USA Cycling announced Wednesday the men’s and women’s BMX, mountain bike, road, and track rosters for the 2015 Pan American Games, which will be held July 10-26 in Toronto.
The 15-member team is made up of five automatic bids, nine coaching staff nominations and one athlete discretionary petition.
Held every four years, the 17-day Pan American Games features competition in 36 sports between 41 countries from North and South America.
The U.S. Pan American cycling team is subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.Team USA roster:
Connor Fields (Chase-Monster)*
Nic Long (Haro Bikes)*
Alise Post (Factory Redline)*
Felecia Stancil (GT Bicycles)
Men’s mountain bike
Stephen Ettinger (Sho-Air-Cannondale)*
Women’s mountain bike
Erin Huck (Scott-3Rox)*
Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop), road race and time trial
Kelly Catlin (NorthStar Development), time trial
Lauren Tamayo (UnitedHealthcare), road race
Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), road race
Matt Baranoski (Custon Velo), team sprint, sprint, keirin
David Espinoza, team sprint
Danny Robertson^, team sprint^, sprint^, keirin
Kelly Catlin (NorthStar Development), team pursuit
Sarah Hammer (Colorado Springs, Colo.), omnium, team pursuit
Lauren Tamayo (UnitedHealthcare), team pursuit
Jennifer Valente (Twenty16-Sho-Air), team pursuit
Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), team pursuit
^Athlete discretionary petition
Tinkoff-Saxo kept its leader Alberto Contador safe in the peloton on the Giro's shortest non-TT stage, a 134km run from Tirano to Lugano. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) has had a disappointing showing so far at this Giro. He's well outside the top 10 but finished on the podium in 2014 and 2013. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Luca Paolini (Katusha) dressed for success on Wednesday, with his skinsuit and aero helmet, although his late breakaway move did not succeed. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The early breakaway included Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step), and Marco Bandiera (Androni-Sidermec). Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
LottoNL-Jumbo's Steven Kruijswijk has been one of the revelations of this Giro d'Italia. He now holds the lead in the mountains classification. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The peloton got a break from hard climbing on Wednesday, but it will return to the mountains soon enough. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Young fans lined the roads as the Giro dipped into Switzerland for stage 17's finish. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The peloton wound up the pace toward the finish in Lugano in anticipation of the sprint. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Much of the day's stage skirted the picturesque Lake Como. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) and Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r La Mondiale) launched a surprise attack on a small hill late in the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Hansen soon dropped Gretsch and rode on alone, but ultimately was unable to seize a stage win. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Gretsch was pulled back by the peloton, which was itching for a sprint finish. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The bunch sprint was one more opportunity for the sprinters to try for a win before the race goes back to the mountains. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Lampre-Merida's Sacha Modolo claimed his second stage win of this year's Giro. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Contador ran into an old friend and former team manager Bjarne Riis at the finish in Lugano. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Contador looks quite comfortable in the pink jersey with only four days remaining in the Giro. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Global Cycling Network's top tips to help you time trial faster.
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.
Richie Porte's DNF at the Giro d'Italia was a disappointment, but Team Sky is sure its GC star has what it takes to lead in big races. Photo: Gregor Brown
LUGANO, Switzerland (VN) — Australian Richie Porte should keep his head up and reset for the Tour de France. Sky considers him one of the best stage race cyclists, despite his Giro d’Italia problems and abandonment, and Chris Froome’s right-hand man for the Tour de France.
General manager David Brailsford leaned on the black Team Sky jaguar prior to the Giro’s stage 17 to Lugano and reflected on the season to date. Putting aside the Giro d’Italia, which Porte quit on the rest day Monday, he explained that Porte is number one.
“Despite the last two weeks, he’s been one of or maybe the best stage racers of the season,” Brailsford said. “You can’t judge Richie on the last two weeks given the start of the season that he had.”
Porte placed second in the Tour Down Under and fourth in the Volta ao Algarve, then went on a winning streak. He took overall victories in Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Giro del Trentino.
The Giro d’Italia, like his grand tours last year, did not work out. He punctured and lost time in Forlì, and fell further behind with a crash in Jesolo. Hurting his knee and hip in the Jesolo fall did not help Porte over the weekend. He sank 30 minutes down the classification and abandoned on the rest day to reset for the Tour de France.
“It’s very easy just to say, ‘He didn’t finish, he had his opportunity [to lead a grand tour team], and it didn’t work out,’ but it’s not fair to write him off in that sense. It’s not fair or appropriate,” Brailsford added.
“He was up there with the best climbers in the races he did. Can he put it together for three weeks, who knows? He had his crashes and incidents, et cetera, but it wasn’t that he got dropped. It wasn’t physical, but of course it all counts.
With the Giro still to finish, Porte sits second overall in the WorldTour classification behind only Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Porte had his chance to lead Sky’s Giro d’Italia team in 2014, but fell sick and was called off the race. In the Tour, he was Sky’s plan B after Froome abandoned, but lost time on a summit finish still suffering from pneumonia. After resetting over the winter, working with trainer Tim Kerrison closely, and cutting his alcohol consumption, he returned a new man: Porte 2.0.
“Last season and this season are two separate things. To be fair to Richie, he went to the Tour in support of Froomey, he had a challenging season. Whereas this year, it’s probably his best-ever season in terms of the first half, he won three big races, all the queen stages, he felt great.
“He came to the Giro as the leader, which was different. Your level of expectation and where you are at is mentally different than going into the Tour and finding yourself as plan B.”
Porte 2.0 should rebound quickly providing the medical checks in Manchester, England, give him the all-clear. Brailsford explained that he could train at altitude and then race in the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour de Suisse or the Tour of Slovenia depending on where he is at.
“It’s important that he finds for himself … A rider has to be motivated from inside for the goal, and I think he is [for the Tour],” added Brailsford.
“They have great memories, him and Froomey riding together in the Tour, that’s something he can get excited about.”
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
With his star rider, Alberto Contador, leading the Giro d'Italia, Oleg Tinkov has some strong opinions about how the race can improve. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
PINZOLO, Italy (VN) — Oleg Tinkov is never one to hold his tongue. The brash Russian millionaire is rich enough and smart enough to say what he wants, when he wants, and pity the fool who dares to disagree with him.
And he’s not shy about sharing his views. Whether it’s via his Twitter account — that was so outrageous that many were convinced it was a fake — or a self-described “manifesto” that he recently posted on Facebook to outline his vision of what professional cycling could and should be, Tinkov is a power to be reckoned with in the sport.
Ask him about politicians? “They are all losers. If you are imaginative, with ideas and charisma, why would you go into politics?” Or the general state of cycling? “The more I am in the sport, the more I realize how much stupidity reigns.” Or the future of his team? “The crisis in Russia with the ruble is over.” Or his big-dollar signing of Peter Sagan? “I won’t make that mistake again.”
So it was somewhat of a surprise that he enthusiastically backed an idea presented by someone else, when Tinkov sat down with VeloNews for an early morning interview. Specifically he agreed with Jim Ochowicz’s call to reduce the peloton by limiting major races to WorldTour teams. In fact, Tinkov said he had just read and tweeted a story posted on VeloNews about the issue moments before sitting down for a 45-minute chat over cappuccino.
“I kind of agree with this idea. I am not against small teams, but I am against the high number of teams in the races,” Tinkov told VeloNews. “The wildcard concept has its place in this sport, but 22 teams is definitely bullshit. That’s ridiculous. You would have much less crashes with 18 teams. That’s more than enough.”
Tinkov is the latest voice to join the debate about safety on the road, and the question of just how big the modern peloton should be.
Earlier this week, BMC Racing’s general manager Ochowicz prompted the debate with an open letter posted on the team’s website, sparking controversy by suggesting that second-division teams could be one reason behind the recent uptick in crashes.
That obviously didn’t sit well with the Professional Continental teams, which live and die by the wildcard invitations. In a scathing response to Ochowicz’s plan, Androni-Sidermec boss Gianni Savio said, “Ochowicz missed a great opportunity to keep his mouth shut,” and said wildcards teams are an essential part of the fabric of the peloton, insisting that it’s often the so-called smaller teams which light up the race, not the established, major teams.
Tinkov, like any smart businessman, is keen to protect his investment, and said the logic is sound behind Ochowicz’s call to limit the size of the peloton in the major races.
Alberto Contador, earning an estimated annual paycheck of $4 million, has barely averted disaster in this Giro, first, dislocating his shoulder in a crash in stage 6 provoked by a fan reaching into the peloton, and again last week, in a late-stage pileup just beyond the 3km to go banner. Tinkov echoed the sentiment that 200 riders and 22 teams is simply too big.
“I think 150 riders is about the right number. Why you need 200 riders, I have no idea,” Tinkov continued. “These days, with the speed bumps, roundabouts, there are more and more dangers. You cannot have 200 riders; it’s just not safe.”
The debate about how big the peloton should be, and how many riders should be in such races as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, has raged for decades.
Smaller teams, such as Savio’s, loathe the idea of being locked out of races like the Giro. And race organizers like the wildcard concept, not only because those teams tend to animate the race and provide more local flavor, but it gives them additional potential revenue. Invite a small team from an emerging market, and guess what? Lucrative TV rights deals are usually part of the package.
Since his re-entry into cycling in 2014, Tinkov says that the more he learns about the inner workings of the business side of professional cycling, the less he likes what he sees.
“I am still new in the sport, but the more I learn about the sport, the more stupidity I see,” Tinkov continued. “What happened last year in the Giro with this ‘red flag’ on the Stelvio. If you remember, they put the red flag, for some it was a sign of emergency, for others, it was a sign not to overtake. The riders and sport directors were confused. I hope they have fixed that.
“But I see in this Giro the same stupidity is still there, with this 3km rule, when Alberto [Contador] crashed. He was 200 meters from the flag, and they did not neutralize it,” Tinkov continued. “I had heard in other races, there was a crash with 3.4km to go, and the time was neutralized. That is a complete mess, and it should be resolved. After 3km on the sprint stages, the time should be neutralized there for the GC riders. Let the sprinter teams make their trains, and let the sprinters have an open road to safely make their sprints. People want to see beautiful battle for the sprints, and later a beautiful fight in the mountains. They do not want to see Contador, [Fabio] Aru, or [Richie] Porte risk crashing. It’s not smart.”
Tinkov even suggested the “safety zone” could be extended all the way out to five kilometers to go in sprint stages with flat finales. At this point, Tinkov was just getting started, and that was just the five minutes into the interview.
“I start this interview criticizing the system,” he laughed. “What else do you want to know?”
Well, Oleg, since you asked … to be continued.
The post Cappuccino with Oleg: Tinkov wants to limit peloton size appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) sprinted to his second stage win at the Giro d'Italia in stage 17. Photo: Giro d'Italia
With his second sprint victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia coming on stage 17, Sacha Modolo confirmed his role as Italy’s leading sprint star.
Modolo was cued up perfectly by his Lampre-Merida teammates, Roberto Ferrari and Max Richese, in the final kilometer of a 134km stage from Tirano to Lugano. The 27-year-old Italian jumped before the final, sweeping left-hand corner and held off Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing), who finished second. Giant-Alpecin’s Luka Mezgec finished third.
“Yesterday was very hard, but I had good legs today and it was nice and hot — the sort of day I like,” said Modolo. “Perhaps we could do with one more rider but, after months of hard work, in Max Richeze and Roberto Ferrari I have one of the best lead-out trains going. I’m afraid of no one.”
The general classification remained unchanged after the Giro’s shortest non-time trial stage, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) holding a lead of more than four minutes over the Astana duo of Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru.
“So far, something has happened almost every day — a crash, a puncture,” said Contador. “I’m very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived in Lugano, where I live, on my home roads. Yesterday was much more wearing than I would have liked, but I’m one day closer to Milan.”
Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step), and Marco Bandiera (Androni-Sidermec) made the early breakaway.
With 40 kilometers left, the gap hovered just over one minute.
Inside of the final 30km, the break was caught as the sprinters’ teams cued up for the finale.
On an uncategorized climb with about 25km to go, Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) attacked.
Rolling over the top of the hill, BMC’s Darwin Atapuma bridged to the two leaders.
Hansen soon got a gap on his two companions. As Atapuma and Gretsch bickered, the solo leader extended his advantage to 17 seconds.
The peloton caught the two chasers with less than 20km remaining.
Giant-Alpecin drove the pace at the front, and with a little over 10km to go, Hansen was caught.
Cannondale-Garmin’s Tom-Jelte Slagter attacked next, with 5.5km to go, as Tinkoff-Saxo rode tempo on the front of the bunch.
BMC was keen to get a rider involved in a late break, sending Philippe Gilbert to chase. However, the peloton was not willing to forgo a chance for a bunch sprint and brought the duo back with three kilometers left.
On several hairpin turns dropping to the finish beside Lake Como, Luca Paolini (Katusha) countered. But Trek Factory Racing chased the Italian back in time for the final kilometer.
Lampre put three riders on the front to start the sprint.
Modolo went early as he was challenged on the left by Mezgec, and he would not be denied his second stage win at the Giro.
On Thursday, the peloton rides stage 18 from Melide to Verbania, a 199km day with one category 1 climb, Monte Ologno, late in the day.
The Focus SAM now comes in carbon fiber. It is 600 grams lighter, much stiffer, and has a better build. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.comNeed to know
— Enduro race frame, with geometry to suit the task
— 160mm front and rear travel
— Carbon fiber frame
— 27.5” wheels
— New, better build kits
— Carbon version drops 600 grams and adds stiffness
— 65-degree head angle
— 75-degree seat angle
Focus’ new SAM is a 160mm enduro racer, tuned to high speeds and the sort of European courses favored by the Focus Enduro Team. It’s existed as an aluminum model for two seasons, and the latest iteration makes just a few changes to geometry and zero changes to the suspension design. The big story here is a switch to carbon fiber, which stiffens up the chassis considerably while dropping over 600 grams, and a newly tuned RockShox Monarch shock.
Geometry changes between the old aluminum version and the C Team are relatively minimal, but still important. Chain stays have been shortened from 438mm to 430mm and the bottom bracket has been dropped 5 mm, from -7mm to -12mm. Both changes were instigated by the brand’s enduro team, and serve to add agility and stability to the rear end.
The new SAM is quite light for a big bike, just 5.3 pounds for the frame and 27 pounds complete.
Cable routing is internal and done properly. There is no internal guide, but a massive hole near the bottom bracket facilitates easy routing. The plugs at the head tube can be replaced based on each build’s requirements — swapped for Di2, for example, or for 1x or 2x, with or without dropper, etc.
A bash guard at the bottom of the down tube should help prevent expensive rock damage, and another surrounding the top and bottom of the right chain stay will keep the chain from doing any similar damage.
U.S. prices have not yet been announced, though the bikes will be available in August. The build kits are solid.
The SAM C Team model features SRAM XX1, a 160mm Pike, Monarch Plus rear shock, and Reverb dropper. The SAM C SL will come with XO1, the same Pike, a Monarch RT rear shock, and DT Swiss E1700 Spline One wheels. The final carbon model, the C Pro, has a 160mm Pike RC fork, Monarch RT shock, and a SRAM XO1/X1 drivetrain.First Ride
The SAM is a big bike. Enduro race bikes continue to trend closer and closer to what we might have defined as a downhill bike just a few years ago, and the SAM is no exception. The trail needs to be fast and rough before the SAM’s true strengths present themselves; anything mellower and it’s dramatic and somewhat frustrating overkill.
Those who don’t live near at least a few good descents, in other words, will likely want to look at the Spine instead.
There is no question that the new, carbon fiber SAM is a big step up from the aluminum version, which we had a chance to test last fall. The carbon version is stiffer, tracks better through rough corners, and comes with smarter build kits across the entire range — much closer to the sort of build we might put together ourselves.
Gone are the DT Swiss rear shock and Fox Evolution-series fork, replaced by a custom-tuned RockShox Monarch Plus (and the regular Monarch for lower models, but more on that later) and 160mm Pike, the best fork in its class.
Focus happily admits that the chunky, diamond-shaped top tube/head tube junction is part of a design initiative intended to make Focus mountain bikes more distinctive, but it serves a more practical purpose, too. Front-end stiffness on the SAM is excellent, thanks in large part to the massive top tube cross section and move to the Pike. It can compete with any enduro frame currently on the market in this realm.
The bike sits rather far into its travel, and it feels best set up with the rear Monarch Plus sag set around 35 percent. The suspension design, a relatively simple linkage-driven single-pivot, is heavily reliant on the tuned Monarch. That means that the top-tier models, which feature the more controlled Monarch Plus, will ride significantly better than those at cheaper price points.
Speaking of the Monarch Plus, aggressive riders will want to add a volume token or two to improve the progressiveness of the shock. Because the bike does sit rather far into its travel during regular trail riding, and the long-stroke rear shock is not particularly progressive out of the box, the rear end can feel a bit vague throughout its travel. I like to be able to push into the back end of the bike a bit and get a response — to know where I am in the travel through feel, in other words — and that was difficult with the SAM. Adding a token or two would likely solve the problem.
The SAM pedals well for a 160mm bike, and thanks to the super steep 75-percent seat tube angle, it’s easy to get over the bottom bracket to put power down. But it’s still a long way from sprightly. This should go without saying, but if climbing is half the fun for you, look for something smaller. With the SAM, descending is all the fun.
Enduro racers will love the geometry, the tuneability of the Monarch Plus, and the stiffness. More casual riders might want something that pedals a bit better for everyday riding.
Katusha drove the pace, trying to move its team leader Dmitri Konyshev up in the standings. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Polemics engulfed Tuesday’s epic stage over the Mortirolo, and the “wait or race” debate kicked back into gear at the Giro d’Italia as pink jersey holder Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) punctured at a key moment.
With a relatively easy day on the horizon for Wednesday’s 17th stage, many were revisiting exactly what happened on the descent off the Aprica, and whether or not rivals unfairly piled on the pink jersey when he punctured coming down the technical descent.
Officials from both Katusha and Astana denied they knew Contador had punctured on the Aprica descent, and each insisted they were simply racing their race as events unfolded at breakneck speed.
According to Tinkoff staffers, Contador punctured on sweeping switchbacks above an even narrower, more technical descent that leads to the valley below the approach to the Mortirolo. Riding within the protective cocoon of his teammates, Contador quickly swapped out a back wheel with teammate Ivan Basso, who also rode with the same 34×30 gearing as Contador, so the wheel change was as swift as it could be.
Because Contador’s wheel change was so fast, it evidently was not spotted by in-race commissaires, and, as a result, apparently was not called out on race radio per the custom when a rider punctures.
Astana boss Giuseppe Martinelli confirmed that version of events in comments to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“On the descent of the Aprica, Contador’s puncture was never communicated,” Martinelli was quoted as saying after the stage. “Katusha had already started to pull, and I didn’t know why Contador wasn’t there, but it was at that point that I told my team to pull.”
Katusha sport director Dimitri Konyshev also denied knowing that Contador had punctured, and he had already ordered his troops to the front of the peloton on the Aprica descent to keep Yuri Trofimov in good position heading toward the Mortirolo.
Revisiting TV images of the Aprica descent, it’s unclear exactly what happened. During the race, announcers on RAI were reporting that Contador was involved with a crash with an Astana rider who swept out in a switchback. It was only at the finish line that Contador was able to confirm that it was a puncture, not an accident, that caused him to lose contact on the decisive descent.
What might have been clear to viewers on TV is rarely the case for racers in the heat of the battle, especially when they are barreling down a high-speed descent at full throttle.
Once teams were on the flats on the approach to the Mortirolo, it became evident that Contador was gapped out, and he was desperately chasing back with the help of his teammates.
Could the peloton have eased up? At that point of the race, the base of the Mortirolo was less than 10km away and it was full-gas to the base of the decisive climb. Teams at the front of the race say it would have been all but impossible to stop the gathering inertia of the leading pack.
Eventual stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana) admitted the peloton realized Contador wasn’t there once they hit the flats, and collaborated to widen the gap to the powerful Spanish climber, but he did not know what had happened.
The rapidly unfolding dynamics once again prompted the “wait or race” debate. It’s one thing if Contador had flatted with 100km to go, but it’s quite something else coming off a tricky descent and heading toward the most decisive climb of the 2015 Giro.
The general consensus within the peloton is that “when the race is on,” there is no waiting. To each his own fate.
“We were in the middle of the descent, chasing Katusha, who were working for Trofimov. Radio Tour didn’t say anything about a flat for anybody, and it was another 5 or 6km of chasing Katusha full-gas before we figured out what happened,” Astana sport director Alexandre Shefer said. “What are we supposed to do, stop and wait, and let Trofimov get a head-start up the Mortirolo?”
Of course, everyone inside the Tinkoff bus didn’t see things that way.
Tinkoff sport director Lars Michaelsen also questioned the opposing teams’ tactics, hinting that their only chance was to try to take out Contador when he was down.
“I don’t think it’s honorable toward the leader’s jersey [to attack] when he has a problem. If they want to fight him, they should fight him in a sporting way, not like this,” Michaelsen said. “On the flat part of 9km [before Mortirolo], everybody could see they went full, full, full … which would not be normal.”
Contador refused to enter into the debate, and used the tactical play to fuel his ambition up the punishing climb. He erased a nearly one-minute deficit at the base of the Mortirolo, and ended up tightening his grip on the pink jersey, shedding pink jersey rival Fabio Aru perhaps for good.
The Giro just isn’t the Giro without a good polemic. And with most of these debates, it all depends on who you ask.
The post Astana, Katusha say they didn’t know Contador flatted appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Recently, the Giro has served up ample helpings of climbing and pasta with red sauce for Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin). Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
As the Giro enters its third week, I’m looking for new and exciting food options to keep my appetite. It comes to a point where doesn’t matter what beautiful Italian name they give a bowl of pasta with red sauce. The better something tastes in Italy, the less they give you … and that’s a problem if you’re trying to recover from six-hour stages with tasty food.
Sometimes we get lucky and the hotel doesn’t realize that they’re expected to feed the riders like livestock, and we promptly dispose of the delicious food before the mistake is realized. “Sorry, what fancy Parmesan?” At breakfast, my ratio of croissants to actual bread is continuing to climb, as is the ratio of peanut butter to what it’s going on.
Somehow, whatever I eat, my body continues to awaken ready for another bike race, and I would hate to disappoint it.
Stage 15 from Marostica to Madonna di Campiglio rolled out under mostly sunny skies, although we would receive a few light sprinklings of rain throughout the day — just a kind tap on the shoulder by the Italian clouds to remind us that they can drop by at any moment. I started the stage with thoughts of a breakaway, but when I followed a surge in the opening flurry of attacks, I learned that my power records in the time trial came at a price. “We’ve had a change of plan,” my legs told me. “You’re no longer hoping to be in the breakaway. Now, you’re hoping the breakaway is gone before we reach the base of that mountain.”
But with the field motivated by the looming rest day, it looked like the fight would only be settled by the mountain we were racing toward. As I tried to save as much energy as possible, I kept hearing one of the final lines from the movie “October Sky:” ”This one’s gonna go for miles …” Sure enough, the field exploded as the attacks continued all the way over the top. We eventually regrouped in the valley before the final pair of mountains, but it was clear that most of the field was worn out from the last two weeks of unrelenting stages, and accordingly had no ambitions beyond the grupetto.
At the back, we lamented the fact that we never get to hang out with the boys in blue, but we’ve come to accept that they just might not like us.
If the first rest day was used to catch our breath; the second rest day was more like steeling ourselves for battle. The first rest day featured a relaxing ride with plenty of shenanigans; yesterday we did intervals. The efforts were short, and thus not too costly for our tired bodies, but it was crucial to make sure that our legs didn’t go into recovery mode with the queen stage just the next day. The way this race has been going, we can’t afford even a single bad day or we may go home early.
Our team meeting Tuesday morning was less “tactical discussion” and more “survival planning” for stage 16 from Pinzolo to Aprica, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The villaggio was completely empty before the start as nearly everyone was on the trainer warming up; you know things are serious when guys who didn’t warm up before the time trial are on the trainer before a stage with 15,000 feet of climbing. Talk of forming the grupetto on the start line was only half-joking, and it came to fruition just a few kilometers later when the race exploded on the opening climb. What followed was a hard bike race from start to finish, and I even had my pie-plate cassette to make the Mortirolo more manageable. By the numbers, it was the most physically demanding stage of the Giro so far, and I finished 38 minutes down.
We were nine hollow riders at dinner as we shared our stories from the day, barely noticing that we were shoveling yet another heaping bowl of pasta with red sauce down our throats. And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow, we’ll race bikes again.
I just hope there’s a nice selection of croissants and plenty of peanut butter at breakfast.
Stage 16 was 177 kilometers from Pinzolo to Aprica, with five categorized climbs. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Franco Pellizotti (Androni-Sidermec) worked in the break on stage 16. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Brent Bookwalter (BMC) took his turn at the front of the breakaway group. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
As the pace went up on one of the climbs of the day, the peloton got strung out as riders tried to hold the wheel. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) was in the break on stage 16, looking for an opportunity to win a stage, or to gain some time in the overall. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Team Astana reeled in the breakaway, while putting time on Contador. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Team Katusha drove the pace, trying to move its team leader Dmitri Konyshev up in the standings. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Alberto Contador kept his cool during a dificult day, despite a flat tire and an unexpected attack. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Fabio Aru (Astana) and Dmitri Konyshev (Katusha) drove the pace on the Mortirolo after gapping Contador, who had flatted. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Tinkoff-Saxo brought Alberto Contador to the base of the Passo del Mortirolo climb, at which point he was on his own to chase Aru and the other leaders. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Fabio Aru had his own dose of bad luck, dropping a chain after being caught by Contador. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
As the stage wore on, Fabio Aru faded, and his teammate Mikel Landa held the pace. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
On the final climb, Mikel Landa distanced himself from the other riders, and rode solo to the line. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Fabio Aru had a bad day on stage 16, but he did manage to keep his white jersey as best young rider at the Giro. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Landa surged ahead, dropping his teammate Aru and moving into second place overall. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The stage 16 victory is the second for Landa at the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Fabio Aru lost over two minutes to Alberto Contador on stage 16. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Mikel Landa moved into second place after stage 16, 4:02 back from Contador. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Kiel Reijnen of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team finished third on Monday at the Volkswagen USA Cycling professional road race after an untimely rear flat took him out of the lead group, though he was still able to regain contact with the chase group and sprint to third place. It’s Reijnen’s fourth podium — and fourth third place — at the national championships, a testament to his consistency, and in the case of this year’s edition, his grit. His bike of choice is the Wilier Cento1SR outfitted with a Shimano drivetrain and wheels, and a Deda cockpit. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Reijnen will start the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic in two weeks as the reigning champion and will look to claim a record-breaking third consecutive title. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
The UnitedHealthcare team rides Shimano’s mechanical 9000 drivetrain with Pioneer power meters. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
The Maxxis Campione tubulars are the go-to tire for UHC. Unfortunately, on the wet and messy streets of Chattanooga, they were also Reijnen’s undoing. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Elite bottle cages were once the most popular cage in the pro peloton, but this season, the Tacx Deva cage has been, without question, the most popular. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
K-Edge outfits the UHC team with its full suite of components, including these frame number holders that aren’t technically available except to its sponsored athletes. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
The Cento1SR uses some interesting tube shapes, including this kink in the top tube. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Reijnen rides a time trial-specific Selle San Marco Concor Racing Sprint Team saddle, which has a shorter nose than a normal Concor and has some added texture to keep the rider from sliding around too much. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
UHC mechanic Jorge Romero glues a small magnet against the frame for measuring cadence on the Pioneer power meter. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
On the non-drive side, the standard Pioneer magnet enclosed in a decal measures cadence. A Kogel 386Evo-24 bottom bracket keeps things spinning smoothly while adapting the 24mm crank to the larger diameter bottom bracket shell. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
A Pioneer head unit mounted to a K-Edge mount gives Reijnen all of his numbers. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
The new Spine is a 120/120mm aggressive XC bike or light trail bike, though its manners on the way down suggest something much more capable. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.comNeed to Know
– Ultra-capable XC ripper or light trail bike
– 120mm front and rear travel
– Carbon fiber frame
– 27.5” wheels
– 68-degree head angle
– 75-degree seat angle
– Four carbon models, six alloy options
– Two alloy women’s models
– Carbon frame weight: 1,980 grams; aluminum is 2,400 grams
Focus’ all-new Spine slots into the light trail/aggressive XC category that has sprung up in recent years. It’s a category headlined and defined by ultra-fun bikes like the Yeti ASR, and for the vast majority of riders — those who don’t race, don’t shuttle, ride up as much as they ride down — it hits a sweet spot between efficiency and fun.
The Spine is a worthy addition to the category. Its 120mm of front and rear travel provide a stable climbing platform when it’s needed, and a surprisingly capable, wide-open feel when pointed downhill.
The bike is available in 10 different models, six carbon and four aluminum, including two women’s bikes, and each one has a smart parts spec while offering impressive value. There are no stinkers, and it’s clear that Focus set out to build each model, even the cheaper ones, to a performance standard, not a price standard.
In fact, our favorite model isn’t the top-tier Spine C; it’s one step down.
The Spine’s simple suspension design, a single-pivot with linkage off the top tube, doesn’t hold it back. Far from it.
Focus engineers designed a specific linkage for each frame size to keep suspension feel consistent across sizes (an effort that is surprisingly rare), addressing a common problem with top tube-mounted linkages. They managed to keep the top tube very low, too, offering impressive stand-over height.
Cable routing is all internal, cleverly done, and looks like it won’t be a complete nightmare for mechanics thanks to a large opening near the bottom bracket.
U.S. prices have not yet been set. Build kits range from a RockShox RS1 and SRAM XX1 equipped Spine C 0.0 to the Shimano XT and Fox equipped Spine Elite. Two women’s models, both in aluminum, use the same geometry and swap in narrower bars and a women’s saddle.First Ride
The Spine is nothing special going uphill, but it’s no pig. There’s a bit of bob out of the saddle, but the suspension is relatively stable for seated climbing and the steep 75-degree seat tube angle keeps the rider in a good position for putting power down. Those who need more setback will struggle, though, as most dropper posts offer none.
Rolling terrain is handled well, and the Spine responds well to brief out-of-the-saddle bursts. The wheel size seems to help here; Focus is a proponent of 27.5 for every frame with more than 100mm of travel, and its easy to see why — the Spine felt far more nimble than any 120mm 29er we’ve ridden.
The Spine truly came to life going down. Test trails included steep, loose, and wet sections of rock, as well as slick roots, and the Spine felt bombproof through it all. It’s incredibly flickable, perhaps thanks to its ultra-short 428mm chain stays, and it was easy to pinball around the trail in search of the best line.
Those short chain stays did have one downside: One test rider had a 2.4” Continental rear tire, and it would rub slightly against the stays in hard corners, as the wheel flexed just a few millimeters. Clearance could be better, though most riders will not likely mount this type of bike with a rear tire so large.
The brand new 27.5” RockShox RS1 fork mounted to the top-tier Spine CC 0.0 test bikes was excellent, and notably stiffer than the 29er version, but sends the price through the roof. We’d look one step down, at the Spine C Factory, which comes with a cheaper, equally capable (perhaps more capable, albeit slightly heavier) RockShox Pike fork.
In fact, this bike was so lively and capable on the descents that we’d consider throwing something longer on the front, a 130mm or 140mm fork, to turn it into a true trail ripper.
The men's peloton rolled out of the start with cheering crowds and threatening skies. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Andrew Talansky's (Cannondale-Garmin) place in the early break set him up for the attack later in the race. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
UHC took over the chase on Kent Street to close the gap to the break. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
The initial break of the day rolled across the Veteran's Bridge over the Tennessee River. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Chris Horner's Airgas-Safeway squad worked on the front of the early chase. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Talansky launched his solo attack on the third time up Lookout Mountain. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Talansky tried to stay away from the closing peloton with two laps to go. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Scott Zwizanski got a little encouragement from his Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies soigneur as he handed off a bottle on the top of the climb. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
The Market Street Bridge framed the peloton over the Tennessee River. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) led the break near the top of Kent Street. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Riders turned onto Kent Street, with its 20-percent climb ahead. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Cannondale-Garmin's Joe Dombrowski and Alex Howes worked together to catch the break before the final laps. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Horner was up out of the saddle in the chase in downtown Chattanooga. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) and Horner climbed Kent Street side by side. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Chris Horner went back to the team car to pick up bottles late in the race. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Rain-slicked roads led to this crash on the entrance to the bridge. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
The peloton rode over Veteran's Bridge on Memorial Day, heading back into downtown Chattanooga. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Mathew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) fought his way up the Kent Street climb. Reijnen was on his wheel but suffered a flat tire at the start of the final lap. He still managed a podium finish. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Busche did more than his fair share of work on the front of the final leader's group. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Without teammates, Busche was forced to let other teams like Cannondale chase the break while he went along for the ride. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
Busche celebrated his second national championship title. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
A disappointed Joe Dombrowski finished second in a driving rainstorm. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
The men's podium of Mathew Busche and son, Joe Dombrowski in second, and Kiel Reijnen in third. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
While Mathew Busche enjoyed the winner's kiss; his young son was none too happy about it. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
The post Gallery: U.S. men’s pro national road championships appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Astana gave Mikel Landa his chance to go head-to-head with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in stage 16 of the Giro. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
APRICA, Italy (VN) — Mikel Landa came to team Astana’s rescue in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday. While Fabio Aru sunk on the famed Mortirolo, Landa shot ahead and dropped race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) for a second stage win in Aprica.
Coming after the Madonna di Campiglio stage win and a rest day, this win cemented the Basque’s position in the team. Instead of Aru, he should lead Astana’s charge through the coming five days of the Giro d’Italia.
Italian Aru finished the queen stage 2:51 minutes behind. He protected his young rider’s classification lead but slipped from second to third on GC and appeared destroyed by the effort. He did not want to speak to the waiting press, but agreed to be interviewed for Italy’s Rai television.
“It wasn’t one of the best days of my career, to be honest,” Aru said. “I suffered a lot, I tired not to hit rock bottom, but I tried to keep my head.”
Astana set up Aru for the Mortirolo. When Contador punctured on the descent to the Mortirolo, the Kazakhstani team attacked with Katusha and built a 30-second lead over the race leader. Its plan backfired. Instead of going forward, Aru went backward.
After 11.8 kilometers climbing up some of the steepest pitches in cycling, Aru trailed by 1:49 minutes. He had ridden side by side with Landa, but once broken, he slid slowly back. One by one, riders caught and passed the Sardinian who some had tipped to win the Giro.
Aru’s poor pre-season may have caught up with him. He raced only twice in the Paris-Nice and Volta a Catalunya stage races, and fell sick with a stomach virus and took five days off before the Giro began.
He does not appear to be improving as the race edges closer to Milan with two more summit finishes to come. Instead of the win, he may now be merely hoping to salvage a podium spot to match his third place overall from 2014.
“I was tired, we were in the rain for much of the day, it was cold. It took a lot of energy from me today. I felt it,” Aru said.
“Now? Let’s see. I’ll try to recover my energy and see what I can do.”
Astana now appears to be rallying around 25-year-old Landa. Team manager Giuseppe Martinelli sped up alongside him in the team car on the final climb to Aprica. He told Landa to go on his own, to lead the team and to try to win the stage.
“At the start, with Aru, we tried to wear Alberto down. After Alberto had caught us, I saw that Aru wasn’t strong, they told me to go ahead and try to win the stage,” Landa said in the winner’s press conference.
“If I had came here leader, maybe [I could be leading the race], but you never know,” he added. “This [is the] situation now, and that’s how it is. We’ll see what I can do in the remaining days.”
The post Astana gives crown to Landa; Aru cracks on Mortirolo appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Androni-Sidermec's Gianni Savio bristles at the suggestion that Pro Continental teams should not be given wildcard invitations to WorldTour races. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
APRICA, Italy (VN) — BMC’s Jim Ochowicz kicked the hornet’s nest this week when he suggested, in a bid to reduce crashes in the peloton, that smaller, less-experienced teams should not be invited to WorldTour-level races like the Giro d’Italia.
As reported in VeloNews, the BMC general manager suggested the presence of wildcard teams is one reason behind the recent uptick in high-profile crashes marring the Giro, simply because the peloton is too crowded.
“One step toward eliminating the chances of crashes and carnage is to reduce the size of the peloton,” Ochowicz said. “In this case, the UCI needs to reduce the number of teams in the races — and not the number of riders on the team at the starting line, which is something being proposed for future seasons.”
While some agree with that sentiment, including Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov, those comments did not play well with the very teams that Ochowicz suggested should be excluded.
Gianni Savio, manager of Androni-Sidermec, lives and dies by the wildcard, and he had some pointed words about Ochowicz’s suggestion.
“We have an expression in Italy, ‘Ochowicz missed a good opportunity to keep his mouth shut,’” Savio told VeloNews. “I have always appreciated Jim Ochowicz, whom I have always considered a good manager, but in this case, he should have kept his thoughts to himself.”
In an open letter posted on the BMC website, Ochowicz cited a number of differences between WorldTour teams and second-tier, Professional Continental squads such as Savio’s, which gain invites to WorldTour races through discretionary wildcards.
As reported by VeloNews’ Caley Fretz, Ochowicz pointed out that Pro Continental teams do not have to meet the WorldTour’s strict financial requirements, and also noted that WorldTour teams have top industry partners to provide the best equipment, and have the staff and budget to perform extensive reconnaissance of courses, implying that lower-level teams may not have the same behind-the-scenes support.
“The idea that the Professional Continental teams have inferior equipment to the World Tour teams is completely false,” Savio said. “The idea that Professional Continental riders are not at the same skill level of the World Tour teams is completely false.”
A clearly agitated Savio also took the opportunity to cite the rationale behind wildcard teams invitations; they often spice up the races.
“When you speak of an elite cycling, a true elite, not of hypocrisy, the facts reveal that in this Giro, and I will not mention names, that several WorldTour teams are completely anonymous. More than that, they are almost invisible,” Savio said. “Maybe the ‘big teams’ fear the ‘medium’ teams can take their place. Because many of the WorldTour teams who come to the Giro bring riders who are not motivated, who are not in good condition, whereas the ‘invited’ teams give the spectacle, they attack, they are protagonists in the race. That’s what the public appreciates. We always honor the Giro. We ‘medium’ teams are honoring the Giro much, much more than several ‘big’ WorldTour teams. How can you be a ‘great’ team when you are like a ghost?”
One argument is that the peloton has grown too large, and that modern roadways are too crowded with 200 riders from 22, nine-man teams. One answer is to reduce the teams to eight-man squads, giving more breathing room in the peloton, and perhaps even opening the door for additional wildcards. That’s a concept that the WorldTour teams shoot down, because they insist the rigors of a grand tour require nine riders to start the race. The counter is to reduce the number of teams in each race.
Ochowicz’s comments also reignited the debate about a possible “closed” WorldTour system, with permanent licenses awarded to select teams. Savio has always been a vehement opponent to that business model.
“How can we sustain cycling at a high level if it’s a closed system limited to just the WorldTour teams? What they want is to create an oligarchy. That was the very, very bad idea of [ex-UCI president] Hein Verbruggen in 2005, and we are still living with that very bad idea today,” Savio continued. “If we have a closed system, with only 17 WorldTour teams, it would be the end of cycling.”
Savio promised to further study Ochowicz’s comments, and perhaps file an official complaint with the international cycling teams’ association.
Ryder Hesjedal's (Cannondale-Garmin) efforts to break away in the mountains have been stymied by a stingy Tinkoff-Saxo team that is riding hard to keep Alberto Contador close to the front. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team has pulled a tired peloton across the Alps and Dolomites for the last two stages, keeping each day’s breakaway on a short leash, burning matches in an attempt to set Contador up for a stage win. In both stages the maglia rosa was left isolated late in the race, his team evaporated by the effort, crashes, and mechanicals just as rival Astana lined half its riders up on the front.
Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) was in the break on both days, seeking a bit of personal glory in a Giro d’Italia that has seen him take knock after knock in its first half, as bad luck and bad legs sent him over 11 minutes down and outside the top 10 by the second rest day.
Both Tuesday’s stage, finishing in Aprica, and Sunday’s mountaintop finish in Madonna di Campiglio, could have been stage wins for the former Giro winner, except for the aggressive — and, if you ask Hesjedal, foolish — riding of Contador’s team.
“Alberto chased me down by himself over the first climb. I guess that’s another sign of respect. But I’m at 11 minutes, what do they think? Let the break go,” Hesjedal said after Tuesday’s stage, spinning slowly on a stationary trainer outside his team hotel.
“Otherwise, look what happens. Saxo just annihilates themselves. Maybe it’s all good in the end, Alberto wins, but I just don’t understand. Let a break get five, six, seven, eight minutes. What’s it to them?”
Tinkoff’s hard chasing only sets the team up to be hobbled by late efforts from Astana as it ramps up to launch Fabio Aru, now third, and Mikel Landa, now second, toward the end of the stage.
“They decide to keep it close and then it’s easy to Astana to take over … and inflict pain on everybody,” he said.“I’m not scared of the Giro.”
Of course Hesjedal wishes Tinkoff would let a break go, particularly one with him in it — the Cannondale-Garmin rider likes his chances out of any move, particularly in the mountainous stages this week. But perhaps the top of the leaderboard still has reason to keep him in check.
Hesjedal moved himself into the top 10 on Tuesday. After riding in the breakaway, he hit the Mortirolo just ahead of a charging lead group and crossed the pass ahead of Fabio Aru, in a small group with Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) and Andrey Amador (Movistar). He moved up 10 places since the morning of the Giro’s long, stage 14 time trial, knocking more riders off the rankings above him with each stage. If his GC ascendance continues on its current course, he could just slide into the top five before Milan.
His form is getting better, he said, and he’s not afraid to put it on the line. That’s why he’s jumping into breakaways — even though a ride like today could have easily backfired.
“I’m happy with the result [of today’s stage]. I got out there, I raced. If I came in 30 minutes down, maybe I could say that what I did didn’t make sense,” he said.
“It’s just frustrating. I want to be performing. It’s just about going out and racing, going for it, and not being scared. I’m not scared to lose 13th overall. Whatever the result is after the outcome of choosing to race the way … That’s it. I’d rather just do this,” he said.
“I think you can tell from the way I’m riding, I’m not scared of the Giro. So we’ll see how the rest of the race goes.”