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Hot off his third-career Ardennes double, Alejandro Valverde is like a fine Spanish wine that just keeps getting better with age. In 26 race days so far this year, he’s only finished out of the top-20 once, and won a WorldTour-leading 11 stages and races along the way. That’s downright Merckxian by any measure.More on Alejandro Valverde More on Alejandro Valverde
While Valverde’s domination is celebrated in Spain — the Spanish daily MARCA gave Valverde a full-page spread Tuesday to celebrate his 37th birthday — more than a few might be rolling their eyes. You could almost hear the collective groan on social media when Valverde powered to victory Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. To some, Valverde’s run seems too good to be true.
There’s an expression in Spain that seems to fit the moment — “No se puede poner la mano en el fuego por nadie” — that roughly translates to, “Don’t put your hand in the fire for anyone.”
Yet rather than blindly thrusting our collective hands into the fire, perhaps it’s better to step back at arm’s length, and look at things contextually. Just how “amazing” was Valverde’s spring? Here are some talking points:1. Age advantage
The first thing to cause skepticism is Valverde’s age. He turned 37 this week, an age when cyclists often retire. So how is Valverde better than ever at his age? A few things to consider: Valverde has never suffered a serious crash or major injury throughout his career, and his two-year stop for the Puerto ban actually gave his body a break from the day-in, day-out rigors of racing. When he returned in 2012, he said he felt like he had a second chance on life. Remember, Joop Zoetemelk won the world title at 38. And while younger riders are succeeding in today’s peloton, 2017 seems to be season of the 30-something winners. Three of the four monuments this spring were won by riders in their 30s (except Michal Kwiatkowski, 26, at Milano-Sanremo), with Greg Van Avermaet at 31 and Philippe Gilbert at 34. Sure, Valverde is old, but veteran riders will also tell you they know how to train, how to recover, and how to get the most out of their bodies.2. Focus on strengths
With that age comes the wisdom of knowing his strengths. Valverde’s schedule is packed with races he knows he can win. In fact, he tries to win nearly ever race he starts (another reason why he’s always hovering in the top 10). The three stage races he won this spring — Ruta del Sol, Volta a Catalunya, and Vuelta al Pais Vasco — were packed with stages that suit his style of racing. The short, punchy climbs, the undulating time trials, and mid-range mountaintop finales of the week-long Spanish tours are where Valverde thrives. And the Ardennes are simply an extension of Valverde’s favored terrain. Valverde isn’t blowing the wheels off everyone at Ronde van Vlaanderen; he sticks to what he knows.3. Spring peak
If Valverde was winning everywhere, all the time, then it might be time to hack into his UCI medical files — but he’s not. Valverde targeted an early season peak in March and April, and prepared for the Ardennes classics just like the cobble-bashers do for the northern classics. And now he’s taking a break before returning to the Tour de France as a helper for Nairo Quintana in July, with an eye on possibly targeting the overall in the Vuelta a España. You don’t see Valverde trying to win over the bumpy cobbles at Paris-Roubaix, and he’s given up on the Tour de France, because he knows the longer climbs and time trials are too much for him. This spring was to Valverde what July is to Chris Froome.4. Team support
Another major factor in Valverde’s amazing spring run is how well Movistar is riding to support him in both stage races and one-day classics. Movistar is among the few teams deep enough with talent and budget to rival Team Sky across the calendar. Other teams might have an equally stacked squad or even a bigger star, but unless those two elements line up on the day — team support coupled with an on-form captain — it’s very hard to win solely on pure talent. Look at Peter Sagan, clearly the most gifted rider in the peloton: This spring he came away with only one major victory, in part because he didn’t have the team support like Van Avermaet and Valverde enjoyed. Movistar has the horsepower to control the race on the flats, and then the climbers to keep Valverde enveloped inside a protective cocoon. You didn’t even see Valverde at Flèche Wallonne until the final 150 meters of the Mur de Huy because he was being towed at the front of the peloton. And it was same story at Liège, where he finally was forced to move with 500m to go when Dan Martin (Quick-Step) attacked. If Valverde wasn’t on Movistar, he wouldn’t be winning nearly as much.5. Calculation beats panache
People often remark about how much they like Valverde’s aggressive racing style, which baffles me. As Valverde’s gained more experience, he’s become more surgical and less of a risk-taker. Earlier in his career, he would make aggressive, crowd-pleasing attacks, often to the dismay of his sport directors and teammates. As he’s grown wiser, he knows where and when to attack to win, and in today’s peloton, that usually means playing a waiting game. And when he finally reached an elusive Tour de France podium in 2015, Valverde didn’t attack once. All he did was follow wheels all the way to Paris to finish third overall. Valverde wins a lot because he has the experience to know when to move in just about every race he starts.6. Winning big — but not that big
And finally, all of Valverde’s victories this spring seem to pass the “sniff test.” There hasn’t been one victory that seems so outrageous to challenge our sense of propriety. It’s not as if he attacked solo from La Redoute to win Liège or won the Vuelta al País Vasco by five minutes. In fact, he won Ruta del Sol by one second, and the Basque Country tour by 17 seconds, each time ahead of Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), another successful 30-something. The Catalunya victory was at a more comfortable 1:03 (also ahead of Contador) despite Movistar being penalized in the team time trial. And in the Ardennes, Valverde’s wins came with lethal, perfectly timed finishing attacks.So how does it all add up?
To get our heads around Valverde, two things must be considered: First, it must be acknowledged that Valverde served a two-year ban, and while we might not know the when and the where (Valverde never made a tell-all confession), the DNA-linked bag that was part of the Operation Puerto booty helps us guess the how. And since he returned to the peloton, he’s also been subject to the same battery of doping controls that the entire peloton faces, and even more so, because he wins so frequently. If we don’t accept the effectiveness and deterrence of the anti-doping apparatus, then the peloton still has a very serious problem.
There’s another factor that’s just as important. Valverde is one of those rare outliers of cycling talent — the one percent of the one-percenters. Valverde is like Messi slamming home the winning goal, or like LeBron James dribbling his way out of a fix. Valverde seems born to race a bike, and this spring he’s hit the absolute peak of his powers. He’s not coming out of the blue. These are all races he’s won and challenged for victory, year-in and year-out, with a big target on his back and pressure that comes with being a favorite.
Would he risk doping? Who knows, but the fallout would be incalculable. Not only would he banned for life and see his reputation in tatters, but it would likely sink his entire team (we don’t know the details of Movistar’s sponsorship deal, but most contracts have an escape clause for doping cases). And it would be a massive blow for the credibility that cycling has slowing clawed back over the past decade. While there are still doping cases, and there’s no question that some teams and riders push the ethical line — look no further than the TUE scandal brewing in the UK right now — there hasn’t been a major, full-blown doping scandal involving a big star or major team in nearly a decade.
There are plenty of tests to prove a rider is doping, but until there is a test to prove that they are not, well, the only fair thing to do is accept and cheer the victories equally across the peloton. I’m not sticking my hands in the fire for anyone, but I’m not going to throw anyone into a bonfire, either.
Want another take on Alejandro Valverde? Listen to this week’s VeloNews podcast:
April 26, 2017 (Monterey, CA) – The Pro women’s and men’s mountain bike events at the Sea Otter Classic provided fasted paced and spectator friendly racing, and saw Canadians posting strong results in both the Short Track and Cross Country events.
On the men’s side, Geoff Kabush (Scott Sports – Maxxis) finished 3rd, one spot back from World Champion Nino Schurter (Sui) Scott-Sram MTB Racing Team, while Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team XC) finished 6th, Evan Guthrie Team Solo Evan finished 8th and reigning Canadian champ, Derek Zandstra Cannondale – 3Rox Racing, finished 9th.
Take a moment and have a look at our gallery of all the action from the Short Track and Cross Country events.
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Editor’s note: This video includes images from TDW Sport, ASO/Tour de France, VeloNews.com, Flickr Creative Commons
This week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by Rotor, which invites everyone to check out its new 2IN Power (Twin Power) dual-sided power meter. The 2IN Power has eight sensors and measures up to 200 data points per second. Rotor also designed a handy smartphone app that measures your watts and shows you dead spots in your pedal stroke. For more info check out Rotorbikes.com.
The word of the week for today’s VeloNews Show is “domination.” Alejandro Valverde dominated La Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Boels-Dolmans squad dominated the entire Ardennes week, going 1-2 at all three events. Rally Pro Cycling dominated the Tour of the Gila, winning four of five stages and the overall. Who was most dominant? We hash it out.
Valverde has dominated the Ardennes for so long now that we think the races should enact some Valverde-centric new rules. What rules, do you ask? Maybe we require Valverde to race on the old vintage bikes from his first year as a pro (2002). Aluminum frame, Dura-Ace 8-speed and all.
All that and more on this week’s VeloNews Show!
The post VN Show: Boels-Dolmans dominates; the Valverde rules appeared first on VeloNews.com.
April 26, 2017 (Maple Ridge, BC) – Race the Ridge, presented by Local Ride Racing, is happening this weekend, April 29 and 30 in Maple Ridge, BC. This 3-event cycling race has been an annual fixture in the Maple Ridge area for over 15 years. With its close proximity to Vancouver, and its wealth of rural roadways, Maple Ridge makes the perfect host to the over 200 riders who will come to challenge one of BC’s toughest bike races.
Race the Ridge starts on April 29 with two races, the Thornhill Road Race and the Thornhill Time Trial. The Thornhill Road Race was last used in 2014, while the time trial is a brand new course for the event. “I am very pleased to be returning to Thornhill for our events. This is a very special area in our community, and the residents here have been very supportive of our race,” commented race director Barry Lyster.
On Sunday, April 30, between 10 am and 3 pm, the cyclists take over the streets of down town Maple Ridge for the Town Core Critierum. This fast paced, short circuit course utilizes closed streets surrounding Memorial Park and adjacent city blocks. With omnium point bonus primes up for grabs, one can expect some explosive, animated racing.
Registration closes on April 27 at 6:00 pm. There is no registration after this time.
For more information and to register, please visit here.
BRUSSELS (AFP) — Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert has made a quicker than expected recovery from a kidney tear and will return to racing this weekend, his Quick-Step team said on Wednesday.More on Philippe Gilbert More on Philippe Gilbert
Just over a week ago, the 34-year-old was ruled out next month’s Giro d’Italia after doctors ordered him to take two weeks of total rest before returning to training.
But Quick-Step said he’d “received good news from the doctors, who gave him the green light to start training again.”
He is due to race in a couple of low-key Belgian events on Saturday and Sunday. The first is his teammate Tom Boonen’s farewell race in Zilvermeer, and Sunday is the Philippe Gilbert Classic in Aywaille.
Quick-Step gave no indication as to whether this meant he would still miss the Giro but said his new “racing schedule” would be published in a few days.
Gilbert spent a couple of nights in hospital due to the kidney problem after winning the Amstel Gold one-day classic on April 16.
He had been in great form this year, winning the prestigious monument one-day classic Tour of Flanders two weeks before that.
April 26, 2017 (New Mexico) – The Toronto based Rise Racing squad found great success on the final stage of the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico last Sunday, with Jamie Gilgen securing the green points jersey. After a hard fought battle which saw Gilgen a single point shy coming into the final stage showdown, Gilgen claimed max points at the first of two sprints, good enough to win the jersey. Gilgen beat out Lauren Stephens (Team Tibco – Silcon) by a single point after five days of racing. Members of Ride Racing took to social media to share their excitement, noting the team effort it took to be the only amateur squad to take home a final classification jersey – more photos here.
Emerging from the fog in the final 200 meters, Michael Albasini sprinted to victory in Champéry, Switzerland at the end of a cold, rainy stage 1 in Tour de Romandie Wednesday. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) sprinted to second behind Orica-Scott’s Swiss rider. Jesus Herrada (Movistar) was third in the rainy finish after 173.3km. Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) finished safely in the bunch and kept his overall lead.Stage 1, top 10
- 1. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – SCOTT, in 4:33:10
- 2. Diego ULISSI, UAE ABU DHABI, at :00
- 3. Jesus HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00
- 4. Natnael BERHANE, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :00
- 5. Chris FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :00
- 6. Pello BILBAO LOPEZ DE ARMENTIA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00
- 7. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM SUNWEB, at :00
- 8. David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :00
- 9. Richard Antonio CARAPAZ MONTENEGRO, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00
- 10. Pierre Roger LATOUR, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :00
- 1. Fabio FELLINE, TREK – SEGAFREDO, in 4:39:07
- 2. Maximilian SCHACHMANN, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :08
- 3. Jesus HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :08
- 4. Primož ROGLIC, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :09
- 5. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :12
- 6. Bob JUNGELS, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :12
- 7. José GONÇALVES, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at :13
- 8. Ruben FERNANDEZ ANDUJAR, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :13
- 9. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – SCOTT, at :14
- 10. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :14
Albasini’s seventh career Tour de Romandie stage win came at the top of a category 1 climb to Champéry, following four other categorized climbs on the day.
The peloton caught Lotto-Soudal’s Sander Armée, the last rider from the early breakaway, at the base of the final climb. Armée had been hunting king of the mountains points throughout the day with three other escapees: Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matvey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Oliviero Troia (UAE Team Emirates), and Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data).
A large group came into the finish, and though Ulissi looked well-positioned, he might have gone out a bit too early, as Albasini timed his jump perfectly to sprint to victory.
German Maximilian Schachmann jumped two places to second overall at 8 seconds with Herrada now third on the same time. Albasini’s victory continued his string of solid spring results after he finished third at the Amstel Gold Race 10 days ago.
Felline, winner of Tuesday’s prologue, could be able to keep the yellow jersey for another day as Thursday’s stage 2 does not venture into the high mountains. The 160.7km race from Champéry to Bulle has three categorized climbs — two Cat. 3 and one Cat 2. — and a slight uphill kick to the finish.
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Welcome to the VeloNews cycling podcast, where we discuss the latest trends, news, and controversies in the world of cycling.
The classics are over. Sad trombone. But Fred Dreier, Caley Fretz, and Spencer Powlison still have plenty to say about the Ardennes courses, Alejandro Valverde, Boels-Dolmans, and much more.
Plus, a look at a late stage of the 1988 Giro d’Italia that might have been even more crucial to Andy Hampsten’s victory than the fabled Gavia stage, which includes a chat with Hampsten himself.
The post VN podcast, ep. 26: Who won the classics? Hampsten talks Giro appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Asking $3,800 Brand New, 0 km. Weighs 8 kg - Road-Carbon-Bike-Frame-UD-Weave-Disc-Brake-56cm-Through-Axle - 50mm carbon clincher 700c wheelset 25mm wide - Carbon Handlebars, Stem, Headset, Bottle Cages - Shimano Ultegra 6800 Groupset - Shimano ST-RS685 Hydraulic Road Brake/Mechanical Shift
SRAM’s just-released update to the Code brake family is a giant leap forward for the company and fills the void in the lineup for high-powered brakes capable of stopping hard-charging enduro racers and gravity riders. It's also got the power that makes it an excellent choice for the rapidly expanding e-MTB set.
Based on the Guide family of braking systems introduced in 2014, the new Code RSC keeps the four-pot caliper design seen on previous Code brakes but gives it a solid, beefy, update with 15 and 16mm phenolic pistons; more volume in the caliper; and heat shields placed between the metal-backed sintered compound pads and the pistons, a la Guide Ultimate/RSCs. This gives the new brake better ability to resist heat buildup and keep brake pump at bay than the previous version. If it’s anything like the Guide Ultimate/RSC brakes, it should have best-in-class modulation. SRAM also claims a 15 percent increase in overall power over the old Code taperbore design.
RELATED: The Beginner's Guide to Disc Brakes
The new brake lever also benefits from the Guide architecture, taking advantage of little brother's cam-equipped SwingLink design that should offer up smooth progressive power at the lever. With heavy duty applications in mind, SRAM also upped the lever's reservoir volume to better deal with heat stress in the whole system. Fluid volume is up 30 percent over previous designs and the piggyback reservoir eliminates air migrating back into the lever for consistent braking no matter the stresses being tossed at it. The Lever still glides on a sealed bearing and like the Guide Ultimate and RSC, the new Code RSC features the best contact point adjustment of any mountain bike brake currently on the market and shares the same easy-to-use tool-less reach adjuster to dial in the levers fit.to your hand. As with other brakes in the family, SRAM still relies on DOT 5.1 fluid for the Code family. Bleeding the system uses the same Bleeding Edge kit as elsewhere in the range. It allows less mess and little to no air infiltration for a faster, neater bleed. Levers are still MatchMaker and MMX Compatible to mate up to all of SRAM’s shifters and dropper levers, including the new 1x dropper post lever. SRAM recommends one-piece Centerline rotors (sold separately to allow users to choose the best diameter for their needs) for optimal performance. The Code RSC is available in anodized black and retails for $244.
SRAM Code R Photograph courtesy of SRAM
The lower-cost Code R is nearly identical to the Code RSC, with a few key points that set it apart. The models share the same caliper and attendant features, but differ at the lever. Both have the same ambidextrous lever design that allows you to run them “moto” style without a bleed or hose swap, but the Code R loses the contact point adjustment wheel of the more expensive RSC, but keeps the tool-less reach adjust. Code R also loses the SwingLink and its cam-driven, progressive feel in favor of a simpler DirectLink attachment from the lever to the piston in the reservoir. It's available in Diffusion Black and retails for $154.
SRAM Code R Lever Photograph courtesy of SRAM
If the Code R and Code RSC are anything like the Guide RSC/Ultimate and Guide R, both brakes will still have a solid feel at the lever with little to no “dead-band” (that lag in actuation some systems suffer from) and differ only in the progressiveness of the power band and time from modulation to full power-on.
April 26, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – Our government is thrilled to support the rapid growth of cycling in Ontario by taking important steps to make Ontario a friendlier, more accessible province for cyclists. Recently at the Ontario Bike Summit, we spoke to cyclists, advocates and government leaders about our most recent plans to support #CycleON in its mandate to improve cycling infrastructure, promote safety and awareness, and increase tourism and commuting opportunities across the province.
We spoke about Ontario’s first Cycling Tourism Plan: Tour by Bike, which will leverage the successful relationships and tools already in place from our Strategic Framework for Tourism in Ontario and position us to offer more to people looking to explore our province by bike – read more here.
Cycling visitors already spend $428 million annually in Ontario as part of a $30 billion tourism industry. Our Cycling Tourism Plan will help cycling to grow and seizes an opportunity for government and industry to work together.
Together, these programs assist in improving commuter cycling at work places and high-density residential locations. They work to better promote cycling through enhanced networks, with more facilities and bike parking at key locations such as transit stations. And they enhance on- road cycling lanes, off-road cycling and walking paths, cycling specific traffic signals and signs as well as active transportation bridges and bike racks.
Ontario is home to an extensive cycling and trails network that stretches across the province, connects our communities and offers unique views of our urban and rural landscapes, which is why we further announced both the public consultation on our draft province-wide cycling network, which is now online here and the plans for a cycling internet portal that will be a hub of information for all things cycling here in the province. We look forward to releasing that in the near future.
Our cycling infrastructure offers so much opportunity for Ontarians and beyond – we are very enthusiastic about these collective steps and look forward to working closely with the cyclists, advocates and municipalities to move these initiatives forward.
The full story of the 1988 Giro d’Italia is about so much more than the freezing climb of the Passo di Gavia. Over three weeks, Andy Hampsten withstood repeated attacks by a Eurocentric peloton. And a late-race, unorthodox tactical decision nearly cost him the victory.
This is the complete story, one best told by the men who were there.
The 3,300 feet up Italy’s Passo Duran is harder than Andy Hampsten thought it would be, and that is the first mistake. Perhaps he should have known; perhaps it is the construction and bad pavement that tips the balance in his rivals’ favor.
The climb comes early in the 1988 Giro d’Italia’s 19th stage. Hampsten wears pink, gained five days earlier when the race crossed the snow-covered Passo di Gavia, a day that will go down in cycling history. Only two days sit between this pink jersey and the final time trial in Vittorio Veneto. A win would bring Hampsten and his Team 7-Eleven a historic victory. No American has ever won the Italian tour, and Team 7-Eleven has come to this race as plucky underdogs. Dutchman Erik Breukink of Panasonic is second overall, two minutes down. The Swiss Urs Zimmerman is in third overall, just over five minutes down. He is not content to stay there, and he attacks.
Zimmerman’s smooth pedal stroke ekes out 45 seconds as the top of the Duran approaches. Hampsten could have followed, he tells a VeloNews reporter later, but it felt too early — much too early. There are nearly 140 kilometers to go and he still has those five minutes over Zimmerman in hand. The pink jersey feels safe. He can see his Swiss rival one switchback ahead. Surely there is no cause for concern. And then suddenly there is. Italian climber Stefano Giuliani attacks and quickly joins Zimmerman. Almost immediately, the two begin to pull away from Hampsten’s group.
The story of Andy Hampsten’s Giro victory goes beyond his exploits on the Gavia and its spectacular snow. It is also about the moments when the race was almost lost, and thus truly won. This story is best told through the memories of the men who were there.
We begin with stage 19, 233 kilometers through the Dolomites to Arta Terme that began with the Duran. For a few tense hours that day, Hampsten was willing to lose the 1988 Giro d’Italia. He had to be, if he wanted to win.
Andy Hampsten and Flavio Guipponi round a corner in the 1988 Giro d’Italia. Photo: Cor Vos
ANDY HAMPSTEN: I make the decision not to follow Zimmerman so early on this long stage. And then Giuliani jumps across. Now, I’m not so sure about my tactics. The group is decimated and we have a few hours of mountains and hills to go. I have Jeff Pierce and Breukink and a few other guys. We’re on this climb, so it’s to my advantage, but the break is minutes up the road and Breukink is making me chase. I’m afraid he’ll play the obvious card and attack me on the flats, and I’ll never get him back. I go back to the team car and talk to [team director] Mike Neel. I’m like ‘This is really bad.’ He tells me I need to be willing to lose the race in order to win the Giro.
JEFF PIERCE (7-Eleven teammate): We’re pulling time back on the climb and then losing it on the descent. It was like three minutes but growing.
Breukink panicked and came up to us and I thought he was going to cry he was so upset. He didn’t understand why we weren’t catching these guys. Mike [Neel] comes up in the car to tell us there’s a group of guys about two minutes back. If we keep killing ourselves maybe we make the time back to the break, but it’s going to be close.
JIM OCHOWICZ (7-Eleven team founder/manager): We did have some allies in that Breukink was in the same boat, and Panasonic was a strong team. It was a tense stage. I remember Jeff and Andy coming back to the car and there was some fright on their faces when they really realized the situation.
The pink jersey is floating away across the Dolomites. Alarm bells are ringing. The only source of calm is Hampsten’s considerable buffer, built through the first and second weeks of the race and confirmed on that frightful stage over the Gavia. To understand this Giro, and how its outcome came down to a stage that few recall, we must first look to the time Hampsten previously gained.
We head back to the opening week of the race. It is clear that 7-Eleven is no normal team. They are innovative and hopeful underdogs. They are ambitious but cognizant of the hurdles that stand in their way. Italians dominate the Giro, and foreign teams and riders often find themselves battling an entire peloton of adversaries. Americans were still the new kids on the block, but a lack of old-school tradition can be a benefit, too.
OCHOWICZ: Our biggest challenge was to keep everybody healthy. We were really focused on that part of the mission. I was always nervous about food contamination, and I was a bit worried that somebody would spike our drinks or something. We were in hotels with some of the other teams that were our rivals. I’d sit there early in the morning until late at night making sure the food wasn’t played with on the table. I was really paranoid in that Giro!“I go back to the team car and talk to Mike Neel. I’m like, ‘This is really bad.’ He tells me I need to be willing to lose the race in order to win the Giro.”– Andy Hampsten
PIERCE: We didn’t trust anything that came out of the kitchen. We brought our own drinks and food because we were in that paranoia stage where we are not going to have anybody poison our food. Mike [Neel] would check out the kitchen before a meal. There were so many stories of guys getting poisoned.
ROY KNICKMAN (7-Eleven teammate): I got sick and was throwing up during the first week. I have a few memories of hot days where I could barely pedal and just got dropped. I was back home in Denver by the time they got to the mountains.
In my perception we weren’t always taken seriously. Even before I was on the team, 7-Eleven was the novelty American team. ‘They’re not a real team,’ is what the Europeans thought.
HAMPSTEN: Before the prologue, we’re on this TV show. All of the teams are lined up and the guys are interviewed, and everybody is saying that someone else is going to win. ‘Oh, [Gianni] Bugno will win.’ ‘Oh, [Franco] Chioccioli will win.’ Nobody says ‘Yeah, I’m going to win.’
We’re bored out of our minds just standing there in our sweat suits. Then [teammate Raúl] Alcalá is at the front of our row and they ask him, ‘Raúl, what do you think?’ He says, ‘Oh, Andy is going to win.’ We jumped up with our arms out and were like, ‘Yeah!’
Who will win the Giro? “We will.” It is a brashness that the Italian fans, the tifosi, appreciate through the first week, as Hampsten shows his form with a second place in stage six, on the race’s first mountaintop finish in Campitello Matese. His teammate, Roy Knickman, falls ill and must abandon, but the team is otherwise healthy and optimistic.
Stage 12 is the first opportunity for Hampsten to take serious time out of his rivals. Novara to Selvino, 205 mountainous kilometers culminating with a mountaintop finish. The games commence with 10 kilometers remaining, drawing out the leaders. Chioccioli is there. Marc Madiot is there. Zimmerman is there. Breukink is there.
Hampsten attacks late. Only Breukink can follow. But that’s all he can do: follow. Then he can’t even follow anymore. “Hampsten asked me to come through,” Breukink tells reporters after the stage. “But I couldn’t. Hampsten is the strongest climber here.”
OCHOWICZ: We’d have our team meetings in a café every morning. We’d drive to the race start, and then about five kilometers from the start, we’d stop and unload the bikes. We’d go into a café and buy some coffees, sit around and the riders would put on their clothes, put the leg cream on and their race numbers. We’d go over the medical report from Max Testa, and Mike would talk about racing strategy for the day. Then we’d pay the café, maybe take some photos, and then ride from the café to the start. It was easy.
HAMPSTEN: On the penultimate climb [of stage 12] the pace is fast but steady, and I’m out of water. Half the guys are local, and I see a guy I raced with as an amateur get a bottle from a fan. He has two great bottles. I never take a drink from anyone else. I love this kid though, and he is on Carerra, which is definitely an opposing team. I’m like, ‘Do you mind, can I have a drink?’ I think he’s going to tell his captain that I’m out of water, but he just gives me the entire bottle, no problem. I’ve never forgotten that.“I attack and nobody comes. I thought they must be playing a joke on me. I’m pedaling up this false falt and I’m flying. It’s the best day.”– Hampsten
So the final climb is this beautiful climb with lots of switchbacks. All of the Italian guys want to win it. I just played it by the book: I attacked once from five kilometers out and broke things up. I had [Raúl] Alcalá there. I remember thinking, ‘This is terrible, we’re going really slow.’ It’s nerve-wracking, because now we have three kilometers to go. I’m used to accelerating in these mountains, and I have a few more in me. So I attack and nobody comes. I thought they must be playing a joke on me. ‘They’re so funny!’ I’m pedaling up this false flat and I’m flying. It’s the best day. Everything hurts but I’m flying up this mountain. I have the Oakley Pilots on my head, and I know that I get a $1,000 bonus if I get my photo in them. I want to buy a house, and $1,000 is a lot of money!Hampsten wins stage 12, a mountainous 205-kilometer stage from Novara to Selvino. Photo: Cor Vos
The Gavia. Ask many of the riders in the ’88 Giro about that race and it’s the only stage they can recall with clarity. One of the hardest stages in the history of pro cycling has a way of hanging in one’s memory.
This is supposed to be Hampsten’s day. Stage 14 is perfect for him. The team has intel that the Gavia is a harder climb than many are expecting, and the dirt section appeals to a man who spends his offseason riding unpaved roads in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado.
The peloton wakes on June 5th to pissing rain and temperatures just above freezing. That’s in the valley. Surely it’s snowing at the top. There’s some confusion: Will the stage be canceled? Shortened?
No. Race on.
OCHOWICZ: I remember the Gavia meeting. The weather conditions for the day prior were pretty bad, and they got worse overnight. I went to the local ski shop and bought winter gloves for everybody the night before. I bought as many gloves as I could. We gave them to the riders that morning when they started. We had the team meeting and Hans Hess was there from our clothing sponsor, Descente. He was just listening, having a coffee, as we talked about the strategy. My plan was to drive up ahead of the race to the top of the Gavia and then hand out bottles of hot tea and hats and jackets. We took off early, and it took forever to get up there because there were several avalanches on the way up. We drove up and at halfway the road turned to dirt, and it was like ‘Whoa, how are these guys going to get up this?’
HAMPSTEN: It’s the team meeting and [Mike] Neel talks us into putting lanolin on our entire bodies, not just our legs. It’s like we were preparing to swim in the English Channel. Nobody has seen [the Gavia] or scouted it. We hear it’s this one-lane steep dirt road, and I love dirt.
So the break goes up the road with [Johan] van der Velde and eight others, but we don’t worry about it. By the time we go down the [Passo] Tonale, I’m frozen. It’s just bucketing sleet at the top. It’s as bad as it can be. We’re going along the valley and I’m just thinking ‘Poor me, poor me!’ Then I look around. I see Chioccioli and he has the leader’s jersey and just a rain jacket. He looks like he’s seen a ghost. I mean he’s just dead!
So we are riding up to [the Gavia] and there is this beautiful hairpin. Max Testa had told me the road turned to dirt here and became just one lane through a stand of larch trees. The hairpin is at 14 kilometers from the top. The guys lead me out, and I just feel like a sitting duck because everyone knows I’m going to attack.“The guys lead me out, and I just feel like a sitting duck because everyone knows I’m going to attack.”– Hampsten
DAG OTTO LAURITZEN (7-Eleven teammate): The Gavia was the coldest day of my life. Normally I like tough weather. I always have been quite strong in extreme weather because a lot of riders are beaten before the start. I also remember that I had never been so cold! We were working very hard at the bottom of the [Gavia]. It’s raining and getting slushy and we are keeping a good pace. Then the road turns to dirt or gravel. And after a while Andy had to leave us.
HAMPSTEN: I do the first of three hard attacks once it turns to dirt, and I was gone. The switchbacks were really tight, and you can look down and see everyone, and nobody is close. It doesn’t matter if somebody has a really good team. I go past the soigneur where there is hot tea, and the chalkboard says Breukink is at 47 seconds. I’m opening up and trying to be cool because I know I’m not racing for the top — I’m racing for the descent, so I don’t want to go too hard. It’s the 1980s and I have this “Flock of Seagulls” hairstyle. I call the team car up and put on this neck gaiter, and I put it over my nose and get a wool cap. When I put [the hat] on — because I had wonderful hair — this snowball rolls down my back off my hair. I’m not even melting snow on my head I’m that cold!
RAÚL ALCALÁ (7-Eleven teammate): I tried to stay in the first group but I can’t, I’m freezing. I’m riding in a small group. When we start climbing the hill, 15 kilometers from the top, it is raining. Then at 10 kilometers everything is closed, and eight kilometers from the top you can no longer see the road. There is mist all over. The only mark to follow on the road is the tire tracks from the cars. It was a terrible stage.
OCHOWICZ: The only riders I recall coming over the summit are Andy and Bob Roll. Andy wasn’t the first rider, he was third, and he had his race face on and he actually looked pretty good. He was pedaling and didn’t look fatigued. I handed him a musette, and there was a hat, jacket, and hot tea in there. He took it out and put on the jacket and hat. One by one the guys came up. The last guy was Bob, and he looked like he wasn’t in good shape. I don’t think he could even grab the musette.
LAURITZEN: At the top it does not go directly down, but you have to stay riding up there for a while. I remember thinking that if somebody was alone and they crashed, they could be buried in the snow there until spring. The conditions were very dangerous, life-threatening. I didn’t know if I was braking. I had to look at the brakes to make sure my fingers were working because I had no feeling in them anymore.
HAMPSTEN: Breukink catches me and I think it’s great because I can follow him on the descent. I got rid of all of them except for one, so I don’t need to win. This is the whole thing we’ve been going for the entire week. The road is covered in snow; it’s blowing snow, probably in the mid-20s. I’m trying to draft on him and I’m not going very fast, and he wants me to go first. I remember the dirt road under the slush actually had pretty good traction. I’m trying to be intelligent, because if I don’t have enough glycogen in my brain then I might start to make bad decisions.
From here I can see there is no lead car, no helicopter, no follow car, no police car, no escort whatsoever. They’re all just waiting in Santa Caterina, about 12 kilometers down the mountain.
LAURITZEN: It was everyone for themselves on the way down. We were just surviving. I was on my bike crying on the descent. I don’t ever feel sorry for myself, but it was one of the moments when — apart from being a commando and doing extremely hard things — I have never suffered so hard in my life.
ALCALÁ: I was maybe 25 kilometers from the finish going downhill. I have nothing on my body and I am freezing. I have the hardest time braking. I didn’t have a rain jacket or gloves. So I stop and I am asking people on the side of the road watching the race and am asking them for a jacket. Some guy gives me a jacket. That was gorgeous, a marvelous jacket. I keep the jacket and start descending again. Otherwise I would have quit the Giro right there.
HAMPSTEN: I tell myself not to look at my bare legs. They are bright red with lanolin and there is a sheet of ice on the shin. I keep descending but I’m not going fast, maybe 70 percent as fast as a tourist on a dry road. I’m moving alright but I don’t want to overcook it. The snow changes to rain at the outskirts of Santa Caterina, and the dirt becomes pavement. I pedal, tuck, not knowing whether to take off the jacket. There’s no chalkboard, no time checks. We’re not racing tactically anymore. I want to protect what I have.
Psychologically it was the most stress I’ve ever been under. I’m thinking this is an artificial circumstance that’s causing the pain, and I know I can stop at any time. ‘If you want, just stop and get warm, have a hot bath! You have hypothermia! We’re probably staying at a two-star hotel tonight and it probably won’t have hot water.’
Breukink passes me at seven kilometers to go. Now there’s TV, and it looks like I’m asleep. I should jump on his wheel but I can’t do a single thing, so I just keep him at seven seconds. My mind is a mess.
Going up to the finish line, you’re in downtown Bormio, and nobody cares! I go to the team car really quickly, and the team got my clothes off and I had a Patagonia sweater — it’s the warmest sweater. Mike leaves the car running and I’m just shaking and crying, ‘What do I do?’ Emotionally I was able to push myself further physically, so I don’t’ know if it’s shock. I’m crying, drinking tea. Mike comes to talk to me, and I talk back and nothing comes out that’s intelligible.
Then I realize I have the pink jersey and it’s like, ‘Oh God, I have the pink jersey!’ That was our whole motivation.
ALCALÁ: I didn’t give the guy his jacket back. When I finished I take the longest possible time warming up. At the hotel my roommate Bobby Roll was hypothermic. He was blue! Bobby was blue in the shower.
The Gavia turns Bob Roll blue and Hampsten pink, but he doesn’t have the lead by much. Hampsten’s next chance to extend his lead is the stage 18 uphill time trial, an 18-kilometer effort to Valico del Vetriolo. He doesn’t waste the opportunity. He takes 48 seconds from Zimmerman and 1:04 from Breukink, and comes into stage 19 with 2:06 over Breukink and 5:10 over Zimmerman.
He will need almost all of it. If the Gavia stage was the most memorable of the ’88 Giro, stage 19 is the most tactically crucial. It will be the only time Hampsten loses pink, if only virtually.
So, we return to stage 19.
Call Jeff Pierce a super domestique if you want. Pierce has already won a stage of the Tour de France — the flat day on the 1987 Champs-Élysées — yet he is best when the road goes uphill. He certainly is super on the Passo Duran and in the harrowing kilometers that follow. The American sticks with his leader over the Duran and pulls the small chase group, just six riders by the bottom of the descent, to keep Zimmerman close. But the gap begins to swell. Only Pierce and Hampsten chase. Breukink, second overall, sits on, not yet worried by Zimmerman’s assault on his podium spot. By the time the race reaches Pieve, halfway to the next climb, the gap has ballooned to 4’10”.
By the lower slopes of the Passo della Mauria, with 73 kilometers to go, Zimmerman has a gap of 5:30 and has the virtual pink jersey.
The chase splinters; Breukink panics. Hampsten has only one teammate with him, but three more are riding two minutes further behind. He has a decision to make. Wait or go? To win the Giro, Hampsten might have to risk losing it.
OCHOWICZ: We didn’t scare the team with any scenarios that could happen during the race that would be fatal to our attempt to win. It was more about being a little more relaxed and not being too stressed, and keeping our focus that way. But we were really nervous about that final time trial. It was flat. Andy is a great time trialist when it goes uphill, but on the flatter course, we knew he could lose some time. We were looking at that stage early in the race. So when [stage 19] came around, we didn’t think it was too dangerous.Outside a cafe in his hometown of Boulder, Hampsten reenacts his stage 12 win. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
HAMPSTEN: We’re going easy at the beginning. That was back when the Giro went slow. In the 1980s we went so frickin’ slow that anybody could ride it. We would go 22 kilometers in an hour. Your hands would hurt from braking. And then we’d go so incredibly fast!
So my buddy Helmut Wechselberger comes over and looks at my gear and tells me it’s not big enough. He says the race [book] purposely doesn’t show how hard the Duran Pass is, but all of the Italians know it. It’s 10 percent and on dirt. So on our team car we have three wheels with a 27-tooth cog, which is what I need. We pull over and swap wheels. I get one; Pierce gets one. Wechselberger also tells me that the Italians are gunning for me.
So going up the Duran it’s Zimmermann who does this really good hard attack, and I’m at the front. I have Bob Roll and Pierce and they are riding out of their skin tempo. I could have gone with Zimmerman but my teammates were in good shape. So I make the decision not to go. I played the team card.
Zimmerman is joined by Giuliani. The duo build a four-minute lead on the group, and the gap continues to expand. Roll is dropped, and suddenly Hampsten is alone with Pierce and Breukink.
PIERCE: We still had 50 to 60 kilometers of rolling terrain. There wasn’t a whole lot of need to talk about the situation with Andy. We’d raced together through a number of tours and knew exactly what was going on. I noticed Andy was not in the mood to take a lot of risks on the descents, so we lost time on them. It was Andy’s call on the pace. He seemed really calm. I didn’t sense that he was worried.
HAMPSTEN: I regretted the decision to not go with [Zimmerman]. I was worried. If I chase for another three hours then [Breukink] is going to annihilate me on the flats. I’m going to have to gamble. On our radios we knew there was another group of guys about two minutes back. It’s good guys, with some of my teammates and Panasonic guys. So I did it. I said, ‘Okay, I’m not going to pull.’ Let’s let it come back together. All of a sudden Zimmermann is now seven minutes up the road. I lost the jersey on the road.
ERIK BREUKINK (Panasonic): It was a strange situation. It was far from the finish when Zimmermann attacked. I waited to see what Hampsten would do. He was only focusing on me. Hampsten waited for his teammates, so the gap was growing quickly. Only in the moment when teammates were coming back did we decide also to chase. There were no big climbs anymore so we had to defend the situation with still a long time trial to come.
PIERCE: Who in their right mind waits another two minutes when you’re already in danger of losing the jersey? We trusted Mike’s call on that. He was talking to Andy. The other guys are like, ‘Holy crap.’ Breukink is ready to lose it. After an eternity we look back and see the other group coming on the horizon. It’s like 40 guys. Thank God.
As soon as they caught us, Bob, Dag Otto, Raúl, Ron [Kiefel], and myself went to the front and started the chase. I remember going back to Breukink and saying, ‘You gotta put some guys on the front, too.’ He looked at me like, ‘No, your team has the jersey, you do the work.’ Sure enough, a little later a few of his teammates start chasing.
ALCALÁ: I was with Kiefel, Bob, and other guys. We catch the group with [Hampsten] and I was tired but I think, ‘This is the moment. He has lost the Giro [lead].’ This is the moment to keep the jersey and win the Giro. When I see Andy in the moment he is very nervous. I say, ‘Hey man, take it easy, we will catch him.’
HAMPSTEN: We’re pulling our brains out. I said, ‘Breukink, you gonna throw your boys at it?’ He finally says, ‘Okay, I’ll help.’ We have 10 guys pulling in the last hour, and there’s still five minutes of a gap. It’s starting to come down.
ALCALÁ: That was a crazy moment. We know we have to make the chase very hard. I was tired, but we opened full gas. This is the time to do work. Then in the last 20 kilometers we know that it’s no longer a big risk to lose the jersey.
PIERCE: We never backed off. We bring the gap down, two and a half minutes, then two minutes. We were so tired. In the last kilometer, Ron came off. Then I came off. I couldn’t even finish with the group. We gave it absolutely everything. To have confidence in the team to give up a couple of minutes on the razor’s edge really said something.
BREUKINK: Finally it was [my team] Panasonic who chased and brought the gap down.
HAMPSTEN: Looking back, I think we played it right. It would have taken me an hour to catch Zimmerman, and there was enough road left that the cavalry wouldn’t have come up. I think Breukink would have gotten me.
PIERCE: Our sponsor [Ermino] Dell’Oglio [of sponsor Hoonved] had never won a Giro. He called us and said he couldn’t watch the race on TV anymore because he thought he would have a heart attack. He said that no matter what happened, he was proud of us. He said it was the best time of his life.
Andy was my roommate that night. He’s quiet. He doesn’t say a lot usually. That night he came over and said thanks. It’s like, ‘You’re welcome. We gave it everything.’ And that’s all we needed to say.
There is still one final hurdle standing in the way of Hampsten and Team 7-Eleven: the stage 20 individual time trial. Hampsten already won the uphill TT on stage 12, padding his lead. But he’s notoriously weaker on flatter roads, and his chief rival, Breukink, is an ace in flat time trials. As Hampsten leaves the start gate, the skies above Vittorio Veneto open up and a heavy rain begins to fall.“Who in their right mind waits another two minutes when you’re already in danger of losing the jersey? We trusted Mike’s call on that. He was talking to Andy. The other guys were like, ‘Holy crap.’ Breukink is ready to lose it. After an eternity we look back and see the other group coming on the horizon. It’s like 40 guys. Thank God.”– Jeff Pierce
HAMPSTEN: I’m nervous but the TT is not terribly long, and I already have 2:06 on Breukink. Of course, I’ve lost that much time in prologues to him! I want to be conservative. I hate flat TTs but to conquer my nervousness, I think back to when I was a junior and [U.S. national team coach] Eddie [Borysewicz] doesn’t even know my name, and I need to get him to notice me. In those TTs, I would focus on pedaling, then tucking, then pedaling and relaxing.
OCHOWICZ: I was so nervous that day. You think, ‘We’re gonna win the Giro, man!’ It was incredible. I was petrified. And I didn’t really have that much responsibility. I only had to check my watch and give the time split. We only cared about the split to Breukink.
HAMPSTEN: This thunderstorm rolls in, and I’m out there climbing a hill. Mike Neel comes over the crest next to me — it’s illegal for him to drive next to me on a TT — but he says, ‘Listen: Andy, use up some of your time on the downhills.’ Basically telling me to take it easy. I’m like, ‘I’m going to go for it!’ The rain is coming down and it’s nasty, and I do a right turn, then a left turn, then there is this right-hand curve that is nasty. I decide to use the entire road and be as conservative as I can. And sure enough, right in front of me there is this muddy streak going off the road. Zimmerman had crashed and he was three minutes up from me. Now I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’
OCHOWICZ: Breukink came by so we were then worried about the split to Andy. We didn’t have two-way radios with the riders then so I held a coaching chalkboard with the time.
When Andy came by we knew he’d done enough. He was behind but he had more than enough of a window to play with. He was just halfway through the TT. I was hoping he’d keep it up.
HAMPSTEN: If I didn’t listen to Mike Neel I’d probably have ended up in that field. I’m like ‘Crawl, sprint, crawl’ for the rest of it. I didn’t lose that much time. I didn’t beat him, but I only lost by 20 seconds to [Breukink].
PIERCE: It wasn’t a conventional way to ride a race back then. That’s what was so exciting. Cycling wasn’t nearly as formulaic as it is now. It was a thrill to be in those races because you didn’t know what was going to happen from one day to the next.
HAMPSTEN: It was moments like [stage 19] that you remember. We didn’t defend the jersey, but it’s like, ‘Here is our tactic. This is desperate.’ Looking back, almost 30 years later, you can remember how much fun it was.
Andy Hampsten and his team needed a perfect first week. They had one. He needed to take time when he could — on stage 12, first, and then again when Mother Nature struck on the Gavia. He did, with gusto. 7-Eleven was forced to beat back cunning attacks in the following days, and had to remain calm in the one moment when the Giro was almost lost, as the pink jersey flew up the road to Arta Terme. They did.
Everyone remembers the Gavia. That photo of Hampsten riding in the snow — yes, the same one that we’ve put on the cover of this very issue — is one of the most iconic in all of cycling. But grand tours are three weeks long. One day never tells the whole story. The only Giro won by an American took more than guts on the Gavia. To win, Hampsten had to be willing to lose.Hampsten holds a framed pink jersey and map that hang in Vecchio’s Bicicletteria in Boulder. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
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Having achieved an early-season goal of winning a monument at Paris-Roubaix, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet's remaining 2017 ambitions revolve around the Tour de France and World Championships. However, following a recon of the Bergen Worlds course by Belgian national coach Kevin De Weert, Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-Floors), the BMC rider is unsure it is suited to his characteristics.
Naesen, Van Avermaet's regular training partner, sent a text to Van Avermaet, who remained home in Belgium for the opening the Velo loft bike shop he co-owns with former professional Rik Verbrugghe, informing him of the course.
"He said it is not so difficult," Van Avermaet said according to Het Nieuwsblad. "Not that it really is a big surprise. It was said that regarding difficulty it would be something between theTour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race."
After his successful cobbled classics campaign that includes wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix and second in Flanders, Van Avermaet was 12th at Amstel Gold Race and 11th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. However, the 31-year-old explained that having looked over the 276.5km profile he doesn't believe 2017 is the year he'll add a rainbow jersey to his palmares despite reaching a new versatile and consistent level in 2017.
"I had already done some research and found that the elevation and climbs were quite good. There is a climb of over a kilometre [Salmon Hill, ed], but that is a bit like the Tiegemberg," he said about the Belgian climb which regularly features in the cobbled classics. "Yes, I'm a little disappointed because it's not supercharged."
In 2015, Harald Tiedemann Hansen, the president of the Norwegian cycling federation explained the course is one which suits the characteristics of Norwegian riders like Alexander Kristoff and Edvalad Boasson Hagen. A statement that Van Avermaet believes to be true, tipping Kristoff as the man to beat.
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The Tour de Romandie prologue proved to be a testing day for BMC Racing with co-leader Tejay van Garderen hitting the deck as the wet weather added the difficulty of the parcours. Tom Bohli was the best-placed rider for the team in eighth place with Nico Roche also putting in a good ride to ensure the team's multi-pronged GC approach for the WorldTour stage race remains intact.
Richie Porte opted for a cautious approach to the prologue to finish in 108th place, 33 seconds down on the winner Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) and one second ahead of van Garderen. While Porte conceded time to rivals such as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Bob Jungels (QuickStep-Floors) he explained he was content following his month and a bit break from racing.
"After the conditions today, I am just happy that I stayed upright. I felt pretty good on the bike considering I've had a bit of a gap between races. It was great to get the race started, and I am now looking forward to the next few road stages," Porte said.
Although Porte and van Garderen lost time to their overall rivals, with five decisive stages to come there was no sense of panic from the BMC camp post-prologue.
For van Garderen, the result was down on his ninth place from last year while his crash appears not to be as serious as the 2014 accident which saw him injury his hip. With the American focused on the Giro d'Italia next month, BMC's Dr. Dario Spinelli explained the injuries are unlikely to affect his preparation for the Corsa Rosa or the remainder of the race.
"Tejay van Garderen suffered some contusions on his hip, knee, and elbow as a result of his crash during today's prologue. His injuries look only superficial at the moment, so we will keep an eye on them but I do not expect there to be any other problems as a result," Spinelli said.
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Alex Edmondson utilised his track skills in the Tour de Romandie prologue with the Orica-Scott rider showing little concern for the wet course riding to third place. Edmondson, 23, knocked Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) off the hot seat before Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) blasted the course to set the new fastest time.
Although last man off Alex Dowsett (Movistar) bettered Edmondson's time the Australian did enough to claim his first WorldTour podium result, seven seconds down on Felline, and the lead in the best young rider classification.
“Alex rode really well today, he did a video recon before, he checked the race profiles and trained on the course so he was well prepared," said the team sports director Neil Stephens. "I think it will be the first of many WorldTour podiums, he is a very talented bike rider so I think we will see more from him."
The prologue is the just the second of Edmondson's professional career following his sixth place at last year's Tour de Luxembourg but at 4.8km the Romandie test against the clock was substantially longer. While familiar with 4km efforts from his career on the track, the technical and wet course posed several challenges for Edmondson. Particularly as the plan to start early backfired.
"It was raining a lot at the start. We and other team’s chose to put certain riders at the start as we expected to have the best weather but in fact it turned out to be the worst," added Stephens.
"However in all reality the winner Felline also had wet conditions, so hats off to him he had tough conditions and still took the victory."
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Chris Froome (Team Sky) was one of first high-profile riders to suggest that this year's Tour de Romandie could provide a different sort of winner, and the opening prologue in Aigle on Tuesday provided evidence to substantiate the Tour de France winner's theory.
The Slovenian came into this year's Tour de Romandie with little hype around his name, but a win in the Vuelta ao Algarve and top-fives in both Tirreno-Adriatico and Pais Vasco have highlighted his continued progress.
On a 4.8-kilometre course through the UCI heartlands in Aigle, Roglic was the best of the potential GC contenders, finishing in sixth, six seconds down on stage winner Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo). However, he put 23 seconds into Richie Porte (BMC Racing), 20 into Froome and 33 into Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin). Of the other GC contenders, only Jon Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) were able to finish within a handful of seconds of the LottoNL-Jumbo rider.
"I've done my job because I've gone as fast as I possibly could. I have some vital seconds and every one of those count. It's going to be a fight each and every day from now on," Roglic told Cyclingnews after his ride in the wet conditions.
"I didn't really take any risks. I actually slipped straight after the starting gate and almost came down on my knee. My back wheel went a little. It was just a little slip, but I was careful."
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Organisers of the Colorado Classic today announced the 12 women's teams that will take part in the inaugural edition of the race scheduled for August 10-11, with all nine US UCI-registered teams signed on along with three elite amateur teams.
Colavita-Bianchi, Cylance, Hagens Berman-Supermint, Rally Cycling, Sho-Air Twenty20, Team Illuminate, Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, UnitedHealthcare and Visit Dallas DNA will represent the UCI ranks, while Colorado-based ALP Cycles and Amy D Foundation, along with Fearless Femme, will make up the amateur contingent.
The first-year race will run in tandem with the inaugural men's addition and the Velorama entertainment festival in Denver.
The men's Colorado Classic will take place August 10-13, with stage 1 in Colorado Springs, the second stage in Breckenridge and the final two stages starting and finishing in Denver's River North Art District. The two stages of the women's Colorado Classic will be Thursday, August 10, in Colorado Springs and Friday, August 11, in Breckenridge.
"Colorado has a tremendous legacy for hosting world-class women's cycling that dates back to the '80s," said Women's Race Director Sean Petty. "The strong response we've received from the top US women's teams honors that legacy and we expect great racing from some of the best riders in the world."
The men's and women's stages of the Colorado Classic are part of USA Cycling's Pro Road Tour. Organisers will reveal further information about individual riders, men's teams and courses later this spring.Stage wins bookend successful Gila for UnitedHealthcare Canyon-SRAM name six for Women's Tour de Yorkshire
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