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North American wrap: Shelley Olds mixes it up in Giro Rosa sprints

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Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini)

Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini) (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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A happy leader - Mara Abbott (United States)

A happy leader - Mara Abbott (United States) (Image credit: CJ Farquharson/
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With his victory on stage 3, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) becomes the new leader of Paris-Nice.

With his victory on stage 3, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) becomes the new leader of Paris-Nice. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Leah Kirchmann (Optum) wins the White Spot Delta Road Race

Leah Kirchmann (Optum) wins the White Spot Delta Road Race (Image credit: Greg Descantes)

North America’s top pro men and women are well into the first week of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, and while its still too soon to predict outcomes, cycling fans can expect some great racing still to come. Check out a few of the highlights from the peloton last week in events overseas, and in the US and Canada, along with a peek at what’s to come on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend and the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium in Boise.

Three podiums for Olds at the Giro Rosa

American Shelley Olds (Alé Cipollini) was knocking on victory’s door during the first week of the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile that started on July 4 in Caserta. She was shy of a win but sprinted to third place in stage 2, with her fellow countrymen Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon) close behind in fourth place, and she took second in stage 4 and third in stage 5 bunch sprints.

Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv Woman Cycling team) won three of the opening stages and is currently leading the overall classification as the race heads into the mountains. Defending champion Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare), from Boulder, Colorado, hovered the top 10 overall after a strong prologue and sits in sixth place after stage 6 in San Fior, the first of the mountain stages. Abbott is supported by American teammates Alison Powers, Katie Hall, Coryn Rivera Scotti Wilborne and Ruth Winder during the 10-day race.

Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) rode to a strong fifth place in the prologue and is currently in 10th place overall. Small’s Specialized-lululemon American teammates are Evelyn Stevens, a former stage winner, Ally Stacher, Tayler Wiles and Canada’s Karol-Ann Canuel.

North Americans race through crash-marred opening week at the Tour de France

There are 11 North American riders racing at the Tour de France with Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) leading the way as the top overall contenders. Both rider crashed partway through the cobbled stage 5 but they made it to the finish line under brutal weather conditions with a chase group two and a half minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Talansky sat in ninth place overall 2:05 behind and van Garderen in 12th place, 2:11 back following stage 5. Fellow countryman, Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), who is working for his teammate and world champion Rui Costa at this year’s Tour, sits in 29th place, 4:13 back.

Talansky and van Garderen both experienced crashes during stage 7 into Nancy. Van Garderen crashed in the last part of the stage and finished the race on his teammate Peter Velits'  bike 1:03 minutes down on the stage and now sits 3:14 minutes back in 18th place overall. After touching wheels with Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Talansky crashed in the bunch sprint on the way to the finish line, landing hard on his left side. He crashed inside the final three kilometres of the stage and did not lose any time. He now sits in eighth overall, 2:05 behind Nibali.

Other North Americans in the race are BMC’s Peter Stetina, Cannondale’s Ted King, Team Sky’s Danny Pate, Trek Factory Racing’s Matthew Busche, and Garmin-Sharp’s Ben King and Alex Howes.

Orica-GreenEdge’s Svein Tuft is sporting his Canadian road champion jersey at this year’s Tour. His fellow countryman and teammate Christian Meier was a last-minute call up, replacing an injured Michael Matthews.

Summerhill sits top 10 overall at Tour of Qinghai Lake

The American-based Professional Continental team UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling has resumed racing after a mid-season break at the UCI 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake held from July 6-19 in China. The team’s American rider Danny Summerhill showed good form with a sixth place in stage 1 and fifth place in stage 3, and after the first five stages he sits in seventh place overall. The team's German sprinter Robert Förster has captured a second place in stage 2 and third place in stage 4, both bunch sprints. The team also includes American riders Chris Jones and John Murphy.

American continental team 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda sent its full roster of American riders with Gavin Manion, Taylor Sheldon, Sam Basseitti, John Hornbeck, Robert Sweeting, James Stemper and Chad Beyer along with Canadians Bruno Langlois and newly signed Michael Woods.

Americans at Tour of Austria

A series of American riders are also competing at the Tour of Austria this week, a 2.HC event held from July 6-13. Brent Bookwalter and Larry Warbasse are representing BMC Racing Team, while Joseph Dombrowski and Ian Boswell are there for Team Sky, and Nathan Brown for Garmin - Sharp.

Kirchmann on a role at BC Superweek

Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) is putting her top form to good use at the BC Superweek, a 10-day series held from July 4 to 13 in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The newly crowned time trial, road and criterium champion won the UCI 1.2 White Spot Delta Road Race, the final day of the Tour de Delta on Sunday. Her teammate Jesse Anthony won the men’s race, which is also a UCI 1.2 event.

Kirchmann went on to win the Gastown Grand Prix on Wednesday in Vancouver, the highest paid women’s criterium with a $25,000 purse. Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare) won the men’s criterium. The race was the seventh stop of the USA Crits Series.

BC Superweek started with the Tour de Delta from July 4-6 and continued at the UBC Grand Prix on July 8, Gastown Grand Prix on July 9 and Giro di Burnaby on July 10. The series ends with the Tour de White Rock on July 11-13.

Hanson and Allar claim Manhattan Beach Grand Prix titles

UnitedHealthcare sent a team to the latest stop of the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix held last Sunday in California. Ken Hanson won the men’s 80-minute criterium ahead of his teammate Keough and Justin Williams (Astellas Pro Cycling). Erica Allar won the women’s 50-minute race ahead of veteran sprinter Tina Pic (Fearless Femme) and Sarah Fader (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling).

Keough and Allar lead NCC standings ahead of Boise Twilight

Criterium specialists will now head to the Andersen-Banducci Twilight Criterium held on July 12. The race his held at sundown on a four-corner circuit that includes a short chicane after the first turn. It is the 12th stop on the NCC series and the eighth stop on the USA Crits Series. Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare) is leading the men’s series ahead of Daniel Holloway (Athlete Octane) and Isaac Howe (Champion System - Stan’s NoTubes). Erica Allar (Colavita-Fine Cooking) is leading the women’s series ahead of Tina Pic (Fearless Femme) and Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).

Women’s NRC series winner to be crowed at Cascade Cycling Classic

After a month-long break, USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC) starts up again at the Cascade Cycling Classic held from July 15-20 in Bend, Oregon. It will be the sixth round for the men’s field, and the seventh and final round for the women’s field.

Travis McCabe (Team SmartStop) is leading the men’s standings ahead of Ian Crane (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and Ryan Anderson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Lauren Stephens (Tibco) is leading the women’s standings ahead of Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare) and Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon).

The men’s series will conclude at the Bucks County Classic on September 13 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Climbers get double the racing up Mt. Washington Auto Road

For anyone who loves to climb, check out the ninth edition of Newton’s Revenge held on July 12 and the 41st Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb on August 16, both routed up the historic 12.2km Mt. Washington Auto Road ascent. Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson holds the men’s record of 49:24 and Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo holds the women’s record on 58:14.

Three women’s races on offer during Tour of Utah week

The women’s peloton gained three new races this year, all held during the same week as the men’s Tour of Utah in August.

Former pro racer, Nicky Wangsgard is the organizer of the Cedar City Grand Prix held in conjunction with stage 1 of the pro men’s race on August 4 in Cedar City. The women will race a 60-minute criterium right before the men are scheduled to finish. “We are promising a minimum $5,000 purse, and raising more money daily to add to the purse and hearty primes,” Wangsgard said.

Medalist Sports, organizers of the Tour of Utah, added the women’s ddition, a circuit race held in conjunction with stage 3 of the men’s race on August 6 at the Miller Motorsports Park. The women will complete 15 laps of a 3.5km circuit for a total of 53km. It’s the first official women’s race in the 10-year history of the Tour of Utah.

For women who want to tackle two races in one day, the Chase Pinkham Memorial Criterium offers a 50-minute race that starts at 6:00 pm, also held on August 6 in Tooele.

Team SmartStop to register in Canada in 2015

American-based continental Team SmartStop, the first ranked team on the America Tour, announced that it will move its headquarters to Canada for the 2015 season. The team is also reaching out to the public for money to help fund its goal of getting a UCI Pro Continental licence next year, which would allow the team future consideration to bigger events including the Tour de France.

“The time is now,” said Jamie Bennett, Canadian owner of Premier Sports Group, LLC, which owns Team SmartStop. “Canada is primed and ready to have a Division 2 Team, and we are the country’s best opportunity to bring a program of this scale to reality. Right now, we are the number one professional road cycling team in North and South America.

“Canada has two amazing athletes in the Tour de France this year, yet only has two UCI teams that race domestically,” he said with regard to Orica-GreenEdge teammates Svein Tuft and Christian Meier’s participation at the Tour de France, and the two UCI Continental teams Garneau-Quebecor and Silber Pro Cycling.

Bennett is hoping to raise $500,000 through the Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign by August 15. The funds would go toward to fees involved in obtaining the UCI Pro Continental licence, biological passport program and to secure minimum salaries. If the goal isn’t met, he will return the funds and re-focus on 2016.

Tour of Alberta announces routes

Race organizers of the Tour of Alberta announced the stages for the second edition of the six-day race set to kick off on September 2 in Calgary and end on September 7 in Edmonton:

Prologue: Calgary - Calgary, 4km

Stage 1: Lethbridge - Lethbridge, 142km

Stage 2: Innisfail - Red Deer, 145 km 

Stage 3: Wetaskiwin - Edmonton, 162km
Stage 4: Edmonton - Strathcona County, 163km 

Stage 5: Edmonton - Edmonton, 121 km

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews next Tuesday for our next weekly edition of race recaps and previews of what’s ahead in the North American road racing scene.