A weekend of cycling in London culminated with Arnaud Démare (FDJ) wining the inaugural Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday, while over 15,000 amateur riders completed the 100-mile sportif ride.
A year on from the success of the london Olympic Games and with back-to-back British winners at the Tour de France, cycling is certainly booming in the UK.
David Millar has witnessed the sport's transformation at first hand, entering the sport as a teenager in the 1990s when cycling clubs were regarded as unpopular, fairly unwelcoming, and uptake and interest was low. The landscape in 2013 could not be more different. British Cycling is enjoying record membership numbers and thousands of fans flocked to the roadside to watch the sportif riders and the professional peloton take on the Surrey Classic.
In this exclusive interview with Cyclingnews, Millar talks about the transformation in the UK and how the growth of the Surrey Classic will help the sport even further.
Young riders get a chance to ride with the professionals
50 young riders will get a taste of life as a professional in the final months of the 2013 season after the UCI confirmed the names of the riders registered as stagiaires riders with the UCI WorldTour and Professional Continental teams.
UCI rules allow the teams to register up to three riders as stagiaires and include them in their race line-ups. Not all of the WorldTour teams pick stagiaire riders; some prefer to sign riders to full professional contracts and let them debut at the start of the new season.
However with some teams struggling to fill their race rosters after a long season, a stagiaire place can give a young rider a chance to shine and perhaps secure a place in the professional peloton for 2014.
Riders often come from the professional teams' development squads. For example the BMC team has given places to mountain biker Julien Taramarcaz, Silvan Dillier and Jakub Novak.
Cannondale has given a place to Nicolo' Martinello, the son of former sprinter Silvio Martinello, while the Cofidis team has given a chance to Ireland's Philip Lavery and Merhawi Kudus of Eritrea has secured a place with Bretagne Seché.
WorldTour team stagiaires:
Ag2rLa Mondiale Fréderic Brun (Fra) Gabriel Chavanne (Sui) Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra)
BMC Silvan Dillier (Sui) Jakub Novak (Cze) Julien Taramarcaz (Sui)
Cofidis has taken the unusual step of announcing their line-up of nine riders for the Vuelta a España with three weeks still remaining before the start of the season’s third Grand Tour. The French Professional Continental team has indicated that the nine riders are subject to change given loss of form, illness or injury.
The team will be led by Frenchman Jérôme Coppel, but will not feature Spaniard Dani Navarro, who finished ninth at the Tour de France last month. Navarro is still recovering from that effort and is scheduled to follow a different race programme through to the end of the season.
The only Spaniard in the line-up is Luis Angel Maté, who will join Frenchmen Cyril Bessy, Yoann Bagot, Nicolas Edet, Adrien Petit and Stéphane Poulhies, and Belgians Nico Sijmens and Romain Zingle at start in Vilanova de Arousa on August 24.
The race will offer Cofidis the opportunity to add a flourish to what has been a disappointing season aside from Navarro’s top 10 Tour finish. The French outfit has failed to pick up a podium place, let alone a win, at any WorldTour event this season. They have just eight victories to their credit, the best of them Navarro’s victory in the slimmed down one-day version of the Tour of Murcia.
Canada's Dominque Rollin described the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic as ‘a prefect day in the office’ after an FDJ.fr master class saw them take the win courtesy of Arnaud Démare. Rollin also tipped the race to join the WorldTour calendar, paying tribute to the organisation and crowds.
Rollin played FDJ.fr’s first card of the race, successfully infiltrating the early seven-man break that established a lead close to five minutes.
"It was perfect set up for the team. We had me up front in the breakaway and I managed to pick up a few points in the KOM competition. I was just enjoying myself out there,” Rollin told Cyclingnews after the race.
“It was always on our level. We wanted someone in the break so we covered a lot of moves early on. I just happened to pick the lucky number,” he added.
With the break starting to crack in the latter stages of the race and the peloton closing in, Rollin’s teammate Yoann Offredo skipped off the front of the bunch. He briefly joined the break before pulling clear once again with Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloisel) for company. With the duo escaping with over 30 kilometres to go their chances of success were limited but it meant that FDJ.fr could save the rest of their resources for the sprint as the likes of Team Sky and Orica-GreenEDGE were forced to muster a chase.
“When is saw that Yoann was coming across I just sat up and waited before giving it everything I could for him. Unfortunately everyone in the break was tired so Yoann just pulled off of the front. It was a bit too early, unfortunately, but it played out well in the end and it was a perfect day at the office. We were already on the offensive and never had to chase or play catch up in the race,” Rollin said.
A saddle sore has become the latest of Tom Boonen's 2013 season woes, and the painful wound may stop him from participating in the Eneco Tour, which begins on August 12.
In July, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was trying to recover from a disappointing spring Classics campaign at the Tour of Austria, but was forced to abandon with the flu. He recovered, and took a stage victory at the Tour de Wallonie, but since finishing the race he has struggled with the saddle sore and has been unable to train. The injury kept him out of the Tour of Denmark last week.
The issue is the latest in the long list of problems that have plagued Boonen this year: in his off-season, the Belgian was hit first by such a severe case of food poisoning that he ended up in the hospital in December. He was back in the ward again in January with a severely infected wound on his elbow.
A crash at Gent-Wevelgem and then another at the Tour of Flanders knocked Boonen out of Paris-Roubaix. He returned to earn a few top finishes at the Tour of Belgium in May before falling victim to the flu in early July.
The year has been a stark contrast to his 2012 season, in which he became the only rider to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix twice in a career, and the only rider to win those two races plus Gent-Wevelgem and the E3 Prijs in the same year.
The team will decide if he can start the Eneco Tour by Tuesday.
The allocations for the men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Florence are shaping up, with August 15th as the deadline for countries to be awarded their spots for the marquee event. The top 10 countries in the WorldTour rankings will be able to field 9 riders, so long as they have at least that many in the individual rankings.
After the Tour of Poland, only five countries have qualified to field full teams: nations rankings leaders Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, and France.
At the Tour of Poland, the unthinkable happened for Belgium, as the country dropped to 11th in the nations rankings, thanks in part to a poorly timed mechanical that hit RadioShack's Ben Hermans in the time trial, dropping him from 9th overall to 12th.
"After two kilometers my chain came off in the final time trial," Hermans told Het Nieuwsblad. "I stopped for 20 seconds, and getting back up to speed you lose quickly half a minute. Eventually I was 22 seconds short of ninth place. This is a great pity for myself and for Belgium. The twelfth place in the standings gives as many points as 100th: zero."
The United States is in a similar position, having only achieved 12th overall in the rankings for countries. The Americans were 18 points out of the top 10, while Belgium missed by 8. However, Belgium will get an additional spot for outgoing world champion Philippe Gilbert, while the USA will get only six starters.
Great Britain, with WorldTour leader Christopher Froome, was third in the nations rankings, but with eight riders in the individual standings they will only be able to start eight, while Colombia, with just four riders in the rankings, may start six under the UCI's rules.
Similarly, Slovakia looks set to field six even though only Peter Sagan and Peter Velits earned WorldTour points.
Italian team target further success at the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge
Elia Viviani and his Cannondale teammates celebrated two stage victories and overall success at the Tour of Elk Grove with a quick tourist tour of Chicago on Monday, but will be looking for success in the USA this week when they line-up for the Tour of Utah that begins on Tuesday.
Viviani won stage two and stage three of the Tour of Elk Grove to secure overall success ahead of Ryan Anderson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) by six and nine seconds.
"Everything went perfectly. My teammates were again amazing," Viviani said after his win in a press release from the Cannondale team.
"We controlled the race to avoid any surprises in the finale. I knew I could be competitive and we did not want to lose the chance to win both the stage and the classification."
Viviani rode the Giro d'Italia but failed to win a stage but bounced back with a win at the Criterium di Dauphine. He did not ride the Tour de France but spent much of July training at altitude at the Passo San Pellegrino in the Dolomites. He won two stages at the US Pro Challenge in 2011 and will again target the Colorado race after riding the Tour of Utah.
The Cannondale team for the US race also includes Guilluame Boivin, Stefano Agostini, Michael Koch, Matthias Krizek and Juraj Sagan.
"These results are the sign that I wanted to get, to know that I'm ready to face the upcoming important races," Viviani said.
"For my part, these results are the signal I wanted to face next, important races. I expect to achieve the results that I searched in the first part of the season. I feel I have broken through and the support...
Six-rider team will make tactics difficult for men's road race
The UCI's deadline has in effect ended for nations to qualify spots for the 2013, and the United States has narrowly missed earning enough points in the WorldTour to make the top ten in nations, and thereby earn a full complement of nine riders for the elite men's road race.
USA Cycling's Jim Miller, the VP of Athletics and selector for the team, said he was disappointed that the country didn't make the top 10 - it missed the cut by 18 points - but said because the spots are determined by the WorldTour rankings, "We don't have much say in how they race or who they race for. It is what it is."
In past years, the country has relied upon results from riders like Chris Horner, who has been out with a knee injury since March, Tyler Farrar, who was not selected for Garmin-Sharp's Tour de France team this year, Levi Leipheimer, who retired after serving a six-month off-season doping ban, but for the past two years, the points have come predominantly from the young riders Andrew Talansky (Garmin) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
While Talansky's point tally was on par with his 2012 season, van Garderen's 2013 Tour de France did not go nearly as well as last year. In 2012 he earned 100 points for his fifth place overall, but this year only earned 10 points for taking second on Alpe d'Huez.
"I don't think [the ranking] is an accurate reflection of the strength of US cycling," Miller said. "But it is a fairly accurate reflection of how the group [of WorldTour riders] performed as a whole this year.
"Going to Worlds with nine guys, especially on such a tough course, would give us more options tactically than going with six."
Miller expects to continue to focus on fielding a team of young riders, upon whom he has counted over the past few years when the top...