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Brecht Dhaene, Elana Cecchini win Winston-Salem Cycling Classic crits

April 19, 2014 - 9:43pm

Brecht Dhaene (Astellas Cycling Team) held on to win the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic criterium. Photo: Matt Brown | www.336Creative.com

A pair of little-known riders — Belgian Brecht Dhaene and Italian Elana Cecchini — scored big upsets Saturday at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic criteriums in North Carolina.

Dhaene (Astellas Cycling Team) finished just ahead of the chasing field after riding in a three-man breakaway for more than half of the 90-minute men’s race.

“Coming out of the last corner, my left leg was completely cramping,” Dhaene said. “But I knew if I could make it in pole position into the last corner, I was going to win. So I embraced the pain and went as hard as I could the last 50 meters. I was on the brink of explosion. Everything was falling apart.”

Dhaene, David Cueli (UnitedHealthcare of Georgia-The 706 Project) and Rémi Pelletier-Roy (Garneau-Quebecor) teamed up to build a lead that yo-yoed between 20 and 25 seconds the final half hour. Their advantage was still 13 seconds with two laps left as first Team SmartStop, then UnitedHealthcare and finally Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies led the pursuit.

Cueli was first to be caught on the second-to-last corner of the six-turn course and Pelletier-Roy was absorbed in the short chute leading to the final turn. But Dhaene, who said he was simply covering a move he thought would not survive to the finish, held on to win ahead of a pair of Americans, Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare) and Daniel Holloway (Athlete Octane).

“I love all the turns, it’s something we really like in Belgium,” Dhaene said. “I knew I was not able to win in the sprint, so I tried to attack and it worked out just fine. I really wanted to have a win in the next couple of races because I knew my shape was good. So that’s what made me do it.”

Pelletier-Roy, who held on to finish fourth, and Cueli had previously showed their strength on the first stop of the USA CRITS Series, the Delray Beach Twilight Criterium. There, they teamed together to finish first and second, respectively.

Holloway, the 2010 U.S. national criterium champion, said the field might have relied too much on UnitedHealthcare to lead the chase.

“We’ve seen it time and time again where the race gives a small group like that 20 or 30 seconds and then ‘the blue train’ (UnitedHealthcare) comes to the front and reels it back,” he said. “I think the course was just tough enough to suit a strong group staying away. We got awfully close. He didn’t win it by much. We were hot on his heels.”

In the women’s race, Cecchini (Estado de México-Faren Kuota) upset a field of criterium specialists to win by a bike length ahead of New Zealand’s Joanne Kiesanowski (Team Tibco) and U.S. national criterium champion Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare). Shelley Olds, the winner of Friday’s Winston-Salem Cycling Classic road race, was fourth.

Cecchini, who finished fifth on Friday, said the 60-minute race was her first criterium.

“I do a lot of track during the winter, so it’s like a track race,” she said. “I knew that Shelley Olds was the favorite and also Alison Powers. So I stayed in the first position and saw that UnitedHealthcare was doing a good train. So I stayed in their wheel. I went into the last corner first because I knew there were faster riders than me.”

Powers, whose UnitedHealthcare team had taken the front with two laps to go, said Cecchini may not have been well-known before the race, but she pulled a veteran move.

“She passed me in the last corner — that’s impressive,” Powers said. “I don’t usually get passed in the corners. We were hoping to have Hannah (Barnes) on my wheel, so that would prevent anyone from coming around. And if someone did come around, it would be Hannah. Unfortunately, Hannah wasn’t there.”

Thanks to a fast pace, breakaway moves were at a premium during the 60-minute race. The most promising move featured five riders that slipped the rapidly diminishing peloton with 11 laps to go. But the quintet enjoyed only two laps of freedom and never led by more than 10 seconds.

 

The post Brecht Dhaene, Elana Cecchini win Winston-Salem Cycling Classic crits appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Start list: 2014 Amstel Gold Race

April 19, 2014 - 6:34pm

Tinkoff-Saxo
1 Kreuziger, Roman
2 Andersen, Michael Valgren
3 Hansen, Jesper
4 Kroon, Karsten
5 Pires, Bruno
6 Sorensen, Chris-Anker
7 Sorensen, Nick
8 Sutherland, Rory
Sport director: Hoffman, Tristan

Ag2R La Mondiale
11 Bardet, Romain
12 Betancur Gomez, Carlos Alberto
13 Bonnafond , Guillaume
14 Cherel, Mikae
15 Gastauer, Ben
16 Minard, Sébastien
17 Montaguti, Matteo
18 Riblon, Christophe
Sport director: Quiclet, Jean-Baptiste

Astana Pro Team
21 Nibali, Vincenzo
22 Bozic, Borut
23 Fuglsang, Jakob
24 Gasparotto, Enrico
25 Lutsenko, Alexey
26 Grivko, Andriy
27 Iglinskiy, Maxim
28 Westra, Lieuwe
Sport director: Zanini, Stefano

Belkin
31 Mollema, Bauke
32 Van Emden, Jos
33 Hivert, Jonathan
34 Martens, Paul
35 Nordhaug, Lars Petter
36 Tankink, Bram
37 Tanner, David
38 Ten Dam, Laurens

BMC Racing Team
41 Gilbert, Philippe
42 Burghardt, Marcus
43 Hermans, Ben
44 Nerz, Dominik
45 Sanchez Gonzalez, Samuel
46 Van Avermaet, Greg
47 van Garderen, Tejay
48 Velits, Peter

Cannondale
51 Bettiol, Alberto
52 De Marchi, Alessandro
53 Koch, Michael
54 Marcato, Marco
55 Marino, Jean Marc
56 Mohoric, Matej
57 Ratto, Daniele
58 Villella, Davide
Sport director: Volpi, Alberto

FDJ.fr
61 Courteille, Arnaud
62 Fischer, Murilo Antonio
63 Jeanesson, Arnold
64 Ladagnous, Matthieu
65 Roy, Jeremy
66 Vaugrenard, Benoit
67 Veikkanen, Jussi
68 Vichot, Arthur
Sport director: Pineau, Franck

Garmin-Sharp
71 Dekker, Thomas
72 Langeveld, Sebastian
73 Howes, Alex
74 Martin, Daniel
75 Navardauskas, Ramunas
76 Haas, Nathan
77 Slagter, Tom Jelte
78 Wegmann, Fabian
Sport director: Weltz, Johnny

Lampre-Merida
81 Cunego, Damiano
82 Bono, Matteo
83 Cattaneo, Mattia
84 Faria Da Costa, Rui Alberto
85 Oliveira, Nelson
86 Ulissi, Diego
87 Valls Ferri, Rafael
88 Durasek, Kristijan
Sport director: Fernandez Rodriguez, Jose Antonio

Lotto-Belisol
91 De Clercq, Bart
92 Gallopin, Tony
93 Ligthart, Pim
94 Van Den Broeck, Jurgen
95 Van Der Sande, Tosh
96 Vanendert, Dennis
97 Vanendert, Jelle
98 Wellens, Tim
Sport director: Leysen, Bart

Movistar
101 Valverde Belmonte, Alejandro
102 Erviti, Imanol
103 Gadret, John
104 Herrada Lopez, Jesus
105 Izaguirre Insausti, Jon
106 Gutierrez Palacios, José Ivan
107 Intxausti Elorriaga, Benat
108 Izagirre Insausti, Gorka
Sport director: Arrieta, Jose Luis

Omega Pharma-Quick Step
111 Kwiatkowski, Michal
112 Bakelants, Jan
113 Golas, Michal
114 Martin, Tony
115 Poels, Wouter
116 Serry, Pieter
117 Stybar, Zdenek
118 Terpstra, Niki
Sport director: Steels, Tom

Orica-GreenEdge
121 Gerrans, Simon
122 Albasini, Michael
123 Clarke, Simon
124 Hayman, Mathew
125 Impey, Daryl
126 Matthews, Michael
127 Meier, Christian
128 Weening, Pieter
Sport director: White, Matthew

Europcar
131 Voeckler, Thomas
132 Arashiro, Yukiya
133 Bernaudeau, Giovanni
134 Coquard, Bryan
135 Gautier, Cyril
136 Quemeneur, Perrig
137 Reza, Kevin
138 Tulik, Angelo
Sport director: Flickinger, Andy

Team Giant-Shimano
141 Geschke, Simon
142 Curvers, Roy
143 De Kort, Koen
144 Devenyns, Dries
145 Dumoulin, Tom
146 Hupond, Thierry
147 Janse Van Rensburg, Reinardt
148 Timmer, Albert
Sport director: Visbeek, Aike

Team Katusha
151 Rodriguez Oliver, Joaquin
152 Caruso, Giampaolo
153 Chernetsckii, Sergei
154 Kolobnev, Alexander
155 Losada Alguacil, Alberto
156 Moreno Fernandez, Daniel
157 Vicioso Arcos, Ange
158 Vorganov, Eduard
Sport director: Azevedo, Jose

Team Sky
161 Boswell, Ian
162 Earle, Nathan
163 Edmondson, Josh
164 Boasson Hagen, Edvald
165 Knees, Christian
166 Pate, Danny
167 Swift, Ben
168 Thomas, Geraint
Sport director: Portal, Nicolas

Trek Factory Team
171 Busche, Matthew
172 Van Poppel, Boy
173 Felline, Fabio
174 Jungels, Bob
175 Schleck, Andy
176 Schleck, Frank
177 Vandewalle, Kristof
178 Zubeldia Aguirre, Haimar

Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela
181 Bandiera, Marco
182 Belletti, Manuel
183 Frapporti, Marco
184 Hoogerland, Johnny
185 Parrinello, Antonio
186 Testi, Nicola
187 Bertazzo, Omar
188 Zordan, Andrea
Sport director: Ellena, Giovanni

CCC Polsat Polkowice
191 Rebellin, Davide
192 Marycz, Jaroslaw
193 Matysiak, Bartlomiej
194 Owsian, Lukasz
195 Paterski, Maciej
196 Rutkiewicz, Marek
197 Honkisz, Adrian
198 Taciak, Mateusz
Sport director: Wadecki, Piotr

IAM Cycling
201 Chavanel, Sylvain
202 Brandle, Matthias
203 Denifl, Stefan
204 Lang, Pirmin
205 Hollenstein, Reto
206 Lovkvist, Thomas
207 Pineau, Jerome
208 Saramotins, Aleksejs
Sport director: Carlström, Kjell

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
211 Helven, Sander
212 Jacobs, Pieter
213 Lietaer, Eliot
214 Sprengers, Thomas
215 Van Hecke, Preben
216 Vanoverberghe, Arthur
217 Vanspeybrouck, Pieter
218 Waeytens, Zico
Sport director: De Clercq, Hans

Wanty-Groupe Gobert
221 Leukemans, Bjorn
222 Baugnies, Jerome
223 De Greef, Francis
24 De Vreese, Laurens
225 Kreder, Michel
226 Minnaard, Marco
227 Sijmens, Nico
228 Selvaggi, Mirko
Sport director: Vanderschueren, Hilaire Bardiani

Valvole-CSF Inox
231 Colbrelli, Sonny
232 Barbin, Enrico
233 Battaglin, Enrico
234 Boem, Nicola
235 Bongiorno, Francesco Manuel
236 Canola, Marco
237 Pagani, Angelo
238 Zardini, Edouardo
Sport director: Reverberi, Roberto

The post Start list: 2014 Amstel Gold Race appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Coming off a win, Philippe Gilbert carries confidence, caution into Amstel Gold

April 19, 2014 - 4:21pm

Philippe Gilbert doesn't want to go into the Ardennes triple as a "super favorite." Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (VN) — It’s something that will both carry and haunt Philippe Gilbert as he presses forward in his career: the Ardennes week sweep in 2011.

Gilbert (BMC Racing) won the three hilly classics that constitute “Ardennes week” in one fell swoop that year, the first and only rider to do so since Davide Rebellin in 2004. Since then, Gilbert has won a world championship in the road race, but has not attained his previous level, by any measure. It’s a cross the Belgian must bear now, that of supreme expectation.

He won Brabantse Pijl just days ago, a tilt of momentum into Amstel, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Gilbert is, has been, a winner. But can he get back to the Gilbert of old?

“It’s nice to win again. It’s nice to win a spring race, you know? It’s the first one with BMC. It’s been a long time. I’ve been training a lot. So it’s nice,” he told the media before Amstel.

Amstel is a racer’s race: There is hardly a straight second of road, and the course is littered with sharp climbs and sharper descents. Right, left, up, down. In theory, it suits a puncheur like Gilbert, and he won his rainbow stripes on this same exact finish — a slightly downhill stretch of road 1.8 kilometers long after the steep ascent of the Cauberg.

“I like this race. I like this upcoming week. I’ve had some success in the race for sure. I’d like to have [more] also this year and in the future. I like it — it’s technical. I think everything is possible. It makes it special,” he said.

Of course, there’s a big difference between Pijl and Amstel.

“Sunday’s the WorldTour race. The best riders in the world. The best teams in the world. The race is also 60km more. So all this, it makes a big, big difference,” Gilbert said.

The BMC team scouted the Amstel parcours to get a feel for how the team should ride it. It’s likely Amstel will see a long break, and big teams will try to slip riders in to avoid working. The bendy nature of the course, narrow roads, and the ever-billowing winds can make this race very, very tricky.

“It’s nice to be there with the team. We can all talk about the roads, the direction of the wind. Especially for Sunday’s race it’s really important. It’s nice to be together on the race. Cycling is all about being a team. If you are more together you can have a better team … everything comes automatic, and that’s the goal, also, of this kind of recon,” Gilbert said.

In a way, Gilbert now finds himself in a bit of a sweet spot. Coming off a win, but without the burden of 2012 in the rainbow stripes.

“It’s motivation, but in a way, I don’t want to be the super favorite for the next races,” he said. “I know I’m good. I have a good team. But I know also that other teams are really good and have good riders. I will be one contender for sure, because I’m always there in the final of Amstel.”

There’s just one more day now until the sport learns who’s “there” in the Amstel final this year, and who will carry even more weight into the next two races.

 

The post Coming off a win, Philippe Gilbert carries confidence, caution into Amstel Gold appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Ian Boswell eager to tackle the triple: Amstel, Trentino and Liege

April 19, 2014 - 8:09am

Ian Boswell, shown in his debut with Sky in 2013, this year is tapped to race the Ardennes triple. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com (file)

GENT, Belgium (VN) — Ian Boswell rushed to empty his refrigerator and pack his bags when he heard his travel plans. Team Sky had called, asking him to race Amstel Gold, the Giro del Trentino and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“I got the full package!” Boswell told VeloNews via telephone while leaving his base in Nice, France. “Six days of racing over eight days. Afterwards, I’m flying to LA for a 21st Century Fox press meeting, home to Oregon for a few days and then back to support Brad Wiggins in the Tour of California.”

The 23-year-old — the only rider scheduled to race the triple this year — spoke with pride about the upcoming week. In his sophomore year as a pro, he debuts in the Ardennes classics, races he holds highly as he placed second in Liège in 2012 as an under-23 rider.

Boswell’s job is not to win, but to help others do so. He will support Geraint Thomas, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ben Swift in Amstel Gold, Wiggins in Trentino, and Chris Froome and Richie Porte in Liège.

“I do Amstel Gold, fly to Trentino the next day for a team time trial and three road stages, the next day fly up to Belgium and do Liège. With the U.S., it’s a month-long trip,” Boswell said.

“I don’t mind, my fitness is good. I want to do well in these races in the future anyway.”

Boswell traveled alongside Australian Nathan Earle. Last year, he was in the same shoes as Earle, debuting in the first division and riding with a foreign team. Now, he has his chance to race the Ardennes classics. And he says he feels confident in his abilities to perform.

“The team noted that I’m leaps ahead compared to last year: I’m set up in Europe, I understand how the team works, my role in the team, how my body’s adapted to the training. Last year, I had to fight my body just to get through the training rides and meet the demands of training for the WorldTour. This year, it’s much more manageable for me.

“I know the team and know what’s expected of me. I’ve taken a big step forward by knowing what I need to do to be at the level they want me to perform at. My training’s been spot on and I’ve had consistency.”

Boswell will spend Saturday training on the Dutch and Belgian roads around Sky’s base in Maastricht. Though he rides now in Sky’s black and blue kit, he covered these roads on the U.S. national team at the 2012 world championships.

The worlds circuit used the same famous Cauberg climb that Amstel uses each year. In fact, the Amstel pushed its finish line 1.8km down the road to match the worlds course. Boswell also returned to Maastricht last year to visit the team during its Ardennes campaign and rode the roads again.

“These classics require experience. Like Amstel, it’s inherently dangerous with its turns and the wind. Mathew Hayman rode Paris-Roubaix 10 to 15 times and is still perfecting his way. It’s the same with the Ardennes, just getting experience and building fitness,” Boswell said.

“Sky didn’t get a win in the classics beforehand, but it’s going well. I hope to help the team win in Amstel or Liège. I’m not going for a result, but to be a part of a successful team.”

 

The post Ian Boswell eager to tackle the triple: Amstel, Trentino and Liege appeared first on VeloNews.com.

McCabe, Olds win road races at Winston-Salem Classic

April 18, 2014 - 4:56pm

Team SmartStop's Travis McCabe took a big win at the Winston-Salem Classic. Photo by Matt Brown, www.336Creative.com

A pair of American riders, Travis McCabe and Shelly Olds, took victories Friday at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic in North Carolina.

The UCI and National Racing Calendar (NRC) women’s race was the first of two professional cycling events Friday in Winston-Salem. Olds (Alé Cipollini-Galassia) won a bunch sprint finale ahead of Canadian Joelle Numainville (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Eugenia Bujak of Poland (BTC City Ljubljana) at the end of the 91-kilometer race that comprised eight laps of an 11.5-km circuit.

“It’s probably my favorite win of the year by far,” Olds said. “It’s my country and I never get to race here. Now, to see some riders racing over here that I normally see in Europe, it kind of mixes up the whole dynamic of the racing. You don’t just have American style racing or European racing. You have a combination of both. It makes it much more exciting. It was really fun.”

Alé Cipollini set up Olds perfectly, shutting down multiple attacks throughout the day. Olds also played a role in ensuring the bunch sprint by marking an acceleration by UnitedHealthcare’s Alison Powers with two laps to go, and again on the final lap. Erica Allar (Colavita-Fine Cooking) also made her way onto the wheel of Powers, who tried a final time to attack solo on a descent. But even a 10-second advantage was not enough to prevent the bunch finish, as she was caught on the steep section of the final climb that featured a maximum gradient of 10 percent.

“This actually was supposed to be my break after my block in Europe,” Olds said. “But, we found out about this race and it’s really important for our team to be here and race today. I didn’t know how I was going to feel, I’m trying to take sort of a rest from the whole block, but I think the rest did me good last week with my family and now I am kind of fresh.”

Alison Tetrick (Twenty16 Pro Cycling) won both the “Queen of the Mountain” and the sprint competition after attacking on the second lap and staying away until about two-and-a-half laps remained. She gained as much as a 90-second lead, but an attack by Powers brought a select group to her wheel. But that move was eventually neutralized by the field.

“Our team just wanted to race hard and show Winston-Salem a little bit about women’s cycling,” Tetrick said. ”Sometimes you can’t plan for bike racing, when the moment’s right you just go for it. It was pretty early, but it was a beautiful course and a lot of fun to ride. I definitely enjoyed that time. I think this is my first solidified queen of the mountains jersey of my career. I won a sprint jersey on Ronde van Drenthe, so now this is my second of those.”

McCabe times it perfectly

Later Friday, McCabe used a perfectly-timed attack on the final climb to solo to victory, ahead of Australian Joe Lewis (Hincapie Sportswear Development Team). Canadian national road champion Zach Bell (SmartStop) sprinted to third out of a small group, five seconds later.

“This is huge,” McCabe said of the victory. “The team is based out of Winston-Salem. It’s our home town, so it was a race we really wanted to win. The team was always there in all the moves and all of the splits. It’s a big win for us. We’re really excited.”

The chaotic race came down to a group of 14 riders which formed in the final nine laps of the 171-kilometer race that comprised 15 laps of an 11.4-km circuit. A three-rider escape group of David Cueli (UnitedHealthcare of Georgia), Matt Green (Astellas), and Oscar Clark (Hincapie Sportswear) stayed away out of that group for several laps starting at that point. A seven-rider chase group formed behind those three, and Green was eventually dropped. A group of 10 formed with three laps to go, but there was a regroupment of 34 riders about half a lap later.

Attacks continued to fly, but a strong counter attack by Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) with two laps remaining upped the pace in the group significantly. By the time Routley was caught due to an acceleration from Bell, there was only a lap to go and the front group had splintered.

Several teams were well-represented in the small group that contested the finish. Smartstop had four riders, Hincapie Sportswear had three and the Optum and 5-Hour Energy-Kenda squads each had two.  Smartstop took over the front to set up McCabe, with the 2013 U.S. national elite criterium champion launching his winning attack on the final climb.

“I went on the steepest part — the last 50 meters of that climb,” McCabe said. “It was sort of like a stair-stepper. You had the kicker, it flattened out, then a kicker, and then the last 50 or 100 meters it was just steep. I knew right there we had four guys. I just lined it up and we just took a chance and I went as hard as I could up over the hill. It was so short after the hill that if I could get up and over with a gap, I could recover over the rollers. If anyone caught me I had enough of a kick. So I just took a chance and it played out really well.”

Smartstop team director Michael Creed said McCabe’s victory in the UCI-National Racing Calendar event builds on the team’s earlier accomplishments this season: a stage win by McCabe at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, second and third at last weekend’s Novant Health Invitational Criterium, and a runner-up finish with Rob Britton at Vuelta Independencia Nacional in February.

“To see the guys who didn’t know each other from the start, who had very few connections amongst them, come together and to be at the helm of that – for them to do what I say and trust it is very satisfying,” Creed said. “It’s one thing to say this is a tactic, and another for the riders to have a mentality to make sure it happens. These guys did that and there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction.”

In addition to the runner-up finish for Lewis, Hincapie Sportswear swept the king of the mountains and sprint competitions with Lewis and Alexander Ray, respectively.

The two-day Winston-Salem Cycling Classic continues Saturday with the fourth round of the USA Crits Series. The women will contest a 60-minute criterium, followed by a 75-minute men’s event. Both races will stream live at VeloNews.com.

Watch day 2 of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic >>

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Omega rolling confident into Ardennes week

April 18, 2014 - 4:16pm

Omega's Michal Kwiatkowski looks to strike in the Ardennes races, starting with Amstel. (c)Tim De Waele

SITTARD, Netherlands (VN) — Omega Pharma-Quick Step is fresh off a Paris-Roubaix victory, and has an ace in hand for this week’s hilly classics. It’s good to be an Omega rider right about now, and it could get even better soon.

The Belgian powerhouse team, which salvaged its classics campaign on the wings of Niki Terpstra’s dazzling solo effort last week in the velodrome, enters the second phase of spring races with Michal Kwiatkowski as an outside favorite in the hilly Ardennes races — and a deep roster with many riders capable of striking.

“I know I can do it well, Amstel Gold Race,” Kwiatkowski told reporters on Friday. “We go into the race very motivated. As for me, I’ve had more results this year leading into Amstel. So, because of that there is perhaps more pressure, but until now nothing has changed.”

Indeed, this season has shaped up nicely for Kwiatkowski. He’s finished first and second at the Volta ao Algarve and Tour of the Basque Country, respectively, and won Strade Bianche, where he smashed Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the final, steep kilometer. The 23-year-old has become the next hottest thing in cycling, and certainly enters into races now with expectation and a bit more pressure, two things that come quickly for young riders taking major results. And even with undisputed talent and form, winning one of these Ardennes races is a tall, tall order. Kwiatkowski must butt heads with the likes of Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), and Joaqium Rodríguez (Katusha).

“I can say much more after the race. I have to save a lot of energy until the last climb on the Cauberg. It’s not easy to stay in front all day of a 250km race. If you want to save energy, perhaps some people will think it’s better to sit in the back of the group. But, it’s always better to sit in the front,” Kwiatkowski said. “You have to do that. Don’t use energy to be there. You have to know where to be before the climb and on the climb. That’s why the recon and experience of this race is so important and I am happy we’re well prepared. I know the parcours really well, as does the team.”

Kwiatkowski said the race tends to boil at about 70 kilometers to go, adding that he will be weary of attacks. “There are a lot of good riders who are explosive on the climbs. Philippe Gilbert, Joaquim Rodriguez, or Alejandro Valverde for example. This race is unpredictable, so it’s difficult to give a true prognosis before the race,” Kwiatkowski said.

Omega boss Patrick Lefevere is bullish on his rider. And why wouldn’t he be?

“Michal last year was also competitive in these kinds of races,” Lefevere said. “This year, the riders around him have become stronger. We have experienced riders like Pieter Serry, Jan Bakelants, and Wout Poels, who is racing at home. We’ll also have to see how recovered Zdenek Stybar is from Paris-Roubaix. As for the race, it typically is very nervous. There are a lot of curves. They announced crosswinds for the race, so it will be even more tough.”

Poels, coming off a stage win at Pais Vasco, said he feels up to the task of Amstel — a race that seems to feature every hill in The Netherlands, comprising its 13,000 feet of climbing.

“I feel really good,” Poels said. “Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco was a really nice victory, and race in general. I feel really good, so I hope we can do a nice job at Amstel Gold Race. It means a lot at my home province. It’s a really nice race, and a nice public here at my home. I’m looking forward to it. I feel the team really likes this race. We have climbers in the team who can also do well in a one day race like this.”

Another Omega rider looking forward to the climbs of the region is Jan Bakelants. The 28-year-old Belgian soared to prominence last season when he held the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for stages 3 and 4 after a stage win on the second day of the race.

“The upcoming two races, Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, are really important races of my season,” Bakelants said. “I look forward to competing in them. Clearly I am eager to do them and hoping to do well for me as well as the team. Amstel Gold Race is not typical because it’s all about short, uphill, almost sprinting efforts. One sprint is not enough to get to the top though, so there’s a mix of endurance and efforts that go into the lactic acid. So, this parcours is a nice challenge. As for the team, OPQS has a strong team this year with 30 strong guys. No matter which race we come to, we have always eight really competitive riders.”

That much, he’s certainly right about. Amstel begins on Sunday in Maastricht.

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Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz’s Felt FC

April 18, 2014 - 11:52am

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  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    The UCI Continental Hincapie Development team has been on a tear this season, racking up wins at nearly every event and stage race it attends. The team races on Felt's mid-level FC frameset with Ultegra 6800 drivetrains and HED wheels. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    First year pro Joe Schmalz has locked up two race victories so far. He claimed the win at the California Elite Road Race Championships and at the Sea Otter Classic SRAM Road Race, where we were able to catch up with his race-winning bike. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Schamlz tops his 69.5cm seat height with a Fizik Kurve saddle. The Kurve Bull shares a similar shape with the Aliante but is designed to have a more compliant shell. Hincapie riders are allowed to ride whatever saddle they choose, so Schamlz purchases Fiziks for himself. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    The Felt F-series sports very short head tubes, so Schamlz compensates with a 10mm spacer between his 140mm Pro Vibe carbon stem and the headset dust-cap. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Zevlin provides the Hincapie team with custom bar tape. Zevlin gives anyone the opportunity to order custom tape in quantities of 10 or more through its web store. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Shimano's component manufacturer Pro has a very clever name for these bottle cages, Bottle Cage Carbon UD. The "UD" means Pro uses unidirectional carbon fiber. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    At Sea Otter, Schmalz rode a set of the 60mm-deep HED Stinger 6 FRs. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Shimano Ultegra carbon pedals. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Without a power meter sponsor Hincapie riders are using both Stages and SRM power meters. Schmalz opts for a Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 SRM with 172.5mm crank arms. The DA7900 is not technically 11-speed compatible, but Schmalz makes due. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    A mechanical Shimano Ultegra 6800 rear derailleur handles shifting across the Ultegra CS-6800 11-28 cassette. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Hincapie uses K3 Holders' Elane II frame number plate holders on the team's race bikes. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    The Felt F-Series frames sport some customized derailleur hangers. The Felt FC frameset is also available in custom colors through Felt's website. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    All of Schmalz's Garmin data is perched out in front of his 42cm-wide Pro Vibe 7S handlebar. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    Schamlz had his Ultegra front brake opened just slightly. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Pro Bike Gallery: Joe Schmalz's Felt FC

    The Hincapie team rides Michelin Pro4 tubulars. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

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Cavendish to skip Giro in favor of Tour de France prep

April 18, 2014 - 9:48am

PARIS (AFP) — British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) revealed on Friday that he will bypass next month’s Giro d’Italia to focus on the Tour de France, which begins July 5.

The 28-year-old Isle of Man native will instead use the Tour of Turkey (April 27-May 4), Amgen Tour of California (May 11-18), and the Tour de Suisse (June 14-22) as his tune-up races for the Tour de France. This summer’s Tour begins in Leeds, located in Yorkshire, England.

“As everyone knows, my main objective this year is the Tour de France,” said Cavendish, who has won 25 Tour de France stages.

“I will not do the Giro this year, which saddens me because it is a race that has given me a lot of satisfaction in the past.”

Cavendish, whose mother is from Harrogate, the finishing town for the first stage of this year’s Tour de France, has won 15 Giro stages during his career and earned the overall points title at last year’s race.

The post Cavendish to skip Giro in favor of Tour de France prep appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Matthews hopes to bolster season wins total at Amstel Gold Race and Giro

April 18, 2014 - 7:40am

Michael Matthews picked up a stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this month. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

GENT, Belgium (VN) — Michael Matthews takes confidence into Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. The Aussie known as “Bling” already won twice this season and placed second behind Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) in Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow).

“The Amstel Gold Race is going to suit me,” Matthews told VeloNews. “It’s basically the same as Brabantse Pijl but on a bit of a higher level.”

The 23-year-old Orica-GreenEdge rider chalked up two wins in the last week and a half: a stage in the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja and, at the UCI WorldTour level, a stage in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country). It marks the most promising start to a season since the former under-23 world champion turned professional in 2011. It also follows up on two stage wins in the Vuelta a España at the end of last summer.

After teammate Simon Gerrans escaped at Belgium’s mid-week classic Brabantse Pijl Wednesday, Matthews had his chance to win. He followed the wheels in the uphill drag to the finish, closed on Yukiya Arashiro’s attack, and responded to Gilbert’s sprint.

Gilbert, who won the road worlds title in 2012 a year after he swept all three Ardennes classics, won the sprint last week. Matthews finished second.

“I definitely had the legs to win Brabantse Pijl but I was boxed into the last corner by Arashiro. I couldn’t get through and had to settle for second,” Matthews said.

“I’m just coming off of two wins and that makes a difference heading into races like Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold. It’s nice to be back on top with wins under your belt because you go into the races with more confidence. I hope there’s more to come from here in both Amstel and the Giro d’Italia.”

Gerrans placed third in the Amstel Gold Race last year and in 2011. He gives the Aussie team its best option to win the Dutch classic. However, just as in Brabantse Pijl, the team has different options with Daryl Impey and Matthews.

“Orica will be one of the strongest teams because we have several options — and that helps going into it,” Matthews said. “We don’t just have one favorite, but three favorites with Gerrans and Impey. Being able to play off one another takes the pressure off and allows the other two to rest and to counter any moves.

“I’m taking confidence from the two wins and this second place into the Amstel Gold Race.”

Following Amstel, Matthews backs off and focuses on the Giro d’Italia and possibly the Tour de France. This year, instead of supporting Matt Goss, who will race in the Amgen Tour of California, Orica is backing “Bling” for stage wins. He already showed what is possible with a win in Lago de Sanabria and in Madrid last year at Spain’s grand tour.

“After the Amstel Gold Race, the Giro is my goal. Orica is aiming for the team’s TT in Belfast. We will see how long we can hold the jersey for after that, and I’ll certainly try to win a stage,” Matthews said.

“The Giro’s a goal for me. I hope to hold this form through to the Giro and have good legs there. I also want to take it onto the Tour de France.”

The post Matthews hopes to bolster season wins total at Amstel Gold Race and Giro appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Despite 2013 success, Garmin enters Ardennes week as an underdog

April 18, 2014 - 7:03am

Dan Martin kicked to victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

GENK, Belgium (VN) — As usual, American outfit Garmin-Sharp finds itself a bit of an outsider as it heads into the hilly classics. As usual, the team prefers it that way. And unsurprisingly, the team itself maintains its traditional looseness — the riders all piled into a boat on a rarely sunny Belgian afternoon — in spite of having the defending Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion on its roster.

But make no mistake here: Garmin brings a very deep team into the Ardennes classics, one with 2013 Liège winner Dan Martin of Ireland. But Garmin doesn’t have the megastar of a Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), who won all three Ardennes races in 2011, and it doesn’t have the deep expectations of a Belgian team. The squad kicks off Ardennes week at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race.

Alex Howes, one of Garmin’s key support riders, says he’s unsure of the pressure the team will face, particularly in Liège next weekend. The team hasn’t found itself in this position before.

“I’ve never had to defend Liège. We’ve never been in this position before. I think we’re fortunate in the fact that we’ve always been seen as underdogs,” Howes said, reclined on a couch at the team hotel a short distance from the start of Amstel. “But maybe that’ll change a little bit this year. But honestly, you look at the guys coming to these races. Guys like Gilbert, and Purito [Joaquim Rodriguez], [Alejandro] Valverde. Hitters. They’ll have a full squad around them, very deep squads as well. We’re definitely not the favorites.”

That’s a role the Garmin boys prefer. Martin won Liège last year to many people’s surprise when he unfurled a devastating final kick, dropping Rodriguez (Katusha) in the process. On that day, Garmin employed attacking teamwork brilliantly, as it sent a flying Ryder Hesjedal up the road to provoke the race rather than truly try and control anything. That’s not what wildcards do, control things.

Martin is excited to be back, and why not? Starting a monument with the ones on his back is something he’s looking forward to.

“Obviously in the past we’ve been relatively successful. Even last year coming into it I’d been sixth in Flèche and fifth in Liège,” Martin said. “And so we were optimistic about what we could achieve. I don’t think any of us could imagine that we’d be coming away with victory, but yeah, it happened. And to be starting Liège this year with the number ones on my back? It’s going to be incredible. It’s a pleasure to ride that race and I’ll be really proud pinning those numbers on. But at the same time, that’s last year, it’s done, it’s finished.”

Come Sunday in Valkenburg, it’s all business. The Amstel Gold Race climbs more than 13,000 feet and has riders packed into small streets for six, seven hours. Martin said he’s thinking of Amstel first and foremost, and that the rest of the Ardennes can wait.

In his Garmin teammates, Howes sees a deep lineup and, as a result, doesn’t think he has much of a chance to ride for himself in the Ardennes. He finished sixth in Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow) in 2012.

“We’ve got a really, really deep team for Amstel, Flèche, and Liège,” Howes said. “It goes all the way down. We’re defending the Liège title. And Ryder Hesjedal’s always really good in these races. Tom-Jelte [Slagter], he’s been kicking phenomenally in the finals. Nathan [Haas] is looking good this year. Fabian Wegmann … He’s always there. On paper, I’m the weakest link.”

Garmin, even with a champ, is an underdog. The squad won’t hold any press conferences — maybe one before Liège for Martin — and won’t be stared at to constrict the races.

“We’re fine with that,” Howes said. “We’re gonna throw down.”

The post Despite 2013 success, Garmin enters Ardennes week as an underdog appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Valverde ready to pounce in hilly Ardennes classics

April 18, 2014 - 6:27am

Alejandro Valverde is riding to win at the Ardennes classics. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is ready to make up for disappointment last year across the Ardennes with a winning ride in at least one of the hilly classics.

Which one? He doesn’t care. Already a winner of one Flèche Wallonne (2006) and two Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2006, 2008), the veteran Spaniard is motivated to make up for third in last year’s Liège, when a mechanical problem in the final attack kept him from shifting gears and opening up his sprint.

“As I’m feeling now, the only goal is winning,” Valverde said in a team release. “We know it’s much easier said than done. I was running well last year, and I was always in the front, but I couldn’t win any of the three.”

Last year, Valverde was solid across the Ardennes, riding to second behind the unstoppable Roma Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) at Amstel Gold, seventh at Flèche, and third at Liège behind Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

Always a consistent performer in the hilly classics,Valverde is on good form, and will be a five-star favorite across Ardennes week, which begins Sunday with Amstel Gold Race.

Valverde already has seven wins on the 2014 season, including Roma Maxima and GP Indurain. He skipped racing the Volta a Catalunya to race across the cobblestones at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke to get a taste of what awaits in this summer’s Tour de France.

At the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) earlier this month, he was out-gunned by eventual winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), scoring three second places in stages, but falling off the final podium after bleeding too much time in the final time trial to finish fifth.

Contador is skipping the Ardennes after his highly successful spring campaign, meaning Valverde, and steady Ardennes performer Joaquin Rodríguez (Katusha) will be the top Spanish riders for the upcoming classics.

Backing up Valverde will be a solid Movistar team, including Beñat Intxausti, John Gadret, Imanol Erviti, and Iván Gutiérrez.

“I always get asked which one I would like to win if I could choose just one, but I won’t do that because I like all three,” Valverde said. “It’s true that Amstel is the one that resisted me so far, I’ve been second and third there, but I still love Liège. I will give 100 percent in all three.”

The post Valverde ready to pounce in hilly Ardennes classics appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Preview: At long last, Amstel Gold Race arrives for climbers

April 18, 2014 - 3:00am

Two-time winner Philippe Gilbert is among the favorites for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SITTARD, Netherlands (VN) — The bumps of Belgium are long gone now, and in their stead come the hills of the Dutch Limburg region. To be more precise, there are 34 climbs over the Amstel Gold Race’s 251 kilometers, amounting to more than 13,000 feet of climbing.

The Amstel Gold Race comes this weekend and with it a different sort of rider and race. Gone are the big and hearty men of the northern cobbles, and out come the climbers, the GC types, the puncheurs.

This Sunday marks the opening of what’s known as Ardennes week, the 10 days of hillier one-day races spanning the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Though Amstel is held in the Limburg region, outside of the forested Ardennes, it’s lumped into the onslaught of steep, paved climbs and teams look at the three races the same way: hard.

See the ’17 years of winning moves at Amstel Gold Race’ gallery >>

The favorites here are punchy climbers and general classification riders — riders like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Rui Costa (Lampre), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Amstel Gold Race’s return to the new finish, and 34 climbs

This marks the second year for the “new” finish of Amstel Gold, nearly two kilometers past the top of the Cauberg climb above Valkenburg, the site (and the same finish, now) as the 2012 UCI Road World Championships. Ahead of last year’s 48th edition, Amstel Gold Race course director Leo van Vliet, a coach for the Dutch worlds team in 2012, elected to go with the worlds finish. On Wednesday, crews put the finishing touches on massive hospitality tents at the flat finish line.

The alteration means a different finish that can suit a different type of rider. If a lithe climber breaks free of the clutches of a group at the base of the Cauberg (1.2km at 5.8 percent), he may not be able to sustain the gap over the 1.8km to the finish. It’s mostly flat, but it will most likely be windy.

The field will climb the Cauberg — Gilbert’s springboard for his 2012 rainbow jersey — twice near the end of the race. The first time, the riders will pass through the finish area and up the Geulhemmerberg (970m at 7.9 percent), then the Bemerlerberg (900m at 7 percent), and then the Cauberg a final time before the finish in Vilt.

Climbs of the 2014 Amstel Gold Race:
1. Slingerberg (1.3km, 4.8%)
2. Adsteeg (700m, 4.5%)
3. Lange Raarberg (1.8km, 3.9%)
4. Bergseweg (2.6km, 3.3%)
5. Sibbergrubbe (1.8km, 3.9%)
6. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
7. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
8. Wolfsberg (800m, 4.4%)
9. Loorberg (1.5km, 5.5%)
10. Schweibergerweg (2.9km, 3.9%)
11. Camerig (4.3km, 3.8%)
12. Drielandenpunt (3.7km, 3.7%)
13. Gemmenich (900m, 6.4%)
14. Vijlenerbos (1.8km, 5.1%)
15. Eperheide (2.3km, 4.1%)
16. Gulpenerberg (700m, 8.1%)
17. Plettenberg (1km, 4.2%)
18. Eijserweg (2.2km, 4.3%)
19. Huls (1km, 7.7%)
20. Vrakelberg (700m, 7.9%)
21. Sibbergrubbe (2.1km, 4.1%)
22. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
23. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
24. Bemelerberg (900m, 5%)
25. Loorberg (1.5km, 5.5%)
26. Gulpenerberg (700m, 8.1%)
27. Kruisberg (800m, 7.5%)
28. Eijserbosweg (1.1km, 8.1%)
29. Fromberg (1.6km, 4%)
30. Keutenberg (700m, 9.4%)
31. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
32. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
33. Bemelerberg (900m, 5%)
34. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)

Kwiatkowski’s coronation, a veteran’s confirmation, or a surprise attack?

All that climbing on those narrow roads and its timing as the kickoff to the Ardennes make Amstel Gold wildly hard to predict, though this much is clear: it will be incredibly difficult and immensely stressful. The roads here are one-car wide, and the amount of traffic furniture — bumps, poles, odd curbs — is incredible. Crashes at Amstel Gold are a near certainty, and large and loud crowds are a guarantee. It’s a race named after a beer, after all.

Amstel Gold could fall to a younger rider like Kwiatkowski or an older one like Valverde (second last year). Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) will have his eyes on the Ardennes races, as will Garmin-Sharp’s Daniel Martin, winner of last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Gilbert has won this race twice, in 2010 and 2011, and demonstrated in Wednesday’s De Brabantse Pijl that he has sharpened his fitness ahead of his home races.

Kwiatkowski is a good bet because he comes into Amstel Gold having shown he’s on great form (second at Vuelta al País Vasco, behind a flying Alberto Contador) and is a year wiser. And he showed his late-race snap when he blew up Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to win Strade Bianche in March. Last year, he finished fourth at Amstel Gold and fifth at La Flèche Wallonne. The Polish champion appears to be on the cusp of an Ardennes victory.

“Kwiatkowski was fourth last year and is in a good moment of his season. With Kwiatkowski the team can also count on a guy like Wout Poels, the queen stage winner of País Vasco. We did really well at País Vasco as a team last week, and therefore it is good for the cohesion of the unit that we also selected Jan Bakelants, and Tony Martin — who is returning to the classics after a few years away — as well as Pieter Serry and Michal Golas,” Omega Pharma director Wilfried Peeters said. The Belgian squad will also bring Zdenek Stybar. “He is the lone rider who participated in the cobblestone classics. He likes this race and the parcours. It’s kind of like a Tour of Flanders with hills, but without the cobbled sections. So, it can fit his skills,” Peeters said in a press release.

Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) won last year’s Amstel Gold Race, and shouldn’t be discounted, either, though he downplayed his chances this week in a team interview.

“I don’t feel at my best yet, but you never know. Even last year at this time, I felt really bad and at the end I won anyway. But I’m confident in terms of doing Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne. Rory (Sutherland), Karsten (Kroon), Nicki (Sørensen), and I are ready, experienced and I’m sure that you’re going to see our Tinkoff jersey there,” he said.

Last year’s third-place finisher, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) has had a quiet start to the classics season, though he won his national championship in the road race — no small feat in Australia nowadays — and also snagged the overall at Santos Tour Down Under in the first month of the season.

In fact, the list of men who could win these races feels longer than that of the northern classics. Though the climbing finales are, in theory, more predictable than flatter finishes, races like Amstel Gold seldom are. Who saw Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) winning in 2012, or, a step further, Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) winning Liège that same year as well? Probably two people: Gasparotto and Iglinsky.

Riders from the home country have won 17 times, the most of any nation by a healthy measure. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) could certainly snag one for the home nation this weekend, but others like Costa and Slagter, twice a stage winner at Paris-Nice earlier this season, appear more suited to the uphill, then flat, finish.

As of Thursday, the Amstel flags were flying above Valkenburg. The massive tents at the finish and small patios lining the base of the Cauberg waited to house their raucous spectators. But what they’ll see? Well, that’s about as predictable as can be expected after a couple hundred kilometers of sinuous, hilly Dutch roads: not at all.

The post Preview: At long last, Amstel Gold Race arrives for climbers appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3

April 17, 2014 - 4:18pm

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  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake CX402

    The flagship shoe from Lake, the CX402, sports a kangaroo leather upper and a fully moldable carbon fiber sole. Of course, that kind of luxurious custom shoe comes at a price and the CX402 carries a price tag of $530. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake CX402 sole

    The CX402's sole can be remolded a number of times, so a rider can fine tune his fit from season to season, which can come in handy when transitioning from the thick socks of winter to the warmth of spring. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake MX237

    Lake's mid-range MX237 has been a hit as a race-ready shoe under $300. At $280, with a carbon sole and a double-Boa closure, it's a sleeper in the shoe market, even if its orange color says otherwise. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake MX237 sole

    The MX237 should get plenty of traction off-road. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake custom insole

    Lake is now offering aftermarket custom insoles. The fiberglass insole retails for $60 and carries over many of the features of the carbon fiber insole, but is heavier and not quite as rigid. The carbon insole retails for $80. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake insole bottom

    The custom insoles are intended to be used with any shoe, but Lake sees them being a big hit with the company's shoes lacking it custom soles, such as the MX237. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Xentis Speed 2.5 SL

    Xentis showed off a prototype Speed 2.5 SL front wheel. The company claimed the pair of tubular hoops weighs in at 890 grams. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Xentis hub

    Xentis said that a pair of its carbon hubs will weigh just 220 grams. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk

    Italian bike brand Scapin displayed its new budget-minded — or at least budget-minded for Scapin — Anouk carbon road bike. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk head tube

    The Anouk frameset will retail for $2,200. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk complete bike

    A Scapin Anouk with SRAM Force 22 and Mavic Ksyrium wheels will retail at $3,400. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima Ares 4

    Rolf Prima redesigned its Ares 4 carbon wheels at the start of the year. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima Ares 4 cutaway

    A cutaway of the Rolf Prima Ares 4 shows its stout shape. Clincher models sport a 27mm rim, and the tubular model has a 26mm rim at the brake track. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima hub

    Rolf Prima designs its own hubs and has them manufactured by White Industries. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima hub cutaway

    A cutaway of the Rolf Prima hub shows the innards. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Ergon saddles

    Ergon covers the full spectrum of rider disciplines with its saddle offerings. From left to right, Ergon showcased its road, cyclocross, and enduro saddles at Sea Otter. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Shanks

    U.S. cross-country champion Stephen Ettinger raced the XCO at Sea Otter, which can make for a busy morning for riders and mechanics alike. Here, Ettinger's mechanic Daimeon Shanks makes his way to the start, spare wheels, tools, and a sandwich in tow. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Ettinger pit

    You can tell a lot about a mechanic from his tools. Shanks, who hails from Boulder, Colorado, had a neatly organized pit setup, despite being on the side of a car and motorcycle race track in California. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Cannondale pit

    The Cannondale-Sho-Air pit was a bit more spread out on the side of the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Cannondale tools

    The Cannondale-Sho-Air mechanics had spare parts at the ready for Ryan Trebon and Co. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Specialized pit

    This Whole Athlete-Specialized pit setup was pristine, likely better organized than most shop mechanics' setups. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Abbey Bike Tools Crombie

    Abbey Bike Tools' Crombie cassette tool, chain whip, and bottom bracket tools are very popular in the pro mechanics' circle. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

  • View Larger Image.Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Specialized spare wheels

    Spare Roval 29er hoops waited roadside, should Whole-Athlete-Specialized riders need them. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

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Ask a Mechanic: Loosening seized bicycle spokes

April 17, 2014 - 11:07am

Unable to true a wheel because your spoke nipples are locked up? Follow these tips to loosen them up

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Video: How to prepare for the Iditarod Trail Invitational

April 17, 2014 - 10:54am

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

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GCN Video: How to improve your climbing speed

April 17, 2014 - 8:00am

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

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USA Cycling names seven riders to Pan-Am squad

April 17, 2014 - 7:45am

SITTARD, Netherlands (VN) — The USA Cycling development house in the Netherlands was abuzz Thursday morning with the news that some of its athletes will be sent to the 2014 Pan American Continental Road Championships, slated for May 8-12 in Puebla, Mexico.

Maura Kinsella, 23, a rider training and racing here in the women’s spring classics, sat quietly in the early morning, drinking coffee and pecking away on a laptop. She’s been in northern Europe for two months now. She made the Pan-Am roster.

“I’m really excited to be selected for the Pan-Ams, because it’s a really big step forward in my cycling career,” said Kinsella, who races professionally for Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies. “To be in such good company with [Evelyn Stevens], and Megan [Guarnier] and Kristin McGrath and Lauren [Komanski], I’m really excited. I think we have a really good team going.”

Kinsella’s best result here during this block is a sixth place at Le Samyn des Dammes; her selection is something like validation. Her racing in Europe this spring has been difficult — for a very good reason.

“I’ve definitely been happy with how it’s going so far,” Kinsella said. “I petitioned [for the games] obviously with the hope of making it, but it’s a little bit of a surprise for me, so I’m really exited about that.”

Komanski, 28, made the team as well. “It’s huge. It wasn’t really something I expected. It’s a huge honor to have another chance to race for USA. And on this stage is really exciting,” she said.

“It’s hard racing,” said Komanski, who has been over in Europe training and racing for two months. “But you kind of expect that coming over. But I was lucky enough to have some good groups coming over. Having good people around you makes a huge difference.”

USA Cycling announced Thursday morning the athletes who will represent the United States in Mexico. Leading the squad will be 2012 world time trial silver medalist Stevens (Specialized lululemon). She will race the time trial, as will McGrath (Twenty16).

McGrath, Guarnier (Boels Dolmans), Kinsella (Optum), and Komanski (Twenty16) will link up in the road race.

For the men, Justin Mauch (Airgas Cycling) and Chris Putt (Bissell Development) will team up to represent the United States in the men’s U23 ranks.

Elite women

Megan Guarnier, road race
Maura Kinsella, road race
Lauren Komanski, road race
Kristin McGrath, road race and time trial
Evelyn Stevens, time trial

U23 Men

Justin Mauch, road race and time trial
Chris Putt, road race and time trial

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Stetina, van Garderen join BMC’s cobblers for Tour recon ride

April 17, 2014 - 7:10am

Tejay van Garderen's path to the yellow jersey this summer will go over the cobblestones. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

GENT, Belgium (VN) — BMC Racing will ride Paris-Roubaix’s pavé Thursday for its Tour de France leader Tejay van Garderen. Nine of the nasty cobble sectors in Northern France will form part of the Tour’s fifth stage July 9.

“Us Tour climber guys are going to learn how to ride cobbles with a few of the Roubaix guys,” Peter Stetina told VeloNews. “I feel bad because they have to go back after Roubaix and re-ride the cobble sectors!”

BMC’s cobble warriors Greg Van Avermaet and Michael Schär will shepherd van Garderen, Stetina, Peter Velits, Dominik Nerz, and Amaël Moinard during the recon ride. Besides the days in the mountains, the stage from Ypres to Arenberg could be one of the Tour’s most crucial stages.

“It’s definitely possible that someone might lose their Tour de France chances because of it but that’s just the nature of the beast,” Stetina said.

“I think Tejay will be good at it because he’s one of the bigger GC riders. He has the weight and the momentum to carry him over. He’ll be able to use the inertia. We raced cyclocross together as juniors so he knows how to handle himself well on the dirt.”

Paris-Roubaix passed over 51.1 kilometers of cobbles Sunday. The 156km Tour stage will include 15.4km on cobbles.

In 2010, the Tour only raced over 13.2km but the riders felt the impact. Andy Schleck made the lead group, but his brother Frank fell and broke his collarbone. Alberto Contador lost one minute and Lance Armstrong lost two minutes.

“I’ve never rode any of those hardcore cobbles. We rode around on them [as under-23 riders] once in Izegem, but it doesn’t compare. Even that was in Flanders, totally different than the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix,” Stetina added.

“I’ve heard horror stories from past Tours when the race went over those cobbles. It sounds like all-out warfare, and then the next day’s pretty easy because everyone has PTSD — Post-traumatic stress disorder, like the war vets!”

To prepare for the “war,” Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) previewed the sectors on Monday. Astana scheduled a reconnaissance with its leader Vincenzo Nibali for Thursday.

Stetina spent the last four years in the service of Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal at Garmin-Sharp. BMC signed him over the offseason to help van Garderen in the Tour’s mountains.

On Wednesday, Stetina led classics captain Philippe Gilbert to victory at Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow). He said BMC called him in for the race because it worked with his travel schedule around the Roubaix reconnaissance.

“It wouldn’t be bad to race the other Ardennes classics but I have other goals,” Stetina said. “I’ve got to go to Tahoe to prepare for the Tour of California. The team is allowing me a chance to win it and that’s my big goal before switching over to helping Tejay win the Tour.”

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Horner leaves hospital in high spirits after training crash

April 17, 2014 - 6:20am

PARIS (AFP) — Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Horner left the hospital in a jubilant mood Wednesday following a training crash with a car last week.

The American Lampre-Merida rider was taken to the hospital last Friday after being involved in a crash while riding around Lake Como in northern Italy.

The 42-year-old, who became the oldest grand tour winner in history at last year’s Vuelta at age 41, suffered a punctured lung and four broken ribs in the accident.

But he has now left the Lecco hospital and gone back to his home in Como.

“I’m happy I can come back home, it was a bad experience, but I also think I was lucky: the crash could have had worse consequences,” Horner said in a statement released by Lampre. “I still feel pains when I move. I know I must be patient, I hope I can soon pedal on the rollers.”

Horner also suffered cuts to his head and bruises to his elbow in the accident.

Before his Vuelta victory, Horner’s previous best finish in a grand tour was ninth at the 2010 Tour de France. Two years later, he finished 13th at the 2012 Tour.

His other notable results included an overall victory at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in 2010 and the Amgen Tour of California in 2011.

He was also a reasonably successful rider in the spring classics, with top-10 finishes at all three Ardennes classics in 2010.

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Magazine Excerpt: The spirit and the letter

April 17, 2014 - 3:00am

Where is the line between performance advantages and doping? Graphic: Mike Reisel | Velo magazine

Editor’s note: The following passage is excerpted from Velo head writer Matthew Beaudin’s Lede VeloNote in the May 2014 issue of Velo magazine. To read the full story, as well as our Official Guide to the Giro d’Italia, pick up a copy at your local bookseller or bike shop, or download from the Apple iTunes store today.

They filled up their veins with the blood of relatives, just another bodily transaction before competition, just another advantage in an unfair sport and world.

American cyclists won nine total medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, with seven members taking supplemental blood, accounting for four of those medals. The last time the U.S. had won a medal in cycling at the Games was in 1912.

There is zero doubt that blood boosting contributed to the rise of the U.S. cycling program at that moment in time, though Connie Carpenter turned down the offers from coaches and won gold in the road race. One third of the team transfused the blood of other human beings into their arms.

It helped, and it wasn’t illegal then. Not yet. But was there a moral imperative saying that the act, the use of someone else’s red blood cells, or even one’s own, to transport oxygen at a higher level, was wrong? Can something feel wrong but not be wrong, per the letter of the anti-doping laws?

This a cyclical theme in sport, on the finest and most ragged of lines, the plane that divides winning and losing. Athletes have always sought advantages over one another, some overt, some tacit. The latest shadow method came to the fore during the Sochi Olympics in the form of xenon, an inert gas that, when inhaled over time, forces the body to produce more erythropoietin, more commonly known as EPO, thus increasing oxygen transport and creating a more efficient athlete. Think of it as more train cars filled with coal burning a hotter fire.

Xenon has been used as an anesthetic since the 1950s, and the Russian Olympic Committee has been pushing the gas on its endurance athletes for years, or at least three Olympics. It wasn’t illegal, and they weren’t shy about it.

Perhaps as a tangential result, the home nation swept the podium in the Olympic 50-kilometer cross-country skiing event. Vladimir Uiba, the leader of Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, alluded that athletes may have been using xenon gas but said it was not wrong to do so. “Xenon is not an illegal gas,” Uiba told Russian news agencies. “We have a principle not to use what is forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).”

A 2009 British study found that subjecting mice to a blend of 70 percent xenon and 30 percent oxygen doubled the mice’s EPO levels a day after; another in Shanghai indicated a raised protein level (Hif-1 alpha) that leads to increased EPO production stayed elevated for two days after treatment. Altitude tents, according to that study, saw an EPO bump that lasted only hours. All of this is not indicative of performance in humans, but on a basic level, the methodology is effective.

Injecting artificial EPO is, of course, illegal under World Anti-Doping Agency rules; but what about using a gas to elevate those levels that are naturally occurring, however minute the rise may be?

Read the full story in the May 2014 issue of Velo magazine.

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