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  1. Here’s your News roundup for Monday, December 10. This is our way of keeping you up to speed on all of the stories circulating in the world of pro cycling. Car hits Manfredi; young Italian in an induced coma Samuele Manfredi, 18, was struck by a car while he was on a training ride in Italy. His FDJ team announced Monday that the young Italian was in a medically induced coma at the hospital in Pietra Ligure, in northwest Italy. Manfredi had been signed to the French team’s newly formed Continental team for 2019. Manfredi won the 2018 Gent-Wevelgem juniors race and was second in the junior edition of Paris-Roubaix. UCI bans Najar four years for CERA A little less than a year ago, Gonzalo Najar blasted to victory in his home race in Argentina, Vuelta a San Juan. It was too good to be true. The 25-year-old was found to have the synthetic EPO drug CERA in his system, based on an anti-doping sample taken on stage 1 of the seven-day race. He was first to the top of Alto de Colorado in stage 5 and took home the yellow jersey. So, UCI has banned Najar until February 2, 2022. Who was second at Vuelta a San Juan you might ask? Oscar Sevilla, who was embroiled in a doping scandal of his own when he was linked to the infamous Operacion Puerto scandal prior to the 2006 Tour de France, which he was not allowed to race. Sagan working on climbing this off-season … sort of Cyclingnews reported that Peter Sagan had ambitions to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in addition to the cobbled classics that he already has on his mantle — Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem, and E3 Harelbeke. Well, he’ll have to sharpen up his climbing chops to contend in that mammoth monument race that runs through the hilly Belgian Ardennes. Perhaps this stair routine filmed in Mallorca is his way of tuning up for La Redoute? Too snowy for cyclocross? A major winter storm slammed into the Southeast over the weekend. This led to a wild and snowy race on Saturday at the North Carolina Gran Prix. Unfortunately, it was a little too much of a good thing. Overnight, as close to a foot of snow covered the race course, organizers were forced to cancel the final tune-up race prior to USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships, which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky December 16. Kerry Werner (R) won day one of the North Carolina Gran Prix, but it was snowed out on Sunday.
  2. Pro cycling’s winningest team in 2017 did not appear poised for similar success in 2018. Belgium’s Quick-Step Floors was completely reshaped at the end of last season. The team’s longtime star, Tom Boonen, retired in April; sprint ace Marcel Kittel departed for Katusha-Alpecin in December. The squad’s sole GC rider, Dan Martin, also left the team, jumping to UAE-Team Emirates. How can you win when all of your stars leave? Yet throughout 2018, Quick-Step found ways to win with a variety of riders. If the team previously relied on Boonen and other leaders to tally the victories, this season Quick-Step adopted a more egalitarian attitude. Anyone was capable of victory, even lesser-known riders from the bottom of the roster. The squad lived up to the nickname it received from director Brian Holm: “The Wolfpack.” The squad’s democratic attitude resulted in a huge rate of success. At press time, the team had 73 total professional wins, 38 of them at WorldTour races. Only Team Sky came close to that total. So, who won for Quick-Step in 2018? New hire Elia Viviani galloped to early wins in the winter and spring, followed shortly after by sprint ace Fernando Gaviria and lead-out man Max Richeze. The squad’s domestiques got in on the victory march, too: Remí Cavagna, Fabio Jakobsen, and Álvaro Hodeg scored throughout the spring. Quick-Step then dominated the classics. Starting with Le Samyn on February 27 all the way through Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 22, the Wolfpack won 11 races on home soil in Belgium. Better still, it won WorldTour races E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen, before taking two of the three hilly classics: La Flèche Wallonne and Liège. But the ultimate prize was Belgium’s Super Bowl, the Tour of Flanders. Not only did Niki Terpstra win that monument, his Quick-Step teammate Philippe Gilbert hopped on the podium in third as well. “Sometimes you give, and sometimes you get back,” Terpstra said about his team’s all-for-one attitude. The Wolfpack was just getting warmed up. The team won five stages at the Giro d’Italia (four by Viviani, one by Maximilian Schachmann). Its riders won national championships in Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and Luxembourg. The Tour de France was the stage for some of Quick-Step’s highest highs and its lowest lows. Gaviria delivered on his promise as pro cycling’s next top sprinter, winning two sprint stages. Julian Alaphilippe thrilled French fans by winning two stages and the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey. But Gilbert, a veteran rider who’s quickly become one of the team’s key leaders, crashed on stage 16 to Bagneres-de-Luchon, breaking his kneecap. The former world champion rolled across the finish line visibly in pain; his blood-soaked sock covered gashes and cuts. It was an awful crash, one that we deemed the most terrifying moment of the year. It put Gilbert out of the race and on the injured reserve list for weeks. The setback did not stall Quick-Step’s victories. Alaphilippe kept rolling with a win at Clasica San Sebastian. Then the team won four stages at the Vuelta a España. That brought Quick-Step’s grand tour stage win tally up to an unheard of 13 stage victories in one season. By September, 17 riders from the 30-man squad had taken professional victories. As if that wasn’t enough to emphasize Quick-Step’s team-first approach, it won the team time trial world championship by 18 seconds. Not to be outdone, Gilbert returned to his winning ways. On the same day as the team time trial worlds, Gilbert attacked through the rain to win Grand Prix d’Isbergues in France. It was his first victory of the season. “What a day it has been for us, taking two victories, at the worlds in Innsbruck and here,” Gilbert said. “It’s just fantastic to be part of the Wolfpack!”
  3. A growing chorus is suggesting that pro cycling should ban power meters to jolt life into a moribund peloton. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, ex-pro Alberto Contador, power-brokers such as UCI president David Lappartient and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme — they all say power meters are sucking the life out of racing. Not everyone agrees. Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt White said power meters are not the reason for cycling’s perceived malaise. A yellow jersey monopoly The logic goes that if riders are forced to race on instinct and guile rather than lean on the technological crutch of data on a computer screen, racing would bound back to its unfettered and unpredictable roots. Many fear that the sport, despite having gone a long way to spruce up its once bad-boy doping image, is now losing eyeballs because races seem too controlled. The restrained pace of modern racing, especially at the Tour de France, results in time gaps measured in seconds, not minutes. That’s why some suggest the northern classics — where brawn, not calculations, matter — are the last bastion of true racing. Every conversation about the Tour starts and ends with Team Sky and the dominance of Chris Froome. Critics draw a straight line between Sky’s ever-dominant style directly and the power meter. Take away the power meters, the logic goes, and you take away Sky’s primary tool of monopolizing the yellow jersey and, by extension, revive cycling. Some fans are yearning for the glory days of cycling’s past. Peruse any account of grand tours from Coppi to LeMond and readers are astonished to learn that riders could lose eight minutes in a mountain stage, only to bounce back and regain all that and more the very next day. These days, racing is so highly calibrated and controlled that it’s become a race of attrition. It’s less about attacks off the front and more about who has the engine to stay on the wheel and not get dropped. Of course, there are exceptions — look no further than Froome’s dramatic Giro coup over the Colle delle Finestre in May — but no one denies cycling’s dynamics have changed. Froome is the top grand tour rider of his era. Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).Although his team is usually racing against Sky, White, speaking to VeloNews in a telephone interview, isn’t buying it. “I think it’s ridiculous,” White said of the argument to ban power meters. “I think it’s some people grasping at straws. Nothing is going to change if they ban power meters. Nothing.” White is a contrarian voice to a steady drumbeat among racers and observers who say power meters are making races boring. “Power meters isn’t what’s making the racing seem predictable,” White added. “There are a lot of reasons, but power meters isn’t one of them.” A revolution in control Power meters have revolutionized training and racing in the peloton since they were introduced nearly two decades ago. Like a heart-rate monitor, a power meter provides real-time data. But there is a major difference — while heart rate data fluctuates, depending on a rider’s fatigue or other factors, the wattage data measured by a power meter is always true to the cyclist’s output. When you look at a number on a power meter screen, it is simple to translate that into a rider’s performance on the road, especially in an individual effort. This allows riders and teams to calibrate training in ways that were unimaginable with previous technology such as heart-rate monitors. Coupled with advanced computer modeling, power meters allow riders and coaches to fine-tune training and preparation not just to hit a peak in July, but to target individual climbs on stages and even down to the granular level like a specific ramp of a climb. Many believe power meters have changed the nature of racing in such a radical way that they leave the sport devoid not only of the drama and the unexpected swings of fortune that once made it so appealing but they have transformed racers into little more than drones racing off a spreadsheet. The idea of banning power meters during competition is gaining traction just as Team Sky continues to tighten its grip on the yellow jersey. The UK juggernaut won four grand tours in a row from 2017-2018, and it has won six of the past seven editions of the Tour de France. With Colombian sensation Egan Bernal waiting in the wings on an unprecedented five-year contract, it appears Sky’s stranglehold on the Tour could stretch well into the next decade. World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is also on board with a potential power meter ban: “Team Sky is expert when it comes to racing with power and speed. It’s a big factor for them. You’d notice it more in the moment of controlling the race. They’re there [at the front] because they have the fitness, but if you take [the power meters] away, maybe the outcome would be different. It’s worth trying out.” The idea of banning power meters has been knocking around the past few years, but it seems to be gaining steam as more voices join in. Tour boss Prudhomme put his weight behind the idea during the rollout of the 2019 Tour presentation. “We reassert our desire to see the end of power meters in races, which annihilate the glorious uncertainty of sport,” he said. At the 2019 route presentation, Tour boss Christian Prudhomme spoke out against power meters in racing. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty ImagesPower meter proponents don’t want to ‘step backward’ Ban-backers say it’s obvious riders pace off the readings. Everyone knows their threshold power, so when a brave rider dares attack on a steep climb with 8km to go, rivals immediately check their power numbers and realize that no one can hold that power for more than a short burst. Workers set a high tempo and reel in the offending attacker, who often then runs the risk of getting dropped in the final thrashings toward the line when the favorites make their surges. Take away the power meters and voila! Racing would again become interesting. White isn’t so convinced. “Anyone who attacks like that these days is crazy,” he said. “It’s just not as aggressive as it used to be … but the reason isn’t because of power meters in the race.” White eschews the idea that power meters have that much impact. Come race day, you either have the legs or you don’t. That hasn’t changed since days of Lucien Petit-Breton. “Of course riders use their power meters in a race. But if they were taken away, people would adapt quickly,” White said. “It’s like going back in time. It wouldn’t change a thing in terms of who wins the race.” White isn’t the only who thinks banning power meters would be a “step backward.” Managers such as Jonathan Vaughters (EF Education First-Drapac) and others believe cycling should embrace technology as a way to engage the fans. Some dream of a fully integrated, real-time data-driven dashboard, much like viewers see in Formula 1 so that fans can get inside the peloton. There’s already some adaptation of that model. Velon, a cycling group backed by many of the peloton’s top teams, has provided revealing insight into what really goes into manhandling an hors-categorie climb at race speed. Yet some teams, especially Sky, are loathe to give away their power numbers. Team Sky guards Froome’s power data as closely as the Coca-Cola recipe. Instead, White has a laundry list of reasons why the peloton doesn’t see 10-minute swings in GC anymore. First, the level across the peloton is higher than ever before, thanks in part to better training. Riders and teams are more professional, and there isn’t as much of a difference between the top winners and the workers. Science, diet, coaching, equipment, and recovery are all light years ahead of where they were even just a decade ago. Racing is more intense, meaning there are no more easy days in the saddle when the peloton could recover between hard mountain stages. Race course design has evolved to make every stage count, so riders are less inclined to take big gambles. And, if you dare to believe it, the peloton is dramatically cleaner than it was during the EPO era when PEDs and blood transfusions were fueling many of the big-ring heroics. “The style of racing has changed, and I think it’s changed for the good,” White said. “Everyone compares it to the past … but we need to look forward. It’s still exciting, but just in a different way.” Power meters are ubiquitous on pro racing bikes. Photo: Getty ImagesMoney, not power meters, wins the day Changing rules doesn’t always deliver the intended results. In 2018, the UCI reduced grand tour squads from nine to eight. What happened? Team Sky still won the Tour — and the Giro d’Italia — yet many teams reduced their rosters. Sky still ended up on top, but a handful of riders and staffers were out on the street. White says people have it all wrong. It’s not power meters that are spoiling pro racing — it’s money. “Taking away the power meters is not going to restrict Sky. If you really want to restrict Sky, the best way would be to implement some sort of salary cap,” he said. “If you’re serious about leveling the playing field, some sort of salary cap would be the best way.” The notion of creating salary caps and budget limits is also making the rounds. Many agree with White that budget disparities between the peloton’s haves and the have-nots are equally grave to cycling’s unpredictability and spontaneity. How to create an egalitarian peloton is a very tricky question. Impose an NFL-style salary cap only to have riders get paid under the table? Or trim budgets in a sport that desperately needs more money, not less? And any budget restrictions would be nearly impossible to regulate in a sport where teams are based all over the world across different currencies with diverse tax laws. White attributes Sky’s dominance to its seemingly unlimited checkbook than to the use of power meters. “Every team would love to have their resources they can bring to the races. They have so much depth,” he said. “If you restricted the budget, then you could restrict their depth.” Riders like Wout Poels and Sergio Henao (heading to UAE-Emirates in 2019) might not be winning the Tour on other teams, but they have the motors to do their job pacing Geraint Thomas or Froome better than anyone in the peloton. Sky is reportedly paying elite domestiques more than $1 million annually — nearly as much as top salaries for GC captains on other teams — and only a handful even make the selective Tour de France squad. Some teams are racing on a budget less than a third of Sky’s. Would Froome have won so many Tours on a team with a smaller budget? Would Tom Dumoulin have already won the Tour if Sunweb could triple its budget? Those questions are impossible to answer, but obviously, Sky can buy the top domestiques to control the peloton while most other teams cannot. “You go to a team hotel during the Tour and they have an extra table of staff that you don’t even know what they do or who they are,” White said. “The budget is the game-changer. That has the ability to stack their roster with riders and nobody else can do that.” White, however, insists Sky isn’t unbeatable. After trying for years, Mitchelton-Scott nearly won the Giro d’Italia in May facing off against Froome and finally won its first grand tour with Simon Yates at the Vuelta a España. “I think most people who complain about power meters are just sour grapes,” White concluded. “They can’t beat [Sky] at Paris-Nice, let alone the Tour. Try beating them at a one-week race before aiming for the Tour.”
  4. Samantha Runnels and Gage Hecht closed out USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) with victories in Oklahoma on Sunday. Hecht continues streak Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru) captured his fourth straight victory, as he won two races last weekend at the Resolution Cup and both events at Ruts ‘n’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Racing under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 40s, Hecht and six others quickly formed a leading group on the opening lap of Sunday’s race. It grew to eight riders after two laps, and during the middle of the nine-lap race the composition of the groups ebbed and flowed as riders jockeyed for position. With five laps left, just five riders remained at the sharp end of the race — Hecht, Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports), Curtis White (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld), Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton-Transitions), and Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team). From that point, the race was on as the smaller group battled it out. White made a move two laps later after finishing second the previous day. He surged ahead of the leaders, which fractured the group and forced Hecht to go into chase mode. Hecht was able to catch White before he put too much real estate between them and then passed him. Hecht would not relinquish his lead and eventually finished 10 seconds ahead of White for his sixth win of the 2018 ProCX. Van den Ham was an additional 37 seconds behind in third place. Runnels does it alone In the women’s race, four riders — Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX), Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru), and Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) — found themselves at the front of the race halfway through the first lap. Runnels, however, was not content to sit in the group and bide her time. In the second half of the next lap, she pushed ahead of her competitors and began her solo ride to victory. After three times around the course, Runnels had built a 25-second lead over Honsinger, Clouse, and Gilbert as the rest of the field behind them shattered into small groups. As the laps ticked away, Clouse mounted a challenge and tried to catch Runnels. She pulled to within seven seconds at the start of the bell lap but was unable to reach Runnels and ultimately finished 11 seconds back. Honsinger placed third at 21 ticks behind the winner. Runnels’s triumph was her third of the series.
  5. FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Short stages and eight uphill finishes will mark the 2019 Vuelta a España, according to reports in the local Spanish press. Race organizer Unipublic will unveil the route for the August 24-September 15 race next week in Alicante, Spain. The race will start in the southeastern Costa Blanca province. The first week will get right to business. It should feature one of the eight summit finishes, half of which are new to the Vuelta a España, according to a report by AS. El Puig in Valencia should host the uphill stage and see the climbers show off their skills. This year, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) won the Vuelta. At 26, he was the “veteran” on the podium, finishing ahead of climbers Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), 23, and Miguel Angel López (Astana), 24. The 2019 Vuelta will kick off with a team time trial in Torrevieja. That and the Alicante stage start mark the race’s low point elevation-wise, as the 74th edition is not due to go to Spain’s southern areas like Andalusia and Murcia. The organizer plans to end the first week in Andorra with a likely rest day in Pau, France, which often hosts Tour de France rest days. Pau could also help balance the Vuelta route with a long time trial. It may be needed with short stages — none planned are over 200 kilometers — and the eight summit finishes. The second week travels west out of the Basque Country through Cantabria and Asturias on the northern coast. The punchy Los Machucos finish, where Chris Froome (Sky) looked vulnerable in 2017, climbs 7.2km and reaches grades of 30 percent at points. Local officials in Asturias already confirmed they will host three stages in 2019, a list that includes two new summit finishes. The Alto del Acebo is often in the Vuelta a Asturias as the queen stage. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) conquered this pass — which is 10km with an 8.2 percent average and sections over 10 percent — in the snow during last year’s Asturias race. La Cubilla is long and offers amazing views of the national park area. The first 9km ease into the final 20km at an average of around 7 percent and pitches of 10 percent to reach 1,683 meters above sea level and a second rest day around Burgos. The Vuelta could also pass Toledo to pay tribute to Federico Bahamontes 60 years after his 1959 Tour de France victory. Given the race’s close race relationship with Tour organizer ASO, this seems likely. The race should travel through Ávila to reach Madrid. Some local press say it could head into the Sierra de Gredos mountain range for a summit finish. A summit finish on the penultimate stage appears likely before the traditional Madrid sprint stage to end the Vuelta. One theory is that the Vuelta caravan will head into the the Sierra de Guadarrama ahead of the Madrid finale. The short stage/mountainous route formula is a success in the eyes of the organizer. Vuelta director Javier Guillén told local press last summer that the 2019 route will have “more of the same because it works, with new territories, new cities, [and] two to three new summit finishes.”
  6. Jess Varnish's case against British Cycling and UK Sport is set to take a significant step forward at Manchester Employment Tribunal this week, as the former track sprinter fights for compensation after she alleged sex discrimination against Shane Sutton, then the technical director of British Cycling. The employment tribunal will consider if Varnish’s UK Sport funding means she was self-employed or an employee. Varnish and her lawyers argue funded athletes should be classed as "employees" or "workers" rather than "self-employed." In Britain “employees” and “workers” are protected against discrimination, have the right to minimum wage, paid holidays, whistleblowing protection, maternity pay and a pension. Athlete Performance Awards that are paid to athletes are currently considered as grants rather than a salary. The significance of the Varnish case has been compared to the Bosman ruling in European professional football, which allowed footballers to become free agents after their contracts expired. Employment status has come under the microscope in recent years as workers in many fields fight for better rights. However the case has sparked debate about the best status for funded athletes and could spark serious implications for sport funding in Britain and elsewhere. ADVERTISEMENT Varnish now runs a coffee shop with several former teammates, but her accusations have rocked British Cycling and lifted the lid on the atmosphere at the so-called Medals Factory. It is understood that UK Sport acted aggressively in its defence, even applying for a strike-out order to dismiss the case, along with a costs order and deposit order. This could have meant Varnish's assets would have been seized pending the case, forcing her to drop her claim. Sky News suggested that UK Sport and British Cycling have already spent more than £500,000 on preparing for the tribunal, including £75,000 for the two barristers that will represent them in the seven-day trial in Manchester. Varnish was dropped from the Great Britain elite track programme in 2016 and so missed out on the Rio Olympics. She has claimed she was subject to discrimination and had been told by former technical director Shane Sutton to "go and have a baby.” He denied those claims but then resigned. A British Cycling internal investigation later cleared him of eight out of the nine accusations. Varnish’s case has sparked a duty of care debate in British sport which has spread to several other Olympic and Paralympic sports. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  7. Junior world champion Remco Evenepoel has confirmed that he will not line out in any cobbled Classics during his debut professional season with Deceuninck-QuickStep. Evenepoel claimed both the road and time trial world titles in Innsbruck in September at the end of a remarkable season that saw him dominate the junior peloton at international level. The Belgian youngster will bypass the under-23 ranks in 2019, moving directly from junior racing to WorldTour level with Deceuninck-QuickStep. Last month, the Belgian team revealed that the teenager would ride a light programme of 55 race days in 2019. At a gathering of his supporters’ club in Geraardsbergen at the weekend, Evenepoel confirmed that he will not tackle the Muur in competition in 2019. ADVERTISEMENT “No Tour of Flanders or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for me,” Evenepoel said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m focusing on the Walloon Classics and short stage races. You cannot compare the professional Flemish Classics with those of the juniors. They are completely different. I won’t pass by here in a race.” Evenepoel only turned to cycling in 2017 after previously playing football in the youth structures of Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven. The son of 1990s professional rider Patrick, Evenepoel compiled a stunning sequence of wins as a junior in 2018, including Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the Giro della Lunigiana stage race, the Peace Race, the Belgian Championships and a double at the European Championships, where he won the road race by a margin of almost ten minutes. His performances have earned the admiration of Eddy Merckx, who told Het Laatste Nieuws: "What else could I teach him? Nothing. He can do it all.” You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  8. Ellen Van Loy was taken to hospital in Herentals, Belgium, on Sunday after crashing hard at the Vlaamse Druivencross. Her Telenet Fidea Lions team reported on Twitter that Van Loy suffered bruising to the ligaments in her knee and would spend the night in the hospital before undergoing more tests on Monday to determine the extent of her injuries. Van Loy, who was coming off a win at GP Hasselt on December 1, went down on the muddy course in Overijse and had to abandon. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) went on to win after battling Nikki Brammeier (Mudiita) throughout the race. The victory at Hasselt at the beginning of the month was the first win of the 2018-19 season for Van Loy, who started out in September with third at the first UCI World Cup of the season in Wisconsin. From there, Van Loy hit the podium at Berencross, Kermiscross, Kiremko Nacht van Woerden, DVV verzekeringen trofee-Jaarmarktcross and DVV verzekeringen trofee-Flandriencross. Van Loy's win at GP Hasselt in front of Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal) and world champion Sanne Cant (Corendon-Cricus) was a positive sign for the upcoming races. ADVERTISEMENT The team did not say how long they expect Van Loy to remain out of action. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  9. The second day of the North Carolina Grand Prix has fallen victim to winter storm 'Diego', as organisers were forced to cancel the racing in the face of heavy snow that covered the course and crippled the area. "Due to main roads not being cleared, the advisement of Emergency Management Services, completely unrideable course conditions, and concern for the safety (and fun) of everyone involved, we've decided that it is in everyone's best interest and safety to cancel," organisers of the UCI C2 races posted on Facebook early Sunday morning. "This event is covered by USAC insurance, so refunds for pre-registered riders for Sunday's race will be covered," organisers wrote. "Series overall awards will be calculated and distributed shortly! Stay safe, stay warm, be smart!" ADVERTISEMENT The North Carolina Grand Prix, which featured two C2 races over Saturday and Sunday, was one of the final rounds of USA Cycling's Pro CX calendar, which concludes this weekend at the Ruts 'n' Guts race in Tulsa Oklahoma. Winter storm Diego has hit the eastern seaboard of the US hard, forcing airlines to cancel more than 1,000 flights. It is expected to continue through Monday, with schools already announcing cancellations. More than 50,000 people are without power. Saturday's races in North Carolina were also hit by snow and cold weather, but they were able to go forward. Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) took the Elite men's win ahead of Cooper Willsey (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave Cycling). In the women's race, Lily Williams (The Pony Shop) beat Erica Zaveta (Garneau-Easton) and Emma Swartz (Trek Factory Racing CX). You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  10. Storm Diego blew in just as the racing started at North Carolina GP Saturday. Snow fell and melted on the surfaces, making for slick, slippery racing that saw wins for Lily Williams (The Pony Shop) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano). Williams goes solo as contenders slip up Photo: Bruce Buckley Williams took her first ProCX win of the season in the women’s, taking the lead early and having a clear run through the race. Course conditions changed between the pre-ride and the start of the race due to falling snow, making the course greasy, and this was evident as several riders at the front crashed in the first lap, including Erica Zaveta (Renewed Cyclocross) and Hannah Arensman. This loss of rhythm allowed Williams to gain distance at the front by lap two. Williams continued to extend her lead through the middle of the race. Meanwhile, behind her, Zaveta would work her way back into contention, passing Arensman and Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective). Williams remained on the front until the end of the race, and took victory in 47:11. Zaveta took second, 30 seconds back. Third place was taken by Swartz, 57 seconds off the pace. “I got out of the traffic pretty quickly. It was getting slippery as the race went on,” said Williams. “I think in the woods is where I got separation. I don’t really know how it happened, but I just kind of rolled with it. Just being able to go one speed the whole race is really good for me. And staying upright. I didn’t go down once! That was very nice. Not falling was definitely a plus.” “I was hoping to win, because I live near here. I always wanted to win this race,” said Zaveta. “Mostly, I’m really happy that I feel like I’m competitive and I’m racing. I feel like I rode a good race, minus crashing. That’s always the best feeling, I had fun.” Werner outlasts Willsey for the win Photo: Bruce Buckley ProCX leader Werner gained his eighth ProCX victory of the year in the falling snow. Werner and Cooper Willsey (Cyclocrossworld) went toe-to-toe down the start chute, starting the fight for the front straight away, though Werner took the holeshot. The pair continued shoulder to shoulder for the next four laps, with Willsey doing much of the work at the front. Behind them, Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave) chased with Eric Thompson and Alex Ryan. With three laps to go, Thompson faded and Holmgrem moved up to third. At the head of the race, Werner attacked on three laps remaining and Willsey was unable to match him, allowing Werner to go solo to the win, with Willsey following, 50 seconds back. Holmgrem finished third, seven seconds behind him. “It wasn’t super soupy out there, just a constant spray from the snow melting in the tracks,” said Werner. “My body was good too, it was mostly just my hands. Every straightaway I was swinging them, trying to get the pendulum effect and get some blood down in them. It wasn’t too bad until the last two laps and then it got real cold.” “I just didn’t want anybody in front of me with the conditions as they were,” Werner continued. “For the most part, I knew it was going to be slippery. I tried to be patient those first couple laps and just see how everybody else was riding.” “I tried to put myself in a good position, trying not to be caught by anyone,” said Willsey. “I paid for it a bit in the end, and got pretty cold. The body shut down in the last two laps. But it was a fun race and I love conditions like this. It was a blast.”
  11. Twenty-year-old Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycles-Groove Subaru) will compete in the Elite men's race next weekend at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, forgoing the U23 race for a chance to win the nation's top 'cross prize. Hecht, a Colorado native who races on the road with the Aevolo development team run by Michael Creed, told CXHairs.com that he has been considering the idea of racing with the Elites at nationals for most of the season. Hecht was fourth in the U23 nationals race last year in Reno, Nevada, but multiple wins in Elite races this year prompted his decision to step up. "I had been talking with my director on Alpha Bicycle-Groove Subaru, Adam Rachubinski, since the beginning of the year about this possibility," Hecht told CXHairs.com. "Initially, I had my heart set on getting that U23 title because of my race last year in Reno. As the season progressed, I started gaining some momentum and getting results in some of the major UCI races." ADVERTISEMENT So far this season, Hecht has taken Elite wins at Cyclo-cross Interlocken and Alfalfa's ElDora US Open in October before taking first and second over two days at the Cincinnati Cyclocross Weekend. He won the Silver Goose C2 race in Canada before taking the U23 Pan American Championship the next day. He followed that up with wins at the Cyclo-cross Westminster and a two-day sweep at the Resolution Cross Cup in Texas. On Saturday, Hecht took another UCI Elite win at the Ruts 'n' Guts opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma, taking out Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and four-time national champion Jeremy Powers (Pactimo-Fuji-SRAM). "After winning the C1 in Cincinnati, I gained the confidence that I had the honest chance of winning at races around this caliber," Hecht said. "Sure, I am not going to win all the time, but with some luck I could find myself at the leading end of our American Elite races. On top of this, as I continue to grow, I want to give myself the best chances of being a successful professional cyclo-cross racer that I can. A good result in Elite nationals would be a great bullet point on my resumé." Hecht added to his road resumé earlier this year with Aevolo, winning the time trial and criterium titles at the USA Cycling U23 national championships, then going on to take a solo stage win at the 2.HC Colorado Classic in August. He told CXHairs he doesn't believe his cyclo-cross campaign will have any affect on his road racing, as he will ride for Aevolo again next season. Hecht did admit that he relishes the role of underdog rather than being a favourite. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  12. Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) and Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) won the first day’s racing at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on a fast, dry course. Third attack lucky for Clouse Photo: Bo BickerstaffClouse held off fierce competition from a lead group of four to take her second Pro CX victory of the season. Clouse took the holeshot and was joined at the front by Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team), Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Maxxis), Samantha Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (PTeam S&M CX), Raylyn Nuss (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek), and Caroline Mani (Besancon, France), though the latter soon faded off the back. Halfway through the six-lap contest, Nuss had also dropped from the lead group, making five at the front. Clouse put in the first attack major attack of the race on the sandpit but Gilbert soon closed it down. With only two laps of racing remaining, last year’s runner-up McFadden was the next rider to drop out of the lead group leaving four riders to fight for the victory: Clouse, Gilbert, Honsinger, and Runnels. Clouse made another move on the barriers going into the final lap but Gilbert again closed the slight gap and took the front of the group. Clouse attacked again on the final lap, and this time the move stuck, and she crossed the line in 43:18, five seconds ahead of Gilbert, who edged out Honsinger in the sprint. “It was down to Clara [Honsinger], Katie [Clouse], and me exchanging attacks,” Gilbert said. “Katie built a small gap through the final wooded section, and I got an even smaller gap coming out of the woods. We both held off a hard-charging Clara, and motivated Sammi [Runnels] for the podium spots.” “No bobbles or mechanicals to heighten the drama among the top riders, just sheer riding ability and speed,” added Gilbert. Hecht seizes opportunity to break clear of strong lead group Photo: Bo Bickerstaff Hecht rode smoothly to hold off the field and take his fifth Pro CX victory of the season Racing started fast in the men’s with the lead group constantly re-shuffling in the opening laps. After two laps, Andrew Dillman (SDG Factory Team) was at the front of a five-rider group with Hecht, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team), and Anthony Clark (Squid Squad) close behind. Further back, Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) was chasing hard after being caught in traffic early in the race, and had nearly caught the leaders by lap three. When Dillman had a mechanical in the third lap, Hecht took full advantage of the mishap to forge ahead solo. Behind him, Powers caught White and Clark, and moved up to second place, having been in 11th not long before. The situation stayed largely static for the next three laps with Clark dropping back. With one lap to go, Hecht had 14 seconds on White and Powers, who battled for second. Hecht held his lead to win in 57:32. White took second from Powers in a sprint, six seconds behind. “It’s been such a hard year with injury, third place in the sprint for second with Curtis [White] is a win for me in so many ways,” said Powers. “I enjoyed the battle in that group and I’m looking forward to Nationals next.”
  13. Scott Thwaites is considering calling time on his career as a professional cyclist, revealing that he is weighing up a job offer from outside the sport. The 28-year-old Briton has spent the past two seasons at WorldTour level with Dimension Data but his contract has not been renewed. After catching the eye in the Spring Classics in 2017, his 2018 campaign was derailed by serious injury as he fractured several vertebrae in a training crash at the end of March. He returned to racing in July and competed in the BinckBank Tour and Tour of Britain but his outlook on his career and life had changed in the intervening months. ADVERTISEMENT “In the end I just want to be happy with what I’m doing, especially after the accident. The main aim was being able to function in normal life again, to have a normal life outside, whether I cycle or not," Thwaites told The Yorkshire Post. “There’s more to my life than cycling and I didn’t want cycling to take over. I also didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to come back because my health was worth more than that.' The newspaper suggested Thwaites has offers from other teams, but is also considering an offer from outside the sport. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  14. Ilia Koshevoy and Alex Turrin both announced their retirement from professional cycling this weekend, choosing to leave the sport after their contracts were not renewed by Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia. The pair are the second and third Wilier riders to head into early retirement in recent weeks, after Marco Coledan announced he was hanging up his wheels at the end of October. Koshevoy ends his career at the age of 27, having turned pro at WorldTour level with Lampre-Merida in 2015. That season he won a stage at the Tour of Quinghai Lake and finished second on a stage of the Vuelta a España. After riding the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta for Lampre in 2016, he stepped down to Pro Continental level in 2017 with the Wilier team. ADVERTISEMENT Announcing his retirement on social media, with a picture of some of his jerseys, the Belarussian said: "I started down this path in 2006. Thank you for everything, cycling. What a school of life it is. It's now time for a new chapter in my life." Barely 24 hours later, Turrin announced his own decision to end his career at the age of 26, just two years after turning professional. After racing at Continental level with the UniEuro team, winning a stage of the Tour du Maroc in 2016, Turrin joined Wilier in 2017 and finished 86th at this year's Giro d'Italia. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article
  15. Patrick Lefevere's son is facing prosecution for flying a helicopter over Paris-Roubaix without authorisation. According to La Voix du Nord, the French regional newspaper that covers the Nord department, the Quick-Step team manager's son, Thomas, flew the helicopter over the border from Belgium during the race on April 9. After landing in Bourghelles, close to cobblestone sectors number six and seven in the last 30km of this year's race, the 22-year-old is said to have picked up two passengers before flying above the race for an hour and a half. ADVERTISEMENT The journey was not authorised, given that the only aircraft permitted above Paris-Roubaix are those of host broadcaster France Télévisions, race organiser ASO, and the French police. According to the newspaper, radio alerts from those other helicopters went unanswered. "My client was not aware that he needed a flight plan," Thomas Lefevere's lawyer, Christophe Hareng, told La Voix du Nord. "He enquired about it and someone responded in the negative." Patrick Lefevere took to social media on Sunday to address the story. "Correction," he said. "We did not fly above the riders at any time - far from it." You can read more at Cyclingnews.com View the full article