Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Colombian suffered hunger knock
Team Sky’s performance manager Rod Ellingworth was following the Vuelta stage two summit finish on his mobile phone close to the top of the Alto d Monte da Groba when he started thinking “this is just the type of climb where some big name you wouldn’t have thought is going to crack.” As it turned out, one of those top contenders was Samuel Sanchez (Eusklatel-Euskadi). And another? Sky’s Sergio Henao.
Riding his first Grand Tour as a team leader, Henao lost nearly three minutes in around six kilometres after he suffered what Ellingworth said was “hunger knock. He simply forgot to eat enough and that was that.”
The 26-year-old was understandably “massively disappointed,” Ellingworth said. After Rigoberto Urán took Sky’s first ever podium finish in the Giro and Chris Froome captured the Tour, Henao was the rider Sky were hoping would taking their third Grand Tour top-three finish of 2013. It now looks very difficult, with Urán, once again, taking over as the top contender for the British squad - and Ellingworth prefers to take the positive out of Henao’s mistake, and look ahead.
“When Sergio realised, it was too late, but he was really disappointed and that’s good, isn’t it? He knows the team puts a lot in, realises what he’s done and he will now try and turn it around.”
“Top ten is still possible, five or six [in Madrid] would be really good. Top three is going to be very, very hard now.”
"Henao is not therefore necessarily going to lose his status as protected rider, although Urán will get a lot more focus. We cannot make any mistakes with him. But we will be keeping a close eye on Sergio too, and keep battling away with him, too.”
Urán was always...
Italian manufacturer to be technical sponsor and partner for two years
Team Belkin will ride on Bianchi bikes for the next two years, the team announced Monday afternoon. Bianchi will be the team's new technical sponsor and official partner for 2014 and 2015. The team currently rides Giant bikes.
"Bianchi is one of the best known bike brands in the world and part of the legacy of cycling, building its future on the knowledge of its incredible history," team general manager Richard Plugge said. "The match with Belkin is perfect; technical innovation is important for both Belkin and Bianchi. We are very happy to further build our team together with these two great partners."
On the road, Belkin will ride the Bianchi Oltre XR.2 “and the new exclusive Infinito CV with patented Countervail Vibration Cancelling technology.” A new carbon framed time trial bike will be presented at the start of the season.
"We are excited to partner with the Belkin Pro Cycling Team and to work closely with its successful world-class riders to improve our product technology," Bianchi CEO Bob Ippolito explained. "GC contenders, sprinters, time trialists and classics riders will all profit from our special types of bikes.
“For example, Bianchi will supply the classics team with our new Infinito CV endurance bicycle, the ideal machine to conquer cobbles and long distances thanks to our innovative Countervail technology,” Ippolito said.
"The team's project, led by Richard Plugge, brings to cycling a new and global brand but at the same time, calls on experience and heritage. We are confident that the association between the Bianchi and Belkin brands will lead to a successful global partnership."
Organizers cite conflict with new Tour of Utah dates
The Tour of Elk Grove will no longer be held, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson has announced. He put the blame on USA Cycling and the UCI for causing scheduling conflicts with the Tour of Utah.
In a letter published in the Daily Herald on Sunday, Johnson said that the extension of the Tour of Utah dates would conflict with Elk Grove, making it too difficult for them to attract top riders.
"Therefore, after much thought and with a heavy heart, we are left no alternative but to cease the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove," Johnson wrote. "We have always promised that we will only run our cycling event at the highest level and we are greatly disappointed in having to make this decision to end the race."
The three-day Tour of Elk Grove has traditionally ended on a Sunday, with the Tour of Utah starting the following Tuesday, which allowed teams to participate in both. "Teams could come and race our race, leave Sunday night, fly out to Utah, have that Monday to set up and train a little bit, and then race on Tuesday.”
The Tour of Utah, however, wanted to add another stage, and to accommodate them, USA Cycling and the UCI agreed to let the race start on Monday.
"We know if they start Monday, it's impossible for teams to go from Elk Grove straight to Utah to race (the next day)," Johnson said.
It was suggested that Elk Grove move its date, but officials are unwilling to do so. "We have been the first weekend of August all the time, in our eight years of running the race," he said, adding that the dates were selected to avoid conflicts with the start of the school year and other local events.
USA Cycling responded to the statement in a press release that stated it had tried to offer alternatives, but the Elk Grove organisation refused. "Some of the...
NetApp-Endura climber happy with fourth place finish
Leo König almost pulled up the great coup on his very first road stage of a Grand Tour. The NetApp-Endura rider attacked for the stage win of the second stages of the Vuelta a Espana, but was happy enough to settle for fourth place. He goes into the third stage in eleventh overall, only 32 second behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
In Sunday's second stage, König was near the front going up the final climb, after the field had caught the day's break group. Inside of two km to go, the Czech rider saw that the favourites were eyeing one another, and he took his chance.
"The whole team supported me very well,” König told Cyclingnews. “Shortly before the climb it got a little hectic when I was only in 20th position. Then Daniel (Schorn) did a great last pull and brought me up to 5th. I tried to climb very hard from the beginning and I stayed on the wheels of Movistar and Saxo since they were pacing steadily which suited me. I saw Bartosz (Huzarski) and Jose (Mendes) still with me and I told Jose to hold it a little bit before he gave me an incredible pull.
“Within seconds I had to decide to attack or to wait for someone else to attack and maybe loose my chance. I looked up and thought 1,000 m to go is perfect. Unfortunately it was still 1,400 m to go. I quickly over-paced and I went on my own pace.”
Roche, Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) all passed him in the finale, but he held on to finish fourth, 11 seconds down, and ahead of the top favourites for the race.
“Even though it didn't work out I am more than happy,” the 25-year-old climber said. “It was my first Grand Tour stage and I finished it in fourth place. I am here to learn and to take every...
Azerbaijan-based team needs new equipment for rest of season and Worlds
Team Synergy Baku is scrambling to gather bikes and equipment, after its team bus and mechanic's truck were robbed and emptied over the weekend. The Continental Azerbaijan-based team was at the Baltic Chain Tour when the disaster struck.
“We woke up to about 7 missed calls each from our D.S. at the Baltic Chain Tour UCI 2.2 , currently in Lithuania,” the team told Cyclingnews. “Thieves broke into our team bus and emptied the whole mechanic truck with all its content. Everything.
"They even took all the energy gels, bars, bottles, spare equipment etc. As we are a 'small' and new team, we pretty much had all our equipment in this truck.”
The team is now desperately searching for supplies, “as we have 5 Azerbaijan riders starting in 5 weeks at the Worlds, and we have nothing left.”
Stefan Rucker, sport director, told Cyclingnews, "All the staff are really gutted, upset even. Because we parked the vehicles in our normal way and then were asked late at night to move by the hotel, it was not possible to park in a cluster. We reluctantly agreed, even the last check of the vehicles was at 2am. We were watched for sure.”
The thieves got away with 10 BH Bikes, all the spare wheels and tools, all energy foods, work shop boxes of gear and brake cables and a hose.
The team was in Panevezys, North Lithuania. Team manager David McQuaid said, “We have a pretty meticulous staff, in particular the staff that were working the Baltic event. But the hotel didn’t allow them to park in their usual format last night and the organization re-assured the mechanic as the hotel was surrounded by 2 metre high walls and electric gates. They got in the side door of the truck, like professionals and over the wall, which is being fingerprinted. It looks like we were the target of a professional gang, as neither of the other vehicles were touched.”
41-year-old American oldest ever Grand Tour stage winner and leader
In one fell swoop, at 41 years and 307 days - he will turn 42 in October - Horner is now the oldest rider ever to lead a Grand Tour and to raise his arms as stage winner. The previous record for a Grand Tour stage victory was for Pino Cerami, the Italian-born Belgian who at 41 and change won a stage of the 1963 Tour de France. As for leading a Grand Tour, Horner comfortably outstrips Andrea Noe’s previous record, who led the Giro in 2007 as a ‘greenhorn’ 38 year old.
Small wonder that Horner eased back a little bit in the final metres of the Mirador do Lobeira climb, because as he succinctly put it, “how often do you win a first Grand Tour stage in your life?” - and indeed, at 41 going on 42, how likely is he to do it again?
Having turned pro in 1995, Horner is one of the very few still racing today who can recollect what the peloton was like before Miguel Indurain had won his fifth straight Tour, in July that year, for example.
And after such a long wait for a Grand Tour win - although he has been victorious in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Suisse and his most recent victory dates from the Tour of Utah this August where he won the toughest stage and finished second overall - Horner said he could “fully appreciate how important it is to win [a stage] and lead in a Grand Tour at my age”. And, it seems, he has no problem staying ultra-motivated and focussed even in his fifth decade when many pros are long retired.
“I love training and racing, every day I...
Purito third on stage, shows rising form
After Katusha’s near debacle in the Vuelta team time trial, team leader Joaquim Rodriguez has had two much more solid days racing, with a third place on Monday’s second mountain top finish confirming Purito's solid form despite the early setback. Rodriguez now lies in 18th place overall, 53 seconds down on race favourite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
“I’m going pretty well, and I thought I might even have pulled back Horner at one point, but he did a great job,” the 2013 Tour podium finisher said afterwards.
The time gaps on the third category climb were minimal, but Rodriguez admitted that he knew only too well the slightest time gained or lost could tip the balance in one or another rider's favour on a general classification. “We all know seconds can be really important in a Grand Tour - that’s how I lost the 2012 Giro [to Ryder Hesjedal]” - by a mere 16 seconds - he pointed out.
“Alejandro [Valverde] got ahead of me, but he had to kill himself to do that," Rodriguez said.
"The important thing is I’m beginning to feel like I’m on track again after such a long break after the Tour, although I must say today I don’t know where anybody else finished apart from Alejandro. This is a pretty stressful race!”
Asked if he had started to reel Nibali back in, Rodriguez said, “there’s no big rush on that, there’s a lot of the Vuelta still to come.”
Rodriguez will surely get another boost to his morale when he sees one of his high points of the 2012 Vuelta close up tomorrow (Tuesday) when the race tackles the third-category Mirador de Ezaro climb - where he won in 2012 - en route to the finish at Fisterre.
Fisterre is not classified as uphill, but the long draggy climb to...
Spanish favourite gains two spots overall
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) said on Sunday that without Nicolas Roche’s late attack, he was convinced he could have won, and although on the race’s first summit finish he finished fifth, on Monday he came much closer, finishing second behind American Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) and moving up to sixth overall in the Vuelta a España after stage 3.
Perhaps more importantly, Valverde gained nine seconds on Vincenzo Nibali and a further two (thanks to the time bonuses) on Rodriguez, confirming the Spaniard is on solid form in his bid for a second Vuelta overall victory.
"I had the legs to win, but even if I didn’t the important thing was to be up there," Valverde said afterwards. "Purito [Rodriguez, Katusha] was going for it, so basically I had no choice anyway, if he was trying for third, I had to be better than that.
"I didn’t have a huge amount of team support in the last part of the stage again, but everybody was lacking that," Valverde, once again slightly isolated from his Movistar teammates, admitted. And whilst Spanish fans may be hoping that a certain Italian Giro winner might not be quite as on song as he seemed after Astana took the team time trial on stage one and the lead on stage two, Valverde was adamant that Nibali, despite losing the lead, "is in really good shape, you could see that on the climbs. It’s not like he’s getting any weaker or anything."
Caught out badly by splits in the peloton in crosswinds in the Tour de France this summer when he punctured just as the race was falling apart, Valverde was visible close to the front this time...