Today marks the start of the third race in the 2014 Subaru National Road Series. Both the the men and women will be racing the Battle on the Border which is the focus of this week's NRS shorts.
Cyclingnews caught up with race organiser Mike Crawley to talk about the both men's and women's NRS races.
"Planning for this Battle [on the Border] begun ten months ago and all our courses were refined, given that in 2013 they were brand new," said Mike. "That's been well advanced with the support of council and NSW police."
While the race attracts attention for being a NRS event, as Crawley explains, the "Battle" is also a cycling festival in the Tweed Valley on the edge of the iconic Gold Cost.
"The national road series presents an opportunity for us to market the profile of the Battle as a cycling festival. It brings with it a lot of prestige, a lot of privilege and really exceptional athletes."
For Crawley, the race will always be about giving women an equal place to compete and as the race numbers suggest, it is a popular event.
"The battle was founded on giving women equity in terms of race opportunities and we are committed to the women's agenda and the NRS has certainly helped grow the profile of the Battle."
"We have a really good number for the women's NRS field with around 60 riders’ registered."
You can find the race page for Battle on the Border by clicking here.
Lizzie Williams's success and short-term signing Specialized Securitor's Lizzie Williams made her comeback to the sport after a 10-year hiatus as we covered last week and is impressing all the right people. The 30-year-old made such an impression at the Mersey Valley Tour that she has been handed a six-week contract to race in Europe.
Totally different type of climb to Diablo, says Kurt-Asle Arvesen
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins is the favourite to win the Tour of California overall title in Throusand Oaks on Sunday but it won't happen with out a fight from Garmin-Sharp and their man, Rohan Dennis. The former Tour de France winner was caught off guard on the first mountain summit but he is better prepared to handle the inevitable attacks during the sixth stage atop Mountain High North on Friday.
After winning the Stage 2 time trial in Folsom, Wiggins went into the Stage 3 summit on Mount Diablo with a 44-second advantage to Dennis. A strong attack from the Australian saw him win the stage and take back almost half that time. The outcome on the first summit stage forced Team Sky to revisit their tactics ahead of the second summit finish on Mountain High North.
"The whole team did a really great effort," Team Sky's director Kurt-Asle Arvesen told Cyclingnews. "We're really happy to still be in yellow. We knew that Bradley was going to be left alone on Mount Diablo, so he was prepared. We knew Rohan would be strong but we didn't expect him to be that strong, so that was a surprise. Now we know and we're even more prepared for the next mountain day.
"It's always sad to lose time, though, but Wiggins is still in a comfortable lead. There's one minute back to third place, so there is only one guy we really need to watch,...
At the 2.HC race, Boonen will have a chance on stage five to Santa Barbara although his objective for the week is to build back up to top form and get some racing miles in his legs.
The 33-year-old's main targets this year are a second rainbow jersey to go with the one he won in 2005 and a third Belgian national championships win. The parcours of the Spanish world championships suit Boonen's characteristics as he explains.
This year's Tour de France includes nine section of pavé on stage five which may see Boonen back at the race although as he says, the team is "still talking about" whether he will line up for the Grand Depart in Yorkshire.
In 2007 Boonen won the points classification and although he started the 2009 and 2011 editions of the race, he has not finished the grand tour since talking home the green jersey.
You can subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel by clicking here
Orica-GreenEdge's sports director Julian Dean recognised stage five of the Giro d'Italia had been the toughest yet for the Australian team in the race but said that despite his inexperience, race leader Michael Matthews had come through with flying colours - as indeed, had the team in general.
"We got caught a little on the back foot at the beginning of the stage and had to try and correct that," Dean told Cyclingnews at the finish in Viggiano, where Matthews took sixth and remained in the lead. "But the guys managed to do that."
Then on the final climb, where Matthews stayed close to the front and was contending for Orica-GreenEdge's second stage of the Giro, Dean said that Matthew had kept a very cool head despite the pressure of leading the world's second biggest stage race.
"It was impressive for a young guy to get there, not to lose too much time and get through the way he did. It was a good effort."
With the changes in the weather — generally for the worse — as well as strong cross winds and headwinds and several climbs, the stage was not an easy one in anybody's book, either, no matter their level of experience.
"I think the whole day was hard, if they had had a circuit like that at the end of an easier day it could have been quite a different result, but it showed just how hard it was."
Nor has the weather shown any sign of improvement yet, in the race's second day on Italian soil, and as Dean points out "we're heading north", meaning it is less likely to improve, at least in the short-term.
Bradley Wiggins is on Team Sky's long list to race the Tour de France and the chances that he will be on the start line on July 5 in Leeds continue to grow. According to Team Sky's director Kurt-Asle Arvesen, if Wiggins is selected, he will be working for defending champion Chris Froome.
"Bradley is definitely back in good form," Arvesen told Cyclingnews. "Most of the guys on our team want to be apart of the Tour team. Bradley, won it two years ago, it starts in the UK this year, of course it will be a good thing for us to have him there. Right now, our Tour de France longlist is about 14 or 15 guys."
If Wiggins does race the Tour, it will be in a worker's role for his teammate and defending champion Chris Froome. The Kenyan-born British cyclist dominated the mountain stages during last year's Tour and won the race by 4:20 minutes ahead of runner-up Nairo Quintana from Movistar and 5:04 minutes ahead of third placed Joaquím Rodríguez from Katusha.
"He will be working for Froome in GC," Arvesen confirmed. "The way Froome rode last year, he's definitely it — it's Froome for the Tour. Bradley will be there to support Froome, if he wants to go, if he's selected and if he's in good form."
Wiggins finished ninth at Paris-Roubaix and is currently leading the Tour of California after four stages. Although he is showing strong early-season form, Arvesen believes he is not yet at his best.
"He's not in Tour-form yet," Arvesen said. "If you...
Katusha leader out to pull back time on uphill finishes
Joaquim Rodriguez has endured a difficult start to the Giro d'Italia but remains confident he can turn his race around in the mountains and possibly on the early uphill finishes of the race to Montecassino and Montecopiolo.
Katusha put up a poor performance in the opening team time trial in Belfast and Rodriguez has been riding on the defensive since then. He is 1:47 down on race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and has 1:28 to recoup on Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), is 1:32 down on Cadel Evans (BMC) and 38 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
The Catalan climber knows he will have to chase time bonuses to recoup his losses. He tried on the climb to the finish in Viggiano on Wednesday and is expected to try again on the climb to Montecassino and on Saturday's more testing finish to Montecopiolo.
"I've got to try something on every stage," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Even if I'm behind overall and the worst placed of the GC contenders, I won't change the way I race. I feel I'm the strongest and I won't leave anything to anybody else."
Four Katusha teammates
Rodriguez tried an attack in the final kilometre of the climb to Viggiano but was chased own and passed by eventual winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida). He wasn't happy to miss out but can take heart from having four Katusha teammates with him in the finale. The Russian team has the strength to play a tactical game in the big mountain stages.
"The finale (in Viggiano) was harder than we thought it would be because of the rain and wind, I also thought I was feeling better than proved to be...
Rembering Michael Wilson and is Ulissi the next Argentin?
A long day in the saddle
With a land slide causing race organiser RCS Sport to add an extra 10km to today's Giro d'Italia stage to Montecassino, the riders face a long, long day in the saddle.
As many of them pointed out via Twitter, the riders will cover 5.9km in a pre-stage neutralized section, race for 257km and then face a 9km descent to the team buses. That's a total of 271.9km.
The vampires bite early
Thomas De Gendt vented his frustration about an early wake up call, revealing via Twitter that he had been woken up at 6:50 for a UCI blood control.
"Let's make a long day even longer. Early out of bed for a bloodcontrole before the longest stage. Why today UCI? We need our rest," he posted.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
Michael Matthews and his Orica-GreenEdge team has proudly flown the flag for Australia at the Giro d'Italia. Yet Australian success at the Giro d'Italia is a relatively recent affair. It all began exactly 32 years ago today when Michael Wilson became the first ever Australian stage winner.
The then 22-year-old from Tasmania won stage two of the 1982 from Viareggio to Cortona, beating Laurent Fignon.
During a nine-year career, that included a year at 7-Eleven in 1987, Wilson won five other races, including a stage at the Vuelta a Espana. He finished eighth overall in the 1985 Giro d'Italia.
Italia celebrates Ulissi
Thurday's Gazzetta dello Sport celebrated Diego Ulissi's victory in Viggiano by dedicating two pages to his success and describing him as the most talented young Italian rider of his generation who had...
Early birthday present for Canadian after breakaway sticks
Will Routley gave himself an early birthday present Wednesday at the Tour of California by taking a stage win from a group of six riders who sneaked away from the bunch about 16 km into the 165km run down the California coast.
"I came here with the goal to win a stage," said Routley, who turns 31 next week. "That's what I've wanted to do every time I've come to the Tour of California. This year I felt like I was prepared and ready, but honestly, I wasn't expecting that today was going to be the day."
The Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies rider initially infiltrated the break in search of KOM points that would consolidate his lead in the mountains classification. But when the sprinters' teams picked up the chase a little bit too late, his thoughts quickly turned to the opportunity for a stage win.
The route included three KOMs, the final two coming 46km and 40.2km from the finish. On paper, the stage looked tailor made for the fast men in the race, including Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). But a strong tailwind coming out of the mountains and pushing into the finish in Cambria foiled the sprinters' plans.
The escapee's advantage peaked at just over four minutes, and it had shrunk to 2:30 at the second-to-last KOM. But it jumped again to 3:30 by the time they hit the final KOM, and the breakaway riders realized they may have hit the jackpot.
"I've been in breaks a few times in the past when that happens, and those are great scenarios," Routley said. "You go, 'Holy smokes, this break might actually make it to the line. The sprinters' teams might mistime it.' At 30km to go we were starting to really move, and the gap was coming down...