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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, August 25, 2013

Date published:
August 25, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • King perseveres through USA Pro Challenge

    Ben King (RadioShack) starts the Vail time trial
    Article published:
    August 24, 2013, 17:25 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Former US pro champion crashed heavily just prior to Colorado

    "Yesterday I got out of bed and I felt terrible," Ben King (RadioShack-Leopard) told Cyclingnews after finishing stage 5 at the USA Pro Challenge, a 16.1-mile mountain time trial in Vail, Colorado. "Before the race I was hit by a car so I'm happy just to be riding."

    While the peloton is certainly feeling the effects of hard racing at altitudes not seen in any other professional race, King faced the extra burden of having crashed heavily in training four days prior to the seven-day stage race's start in Aspen.

    "I was training and there was a car that just turned in front of me without signalling or anything," said King. "I had no outlet so I could either smash into the side of the car or go off the road. So I went completely off the road and looked for an escape route but the road was lined with boulders. I ended up slamming on the brakes, going over the handlebars and landed on my stomach on one of the boulders."

    Just prior to the USA's other marquee stage race, the Amgen Tour of California in May, King also crashed and injured his hands to such an extent that he wasn't able to start.

    "A lot of people, after I crashed out before California, said I'm two-for-two, what's going on man? It's not exactly true – I've done about 80 races this year and I crashed twice. My record is still pretty good it's just bad timing.”

    "It gets better every day," King said of his injuries. "The directors probably would have called for a replacement but it was too late to fly someone over from Europe so we decided to just see what I could do.

    "On stage 2, I had to help the guys pull a break back and that really hurt me but I'm not here just to survive. I don't need to prove that I can finish here in Colorado. If I'm in the race I'm going to be trying to help the team out and...

  • Kiefel sees cycling's evolution at USA Pro Challenge

    Ron Kiefel at the 2013 USA Pro Challenge in Colorado
    Article published:
    August 24, 2013, 20:50 BST
    Pat Malach

    Trail-blazing American a VIP driver in Colorado

    US Cycling Hall of Fame inductee Ron Kiefel is back in the thick of bike racing in Colorado, but this time he's behind the wheel of a car rather than driving his bike over the high mountain passes of the Centennial State.

    The former pro – who rode for the pioneering 7-Eleven teams throughout the 1980s before joining Motorola, Coors Light and Saturn and then retiring after the 1995 season – is at the USA Pro Challenge this week piloting a VIP car in the race caravan.

    The Denver native knows well the roads he's been negotiating; aside from training on them for most of his career, he raced every edition of the Coors Classic, the previous professional race in Colorado that ran from 1980 through 1988.

    "I raced in all of them," Kiefel told Cyclingnews after the opening stage in Aspen. "The first Red Zinger I did was '79. And I did it all the way until '88, the year Davis [Phinney] won the overall, so I've seen it all."

    Kiefel, 53, said aside from the shared roads and communities, the old Coors Classic doesn't compare with the three-year-old USA Pro Challenge.

    "This event is much bigger in terms of sponsorship and media," Kiefel said. "And just in terms of the whole way the thing is put together it is much more professional. I think the budget is $10 million, and I think [Coors Classic promoter] Michael Aisner at the peak had 750,000 to one million. … So it's nice to see that this wasn't just another race at the Coors Classic level. It's the next step up. And their vision is bigger – to be like the US Open or the Kentucky Derby or the Indy 500. That's their vision."

    Kiefel's own vision this week has been restricted to keeping his VIP passengers safe and entertained as he negotiates his way through the race caravan, but he has the advantage of years of peloton experience to help guide him through.

    "It's just fun...

  • Brajkovic back on top in Vuelta a Espana

    Janez Brajkovic led Astana across the line in the TTT and gets to wear the leader's jersey
    Article published:
    August 24, 2013, 21:52 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Astana rider takes unexpected Vuelta lead

    It’s now seven years since the last time Slovenia’s Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was an ephemeral leader of the Vuelta a Espana, taking it for just two days in the race’s first week before Italy’s Danilo Di Luca then took over in the top spot. Fast forward to 2013, and the 29-year-old recognised his spell in the race lead after the stage 1 team time trial will probably be equally brief, but he looked to be equally if not more happy at the prospect.

    Brajkovic has had a tough year, crashing out in his biggest target of the season, the Tour de France, with a left knee injury in the first week, and he still has no contract for 2014. His spell in the lead in the Vuelta lead puts him back in the limelight in the nick of time. If he was in pain again at a Grand Tour in the Vuelta’s opening team time trial, this time, unlike July, Brajkovic said it was “the kind of pain you want to feel.”

    “I wasn’t over the limit when it hurt, I was just on the limit, and for the first time this year I felt good, the kind of pain you like,” the 29-year-old, whose last win was in the Tour of Slovenia last season, said. Despite his strong Vuelta debut, he brushed aside any aspirations at gunning for the overall.

    “[Teammate Vincenzo] Nibali is the number one favourite, and the one and only leader on this team,” he said. “I’ll be focussed on supporting him as best as I can even if I’m wearing this jersey tomorrow.

    “I’ll pass it to him soon and hopefully he’ll wear it all the way to Madrid.”

    The course, he said, was complicated by the strong tailwind “for around 60 percent of the route. It...

  • Confidential settlement reached between Sunday Times and Armstrong

    Expect to see Lance Armstrong in suit and tie this fall if his case goes to arbitration
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 2:08 BST
    Cycling News

    British newspaper "entirely happy" with final resolution

    The Sunday Times reports that it has reached a settlement with Lance Armstrong.

    In 2004, the British newspaper was forced to pay the now-banned cyclist £300,000 (368,000 euros) after elements of the allegations raised in David Walsh's co-authored book "L.A. Confidentiel" were printed in an article printed on June 13, 2004 and written by Alan English. The suit was settled out of court in 2006 after London's High Court ruled that the article "meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect." The judge said that the article strongly implied that Armstrong had taken performance enhancing drugs, and that The Sunday Times would have had to defend that position if the case went to trial.

    Last December, The Sunday Times announced it was suing Armstrong for up to 1.2 million euros, based on the original legal costs plus interest, after the American was formally stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, along with all results going back to 1998 as well as receiving a lifetime ban following the United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation into the Armstrong and his associates.

    This week's edition runs a story whereby it says that the newspaper, Walsh and English had "reached a mutually acceptable final resolution to all claims against Lance Armstrong related to the 2012 High Court proceedings and are entirely happy with the agreed settlement, the terms of which remain confidential."

  • Mixed fortunes for BMC at USA Pro Challenge

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) on the road during stage 6.
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 3:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Lead defended as Cummings withdraws, another podium for Van Avermaet

    American Tejay van Garderen remains overall leader of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado with one stage left to race, but it wasn't all plain sailing for the BMC squad on Saturday.

    Van Garderen and teammate Mathias Frank held on to their 1-2 on the general classification, with Garmin Sharp's Tom Danielson 12 seconds back on the Swiss rider, but BMC needed to be on their guard throughout the 185.4km sixth stage.

    "The attacks were just going non-stop," van Garderen said. "For a lot of teams, this was kind of their last chance to try something. That made for a hard, fast race."

    The team also lost the services of Stephen Cummings who was forced out of the race mid-stage, just a day after narrowly missing out on the podium for the individual time trial. The attacks which punctuated the stage, eventually won by Peter Sagan (Cannondale) proved too much for the trusted domestique in what was the final day in the mountains.

    "I just couldn't breathe and my heart rate went super high and that was it," the Brit said. "It's frustrating really, I couldn't even stay in the bunch."

    "It's frustrating, really," he continued. "You want to do your job."

    Meantime, the remarkable run of from of Greg Van Avermaet continued with the Belgian securing his third top-five finish of the race, and his sixth podium in the US this month having previously competed at the Tour of Utah. Van Avermaet finished third in the sprint finish behind Sagan and second-placed Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano).

    "I started my sprint at 200 meters to...

  • Early advantage for Nibali after Vuelta's TTT

    Vincenzo Nibali was helped to a good position by his team's strong performance in the opening TTT
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 5:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Up to a minute earned on key GC rivals

    Vincenzo Nibali's bid for a second Vuelta a España title, after his first in 2010, received a slight advantage on Saturday after his Astana squad took out the opening stage Team Time Trial.

    Nibali crossed the finish line as second rider behind teammate and first leader of the Spanish grand tour, Janez Brajkovic, earning the Italian 22 seconds of breathing space on the next best of his GC rivals, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran from Sky. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is a further seven seconds in arrears with Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) at 32 seconds and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) nearly a minute off the pace.

    "I don't know if I'm the favorite, but I'm happy to have taken some time from my rivals," Nibali told AS.

    "Tomorrow is the first stage with a summit finish. The goal is to stay among the overall leaders."

    The 28-year-old, who is also attempting to claim the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta double this season, preferred instead to shift the focus to the efforts of his Astana teammates following their victory.

    "The team have been fantastic. It was a great time trial," he said, clearly happy. "We have remained united and have been strong from beginning to end. Jani [Brajkovic] has had very bad luck recently so it's fair to let the red jersey.

    "I'm in very good condition. The Vuelta is a very hard and long race. There are very important stages to come so we have to go day-by-day."

  • Sagan pleasantly surprised with form

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) claimed his third victory of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge in Fort Collins
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 9:43 BST
    Pat Malach

    Slovakian claims win number three in Colorado

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) sprang back from some mid-week illness to take his third win of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge on Saturday and his 17th win of the season.

    The Slovakian national champion and winner of the green jersey at the Tour de France took stages 1 and 3 in Colorado earlier this week and then came down with a stomach bug before stage 4 from Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek.

    "On the fourth stage I didn't feel very good," Sagan said after winning stage 6 in Fort Collins. "I had some problems with my stomach, but I don't know why. Maybe I had a little bit of a cold for my tummy. I recovered yesterday during the time trial, and today I felt very good."

    Sagan's team chased down two breakaways during stage 6 before the 23-year-old freelanced his way through the closing kilometers and beat Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line.

    Sagan started the Queen Stage on Thursday in third place overall, just 11 seconds behind leader Lachlan Morton of Garmin-Sharp. But after having to stop several times during the stage and struggling to the finish in 97th place, more than 16 minutes back, he dropped to 47th overall. He finished 53rd during the stage 5 Vail time trial, losing more than three minutes to stage winner and overall leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC).

    But the rider who has staked his claim as one of the world's best sprinters was back on Saturday for his third win in Colorado, despite the fact that many other sprinters avoided the race. Even Sagan himself didn't think at the start of the week that he would have multiple opportunities to win.

    "I am a little bit surprised, yes," he said. "I came here for maybe only being in the race to prepare for the [September World Tour races in] Quebec-Montreal. But now that I've won three stages, I'm very happy and a...

  • Vuelta’s first summit finish set to split the field apart on stage two

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 10:25 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Tough first segment leads to long, draggy ascent to top

    Following Saturday’s opening team time trial, Sunday’s first full road stage of the Vuelta a España kicks off with what is quite possibly the earliest ever appearance of a full-strength mountain top finish in a Grand Tour – and following the dramatic events of Saturday’s team time trial, the 11 kilometre Alto de Monte da Groba will surely see a second major sort-out in the race.

    Located on the southern edge of Galicia, close to Portugal, the Alto de Monte da Groba has never been tackled before in the Vuelta. And for its debut, riders will approach it along a winding, very exposed coast road, which in turn means the peloton could have split apart before reaching the climb. And the flattish, well-surfaced and broad roads prior to a sharp right-hand turn leading onto the first slopes of the Groba make it likely they will approach the day’s big challenge at high speed with a ferocious fight to be close to the front.

    The average gradient of the Groba, essentially a huge headland facing the Atlantic and rearing up over the coastal town of Baiona, is a comparatively low 5.6% and the whole climb is on smooth, recently tarmacked roads.

    That’s the ‘good news’. However, its steepest segments are at the foot of the climb, most notably after a couple of kilometres where a daunting 15 percent ‘ramp’ around 300 metres long takes the race away from the outer suburbs of Baiona high above the city and into an area of dense eucalyptus and fir woods. What is usually already a difficult change of pace in a stage racing from flatlands to climbing, then, will be particularly painful for the riders in this case – and more liable, therefore, to see at least some big names go backwards.

    The first real break in the series of steeply rising ‘steps’ comes after five kilometres, as the road passes – appropriately enough for a rest in the action – a cafeteria and a...