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Technical FAQ: Chain wear measurement

32 min 28 sec ago

Six brand-new chains hung by their own weight from a single, straight rod that ensures that the first links of all six chains are perfectly lined up with each other. The red line indicates the 100th link in the chains. The chains are, L-R: Shimano 11s Dura-Ace HG900, SRAM 10s PC1091R, Campy 10s Record UltraNarrow, KMC 11s X11SL DLC, SRAM 10s PC1091R, Campy 11s Chorus. Photo: Friction Facts

Dear Lennard,
I’ve been evaluating different methods for assessing chain wear. Maybe you will find the following interesting.

I have a freshly cleaned and lubricated SRAM PC1170 chain with about 1,500 road miles. There are 54 outer links and 55 inner links, so the total length of a brand new chain is 54.5 inches measured between the centers of the holes in the first and last (inner) links.

The five measurement methods indicate:
1. ProGold ProLink Chain Wear Indicator: 85 percent worn
2. Park Chain Checker: 0.5 (50 percent) worn
3. 12-inch steel rule: negligibly longer than 12 inches
4. 6-inch digital calipers: negligibly longer than 6 inches
5. Hanging old next to a new (“uncut”) chain: the old is 0.19 inches longer than to the corresponding link of the new chain

I consider measurement #5 to be the most precise.

0.19 inches over a length of 54.5 inches corresponds to 0.042 inches over a length of 12 inches. 0.042 inches is slightly more than half of 1/16 of an inch and should be good according to Sheldon Brown:
1. If the link pin is less than 1/16-inch past the mark, all is well.
2. If the link pin is 1/16-inch past the mark, you should replace the chain, but the sprockets are probably undamaged.
3. If the link pin is 1/8-inch past the mark, you have left it too long

Thus, I conclude that:
1. The chain is a slightly more than 50 percent worn.
2. Of methods #1 to #4, the Park Chain Checker got closest to the correct result.
— Raymond

Dear Raymond,
Chain elongation, as it is representative of how much wear has occurred at the pins and rollers over time, is the best way we have of measuring chain wear. There are many ways of measuring chain wear, and you mention a few of them. I have, over the years, struggled with this question, consulted with tool brands on the designs of chain-wear indicators, and have measured innumerable chains with many different methods. I have yet to come up with a definitive way to do it. I have ended up choosing one chain checker that I found to be the easiest to use, and I use it frequently and try to figure out its idiosyncrasies to ensure first and foremost that I replace my chain soon enough that it doesn’t fry my cogs, and secondly that I don’t replace chains too soon and throw good money down the drain by disposing of perfectly good chains.

I consulted with Jason Smith, owner of Friction Facts, who has not only taught the entire bike industry much in the past few years about chain friction, but who has also single-handedly brought about the kind of chain preparation and measurement that Bradley Wiggins used in his hour record. He performed a comprehensive test that measured the frictional losses of a chain vs. chain elongation. The results show that friction on average increased at a rate of about 2 watts per 1 percent chain elongation. The test was performed at 250W rider output, so the losses would increase linearly for high-output riders. Yet another reason to keep an eye on chain wear and to replace a chain sooner-than-later if seconds count.

This is what Smith had so say about measuring chain elongation:

“When Friction Facts performed the ‘Effects of Chain Wear on Efficiency’ test, we experienced similar issues regarding accurately quantifying the level of chain elongation on the worn sample chains.

“Each measurement method your reader describes, whether it’s using a chain wear tool, or the ‘ruler method,’ or the hanging method, comes with pros and cons. Chain wear tools are quick and easy to use. However, their accuracy might not be as high as the ruler or hanging method. For reference, this site provides good information on the functionality of chain tools and mechanisms of chain wear. [The Pedro’s Chain Checker Plus chain wear indicator shares the same measurement features with the Shimano TL-CN40 and TL-CN41 tools -Ed.]

“Most popular chain tools introduce some level of inaccuracy because the tool includes the wear of the bushing of the final link of the span being measured. Tool manufacturers can adjust for this additional elongation. But this brings up another point: The accuracies of the tools are based on the tool design itself. A manufacturer can create conservative conditions, or adjust for the bushing, or other dimensional design variances essentially determining the measuring functionality of each tool in order to transform a length into a percent value. Compare this to a high-accuracy metal scale, where 12 inches is 12 inches.

“We’ve used both the Park Tool CC-2 and the ProLink chain tools here in the lab. We’ve found that the Park Tool typically measures about 0.15% higher than the ruler method, and the ProLink typically measures about 0.25% higher than the ruler method. Considering chain and tool manufacturers recommend chain replacement at 0.5% on the low end to 1.0% on the high end, this variance between the tools and the ruler method can be significant when deciding to replace a chain or not.

“Along the lines above, we have found the most accurate method of quantifying chain wear is by removing the chain from the bike, hanging it, and measuring the entire length of the chain (at least 100 links) with a calibrated tape measure. While this method works well in the lab, we realize it is not the most practical method, and much more time-consuming than a chain wear tool. As a compromise, a 12-inch scale can be placed alongside the chain while the chain is on the bike. Yet it is difficult to hold the scale steady against the chain on the front end, trying to read an accurate measurement on the back end, while hoping the scale has not moved on the front end.

“We also have used a method of increasing the accuracy of both the tool and ruler method. We recommend checking the wear at multiple locations of the chain (at least five locations) and averaging the readings. Something interesting was seen when measuring the worn chains for the ‘Chain Wear vs. Friction Test.’ A given chain would exhibit variable amounts of elongation at different measured spans along the length of the chain. It would seem that one link would not be subjected to any different conditions than any other link on the same chain over the life of the chain, and therefore any link would have similar wear to any another link. However, it appears that individual links wear at unequal rates. Of the 10 worn chains we measured for the test, the average differences between span measurements of any given chain was 0.22%. (Note: we used a digital micrometer, not a chain wear tool for measuring.) In the specific chain exhibiting the greatest wear differences between spans, one span measured 0.90% elongation, and another measured 0.42%. If a rider happened to have a chain like this, and check this chain at only one location, the chain elongation amount could be as high 90%, or as low as 42% — quite a large range.

“We don’t believe there is a right or wrong measurement method. In our opinion, chain wear tools are decent methods of roughly estimating chain wear, and especially good for quick go/no-go determinations. A 12-inch scale has the ability to be more accurate than a chain tool, but only if the measurement is performed properly. Yet with either method, to greatly improve accuracy, multiple measurements must be taken.

“A side note regarding the hang-and-measure method comparing a worn chain against a new chain:

“If hanging the worn chain to determine the elongation, we suggest using a scale to measure elongation as opposed to hanging a worn chain next to a new chain and measuring the difference, with the difference being the indicator of overall elongation. Determining elongation by comparing a worn chain to a new chain assumes the new chain is a perfect ½-inch pitch. However, this is rarely the case as new chains are typically not a perfect ½-inch pitch. To demonstrate, we unboxed six new chains of various models and manufacturers, hung, then measured each chain (see photo).
— Jason Smith
Friction Facts”

Regarding two columns about the number of links in a chain (first and second):

SRAM also sells 10-speed 1071 chains after-market with 120 links for 29ers. I think your reader just didn’t find a shop that could think outside the box very well.
— Mike

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Video: Col Collective rides Arcalis (Ordino) with Dan Martin

1 hour 7 min ago

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

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Cioni: ‘Froome believed he was going to win Vuelta’

1 hour 22 min ago

Chris Froome's 2015 Vuelta was cut short by a crash that resulted in a broken foot. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media |

The peloton has already turned the page on the 2015 season, and all eyes are on new and bigger prizes, but Team Sky enters the winter with a hint of regret.

After winning his second Tour de France yellow jersey in July, Chris Froome dove straight into the Vuelta a España, hoping to become the first rider to win both grand tours in that order. And if you believe what those close to him say, Froome could very well have won the Spanish tour as well.

“Chris believed he was going to win the Vuelta,” said Sky sport director Dario Cioni. “He had a bit of a slow start, but he was really starting to feel good. On the morning of Andorra, he told the guys on the bus he was feeling good, and that he was riding to win the stage and take the jersey.”

That “morning in Andorra” changed everything for Froome’s Vuelta ambitions. He was knocked into a wooden barrier just 3km into the stage, and after being banged up, he ceded more than eight minutes. He later abandoned with a fractured toe in his right foot.

“Chris was poised to win the Vuelta, but someone knocked him off his bike, and he crashed,” Cioni said. “We will never know, but I think Chris would have the Vuelta.”

Froome has since recovered from his injury, and is preparing for the upcoming season. For 2016, Froome is putting his focus on  a third Tour victory — trying to become the first rider to officially defend the yellow jersey since Miguel Indurain in the 1990s — with the added bonus of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. With such an ambitious schedule, it remains to be seen if he will race the 2016 Vuelta. Froome confirmed he will debut at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia in February, and trace a traditional path to the Tour: Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, then the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Froome, however, likes the Vuelta, not only as a race but also as a way to ride into the off-season with a solid fitness base. Since his breakout performance in the 2011 Vuelta, when he rode to second overall and confirmed his grand tour chops, Froome has raced the Vuelta every year, except in 2013.

“Riding the Vuelta helps you a lot going into the next season,” Cioni said. “If you end your season at the Tour [de France], you have a big drop off, and you really have to train hard in the off-season to regain that level.”

With most of the top GC stars already mapping out their 2016 seasons, only Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has confirmed he will race the Vuelta. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) seem to be putting their focus on the Tour, the Giro d’Italia, and the Olympics.

The Vuelta, however, is a catch-all event for riders looking to make up for early-season disappointments or injuries, and often sees a flurry of late additions. That’s what happened in 2015, when Froome, Quintana, Nibali, and Valverde all toed the line. What’s sure for Cioni is that Froome wants to add a Vuelta title to his career palmares, sooner or later.

“Chris came to the Vuelta to win,” Cioni continued. “It didn’t turn out like that, but it’s a race he likes, and a race he wants to win before his career is over.”

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Lars Boom gets back to ‘cross this winter

November 30, 2015 - 4:56pm

Lars Boom hasn't raced a major cyclocross race in three seasons, but he's coming back for six big races this winter. Photo: Dan Seaton | (File).

After a three-season hiatus, Lars Boom is returning to cyclocross, the discipline that helped him break into cycling’s upper echelon. The Dutch Astana rider announced on Twitter that he’ll start with the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Antwerp on December 19. He hopes he’ll be selected to race World Cups #4 and #5 — Namur and Heusden-Zolder, both in Belgium. He’ll also race several other events during the Christmas Kerstperiode week.

So my first cross is gone be 19dec in Antwerp. I hope to get selected for the world cups in Namen and Zolder. 1/2

— Lars Boom (@lars_boom) November 30, 2015

2/2 After that I will ride in 29dec Loenhout 30dec Bredene and 2 Jan Surhuisterveen. — Lars Boom (@lars_boom) November 30, 2015

Boom won under-23 cyclocross world championships in 2007, when they were held in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. His meteoric rise continued in 2008, when he won the elite title in Treviso, Italy, beating Zdenek Stybar and Sven Nys.

However, the 29-year-old’s road career was recently clouded by controversy as a pre-Tour de France medical test revealed low levels of cortisol, which left his Astana team at loggerheads with the MPCC, a voluntary team association. The team let Boom race and was subsequently expelled from the group.

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In the News: Mountain bikers may get Wilderness access

November 30, 2015 - 4:08pm

Outside magazine reports that a new bill in Congress may afford an opportunity for mountain bikers to ride in Federally designated Wilderness areas — something that’s been prohibited by law since 1984. The Human-Powered Wildlands Travel Management Act of 2015 does not have any sponsors yet, but it represents a rift in the mountain bike advocacy community.

On one hand, you have Ted Stroll, author of the bill, who founded the Sustainable Trails Coalition with Access4Bikes of Marin County, California. They’re lobbying to open up access to bikes in Federal Wilderness with this new bill. On the other side, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) says its not a good idea to amend the Wilderness Act. That organization prefers to advocate boundary changes and alternative designations to preserve the land, as well as trail access.


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Gallery: 2015 Boonen and Friends cyclocross race

November 30, 2015 - 11:15am

Cyclocross : 6th Boonen and Friends 2015 Marcel Kittel worked on riding the sand while Marcel Sieberg worked on his rooster tail. Photo: Tim De Waele |

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  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Sean De Bie won the fifth edition of Boonen and Friends cyclocross charity race. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Davide Bramati chose to ride an e-bike in this not-so-serious "race." Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Floris De Tier and David Boucher mixed it up in the sand. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Kittel was happy to clear the sand pit aboard a new Specialized. He'll ride with Boonen on Etixx-Quick-Step in 2016. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Running with a bike seemed a bit unnatural to Julien Vermote, a fifth-year professional. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Marcel Kittel worked on riding the sand while Marcel Sieberg worked on his rooster tail. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Tom Boonen's celebrity event always manages to draw a big crowd. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Nikolas Maes rode while his Etixx teammate Yves Lampaert ran the sand. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Boonen chatted with teammate Michal Kwiatkowski before the start. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Stijn Vandenbergh, a top-five finisher at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, had to do a bit of running. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Marcel Kittel looked quite fashionable with pink accents on his kit and bike. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    The Boonen and Friends cyclocross race started with a Le Mans-style start. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    The racers lined up as Tom Boonen looked on, ready to get the action going. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Nicolas Maes and Boonen mugged for the camera at the race start. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Kwiatkowski raced with rainbow stripes on his sleeve as former road world champion. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Lukasz Winiowski had trouble keeping his chain on. Photo: Tim De Waele |

  • View Larger Image.Fifth-annual Boonen and Friends cyclocross 2015

    Sean De Bie stood on the top step of the podium at Boonen and Friends. Photo: Tim De Waele |

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Video: Five most expensive bikes in the world

November 30, 2015 - 10:57am

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

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The Ronde plans its 100th edition

November 30, 2015 - 10:25am

Alexander Kristoff won the 2015 edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. With the course relatively unchanged for 2016, he'll be a top favorite again next April. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media |

MILAN (VN) — Alexander Kristoff will be happy. Fabian Cancellara will be pleased as well. The Ronde van Vlaanderen, or the Tour of Flanders, will follow the same course for its 100th edition as it has for 2015 and 2014, when the two raced victoriously into Oudenaarde.

Organizer Flanders Classics will keep the fan-friendly loops around the city on the Schelde canal for the race, to be held April 3. The closing circuits take in the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs and offer the organizer a chance to sell space in its VIP tents. From there, fans may see the race pass two to three times.

The final covers the cobbled Kwaremont ramp and sector at top, before racing on a flat, descending, and climbing steep Paterberg slopes. The climb, after the final left turn at top, leaves 13 kilometers past the golf course and to the Minderbroerdersstraat, just shy of the Ronde museum.

Katusha’s Kristoff sprinted clear of Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick-Step) this April, and in 2014, Trek’s Cancellara blasted away from three Belgian companions on the same straight leading into the west side of Oudenaarde. The race finished here for the last four editions, but took different routes to do so. Prior to that, it ended with the much-loved finale over the Muur and Bosberg climbs before Meerbeke.

Flanders Classics is making some tweaks early on in its course after it leaves Bruges, but not many. One touch to make the special edition stand out is a detour into Aarsele, the hometown of Roger Decock, the race’s oldest surviving winner at 88. It also passes Kanegem, hometown of two-time winner Briek Schotte, who contested the race a record 20 times.

After the race passes Aarsele, Decock will travel to Oudenaarde where he and the rest of the surviving winners — or the “Heroes De Ronde” — will celebrate with the organizer.

The 256-kilometer course with 18 climbs and seven cobbled sectors should suit usual classics specialists, but as with the last editions, a rider with a strong sprint should raise his arms in celebration at the end.

Slovak Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Cancellara would be ideal winners for the organizer — the former will be racing in his world champion’s jersey and the latter, a three-time winner, will be racing his last Flanders.

If Cancellara or Belgian Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step) wins, they would become the first riders to record four victories in the monument. They are currently on a list of three-time winners that includes former cyclists Johan Museeuw, Eric Leman, Fiorenzo Magni, and Achiel Buysse.

A solo victory is less likely, but Cancellara could repeat his 2013 performance, or perhaps someone like Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Czech Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step), or Brit Geraint Thomas (Sky) could ride alone to victory. As the race nears, with the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the rear-view mirror, potential winners will be easier to name.

Flanders Classics also unveiled the Gent-Wevelgem parcours recently. The race, March 27, still ends in Wevelgem and climbs the famous Kemmelberg, but with a twist. Instead of going up the normal side with its 17-percent grades, the organizer will climb another road with 23-percent steeps.

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Phinney skipped more surgery to leave Olympic door open

November 30, 2015 - 8:10am

American Taylor Phinney led a breakaway in the last hour of the 2015 worlds road race race, with Kanstantsin Siutsou in tow. Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media |

Taylor Phinney is holding out hope to race in next year’s Olympics, and skipped surgery late this summer to have a shot at the Rio Games.

The hilly route featured in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games is drawing cycling’s biggest names, including the likes of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Sky), and Phinney wants to represent the U.S. national team, if he can. And to give himself the best shot, he decided against one doctor’s recommendation for additional surgery to his injured left knee, which keeps his Olympic door open.

“The Olympics next year would have been out the window,” Phinney said. “Even just a few days before [the Tour of] Utah, I met with a surgeon, who wanted me to do more operations, and I didn’t even think it would be possible to race at all this year.”

Phinney’s Olympic aspirations, and those of his entire racing career, nearly came to a screeching halt in the 2014 U.S. national road cycling championships in Tennessee, when he crashed heavily, breaking his tibia and severing his patella tendon.

After more than a year of rehabilitation following surgery in the wake of the crash, Phinney made an impressive return to competition this summer. Surpassing expectations, he rode to third in the opening stage at the Tour of Utah in early August — his first race since his crash — and then won the opening stage, and was second in the closing stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.

It was his decision to forego more surgery and opt for physical therapy that allowed him to return to racing, providing the possibility of racing a full 2016 calendar that he hopes will include a return trip to the Olympics.

“We decided to do a lot of physical therapy instead,” he said. “It was a lot less intrusive, and it meant I could race.”

After Utah and Colorado, Phinney raced in Europe for the first time since 2014, riding the Tour of Britain in September before helping BMC Racing defend its world team time trial title in Richmond, Virginia. After posting a respectable 12th in the time trial, he rode into a late breakaway to finish 85th in the road race.

Going the full, 261km distance in the elite men’s road race was an important milestone. It was the longest distance he completed since the 2014 Paris-Roubaix, and it will be a similar distance to what he will need to do to try to be competitive in Rio.

“I am working to get my leg back in balance, so I can do races with this distance, like the classics,” Phinney said. “I am thinking about the next months, and getting back into a rehab grind, and plan out next season as best I can.”

Phinney and his BMC Racing teammates will gather in Spain early next month for the first round of team meetings ahead of the 2016 racing season. Phinney is hopeful another off-season of rehab, physio work, and training will put him back on solid footing to ride a complete 2016 season. He will sit down with team staffers to lay out the roadmap for what lies ahead.

“The biggest thing I am looking forward to is the Olympics next year. It’s a unique course, and we can adapt,” he said. “It would have been a huge game-changer if I had undergone that surgery.”

The 25-year-old has a soft spot with the Olympics, and wants to return for a third time to the pinnacle of international competition. At 17, he made his Olympic debut on the track in Beijing in 2008, riding to seventh in the individual pursuit, and nearly scored a medal in 2012 London, riding to fourth in both the individual time trial and the road race.

Things are already looking up for Rio, and Phinney held up his end of the bargain. When Tejay van Garderen was sidelined with injury, Phinney rode the elite men’s individual time trial, even though he knew he wasn’t in top condition. With a 12th-place finish, he assured USA Cycling of a start spot for the Olympic individual time trial. Under UCI rules, a top-10 would have secured a TT spot for Rio, but because two nations (Italy and Poland) each had two riders in the top 10, the rules meant those slots were allocated to other nations, giving the U.S. the green light for Rio.

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UCI: Disc brakes okay, but still only a trial

November 30, 2015 - 7:46am

The UCI allowed WorldTour teams to test disc brake technology at the end of 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele |

The UCI announced Monday that it will broaden its trial program of disc brakes to allow the equipment for pro road teams of all levels. This includes Professional Continental, Continental, and women’s outfits. WorldTour teams were allowed to test discs in August and September 2015. Teams had the opportunity to use bikes with disc brakes at two events of their choice, and a few did, such as Trek Factory Racing.

Here’s what top pros are saying about disc brakes >>

Allowing lower-tier teams to test discs may lead to a greater proliferation of the technology in the peloton. Those squads typically have limited budgets and cannot be as choosy as first-division teams when it comes to equipment. Component manufacturers may see this as an opportunity to outfit some of their most-visible athletes — select Pro Continental teams race grand tours and often animate those major events.

Are discs fast in the wind? Read the complete VeloLab test >>

In a Monday press release, the UCI said, “The use of disc brakes will be carefully monitored throughout the year with a view to definitively allowing them to be used in professional road cycling from 2017.” Accordingly, it modified articles 1.3.017 and 1.3.020 of its Regulations relating to frames and forks, which go into effect on January 1, 2016.

The UCI has also approved several modifications to its Regulations with regards to saddles and wheel safety characteristics (articles 1.3.014 and 1.3.018).

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Focused on Tour, Rio, Contador uncommitted on 2016 Vuelta

November 30, 2015 - 7:18am

Alberto Contador has won every Vuelta a España that he has started. Photo: BrakeThrough Media |

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) remains uncommitted on whether or not he’ll race the 2016 Vuelta a España in what could be his final season in the pro peloton.

The Spanish superstar said the Tour de France and the Olympics Games — not his nation’s grand tour — remain his top priorities for the 2016 campaign. Speaking to Eurosport, Contador said he’s not looking beyond Rio de Janeiro.

“Right now, in my program I only have the Tour de France and the Olympic Games,” Contador told Eurosport. “I don’t know if I will race the Vuelta. Right now, I am going to concentrate on the Tour.”

Though he’s left the door open in case something unexpected happens during the season, such as a major crash or illness, the 32-year-old said the 2016 season will likely be his last. Right now, Contador said he’s only focused on the Tour and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games as his primary goals for 2016.

“It’s a course that’s good for me. After the Tour, if you have a recovery, you can make a good race,” Contador said of Rio. “Everyone likes to represent their country.”

Commenting on his 2015 season, Contador said he wanted more after falling short of his ambitious goal to win the Giro-Tour double. He won the Giro, but rode to fifth overall at the Tour.

“Winning a grand tour like the Giro, you cannot say it’s a bad season, but I am very demanding of myself, and my goal was to win the Giro and the Tour, but it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “It was a good season, but not excellent.”

There will surely be mounting pressure on Contador to race one last time in front of Spanish fans at the Vuelta if indeed he decides to retire next season. In earlier interviews, Contador has hinted he would like to retire on the top of the sport, and suggested he could imagine riding into the sunset after the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, assuming he is selected to represent the Spanish national team.

Contador has an enviable Vuelta record, winning three times in three starts. The first victory came in 2008 as part of his Giro-Vuelta double when race organizers banned his then-Astana team from competing in that year’s Tour. He won a second time in 2012 following his return to competition following his controversial, backdated two-year clenbuterol ban. The third Vuelta crown came in 2014 in a thrilling battle against Chris Froome (Sky).

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Results: 2015 Bpost Bank Trofee-Hamme

November 29, 2015 - 10:52am

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, 58:26
  • 2. Sven NYS, 58:44
  • 3. Kevin PAUWELS, 59:30
  • 4. Lars VAN DER HAAR, 59:51
  • 5. Mathieu VAN DER POEL, 1:00:26
  • 6. Laurens SWEECK, 1:00:30
  • 7. Julien TARAMARCAZ, 1:00:58
  • 8. Tom MEEUSEN, 1:01:01
  • 9. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, 1:01:07
  • 10. Corne VAN KESSEL, 1:01:25
  • 11. Diether SWEECK, 1:01:32
  • 12. Tim MERLIER, 1:01:36
  • 13. Klaas VANTORNOUT, 1:01:47
  • 14. Gianni VERMEERSCH, 1:02:01
  • 15. Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT, 1:02:13
  • 16. Michael BOROS, 1:02:19
  • 17. Sven VANTHOURENHOUT, 1:02:28
  • 18. Jan DENUWELAERE, 1:02:36
  • 19. Thijs VAN AMERONGEN, 1:02:38
  • 20. Jim AERNOUTS, 1:02:58
  • 21. Joeri ADAMS, 1:03:23
  • 22. Philipp WALSLEBEN, 1:03:47
  • 23. Jens VANDEKINDEREN, 1:03:52
  • 24. Twan VAN DEN BRAND, 1:03:52
  • 25. Rob PEETERS, 1:03:59
  • 26. Radomir SIMUNEK, 1:05:09
  • 27. Patrick VAN LEEUWEN, 1:05:13
  • 28. Vincent BAESTAENS, 1:05:56
  • 29. Angelo DE CLERCQ, 1:06:21
  • 30. Niels WUBBEN
  • 31. Dave DE CLEYN
  • 32. Garry MILLBURN
  • 33. Niels KOYEN
  • 34. Michael VAN DEN HAM
  • 35. Mark MCCONNELL
  • 36. Michael WECHSLER

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With focus on classics, Stybar confirms no worlds CX for 2016

November 29, 2015 - 10:45am

Zdenek Stybar, shown finishing the Boonen and Friends cyclocross on Saturday, will skip worlds to continue focusing on the road. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Three-time world cyclocross champion Zdenek Stybar confirmed there won’t be a fourth, at least not this season.

The 29-year-old Stybar said he’s racing a handful of cyclocross races this season “for fun,” but admitted he’s nowhere near what it would take to challenge for the rainbow stripes in Heusden-Zolder on January 30-31.

“Zolder is not really a course for me,” Stybar told Het Nieuwsblad. “It’s too technical. And if you want to go well at the worlds, you have to train and prepare specifically for it. The [world championships] are certainly not an option in 2016.”

The Czech superstar participated in an exhibition race over the weekend in Belgium at an event called “Boonen and Friends,” and said that the handful of cyclocross events he plans for this season will be fun and for training, not to win.

Stybar earlier indicated that he would race up to five cyclocross events this season, but stepped back from that commitment. Stybar has been linked to start at events at Diegem (December 27), Loenhout (December 29), Bredene (December 30), Bale (January 1), and Leuven (January 3).

“I will decide by next week how many cyclocross events I will do,” Stybar said. “It certainly won’t be five. More like two or three. I want to have fun, for the fans and myself. It won’t be to win. I see myself finishing around 10th.”

First in his mind is to prepare for a run at the northern classics next spring on the road, and he wants to do nothing to risk his approach to the important one-day classics over the pavé. Second last year at Paris-Roubaix and at E3 Prijs-Harelbeke, and a winner at Strade Bianche, Stybar wants a “big one” in 2016 on the road.

“I will be at a team training camp in Spain next month,” he said. “We’ll decide everything then.”

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Wout Van Aert wins in the mud at Hamme

November 29, 2015 - 8:22am

Wout Van Aert celebrates as he wins the Flandriencross, the third round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series. Photo: David Stockman | AFP

Wout Van Aert turned in another dominant performance on Sunday, winning a muddy Flandriencross at Hamme.

The race was the third round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series.

The Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace rider got away on the very first lap and stayed gone to take the win in 58:26, with Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) second at 18 seconds and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) third at 1:04.

“I am proud of this victory,” said Van Aert, who padded his overall lead in the timed Bpost series. “I immediately got a small lead because someone behind me made a mistake. For me that was the signal to pass through the intermediate sprint to pick up the extra seconds. Then I switched to a pace that I could sustain.”

The chase changed characters throughout, with Nys, Pauwels, Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) and world champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) all in contention for second, but the leader remained unchanged.

With four laps remaining Van Aert led Nys by 16 seconds with van der Poel, Pauwels and van der Haar a few seconds further down.

It was almost status quo next time through, with Nys pegged at 16 seconds and van der Poel and Pauwels at twice that, with van der Haar gapped. Then Pauwels gave it some stick and got away from the rainbow jersey.

With two to go Van Aert was keeping Nys at bay, with Pauwels firmly in third and van der Poel 45 seconds down.

Van Aert slid out going into the staircase run, but got a foot down and stayed upright. Nys gained a few seconds, but no more than a few. And he lost them again slipping off the high line on a long, muddy off-camber section.

Come bell lap Van Aert showed no signs of slowing down. Nys was mired in second, 14 seconds down, with Pauwels a distant third at 48 seconds.

Indeed, the young Belgian actually padded his advantage on that final go-round. He was 18 seconds better than Nys at the line.

“I’m satisfied with my race,” said Nys. “The first two laps I lost time. I had had to be patient in the pursuit because passing other riders was not easy. Once in second position I could drive an even pace, but the gap did not close. And going into overdrive does not make sense. Then you make mistakes.”

Nys added: “Hats off to what [Van Aert] is showing here. I have made every effort to put him under pressure. This was cross at its best.”

As for Pauwels, he said Van Aert and Nys “were just better.”

The Sunweb rider said he had trouble riding the crucial off-camber section despite a strong start.

“I had a good start but had already in the first lap I had problems on the off-camber,” he said. “I had a pretty good day and I have done the maximum. They were just better.”

Van Aert now leads the Bpost series with a time of 2:56:46. Pauwels sits second at 2:19 with van der Haar third at 2:45.

The next round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series will be December 5 at Essen.

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Helen Wyman holds off Sanne Cant at muddy Flandriencross

November 29, 2015 - 6:54am

Helen Wyman wins the Flandriencross on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Helen Wyman held off Sanne Cant to win the Flandriencross on Sunday at Hamme.

The race was the third round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series.

Wyman (Kona Factory Racing) got the lead early and hung onto it on an exceptionally heavy, muddy circuit. Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) was chasing in second with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) third.

During the penultimate lap Cant closed on Wyman on one long muddy section that both women had to run. But shortly after remounting a mechanical set her afoot again, running to the pit. Losing second to Harris, the European champ took a fresh bike and launched a furious chase.

Cant caught Harris going into bell lap. The two could see Wyman just ahead. Then Cant took a slight advantage over Harris and went after the British champion.

Wyman had just eight seconds on Cant at the final barriers, but the Belgian lost ground again on the long muddy run, and Wyman hit the pavement with plenty of cushion to celebrate her victory. She won by eight seconds over Cant with Harris third at 24 seconds.

The British champ was delighted to win on a circuit that was “totally different than last year.”

“I just thought, ‘Ride hard, get a good start, and see what happens,’” she said. “I wanted to win. I haven’t had a win since nationals in January.”

Wyman said she knew from the roar of the crowd that it would be a close thing, even after Cant’s mechanical.

“For Sanne everyone goes wild. She’s Belgian. As the cheer was coming closer to me I could tell she was getting closer,” she said.

Jolien Verschueren (Telenet), who finished seventh on the day at 1:29 down, continues to lead the timed series in 2:08:50. Harris sits second at 25 seconds, with Cant third at 1:17.

Harris said she was happy to have made up some time on Verschueren on Sunday and hoped to continue cutting into her advantage with plenty of racing remaining.

“Hopefully I can keep gaining some seconds and win one of them,” she said. “I’m happy I could finish on the podium today.”

The next round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series will be December 5 at Essen.

Race note

Americans Ellen Noble and Emma White finished 12th and 15th, respectively.

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2015 Gift Guide: Over $100

November 28, 2015 - 7:25am

Chrome Kharkiv backpack


Chrome’s Kharkiv backpack is sleek in size and weatherproof for all-season commutes. The easy-access laptop sleeve accommodates computers and tablets of up to 15 inches and the padded loft pocket keeps valuables neatly tucked away for safekeeping. Mini seatbelt buckles on the outside of the bag fit around a helmet for easy storage when off the bike. Plus, the buckles look pretty cool too.

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Reviewed: Bontrager Flare R

November 28, 2015 - 7:17am

The Bontrager Flare R taillight is bright enough to be seen two kilometers away in daylight. Photo: Caley Fretz |

Price: $60
Weight: 35 grams
We like: Crazy bright for day or night use, easy mount bracket
We don’t like: Weatherproofing in cold temperatures is not up to par

The Bontrager Flare R, a massively bright rear light, can dazzle even at high noon, with a purported daytime visibility of two kilometers and eye-catching blink patterns. It might not survive a snowstorm, though.

The sense of security that the Flare R provides, even in the middle of the day, is fantastic. It is truly the brightest rear light that VeloNews has ever tested, so bright that your riding partners might ask you to turn it off during pace line riding, even in the middle of the day. 270-degree visibility means that cars can see you coming from side streets. Bontrager is pushing the Flare R as a light to be used any time you ride, day or night, and we love that idea almost as much as we love not getting hit by cars.

On full beam, a full charge lasts just over four hours, or just under six hours on daytime blink mode. Nighttime blink mode provides almost a full day of run time — 23 hours. That’s impressive for a 35-gram unit that charges in about 2.5 hours with a micro-USB cable. A single, large button on the top turns the light on and off and cycles between modes.

The Flare R comes with two mount brackets, one stretchy rubber contraption that easily mounts to most seatposts (long, aero seatposts might be an issue) and another clip to attach the light to clothing. Both are solid and dependable.

Now, the downside. We killed two Flare R units in very cold, very wet conditions. Summer rainstorms were never a problem — perhaps the rubber sealing is more effective when it’s warm and supple. Both Flare Rs died after the same cold, wet ride in an incoming snowstorm, as temperatures dropped to around 30 and heavy spray from the rear tire shot up at the rubber-covered USB port.

Prior to this one (rather large) issue, the Flare R performed admirably for more than six months, and two other units in for testing are still going strong. Few lights can get a driver’s attention in the middle of the day like the Flare R.

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Two Russian riders tied to Katusha suspended for doping

November 27, 2015 - 8:09am

Two riders for Itera-Katusha, a feeder squad for UCI WorldTeam Katusha, have been suspended over anti-doping rules, according to a report.

Inside The Games reports that Russia’s anti-doping body RUSADA has suspended Ivan Lutsenko and Andrei Lukonin for one year. The suspensions were backdated to August 3.

Two Russian weightlifters and a dancer were also handed doping-related bans, reports the website.

Lutsenko finished second in the under-23 time trial at the Russian national championships this year. Both riders competed for Itera-Katusha this season, and both are 20 years old.

The suspensions are the latest blow to Russian sports, which have been embroiled in doping allegations in recent weeks. The scandal has the potential to keep Russian track & field athletes out of next summer’s Olympics.

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Reviewed: Specialized Audax shoes

November 27, 2015 - 7:16am

The Specialized Audax is a comfortable, plush road shoe for long rides. Photo: Caley Fretz |

Price: $250
Weight: 268g/shoe
We like: Big, comfy toe box, more durable upper material, comes in lots of colors
We don’t like: Uppers are stiff at first, still can’t walk in it.

The Audax is designed around long rides — the name is another French term for randonneuring — and in some respects, Specialized hit its mark. It’s softer and more voluminously built than its racing brethren, with a stiff (but not too stiff) sole, more padding around the ankle, and a larger toebox. But it’s still a road shoe and is without any significant tread on its carbon outsole, which is drilled for three-bolt cleats. An adventure shoe this is not.

A Boa closure and twin Velcro straps synch down on the synthetic leather upper, which is a bit stiff when the shoes first come out of the box. Within a week of riding, however, it loosens up to become quite supple. Once broken in, it’s a great upper material, cleans easily (good news for anyone who picks the white option), and is quite breathable. Durability seems rather good, as the toe area held up well to a few toe-tire overlap situations.

The toe box is roomy, much more so than Specialized’s racing shoes. It’s as if the company is inviting you to wear comfy wool socks — and you should.

The heel cup is one of the best anywhere. It sits low, allowing for full ankle articulation without unwanted contact, but still holds tight. Extra padding around the ankle is a welcome addition.

The carbon outsole is slightly less stiff than the stiffest race soles, with a “stiffness index” of 10. For reference, the new 6 model, used by Specialized’s pro riders, is a 13. Those three extra points may make all the difference for Alberto Contador, but they’re a bit lost on me. Despite the softer sole, there was zero appreciable movement or flex around the cleat.

When I first heard about the Audax’s imminent launch and saw its dirt-oriented ad campaign, I hoped for something a bit burlier. Build it for road cleats, sure, but add more rubber to the sole, maybe a hint of flex in the toe, so getting off the bike would no longer be an exercise in cleat-footed awkwardness. I wanted something that truly sat in between a road and mountain shoe. But that’s not what the Audax turned out to be — it’s not a bad thing, just not what I had hoped for. It’s a plusher road shoe.

If you want a good-looking road shoe with a stiff-enough sole, comfortable heel cup, roomy toe box, and a slightly more durable upper, the Audax is an excellent option. If you want a race shoe, then look for something lighter with a thinner upper. For $250, the Audax is well-built and well-designed. I just wish you could walk in it.

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Orica-GreenEdge loses young climber to rare injury

November 27, 2015 - 6:58am

Robert Power, 20, could potentially be sidelined for years with a rare injury. Photo: Tim De Waele |

For the second time inside of a month, Australia has seen a promising GC prospect take a lump.

Earlier in November, Campbell Flakemore stunned the Australian cycling community by deciding to retire from the sport after one season with BMC Racing. The 2014 world under-23 time trial champion, who was tapped by Cadel Evans as a potential Tour de France winner, simply said his heart wasn’t in it.

This week, Orica-GreenEdge announced its climbing prospect Robert Power will be forced to sit out what was supposed to be his WorldTour debut in 2016 due to an ongoing knee injury. The 20-year-old climber already missed the second half of the 2015 season with what’s been called “bone marrow oedema syndrome,” described by Orica as “a form of bone stress with an MRI appearance similar to a bone bruise but not related to trauma and without obvious explanation.”

Dr. Peter Barnes, Orica’s medical director, said he had never seen an injury like it in 40 years, and said the only cure is to keep Powers off his bike until he recovers. And that could be months or even years.

“Rob has been experiencing pain while climbing and doing strength endurance efforts,” Dr. Barnes said in a team release. “The frustrating thing for him as a young athlete is that he can walk, run and jump with no pain at all and is perfectly normal to clinical examination.”

Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White said Power has time on his side, and said the team will be saving him a place at the table.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing for any athlete to have an injury that sidelines them from competing, but a lot of guys don’t turn professional when they are 20, 21 or 22 years of age so it’s not going to have a huge affect on his career at all,” White said. “And then once it has followed its due course and he is ready, he will be straight back into the team.”

The latest setbacks come as Australia begins to look for its next generation of leaders. Evans retired at the beginning of the 2015 season, while Michael Rogers said the 2016 campaign would be his last. Simon Gerrans, also of Orica and who has a contract through 2017, is 35. Richie Porte, 30, links up with BMC Racing next year in a bid to have outright leadership in the major tours. Many believe BMC’s Rohan Dennis, 25, could also develop into a grand tour rider.

Younger riders are already stepping up, such as Michael Matthews, 25, and Caleb Ewan, 21, but they are both sprinters, leaving a hole in the Australian peloton among younger GC prospects.

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