All eyes are on the Vuelta a España, which typically marks the start of the final stretch of the road racing season that also includes some end-of-summer and fall one-day events, shorter stage races and the world championships. The spotlight was also on the North American racing scene at events like the Tour of Utah, won by Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), and the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, won by Tejay van Garderen (BMC). The attention will shift to the upcoming Tour of Alberta, the double WorldTour events in Québec City and Montreal, and the Bucks County Classic in Pennsylvania. It is also the wind down to the USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar (NCC) and the National Racing Calendar (NRC). Check out a few of the other highlights from the peloton last week and a peek at what’s ahead.
Specialized-lululemon dominates Vargarda World Cup
It was a winning weekend for the American team Specialized-lululemon in Vargarda, Sweden, where the penultimate women’s World Cup took place.
Open de Suède Vargarda TTT 2014 kicked off the two-event round on Friday where Specialized-lululemon claimed the win ahead of teams Rabo-Liv Woman Cycling and Boels Dolmans Cycling. The team included American rider Evelyn Stevens and Canadian rider Karol-Ann Canuel along with German riders Trixi Worrack and Lisa Brennauer, and Dutch rider Chantal Blaak.
"This race was a major goal of our team and it was so incredible to have a winning result," said Stevens. "There is so much that goes into a TTT, from all of the support and help of our staff, to all of our fast and aero equipment and especially to the teamwork and camaraderie, that is necessary to pull off a good result."
Blaak went on to win Sunday’s Open de Suède Vargarda World Cup road race out of a late-race breakaway of three. She took the small sprint ahead of her two compatriots Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) and Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv Woman Cycling Team).
"The most impressive part of today's race was how well the girls rode as a team," said team director Beth Duryea. "They rode smart and strong for the entire race. Even with just two laps to go we still had a lot of cards to play. It was a great win for Chantal and an even better reward for the whole team to take a World Cup win. After the TTT win on Friday, it's a credit to all of our staff to be able to get the girls to recover and come up again with such a strong performance again today. I'm really happy with the team's win.”
Hesjedal second place and most aggressive rider in stage 7 at Vuelta a España
Ryder Hesjedal went into the Vuelta a España as one of Garmin-Sharp’s two leaders alongside Dan Martin. The Canadian was confident that he could return to GC form, however, he lost time valuable time during stage 5 and stage 6. He made a comeback during stage 7 after being in the day's breakaway but a late-race crash thwarted his chances of winning the stage. He managed to finish second on the day and earn the most combative rider award.
After a disappointing start to the Grand Tour, Hesjedal was sitting in 46th place and 4:15 minutes behind then race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) after the first five stages. Martin was placed 29th and 48 seconds back while American teammate Andrew Talansky, who was tasked with helping his GC contenders during the three-week race, was 4:47 back.
Hesjedal lost more time during stage 6, which finished with the category one climb La Zubia, the first summit finish of the Vuelta and the first real test for the GC riders. His teammate Martin was 18th during that stage. Martin sat 1:37 minutes behind stage 6 winner and race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Hesjedal was 7:49 back.
Hesjedal turned his attention to breakaway opportunities and was a part of the day’s move during stage 7 from Alhendín to Alcaudete. He crashed in the closing kilometers but finished second behind the day's winner Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale). He also earned the day's most combative rider award.
Other North American riders participating in the event are Lawrence Warbasse (BMC), Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Nathan Brown (Garmin-Sharp), and Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano). Defending champion, Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) did not start the race due to low levels of cortisol.
Tuft second at Tour du Poitou-Charentes
Canada's Svein Tuft secured second overall at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, a five-stage race that ended on Friday. The national road and time trial champion took second place in the stage 4 time trial, 44 seconds behind stage winner Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling). The Frenchman went on to win the overall title after the stage 5 finale, securing the victory by 47 seconds ahead of Tuft and 1:01 ahead of Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits).
American teams secure special jerseys at USA Pro Challenge
BMC’s Tejay van Garderen went into the UCI 2.HC USA Pro Challenge as the defending champion and the overall favorite to win the race again this year, and he did not disappoint. The American rider won the overall title by 1:32 minutes ahead of his fellow countryman Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp) and 1:45 over Serghei Tvetcov, who races for the American Continental team Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis.
As one of the most popular events in the US, many of the participating were American-registered. They also dominated the final jersey podium with van Garderen also claiming the event’s best Colorado rider jersey, Jamis-Hagens Berman’s Ben Jacques-Maynes winning the mountain jersey, UnitedHealthcare’s Kiel Reijnen securing the sprint jersey and Bissell Development’s Clement Chevrier winning the best young rider jersey, while Trek Factory Racing’s new retiree, Jens Voigt, was voted the race's most aggressive rider.
Farrar fourth in Vattenfall Cyclassics
American sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished fourth place in the bunch sprint at the Vattenfall Cyclassics, a one-day WorldTour event held on Sunday in Hamburg, Germany. Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the sprint ahead of Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Australia's Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
Canada’s Antoine Duchesne was apart of his Team Europcar’s lead-out in the closing kilometers of the race and American rider Danny Pate was also in the race for Team Sky, however, both teams came up empty handed.
Hegyvary and Fader win Chris Thater Memorial openers in Binghamton
UnitedHealthcare's Adrian Hegyvary won the opening criterium at the two-day Chris Thater Memorial in Binghamton last Saturday. He won the race ahead of German national team member Christian Grasmann and Champion System-Stan's No Tube's Andres Alzate. Pepper Palace rider Sarah Fader won the elite women's race ahead of Colavita-Fine Cooking's Erica Allar and Mellow Mushroom p/b Pink Siren Sports Laura Van Gilder.
Fader went on to secure a second win the women’s race on Sunday ahead of Colleen Hayduk (Fearless Femme) and Amy Cutler (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore). Daniel Holloway (Athlete Octane) won the men’s event ahead of Adam Myerson (SmartStop) and Deivy Capellan (Somerville Bicycle Shop).
USA Cycling NCC standings after Chris Thater Memorial
1. Erica Allar (Tucson, Ariz./Colavita-Fine Cooking) - 997
2. Tina Pic (Hailey, Idaho/Fearless Femme) - 692
3. Laura Van Gilder (Cresco, Pa./Van Dessel Factory Team p/b Mellow Mushroom) - 624
1. Luke Keough (Sandwich, Mass./UnitedHealthcare) - 654
2. Daniel Holloway (Morgan Hill, Calif./Athlete Octane Cycling) - 549
3. Kenneth Hanson (San Diego, Calif./UnitedHealthcare) - 467
Men’s Team Standings
1. UnitedHealthcare - 2621
2. Athlete Octane Cycling - 890
3. Astellas Cycling Team - 819
Women’s Team Standings
1. Colavita-Fine Cooking - 1735
2. TIBCO/To the Top - 1123
3. UnitedHealthcare - 1100
Allar and UnitedHealthcare win NCC titles ahead of Gateway Cup and Mayor’s Cup
Despite there being two races still to go in the NCC series, Erica Allar’s (Colavita-Fine Cooking) total of 997 points is enough to secure her the win of the elite women’s title. Likewise, UnitedHealthcare’s 2621 points is enough to clinch the victory in the men’s team competition.
The NCC will continue for the penultimate round at The Staenberg Group Gateway Cup held from August 29 to September 1 in St. Louis, Missouri. The four-day event will include the Tour de Lafayette, Tour de Francis Park, Giro della Montagna and Benton Park Classic.
The NCC series ends at the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup on September 20 in Boston, Massachusetts.
World-class field heads from Colorado to Alberta
A week after competing at the USA Pro Challenge, five WorldTour teams will travel north to Canada to take the start line at the upcoming Tour of Alberta held from September 2-7. Garmin-Sharp will be returning to try and win the overall title for a second year running, however, the team will be without its defending champion Rohan Dennis, who made a mid-season switch to BMC and is currently racing at the Vuelta a España. The other top-level squads include Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano, Cannondale and Belkin. UnitedHealthcare will be the only Professional Continental team at the event while Continental teams include Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda, Silber Pro Cycling, Hincapie Sportswear Development, SmartStop, Bissell Development, Garmeau-Quebecor and the Canadian national team.
Preview the 2014 Tour of Alberta start list here.
Tour of Alberta route
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
UCI Women World Cup ends at the GP de Plouay-Bretagne
The elite women’s World Cup finishes on Saturday, August 30 at the GP de Plouay. The touch World Cup round covers at total of 122km, on four 27km laps and one 14km final lap. To make the race more difficult, each lap includes a climb over the Côte de Ty Marec with 10 per cent grades. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv Woman Cycling) has won the last two editions but there will be some North American riders on the line vying for the win this year.
American team Specialized-lululemon is coming off of a successful World Cup stint in Vargarda where they won the team time trial and the road race with Chantal Blaak. Their American rider Evelyn Stevens will be on the start line in Plouay also aiming to take that victory. Other North Americans include Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies).
Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) secured the overall series win at the Open de Suède Vargarda World Cup last weekend.
The men’s WorldTour race will be held the following day on August 31.
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.