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ANNECY, France (VN) — For cycling fans who are bored by this year’s Tour de France, a more exciting viewing experience may lie within the women’s peloton, says South African rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The 32-year-old believes women’s racing can gain attention through exciting, aggressive racing, because fans may be tired of the formulaic dynamics at the Tour.
“Men’s cycling is getting criticism for being boring and monotonous and repetitive,” Moolman-Pasio said. “Right now we have an opportunity to take advantage and show that we’re more exciting to watch.”
Moolman-Pasio spoke to VeloNews just hours before Tuesday’s La Course by Le Tour de France race from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand. The women’s event was held alongside the 10th stage of the Tour de France.
Indeed, the two races featured a contrasting style of racing. The Tour stage saw no change to the general classification, as the group of contenders crested the final climb together and then descended to the line.
By contrast, La Course saw a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat finale. Dutch riders Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) battled over the Col du Colombiere and roared down the finish within seconds of each other. Van Vleuten mounted a charge in the final 50 meters to overtake her countrywoman and take the win.
That’s the type of excitement that Moolman-Pasio believes can win fans over to women’s racing.
“I feel that women’s cycling is somehow different than men’s cycling,” she said. “We need people who really believe in women’s cycling to begin pushing it forward.”
Perhaps Moolman-Pasio is such a person. Throughout 2018 she has raced with aggression on the various climbs featured in the UCI Women’s WorldTour. During La Course, Moolman-Pasio rode on the slopes of the Col du Colombiere alongside van Vleuten and van der Breggen and eventually finished third, 1:22 behind van Vleuten. At April’s La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, Moolman-Pasio launched the decisive attack in the waning meters — her surge drew out van der Breggen, who won, while she coasted across the line in second.
During the recent Giro Rosa, Moolman-Pasio attacked relentlessly on multiple stages and rode herself to second overall, 4:23 behind van Vleuten. She may not have won the races, but her attacks injected excitement and action.
Moolman-Pasio’s runner-up result at the Giro is, in her eyes, the best result of her professional career. Yet she said the result failed to generate the level of media response she expected in her home nation. Moolman-Pasio became the first South African rider to finish on the podium at the Giro Rosa. The 10-day race is the longest in the Women’s WorldTour and holds grand tour status within the women’s peloton.
“This is the first grand tour podium for a South African — the first grand tour podium for a rider from Africa,” Moolman-Pasio said. “There’s been a lot of talk of [men’s team Dimension Data] and their plan of finishing on a podium at a grand tour in 2020. There’s a lot of focus on the men and the Tour de France. I’m pretty proud that I’ve been on the podium as a woman, and shown to South Africa what is possible for cyclists.”
Moolman-Pasio has used the Giro as her personal measuring stick since she first entered the sport’s top leagues in 2010. She finished 17th overall that first year, and in subsequent years she notched two top-10 finishes. The next step in her progression is to dethrone her two Dutch rivals, van der Breggen and van Vleuten, who still hold a slight edge over her in the major races.
Moolman-Pasio is unsure whether she will someday match the Dutchwomen, however. After all, they came up in a cycling system rich with history, talented coaches, and tradition. Moolman-Pasio, by contrast, said she has had to learn the lessons of cycling often on her own. South Africa has a growing tradition in men’s cycling, while the country’s collection of female pros is small.
Whether or not Moolman-Pasio ever beats the Dutch duo, she will continue to attack.
“I’m trying to close the gap to them,” she said. “For me it’s still important to make the race exciting, even if that means I finish second or third.”
Read the full article at Moolman-Pasio: Women’s cycling should capitalize on boring men’s racing on

ALPE d’HUEZ, France (VN) — Alejandro Valverde went all-in during Wednesday’s Tour de France stage and went bust.
The Movistar veteran did what everyone was hoping someone would try in the Alps — he attacked Sky. Valverde bolted from the peloton near the summit of the hors categorie Col du Pré with 54 kilometers remaining and surged down the descent. A short while later he linked up with teammate Marc Soler, who was in the day’s early breakaway.
The duo powered away from the group on the descent from the Cormet de Roselend and built a sizable gap. Valverde even rode into the virtual yellow jersey at one point. More Tour de France newsUran withdraws from Tour de France after Roubaix crash
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The gap, however, was not meant to be. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) attacked out of the group on the descent from the Cormet de Roselend climb and caught Valverde. The move forced Sky to place its domestiques onto the front of the group and churn out a speedy tempo. On the lower slopes of the final climb, Valverde was gobbled up by Sky and the collective force of the peloton. He tumbled out of pole position for the yellow jersey to 11th at 4:28 back.
“We were the team that tried the most, but you have to congratulate Sky,” Valverde said at the finish line. “They were on top and now it’s up to us to keep trying.”
On a day when Movistar’s three-pronged attack tried to derail Team Sky, the team got pummeled on the push to the finish line. Sky’s punishing tempo shed Mikel Landa. Then when Geraint Thomas attacked, Nairo Quintana did not follow the Englishman, deciding instead to shadow Froome.
Froome eventually surged away from Quintana in the final kilometers, and Movistar’s captain was left to pedal in alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Bardet (Ag2r LaMondiale), and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Movistar is now in worse position going into Thursday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez, which closes out three stages in the Alps.
Was Valverde’s move worth it? Valverde said yes.
“We did what we planned to do,” Valverde said.
Indeed, other riders agreed. Frenchman Pierre LaTour said the Spaniard’s attack forced Sky to up the pace to keep him in check.
“Valverde attacked from far out,” LaTour said. “That’s what threw them into a panic. It was always flat out after that.”
Thus far, Valverde’s move marks the most serious challenge to Sky’s domination of the race.
“We gave everything, and that’s the most important. There is still a lot of Tour,” Valverde said. “We’ll give everything to continue to be protagonists.”
Valverde and Movistar didn’t wait long. Valverde snuck into an early move on the Col de la Madeleine with Andrey Amador in Thursday’s decisive stage to Alpe d’Huez.
Read the full article at Valverde: No regrets for attacking Sky at Tour on

Colombian star Rigoberto Uran withdrew from the Tour de France prior to Thursday’s stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, citing injuries he sustained in a crash earlier in the race.
In a team release from EF Education First-Drapac, Uran said he felt “pain in my body” during Wednesday’s punishing mountain stage from Albertville to La Rosiére. Uran was dropped early in the 110-kilometer stage and finished in 111th place, 26 minutes behind winner Geraint Thomas. The result effectively eliminated Uran from the GC battle.
“It’s difficult for me and also for my team,” Uran said. “We prepared for this Tour, all season we were focused on the Tour. Sometimes this happens, and this time, I think it’s the best decision for me to recover and to recover well.” More Tour de France newsValverde: No regrets for attacking Sky at Tour
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Uran was one of more than a dozen riders to crash during Sunday’s ninth stage from Arras to Roubaix, which included 15 sectors of cobblestones. Uran went down after one sector of cobbles, landing hard on his leg and arm. He lost more than a minute to his GC rivals on that stage. On Tuesday, Uran lost more time on the Tour’s first Alpine stage.
EF Education First director Charly Wegelius said the injuries compromised Uran’s position on the bicycle, which “could create problems down the line.” The team said the injuries had compromised Uran’s ability to pedal.
“We along with Rigo felt it best to pull out of the Tour this morning so he can recover and look toward the remainder of the season,” Wegelius said. “Ultimately this decision comes down to the rider. If a rider wants to continue the race, we look to ways to do that safely. If a rider feels it best to pull out, we do not push them to continue.”
The move brings an end to the team’s GC ambitions for 2018. EF Education First’s highest-place rider in the general classification is now Pierre Rolland, who sits in 39th place, 37 minutes behind Thomas. The team came into the 2018 race with major ambitions for the overall with Uran. In 2017, Uran rode a near-flawless race to finish second overall behind Chris Froome.
In September 2017 the team — then called Cannondale-Drapac — nearly dissolved when a potential sponsor decided not to come on board. Rather than seek another contract, Uran continued with the team as it sought out a new deal, eventually inking an agreement with EF Education First.
Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said Uran’s departure means “another Tour starts today.”
“We look forward to getting him back healthy for the rest of the season,” Vaughters said. “The guys that remain are fighters, and we have some chances coming up in the mountains.”
Read the full article at Uran withdraws from Tour de France after Roubaix crash on

L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — There are bad days, and then there are days like Mitchelton-Scott endured on Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Tour de France.
As the peloton roared up the lower slopes of the summit finish at La Rosiére, the team’s GC rider, Adam Yates, rode near the back of the group. Just inside 10km remaining, Chris Froome’s Team Sky teammates upped the tempo on a steep ramp. The tempo was too much for Yates, who nearly came to a standstill on the steep road.
Up ahead, Mitchelton’s climbing domestique Mikel Nieve pedaled along the final kilometers at the head of the race, the last survivor of a day-long breakaway in the mountains. Nieve, 34, appeared to have the stage in his grasp, until a sudden attack from former Sky teammate Geraint Thomas reeled him in within 300m of the line.
Nieve’s head bobbed in disappointment as Froome and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) roared past in the final meters.
In the span of 15 minutes, the team’s two best opportunities for a result went up in smoke.
Matt White, the team’s sport director, maintained a diplomatic perspective on the two disasters.
“We need to asses how things go tomorrow to see if we can still chase GC with Adam,” White said. “If he bounces back, then GC is still in the cards. If he can’t bounce back we’ll have to reset and think about the Pyrenees.”
The double setbacks will certainly fuel debate about the team’s decision to leave Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan at home, and bring a team built around Yates’ podium bid.
The team’s two-pronged attack for the day was hatched prior to the stage, White said. The short 106km stage looked perfect for a breakaway, and thus the team had Nieve, who raced on Team Sky for four seasons, and Damian Howson attack into the early move. Behind, Yates rode alongside the main group of contenders. He sat in 7th place overall, tied on time with Chris Froome.
The break built a sizable lead on the group of contenders across the two opening climbs. Midway through the stage the team called Howson back from the breakaway to ride alongside Yates.
White said he had no indication that Yates was suffering in the group of contenders until midway up the steep final climb. Yates dropped back from the group as Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski hammered on the front, and White assumed Yates had decided to ride his own tempo. After a few minutes, however, Yates nearly ground to a halt. He dropped back to the team car to ask for water.
White said Yates was suffering from the heat. Yates eventually ceded 4:42 to Thomas by the finish.
“There was no indication anything was going bad with Adam until he was dropped. He was sitting nice and pretty on the wheels,’ White said. “He lost contact and we realized that he had blown quite hard. He couldn’t hold the wheel of anybody.”
White said the team did not consider pulling Nieve back from his breakaway attack to help Yates on the final climb. The stage win was within Nieve’s grasp, and the speed at which Yates popped simply caught everyone by surprise. Up ahead, Nieve powered to the finish. But inside the final kilometer he lost speed and began to rock back and forth on his bicycle. When Thomas attacked up to him, Nieve simply could not hold the Englishman’s wheel.
White said the team plans to “remain positive” despite the setback. While the team’s ambitious goals for the day fell short, there are still 10 stages remaining for Mitchelton-Scott to earn a result.
“We knew it would be an aggressive day,” White said. “It was a risk we had to take for the stage win and it came really close.”
Read the full article at Yates implosion changes focus for Mitchelton-Scott on

More episodes of The VeloNews ShowVN Show: How will top Tour contenders fare on cobbles?
VN Show: Sagan’s bling, Craddock’s heroics, and the Tour’s GC chaos
VN Show: Quintana and Nibali—can either man dethrone Chris Froome?
VN Show: Two more who could take on Froome at the TDF
More episodes of The VeloNews Show
VN Show: How will top Tour contenders fare on cobbles?How will the Tour's top GC favorites fare on the dusty, rough pavé of Paris-Roubaix? We rate their cobble-worthiness.
Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes footage from Twitter/Pais do Ciclismo, YouTube/Tour de France, YouTube/UCI, YouTube/The Mig Cycling, Getty Images/Velo Collection, WikiMedia Commons, Twitter/Peter_SagFanThis week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by ROKA, which makes unbelievably lightweight eyewear for some of the world’s best cyclists. Did you notice what Dan Martin wore when he won stage 8 of the Tour? They were ROKA sunglasses, and he says ROKA is the best eyewear he’s ever ridden in. Check out ROKA’s website for more >>
We were treated to some unbelievable racing Tuesday, with a down-to-the-wire finish. In the Tour de France? No! In La Course, where the Women’s WorldTour peloton stole the show and Annemiek van Vleuten won the day, proving she’s the best in the world in the high mountains.
As for the men’s Tour de France, we need to see some attacking from the top GC favorites. But where should they do it? We consider a few key riders, their individual talents, and where they might make their moves.
All that and more on today’s episode of The VeloNews Show!
Read the full article at VN Show: Tour de France hopefuls must attack… but where? on