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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 18, 2014

Date published:
August 18, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Riders praise USA Pro Challenge for shorter, punchier parcours

    Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) talks about starting in his home town of Aspen.
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 0:20 BST
    Laura Weislo

    WorldTour teams reduced after crash-filled Tour de France

    Professional cycling is a sport in which there is rarely any mercy: long, torturous stages are a point of pride for most races, and the athletes themselves are expected to take a never-say-die attitude. So it was surprising when the riders called to the pre-race press conference of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge expressed seemingly unanimous support for the relatively short, punchy race, where the average stage length, including the 16.1km time trial, is only 120km. Is the professional peloton looking for something different for the future? Something that steers away from the very long stages that characterised the first Tour de France, and still persist to this day, where 200km and longer days are commonplace?

    The organisers of the USA Pro Challenge - from race CEO Shawn Hunter to race director Jim Birrell (Medalist Sports) - have taken into close consideration the position of the race on the calendar, the high altitudes at which the race is held, and the condition of the teams after the Tour de France, where a large part of the peloton was affected by crashes in the first week, and created an action-packed week that throws just about everything at the riders, but with a touch of mercy.

    "You have to take it all into consideration. you have to respect where we are in the calendar, you have to respect the altitude, the terrain," Birrell said. "With the difficulty of stages, and the depth of the field, I think every day you're going to see stronger racing action because of the [shorter] distance. [It is] going to create a much more compelling stage by stage performance."

    Race organisers listening to riders is something that usually only happens as a concession, after bad weather has come in to make a particular stage too dangerous, but the riders expressed strong support for the USA Pro Challenge taking their needs into...

  • Basso skirts transfer talk at USA Pro Challenge

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale) had another chance to practice his english.
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 1:01 BST
    Pat Malach

    Italian focuses on racing rather than contracts

    Ivan Basso remained tight-lipped about his 2015 plans Sunday during the pre-race press conference for the upcoming USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.

    "No, I don't have any news," Basso replied when asked if he had any announcements about a contract for next year.

    Basso's Cannondale teammate Peter Sagan has already announced that he signed a contract with Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015 and beyond, and there are widespread rumors that Cannondale will move its sponsorship to Slipstream Sports, owner of the Garmin-Sharp WorldTour team.

    But Basso could not be drawn out when asked about the current team situation.

    "We are professionals," he said. "We do 100 percent our job, and our job is to ride our bikes fast for Cannondale until the end of the season. We have other people on the team to fix that stuff. One-hundred percent of my activity at the moment is the USA Pro Challenge. We have a week in front of me and in front of my team that is really hard. So we think of this."

    Basso and most of the Cannondale squad racing in Colorado have been in the US for three weeks now, trying to acclimatize to the high altitudes of last week's Tour of Utah and this week's race.

    "The acclimatization isn't the problem," he said of the US racing. "The problem is the speed of the bunch. Normally I feel OK before Utah, but it's really not easy for the riders when you go full gas up there. You can't recover, and you are always out of the gear. That is the problem."

    Basso finished 42nd overall in Utah, but he...

  • Saramotins records first win of 2014

    Aleksej Saramotins (IAM), winner of today’s time trial
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 2:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Latvian ready for Vuelta a España

    Aleksejs Saramotins capped off a successful Vuelta a Burgos for IAM Cycling as he won the final day time trial to make it two wins for the team at the five day stage race. The 32-year-old will enjoy two days of rest at his home in Nice before lining up for the team at the Vuelta a España.

    "It was my day today," Saramotins said of his victory over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who did enough to claim the overall win. "I had good legs and the course was tailor-made for me. I really wanted to achieve something and Marcello [Albasini] was responsible for motivating me and encouraging me constantly."

    Saramotins covered the 12.5km course in 14:48 at an average speed of 50.6km/h which was one second ahead of Quintana. As he started the day in 89th place overall, Saramotins spend almost the entire day in the hot seat and was almost unseated by Quintana.

    "I have not raced for over six weeks, but even so, I managed to get my first win of the season," said a pleased Saramotins after the win was confirmed. "It took a lot of work, but the reward is great, especially considering that I beat riders like Quintana, Brajkovic, Plaza as well as Moreno. I had a good deal of confidence even though I had a fairly average early part of the season.

    "All week, we have really tapped into all of our resources. It is a state of mind that we began to build during our 15 day altitude training camp in the Bernina range in the Swiss Alps. And it will certainly carry forward for a good Tour of Spain."

    Saramotins has...

  • Van Garderen starts USA Pro Challenge defense on home turf

    Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) talks about starting in his home town of Aspen.
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 3:10 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Aspen resident feeling good again after tough Tour de France

    Aspen, Colorado resident Tejay van Garderen has been enjoying preparing to defend his title in the USA Pro Challenge, which begins tomorrow a quick bike ride away from his home, and is hoping to show good form after a much-needed break following the Tour de France.

    The American finished fifth overall in the Tour de France last month, and although he followed that up with the Clasica San Sebastian a week later, he said his time in Spain was spent more time relaxing with his wife than preparing for the race.

    "I need that mentally, to decompress," he said. He flew back to the USA after the one-day race, and spent the past two weeks doing more focused training. "I feel like myself again. I fell like I have good form and prepared well."

    Van Garderen has also been enjoying showing off his adopted home to his BMC Racing teammates. "It's pretty cool starting in my hometown. This morning we did a training lap of the [stage 1 Aspen] circuit, and we rolled up to my house, and my wife Jessica had lunch for us."

    After a fast and furious starting stage in Aspen, only 98km in length, the second stage to Crested Butte tackles both McClure Pass and Kebler Pass, with a 20-mile section in between containing unpaved roads. The decisive climbing stage comes the very next day with the big summit finish at Monarch Mountain, and the circuit race in Colorado Springs, the next stage to Breckenridge, the Vail time trial, and the final stage from Boulder to Denver will all have their own challenges.

    "There are some obvious GC days, the time trial and mountain finishes, but all the stages are important," he said. "After racing in Colorado you realize that you don't know what's going to...

  • Wellens claims Lotto-Belisol's first overall win of 2014

    Tim Wellens on the podium
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 5:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian held off Boom and Dumoulin to secure Eneco Tour victory

    Having soloed to victory on Stage 6 and into the overall race lead, Tim Wellens finished safely in the bunch on the seventh and final stage of the Eneco Tour to claim his first career stage race win. The 23-year-old took over the race lead with his first professional win and was protected by his teammates on the 183.4km stage from Riemst to Sittard-Geleen to finish seven seconds ahead of Lars Boom (Belkin) and 13 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano).

    The victory is the first overall win for Lotto-Belisol in 2014.

    "Before this weekend I had never won a race, so this is definitely the highlight of my career so far," Wellens explained. "A WorldTour victory in Belgium is really special. Many people cheered for me along the way, the start town of Riemst is only 20 kilometres from my parents' house."

    Wellens made his grand tour debut at the Giro d'Italia in May where he impressed the team enough to secure a contract extension. The Belgian's contract with the team was due to end at the conclusion of this year but his attacking and aggressive racing, which saw him finish second on stage 6 and stage 17, which demonstrate his abilities to general manager, Marc Sergeant.

    "The two second places are nice rewards," Sergeant said of the Giro. "The next years we'll have to see together with him where his possibilities lie, in one-day races and...

  • Terpstra disqualified on final stage of Eneco Tour

    Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 7:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutchman apologies to Wynants and team-mates for his actions

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step celebrated the final stage of the Eneco Tour in style with Guillaume van Keirsbulck soloing to the win, Matteo Trentin winning the bunch sprint for second place and Julian Vermote finishing fourth. However the day was soured with Niki Terpstra's disqualification from the race for improper behaviour. The Dutchman was riding alongside Belkin's Maarten Wynants as both fought for position at the front of race but Terpstra's use of his elbow was deemed excessive and dangerous by the commissaires.

    "I'm sorry for what I did," a repentant Terpstra said after the race. "I don't know who I was in that moment. I want to apologise first to Wynants and Team Belkin, because I put other riders in jeopardy with my actions and it is something you simply don't do in the peloton.

    "But I want to also apologise to my team and the guys who were specifically here racing at the Eneco Tour. They worked hard for me all week and then I ruined their effort with this foolish action."

    Terpstra was in seventh place overall at the start of the final stage and would have secured valuable WorldTour points for his team which currently sits atop the standings. 

    The winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix explained on his team website the disappointment he felt with his actions and what not to do when...

  • Exclusive first look: Kask Protone

    The Kask Protone has been developed in conjunction with Team Sky
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 8:30 BST
    Tom Ballard/BikeRadar

    New aerodynamic vented helmet developed with Team Sky

    This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

    The Kask Protone was spotted on the heads of Team Sky at the Tour de France – and now BikeRadar has got hold of the UK's only prototype model.

    Pitched as a more aerodynamic vented helmet, Kask says the Protone has among the fastest heat dissipations and lowest drag co-efficients of any ventilated helmet. This means it'll be going up against a new slew of aero-ish helmets such as the Giro Synthe, Bell Star Pro and Smith Overtake. The Proton will command a premium £195 / €235 / US$299.95 price tag when it goes on sale in January.

    Rather than the more obvious shielded top of Kask's own Infinity or the Giro Air Attack, the Protone was designed with CFD and validated in wind tunnel tests to cheat the drag thanks to a narrow profile and clever aerodynamic shaping – as seen with the smoothly rounded rear section.

    Kask says the helmet was benchmarked against the finest aero road lids on the market and came out on top, but it isn't offering any stats to back that up as yet.

    The Protone has eight vents on the front – the centre five being split in two by a central plastic shelf – and six on the back, where there's also a reflective strip. It's also the first helmet to feature the new Kask logo.

    The retention system isn't new (it's the same as the Infinity) but it's easy to use and has plenty of adjustment, while the forehead pads are particularly plush. Kask says the padding, which is removable and washable, features larger ventilation holes to reduce head-to-pad contact by 70 per cent compared with the competition.

    Kask has used its 'Multi In-Moulding' fabrication process for the Protone, in which a polycarbonate cover for the top, base ring and back of the helmet's shell is...

  • Matthews and Chaves lead Orica-GreenEdge at Vuelta a España

    Michael Matthews inherited the maglia rosa from his Orica-GreenEdge teammate
    Article published:
    August 18, 2014, 9:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Team targetting stage wins and general classification

    Orica-GreenEdge are looking to target stage victories and the general classification, as they announce their team for the Vuelta a España.

    "This year we are going in with a multi-task team," directeur sportif Neil Stephens said. "There have been times when we have just targeted stages with one or a couple of riders but this year the whole team is basically all opportunists."

    Michael Matthews and Esteban Chaves will spearhead the team's ambitions at the third Grand Tour of the year. Matthews won two stages of the Vuelta in 2013, including the prestigious final stage into Madrid. The traditional final sprint stage does not feature in this year's race but there will still be plenty of chances for the Australian.

    After making a fantastic debut at the Giro d'Italia, where he spent the first week in pink, Matthews was expected to ride the Tour de France for the first time. However, a crash just days before the race forced him to quit before the race had even left Leeds.

    Chaves is making his Grand Tour debut, after joining Orica-GreenEdge at the beginning of the season. The Colombian's career was almost ended by a heavy accident at the Trofeo Laigueglia in 2013, but he came back this year, and has since taken stages wins in the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse. The team hopes that Chaves can find his way in the general classification.

    "It's a bit of a test, a bit of a step up for the future of Esteban, and our team as such, to go into a major tour with thoughts of...