Reigning junior time trial wold champion Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) returned to racing Wednesday after an eight-week recovery from a fractured hip he suffered at the Volta ao Alentejo in February.
McNulty finished fifth in the opening time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in Southern California on Wednesday, covering the 11.3km course in 14:44, just four seconds off the winning time of Romanian champion Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis). UnitedHealthcare's Gavin Mannion and Alex Cataford, along with Silber's Nigel Ellsay, finished ahead of McNulty.
Wednesday result was a solid performance for the rider who has been out of competition since February 25 when he hit the deck hard during stage 3 of the race in Portugal. McNulty finished the stage but was in too much pain to start the following day. An initial X-ray taken in Portugal revealed a fractured pelvis, and the 18-year-old American flew home to Phoenix, Arizona, to see a specialist, who confirmed the injury.
McNulty won the rainbow jersey at the UCI Road World Championships in Qatar last October with a time that would have earned a bronze medal in the U23 race. In two years with the USA Cycling junior national team, McNulty built an impressive international palmarés that includes third place at the 2015 junior time trial world championship in Richmond.
Räim takes Cycling Academy's first win of 2017
Mihkel Räim earned the Israel Cycling Academy's first win of 2017 Wednesday at the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan, out-kicking Emils Liepins (Rietumu Banka-Riga) and Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo-Vini Fantini) to take the sprint victory in Sumgayit.
"I'm really happy with the win," Räim said. "I came here to focus on the third and final stage, those stages suit me better. So it was a surprise that I sprinted to victory today. I'm proud that I can wear the GC jersey, and we will try our best to defend, but I'm sure we have some great climbers in the team who can try for it. I'm really happy if I could take the points jersey at the end as I'm more of a sprinter."
To take the win, Räim waited patiently as teammate Guillaume Boivin attacked and made the other sprinters chase. Räim followed wheels and then jumped past in the flossing metres to take the win. The Estonian champion has been the team's most prolific winner dating back to last year when he took five UCI wins.
Räim now leads the overall at the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan and will wear the leader's jersey during stage 2, a 148.6km run from Baku to Ismayilli. The five-stage race concludes Sunday with a 158km circuit race in Baku.
Maté training in Sierra Nevadas ahead of California
Luis Angel Mate is set to make his racing debut on American soil next week at the Tour of California with his Pro-Continental Cofidis squad. The 33-year-old has been training in Sierra Nevada in preparation for the WorldTour race and looking forward to the new challenge.
“It's okay to change things from time to time, after seven years doing the same training on same weeks," said Maté. "In other circumstances I would already stop training to recover and now here I am, concentrating and trying to improve my condition for a new goal. Fresh air is always positive."
Maté hasn't raced since Liège-Bastogne-Liège where he struggled with the news of Michele Scarponi's death. Since the Belgian monument, he has poured his energy into training as he explained.
"With Scarponi's misfortune I couldn't even sleep. He was more than a simple friend for me. My mind was not in Liege, but thinking about him and his family," he said. "I must thank once again the treatment I receive in the Sports Center here in Sierra Nevada, I've been coming here for years, even before becoming a Pro rider, so it is like being home. Conditions for training are now very good, with an optimum temperatura. I'm charging well to take the shape for California."
Cofidis' team for the Tour of California is set to be announced ahead of the May 14-20 race.
Racism flares up at Romandie, Froome's form, and Giro picks - podcast
The regular Cyclingnews podcast returns this week and it's a full house with Daniel Benson, Patrick Fletcher, Sadhbh O'Shea and Procycling's Ed Pickering looking back over the Tour de Romandie and the GC men to watch at the Giro d'Italia. The racal abuse of FDJ's Kevin Reza by Team Sky's Gianni Moscon at the Tour de Romandie is the first talking point of the podcast which also features interviews with Chris Froome, BMC's Tejay van Garderen on his first Giro d'Italia and Charly Wegelius on youth and development at Cannondale-Drapac.
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