The Sufferfest's fourth annual "Tour of Sufferlandria" raised a record amount of $112,000 for Parkinson's disease research by the Davis Phinney Foundation. Known as the "Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Nation," the Feb. 6-14 event featured nearly 4,000 bicyclists in 30 countries completing nine consecutive days of riding indoors while watching videos.
The past four years, the tour has raised nearly $280,000 for the Phinney Foundation. Committed to supporting programs and research for Parkinson's disease, the Foundation was founded in 2004 by Olympic medalist and cycling legend Davis Phinney, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000.
"We are extremely grateful to all the Sufferlandrians who competed in our most challenging tour to date," Phinney said. "The record amount of money raised this year will help us to continue to provide information and tools to motivate people with Parkinson's to take action and improve their quality of life."
With a $10 donation to the Foundation, Sufferlandrians were eligible for the tour's list of amazing prizes such as a road bike from BMC and many items autographed by professional cyclists.
"Every year, I end the Tour feeling incredibly motivated by our positive, funny, and dedicated Sufferlandrian community," said David McQuillen, chief executive officer of The Sufferfest. "But this year it was especially inspiring to see Davis Phinney ride the Tour with us. This man is a true inspiration, and I, for one, find a lot courage within myself thanks to his determination."
The Sufferfest, creator of the world's best cycling videos for individual and group training, features officially-licensed footage from professional races like the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the UCI World Championships. It creates an extraordinary experience guaranteed to engage, challenge and entertain cyclists of all levels.
Since launching in late 2014, more than 100 facilities in 14 countries have joined the network of 'Sufferlandrian Embassies,' including nearly a dozen U.S. states. For more information on the 2016 Tour of Sufferlandria, click here .
Etixx – Quick-Step's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne squads
Belgian WorldTour team Etixx-Quick Step has confirmed its squads for the 'opening weekend' of the Classics with strong teams lining up at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The team occupied three of the top four places at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last year as Ian Stannard upset the numbers game for his second straight victory although it is a race in which team manager Patrick Lefevere has enjoyed several wins.
"Today we did 140 kilometers and everything went smooth. The guys tested the bikes and displayed a great spirit. I think we are prepared for this week-end. The final of Omloop is changed a bit, with a short uphill section in the last kilometer, so in case of a sprint arrival it won't be easy, but we are confident we can do a good race," sports director and 1996 winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tom Steels said.
Tony Martin makes his debut at the race and just his second appearance at a classics, the other being the 2008 Dwars door Vlaanderen. However the German proved to be adept on the cobbles at last year's Tour de France, winning the stage into Cambrai that featured several sectors of pave.
"It was a nice experience, a mix of cobbles on the climbs and on the flat. I really liked it. Of course, it will be different during the race, when 200 guys will fight to get to the front. I'm feeling good, I'm happy and I can't wait for Saturday to come," Martin said of the Omloop recon. "My teammates and Tom Steels explained to me today how important is to be at the front when the real race starts. I will also watch some videos of the past editions again, to get the feeling of the race, and I'm sure I will be ready for Saturday."
Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Iljo Keisse are all options for Etixx-Quick Step who will start the race as one of the big pre-race favourites for the win.
We have a strong team and we look forward to the week-end. Omloop will be an important race also to see the level of our opponents," explained Boonen. "I'll try to do a good race, but my goals, as everyone knows, come later in the season. Still, we will do our best to deliver a nice result for the fans and the team."
A three-time winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Boonen leads the team in Sunday's race looking for his first win of the season and fourth time at the semi-classic. Etixx-Quick Step won the race last year with Mark Cavendish with Boonen racing aggressively in setting up the former World Champion for victory.
Etixx-Quick Step added the caveat that its Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne's squad is 'subject to change' depending on how Omloop Het Nieuwsblad plays out.
Etixx – Quick-Step for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Tom Boonen, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh, Julien Vermote and Lukasz Wisniowski.
Etixx – Quick-Step for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Tom Boonen, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh, Martin Velits, Julien Vermote and Lukasz Wisniowski.
Etixx-Quick Step recon the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours on Wednesday (Etixx-Quick Step)
Voeckler eyeing La Provence overall
Having safely navigated the hectic finale of the Tour Cycliste International La Provence's second stage, that included a speed bump in the final corner before the finish line, Thomas Voeckler is in prime position to claim the inaugural edition of the French stage race. The Direct Energie rider won the first stage of the race by seven seconds and leads Petr Vakoc (Etixx - Quick-Step) by the same margin ahead of the final stage from La Ciotat to Marseille.
"It was a fairly typical day," race leader Thomas Voeckler told DirectVelo. "First we allowed a breakaway that was not too dangerous for us, to get clear. All the guys in the team did a superb job. I will mention them because I should name all six. On the final circuit, it was necessary to remain vigilant in order not to be trapped by an echeclon and to prevent crashes. It was almost harder psychologically than physically in the final."
Voeckler has previously won the Tour de Luxembourg, Circuit de la Sarthe, Étoile de Bessèges, Four Days of Dunkirk, Route du Sud, Tour du Haut Var and most recently, Tour du Poitou-Charentes. The Frenchman is aiming for a tenth career GC victory and his first in Direct Energie colours.
Geraint Thomas to convert Monmouthshire home into a wedding venue
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas enjoyed his wedding reception so much that is looking to let other couples enjoy the venue by adding reception and accommodation facilities to the Grade II-listed St Tewdric's House near Chepstow. Thomas' plan has been met some disagreement from neighbours, sighting increased traffic and late-night noise. Monmouth MP David Davies wrote to the local council, who will decide on the application on Tuesday, to "consider carefully" residents' concerns over a perceived negative impact on the area, according to the BBC.
Thomas and wife Sara were married at the venue last October.
Cyclingnews podcast - Belgian Classics preview
This week's podcast continues the Belgian theme to Cyclingnews as we countdown to the classics, starting with the 'opening weekend' of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Belgian journalist Jan-Pieter De Vlieger joins the discussion of cobbles, providing insight into the depth in Belgian cycling and how Belgian cycling media will change in the years to come as Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert come to the end of their careers.
Also in the podcast are exclusive interviews with Gilbert – twice a winner in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Tyler Farrar on his love of Belgian races and life in Belgium, and finally, Sean Kelly makes his picks for the week ahead.