifth at world championships in Spain last September. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Brennauer

    World time trial champion Lisa Brennauer was enjoying the early-season base miles in the warm sunshine. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Brennauer climb

    Brennauer also finished second in the 2014 world road race championships. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Spanish scenery

    Lanzarote, Spain offered quiet roads, warm weather, and nice scenery for the Velocio-SRAM training camp. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Brennauer and Cromwell

    Brennauer and Cromwell led the double paceline on the open road. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

  • View Larger Image.Velocio-SRAM training camp: Lanzarote

    Lanzarote, an island in the Canary Islands, is a pleasant place to spend some time in December. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

The post Gallery: Velocio-SRAM training camp appeared first on VeloNews.com.

BMC Racing aims for classics victory, announces 2015 roster

3 hours 7 min ago

BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert won the 2014 Amstel Gold race. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

BMC Racing is already looking ahead to chilly spring days in Northern Europe, far away from Spain’s sunny Costa Blanca, where its riders were racking up early-season miles at a mid-December training camp. The American team is aiming for another win in a major spring classic.

Philippe Gilbert notched BMC’s first classics win at Amstel Gold in 2014, and the team is hoping for more of the same in the coming season.

“We want to go back to the classics and bring home another victory — and possibly a second,” team president and general manager Jim Ochowicz said.

Greg Van Avermaet also scored two second places in 2014′s major early-season tests, at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The 29-year-old Belgian will return for his fifth year with the American outfit, again with sights set on success in cobbled classics. This comes despite rumblings of discord between him and Gilbert, 32, who hinted that he might like a shot at the likes of Paris-Roubaix or Tour of Flanders.

Beyond the springtime, BMC aims to return to the Tour de France with a contender in the form of Tejay van Garderen, who has grown into his role as a grand tour leader after five years with the organization.

“We would like to elevate [van Garderen] to another level at the Tour de France and get him on the podium in 2015,” Ochowicz said. Van Garderen, 26, finished fifth overall in 2015, equalling his best result at the race, in 2012, when he won the young rider’s classification.

2015 BMC Racing team roster

Darwin Atapuma (COL)
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Marcus Burghardt (GER)
Damiano Caruso (ITA)
Alessandro De Marchi (ITA)
Rohan Dennis (AUS)
Silvan Dillier (SUI)
Jempy Drucker (LUX)
Cadel Evans (AUS)
Campbell Flakemore (AUS)
Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
Ben Hermans (BEL)
Stefan Küng (SUI)
Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)
Amaël Moinard (FRA)
Daniel Oss (ITA)
Taylor Phinney (USA)
Manuel Quinziato (ITA)
Joey Rosskopf (USA)
Michael Schär (SUI)
Manuel Senni (ITA)
Peter Stetina (USA)
Dylan Teuns (BEL)
Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)
Tejay van Garderen (USA)
Peter Velits (SVK)
Danilo Wyss (SUI)
Rick Zabel (GER)

The post BMC Racing aims for classics victory, announces 2015 roster appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Video: Col Collective rides Mont Ventoux (Bedoin)

3 hours 47 min ago

Ride Mont Ventoux with the Col Collective.

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

The post Video: Col Collective rides Mont Ventoux (Bedoin) appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Rohan Dennis adds his name to list of hour record contenders

4 hours 6 min ago

BMC Racing's Rohan Dennis helped Australia win a silver medal in the team pursuit at the London Olympics. In February 2015, he'll return to the boards to target the hour record. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Australian Rohan Dennis confirmed he will take a run at the hour record in February. The news came in a BMC Racing team press release issued Wednesday.

The team says that Dennis, 24, will try to set a new best mark at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland, on February 8.

Velodrome Suisse is the same track where Jens Voigt began the hour record frenzy in September. The current hour record rests on Matthias Brändle‘s mantle after he rode 51.852 kilometers in October.

Dennis won an Olympic silver medal in London two years ago, alongside Jack Bobridge, who will also challenge the hour record next year. More recently, Dennis finished second at the Amgen Tour of California, thanks in part to a strong performance in the individual time trial. He said he is a bit nervous, but very much up to the challenge.

“When I look at my experience on the track and the numbers I have been doing on the track and on the road, it is within reach,” he said. “As long as I don’t get too excited at the start and control my nerves, the pacing will take care of itself.”

BMC team sporting manager Allan Peiper said planning for the attempt began shortly after Dennis helped win the world team time trial. “We have been working on it, taking all the circumstances into consideration,” he said. “This is something Rohan really wants to do. Part of our development for him is to support him in the things he wants to achieve. So that is the main reason we are doing it.”

The post Rohan Dennis adds his name to list of hour record contenders appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Etixx-Quick-Step set to kick off 2015 at Tour Down Under

6 hours 17 min ago

Etixx-Quick-Step announced its roster for the 2015 Tour Down Under on Wednesday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Etixx-Quick-Step announced its seven-rider roster for the Tour Down Under in Australia, January 17-25.

The team will leave many of its spring classics heavies at home — like Tom Boonen, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Niki Terpstra — and instead bring a squad of all-rounders and journeymen to the first WorldTour event of 2015.

The 2015 edition of the race offers opportunities for sprinters, climbers, and breakaway artists. “Gianni Meersman can take advantage of specific kinds of sprints, such as in a small group,” said Etixx sport director Rik Van Slycke. “For the climbs, we have David De La Cruz, Pieter Serry, and Maxime Bouet. Bouet did a good race last year, but crashed two days from the finish which prevented a top finish. We are sure they can arrive focused and ready to contribute on the climbs such as on Willunga Hill. Two riders who will complete the team are Martin Velits and Yves Lampaert, two strong riders for any kind of terrain.”

The Belgian powerhouse squad will also bring along Australian Mark Renshaw, who often plays the role of leadout man for Mark Cavendish. At the Tour Down Under, Renshaw may have free reign to mix it up in the sprints.

“[Renshaw] brings a little extra motivation that can play a role in the sprints,” said Van Slycke. “He even won the Down Under Classic in 2007 and won the first stage of Tour Down Under in 2008.”

Lampaert, De La Cruz, and Bouet are new to Etixx team, and Tour Down Under will be their debut in the black, white, and blue kit.

Etixx-Quick-Step team for Santos Tour Down Under

Maxime Bouet
David De La Cruz
Yves Lampaert
Gianni Meersman
Mark Renshaw
Pieter Serry
Martin Velits

The post Etixx-Quick-Step set to kick off 2015 at Tour Down Under appeared first on VeloNews.com.

No firm comeback date yet for Taylor Phinney

6 hours 56 min ago

Young American talent Taylor Phinney won stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

DENIA, Spain (VN) — The comeback trail for Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) is longer and more complicated than expected. The BMC Racing star admitted Wednesday it’s still too early to talk about a firm date to return to racing.

The 24-year-old is champing at the bit to get back in the races, but recovery and rehabilitation from his devastating crash at the USA Cycling road nationalchampionships last summer is forcing Phinney to be more patient than he’d like to be.

“I need a few more months of general strengthening to get to where I am pain-free,” Phinney said. “I need the leg to get back to 90-, 95-percent strength before I can start talking about other things.”

Phinney admitted that any hope of racing the spring classics is unrealistic, but he is holding out hope he could be “race fit” in time for the Amgen Tour of California in May. He’s driven to be back in condition to challenge for the world time trial championship on home soil in Richmond, Virginia, in September, but even he admits the first step is resuming training full-time.

“I cannot get too carried away thinking about racing just yet,” he said. “My knee gets swollen after a too-long ride, or too much time in the gym. When we were talking about things a few months ago, we thought maybe returning to the Dubai Tour [Phinney won in 2014] in February, but things are obviously taking longer than we had hoped for. It’s been a long process.”

In May, Phinney suffered a devastating accident during the U.S. nationals resulting in a complicated fracture in his left leg. After undergoing surgeries, Phinney continues through the painful and arduous rehab process.

Phinney joked about his atrophied leg, which he calls “Froomey,” when compared to his healthy leg, which he’s dubbed “Greipel,” after skinny GC rider Chris Froome and stocky sprinter André Greipel.

“There is a four-centimeter difference in girth between ‘Froomey’ and ‘Greipey,’ but the doctors say I am recovering well. And we’re doing it in a healthy and sustainable way. They said if I rushed it, I could suffer arthritis when I am in my 30s,” he said. “There is always a concern I might not get back to the same level I was. Some even suggested that I return to college. It’s not been easy, but things are going pretty well.”

Sporting manager Allan Peiper confirmed it’s simply too early to talk about firm dates.

“We have to play it by the moment, and see how he recuperates, how the rehab goes, how his power numbers are,” Peiper said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Peiper said it was important for Phinney to join his teammates here in Spain. Even though Phinney is still unable to go on the long, intense training rides, he can join the squad with other activities; something that Peiper said is vital to Phinney’s morale and recovery.

“He’s been to war and back. He’s a different kid. He’s been through some rough stuff,” Peiper said. “I can see how hard it’s been for him. There is a sparkle that is missing in his eye. After going through what he’s been through, the accident, the surgery, the rehab, the physio, and then to have it in limbo, you have to doubt, ‘can I ever do what I wanted to do?’

“I asked him the other day what his goals were for the season, and he said, ‘My first goal would be to start the Tour of California, and then make the Tour de France,’’” Peiper continued. “They’re long shots, but it’s important to have a focus. He’s the American GI Joe. If anyone can do it, he can.”

The post No firm comeback date yet for Taylor Phinney appeared first on VeloNews.com.

The year of the hour record

7 hours 15 min ago

Voigt set a new record, 51.11 kilometers, a day after his 43rd birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday to the German after his ride. Photo: Ulf Schiller Schillerphoto.com

2015, the year of the hour record.

It lay dormant for a decade, a decaying relic held by a rider who was caught doping, ridden on a bike frozen in time. It’s no surprise that riders, their sponsors, and the sport as a whole didn’t want to touch the event Eddy Merckx once called “the longest hour.”

That all changed in May. The Athlete’s Hour (colloquially, the Merckx Hour) and Best Human records were thrown to the history books in favor of a single, unified hour record to be performed under modern endurance track regulations — pursuit style bikes are now the weapon of choice.

If any man could rekindle the hour, it was Jens Voigt. With only 49.7km to beat, a record set without any aerodynamic aids, the first top rider to step up under the new rules would effectively set the mark. There was very little chance of failure. Somebody had to be the sacrificial lamb; someone had to be willing to lay down the first modern hour record time. Voigt, winding down a 17-year career, was the perfect man for the job.

The Trek Factory Racing rider sped across 51.11 kilometers in an hour, and the event was so popular that this website saw traffic normally reserved for the final days of the Tour de France.

Little did Voigt know that the pistol fired to finish his 60 minutes of agony was actually a starter’s gun.

Just a month later, IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brändle made his own attempt, beating Voigt’s record, riding 51.852km. That record stands today, but likely won’t for long.

The list of hour record contenders continues to grow. Wednesday morning, BMC’s Rohan Dennis announced that he will make an attempt at the velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland on February 8, where Voigt rode his way into the record books.

“When I look at my experience on the track and the numbers I have been doing on the track and road, it’s within reach,” Dennis said. “As long as I don’t get too excited at the start and control my nerves, the pacing will take care of itself.”

Dane Alex Rasmussen announced his intention to beat Jens Voigt’s record just a week after the German made his attempt. His intention, at the time of that announcement, was to make an attempt in August, after the Tour of Denmark. Given the firepower set to hit the boards over the next few months, he may want to bring that date back a bit.

Thomas Dekker, who enters 2015 without a pro contract, will ride the hour this spring, though no specific date has been released. He will focus solely on preparing for the hour all winter.

“I’m not afraid of it. I put everything aside in the next few months. I put everything I have into that one hour,” he told Dutch newspaper AD

Alex Dowsett’s Movistar team will likely confirm his planned attempt in London at the end of February on Friday. His attempt will probably happen at the same Revolution Series event that will see Sarah Storey take a crack at the women’s record, on the velodrome built for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jack Bobridge, the current world record holder in the individual pursuit, will make an attempt in 2015. He stepped down from European racing this year and struck a deal with Australian squad Budget Forklifts, with an eye toward racing the 2016 Olympic Games on the track. Details of that attempt will be announced Thursday.

Bradley Wiggins remains the biggest name to throw his hat in the ring, with an attempt slated for summer 2015.

Of all the contenders, Wiggins, Dowsett, and Bobridge bring the greatest combination of track skills and time trial motors.

Dowsett won a time trial stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and won the Commonwealth Games time trial in 2014. He’s also a three-time British elite time trial champion.

Bobridge broke a record many thought unbreakable in 2011 when he rode the individual 4km pursuit in 4 minutes 10.534 seconds, beating Chris Boardman’s time of 4 minutes 11.11 seconds.

The class of Wiggins is beyond question. Tour de France champion, world time trial champion, multi-time Olympic medalist, piles of world championship medals on the track, top-ten at Paris-Roubaix — he may be the most widely accomplished male cyclist of his era.

Though BMC’s Taylor Phinney has expressed interest in the record in the past, his recovery from the crash that ended his season at U.S. road nationals in June will likely prevent him from making an attempt in 2015.

“Initially, I was thinking that I would be further along than I am, and that I could have done it this year,” he said. “Maybe it would still be possible after Richmond [worlds], but it’s something we can consider further down the road. I am really happy to see that the hour record is ‘cool’ again. It’s been around a long time in cycling history, and it’s exciting to see everyone going for it.”

Others with similar time trial star power to Wiggins, like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara, have yet to announce plans.

Cancellara seemed somewhat irked that he has to compare himself to the likes of Brändle and Voigt, rather than Eddy Merckx, as he could have done under the old rules, when VeloNews’ Matthew Beaudin spoke to him last month.

“At the moment when I see all this hour record stuff, it’s just low level. Instead of higher it’s getting lower … but in the end, the UCI set up the rules, and everyone can do it who wants and there’s no limit. When there’s people motivated, they just do it,” he said.

Perhaps comparing himself to Wiggins will be more appealing.

The post The year of the hour record appeared first on VeloNews.com.

2014 in review: Astana drama, fresh faces, hour records, and more


8 hours 39 min ago

Michal Kwiatkowski showed his class in 2014, earning podium finishes at spring classics and winning worlds in a daring solo move. All eyes will be on the young Pole in 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — After two years of Sky dominance, 2014 was the season that the rest fought back, and but for the Astana doping scandals, it would have gone down as a vintage edition.

Sky had, in eyes of some, taken the drama out of the Tour de France by guiding Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to dominant victories in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

But the British outfit’s inability to maintain that level of performance in 2014 helped to make it a thrilling year in cycling.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the main beneficiary as he emerged from the chaos of crashes during the Grand Boucle — that saw three former winners in Froome, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) hit the deck and leave the race during the first 10 days — to streak away to victory.

All three grand tours produced high-level winners, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) triumphing at the Giro d’Italia and Contador claiming a third Vuelta a España title after a terrific battle with Froome.

It has all led to much excitement ahead of the 2015 Tour, with people expecting the four best stage racers in the world — Froome, Contador, Quintana, and Nibali — to put on a nail-biting show on the way to Paris.

That should be the case now that the International Cycling Union (UCI) granted Nibali’s Astana team a WorldTour license for 2015, despite a spate of doping scandals.

Five Kazakh riders tied to the Astana organization tested positive for either the banned-blood-booster EPO or steroids during 2014, leading to speculation the UCI would kick Astana out of cycling.

But fortunately for Nibali, Astana was granted a license under certain conditions that will see them closely monitored in 2015.

Change of guard

Away from the grand tours, there was the start of a changing of the guard.

“Spartacus” — Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) — won his third Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) with a masterful and patient ride, making his move at just the right time to deny Belgian duo Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin).

A week later, it was Dutchman Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who claimed victory at Paris-Roubaix, with Cancellara and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma) out-smarted in the finale.

But it was the emergence of the likes of Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who won Milano-Sanremo, and German John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), who rode to second in Roubaix, that suggested the old guard is starting to be eased out.

In Ardennes classics, there were signs that change is on its way. Pole Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished in the top five in all three Ardennes races, including two podium finishes. Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), and Belgium’s Jelle Vanendert of (Lotto-Belisol) both earned second-place finishes, in Flèche Wallonne and Amstel Gold, respectively.

Martin, in fact, would almost certainly have won a second straight title in Liège but for a crash on the final bend as he was streaking clear to victory.

However, the old guard would not be denied in the Ardennes. BMC’s Philippe Gilbert claimed Amstel Gold, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde won Flèche Wallonne, and Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Gerrans profited from Martin’s late crash to take Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Masterful late break

But it was Kwiatkowski, 24, who took the most confidence from his performance and went on to become world champion in September with a masterful late break in Ponferrada, Spain.

Worlds was also the setting for Wiggins to demonstrate he is the only man capable of upsetting time trial king Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

The German had won three world TT titles in a row, but Wiggins, who also beat Martin at the London Olympics, proved he is one of the greatest, and most versatile, riders of his generation.

The Brit finished the year by vowing to tackle the world hour record and Paris-Roubaix in 2015.

The hour record was thrust back into the limelight when the UCI changed the rules to allow the use of modern pursuit bikes, encouraging more professionals to tackle the 49.7-kilometer mark set by controversial Czech Ondrej Sosenka in 2005.

Veteran German Jens Voigt (Trek), to the delight of cycling fans, went first and pushed it out to 51.11km in September, although six weeks later, Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) went almost 750m farther.

That record is sure to come under pressure from Wiggins and others in 2015, a year that promises fireworks on many levels.

The post 2014 in review: Astana drama, fresh faces, hour records, and more
 appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Bobridge: Time is right for hour record attempt

9 hours 30 min ago

Jack Bobridge's track pedigree will help him in his hour record attempt, which may come as soon as January 2014. He won the individual pursuit at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and set the world record in that track discipline in 2011. Photo: AFP PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS

MILAN (VN) — Australian Jack Bobridge’s hour record attempt could come at the right time as he switches gears from WorldTour team Belkin to third-division team, Budget Forklifts, based in his home country, for 2015.

On Wednesday, Bobridge announced he would ride the hour, shortly before fellow Australian, Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing, indicated his intentions as well.

“I had discussions with Jack [Bobridge] about that transition a few months ago. He had no choice but to see it as an opportunity, and I believe that he does,” Orica-GreenEdge general manager and former Cycling Australia head coach, Shayne Bannan told VeloNews.

“He’s a guy who likes to set goals; he’ll be resetting and refocusing and use that hour record as a goal.”

Bobridge’s new Budget Forklifts team announced that he would attempt to break the hour record in 2015. It added that it would reveal more details at a press conference Thursday, but a likely date could come as early as January.

Bannan worked with Bobridge, 25, both on and off the track, first as head coach for Cycling Australia and then as manager of Orica-GreenEdge. Bobridge won the under-23 time trial world title in 2010 before transferring to a road career with teams Garmin, Orica, and Belkin. However, he enjoyed more success on the track.

He won the individual pursuit in the 2011 worlds and the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 2011, he recorded the fastest-ever pursuit time, going four minutes, 10.53 seconds.

In the team pursuit, he helped Australia take gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 worlds, and silver in the 2012 London Olympics.

His plan to race for a team pursuit gold at the 2016 Rio Games was one reason Bobridge returned home and signed for a third-division team. With Budget Forklifts, he will be able to tailor his program to be ready for 2016.

“The hour record is a good goal for him. It would have been a disappointment not to be in the WorldTour, but he now has a big focus with the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, especially in team pursuit, and a new goal along the way,” added Bannan.

“The hour record fits into his mindset. Also, being world record holder in individual pursuit and a good time trialist, it’s good for him.”

Bobridge could be one of the first time trial and track specialists to have a go and could post a mark well above 51km, perhaps near 54 kilometers.

Brit Alex Dowsett (Movistar), according to Cycling Weekly, could attempt the record on February 27 in London along with Sarah Storey, who confirmed her plans Tuesday. His Spanish team called a press conference for Friday in London, where it may announce the date.

Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) set the hour record at 51.852 kilometers on October 30.

Brändle and German Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) are the only two to have a crack at the mark since the UCI loosened its rules. Voigt rode to 51.11 kilometers on September 18 to mark his retirement.

A UCI rule change May 15 opened the velodromes for riders to attempt the mark on pursuit bikes. In doing so, the UCI struck down its 2000 rule requiring a traditional bike and the Eddy Merckx position.

Bradley Wiggins, Great Britain’s first Tour de France winner and multiple Olympic gold medallist, plans to attempt the hour record in June or July and also prepare for the team pursuit at Rio 2016.

Bannan said, “Once the big boys start to come out, and I put Jack in that category, it’ll be fun to see what marks they set.”

The post Bobridge: Time is right for hour record attempt appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Book excerpt: The first ‘MountainBike’

11 hours 42 min ago

Editor’s note: This excerpt is chapter 13 from “Fat Tire Flyer,” by Charlie Kelly. Read an interview with Kelly, or find out more about this new VeloPress book.

A few weeks after we returned to San Francisco from the race in Crested Butte, Gary Fisher called me up and asked me to come over to his cottage in Fairfax. He told me that Tom Ritchey had made some more frames like the one he was riding, and he wanted to show them to me. When I got there, Gary opened the trunk of his battered BMW and showed me the frames. There were nine of them nestled in there and they were as beautifully made as my Colnago. Gary explained that Tom had become very interested in this new kind of bike and had made a few more.

Although there was an avid crew of off-road riders down in Tom’s area near Palo Alto, led by legendary local Jobst Brandt, they hit their trails either on road bikes or similarly set-up rugged bikes equipped with 650B tires and drop handlebars. Tom hadn’t been able to sell any of the new style of flat-handlebar, big-tire bikes to anyone in his area. Since he knew Gary had access to riders who wanted bikes like Gary’s, he had offered them to Gary on spec to see whether Gary could help get rid of them.

Nine bikes was a lot of bikes, and Tom wanted about $400 apiece for them if Gary was able to sell them. These frames were not at all cheap and they only represented a starting point to a bike. As we looked at the booty, Gary asked a simple question with lifelong consequences. “Do you want to help me sell these frames?”

It was too easy to say yes and I did. We did the minimum amount of company organization that was possible, and then we were in business. We counted the cash that the two of us had on our persons at that moment, about $200. We took that money to the nearest bank and we opened a joint business account.

We had a company name that we wanted to use. The term “mountain bike” had recently entered our personal lexicon. The bikes had been “clunkers” until Joe Breeze had taken them out of that category with his beautiful nickel-plated frames. Now there were several versions of custom off-road bikes: Joe’s, Tom’s, the Lawwill-Knight ProCruiser (from a Koski design), and Jeffrey Richman’s, all similar in quality to our road bikes. They could hardly be called “clunkers,” but they didn’t yet have a general name. When I took up cycling the road bike had been just “the bike” because there was only one kind. Then I had owned a “clunker” as well. Now when we had to differentiate in conversations about which we were riding of the two beautiful bikes we owned, we spoke of our “road bikes” or our “mountain bikes.” “Mountain Bike” seemed like a great name for our company. Just to make it clear that it was a brand name and not just a general term, we made it one word and used a cute spelling, MountainBikes.

Gary and I went to Palo Alto so I could meet Tom. He had been at my January race, and appears in photos standing behind me while I was interviewed by the TV crew, but if we had had a conversation back then I didn’t remember it. He was working in the machine shop in his garage when Gary introduced me, and the three of us talked in the most general terms about what needed to happen to get rid of the bikes. Tom made frames. He would deliver them to us already painted, with the new “Bullmoose” one-piece bar and stem. Gary and I would get the parts, assemble the bikes, find the customers, and pay Tom for the frames. What could be simpler?

While the discussion was going on, Tom turned out a couple of small bike parts on his lathe without appearing to measure anything, then fitted them right into place.

Pete Barrett designed a business card for us, depicting the rear wheel of a fat-tire bike on top of a snow-capped peak. We needed to be able to get mail, so we rented a post office box. A business card, a checking account and a post office box address do not add up to a company, and $200 wasn’t even enough to equip one of the bikes. Yet we were indisputably in the mountain bike business.

Gary and I stashed the frames at his house and went about the business of getting rid of them. On the plus side, we had nine frames and $200. On the negative side, we had nothing except those things, including a business location. We didn’t have any place for a phone to ring except our houses, and any of three people answered at mine, so we used Gary’s phone number.

We needed customers who would pay us in advance for the bike, which we determined would cost about $1200. We would take that money to the bike shop and buy the parts we needed over the counter. We assembled the first few bikes at the house I shared with Pete Barrett and Kent Bostick on San Anselmo Avenue. Gary used his Hasselblad camera to take photos of one of our first completed bikes in the room where most families ate dinner but where we assembled bikes.

At the time, you could buy a Tour de France racing bike for less money than we wanted for a bike with $3 tires. We really needed to charge even more, but we had already pushed the ceiling as hard as possible. It took a lot of faith to spend that kind of money on two guys with zero track record. Besides, look at them. Because his hippie appearance was a hindrance for working in Europe with the bike team coached by Mike Neel, Gary had recently chopped off the two feet of hair he sported when I met him. I had no need for that kind of grooming, and I left mine long. I adopted the Fu Manchu mustache look, along with Gary, Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey. To this day Tom has sported the same hirsute look. Few who looked at Gary and me would have mistaken us for solid citizens.

Nevertheless, we managed to find a few customers. My uncle, an engineer who worked on oil drilling sites all over the world, ponied up for a bike and waited a few weeks for it, as did a local firefighter who worked with Otis. We weren’t making any money, but we were putting bikes under people and starting to find ways of drawing attention to the bikes and ourselves. I didn’t even have a Ritchey myself when I started selling them, and it would be well into the next year before I had one of my own.

We took photos of the type of bike we were selling with Gary’s camera. We had one bike to use for the photos, Gary’s, and one camera, also Gary’s. I could ride a bike, but I had never used that kind of camera, so I served as the model on Gary’s bike while he took the photos. For my star turn, I wore ordinary Levis and a yellow T-shirt that Bob Burrowes had printed up. On the front was a photograph of him in action on Repack and the logo “Marin County Klunkers.” On the back it read, “I’d rather be klunking.”

When Thanksgiving rolled around, I had Pete draw up another poster for the Appetite Seminar, and the turnout was a couple of dozen riders, including a San Francisco bicyclist named Darryl Skrabak riding a Jack Taylor cyclocross bike.

Darryl now and then contributed to a local free tabloid called City Sports. If Darryl hadn’t been there and written about it I might have forgotten that ride by now. It started raining during the ride, the mud peeling up off the road in sheets on our tires. The inclement conditions and the mud-clogged machinery turned the ride into a desperate forced march by hypothermic riders. As the leader, I was responsible, so I herded the miserable crew around the loop and then went home, warmed up, and tried to forget the day.

Darryl found the adventure charming in retrospect, and wrote a paean to the ride that he entitled, “Working Up an Appetite.” The City Sports editor at first derided Darryl’s story and planned to spike it, until the advertising department mentioned that they had already sold ads to bike shops based on the expectation that it would run. It appeared in the December 1979/January 1980 issue of City Sports. It starts with this:

“There are events that become adventures, and adventures that become ordeals, and ordeals in which things go from bad to worse, and the worse things become, the better they are.

“It was that way at the Appetite Seminar held Thanksgiving Day in the Marin hills. This unheralded event was plain awful. It was the worst Seminar ever, and it was the Fifth Annual. It will fuel Marin bench racing for months. The miseries visited upon the participants will be dwelt upon at length, and recounted repeatedly, and expanded into tales, and thence into legend. It will be recalled as one of the great ones.

“Because it was the worst.”

Darryl took a photograph of Gary on his Ritchey bike and captioned it as “… Gary Fisher on his super low-geared klunker.” This was the first photograph to hit print of the Ritchey bike. Farther down in the piece, Darryl used our company name for the first time in print. “Ritchey is now party to a fledgling Kelly and Fisher concern known as MountainBikes, which markets Ritchey’s frames and other klunker equipment.”

That fall we received a visit from Bob Hadley, editor of Bicycle Motocross Action. We had nothing remotely to do with BMX and did not count it among our influences. It was most likely Mert Lawwill’s involvement in framebuilding for the Koskis that got Hadley’s attention, since Mert was a national hero and icon for motorcyclists even in retirement. Mert had been a national champion motorcycle racer, and had a starring role in a documentary film with Steve McQueen, “On Any Sunday.” By this time, Mert and the Koskis had separated and each was producing bikes independent of the other. The Koskis called their new design Trailmaster, and Mert continued producing the original Koski design as the ProCruiser.

The BMX magazine wanted action shots, and Joe gave them one with a motor-drive photo sequence of a sideways pitch. The price of the bikes stunned Hadley; his eventual article was entitled, “Loaded for Bear and Ungodly Expensive: Full Bore Cruisers.”

Despite his thin credentials in mountain biking, Mert got most of Hadley’s attention for his Koski-designed ProCruiser. Mert claimed sales of his first 75 bikes for about $500, with the next 100 on their way. After that Hadley mentioned us. “The only other people who are producing pure klunkers are Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey. Each has built around ten bikes. The Breezer and the Ritchey sell for an incredible $1200 … which gives you an idea of the quality of the workmanship and components that are put into these bikes.”

What to call them?

“We asked Mert, Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Charles Kelly and the owners of the Cove Bike Shop in Tiburon — the people at the heart of this brand new pastime — what they thought these bikes should be called.

“Of all the names that have been applied at various times for these bikes – Klunkers, Ballooners, Bombers, Downhillers, Mountain Bikes, Trail Bikes, Tankers, Cruisers, Cow Trailers, the consensus of opinion is that they should be called Mountain Bikes. And when you think about it, that name fits like a glove.”

BMX was being marketed to parents as a “safe” sport for kids, and those kids were the target audience for the magazine. Our lack of helmets called for a scolding in the article. A photograph of Mert sliding a ProCruiser sideways is captioned: “Mert Lawwill, still hookin’ it on, even without his Harley. But no helmet. Tsk, tsk, tsk, Mert.”

A writer named Dean Bradley who worked for BMX Plus!, the other major BMX publication, was the next to notice us, and in the February 1980 issue he reviewed what he called the “Richey [sic] Mountain Bike.” Bradley led off the article with a remarkable prediction. “This month’s 26-inch test bike is called a Mountain Bike. Chances are that you’ve never heard of it before, but believe me, you will be hearing a lot about this revolutionary bike in the future.” The rest of the article went on in the same vein. Dean Bradley loved the bikes, and gushed over them in the article. He would become a good friend after the article appeared.

In keeping with bicycle magazine tradition, the BMX Plus! advertising department leaned on us to take out an ad, since Dean was giving us a lot of positive publicity in the article. This was our first print advertising, and we didn’t have anything prepared. We didn’t have Pete’s graphics as a separate piece of art, so we sent the magazine’s art department a business card and told them what we wanted the ad to say:

MOUNTAIN BIKES
The Trail Blazers
26 x 2.126 18 Speeds 28 lb.

Advanced Off-Road
Bicycle Technology
Custom Framesets — Bikes
Conversion Kits for Beach
Bike to Mountain Cruiser

Write or Call
For FREE Catalog

Mountain Bikes
P.O. Box 405
Fairfax, CA 94950
(415) 456-1898

Really? A free catalog?

“Fat Tire Flyer” is now available from VeloPress >>

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In the News: Contador says he could have died in Tour de France crash

December 16, 2014 - 4:52pm

Alberto Contador's Tour-ending stage 10 crash was the last of many setbacks that plagued his 2014 Tour de France ambitions. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Talking to BBC Sport at a training camp in Gran Canaria, Alberto Contador said he is not bitter about crashing out of this year’s Tour de France because he knows it could have been worse: he might have died.

The Spanish star broke his right tibia, or shinbone, during the Tour’s 10th stage, and after riding on for nearly 20km, he eventually gave up.

“When I think I was going 77kph at the time and I only broke my tibia, well, on balance, that’s good,” he said.

“Maybe I lost the Tour, but I didn’t lose my life.”

Read more >>

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Molly Shaffer Van Houweling sets U.S. hour record

December 16, 2014 - 1:38pm

Van Houweling beat the U.S. elite women's record, which had stood for over 24 years. Photo: Christopher Jennings

She didn’t start the 2014 season with her eye on the hour record. But that didn’t stop Molly Shaffer Van Houweling from diving into an accelerated track program to take on the U.S. women’s hour record at the end of her summer road season.

Facing a 24-year-old record set in Colorado Springs by Carolyn Donnelly — 44.028 kilometers — Van Houweling rode 44.173km on Sunday at the Velo Sports Center track in Carson, California (formerly the ADT Event Center).

Inspiration struck in early September after she heard that Jens Voigt would attempt the world hour record. As the German rode into the history books on September 18, she set about planning the attempt with help from her husband, Rob, who “likes to geek out about all things bike-related,” she said.

Though Van Houweling’s track experience was limited to a few beginner sessions at the Hellyer velodrome in San Jose, California, she drew on 11 years of road racing to pick up the discipline quickly. The 41-year-old is no stranger to racing the clock, having won the time trial event at 2014 UCI amateur world championships in Slovenia.

The hour effort played to Van Houweling’s strengths, but prior to the record attempt, she enlisted the help of Andy Lakatosh, a 28-time U.S. national champion, to help with one small but crucial track skill: the standing start.

“Up until last week I’d never done it before,” Van Houweling told VeloNews. “I was nervous thinking about it, that I wouldn’t be able to even get my gear up to speed to avoid falling on the corner.

“Hellyer is banked at a gentle 23 degrees,” she wrote in a report for her team, Metromint Cycling. “The Velo Sports Center velodrome is 45 degrees in the corners. My first sight of it on December 6, only eight days before my scheduled attempt at the record, took my breath away. Standing at its edge felt like standing on the lip of a double black diamond ski run having only mastered the bunny slopes.”

Fortunately for Van Houweling, her fears were unfounded, and she rode her way into the U.S. record books, but it wasn’t easy.

“I cannot say that I enjoyed it, although I did try to think as many positive thoughts as I could,” she said. “Lots of friends wished me luck and I tried to think about them out there.”

With seven minutes remaining in the hour, she drew on inspiration from two close friends. “Ellen wanted me to ride like I was on fire, and Beth told me to ‘go at ‘em like a spider monkey,’” Van Houweling wrote. “So at my most desperate moment, an image of a flaming spider monkey sprung into my head, along with good vibrations from the rest of my supportive friends and family. I almost cracked a smile.”

When the gun sounded at the end of 60 minutes, she’d held her lead, which had grown as large as 24 seconds at the halfway mark.

“It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t sound that hard … We’ve all raced for an hour … But about 30 minutes in it occurred to me, ‘Now I see what they’re talking about.’ It’s really pretty miserable.”

Yet perhaps it wasn’t that miserable. Van Houweling hinted that she may return to the track to set the bar even higher. “I would be interested in doing it again, since this was my first attempt, and I don’t have a lot of experience on the track,” she said, “maybe see what I could do at altitude as opposed to sea level.”

For now, it’s back to work for Van Houweling, who is a law professor at University of California, Berkeley. In fact, on Monday morning, the day after setting the record, she hopped in the car and drove back to the Bay Area, where she had an afternoon meeting.

After an hour of misery on the track, it’s likely that most drives or meetings don’t feel quite so long anymore.

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Technical FAQ: Tubular gluing and taping, cold-weather braking and tire changing

December 16, 2014 - 11:59am

Lennard Zinn recommends one layer of Belgian tape and four layers of glue when mounting tubular tires. Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.com

Dear Lennard,
My shop recently glued up a set of Clement MXPs for me using Tufo Tape and layers of glue. I’ve since been doing some research and found that there’s a bunch of negative reviews about this method, but most seem to reference Tufo Extreme and Tufo Regular tape. It seems Tufo has updated their tape since most of these reviews with just a general Road tape option. I’ve found one review on this presumed newer tape that’s favorable but no other information.

Have you heard any feedback on Tufo Tape and CX recently?
— Logan

Dear Logan,
I checked with Tufo, and the response I received was, “no changes, one tape for road, one tape for MTB, no tape for CX.”

I have tried what your shop did, and I can say that Tufo road tape didn’t work adequately for that application. I used a combination of both Tufo Extreme and Tufo standard road tape and glue about five years ago on a number of cyclocross wheels, and all of them either rolled off in races or would have if I hadn’t re-glued them. I did roll three of them in races before I had the sense to pull them all off. The Tufo tape delaminated (it’s a multi-layer tape), and the tires came off incredibly easily. It’s possible that the glue caused the tape to delaminate, but I know that adhesion without glue is also insufficient for CX with Tufo road tape. I recommend you have the shop re-glue those tires; at least pull one off to see what the adhesion is like before you attempt racing on the other one.

I’ve also tried a combination of Velox Jantex tubular gluing tape and layers of glue, and that also didn’t keep the tires on. I rolled three of those in races, too, before I had the sense to pull them all off.

I only recommend gluing CX tires with Cyclocrossworld.com’s “Belgian Tape.” Here’s the method, and it also mentions my preliminary experience with Tufo tape and glue in CX; unfortunately, the photos showing the gluing process as well as the delaminated Tufo tape were not archived with the article.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I live in Minneapolis, and with all the new (sort of) road bikes with disc brakes, larger tire clearances and fender mounting, I’m considering a wet/cold weather commuting bike. My question also pertains to fat bikes, which are very common up here.

I’ve looked all over the web, called a few manufacturers, and no one seems to have good information about cold weather performance of disc brakes, whether operating or storage. I’ve seen mention that mineral oil should be stored at room temperature, but that’s very generic advice, and that DOT fluid will absorb moisture.

What’s best in the cold — mineral oil, DOT fluid, cable, or cable/hydraulic with mineral oil (TRP HY/RD)?
— Greg

Dear Greg,
Since hydraulic disc brakes work so much better than anything else in warm and down to quite cold weather, and since there aren’t too many days each year that the temperatures in Minneapolis get down to -10F or colder, I’d still use hydraulic discs. Given that the viscosity of mineral oil and DOT fluid is about the same to start with, I’m willing to bet that the added sluggishness both of them develop in deep cold will be similar.

Below are some answers from some diehard winter riders.
― Lennard

From an any-weather rider in Winnipeg:
“I like mechanical disks for really cold weather, especially if you store your bike indoors. A warm rim planted into soft snow will instantly render rim brakes useless, as the snow melts onto the rim and freezes again. That said, I rode with rim brakes for years, and got by okay. I recently rode with a guy on expensive hydraulic brakes in minus 25C (-13F). He said they worked, but were a little slow. I would stick with less expensive, more robust cables.”
— Andrew

From a dedicated New Hampshire fat-bike snow rider:
“I really have never had an issue with my hydro discs in the winter, aside from sometimes (and this is only an Avid issue) some howling. That being said, I recently switched to the new SRAM centerline rotors and they are very quiet so far.

I also have always run the organic pads instead of sintered. They wear faster, but have much better performance right out of the box.

I personally love my Avid Trail 9 brakes, but next time around I’ll be switching up to the new SRAM Guide brakes.”
— Kris

Dear Lennard,
I have a question for you about road tubeless tires. I was doing my Milano-Sanremo impression yesterday by riding in snowy weather, when I flatted my rear tire. It’s a Hutchinson Fusion tubeless, on a Bontrager race 29 tubeless wheel, on my CX bike. I went to put a tube in, but spent 30 minutes in the cold just trying to get the tire off with no success. Eventually I had to call a cab before hypothermia set in.

In my warm living room this morning, the tire comes off by hand in 10 seconds. I’m assuming the cold yesterday (~34F) shrunk the bead, locking it in super tight? But that’s not really workable if I can’t change the tire in an emergency. Is there a magical tool I don’t know about for cold weather removal, or do I have to switch to clinchers for the winter?
— Alex

Dear Alex,
I think the answer is that there is no such magical tool. I asked a bunch of tubeless riders, including Stan of Stan’s NoTubes itself, and they all said they hadn’t run into that before. So I don’t imagine a tool exists for something that not many people run into. I can’t personally remember changing a tubeless tire at freezing temperatures.

I’m assuming that you meant “around 34F” (i.e., just above freezing) and not “-34F”, when you wrote “~34F.” But if you actually meant you were trying to change a tire at 34 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, then I think there’s a deeper issue here, in addition to the fact that the sealant would be frozen.

If you ride above the freezing point, and even within a few degrees below it, you’re still less likely to have a flat if you are running tubeless tires with sealant than if you’re running tubes. So I’d still tend to stick to tubeless tires for their reliability and chalk this one up as a one-off that you probably won’t ever have to face again.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I have Shimano shoes with hard/slippery plastic bottoms and Look cleats with hard plastic bottoms. No matter how much I tighten the screws (I am strong) they slip after five or six spin classes.

I have tried Loctite blue and red they still slip out of my desired position. I weight 185lbs and spin pretty hard.
— B.

Dear B.,
Try gluing a piece of sandpaper, rough side out, to the bottom of the cleat; I suggest using contact cement (put it on both surfaces, allow them to dry, then stick them together). Once it’s glued on, trim around the cleat and in the cleat holes with a razor knife. The sandpaper will dig into the hard shoe sole and keep it from slipping.

I also wonder if Park Tool’s SAC-2 SuperGrip Carbon and Alloy Assembly Compound might work. This stuff is amazing at how it makes a carbon seatpost that constantly slipped down become super difficult to pull out of the frame.
― Lennard

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Quintana confirms San Luis defense

December 16, 2014 - 11:00am

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the 2014 Tour de San Luis. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

There are two things confirmed on the 2015 racing schedule for Nairo Quintana: the Tour de France, and now the Tour de San Luís. Anything else remains to be seen.

Race officials confirmed that Quintana will debut his 2015 season at the Argentine race in January, setting the stage for a highly anticipated return to the Tour in July after skipping it in 2014 to race, and win, the Giro d’Italia.

“The rest of [Quintana’s] schedule is not yet confirmed,” said Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué in a press release Tuesday. “But since winning the Giro, he only raced the Vuelta a Burgos, and a few stages at the Vuelta a España, so we believe it’s important for him to start early, but calmly, because the goal is in July.”

Last year, Quintana delighted South American fans with victory before returning to Europe. With one eye on the Tour for 2015, Quintana might not be flying hot out of the gates in January, especially in light of a nagging shoulder injury related to a nasty crash that forced his exit from the Vuelta in September.

The San Luís tour, set for January 19-25 in northern Argentina, has quickly established itself as a favorite for top riders to kick start their respective racing seasons.

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Britain’s Sarah Storey to tackle women’s hour record

December 16, 2014 - 9:20am

Britain's Sarah Storey will attempt the hour record on February 28th. She needs to beat Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who rode 46.065km in Mexico City in 2003. Photo: Glyn Kirk | AFP

Britain’s Sarah Storey will be the first woman to attempt the world hour record since the rules were updated in May of this year. She will make her attempt on February 28 at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, according to the UCI.

The current women’s record is held by Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who rode 46.065km in Mexico City in 2003. That record was set under the old Athlete’s Hour rules, which required that equipment and position emulate those used by Eddy Merckx for his successful record attempt in 1972. Storey will be allowed to use any bike and position legal under current endurance track racing regulations, providing her with a significant aerodynamic advantage.

Storey has won six gold medals in cycling at the Paralympics, in addition to five gold, eight silver, and three bronze medals won in swimming, making her Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian. The 37-year-old was born without a functioning left hand and also competes against able-bodied athletes on the track.

“I’m excited and nervous at the prospect of being the first woman to take on the record in over a decade,” Storey said. “I did a couple of days’ testing up at the Manchester Velodrome to try and work out the output that would be involved over an hour to have a realistic chance of challenging the record, and we decided that if I can arrive in good shape I stood a fighting chance. Logistically it fits in just about perfectly with the plans I already had put in place for next year which center around the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships at the end of March — when I will be entering the individual pursuit, 500m time trial and scratch race.”

UCI President Brian Cookson, who pushed for the modernization of the UCI’s hour record rules, was pleased that the women’s record would be tackled. “In amending the regulations, the UCI hoped for exactly this kind of motivation from the world’s best athletes,” Cookson said. “Dame Sarah Storey’s attempt will be eagerly awaited, and I am sure it will prompt other top women riders to try to claim this prestigious record.”

Fellow British athlete Alex Dowsett has made no secret of his desire to tackle the men’s record, and Cycling Weekly reported last week that the Movistar professional may make also make his attempt at the same Revolution Series event in February.

Since the UCI updated its hour record regulations, two men have successfully broken the record. Jens Voigt set a mark of 51.11km in September, which was quickly surpassed by IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brändle with a distance of 51.852km.

On Sunday, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling set an American hour record on the track in California, riding 44.173km.

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In the News: Mexican U23 rider caught with EPO, HGH

December 16, 2014 - 8:53am

José Alfredo Aguirre, a rider on the Spanish Mutua Levante team, was caught with EPO and HGH at the Alicante airport in Spain, Spanish website AS reported Tuesday. The incident occurred in April, and the UCI notified the Mexican federation at the end of October.

Aguirre has not been sanctioned yet, but the investigation is underway.

The 20-year-old rider claimed that he did not know he was carrying the drugs.

According to Aguirre, his team director had given them to him in a bag to bring to Spain in his suitcase. Both EPO and HGH can be legally purchased in Mexico without a prescription.

Read more >>

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Without WorldTour license, Europcar faces uncertain race schedule

December 16, 2014 - 7:57am

Europcar did not receive a WorldTour license for 2015, meaning the squad will rely on invites to compete in top-tier races. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CALPE, Spain (VN) — The Sea and Sun hotel is bustling with activity. It’s time for pre-Christmas training camps, and teams from across Europe have piled onto Spain’s Costa Blanca, looking for good riding, fair weather, and a chance to regroup before the start of a new season. On Monday evening, French teams were filling the hotel lobby, with riders from FDJ.fr and Ag2r-La Mondiale buzzing around.

Europcar is also there, but following the disappointing news last week that the team would not carry a UCI WorldTour license for 2015, there is a sense of uncertainty and frustration that is a sharp contrast to the energy surrounding their compatriots.

“No one knows what’s going to happen with the racing schedules,” Europcar rider Dan Craven told VeloNews. “Without the WorldTour license, everyone’s racing schedule is going to look very different. Everyone is waiting to see what happens.”

A financial shortfall left the French team unable to meet UCI-mandated criteria, and after one season racing at the WorldTour level in 2014, Europcar will slip back into the Pro Continental ranks for next season.

While everyone’s jobs of the 28 riders and support staff appear safe for 2015, the team’s future remains far from certain. Team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau already confirmed that title sponsor Europcar will end its five-year run at the conclusion of next season, meaning he will be under pressure to find a new title sponsor to keep the long-running French team, which dates back to 2000, in the peloton.

With the team’s uncertain future, Bernaudeau has even hinted that the team’s top riders, such Thomas Voeckler, Pierre Rolland, and Bryan Coquard, could be free to join other squads.

The main worry for riders will be schedules and securing a number of quality racing days. Without a WorldTour license, Europcar will be back at the mercy of major race organizers to earn invitations to start the season’s most important races. The team already has lost its spot at the season-opener at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia.

What’s even more distressing is losing out on automatic starts for grand tours and the major stage races. The team should be able to count on an invitation to race the Tour de France, especially if Voeckler and Rolland remain in the team kit, but it’s highly unlikely they would earn invites to the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España.

That will put a big squeeze on riders within the team to earn a spot to race a grand tour in 2015.

“I was really looking forward to racing the Giro this year, and now that looks like it might not happen,” said Craven, who joined Europcar mid-season and raced the Vuelta. “If the team only races the Tour, there will be a lot of guys really trying to make the nine-man squad. If we don’t race the Giro and Vuelta, it will be hard for many to ride a grand tour this year.”

As the team went through the motions of the training camp this week in Spain, there remained a lot of unknowns moving into 2015. Rather than being able to count on a WorldTour-level calendar, something that would especially be helpful in a hunt for a new sponsor, the team will be left scrambling to patch together enough quality races to keep everyone busy.

Even earning starts in such races as Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné will require the invitation from race organizers. Starts in French races seem likely, but much more less so in events beyond the Alps, such as Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy or the Volta a Catalunya in Spain.

Last year, for example, Rolland raced the Giro for the first time, finishing a solid fourth overall that constituted his best ever grand tour result of his career.

And the team’s WorldTour status in 2014 helped open the door for Craven, who won the Tour du Cameroun for a Continental squad, and he promptly started and finished the Vuelta — his first career grand tour.

Many of those doors will be closed without a WorldTour license. Riders like Coquard, a promising sprinter who had hoped to race the Giro in 2015, will be forced to scale back their ambitions.

“It’s a real blow about this WorldTour license that has been denied us. It’s hard to swallow,” Coquard told L’Equipe. “We have to change everything. For example, I was going to race the Tour Down Under, and now I have no choice but to be at Etoile de Bessèges. And now we have to be waiting on all the organizers for invitations, and that makes it hard to plan the season. Apart from the Tour, I won’t be racing another grand tour in 2015.”

With three French teams packed into the same hotel, it’s hard not to imagine a few Europcar riders having some sideline conversations with directors at Ag2r and FDJ. But at this point, with contracts and team budgets all but tapped out, most Europcar riders will have to make the most of the coming season, and hope the team can secure enough invitations to keep everyone busy racing their bikes.

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2015 sponsor round-up: Who’s riding what

December 16, 2014 - 7:00am

Movistar will stay with Campagnolo components for 2015. Photo: Luis Barbosa | VeloNews.com

Changes to sponsorship are formally announced on January 1, when old contracts expire and new ones take effect. But a bit of digging unearths plenty of 2015 sponsor information.

VeloNews has confirmed that Ag2r-La Mondiale, formerly a Campagnolo-sponsored squad, will move to SRAM drivetrains for 2015. Ag2r will be SRAM’s only UCI ProTeam in 2015, down from a peak of eight teams in 2012. The team will also use wheels from SRAM subsidiary Zipp.

The Ag2r move is the lone coup for SRAM, which will lose the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in addition to its powerhouse classics team, Etixx-Quick-Step (formerly Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Etixx is also switching to Roval wheels, away from Zipp, as is Tinkoff-Saxo. Tinkoff owner Oleg Tinkov Tweeted the drivetrain news in September, along with an announcement that the team had signed on with Specialized for another two years. Roval is a house brand of Specialized.

RELATED: FSA confirms electronic drivetrain rumor

Campagnolo will continue to sponsor Lotto-Soudal (formerly Lotto-Belisol), Movistar, Europcar, and defending Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team. Campagnolo will also sponsor Lotto-Soudal and Movistar with its wheels, and subsidiary Fulcrum will sponsor Lampre-Merida.

Shimano will continue its numerical domination of the UCI WorldTour, retaining most of its major teams, including Sky, Cannondale-Garmin, and BMC Racing. Giant-Alpecin will stick with Shimano as well, despite dropping the brand from its name (Giant-Shimano). Giant, BMC, and Sky work very closely with Shimano, and use wheels and components from the Japanese company’s PRO brand as well.

The merger of Cannondale and Garmin will see select sponsors make the transition to the new team. It appears that the old Cannondale squad’s partnership with FSA has at least partially dissolved; the new squad will ride Mavic wheels, rather than those from FSA’s Vision brand. One source indicated that Rotor will provide cranksets, as it has for the Garmin squad for years.

The revamped Cannondale squad will also be moving to Mavic footwear, albeit slowly. Mavic will not force the entire team into its bright yellow shoes on January 1, but rather will allow riders to make the swap at their own pace, according to a source who has been briefed on the partnership. Some team riders, like Dan Martin, used Mavic shoes during the 2014 season.

Mavic will also provide wheels for Katusha, as it did in 2014.

2015 will see more diversity in frame suppliers (14 different brands), less diversity in drivetrain suppliers (Shimano dominates), and more diversity in wheel sponsors (9 different brands, including the introduction of Roval/Specialized). Softgoods continue to be the only place where smaller companies can consistently make their presence felt at the WorldTour level, a reflection of the cash required to make the move to the big leagues.

Logan VonBokel contributed reporting to this story from Fort Collins, CO.

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FSA confirms electronic drivetrain development, denies team sponsorship rumor

December 16, 2014 - 6:24am

FSA has produced drivetrain components under the Vision Metron brand (pictured), but now there are rumors of the Taiwanese company releasing a full 11-speed electronic drivetrain. Photo: Aaron Hersh (File).

FSA has confirmed the development of a complete drivetrain to VeloNews, but insisted that it would not sponsor a team with shifting components in 2015. Nonetheless, rumors that Etixx-Quick-Step has a drivetrain contract with Full Speed Ahead (FSA) continue to swirl. Three separate industry sources, all of whom requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, relayed these rumors to VeloNews.

According to these sources, the team will buy Shimano groups until FSA’s 11-speed electronic group is ready. Omega Pharma-Quickstep, which turns into Etixx-Quick-Step for 2015, was a SRAM-sponsored team during the 2014 season.

FSA has previously acknowledged the development of the new electronic drivetrain, but when contacted for comment, FSA’s marketing manager Gloria Radaelli denied the 2015 sponsorship rumors.

“Every year there are rumors about the FSA groupset, but we are not ready yet,” Radaelli said via e-mail. “I can say that in 2015 we are not going to sponsor officially any teams with a groupset.”

Specialized will equip Patrick Lefevere’s team again for 2015, but the bike brand declined to comment on the FSA drivetrain rumor. A team spokesman did not return correspondence seeking comment.

The Etixx-to-FSA rumor conflicts with an October interview with mechanic Franck Potier on the French website MatosVelo. Potier made no mention of FSA, saying, “next year we will roll Shimano electric.” But if the FSA group is still months out, the team might spend most of the year on its purchased Shimano drivetrains.

Photos of Etixx-Quick-Step aboard new bikes with Shimano drivetrains and FSA components — stems, handlebars, and seatposts — were released by the team on Monday.

It’s possible that the FSA drivetrain will be compatible with Shimano’s Di2 system. As Tony Farelly wrote on Road.cc in September, Shimano’s Di2 system uses the Bosch CAN bus protocol, and there is no reason why FSA couldn’t do the same.

FSA has released time trial-specific drivetrains in the past, under the Metron brand, but this would be its first foray into a complete road group. The system will include FSA-branded shift/brake levers, derailleurs, brakes, a chain, and a crankset.

SRAM has a wireless electronic road drivetrain in the late stages of development as well, but a final release date for that system is months out.

Details of the new FSA group are scarce, and representatives from FSA remain tight-lipped. A recent trip to FSA’s manufacturing facility in Taiwan only served to muddy the waters; an electronic group was nowhere to be seen.

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Win a Trek Project One Emonda

December 15, 2014 - 4:40pm

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