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  1. This past Saturday, Chris Froome sat in a conference room in Marseille and faced the unwashed masses of the Tour de France press corps. Do not for a moment underestimate my use of the word “unwashed” here. Marseille was swamp-hot on Saturday. Many of us had not done laundry since stage 10. The pungent press peppered Froome with questions ranging from the bizarre (Will you come to China this year?) to the basic (What was the best moment of this year’s Tour?) to the strangely personal (You’re getting older, how does that feel?). The consummate media pro, Froome offered insightful perspective, cracked jokes, and sidestepped dozens of PR land mines, all while maintaining his usual aww-shucks demeanor. Chris Froome is very good at media. Yet for much of this year’s Tour, Froome kept those ninja-like media skills to himself. It is tradition at Le Tour for the maillot jaune to hold a press conference during at least one of the Tour’s rest days. The conferences provide an opportunity for journalists to pose more thorough questions than what can be asked in a post-race scrum. This year, Team Sky held zero press rest day press conferences. Instead, it hosted an invite-only Q-and-A with select broadcast outlets (no print or digital) on the Tour’s second rest day. Froome took personal responsibility for the silence, and chalked Sky’s media policy up to — you guessed it — marginal gains. “Rest days are meant to be rest days, and a big press conference is certainly not conducive to recovery,” he said on Saturday. “I felt as though it really helped me this year, being able to switch off on my rest days. That’s what those days are there for, otherwise they’d be called media days.” Look, I have no doubt that press conferences are annoying and repetitive and are not great for resting sore legs. You must meet with the team media director to go over the potential PR grenades, and then sit down in front of a roomful of pesky reporters (the worst!). But with all due respect to the four-time Tour champ, his 2017 media blackout stunk worse than a roomful of sweaty cycling journalists on a muggy July afternoon in Marseille. Next year I hope he brings the press conferences back. Ditching them altogether sets a bad precedent for the sport. By inviting some media while denying others, Froome — whether knowingly or inadvertently — copied the “Bad Old Days” media playbook of Lance and Johan. I’ll save you my in-depth analysis on the power of selective media access. Instead, just compare “Every Second Counts” with “Seven Deadly Sins.” Froome also missed an opportunity to bring back transparency — even just a shred of it — to an otherwise cloudy year for team Sky. In case you missed the 12 months, Team Sky has endured The Year of PR Hell thanks to the cascade of bad press and and some heavy parliamentary probing due to the JiffyWiggogate mess. Froome distanced himself from the mess and clarified his perspective on the situation. Would journalists have asked Froome about Fancy Bears and TUEs and jiffy bags in a press conference? You bet. But denying reporters that opportunity just reinforces Sky’s reputation for obfuscation, not transparency. Finally, Froome’s invite-only press policy set in motion the worst media moment in recent Tour de France memory. On the Tour’s second rest day, a reporter from Cyclingnews.com arrived at the Sky hotel without an invitation. Team Sky Principal David Brailsford reportedly berated the journalist in front of other reporters for his critical coverage of the team, telling the reporter to, “Stick it up your arse.” Details of the event quickly made their way online, adding more clouds to Sky tour. Look, I do not wish to bore you with an insider-baseball analysis of the Tour de France’s media infrastructure. Opportunities for any type of in-depth questioning of the major players are few. Every day there are chaotic scrums, mindless TV interviews, and video chats with the maillot jaune. Few of these interactions provide the opportunity for follow-up questions or inquiries about broader topics than the race action. Does a press conference solve all of these problems? Of course not. But these conferences do enable journalists to broach broader topics. This media dynamic is especially important for Chris Froome, because Froome has a nuanced and intelligent perspective on his sport. He has great takes! On Saturday we stinking journalists also asked Froome about Sky’s year from hell. We asked him about his perceived place among cycling’s greatest champions. We asked Froome to share his perspective on pro cycling’s budgetary inequity, whether the sport needs a salary cap. Froome sat for a minute to collect his thoughts, and then gave his answer: “If you just look at football for example. You look at the best teams typically win the most and can then afford to buy the biggest players and the best players and it’s almost this cycle. We’ve found a similar thing in cycling. Obviously I think my teammates have shown that they are the strongest team in the race. We’ve won the team classification. Mikel Landa has just missed the podium as well. It’s been an amazing race for us this year. If that’s all due to budget — I can’t say. I personally think that is how professional sport works. If a team is successful it is able to reinvest its funds and develop the sport further. If you put a budgetary cap maybe it doesn’t quite incentivize successes they way it is at the moment.” It was an articulate, thorough answer that would have NEVER come out in a post-race scrum. Froome had to be present and so did the media — stink and all. The post Commentary: Bring back press conferences, Mr. Froome! appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  2. Tom Dumoulin stunned cycling’s hierarchy to win this year’s Giro d’Italia, besting the race’s favorites in the individual time trial and then climbing alongside them on the toughest peaks. He even endured cycling’s most famous “call of nature” at the base of the Stelvio during the race’s stage 16, a moment that almost spoiled everything. Now, many in the cycling world believe Dumoulin is the new rival for Chris Froome, with the skill set that could defeat the British rider at the Tour de France. “Among the new generation of GC riders, [Dumoulin] is at the top,” said BMC coach and former pro Marco Pinotti. “I think he will be one of the favorites for the Tour de France for the next five years. He has the physical skill, and mental skill.” DUMOULIN WON A LIVELY and taut 100th edition of cycling’s most unpredictable grand tour. It was the most complete performance in a decade. The Dutchman beat back a fleet of the world’s best climbers with a mix of panache and confidence coupled with climbing finesse and a final-day time trial knock-out. More on Tom Dumoulin Dumoulin happy to wait until 2018 to challenge for Tour yellow Dumoulin stays with Sunweb for the long haul Dumoulin’s grand tour stock skyrockets after Giro win Greatest Giro ever? Five takeaways from Italy More on Tom Dumoulin Dumoulin happy to wait until 2018 to challenge for Tour yellow The Giro d'Italia champion said racing the Tour this year crossed his mind, but he later decided "it might not be such a very good idea." Journalists often compared Dumoulin to time trial great Miguel Indurain, who won his first major grand tour at 27. There’s a sense within cycling’s pundits that Dumoulin is cycling’s next big rider. “We already saw what he could do in 2015, and we knew that he could win a grand tour,” said Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué, who directed Indurain in the 1990s. “He rode an impeccable Giro. He deserved the victory.” Dumoulin’s path to the Giro’s maglia rosa and his steady rise to being the new GC man on the block has two narratives: first, his ascent from the depths of disappointment in the 2015 Vuelta a España to the height of success in the Giro some 20 months later. Second, how Dumoulin fended off a band of climbers in what was arguably the deepest Giro field in decades. “I’m not the first time trialist who can do well in the mountains,” Dumoulin said. “Miguel Indurain is five steps ahead of me.” Ask anyone about Dumoulin and they all agree he is a cool cat. He grew up in Maastricht, in the “hilly” part of the Netherlands (elevation 150 feet above sea level). At 6-foot-1 and 157 pounds, he is tall with wide shoulders, and he has found a way to become extremely aerodynamic and powerful simultaneously. He once wanted to become a doctor, but after scoring early successes on the bike, decided to go all-in with cycling. Dumoulin brings intelligence and curiosity to his racing. “He is very funny and smart, but very competitive, too,” said American teammate Chad Haga. “I’ve seen how hard he worked for this Giro. We spent weeks together at altitude. Tom came here believing he could win.” Dumoulin turned pro in 2012, and quickly made marks against the clock, winning the bronze medal behind Bradley Wiggins at the 2014 world championships. It was his break-out Vuelta in 2015 that saw Dumoulin’s grand tour potential come to the fore. Without truly targeting the race, he came within one mountain stage of winning the Netherlands’s first grand tour since 1980. It was only superior tactics by Astana that delivered the win to Fabio Aru on the penultimate stage. “When he lost the Vuelta two years ago, it wasn’t because he wasn’t ready for it. It was because he got out-maneuvered by another team,” said Orica-Scott sport director Matt White. “Had there been anyone else in that valley, he would have won it. He’s been around a couple of years. He’s the man of the future for the grand tours.” Despite the promising performance in the 2015 Vuelta, he turned all of his attention to honing his time-trial form for 2016. He had two major objectives: the time trials at the Tour de France and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He delivered two stage wins in France, including the stage 13 time trial, and won silver in Rio, ahead of Froome in bronze. “Tom is used to performing under pressure,” said Sunweb sport director Aike Visbeek. “That Tour win had the entire nation watching him, even the king. So he doesn’t get nervous in big races anymore.” Central to his Giro success was how Dumoulin changed his training over the winter — from one-off peaks targeting specific stage wins to racing and defending for three weeks. When the team saw the Giro’s parcours last winter, they knew it was an ideal next step in Dumoulin’s development. He spent most of his winter and spring camped at altitude in Spain. “Tom lost weight, a few kilos, and went to training camps for weeks and weeks at Sierra Nevada and Tenerife,” Visbeek continued. “He came to the Giro ready to race.” Dumoulin is a straight-talker, practical, and not afraid to speak his mind. Always keen to share his thoughts, Dumoulin even joked after his roadside issues on the Stelvio. On more than a few occasions during the Giro, he ruffled feathers during his grand tour coming-out party. The most telling moments came following an intense defense at Ortisei deep in the Dolomites. He kicked off an old-school “he-said, she-said” polemic when he chided Vincenzo Nibali and Quintana for not helping to chase, haranguing them with, “I hope they lose their podium spots.” They might call him the “Butterfly of Maastricht,” but he clearly has a sting. “He is a gentleman, but you have to be tough in the mind to be able to win a grand tour,” Visbeek explained. “When you have the jersey, you know they are going to attack you. He is learning that.” DUMOULIN’S VICTORY WAS IMPORTANT on many levels. The statistics alone are impressive — the first Dutch rider to win the Giro; the first Dutch grand tour winner since Joop Zoetemelk in 1980; and only the third Dutch cyclist in history to win a grand tour. “He is the next big GC rider,” White said. “I think the Tour de France suits him better than the Giro. At next year’s Tour, he will go into it as one of the favorites. He can match Froome in the time trials, and from what he’s shown at the Giro, staying with the best climbers in the world, he can match him there, too.” Indeed, his victory seemed to harken the arrival of the first rider who could truly challenge Froome in the Tour on equal footing. While riders like Nibali and Quintana have proven pesky to Sky’s dominance, no one packs that elusive combination of time trial strength and climbing chops to take on Froome on equal terms. On top of that, Dumoulin’s gritty Giro victory only served to prove that he will not crack under pressure. “When you are leading a grand tour, everybody will want to steal the jersey,” Pinotti said. “It’s a mental fight. He is really showing that he can handle this.” Dumoulin also hails from cycling’s “new generation,” and neither he nor his team are tainted by the scandals that ripped the sport apart a generation ago. Dumoulin’s Giro confirmation certainly put him front and center on Team Sky’s radar. “I’ve been following him for a few years, and what he showed during this Giro, I saw it coming awhile now,” Sky principal Dave Brailsford told Dutch journalists. “He has the skil lset to win the Tour. Of course, we want to win a few more first.” With Froome likely to have only another few years at the top level, some speculated that Sky might try to lure Dumoulin away from Sunweb. However, after winning the Giro, he re-signed with the Dutch Sunweb squad through 2021. The team aims to bring additional heft in the mountains and flats to support him for an assault on the Tour. “We want to build a team around Tom,” Visbeek said. “He feels comfortable on this team. This is his home, and we are going to do everything we can to help him try to win the Tour.” Dumoulin’s Tour attempt will have to wait at least until 2018. For the rest of this year, he’ll target the world time trial championship in Norway. A Froome-Dumoulin might have come at this summer’s Vuelta, but the Dutchman confirmed he won’t race the Spanish grand tour, while Froome will. Dumoulin’s already done something that Froome never has: win the Giro d’Italia. “Now I want to try to win the Tour de France,” Dumoulin said. A big smile creased his face in Milan. “I need to keep working and improving, but I believe I can do it.” It’s becoming obvious that when Dumoulin sets his sights on something, he delivers. Cue up the hype machine: Froome vs. Dumoulin, coming soon to a Tour de France near you. The post Is Dumoulin the man to dethrone Froome? appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  3. 2017 Tour de France, stage 18: Briancon – Col d’Izoard, 179.5km The Col d’Izoard is a climb of legends in the heart of the French Alps and in the 2017 Tour de France, it happened to be one of only three summit finishes. Normally the Izoard features on stages with more renowned Alpine finishes such as Alpe d’Huez, La Toussuire, or Gap. The last mountain stage in this year’s Tour finished on the iconic summit. The riders ascended through the lunar-like Casse Déserte, making it tough to choose the best place to grab images. Iri elected to tackle the Casse Déserte. I [Jim] handled the summit finish. I was fully committed to the finish line shot and was secretly hoping for an iconic winning moment. Perhaps a win so bold as the maillot jaune crossing the line first? It could happen, but heck, any dominating solo victory was sure to be epic in the truest sense of the word. More installations of The Shot The Shot: Racing up the Tour’s lonely Mur de Péguère The Shot: Tour de France goes Formula 1 The Shot: Dumoulin’s delight at the Duomo The Shot: The art of the scrum More installations of The Shot The Shot: Racing up the Tour’s lonely Mur de Péguère BrakeThrough Media has an unusual opportunity to photograph the Tour de France on the lonely Mur de Péguère. After parking on the backside of the climb (incidentally, the side they climbed on the previous visit to the Izoard), we reached the summit and boom: The image was immediately striking for multiple reasons. The most stunning component was the “reveal” as the riders closed on the finish line. Also, they were graced with an essentially clean background — just jagged spikes of the distant Alpine range. I arrived at the finish a full three hours ahead of the race only to find photographers already there and claiming spots. I got a front-row, low-angle position for this revealing finish line photo. Then, I had to decide what my framing and composition would be. My options were to shoot tight or a bit wider for more rider and maybe even the finish line banner as well. The peaks in silhouette provided the perfect backdrop, so I chose to start my shots in tighter on the reveal and zoom out a bit as the full bike crested to capture the rider head to toe with his arms up and the fan-lined road at his side. The fans were so energized and jubilant, you can feel their noise in the image. As the stage played out, we were presented with a battle on this hallowed mountain landscape that one could only dream of. Frenchman Warren Barguil in the maillot à pois made a valiant effort to catch the lone leader and somehow pulled off the unthinkable: a solo victory in the king of the mountains jersey on top of the Col d’Izoard. It happened in the most majestic of places during the greatest race on Earth. Key image specs: • Canon 1DX • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM • 1/1250 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 320 • Focal Length: 349mm • File format: RAW • Shot from the front row of the finish line The post The Shot: Climax on Col d’Izoard appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  4. You’re out on your favorite training route. It’s a beautiful day, and you’ve had a great ride so far. You’re nearing your favorite refueling spot when the unthinkable happens — a driver hits you with a left cross, knocking you to the pavement. You’re banged up, but alive. Your bike is in worse condition. The driver apologizes profusely, swearing he didn’t see you. He feels terrible. Police arrive at the scene, and an ambulance is summoned. A few days later, you call the driver’s insurance company to talk about your claim. And that’s when everything changes. While your injuries and losses are expected to hit the $75,000 mark, the driver is insured for a paltry $15,000. Who pays for the other $60,000? If an insurance policy doesn’t pay, you do. This scenario has played out many times. What initially seemed like a simple matter of filing a claim becomes a problem when the driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages. And that’s assuming the driver is insured. Suppose the driver is uninsured — there’s a pretty strong correlation between unsafe driving and uninsured drivers. Or suppose that after hitting you, the driver takes off. Now it’s a hit and run, and unless the driver is apprehended, you have no way to inquire about the driver’s insurance policy. In this type of situation, you can’t rely on the driver or on “justice” — you have to take steps to protect yourself, and you have to do it now, before you’ve been hit. That’s where your insurance comes in. If you plan ahead, you can make sure that you’re still covered regardless of the driver’s insurance. The most important type of coverage that cyclists should have, besides their own health insurance, is the UM/UIM coverage on their automobile insurance policy. Yep, that’s right, your auto policy provides protection for YOU in case you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, including a hit and run driver. This protection, called “UM/UIM” coverage, protects you if you are hit by another driver who is uninsured (that’s the “UM” in the coverage). Your UM coverage also means you’re covered in a hit and run. You’re also covered if you’re hit by an underinsured driver (that’s the “UIM” in the coverage). This part of your policy covers you if the driver who hit you is insured, but for less than is necessary to cover payment for your injuries. More Legally Speaking columns Legally Speaking: Brought to justice Legally Speaking: For better or for worse, stay involved Legally Speaking: Can’t Keep a Good Idea Down Legally Speaking: Ellen’s Law More Legally Speaking columns Legally Speaking: Brought to justice When you are harassed by a dangerous driver, you can take action. Here's how one cyclist did just that. However, your UM/UIM coverage is only available after the driver’s insurance policy is exhausted. So if the driver is insured for $15,000, for example, your UM/UIM coverage becomes available after the driver’s policy pays out to its limit. If the driver is uninsured, or it’s a hit-and-run, your UM/UIM coverage can be tapped to cover you. That’s the good news. But it’s not all good news. There are some potential pitfalls. For example, in some states, “contact” may be required for your UM/UIM coverage to kick in. So if you were actually hit by the driver who left crossed you, your UM/UIM coverage can kick in as needed. If the driver caused you to crash without actually making contact, you’re not going to be able to use your UM/UIM coverage. Again, this is not the law in every state, but it’s something you should ask your insurance agent about. And even if your state does allow you to use your UM/UIM coverage, your battle may not be over. When an uninsured driver hits you, your own insurance company will stand in the shoes of the driver and will have all the same defenses against you that the driver would have. For example, your own insurance company can argue that you are partially to blame for the crash. In that way, they become your adversary, even though you paid for this coverage in your premium charges. Property damage may not be covered by your UM/UIM coverage. So if your bike got destroyed when that uninsured or underinsured driver hit you, your UM/UIM policy may not cover you for the loss. To find out exactly what your policy covers, and what it doesn’t cover, you need to check with your agent. And if you don’t like the exclusions on your policy, shop around to find a policy that you do like. Finally, you should know that UM/UIM polices have a mandatory binding arbitration clause. That means an arbitration panel will make the decision, not a jury or a judge. OK, so that’s the bad news. Now for some more good news: YOU get to decide how much UM/UIM coverage you want on your auto policy. I strongly advise every cyclist to take out the maximum UM/UIM coverage available for their policy. It will cost you extra, but surprisingly, not that much extra. The best time to check your policy and make changes is now, before you need it. Review your policy and discuss the changes with your insurance agent. Hopefully you will never need it, but if you ever do, you will be thankful that you planned ahead. With a little thought and preparation beforehand, you can make sure you are adequately protected if the unthinkable happens. Once you are protected, you can stop worrying about whether you’re covered and simply enjoy the ride. Now read the fine print: Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic Games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championship road race. After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc.). Mionske is also the author of “Bicycling and the Law,” designed to be the primary resource for cyclists to consult when faced with a legal question. It provides readers with the knowledge to avoid many legal problems in the first place, and informs them of their rights, their responsibilities, and what steps they can take if they do encounter a legal problem. If you have a cycling-related legal question please send it to Bob, and he will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions to answer in this column. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at bicyclelaw.com. Important notice: The information provided in the “Legally Speaking” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public website is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the website without first seeking the advice of legal counsel. The post Legally Speaking: One key insurance tip for cyclists appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  5. More episodes of The VeloNews Show VN Show: Froome survives Ag2r; Phinney speaks VN Show: The two great debates after TDF stage 9 VN Show: Sagan’s DSQ doesn’t sit right VN Show! Tour de France chaos, Phinney gets naked, Sagan’s pedal dance More episodes of The VeloNews Show VN Show: Froome survives Ag2r; Phinney speaks Did GC rivals miss a chance to take yellow away from Froome on stage 15? Who does Landa work for? Plus, Taylor Phinney's takes! Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes images from TDW Sport, ASO/Tour de France, VeloNews, Twitter/Michal Kwiatkowski, Flickr Creative Commons, Trek Travel With the 2017 Tour de France finished, it’s time to hand out the official VeloNews Tour de France awards! Forget yellow, green, or polka-dot jerseys. We have special prizes for riders who are very generous, riders who made us say “Oh s—t!!” and the teams that spent their budgets wisely. The Tour made be over, but there’s still lots to talk about on this week’s VeloNews show. The post VN Show: Presenting… The VeloNews TDF awards! appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  6. Dear Lennard, I just bought a new road bike for my wife, and it is equipped with Shimano’s Tiagra 10-speed components. It’s my understanding that Tiagra 10-speed shifters are actually designed with 11-speed indexing (same as 11-speed 105, Ultegra, etc.). I’m wondering if I can still use my old 10-speed wheels with 105 and Ultegra 10-speed cassettes on this bike. Are the Tiagra 10-speed cassettes the same as 11-speed ones but with only 10 cogs? Also, what is the correct replacement chain — 10- or 11-speed? Why has Shimano made this so confusing? — Sal Dear Sal, That is correct; the Tiagra ST-4700 system employs an 11-speed cable stroke with only 10 click positions. The cog spacing is standard 10-speed, however, so it will work with both of your 10-speed wheels. It won’t work with an 11-speed cassette. Furthermore, because of its cable-actuation ratio, which converts the 10-speed cable-pull distance it receives from the shifter into 10-speed lateral derailleur movement, the Tiagra RD-4700 rear derailleur is not compatible with any other Shimano 10-speed rear shifter. A nice benefit your wife gains with this bike is that the RD-4700 rear derailleur can handle up to a 34T rear cog. Thus, you could put on an XT or XTR 11-34 10-speed cassette to get her some lower gears for climbing super-steep roads. Since it’s a 10-speed system, it takes a 10-speed chain. As long as you don’t try and substitute in a non-Tiagra shifter or rear derailleur, I don’t see that “Shimano made this so confusing;” it’s just a 10-speed drivetrain that takes standard 10-speed chains and cassettes. Had you never known that the cable stroke was different from other 10-speed Shimano drivetrains, you would have merrily slapped on your 10-speed wheels without ever questioning it. And they would have worked fine. ― Lennard Dear Lennard, I have a 2016 Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc Di2 with the stock 11×28 rear cassette. I love the bike, and braking is terrific. But as I get older (60 now) I find that I’m constantly wishing for one more low gear on the steep climbs. Especially on this past weekend’s Tour de Blast up Mount St. Helens. My question is this: Is it possible to add a 32-tooth cog to my bike without major (costly) changes? I know I’ll have to use a longer chain, but I don’t really want to spend the $$ to replace the rear derailleur. Will the existing derailleur (I think it has a mid-size cage, but don’t really know how to tell) take up the slack from a 32-tooth cassette? I want to ensure it shifts as smoothly as it does today, love that. — Lance Dear Lance, Yes, you can put that cog on. I’m running an 11-32 cassette on my road travel bike with a standard short-cage Ultegra SS 11-speed rear derailleur. It works fine; the photo (with rim brakes) is of my bike to prove it (sorry for the condition; I was on a dirty ride last night). I had to tighten the b-screw in a bit to get it to not make noise on the 32T cog. I find that it shifts as smoothly and as quickly as it did with an 11-28 cassette except is a bit slower between the two smallest cogs; that’s to be expected with the b-screw pulling the upper jockey wheel further away from those small cogs. More Technical FAQ Technical FAQ: Aligning derailleur hangers, silk tubular memories Technical FAQ: The benefits of silk tubulars Technical FAQ: Air in hydraulic brakes, proper bike storage, and more Technical FAQ: A history lesson on pedal threads; quick-link query More Technical FAQ Technical FAQ: Aligning derailleur hangers, silk tubular memories Lennard Zinn runs through the options on how to straighten a derailleur hanger and provides advice on shifting and derailleur set-up. And, in case you were wondering, the cage and the derailleur geometry are the same on 11-speed Ultegra Di2 electronic rear derailleurs as on cable-actuated 11-speed Ultegra rear derailleurs. I’m still comparing apples to apples with my cable derailleur and your electronic one. Derailleur maximum-cog clearance on any drivetrain is of course always dependent on the individual geometry of the frame’s rear derailleur hanger. This is probably the reason that Shimano only rates that derailleur to 28T; if it says 28T on the spec sheets, Shimano wants to make sure that nobody with a really short or forward derailleur hanger can call and say that the derailleur doesn’t handle their 28T cog. If Shimano said the capacity is 32T, there would probably be some bikes it would not work on, or the b-screw would have to be in so far that the shifting would be poor on the small cogs. That said, I’m sure that the length and angle of my derailleur hanger is consistent with that of most current road bikes; it’s a Paragon DR0004 titanium dropout with a DR4102 replaceable short hanger. Oh, and since you’re not positive of your cage length, if you don’t actually have the short SS (“mid”) cage and instead have the GS (long) cage, you certainly can slap on a 32T cog with no issues and probably no b-screw tightening, since it is rated to 32T. In fact, if you have that derailleur, you can use a 36T cog on there with no adjustments other than a longer chain and a tighter b-screw. I know, because I run exactly that setup on my gravel road bike (11-36 rear cassette/34-50 chainrings with Ultegra Di2 GS long-cage 11-speed rear derailleur); see my orange bike (with disc brakes) in the photo (sorry, it’s also dirty; I rode it in rain and mud a couple of nights ago). This one works so well (the electronic shifting is crisp, fast, and reliable) and so easily, I plan to try and put an 11-40 cassette on there just to see if it will work. ― Lennard No derailleur-hanger extension here, either: 11-36 rear cassette/34-50 chainrings with Ultegra Di2 GS long-cage 11-speed rear derailleur. Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.comRegarding derailleur-hanger alignment Dear Lennard, A poor man’s derailleur alignment tool is any old 10mm x 1mm rear axle, the longer the better. You can use an axle nut or cone to lock it in place, and a cheater bar if necessary for leverage. You can get the alignment surprisingly close by eyeing the hub axle from top and back, and bending the hanger to make it all parallel. Thanks for the column, it’s great reading! — Steve Dear Steve, That’s a great idea! It never occurred to me that the thread on a 10mm axle is the same as inside a derailleur hanger. — Lennard The post Technical FAQ: How big can I go with my Shimano rear derailleur? appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  7. Peter Sagan’s boss is still steamed at the UCI. After the Tour de France’s final stage in Paris, Ralph Denk, general manager for Bora-Hansgrohe, told VeloNews that he still believes the UCI botched its decision to disqualify Sagan in the wake of his controversial collision with Mark Cavendish on stage 4. Denk believes the UCI jury was too hasty in its decision, and in doing so, violated its own rules. The jury never asked Sagan to present his side of the story. “I wanted the UCI to follow the rules and to have a hearing from the athletes. In this case, that was Peter,” Denk said. “Nothing happened, and that’s why we decided to fight against it.” Denk is referencing rule 12.2.006, which states, “The Commissaires Panel may judge the matter only if the offending party has had a chance to defend his point of view or if, being present when summoned, he fails to respond.” Denk said Sagan was never asked to testify to the UCI jury before it decided to remove him from the race. That’s why Denk decided to challenge the ruling with a rushed appeal the Court of Arbitration of Sport. On July 5 CAS delivered an express decision on the matter, which upheld the UCI’s ruling. “We have a responsibility to challenge [the ruling]. I think we have a responsibility for all of cycling,” Denk said. “Each sponsor puts in millions in the teams. So we need clear rules for situations like this.” Sagan’s expulsion was one of two disasters to strike Bora early in the race. The team’s GC rider Rafal Majka crashed on a slippery descent during stage 9 and later abandoned. With both star riders sidelined, Bora had to refocus its efforts around new goals. Denk said the team began to target stages, and ride in support of 25-year-old German rider Emmanuel Buchman. The pivot in focus presented serious challenges. On stage 11 Polish rider Macej Bodnar looked poised to win after a 200km breakaway. The peloton caught him within sight of the finish line. Bora missed the day’s 54-man breakaway during stage 18 to the Col d’Izoard and was forced to ride the front alongside Team Sky. “Morale was low — it was deep underground and we had to reset the team,” Denk said. “The guys were all here to support Peter and [Majka].” Bora pressed on. Buchman rode aggressively in the Alps, pulling himself up to 15th-place overall. The young German notched his country’s best GC result since Andreas Kloden in 2012. The team then scored its biggest result of the Tour when Bodnar won the final time trial in Marseille. That win, plus Sagan’s stage victory on stage 3, brought Bora into rare company at this year’s Tour de France. Only four teams won two or more stages at this year’s Tour: Bora-Hansgrohe, LottoNL-Jumbo, Quick-Step Floors, and Sunweb. “We win two stages,” Denk said. “So all is fine for us.” The post Bora boss: Challenging Sagan decision was ‘for all of cycling’ appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  8. The post Photo Essay: The Tour’s Alpine road to Paris appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  9. Perhaps more than anyone leaving Paris this week, Mikel Landa will be wondering what might have been. The 27-year-old Basque rider enjoyed a breakout Tour de France. He loyally fulfilled his role at Team Sky as Chris Froome’s key helper in the mountains. Yet there is more than a tinge of regret for Landa. He came within less than one second of finishing on the podium in Paris. Speaking to Spanish journalist Jesus Gómez Peña, Landa lamented what could have been while at the same time acknowledging he had a job to do. “I am fourth in the Tour de France, and I don’t feel anything special at all,” Landa said. “I feel empty.” Landa was perhaps the strongest climber in this Tour de France. Team Sky deployed him perfectly to help carry Froome to a fourth yellow jersey. And Landa kept his part of the deal, staying close to Froome and following team orders. “In the second week, I had legs to drop everyone,” he said. “But everything unfolded like it did, and that’s how it will always be.” Landa emerged as one of the top protagonists during this Tour. After the 2015 Giro d’Italia, where he was third overall with two stage wins, Landa went to Team Sky. He’d hoped to lead at the Italian grand tour. In 2016, illness disrupted his racing program. This year, a crash on the stage to Blockhaus derailed his GC ambitions. Still, he bounced back to win the best climber’s jersey and a mountain stage. The Tour was almost an afterthought. Landa had no ambitions other than to help Froome. That started to change as he rode into form. “It took me a few days to get my legs into the race, but I was OK because I knew I would be a key piece in the tactical game of the team,” he said. “On the Izoard, I attacked to force Urán and Bardet to come with me, and Froome could come over the top. … I never did anything to put Froome’s leadership in danger. I know that I came to do a job. I cannot complain.” During the Tour, he knew he would be on a leash. Twice during the race, Landa was called back. First, on the stage to Rousses in the Jura, Landa snuck into a break, but the team told him to sit up. And when Froome suffered a mechanical in stage 15, Landa also waited and helped tow Froome back to the front at a critical moment. An even more telling moment came on the road to Foix in stage 13. Team Sky started to pull after Landa rode into a promising four-man breakaway that included GC dangerman Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Landa might have gotten yellow that day had Sky not pulled so hard to prevent Quintana from riding back into the GC frame. More Tour de France news Froome’s Tour MVP Kwiatkowski stays humble Roundtable: How good was 2017 Tour? Should cycling cap budgets? Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again How many Tours can Froome win? More Tour de France news Froome’s Tour MVP Kwiatkowski stays humble Michal Kwiatkowski is an essential part of Sky's Tour de France team that led Chris Froome to his fourth yellow jersey. Landa deserves credit for not succumbing to temptation and attacking for his own interests. Yet he admits missing out on the podium by one second will sting for quite some time. “I didn’t give everything I had. Maybe in a month or so, it will seem incredible, but right now, I don’t feel so good,” he said. “When you start to think about where you could have taken back a second … ufff, que rabia!” Landa’s loyalty might have a short shelf life. He already has one foot out Sky’s door. He is expected to land at Movistar or another major team where he will be given more room to race for his own interests. “Now I know I can be in the fight for the Tour GC in the future,” he said. “I don’t want to miss any opportunities in the future … This Tour is a crossroads for me. I cannot let this situation repeat itself. It’s my fault that I did not demand to be a leader. I will not return to a grand tour without leadership responsibilities.” The post Landa’s Tour regret: ‘I had legs to drop everyone’ appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  10. FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski says he was just doing his job helping Sky teammate Chris Froome win a fourth Tour de France over the last three weeks, but his rides stood out from there rest. The Polish cyclist, winner of Milano-Sanremo this spring, pulled the Sky train for miles, fetched water bottles and, when needed, gave Froome his rear wheel. “For sure, the cameras were on me, and for sure people could see when I was there working, bringing bottles, but people just see that because the cameras are on me,” he told VeloNews. “All of my teammates did a hell of a job. We rode as a unit, all nine, we missed G [Geraint Thomas] after he crashed out, but Luke Rowe, Christian Knees, Sergio Henao, Mikel Nieve, Mikel Landa, Vasil Kiryienka, and Chris Froome, we were one unit. I’m thankful to be part of that team.” Kwiatkowski joined Sky for 2016 after racing for team Quick-Step Floors. His grand tour climbing legs developed past the point that earned him 11th in the 2013 Tour de France. Often, the television cameras would spot him in the final third of a stage leading Sky over the penultimate pass in a mountain stage. He would typically continue to the last pass, before turning it over to Spaniards Nieve and Landa. “That it is really important to focus on one goal,” he said when asked what he learned from this Tour. “It was enjoyable to just focus on Chris riding for the GC, and that was important to see that if you just focus on that then you can really perform well over the entire three weeks. That’s my lesson.” He learned his lessons after years of work. With Quick-Step for four seasons, he won the Amstel Gold Race, the Volta ao Algarve, and the 2014 world championships in Ponferrada. Sky saw potential with Kwiatkowski’s rides, including his 11th in the 2013 Tour, and signed him for the Ardennes classics and smaller stage races. It did not click in the first year, and he suffered trying to adapt to Sky’s rigorous training. “There are plenty of reasons,” he said in March after winning the Strade Bianche. “I had health problems, but I was pushing my limits. I wanted to impress everyone in training and everywhere. I’m not a machine, sooner or later you pay the bill.” More on Michal Kwiatkowski Why Kwiatkowski is not defending his E3 Harelbeke title ‘Giant killer’ Kwiatkowski returns to form at MSR Kwiatkowski: ‘When you have a few cards to play, you can go for the win’ Milan-Sanremo Gallery: Kwiatkowski denies Sagan second ‘Monument’ win More on Michal Kwiatkowski Why Kwiatkowski is not defending his E3 Harelbeke title Former world champ Michal Kwiatkowski opts out of defending E3 Harelbeke title in favor of a race schedule focused on winning Liège. Over the winter, he had a long talk with team boss David Brailsford and trainer Tim Kerrison. They decided to use a mixed approach, incorporating some of Kwiatkowski’s own training routines with Sky’s. “I needed to find a balance between racing and training,” he continued. “In Team Sky last year I trained so hard, we found that being ambitious with the recon and power meters wasn’t the way.” The balance worked. He carried his fitness though the three weeks in France. Kwiatkowski capped it off in the stage 20 time trial with a second place behind Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe). Coincidentally, Bodnar was one of the Polish teammates that helped him to his 2014 worlds title. “It’s too early to say [if I can ride as a grand tour leader], but I enjoyed racing for Team Sky, performing so well during the entire race. “Chris was amazing throughout this whole race and I was so happy to support him. For sure, if I can improve a little on the climbing and time trialing, and performing [in] stage races, then I’ll for sure try.” The post Froome’s Tour MVP Kwiatkowski stays humble appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  11. The 2017 Tour de France wrapped up Sunday with a fourth yellow jersey for Chris Froome. In some ways, this year’s Tour felt familiar. His Sky team rode mercilessly at the front of the peloton, snuffing attacks from rivals. Yet in other ways, this Tour was singular. Froome never unleashed a withering attack in the mountains — he didn’t win a single stage for that matter. Also, his margin of victory was smaller than in any of his other victories at the race, 54 seconds. What does this mean? Did the Tour succeed in building an entertaining race with an unconventional route? Should we reign in Sky’s $40 million budget? Time for a post-Tour roundtable! How does this Tour title compare to Froome’s three other yellow jerseys? Fred Dreier (@freddreier): To paraphrase Froome: it was his closest, but not his hardest of the four. In terms of watchability, I’d put it second, behind 2013. Watching Froome battle Quintana (and get dropped) on l’Alpe d’Huez and then Semnoz was real drama. Caley Fretz (@caleyfretz): It was less dominant, more tactical, and once again proved that Froome is simply a more complete bike racer than most of his rivals. Andrew Hood (@eurohoody): “Narrowest” gap does not mean the most difficult, or most entertaining. Froome’s 2015 Tour was more challenging to win against a superior Quintana on Alpe d’Huez. What this win represents is Froome’s (and Sky’s) ability to manage the race no matter what they face. This victory was more measured and finessed than his others simply because there were fewer opportunities for Froome to mark differences. Add another mountaintop finale or a longer TT, and the differences would have been more “Froomian” and well into minutes. Spencer Powlison (@spino_powerlegs): This one is third out of four. My favorite was 2016, when he attacked like a crazy person and won three stages. Sure, the margin of victory was over four minutes, but that was pure panache. I agree that 2013 was a great edition also, with Quintana’s last-ditch attacks on the Alpe. That one is number two. Froome’s 2017 vintage was okay. It had a nice body of uncertainty with a whiff of desperation, but overall it wasn’t lively enough. Was the ASO’s unconventional Tour route a success, a flop, or irrelevant to the quality of the race? More Tour de France news Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again How many Tours can Froome win? Tour de France: Nate Brown’s special message for his dad Froome sets sights on fifth Tour triumph in 2018 More Tour de France news Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again Even though the 2017 Tour de France was won by less than a minute, the racing was conservative and defensive. Here's how to fix that. Fred: For those who were expecting something truly unconventional, This tour became a flop the moment Richie Porte crashed out. I totally get it. I actually expected more dominance from Sky, so I was pleasantly surprised by the small gaps on GC. Caley: I liked it. A few of the pure sprint stages should have been spiced up a bit (a flat stage finish in Liège? Have they not seen the Ardennes before?), but on the whole the tight GC battle made for good racing. Andrew: Having climbing stages earlier in the race — stage 5 to Belles Filles and stage 9 to Chambéry — brought some early excitement into the race. Some of the much-bemoaned longer stages are partly geographical, though organizers could whack 25km off those longer stages and have the same result. I like how the Tour is different every year, and TdF technical director Thierry Gouvenou is doing an exceptional job at trying to keep things interesting. At the end of the day, it’s up to the riders to race. I’d like to see one more of those shorter, explosive climbing stages included in each year’s route. One in the Pyrénées, and one in the Alps; fireworks assured. Spencer: I stirred the pot yesterday with my column on three ways to improve the route. Andy is right that more short mountainous stages would help. Also, would it kill them to add just one more mountaintop finish. And finally, to Caley’s point, the flat stages … so boring. If there wasn’t such a close battle for the second and third positions on the podium, between Rigoberto Urán, Romain Bardet, and Mikel Landa, I would have called this an outright flop. Let’s hope for something more traditional (and entertaining) in 2018. What stage was the biggest missed opportunity for Rigoberto Urán in the GC race? Fred: I actually don’t think Rigo missed any opportunities that were truly open to him. Had he lost stage 9 due to that shifting problem, then that would be the easy candidate. Caley: Looking back, taking a few more risks in the Dusseldorf time trial might have been worth it. Urán lost 1:03 in 14km in the first time trial and just 31 in 22.5km in Marseille. If he’d stayed closer in that first TT he may have found himself in yellow after Froome lost time on Peyragudes. Andrew: Urán rode a smart race. His team was the most inexperienced among the big GC challengers, so he knew his best opportunity was simply hovering close to Froome and hoping for an opening. Had Froome faltered, Urán would have been first in line to press the advantage. One ill-timed puncture or crash, and Urán might have ended up on top spot in Paris. Is that racing with panache? No. But following wheels was the most prudent thing Urán could have done considering the circumstances of the race. Spencer: Caley’s right that his stage 1 time trial wasn’t coherent with his station as a true GC contender. Come on — even Bardet beat him that day! He should have also joined Fabio Aru on the attack in stage 9 when Froome had the mechanical. Race or wait? I say game on, especially when you’re an underdog. What stage was the biggest missed opportunity for Romain Bardet? Fred: Bardet and Fabio Aru may be kicking themselves for not attacking earlier (and with more force) in those final 10km to Peyragudes. Froome has now admitted he was in the red and possibly bonking. So one has to wonder how he would have reacted to a bunch of attacks earlier in the final climb. Caley: Stage 14, when Froome had his second key-moment mechanical. Bardet’s Ag2r team smashed it but he should have taken matters into his own hands. Andrew: Stage 12 in the Pyrénées. When Froome didn’t open up an attack on the Peyresourde, it was a sign that Froome was not on his best day. Even by Froome standards, he looked awful. Bardet played it right by attacking on the final ramp at Peyragudes — he won the stage, after all — but his short-term gain might have been his longer term loss. Had Bardet attacked over the top of the Peyresourde, Froome might have been gapped, and the entire dynamics of the race could have been permanently altered. Spencer: I agree with Fred and Andy: Stage 12 was the do-or-die moment, and Bardet, even though he won the stage, didn’t take advantage of the situation. Sure, there’s a chance he could have taken time out of Froome on stage 14, but that is less of a sure thing, compared to a summit finish. Should cycling cap team budgets to encourage parity in big races like the Tour? Fred: Yes. We’ve now seen cycling’s answer to the New York Yankees/Man United win five of the last six Tours. If that isn’t proof that cash can get you to the top during this era of pro cycling (when spent wisely, of course), then I don’t know what is. A budget could force Sky to look at its murderer’s row (Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Sergio Henao) and keep two or maybe three. Caley: Nah. There are other ways to decrease the dominance of a particular team. Dropping team size would be far more effective. Andrew: That is not realistic in the business model of today’s peloton. Salary caps and budget limitations only work in a “closed” league where teams also share the benefits and have a permanent spot at the table. Money is not the only reason Team Sky is dominating the Tour. Froome is one of those “once in a generation” riders. Put him on another team, and he’d still be very hard to beat. Put a Quintana inside the Sky machine, and the result might be the same. Other teams are catching up, and Froome is getting older. Cycling needs more money, not less. Spencer: In a fantasy world, I say yes, cap the teams, give them a degree of parity that you see in the NFL, for instance. But as Andy astutely points out, cycling’s messy business model precludes such a controlled system. The good news is, Froome won’t be racing forever, and as Richie Porte, Mikel Landa, and Geraint Thomas have shown us, just because you wear a black-and-blue (or I guess white in this Tour) kit, doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for a grand tour victory. The post Roundtable: How good was 2017 Tour? Should cycling cap budgets? appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  12. Robin Carpenter defended his overall title at the Cascade Classic Sunday, and Allie Dragoo won the women’s race in Bend, Oregon. “The last day is hard, it’s a good day to take it,” Carpenter said after stage 5. “It’s definitely stressful, I’ve got to say I was really relieved after the race. I’m a head case when I come to a race I know I can win, so I was happy I could keep it together.” Dragoo echoed the 25-year-old’s comments, having felt the pressure of leading the race into the final stage. “My team really put it all out there for me,” Dragoo said. “I’m so thankful to them. I was stressed and anxious before the stage. I owe it to all of them.” Allie Dragoo shared the Cascade Classic podium with her Sho-Air-Twenty20 teammates. Cascade Cycling ClassicUnfortunately, the riders’ concerns about a stressful race were realized in stage 5. The men’s field caught the women’s race with 500 meters to go. Silber’s Stephen Bassett was on the attack and crashed into Colavita-Bianchi’s Whitney Alison. “It just happened that it was in the final corner that we merged,” Carpenter added. “It’s really unfortunate for Bassett, just looking down and he plowed into her. I was a little bit behind it and managed to get around. He was definitely going to podium, and probably going to win so it’s too bad for him.” Alex Howes, winner of stage 1, went on to finish first in the 139km stage 5. The Cannondale-Drapac rider was on a composite team with fellow WorldTour pros Kiel Reijnen, and Pete Stetina, who won stage 3. Sarah Poidevin avoided the chaos at the end of the 80-kilometer race to win a third stage for her Rally Team. Her fellow Canadians and teammates Kirsti Lay and Sarah Bergen won stages 1 and 3, respectively. Poidevin took home the race’s queen of the mountains title, while Bergen won the points classification. Although Poidevin, 21, put Dragoo under pressure in the final stage, the Sho-Air-Twenty20 rider won the overall title with a third-place finish Sunday behind Emma Grant (Colavita-Bianchi). Dragoo had held the leader’s jersey since the stage 2 time trial, which Claire Rose (Visit Dallas-DNA) won. The men’s race was also very close at the end of five stages. Holowesko-Citadel’s defending champion Carpenter was second behind Howes in stage 5. UnitedHealthcare’s Gavin Mannion went into the stage with a one-second lead in the overall, so Carpenter won the 27th edition of Cascade Classic with a six-second time bonus earned in the final stage. Evan Huffman, winner of the stage 2 time trial, rounded out the overall podium in third. Men’s overall, top 10 1. Robin Carpenter (HOLOWESKO / CITADEL RACING P/B HINCAPIE SPORTSWEAR), 12:28:36 2. Gavin Mannion (UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM), 12:28:41 3. Evan Huffman (RALLY CYCLING), 12:28:48 4. Daniel Eaton (UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM), 12:29:01 5. Serghei Tvetcov (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS), 12:29:19 6. Peter Stetina (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), 12:29:31 7. Nigel Ellsay (SILBER PRO CYCLING), 12:29:36 8. Cameron Piper (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), 12:29:41 9. Travis Samuel (H&R BLOCK PRO CYCLING TEAM), 12:29:53 10. Luis Ricardo Villalobos Hernandez (AEVOLO), 12:29:55 Women’s overall, top 10 1. Allie Dragoo (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:40:57 2. Sara Poidevin (RALLY CYCLING), 11:41:04 3. Jasmin Duehring (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:41:57 4. Jennifer Luebke (VISIT DALLAS DNA PRO CYCLING), 11:43:10 5. Jennifer Valente (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:43:15 6. Sara Bergen (RALLY CYCLING), 11:43:24 7. Whitney Allison (COLAVITA/BIANCHI USA), 11:43:41 8. Emma Grant (COLAVITA/BIANCHI USA), 11:43:41 9. Kaitlin Antonneau (CYLANCE PRO CYCLING), 11:45:02 10. Stephanie Roorda (SHO – AIR TWENTY20), 11:45:36 The post Carpenter and Dragoo win Cascade Classic despite final-stage snafu appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  13. Am I missing something? It seems like the entire cycling world had the hots for the 2017 Tour de France. Meh … It left me cold. Sure, the GC came down to less than one minute. The race also had a number of interesting storylines, exciting moments, and first-time stage winners. Yet through all of that, Froome’s fourth win felt inevitable. It put me to sleep. Sky’s $40 million super-team deserves a lot of the credit for making the Tour a plodding march. But this year’s unconventional race route is also to blame. I would have altered this route to amp up the excitement. 1. De-emphasize time trials Despite ASO’s best efforts to make this Tour one for attackers, it devolved into a race that hinged on time trial bookends, stages 1 and 20. Froome took 51 seconds out of Rigoberto Uràn in stage 1, and he beat the Colombian by 25 seconds in stage 20. That 1:16 was the bulk of his 54-second margin of overall victory. To beat Romain Bardet, Froome was 39 seconds faster in stage 1 and 1:57 (ouch!) quicker in stage 20 for a total of 2:36. Bardet was third overall by 2:20. We can’t expect a grand tour to be void of time trials, but even disc-wheel devotees have to admit that Tours like the ones Miguel Indurain won in the 1990s were a bit dry. Let’s start by shortening the stage 1 time trial — just make it a prologue. What is the purpose of starting a grand tour with a TT? It’s usually a way to give a rider like Rohan Dennis or Fabian Cancellara a chance to wear yellow. For those guys, the difference between 14km and 4km is often negligible. Let the GC guys figure things out later in the Tour. Then, move the second, longer time trial back into week two of the Tour. It should play a role in deciding the GC, of course. However, in the 2017 Tour, it was the sword of Damocles for everyone except Uràn. 2. Forget the flat stages Apologies to Marcel Kittel, but this Tour wasted at least five days on 200-kilometer flat stages that lulled us into a stupor. The route needs to replicate the excitement of stage 14’s steep kicker into Rodez where Fabio Aru lost yellow. Or, if you want to keep the pure sprinters in the mix, the route could seek out crosswinds to disrupt the formulaic finishes. Stage 16 caught Dan Martin and Louis Meintjes off-guard with a lumpy run to Romans-sur-Isère, coupled with a crosswind that exacerbated the time gaps. 3. Follow La Vuelta As we learned in the 2016 Vuelta a España, a short, mountainous stage can blow up the GC. At the very least, it makes for an entertaining day of racing. The Tour got halfway there with stage 13. Returning to suggestion #1, if the time trial moves to week two, the short, 100-ish kilometer stage should punctuate week three. Then, we’d see GC contenders mounting last-ditch efforts to un-horse Froome. Plus, with this stage in the final week, there’s a greater chance that GC teams will be too weak to tamp down attacks. (I’ll admit, however, that Sky looked quite peppy on stage 18 to Col d’Izoard.) It’s not that I want the route to prevent Froome from winning yet another Tour. I want it to compel him to with the race with offense, rather than defense. It was like watching a 1-0 soccer game. All the players did was kick the ball around in the middle of a big field for 90 minutes. Froome failed to win a single stage of the race. That’s perhaps a bigger hang-up than the time trials or the sprint stages. Only six others have won yellow without claiming a stage. Sure, he won last year’s Tour by a nap-inducing 4:05, on the trot ahead of Bardet, but in 2016, Froome attacked the race like a swashbuckler. His solo win on stage 8 to Bagnères-de-Luchon was a masterpiece. His TT victory in stage 18 was a fist slamming the table. Did he attack the crosswinds with Peter Sagan in 2017? Nope. Were there any moments of manhood-threatening super-tucking this year? Unfortunately, no. If Sky’s going to keep dominating the Tour, fans need at least a hint of panache and unpredictability. Froome is headed to the Vuelta in a few weeks — hopefully the guys who plan the Tour’s route will be taking notes. The post Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  14. Less than 24 hours after winning the Tour de France, Chris Froome turns his gaze toward Spain. The Sky captain has won the yellow jersey four times, but the Vuelta a España has proven a more elusive target. More on Chris Froome How many Tours can Froome win? Froome sets sights on fifth Tour triumph in 2018 Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France Froome says budget cap is bad idea, defends Sky media strategy More on Chris Froome How many Tours can Froome win? Chris Froome captured his fourth Tour de France win on Sunday and is already looking at adding to his pile of yellow jerseys. Three times second, including last year’s infamous “Froomigal” stage, Froome intends to winning the Vuelta once and for all. On Monday, he confirmed he will race. “I’ve come second three times now, and I’d love to win the Vuelta,” Froome said Monday. “The Vuelta is a race I love racing. It’s a vicious race, but it’s three weeks that I enjoy.” Froome, 32, is also targeting cycling’s grand tour double that remains unconquered. A handful riders have won the Vuelta and Tour in the same season, but that was when the Vuelta was held in April. Since it moved to late summer, no one has won the Tour and then the Vuelta. After seconds in 2011, 2014, and 2016, Froome wants to check the Spanish tour off his bucket list. “To win the Tour and Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible,” he said. “I’ve got the opportunity now, and I’m certainly going to go for it.” Team Sky tweaked his training schedule this year to have more miles in his legs to take on the Vuelta. He didn’t race as much this spring, in part to be stronger in the final week of the Tour. The Vuelta was very much part of that equation. It won’t be a cakewalk for Froome, but a few big names are skipping the Vuelta. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), and defending champion Nairo Quintana and the injured Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won’t be racing. A few Tour riders might also start the Vuelta, including Fabio Aru (Astana) or Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), who beat back Froome in 2014, is also mulling a Vuelta start. A number of top riders are expected to race the Vuelta. The 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali is high on the list. He skipped the Tour after racing to third in the Giro d’Italia. Other Giro riders expected to line up for Vuelta include Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step), and Steve Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo). Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), third in the 2015 Vuelta, will also line up for the Vuelta after crashing out of the Tour. Orica-Scott will go all-in with three GC threats: Esteban Chaves and the Yates twin brothers. The Vuelta starts August 19 with a team time trial in Nimes, France, and concludes September 10th in Madrid. The post Froome confirms Vuelta bid, chasing rare grand tour double appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article
  15. Chris Froome was thanking his lucky stars Monday. The 32-year-old won his fourth yellow jersey in what was the narrowest margin of victory since his first in 2013. While the Sky rider showed some vulnerability in the mountains, his 54-second advantage over Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) says more about the route than about Froome. In many ways, it was another Froome Show on the center stage. Much of the melodrama played out in secondary plotlines. Despite being one man down when Geraint Thomas crashed out in stage 9, Team Sky largely smothered much of the race. Ever dominant against the clock, Froome took significant gains in stage 1 and then held on all the way to Marseille. More Tour de France news Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again Tour de France: Nate Brown’s special message for his dad Froome sets sights on fifth Tour triumph in 2018 Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France More Tour de France news Tour de meh: Three ways to make the TDF fun again Even though the 2017 Tour de France was won by less than a minute, the racing was conservative and defensive. Here's how to fix that. It’s hardly the most exciting way to win the Tour de France, but in a route that was short on opportunities for Froome, he squeezed out an efficient victory that leaves many wondering how many more he might have in his legs. Froome had an answer that many Sky detractors might not like. “I’d like to keep racing into my late 30s, and keep competing for the yellow jersey,” Froome said. “I’d like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it.” Now 32, Froome enters a club of one: no rider in Tour history has won four yellow jerseys without winning an historic fifth. Can Froome win a fifth? Or even a sixth or seventh? Things are stacking up that way. Here’s why: ‘Fortress Froome’ as strong as ever The “Sky Era” shows no signs of fading. First with Bradley Wiggins’s victory in 2012, Team Sky has won five of the past six Tours. If Froome hadn’t crashed out in 2014, he might well have been celebrating No. 5 five Sunday in Paris. That dominance puts Team Sky on par with the strongest teams in Tour history. How long will the Sky Train keep chugging along? It appears for at least several more years. The Sky sponsorship has recently been extended, and Froome is expected to stay with the team through 2021. Backed by the largest team budget in cycling, Froome can sleep well at night knowing his impenetrable “Fortress Froome” will remain intact. There’s talk of reducing the number of riders per Tour squad from nine to eight in 2018, but it’s worth pointing out that Sky all but won this Tour with just eight riders. Thomas crashed out in stage 9, but Sky was still the strongest team in the peloton. A few key riders will be leaving, including Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve. Sky is so deep, however, that it can simply tap into its deep bench of reserves. Or sign more stars. Despite a string of searing controversies surrounding Team Sky since last fall — allegations of abuses of TUEs and mysterious “jiffy bags” — none of that has seemed to have stuck to Froome. When asked about it over the weekend, Froome just shrugged it off with a no. ‘Fresh Froome’ can keep on trucking At 32, Froome is no longer a spring chicken. By Tour standards, he should be nearing the retirement home. The average age of a Tour winner is 28.7 years. Most of the “big five” were already retired by the age of 33, which Froome will be at the start of next year’s Tour. Froome, however, is talking about racing into his late 30s. With fewer race days, better nutrition, and improved training and recovery, cyclists are racing longer than ever before. If Froome can stay healthy and avoid a major crash, he could stay at the top for another two to four years quite easily. “I’m as motivated as ever,” Froome said at the start of the Tour. “I came into the sport quite late, and I feel as I’m still quite young in cycling terms.” What we already saw at the Tour this year was a different Froome. He came in “fresher,” with a lighter spring racing schedule, in part to not run out of gas in the final week of the Tour. Froome’s weak spot was always a late-Tour hiccup, something that nearly cost him the 2015 title against Nairo Quintana on Alpe d’Huez. Insiders at Team Sky say Froome doesn’t need to prove himself at early season races such as the Tour de Romandie or the Critérium du Dauphiné. What counts is the Tour. Another reason is the Vuelta a España. After finishing second three times at the Spanish tour, Froome is leaving plenty in the tank to race next month. On Monday, Froome confirmed he will race the season’s third grand tour. “The goal was to be strong in the third week,” Froome said. “I wasn’t at my best at the Dauphiné, but I’ve never felt this good in the third week of a grand tour. Even though I was pushing the limits, I always felt I was in control.” Feeling “fresh” in mind and body, Froome could maintain his high level for several more years. Uneven challengers Is there anyone out there who can beat Froome? Not yet, but there are some new challengers coming up who should make the next few years interesting. “I’d like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Froome said. “This year was the closest it’s ever been, and it’s only going to be harder next year.” Mikel Landa, the fiery Basque sensation, looked to be the strongest climber in this year’s Tour, but he was held back to help Froome. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Fabio Aru (Astana) are both showing glimpses of future Tour greatness. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) will return next year looking to deliver a complete Tour. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also vows to bounce back from his Giro-Tour misfire and focus solely on the Tour in 2018. Yet none of these riders offer the complete package to truly confront Froome. Riders who are strong in the mountains, such as Bardet, Quintana, and Aru, give up too much ground in the time trial. On paper, Porte is the most well-rounded challenger, but he has never finished on the Tour podium. And he is five months older than Froome. Landa is unproven as a leader at the Tour and will likely target the Giro next season. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is the one rider who is of the same ilk as Froome. The 26-year-old Dutchman won the Giro a la Froome; staying close in the mountains, and then crushing in the time trial. If there’s anyone who can match Froome, it will be Dumoulin. Froome’s key is to keep up the pressure on rivals. Any sign of weakness can prove disastrous. There’s nothing more dramatic than a Tour king crumbling on the road. It’s like a huge tree coming down in the forest. It can all end in an instant. If you’re a Froome fan, you could expect a few more years of happiness. If you’re not, well, you might have to grin and bear it. Barring disaster, Froome could be on track to win a fifth Tour and a few more. The post How many Tours can Froome win? appeared first on VeloNews.com. View the full article