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PARIS (AFP) — Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome should be suspended by his Sky team over his adverse drug test, according to world cycling governing body chief David Lappartient.
“Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told French regional newspaper Le Telegramme. “Now, it’s not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone [were Sky to suspend him]. It’s up to [Sky team manager Dave] Brailsford to take his responsibilities. Quite apart from that, I think that’s what the other riders want. They’re fed up with the general image.”
Lappartient said that regardless of Froome’s innocence or guilt, until he is either exonerated or found to have broken the rules, fans will not give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Whether the test result is abnormal or not, either naturally or fraudulently, it’s awful: in the eyes of the wider public he’s already guilty,” said the UCI chief, who claimed he found out about the test result an hour after being elected to his post over Briton Brian Cookson on September 21.
“We’re in the hands of the experts. It’s up to Froome to demonstrate the reasons for such a high level of salbutamol, it’s up to him to prove his innocence.”
Regardless, Lappartient believes the affair will last a long time with the possibility of Froome appealing any eventual sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“It’s going to be a judicial battle that will last a long time,” Lappartient said. “This affair won’t be sorted out in two minutes, it could last at least a year.”
Some of Froome’s main rivals have hit out at cycling authorities for failing to ban the reigning Tour and Vuelta a Espana champion, who tested for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol during his victory in Spain’s Grand Tour last September.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) described cycling as “a laughing stock” earlier this week over the affair. World time-trial champion Tom Dumoulin previously insisted his team, Sunweb, would have suspended him for a similar offense. Team Sunweb announced earlier this year an intense in-house anti-doping program independent and in addition to the UCI’s program.
Bardet even suggested that if Sky doesn’t suspend Froome, the rider himself should voluntarily “pull out” from racing “while waiting for the authorities to decide”. Lappartient said he understood Bardet’s feelings, adding: “He’s saying out loud what everyone’s thinking under their breath.”
Lappartient said he would look into the issue of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), which many believe have been abused to allow riders to get an unfair advantage from legally taking banned substances.
The UCI president said he wanted to put in place “independent medical observation” that would prevent riders from competing if they’ve applied for and been granted a TUE. “That would allow us to solve the corticosteroids problem,” Lappartient added.
In 2016, the Russian hacking group Fancy Bears revealed that Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012 before Froome emulated him a year later, had received three TUEs during his career at crucial moments — before the Tour in 2011 and 2012 and the Giro d’Italia in 2013.
Wiggins claims he needed to take the corticosteroid triamcinolone to treat allergies but some ex-cyclists have spoken out against that claiming it would have given him a significant performance boost.
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More episodes of The VeloNews ShowVN Show: The shrinking peloton, CX Nationals moves to December
VN Show: Why we’re watching Sagan, Froome, and Boels Dolmans in 2018
VN Show: Chris Froome’s Salbutamol case is cycling’s biggest story
VN Show: Is Froome’s Giro participation a blast or a bummer?
More episodes of The VeloNews Show
VN Show: The shrinking peloton, CX Nationals moves to DecemberThe pro peloton is shrinking in 2018. No, we're not talking about Nairo Quintana and Esteban Chaves.
Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes images from YouTube/CXHairs, Red Bull Content Pool, YouTube/SlamerDad, YouTube/USA Cycling, Twitter.com/USACyclingLive, YouTube/TheLateShowwithJamesCorden, TDWsport.com, Flickr Creative Commons This week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by Health IQ, the life insurance company that works with cyclists.
USA Cycling’s national cyclocross championships delivered plenty of drama and excitement this past weekend. On this week’s episode of The VeloNews Show we break down all of the action from Reno, Nevada.
Stephen Hyde and Jeremy Powers revived their rivalry in the elite men’s race. Katie Compton took her 14th national title in the women’s race. And some young up-and-coming racers turned heads with impressive rides.
One of those riders is Christopher Blevins, who already owns multiple national titles in mountain bike racing. That’s not the only reason we’re impressed with Blevins, however. Blevins is a budding music star, and on this week’s episode, we check out his music video.
All that and more on this week’s VeloNews Show.
The post VN Show: Compton, Hyde win at CX Nationals; Blevins the hip-hop star appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Ben Serotta never really went away. How could he? Classic bikes around the world bear his name and serve as a reminder of his place in cycling history. But after a 2013 split with Divine Cycle Group, Serotta dropped out of bicycling’s public sphere. Until last week, it’s fair to say most of us had no idea what Serotta had gotten up to since then.
He’s been busy — very often sitting on an airplane en route to various manufacturing facilities in Asia. From his vision-expanding time working on a bike share system in New York to reimagining and restarting his own bicycle brand dubbed Serotta Design Studios, Serotta’s creativity and energy never left the bicycling world at all. It just took a lot of behind-the-scenes work to bring it back to us.VeloNews tech editor Dan Cavallari caught up with Serotta to find out what he’s been up to and what brought him back to the cycling sphere.VeloNews: Let’s start with an easy one: Where’ve you been all these years? Since 2013, anyway.Ben Serotta: The business that I’ve now just launched was something that was percolating in the back of my mind in late 2013. At the same time, I was asking myself whether or not I was ready to dive back in. I had been putting a lot of thought into how to reconfigure the business. It was clear how business needed to be done, and it was going to be different from how we had done it in successful years and how we were still trying to conduct it.
Something that intrigued me was the relationship to the end user. In the many years of building Serotta, I started the business with a little retail store and I worked one-on-one with all my clients. As the business evolved, that happened less and less frequently. It never went away, but I realized there was something I was personally missing as well as just appreciating the relationship. When you put a lot of time into making something, part of the payoff is the vicarious relationship with the end user, getting to ride with whoever that is, an endurance athlete or professional athlete or just someone who’s having a great time.Photo: Serotta Design Studios
So I was thinking about, it’s not just as simple as saying consumer-direct. How do I put myself and the company in a position to have a better relationship with our end-users? I was exploring membership-based businesses and came across what was happening with the bike-share world. It was intriguing that the NYC bike share system, or the company that developed that with 10 other cities, was in the process of being sold to a New York-based real estate company and a New York-based fitness company. I contacted them because I was curious, and had a phone call. I wasn’t interested in doing work for them, but I wanted to have a conversation. That led to the conversation of what are you doing now, we could use some help figuring out our supply chain.
That led to my doing some consulting work for that Brooklyn-based company and it was very full-time, and it was fun. It was so completely different from what I had been doing, and there was a great appeal to that. Instead of trying to build a perfect bike for one person, I was trying to build a perfect bike in one size for thousands of people to use. It was an interesting transformation. The path that needed fixing was developing a supply solution from Asia, and for the first time in my business career, I went to Asia. I hadn’t had a reason to go because I’d been so committed to manufacturing in-house. It was great on so many levels. Relationships that I developed on those trips really made this next episode possible.VN: It’s clear there was some bitterness by the end of your split with Divine Cycle Group. Where did that leave you, mentally, regarding how you felt about the bike industry as a whole? What made you want to come back?BS: A variety of considerations. Yes, it was not pleasant. And actually, the final closure was, really, a final sting. The last two years I was pretty frustrated because all my energy was going into figuring out how to right the ship and not spending any time being creative. I never liked bicycles any less. I never liked being creative with bicycles any less. If anything, I’ve had this pent-up need to do something different and work with bikes.
Sure, it’s never pleasant to be actively reminded about the things that didn’t work so well. And the other way I’m embracing this and thinking to myself, it would have been really nice to not be lied to or deceived, and it would have nice to have had a ride into the sunset with the one company. On the other hand, a change of perspective, and going out to look at other manufacturing facilities, there are opportunities available to me now that weren’t there before.
Part of me is thinking I should have closed the chapter on that sooner and do things differently. I’m OK with that. There’s always a little bit of pain and remorse about how things went, but I’m not going to let that stand in the way of having fun and doing something constructive and being successful.VN: It sounds like you’ll be executing a consumer-direct model for your business. Why did you choose this? Purely dollars and cents, a reason to connect directly with customers, or a reflection on how bike shops are changing?BS: I would say all of the above.
I think that it’s no revelation that how business is done is changing and has been for a number of years. Expectations are changing. Available margins are shrinking. Those are absolutely realities. I had come to miss the personal relationship, having a closer relationship to the people using my bikes. That was one of the things I wanted to change from the past. This decision is by no means a dumping on bike retailers. A lot of the people in the industry who I hope would still consider me a friend — I’m not dissing them. It’s just recognizing there’s a lot of change going on.Photo: Serotta Design Studios
In the past, [a retailer’s] No. 1 brand concern had to be their brand, which means no other brand can have the same level of priority concern. The dealers own the relationships with the consumers and good retailers recognize that, and guard that very closely. By the nature of how that business is done, the manufacturer has a separation there — unless you work hard to put your foot in the middle of that, which we didn’t.
I wanted it to be a better relationship, but also to have a communication with our end users to see how we’re doing. We believe strongly in the product that we’re making now and the things we’re developing, but there’s nothing that beats direct interaction with the end user to find out if you’re right on target, not meeting the target, or blowing by the target in a good way.
There’s a value there that this time around we were grasping. That’s also an opportunity, and it’s our obligation to make sure the end user has the best possible experience, and that’s different for different people. Not everyone is ready to make a decision on their own. Some people know exactly what they want. But everyone values their time.
The one truth is, busy people in particular value their time and the quality of their time. So our goal is to spend their time wisely. To some people, that’s not spending time going to a bike shop and having a lot of conversations about what they want to buy. We want to take up less of their time. Our process if fairly open-ended. We’d like the transaction to go in whatever way the customer feels most comfortable. Most people have an idea of what they want and have had a bike fitting session or have a bike they already own that fits them well. And we make sure that their new bike is set up to that standard.
If there’s something we can’t resolve, we’ll connect the customer with a live bike fitter. If someone wants to maintain a relationship with a bike shop, then we want to accommodate that as well. We’re in this to deliver the best possible experience and the best value possible. We’re not setting up a dealer network but we’re happy to have relationships with retailers or independent mechanics or independent fitters as long as that’s what the consumer wants.VN: Why aluminum, when carbon seems to be the gold standard? Do you see a risk in putting the Serotta name on a frame made from a material that’s not considered top-of-the-line in your customers’ minds?BS: There are many risks in starting a business and choosing a product line and there were many decisions regarding going with aluminum, knowing full well that there’s considerable momentum toward carbon — though the momentum has slowed. At the end of the day, I realized we don’t need to excite everyone. We don’t need everyone who’s going to buy a new bike this year to buy one of ours to be successful.
Looking back over my years in the business, most of the time the decisions I made because it felt right to me, without particularly worrying about how well it would be received, usually were the most successful things I did. I’ve had to remind myself of that. It’s uncomfortable going against the grain of a trend, but I decided these bikes needn’t be what everyone was assuming they would be. They just needed to make sense to me. I freed myself from the burden of the bike having to be carbon or titanium.
The reason for going with metal bikes is my never-ending commitment to the notion of great bike fit. Fit is a combination of how the one thing — the bicyclist and the bicycle together — having a bike that you fit very well, makes more difference than any material difference. Every one of those materials has a poor version of it (carbon, metal, etc), so assuming we’re looking at top tier of everything, all of those products perform very well. This gives us the opportunity to make more uniquely distinct sizes.
Top-tier carbon fiber, the big hurdle there is the high cost of molds, so manufacturers make sizes that sometimes aren’t very different. And so I felt that coming to market with bikes that would fit great, and a system that would make sure people got a bike that would fit great, would offer more value in the end than the material it was made out of.
I then had the option of aluminum, steel, or titanium. I bought a Cannondale a couple of years ago. I hadn’t ridden an aluminum bike in a while, and I was really impressed with what they’d done. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted in the way the bike rode, but I felt I could get there with aluminum. And it didn’t have to behave like traditional aluminum bikes. If it was aluminum instead of titanium or steel, it could be a little bit lighter and somewhat less expensive than trying to manufacture bikes that would ride equally well out of the other materials.
Does it deliver the same bike as a super-high-quality, made-to-order carbon bike that might sell for $15,000? No, but it’s not far off of that. I’m confident that it has the ride qualities of any of the top tier bikes of the other materials.
Am I little bit nervous about how people receive the bike? Sure, but I have every bit of confidence that anyone who takes the plunge won’t regret it.VN: The bike still comes with some carbon parts, though.BS: Part of the reason we spec’d it as a complete bike rather than a frame only is because to me it’s important that a bike has a nice carbon handlebar and seatpost to help balance the smoothness of the bike. We did put a lot of time and effort into the fork. Both bikes share the same fork, which was a ground-up project. I was not happy with off-the-shelf disc road forks that were available. There were a lot of poor starts with disc brake-equipped road bikes, not understanding how forces go into the fork and frame.
So the fork is not only significant in how the bike feels, but it was also a significant investment of time and energy to make sure we had a fork that was really strong, durable, and had a great ride. Carbon fiber was the only material I’d use in a modern-day fork.
I never say yes to anything unless I’m really sure of it. The products we are working on now and in the future, there will be more use of composites because it’s an irresistible material to use. I don’t want to give the impression that carbon fiber is a bad material for bikes; just that good fit is the most important.
It is a Taiwan-made fork. I worked with my longtime friend and designing buddy Jay Clark — we worked for years together at Serotta. My trips to China and Taiwan, while working on the bikeshare bikes, gave me the comfort level and relationships I needed. They were really proud of the work they were doing and that really hit home for me. My years of preconceived notions had built this idea that no one over there cares what they’re doing, they’re just working. But this team of workers blew that away. They wanted to show they were capable of solving a problem without somebody from North America telling them what to do. It was really a significant experience for me. So our goal with making this fork was to find the best facility, best company to work with based on what we were trying to do.VN: On your website, you mention you’re not much of a gravel bike fan. Why not?BS: The only way I reject the notion of gravel is, the notion that you need to have a specialty bike in order to ride on gravel. There’s nothing wrong with having the right number of bikes, N+1, if you have the space and are an equipment geek and have the resources to keep adding to your collection. That’s great. But again, as I said, I’m absolutely blessed to have spent my life so far in the northeast in upstate New York. It has unbelievable road cycling and mountain biking and everything in between. So I’ve always been able to do a bit of everything because it’s here. Most of the riding I do is on pavement, not that it’s always great pavement. So I do really enjoy the slightly wider rims and tires and lower tire pressures.
Part of the appeal to some people of finding these gravel roads is the absence of traffic. So for cyclists that live in a heavily-trafficked area I understand the appeal. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on a bike that’s well-suited for everything. There’s no question that the bike industry as a whole will embrace anything new that might give people a reason to embrace the N+1 idea.
I understand it’s not for me to say it’s wrong to do, but the idea of trying to convince people they need something completely different …
People write me all the time wishing me good luck and then tell me about the bike they still have that’s 15 or 20 years old that they ride on Sundays because they can take it anywhere. That’s the way I look at this. What I love about riding a bike is, I don’t have to do anything other than change my clothes, pump my tires, and go out the back door. The one thing that troubles me about these specialty bikes is, it usually means turning a ride into an excursion first before you actually end up going for a ride.VN: What kind of bottom brackets do you use in your bikes? And were other styles considered? T47, for example.BS: The aluminum bike is PF30. The steel is British standard threads with a 68mm bottom bracket. It works just fine. Am I considering other choices? Yes, I do my best to keep up with the new ideas that are out there without prematurely embracing something. My commitment to myself and my customers is to deliver a product that I know they will really enjoy having. And that means a fairly high degree of tried-and-true experience so there’s a level of confidence there.Photo: Serotta Design Studios
This is an industry with a lot of enthusiastic people in it, which is a great thing. It also evolves out of people trying to sell stuff. Bike choice is more complicated than it should be, and to a degree that it takes away from the purchasing experience. On the one hand, there are some folks that, bikes are their one thing and they can afford 20 bikes in their garage and can try everything that comes along. But my vision for this business — it’s not to say any of this stuff isn’t any good because that wouldn’t be honest or true, but I want to take the other end of the spectrum.
Right now I’m focused on road bikes and the next few things will be road-oriented, and we’ll branch out in time. But my goal right now, if you mostly ride on the road and want a new road bike, I’m telling you we’ve thought this through from top to bottom and you’re going to love this bike.
I made a decision pretty recently, about a month ago, based on an inquiry from a customer who is short but not unusually short. I made a decision to really throw us back into having a smaller wheel option. There have always been builders who offered to build bikes with a smaller pair of wheels to allow smaller riders to be in the best riding position for power and handling without excessive toe overlap. There was a brief period of time when Serotta was building bikes like that. The people that got those bikes absolutely loved them and realized they weren’t giving up anything in terms of speed and performance but were gaining handling because the bikes were proportioned properly.
But we never got the advantage in sales because the industry was so heavily male-dominated and there was misinformation about using different size wheels. Based on this customer inquiry, I decided this just does not make sense trying to convince someone who is shorter than 5-foot-4 to be farther behind the bottom bracket than the small bikes that these wheels are built for. I said screw it, I’m going to add these few sizes and the opportunity to do custom. I’m excited by that. I’m pleased to see that Canyon has an offering in their line. We have our fork mold that’s almost finished, and new forks being made to accommodate a 559 rim diameter as opposed to a 584.
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The snow hasn’t melted, and the air still bites on our rides. But the racing season will be here before you know it. Now is the time to start gearing up for your favorite races, and we have the tools to make it your fastest season ever. The VeloNews Plan is the best, most comprehensive training guide we’ve ever published. Cheer up — spring is almost here. And you’re going to be really fast.
Two of my favorite books on training — both written by highly successful and well-known coaches — explain what is and isn’t important for successful training. One book states that having a coach and a plan is critical. e other says that what’s least important is — you guessed it — a coach and a plan. Unfortunately, that’s the reality with physiological training in the modern era. For every philosophy on training, there is a contradictory movement that, in some cases, is just as successful. Within this world of competing ideologies and science, the only sure thing is that there is no such thing as a perfect plan. So, what is really required for successful training? I’ll throw my take into the mix and say what’s most important is understanding — the how, why, and purpose of your training.
For the VeloNews Plan, we’ve deliberately stayed away from providing a plan that spells out what to do on Monday and what to do on Tuesday, and so forth. Instead, we focus on helping you understand your training. For those of you who believe the plan is most important, we have a basic template you can follow. For the rest of you, we break down the elements and key concepts of a training program to allow you to better understand the purpose of training, evaluate your existing plan, and/or work with your coach to refine how your approach your regimen.
Let’s take a look at our plan’s key organizational concepts.
Time to overload
There are many principles in the world of training physiology, but the overload principle is at the root of them all.
It simply states that to improve, we must stress our bodies with a training load that’s beyond what we can normally handle. Then we must rest so that our bodies can rebuild, adapt, and achieve a higher level — called super-compensation. No matter if your plan is old-school or cutting-edge, it must incorporate periods of overload and then recovery. If you learn only one thing from this article, make sure you understand the benefits of working in cycles of stress and rest. (Too many of us forget the rest part.)
In the endurance world, the level of stress is often referred to as training stress and is measured by a training stress score (TSS), invented by Hunter Allen and Dr. Andy Coggan. TSS can help assess your overload and rest.
Tip 1: I tell my athletes, “Be as intense in your recovery as you are in your training.” Your recovery must be commensurate to your overload, or else the body will not rebuild and you’ll end up weaker.
Targeting with zones
Overloading doesn’t just apply to your muscles. It’s possible to target an overload to one or two of your body’s energy systems, such as your anaerobic power or aerobic endurance systems.
In fact, the current most popular training method, block periodization, centers around training in short two- to eight-week specialized blocks that target only a few systems at a time. Many studies have shown that we get less out of training when we try to target all energy systems at once. A 2012 study on cyclists in Norway saw greater gains in those who employed a block-periodized approach.
On the bike, we improve these energy systems by training in zones. As a rule of thumb, training in each zone stresses one or two energy systems while minimally impacting others.
Tip 2: Harder is not always better. If you only do intervals and group rides, you may build great anaerobic and lactate threshold systems. But your aerobic endurance will suffer.
All effective training zone models center on two key metabolic events that occur as we increase our intensity. The two events are commonly called thresholds.
The higher threshold, often called the anaerobic or lactate threshold, represents the highest power or heart rate that can be sustained aerobically. The lower threshold, called the aerobic threshold, is the point where blood lactate levels begin to rise. It is the point at which we begin to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Many physiologists use three zones, delineated by the two thresholds. In reality, our physiological zones overlap, so for training purposes, most coaches and training systems identify more. Here are rough divisions of a basic five-zone model:Zone 1 – Training below aerobic threshold. Target: aerobic enduranceZone 2 – Aerobic threshold. Target: aerobic endurance and fatigue resistanceZone 3 – e range between the thresholds. Target: lactate clearanceZone 4 – Lactate threshold. Target: maximal sustainable powerZone 5 – This zone is often broken down further into such things as VO2max, anaerobic capacity, and anaerobic strength. Target: anaerobic pathways and maximal capacities.
Finding your zones
It’s important to determine both heart rate and power zones, if you have a power meter. The best training approaches use both.
Tip 3: I prefer my athletes do their longer endurance rides by heart rate so they can monitor physiological responses, and short interval work by power since heart rate is slow to respond. Watching heart rate relative to power can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body.
A lactate test in a respected physiology lab is the best way to identify your zones. It’s worth the money and, if necessary, the travel. However, if you must test yourself and you have a power meter, we recommend the following protocol used by Apex Coaching in Boulder, Colorado and by Hunter Allen:Warm-up: 30-45 minutes5-second test: Do three to four all-out 5-second sprints, separated by 2 minutes. Rest 3-4 minutes.5-minute test: Do a 5-minute time trial, preferably on a climb. Rest 10-15 minutes.20-minute test: Do a 20-minute time trial on a road with minimal traffic. Rest 10 minutes.1-minute test: Do a 1-minute effort.
Each of the tests should be treated like a race. The 5-second effort is a good estimate of your anaerobic strength. The 1-minute test shows your anaerobic capacity, the 5-minute test gives your VO2max power, and the 20-minute test is an estimate of your anaerobic threshold or functional threshold power (FTP), if you multiply it by 0.95.
Even if you undergo a proper lab test, do the road test within a week to compare results. Then repeat the test about every six weeks to monitor changes.
The disadvantage of this test protocol is that it only really measures zones 4 and above. But as a general guideline, your aerobic threshold is 85 percent of your anaerobic threshold. Here are the approximate zones expressed as a percentage of FTP:
Zone 1: 101%
Find your volume
The last thing to do before starting your training plan is to determine your volume.
Start by adding up your total volume and typical weekly volume from the previous year. As a rule of thumb, you should never increase your volume more than 10-15 percent year-to-year.
Build your season
Periodization is just a fancy term for dividing your training season into periods of specialized training focused on a few energy systems. For our plan, we chose a simplified version of Vladimir Issurin’s block periodization, which is currently one of the popular periodization strategies in cycling.
The plan consists of four phases, or mesocycles. These include a base phase focused on building aerobic endurance; a high-stress build phase designed to hone race form; a race/peak phase when the athlete backs down and focuses on racing; and, finally, a rest and “rebase” phase. These phases can be repeated as many as seven times over the course of a season.
Periodize your overload
The overload principle is the foundation of proper periodization. It takes approximately three to six weeks to build a proper overload, and another one to three weeks to recover. Therefore, our mesocycles (and microcycles) tend to be three to six weeks in length.
If you look at the three in-season phases, the build phase is designed to accumulate a high training stress to overload the energy systems critical for race form. During the race/peak phase you should drop your weekly training stress significantly to allow recovery and a super-compensation. Finally, the rest phase allows the body to fully recover and adapt before repeating the full cycle.
In our plan, the 12-week base phase is far and away the longest block, but is divided into three shorter blocks, or microcycles. Each microcycle is designed to finish with a high TSS week followed by a week of recovery. Remember: overload, compensate, repeat.
As your fitness improves, your average weekly TSS should go up. But what’s important is its relative level — is it above or below what your body can handle.
Time your cycles
Athletes commonly train too hard in November. Then, they hit their best numbers on a group ride in February and burn out by May. Effective training isn’t just about getting strong. It’s about getting strong at the right time.
Race form only lasts about nine weeks before it starts to fall off. Peak form lasts for an even shorter time — only a few weeks.
One of the advantages of block periodization is that you can repeat the mesocycles many times across the season. This allows for multiple peaks. Each time you repeat the blocks, it takes less time to hit your stride.
A well-designed plan times the race/peak phase with a key event. Following the event, there is a rest, and then the cycle repeats for the next race.
A good season plan centers on the timing of your race form. To do this, start by picking your target events. It takes about nine weeks to go from base form to peak form. So, count back nine weeks from your first target event to determine when to finish base training.
Base training targets energy systems that are slow to adapt. It can take several months, especially if you’re new to cycling. So, count back another 12 to 14 weeks to determine when to start base training.
After your first peak, repeating the phases from rest to peak can take as few as four to six weeks.
Marcel Kittel undergoes a VO2max test at the Bakala Academy. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
When to race
While you want to line up your race/peak phase with important races, that doesn’t mean you only race in that phase. In fact, you can race in any phase. Just remember to choose realistic goals.
Racing at the end of your base phase can be a great way to start your transition into race form, but you likely aren’t going to win. Use those races for training.
The bulk of your racing should be done during your build phase and your race/peak phase. While your best chance to win is in the latter phase, that doesn’t mean you can’t seek a result during the build phase.
Periodize your energy systems
A key tenant of periodization is targeting only a few aspects of your form at a time. The concern is that you may lose what you gained in one area as you focus on the next.
Fortunately, once an aspect of your form (and the corresponding energy system) has been developed, it takes significantly less work to maintain it. Regular repetition of short blocks ensures you never go too long without doing focused work in any one area.
These two facts allow for very specialized training of a few targets during each phase without having to worry about losing form.
The question is: What are the areas to target?
Our plan focuses on energy systems. We chose to target energy systems instead of types of work because our bodies don’t know the difference between sprinting and time trials. They simply respond to the call to produce the energy required for the activity. Physiologically, the energy system is what we overload and help adapt — not time trial form.
The major issue with this approach is that energy systems don’t fit as nicely into training methods. Most workouts (sprints, threshold intervals, etc.) stress multiple systems.
Tip 4: A TSS score doesn’t indicate which energy systems are stressed. It’s simply a measure of total stress. One of your most important responsibilities as an athlete is to make sure you are generating TSS with the right types of training and not just seek a high score through any means.
So, when deciding what to target, it can be important to combine energy systems that tend to get stressed together. For example, threshold work tends to also work our aerobic endurance system. So it makes sense to target lactate threshold and endurance together.
Likewise, top-end work such as VO2max intervals and sprints, while great for building our high-energy systems, also tend to work our lower energy systems. So, they are great during the season to build race form as well as to maintain the endurance honed during the base phase.
We defined seven energy systems for our plan:Aerobic endurance (E): This is the system we rely on for pure non-fatiguing aerobic work. It is defined by the efficiency and strength of our slow-twitch muscle fibers and our heart’s ability to deliver oxygenated blood. This system is maximally stressed at around 65 percent of our maximum heart rate. So, producing sufficient TSS doesn’t take intense work, just lots of time in zones 1 and some in zone 2.Aerobic threshold (AeT): While this is a subset of aerobic endurance, many pros have found benefits trying to train right at their aerobic threshold for several hours at a time. It raises the maximal power they can ride at without producing considerable fatigue. For road racers and, particularly, stage racers, this is a critical and often overlooked energy system. Imagine being able to spend three hours in a fast-paced peloton and finishing just as fresh as you started.Intra-threshold/lactate clearance (C): In the scientific literature, the range between our two thresholds is simply called our “threshold.” In this range, our bodies can achieve a steady state for a time but will ultimately fatigue. In the struggle to maintain balance, our bodies will rely on multiple energy systems. It makes training in this range controversial.
Steven Seiler, Ph.D. considers this area “no man’s land,” claiming it provides no additional gains over lower intensity aerobic endurance work and leads to burnout.
Dr. Andrew Coggan, however, refers to it as “sweet spot training” because of its ability to target many energy systems. And since it doesn’t produce the same damage as high-intensity intervals, sweet spot work can be done on multiple days in a row, producing a much greater training stress.
A few things are certain: We maximize our lactate clearance and fat burning in this range. We also spend a fair amount of time racing between the thresholds. So, at least some time training there seems warranted.Anaerobic/lactate threshold (T): Training our lactate threshold is so fundamental to endurance sports it’s been given over 20 different names and definitions — FTP, VT2, MLSS, and the list goes on. All are some variation on the maximum power we can produce in an aerobic steady state. More importantly, if you want a result, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time racing at that wattage. So, you need to spend substantial time training it.
Tip 5: Our anaerobic and aerobic thresholds tend to improve and detrain with one another. Training one helps the other. ey also take the longest to see substantial gains, making them good targets for your pre-season training.
Aerobic capacity/VO2max (I): We can still produce more power aerobically beyond our lactate threshold — we just can’t maintain a steady state. Our VO2max is simply our biggest aerobic output. A lab can help you find your VO2max power, but a 5-minute all-out effort is a good estimate. A major adaptation of training this system is to teach typically anaerobic muscle fibers to work aerobically.Anaerobic capacity (AC)/strength (S): Any work above VO2max is done entirely through anaerobic pathways. While cycling is an aerobic sport, you only need to spend that last few kilometers of a race trying to stay at the front of the field to understand the value of a well-developed anaerobic energy system.Neuromuscular recruitment (N): The ability to recruit your muscles in a synchronized firing pattern affects both your efficiency and economy, so you require less energy to produce the same power. Training neuromuscular recruitment aids all your energy systems.
Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of training, it’s time to build your own training plan. For that, see Part 2, coming soon.For more training expertise, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk podcast. Fast Talk is available on all your favorite podcast services, including iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Soundcloud.
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Winning La Course, the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour, and a world time trial title, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) enjoyed the finest season of her career in 2017. With the calendar turned over to 2018, the Dutchwoman is aiming for an encore.
Putting together a strong campaign starts with the offseason and a winter of training. Van Vleuten has added an appearance at track worlds to her schedule, but beyond that, she’s sticking to the same routine that worked so well for her last year.
“I’m 35 and had a good season last year, so no reason to change something. Only, I’m targeting the world championships on the track, so that means my preparation will be slightly different,” van Vlueten told VeloNews in a phone interview from Australia last week. “But so far it’s the same. I had a holiday and started off the first month with some long endurance rides. I’ve done five weeks of training and now’s the Tour Down Under, so I don’t expect a great shape at the moment.”
Despite her low expectations, van Vleuten still managed to finish sixth overall at the Santos Women’s Tour this past week. Her teammate Amanda Spratt claimed the overall victory.
Van Vleuten is a contender on practically any parcours, but during the past season and a half she has emerged as an especially dangerous climber. She nearly rode to a gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, only to crash out of the race 11 kilometers from the line. Teammate Anna van der Breggen went on to win the race. Van Vleuten went to the hospital.
She recovered from the fall, however, and showed off her climbing prowess even more in her very impressive 2017 campaign.
Although her experience in Rio may appear to have been a catalyst for van Vleuten’s success, she insists her emergence as an uphill threat was simply a matter of adjusting her focus.
“A lot of people try to relate it, like after the crash I had an amazing season. But actually in the Olympic race season and on the Olympic day, I was already on a really good level,” she pointed out. “I don’t think the crash had anything to do with it. I saw the course in 2016 and realized that if I wanted to do anything, I needed to focus more on my climbing abilities and that made me into a rider that’s more capable of riding uphill. From then on, I stepped up.”
Her 2018 plans take Austria’s climber-friendly worlds profile into account.
“The Tour of Flanders will be my first big race, with other targets in the spring classics, like the Ardennes. Then the Giro d’Italia and the world championships. The world championships in Innsbruck is a course that really suits me,” she said.
“It’s very unique. It’s nice for the climbers. It’s a big chance for me to perform there really well. It’s a really selective course and that makes me even more motivated.”
Having spent a decade as a pro racer, van Vleuten acknowledges that she’s no spring chicken anymore. Given her recent string of successes, however, she’s enjoying the ride as much as ever. It probably helps that she has seen what she calls “huge” improvements in women’s cycling over the last 10 years. Although she says there’s still a long way to go, van Vleuten can trace significant progress from when she started racing.
“You see more crowds follow women’s cycling after the Rio Olympics, after the London Olympics. You see it more on television. Also at the Tour Down Under where I’m going now, I see that they step up every year and make it better and better,” she said. “People are following it and they ask now, they want to follow it on television. They are eager to follow it on social media. It’s big how it’s changing.
“It’s super nice for me to see, from 2008 with a lot of non-professional teams [and] now there are a lot of girls that get paid. Well, not a lot but way more than in 2008, when almost everyone had a job next to their cycling career. Now you see more and more girls can be full-time athletes. There’s still a lot to improve, because not everyone is a full-time athlete, but I think where we came from, from 2008, it’s good.”
Considering how much fun she’s having as one of the peloton’s top riders right now, van Vleuten isn’t planning to hang up the wheels any time soon. That’s a bit of a surprise even to her.
“I thought already in the London Olympics, ‘Oh, at Rio I’ll be 33 and then I’ll end my career and it’s time to do something else.’ But I still love it so much that stopping is not really on my mind yet. Especially the level I had last year makes me eager,” she said.
“I’m not really thinking about what to do after. But I’m sure it will be something in sports, that’s what I’m very passionate about, especially to work with young athletes.”
For now, it’s all about the racing for van Vleuten, who figures to be a rider to watch every time she pins on a number in 2018.
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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Giro d’Italia organizer RCS Sport may decide the fate of several teams Friday when it announces the wildcard invitations for the 2018 race.
Italy’s top organizer will select four Pro Continental teams to compete alongside the 18 WorldTour teams that have guaranteed places on the Giro’s start list.
For Italian teams, “it is everything” to race in the biggest race on their home soil. Not being included in the field risks the squads’ futures. More Giro newsDumoulin considering Giro-Tour double in 2018
Dutch Journalist: Dumoulin’s Giro decision will give Dutch cycling a boost
VeloNews awards 2017: Giro stage 16 is race of the year
Report: Defending Giro champ Dumoulin will return in 2018
More Giro news
Dumoulin considering Giro-Tour double in 2018The Dutchman said he will make a final decision after the Italian grand tour in May.
“To race the Giro for an Italian team means securing sponsors for the next year and also for the current year. To have more security,” Wilier Triestina sport director Luca Scinto told VeloNews.
“As a professional continental team it’s everything for us. Then if you go and win a stage, it’s even better!”
The race, scheduled for May 4-27, will be the first grand tour to begin outside of Europe in Jerusalem. The deal, according to VeloNews sources, is to be worth 10 million euros for RCS Sport.
Recent strife in Jerusalem, however, may force the Giro to start elsewhere. Race director Mauro Vegni said last month RCS Sport is ready for a Plan B if that becomes necessary.
The four wildcard invitations will be delivered Friday. Given the start and the local organizer’s contribution, VeloNews understands that Team Israel Cycling Academy will receive one of the four. The squad includes American Tyler Williams and stars Ben Hermans and Rubén Plaza.
The remaining three selections appear headed to Italian teams Wilier Triestina, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, and either Nippo-Vini Fantini or Bardiani-CSF.
Ireland’s Aqua Blue Sport, which has U.S. road race champion Larry Warbasse on its roster, will not race, according to two sources close to the decision. After a 2017 debut season that included a Vuelta a España ride and stage win with Stefan Denifl, the team may not race in any of the three grand tours in 2018.
The Tour de France last week named its four wildcard teams for July: Belgium’s Wanty-Groupe Gobert and France’s Cofidis, Direct Energie, and Fortuneo-Samsic.
After years with Russia’s Gazprom and Poland’s CCC, RCS Sport’s selection will be Italian flavored. That is music to the ears of many teams struggling to continue each year in Italy, still crippled by the Eurozone crisis.
“These teams animate the racing the first week with escapes,” Scinto continued. “The WorldTour teams have other goals, overall classification and so on, but ours make a good show.”
The Wilier team includes one of Italy’s top stars, Filippo Pozzato. Pozzato struggled to find his best form in recent years, his last win coming in 2013, but he draws crowds and television cameras.
The two other invitations should land in the mailbox of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec and Bardiani-CSF. Both come with baggage.
Bardiani built its reputation as the “green team” in Italy producing young talent. Sonny Colbrelli and Enrico Battaglin both graduated to ride for WorldTour squads.
On the eve of the 2017 Giro, however, two of the team’s riders — Niccola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi — tested positive for human growth hormones. Given its history and the lack of options, Bardiani should still race.
“We’re not going to hide that we are slightly worried, given what happened at the start last year,” Bardiani-CSF sport director Roberto Reverberi said.
“The organization should take into consideration the 30 years of our team. Our team has nothing to do with [the positive tests] at all. Even in the big teams, it happens.”
If Bardiani is overlooked, the organizer could send the invitation to Nippo Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini. The team includes 2004 Giro champion Damiano Cunego who, like Pozzato, has not won lately. Cunego said he will retire at the end of May regardless of whether he competes in the Giro.
Androni missed the 2016 and 2017 editions but is certain for 2018 with its Italian Cup classification victory last season.
Some will celebrate Friday, but a blow, one with possible dire consequences, will be delivered from RCS Sport’s Milan headquarters to one unlucky team Friday.
As Androni’s sport director Alessandro Spezialetti put it, “being left out of our home tour is a big blow.”
Without the television publicity of the Giro and a chance to race in the other two grand tours, sponsorship funding could wither like a grape that’s been forgotten in Italy’s vineyards.
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Elia Viviani not only took his maiden victory of the 2018 season on Thursday but also scored the first victory of the season for his team, Quick-Step Floors, in Victor Harbor at the Santos Tour Down Under. Viviani joined Quick-Step Floors in the offseason from Team Sky.
Cheeky sprinting tactics from Caleb Ewan cost Mitchelton-Scott the victory, as it appeared Ewan thought his lead-out man, Alex Edmondson, was quick enough to take the stage, but that was not the case. Viviani came on strong in the end and Ewan started his sprint much too late to follow the Italian. Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) finished second, as Ewan ended the day in third.
However, Ewan extended his lead in the general classification over his teammate Daryl Impey to 16 seconds. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) sits third overall, 12-seconds behind.
Top 10, stage 3
1. Elia Viviani, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 03:04:40
2. Phil Bauhau, TEAM SUNWEB, at 0:00
3. Caleb Ewan, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:00
4. Simone Consonni, UAE-TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:00
5. Peter Sagan, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 0:00
6. Simon Clarke, EF EDUCATION FIRST-DRAPAC, at 0:00
7. Alex Edmondson, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:00
8. Zakkari Dempster, UNISA, at 0:00
9. Dries Devenyns, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:00
10. Jay Mccarthy, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 0:00
Top 10 GC after stage 3
1. Caleb Ewan, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, in 07:54:00
2. Daryl Impey, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:10
3. Peter Sagan, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:12
4. Jay McCarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:12
5. Nathan Haas, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:15
6. Jhonatan Restrepo, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:15
7. Elia Viviani, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:16
8. Simone Consonni, UAE-TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:16
9. Carlos Barbero, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:16
10. Anthony Roux, FDJ, at 0:16
Thursday’s third stage of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under began in Glenelg and finished along the coast in Victor Harbor. The stage was originally slated to be 146.5 kilometers with three laps of 13 kilometers each around Victor Harbor, but extreme heat caused organizers to cut two of the finishing circuits, in the name of protecting the riders. Thus, the stage was only 120.5-kilometers long.
For the third day in a row, Scott Bowden (UniSA) and Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data) were in the breakaway. They were the only two riders to go up the road and the duo would build a maximum advantage of over five minutes before the sprinter teams took to the front of the peloton to keep the leaders in check.
Dlamini crossed the KOM point at Penny’s Hill Road (Cat. 1, 2.8km at 7.6%) after 38 kilometers of racing in first position to extend his lead in the King of the Mountains classification. At this point in the stage, the mercury had crept over the 100-degree Fahrenheit mark.
With 55 kilometers to go, Bowden was all alone in the lead as Dlamini dropped back to the peloton, which was led by Lotto Soudal. Greipel came to the Tour Down Under with good form, as he won the opening stage of the race on Tuesday. Wednesday’s stage was a bit too tough for The Gorilla to contest for the stage win, so he was looking for win number two of the 2018 race on Thursday.
The hot temperatures took its toll on the riders as the stage went on. The pace was not terribly fast for a flat stage like on Thursday. Bowden was broke back into the peloton with just under 20 kilometers to go. Although, the young rider on team UniSA wasn’t so much as chased down by the peloton, as he chose to sit up and go back to the bunch.
Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin) attacked out of the peloton a few kilometers later and crossed the finish line to begin the 13-kilometer finishing circuit with a 15-second advantage over the peloton. Lotto Soudal and Mitchelton-Scott continued to do the bulk of the work at the front of the main bunch. Machado’s attack would be short-lived and he was brought back with eight kilometers to go.
The run-in to the finish was quick, as the circuit climbed inland, thus leaving a high-speed descent back to the coast where the finish line was located. Mitchelton-Scott seemed to have its tactics sorted out, as five riders were at the front of the peloton keeping the pace high for Ewan on the descent into Victor Harbor.
Inside the final kilometer, Mitchelton-Scott still controlled the peloton with Ewan sitting in third position. The final lead rider for the Aussie sprint phenom was newly crowned Australian national road race champion Edmondson. Edmondson sprinted hard on the front of the peloton and appeared to be charging to victory with Ewan on his wheel.
Ewan took a glance over his left shoulder as the finish line approached and saw a streak of blue powering toward the line. He quickly realized Edmondson would not hold on to take the stage win and he needed to sprint himself. Viviani came quickly though and got the jump on Ewan, giving him no shot at the victory. Ewan began his sprint late enough that he was also passed by Bauhaus right on the line.
A shake-up in the general classification could occur on Friday’s fourth stage of the Santos Tour Down Under from Norwood to Uradlia, as the only categorized climb of the day comes extremely late in the stage. The riders will summit the cat. 1 Norton Summit Road (5.8km @ 5%) with a mere 7.4 kilometers remaining. In a post-stage interview on Thursday, Ewan admitted he will probably lose the Ochre Leader’s jersey tomorrow and instead focus on Sunday’s final stage in downtown Adelaide. The penultimate stage of the 2018 Tour Down Under finishes atop the famed Old Willunga Hill.
Furthermore, Friday’s stage will start at 10:30 a.m. local time, an hour earlier than originally scheduled. This decision was made by race organizers because high temperatures are expected again.Full results to come
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ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — South Australia’s extreme heatwave conditions have forced Santos Tour Down Under organizers to shorten Thursday’s third stage from Glenelg to Victor Harbor.
With temperatures forecast to climb above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), race director Mike Turtur said the distance of the stage had been reduced by 26 kilometers or two laps of the final circuit.
“The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators, and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” Turtur said in a statement. “We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our Chief Commissaire, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”
Hansen said, “It’s a shame for the fans that they will see [two] fewer circuit, but I think it’s the right decision to reduce the stage today. It’s important to consider the health of the riders. In heat like this, a little bit shorter will not change the outcome of the race.
Australian Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) leads the general classification over his teammate Daryl Impey with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy third overall. Thursday’s stage is expected to end in a sprint finish.
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Warning: The following column contains opinion and speculation about the Chris Froome/Salbutamol anti-doping case. There, you’ve been warned.
In case you missed it, French newspaper L’Equipe reported on Tuesday that Chris Froome and Sky are considering a legal defense that argues his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol was the result of kidney failure.
Yes, kidney failure.
Under this possible defense strategy, lawyers could argue that Froome’s kidneys malfunctioned during the Vuelta a España, retained the salbutamol, and then released it all at once, which is why his urine contained twice the allowable limit of the asthma drug.
Boy, that’s a helluva explanation.
It appears that the British team is prepared to take its anti-doping cases into the realm of what I refer to as the “head-slap zone.” That’s the realm in which the explanations are so unlikely and far-fetched that even casual cycling fans slap their heads in amazement. Yes, this is the realm of Tyler Hamilton’s chimeric vanishing twin, Lance Armstrong’s French conspiracy, Raimondas Rumsas’s “The steroids were for my mother-in-law,” Adrie van der Poel eating juiced pigeons, or Gilberto Simoni taking a cocaine cough drop from Peru. Simply reading those excuses in succession makes me want to slap my head.
There, I just slapped myself.
As a lover of all things cycling, I sincerely hope Froome and Sky back away from the kidney defense, if not for their reputations, then for the good of the sport. Cycling has already produced the lion’s share of slap-worthy doping explanations within the global realm of sports. In fact, no other sport is as synonymous with these excuses as cycling. So do we really need to add another one to the list?
You see, the purpose of these confusing and far-fetched defenses is to override the desire that we, the public, have to find the explanation that is most basic and simple. Yes, we are searching for Occam’s Razor. Chimeric twins and French conspiracies are not Occam’s Razor.
For those who are not familiar with the philosophic principle, here is a quick primer. When given multiple explanations as to why something occurred, the simplest, most basic answer is probably the correct one. The more complex answer — the one with more leap-of-faith assumptions — is likely incorrect.
Since day one of this mess, cyclists and cycling fans have asked me what is the Occam’s Razor for the Froome case. So over the past few weeks, I have posed the question to experts in the realm of medicine and sports science. Doctors, researchers, and so on. You have likely read about some of these experts on our site in recent weeks.
My questions: What’s the simplest explanation in the Froome case? What is Occam’s Razor here, given the facts of the case?
Those facts, as a reminder, are that Froome recorded twice the legal limit of salbutamol after stage 18 of the Vuelta. On the day prior to stage 18 and the day after, his salbutamol levels were fine. Froome is known to be asthmatic, and to take a Salbutamol inhaler. These inhalers are legal to use, and the volume of salbutamol they excrete is not known to regularly record a number that high.
To a person, these doctors and researchers have provided a similar answer to the Occam’s Razor question: Froome either took an oral dose of salbutamol, or he used a salbutamol nebulizer. Both methods are forbidden by WADA code.
Do these doctors know what happened? No—only Froome and his team know. Still, this Occam’s Razor is simple, and honestly, it does not make me want to slap myself. After all, it fits into a logical narrative that is also easy to fathom:
It was the final week of the 2017 Vuelta a España, and Chris Froome had a cold. And the cold inflamed his asthma. Note: many asthmatics (myself included) are familiar with this pattern. Even a basic head cold eventually ends up in our lungs, causing wheezing, tightness, and endless fits of phlegmy coughing.
Froome battled the coughs with his salbutamol inhaler. When a respiratory infection meets asthma, however, the coughing and wheezing can get bad. Using the puffer is akin to squirting a garden hose on a five-alarm fire.
Froome needed a firehose. And in this situation, the firehose was either a salbutamol tablet or a salbutamol nebulizer. Those are the methods that can deliver a big enough dose to douse the flames.
But there’s a problem: Oral salbutamol is banned, and nebulizers require a TUE. And the dose that both of these methods deliver is almost guaranteed to surpass the legal threshold.
Froome faced a tough choice. He could quit; he could continue, and risk his health, or he could gamble with the banned method.
The Occam’s Razor explanation is that Froome and Sky chose to gamble. Perhaps their calculus was that he could over-hydrate the next day and dilute his urine enough to avoid a positive test. Or that Sky’s political relationships within the sport would override what would surely be a minor infraction.
At first, the plan worked. Froome attacked on the stage 18 climb to Alto de Santo Toribo de Liébana, zipping away from Vincenzo Nibali. And then, the plan failed spectacularly. Froome’s pee sample recorded twice the legal limit for salbutamol.
Is this what actually occurred? It’s cycling, so we may never know.
Of course the Occam’s Razor here is comparatively tame when compared to the doping stories of old. Did Chris Froome cheat? I don’t know. He suffered from asthma, and perhaps took a dose of his medication that was above the legal limit. Did he visit a clandestine Spanish blood doping doctor? No. Did he orchestrate an elaborate team-wide doping program, and then get people to sign non-disclosure agreements and have his lawyers distribute “Lack of Credibility” documents when anyone talked? No. Did he blame grandma? No.
But cycling has rules, and athletes must live on one side of a black-and-white divide. So while the Occam’s Razor in the Froome situation presents an explanation we can understand, it also presents one that, according to the rules, is a violation.
The simplest explanation of the Froome case is perhaps not worthy of a head slap — just a head shake.
The post Commentary: The simplest explanation for Froome’s salbutamol test appeared first on VeloNews.com.
More episodes of the VeloNews Cycling PodcastVN podcast, ep. 65: Can Porte win the Tour? CX Nats preview
VN podcast, ep. 64: The big stories of 2018; religion in cycling
VN podcast: Rally riders prep for 2018… no bikes needed
VN podcast, ep. 63: What doctors are saying about Froome case
More episodes of the VeloNews Cycling Podcast
VN podcast, ep. 65: Can Porte win the Tour? CX Nats previewRichie Porte is always a favorite in grand tours, but his record is actually quite patchy. We debate that and preview CX nationals in Reno.
Welcome to the VeloNews cycling podcast, where we discuss the latest trends, news, and controversies in the world of cycling.
With Katie Compton crushing her 14th title and Stephen Hyde battling Jeremy Powers for his second title, CX Nats was an instant classic. We look back on the key races, and what’s ahead for the best American cyclocross racers.
Also in this show, we discuss the 2018 Women’s WorldTour. Some key riders have moved to new teams, but will that stop Boels-Dolmans from winning nearly any race? The Dutch powerhouse team looks as good as ever.
If you like what you hear, subscribe to the VeloNews podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Also, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk training podcast with Trevor Connor.
The post VN podcast, ep. 66: CX Nats rundown; will Boels keep winning? appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Ian Garrison is one of the country’s premier up-and-coming racers, and a member of the Hagens Berman Axeon pro cycling team. He’s also a member of USA Cycling’s national team development program, funded by donations to USA Cycling’s Foundation.
My daily schedule varies depending on what time of the week, month, or year it is, but for the most part, I try and keep relatively structured. This schedule outlines what my typical training day looks during the off-season, a time where building a foundation for the season is key, but without of the specifics that come with in-season training.
I have a couple of goals in mind when building my off-season training day. The first is low mental stress. There will be plenty of nose to the grindstone days during the race season and for that reason, the offseason is about resetting mind and body so that I can come in as fresh as possible come March. The second is keeping in mind my goals for the upcoming season. I find it helpful to remember what you are working towards and because I will be starting part of my season with the National Team at the U23 spring classics, these races act as a target while moving through the off-season months.
With all that in mind, here’s what a typical day of training might look like for me.
7:30am: Wake up
● I’ll start drinking a liter of water and finish it by the time I am done at the gym
7:30am-8:00am: 20 minutes of meditation
● My coach introduced meditation to me and over the years it has just become part of my morning routine
● The gym is a great resource to help lay the foundation in the off-season. Sessions are
never crushing, they just for a different type of muscle stimulation and strength building
● My workouts consist of a combination of exercises, primary focused around the legs (as
you would assume)
Photo credit: Ian Garrison
● I find I have to eat a large breakfast or else I’m starving by dinner time.
● I pretty much eat the same thing every day, varying quantity depending on the day’s training load.
● What I eat: Eggs with vegetables (spinach or Kale), oatmeal, and a cup of coffee
● I’ll also use this time to try to respond to whatever emails I need to or complete any little
things around the house that need to be donePhoto
● On a big day, my ride will be anywhere from 4 to 5.5 hours
● Now that it is winter time I am not doing any serious intervals or efforts. The riding is
steady and moderate to easy.
● I may occasionally include some one-legged pedaling drills or a short sprint to wake up
the legs a bit during long ridesPhoto
4pm-5pm: Post Ride Recovery
● To start I’ll grab a light recovery drink: a mix of carbohydrates and protein to cover my
main nutrition bases and take the edge off while I find make something to eat
● Next I’ll eat a decent meal: Tuna, rice and vegetables for example
● Stretching and foam rolling: I will usually foam roll first and then run through a series of
stretches to help flush everything outphoto
5pm-7pm: Free time
● Pretty straightforward
● I might play guitar or piano, or begin to prepare dinner if I am having people over
● But if the ride was hard enough I might must lay on the couch and do nothingphoto
● Dinner is the biggest opportunity for me to work on my cooking skills so I’ll usually put a
considerable amount of effort of it
● I have no set meal plan or diet, I try and switch things up each night and make food that I
want to eat (within reason). Plenty of vegetables, some carbs and proteins.
● I also enjoy cooking for other people so I’ll do that a couple of times per week
● Usually reading, watching or messing around with instruments
Photo credit: Gavin Hoover
● I notice a huge difference in how I feel on the bike depending on how much I have slept
so I always aim to get between 9.5 and 10 hours
7:30am: Wake up and Repeat!
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Editor’s note: Last month, a group of female riders launched the first labor union to work solely with the women’s peloton. The new project, called The Cyclists’ Alliance, was launched by retired riders Iris Slappendel and Carmen Small and current racer Gracie Elvin. Slappendel is the group’s executive director and the one who developed the idea for the group, having served for two years as a rider representative with the UCI athletes’ commission. So who is Iris Slappendel? The Outer Line profiled the Dutch rider in early 2017.
Iris Slappendel was one of the most consistent, strongest, and smartest one-day riders of her generation, adept at timing a winning move and at strategically setting up her teammates for victory. The former top professional had many great moments in her career — from her 20 personal victories, numerous high placings, and teammates’ victories in top-tier races, to the joyous camaraderie that comes with riding alongside or against your friends in the peloton. Her most notable career achievement was an unexpected and hard-fought national championship of the Netherlands in 2014.
But perhaps her greatest achievement was simply being able to sustain a long career in the sport.
“I was not the most talented in my age group to come up in the Dutch Federation, but I was among the last to retire,” she says.
As she neared the end of her 12-year career, Slappendel came to be valued as much for her strong leadership and teamwork ethic, as for her ability to mentor younger riders and help them to develop into well-rounded racers.
Following her formal retirement in September 2016, Slappendel admits that she has found it difficult to transition away from the structured schedule and “normalcy” of life as a pro rider. She has replaced part of that daily routine of nutrition, training, racing, and recovery by putting some of her considerable energy into a graphic design business (one of Slappendel’s most recognizable cycling kit designs was worn by the Netherlands at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics). Nonetheless, she says she still wakes up in the morning and feels like she needs to “get out there and train!”
“There is always a moment where each girl has to decide for herself — to ask, ‘Is this really worth it? I have a university degree, but I only get paid €300 a month — if I get paid at all. Do I really want to risk my life every day, for this?”– Iris Slappendel
Most women racers today simply retire from the sport and then move on, typically transitioning to a completely new and different phase in their lives. However, after Slappendel was elected by her peers to serve on the Athletes’ Commission of the UCI (along with men’s rep and current Commission President Bobbie Traksel) her career aspirations began to change. The rapid growth of the UCI’s Women’s WorldTour (WWT) and her recognition of the longer-term potential of women’s racing converged to transform Slappendel’s perspectives on her future career opportunities and choices. She saw the increased focus and support by the UCI as a critical step in the right direction, and “it convinced me that I had to stay involved in the future of our sport,” she says.
Indeed, Slappendel has discovered a new energy and life purpose in giving back to the sport which she loves. She is now very focused on helping to make a difference in the careers of current female racers, as well as those who have yet to clip in at a start line. She speaks with her former competitors often — to stay on top of things and to better represent the peloton.
“I don’t take the position for granted. I feel like the Athletes Commission and helping the women is my true calling, but at the same time, I don’t have a lot of influence yet,” Slappendel says.
Although she has had generally positive experiences working with the UCI, Slappendel is keenly aware that there are very few women at the senior level within UCI management. “I think the UCI really wants to listen. They listen to us in the Athletes Commission, and they listen to me.” But, at the same time, she says the women’s needs are typically not the first business priority of the UCI’s stakeholders.
“For example, if a new men’s race is discussed,” Slappendel says, the UCI is “all for it, but usually we have to ask, ‘Can we also have a women’s race?’”
Currently, only Tracey Gaudry holds a vice president’s post inside the UCI, although other active and former racers Marianne Vos, Katie Compton, Georgia Gould, Greta Neimanas, Anna Meares, and Slappendel are able to contribute ideas — but not vote — in various advisory committees. This is an important motivation for Slappendel, who says “I want to change this from a ‘voice’ to a ‘vote’ in the near future.”
Slappendel fully understands the range of challenges the sport faces. She rode for six different teams during her long career and saw firsthand how the sport’s growth strained its participants, without the corresponding and badly needed upgrades in governance and economic support. Many of her more talented peers simply gave up, Slappendel says, because of chronically low salaries, limited opportunities to race at top events, or because they found themselves in manipulative or even abusive situations.
“There is always a moment where each girl has to decide for herself — to ask, ‘Is this really worth it? I have a university degree, but I only get paid €300 a month — if I get paid at all. Do I really want to risk my life every day, for this?’” she says.
The key areas of misconduct or problems in women’s cycling are basically cultural, and Slappendel categorizes these into three fundamental areas: financial manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse. These issues intertwine to create a toxic environment for many female racers today, especially those on the smaller teams. Although Slappendel had mostly positive experiences on her teams, she realized that she had no safety net whatsoever — “nothing to protect me if something went wrong.” Like most pro riders, she had to buy her own supplemental health insurance in case of injury and could expect no support from her team if she was sidelined, injured, or unable to race or train. If you can’t train, you can’t race, and of course, riders without results have an exceptionally difficult time finding a contract with a top team.
“When I started I could point out maybe four girls who could win. Now, there are 10 who can win on any given day. Today’s races have faster average speeds, longer distances, and better skills and tactics across the field. And even though there may be fewer races today than ten years ago, they are better organized.”– Iris Slappendel
“The top four or five teams in the UCI may not be affected by these issues,” Slappendel says. “I think those teams are as professional as any in the sport, and maybe the next few teams in the top 10 don’t see too many problems, either. But, remember, we have 40 UCI registered teams — and only the top 20 automatically get into the WorldTour races. Many pro women — especially riding in the 20 or so lower-ranked teams — are having a hard time, and they essentially have no one to turn to.”
In reality, the historical culture and lack of oversight by the sport’s governing bodies means that no team or rider is really safe from the problems that Slappendel and her colleagues experienced and witnessed at various points in their careers.
“Throughout my time as a professional, there was no one looking out for me except for me. I know this was the same for most of my teammates and friends too,” she says without hesitation. “And there was no one holding the teams accountable for how they treat their riders.”
Based on these first-hand experiences and her strong friendships with other riders, Slappendel says that after several years in the pro peloton she made the conscious decision to learn more about the legal and moral rights of professional athletes. She began to speak more openly about her experiences as a pro racer — to be a spokeswoman for the racers’ perspectives on the contentious issues in the sport. And she now encourages others to do the same. She is continuing to develop the skills that will help her address these challenges as a future leader of the sport; she recently completed the UCI’s sport director course in Switzerland.
Despite all the challenges, she has also witnessed many positive competitive changes and organizational improvements over her career and is excited about the sport’s future. To be fair, she says that many teams became more professional as they took cues from successful men’s programs — investing in training camps, better coaches, better equipment, and committing support to help riders succeed in international racing programs. But compared to top men’s teams, the number and quality of staff on the women’s side didn’t improve at the same pace.
“Not all teams actually have the proper staff to really support a professional racing program,” she says. “Some teams are putting up more money for branded transportation, like buses and cars with logos, but the men’s teams actually have drivers.”
Many of the women racers often have to drive themselves in those team cars or their own cars to the races — sometimes eight hours or more across the European continent.
“It’s the team’s choice to put money into this kind of branding, but many of us felt it would be better to invest instead in more and better-educated staff members,” she says.
Slappendel smiles when talking about how the level and depth of the women’s peloton has improved. “When I started,” she says, “I could point out maybe four girls who could win. Now, there are 10 who can win on any given day. Today’s races have faster average speeds, longer distances, and better skills and tactics across the field. And even though there may be fewer races today than ten years ago, they are better organized.”
What makes Slappendel proudest about the changes in women’s racing, though, is the shift from individual to team performances; more riders are being brought up in the sport understanding the value of teamwork, and this is helping to change the mindset of women racing today.
Although men’s road cycling is still the big revenue driver for the UCI, Slappendel believes this commercial focus can gradually be changed.
“Women’s racing is just as exciting as men’s racing,” she says. “It’s just that the fans hardly ever get the chance to see us on TV. More people need to be on the inside, driving women’s issues with us at the highest levels. But I feel like there are just too many layers inside the UCI; everything is done by committee. This makes change a very slow process.”
But some changes are starting to happen. Slappendel cites the growing influence of new WWT coordinator Morgane Gaultier.
“Morgane thinks differently. She asks first, ‘What is best for the women in the long-term?’ It would be nice if the UCI would hire another five Morganes — the whole sport might change tomorrow,” she says.
New ideas are being tried as the UCI’s marketing, sporting, and financial mentality adapts to the expansion of women’s racing. For example, some races have changed or are reconsidering the timing of their podiums, with women and men receiving their awards together, after the men’s race, to improve the visibility for women’s champions.
“I know way too many women who left the sport too early because of all kinds of bad experiences. We’ll never know what they could have achieved. For them, and for future riders, we have to change the sport.”– Iris Slappendel
In 2016, Slappendel says she was involved in a labor dispute with her own team. With few resources available, she reached out to the Dutch riders’ association for help. The experience got her thinking — what if there was a labor union dedicated solely to the women’s peloton? What if a group of knowledgeable women could help female pro riders navigate these situations?
Slappendel asked for input from a wide variety of organizations — the UCI, CPA, Women’s Cycling Association (she is on the board for the WCA in the U.S. — the women’s cycling development and advocacy organization led by retired American pro champion Robin Farina), Dutch Pro Association (VVBW), and others.
The other organizations told Slappendel that “it’s better to work together with the men,” she says. “But none of the ideas that have been passed to me seem to feel right for what the women actually need. I am only thinking about what is the best outcome for women’s cycling, the women racing today and new pros coming up. That is the most important thing.”
Slappendel explored this concept further and discussed it with retired rider Carmen Small and current rider Gracie Elvin. In early 2017, they circulated a survey to female professional cyclists, asking questions about salary size, the process of contract negotiation, and other questions. The survey became the first step toward the creation of their labor union, which was officially launched December 19.
Slappendel is quickly growing into the role of spokeswoman for the needs and rights of pro women racers. She brings a unique blend of experience, perspective, and passion to a situation which clearly demands attention and innovative thinking. And while she continues to build up her professional skills to take on that role, she reminds herself each day of the big picture: Most important, Slappendel says, is the need to attract and inspire more women to race, and for them to not give up on their professional racing dreams.
“I know way too many women who left the sport too early because of all kinds of bad experiences,” she says. “We’ll never know what they could have achieved. For them, and for future riders, we have to change the sport.”
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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Longtime French team manager Vincent Lavenu said “no one would understand” if Chris Froome escapes his Salbutamol case without a sanction.
“No one would understand it, neither the journalists, nor the public or the other riders, if there is not a sanction,” Lavenu told VeloNews. “It’s true that there were sanctions for similar affairs in the past, so there should be a sanction.”
Lavenu, who’s run the Ag2r La Mondiale outfit since the 1990s, called the Froome case a “delicate affair,” and accepted the inevitability of lawyers, hearings, and tribunals in the high-profile case.
“What will the sanction be? I don’t know,” he said. “I have confidence in the authorities of the UCI. There are the rules within the UCI and the WADA code, and the lawyers will be involved. There have been sanctions before in similar cases.”
Lavenu echoed an underlying frustration with the Froome case that permeates much of the peloton. He said that the case reflects negatively on the sport.
“When the leader of world cycling has an affair like this, it is all of cycling that is impacted,” Lavenu said. “It is a shame that this is where we are, because it does not help the image of cycling.”
Lavenu also pointed out inconsistencies between the UCI rules and those associated with the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible), a group that Lavenu’s Ag2r squad is a founding member. The MPCC urged Team Sky to sideline Froome as his case is adjudicated.
MPCC rules would require Froome to be sidelined following an adverse analytical finding, but Team Sky is not a member of the group. Instead, UCI rules allow Froome to compete during the review process, and he continues to train.
“What I am sure of is that for MPCC members, this would not happen,” he said. “When a rider has problems, we stop the rider. The first positive test — sffft — they are out. Voila! That is the reality. That is better for the image of cycling.”
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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The end could be near for cycling’s top team, according to former professional cyclist Floyd Landis.
Landis said he believes the Chris Froome salbutamol case will “implode” Team Sky, the British super team that counts five Tour de France wins over the last six years.
The American, who was briefly the 2006 Tour de France victor before he was disqualified for doping, gave evidence that led to the eventual case and lifetime cycling ban for Lance Armstrong.
“When you have someone that high-profile who suffers a ban, it usually means the whole thing implodes,” Landis told The Guardian.
“If I was on the board of directors or an executive at Sky, or any of the companies who sponsor them, I would be long gone. At some point they have to make a decision that looks ethical.”
Team Sky runs on the highest budget in cycling at $42 million per year. The team stumbled when it first debuted in 2010 but hit full-stride thereafter. It conquered the Tour with Bradley Wiggins once and with Froome four times.
It looked to withstand the Wiggins TUE and jiffy bag scandal over the last year, but the new Froome case could be too “high-profile” for the board.
The case involves Froome’s anti-doping test finding for the asthma drug salbutamol during the Vuelta a España, a race he won. He recorded 2,000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of urine, double the allowed limit of 1,000, on stage 18. The news that anti-doping authorities are investigating the case emerged on December 13.
French newspaper L’Equipe reported Tuesday that Froome may argue a kidney problem led to the adverse reading. The case risks dragging on for months and some have said it’s bad for the sport.
Before news of the salbutamol case emerged, Froome announced an ambitious 2018 plan that sees him racing the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France on the heels of his Tour and Vuelta victories. The Giro welcomes the return of Froome, but organizers now worry about the baggage an ongoing anti-doping case may bring.
“This time Froome’s case emerged in September 2017, and the Giro starts in May, so that means a solution can be found in eight months,” Giro d’Italia director Mauro Vegni told L’Equipe.
“I want to believe that’s enough time because if not, we lose all hope in our ability to run this sport. The public wouldn’t understand it, and neither would I.”
The Giro begins May 4. Froome, according to VeloNews sources, signed a deal for 1.4 million euros with organizer RCS Sport to race.
Froome risks losing his Vuelta a España title and faces a ban of six months to two years. Any UCI decision could be appealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or the U.K. Anti-doping Agency (UKAD).
“It’s all in the hands of the UCI. They have to guarantee that everything will be sorted out between now and then,” Vegni added.
“The Giro is a major race that attracts attention from fans worldwide, that public support can’t be abused.”
There is also the possibility that Sky could collapse if Froome is sanctioned. The team began with and runs on a zero-tolerance stance. That led to several riders being dismissed in 2012, although critics have said it does not go far enough or that a zero-tolerance approach is impossible to implement in cycling.
“There’s no belief in that zero-tolerance system anymore; that was never a real thing,” Landis said. “It was just great PR about marginal gains and all these cute little sayings they thought up.”
The 2018 season began this week with the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia. Froome is due to debut next month, perhaps at the Ruta del Sol in Spain, while trying to defend himself in a case that is destined to ramble on.
“There is evidence that salbutamol can be performance-enhancing if it’s used orally or intramuscularly. It’s very difficult to get to the level Chris Froome showed by using an inhaler. If that will form his excuse I think it’s nonsense and I don’t think many buy it,” added Landis.
“He’s trying to defend himself because he has everything to lose. I feel sympathy for him but if he doesn’t face it now, he will have to later.”
Landis’s 2006 Tour title was eventually stripped due to a high testosterone reading. He gave evidence in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) cases against Armstrong, and kick-started the ongoing Justice Department lawsuit that seeks $100 million.
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Fresh off a seventh-place overall finish at the Vuelta a España, Mike Woods is starting the 2018 season as a bona fide grand tour rider. The 31-year-old Canadian is set to target May’s Giro d’Italia, which should be quite the challenge for someone who only started racing at an elite level a few years ago.
Woods says his offseason, however, could hardly have gone better. Armed with a two-year contract with EF Education First-Drapac and some semblance of security for the first time in his cycling career, Woods was actually able to recover from the season before beginning his training campaign.
“Every offseason prior to this, I’ve lived and died by the sword. I’ve been on one-year contracts,” he told VeloNews this week in a phone interview. “I always had a very short-lived offseason, and I often had sleepless nights during the offseason thinking about how hard I had to train, how much I had to accomplish in order to move up or get to a place where I wanted to be. Whereas this offseason was super enjoyable because I got to hang out.”
Transitioning to cycling after years as a competitive long-distance runner, Woods made a name for himself at the WorldTour level as a punchy climber. He finished ninth at last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, further confirming his potential on short, steep ascents, but has been working hard to broaden his skill set. After landing his first career grand tour top-10 result last year in Spain, Woods is directing his efforts toward improving against the clock.
“A huge focus of mine over the last two months has been in time trials, and my seated power,” he said. “Prior to this offseason, I never really worked on those two disciplines because my coach and I had such a small window where, first of all, because of my age, I needed to move up really fast. And then also, even when I got onto Cannondale, I needed to prove myself and the best way for me to prove myself was through my climbing abilities.”
Now, with time and good reasons to focus on his chrono abilities, Woods says he is already making big strides. No matter how good his preparation, however, Woods is realistic about the challenge of repeating the kind of success he had at last year’s Vuelta.
“I think at the Vuelta, I smashed it and I had a great race, but all the stars aligned. And I had no pressure,” he said. “It was amazing, the way I was handled by Juan Manuel Gárate, my director at the race. We never even talked about GC until stage 9 of the race. So I didn’t have to carry the baggage of racing a GC.”
Woods would like to improve upon the seventh overall he scored at his last grand tour start, but he isn’t interested in committing to a specific result as his objective.
“I’m going to have a lot of races prior to the Giro and because of those races, there’s all these intangibles. I could have a crash, could have an injury, could get sick,” he said. “There’s so many things that could contribute to me not achieving a certain position. All this being said, I want to do better, obviously. I’m motivated and really focused on trying to improve my standing in the Vuelta. But at this point, it’s just so far out to say, ‘I want a top five.'”
Looking ahead to the Giro’s route, Woods is particularly excited about the chance to race up Monte Zoncolan, one of professional cycling’s most brutal climbs. For Woods, the more brutal, the better.
“I found over the course of the Vuelta I progressed and I had my best performances on the hardest days,” he said. “The hardest days of racing that we do on the calendar are often the days where I’m most excited to race now.”
At 31, Woods is nearing a place in his career where most riders might find themselves hitting a plateau physically — but he says with excitement he’s only found himself getting better and better so far.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “If you talk to my coach, Paulo, I’m improving dramatically in all fronts. I’m improving even in things I’ve been working on a lot, like climbing, but where I’m making huge inroads is on the time trial. Before I came to Cannondale, I probably did a total of, I don’t know, nine time trials in my entire career. So I’m physiologically improving because I’m testing my body in a completely different position, and where I’m really also improving is just my mental capacity and my level of knowledge within the races.”
His road to the Giro will likely start at the Abu Dhabi Tour, and then Woods will race both the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al País Vasco. From there, it’s on to the Ardennes and his final preparations for the Giro d’Italia.
Along the way, he’s making sure to learn as much about himself as possible. He has enjoyed his expedited journey from running star to cycling star so far, and is committed to finding out more over the next few seasons about where he most excels as a bike racer.
“I still think it’s really too early for me to say I’m just one thing. When I first came into the WorldTour, I was kind of pegged as this short punchy guy,” he said. “But the only reason I was pegged as a short punchy guy is that at Liège, for example, or even Flèche, they’re difficult from a positioning perspective but if you just have a really good capacity and you get a bit lucky, you’re going to have success.
“Some of these other disciplines, time trialing for example, or a GC role, they’re far more nuanced and there’s a big learning curve. I was just not able to express my abilities in those realms because I didn’t have the experience. Over the next year or two, my big goal is not necessarily to say what I’m going to be, but to discover what I’m going to be.”
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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Dani Moreno will live in the shadows throughout much of 2018. In the shadow, that is, of Rigoberto Urán.
The veteran Spaniard is a key signing for EF Education First-Drapac coming into 2018, and his marching orders will be giving Urán an extra wheel deep in the mountains.
“Last year, Rigo was incredible in the Tour, and he could finally show the caliber of rider he is during the most important race of the year,” Moreno said at the Santos Tour Down Under. “So this year, I think he could even be better.”
Last year, Urán enjoyed a breaking out party during the Tour de France. The colorful Colombian won a stage, finished second in two others, and rode into Paris second overall. His gap of 54 seconds to winner Chris Froome was the narrowest in the Sky captain’s four yellow jersey victories.
That performance has EF-Drapac dreaming big for 2018.
Team management began talking to Moreno last fall to bring some extra experience and some solid climbing legs to what will be a ramped-up Tour effort in 2018.
The team narrowly escaped disaster last fall but emerged with new title sponsor Education First. Moreno is the most veteran among nine new arrivals for the 2018 squad centered around Urán, classics veteran Sep Vanmarcke, and emerging star Michael Woods.
“We started to talk during the Vuelta about what I could bring to the team,” Moreno said. “For me, the idea is to help Rigo and to be with him throughout all of his races during the calendar. I hope to help go as far as possible.”Moreno’s won such races as Flèche Wallonne, the Vuelta a Burgos, three stages at the Vuelta a España, and two stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
At age 36, he knows his place. Earlier in his career, he gladly worked for former teammate Joaquim Rodríguez at Katusha. His latest challenge means trying to help Urán become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France as well as helping guide Woods through the Ardennes classics.
“Rigo has so much experience, but he’s still young. He hasn’t tapped out his potential yet,” Moreno said. “I also hope to have my opportunities a few times along the year, but when it comes time to work, we’ll work for the team. I expect it to be a bit like it was on Katusha, and I was able to take advantage of the opportunities from time to time when I had them.”
So far, Moreno said he’s fitting in fine with new American teammates. A pro since 2004, this is Moreno’s sixth team (riding twice for the Movistar franchise), and he said there are few differences once the rubber hits the road.
“The truth is today there are not that many differences between the WorldTour teams. Of course, there are cultural details,” he said. “Once you’re on the road and doing the work, it’s the same as any team.”
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Aussie sprinting phenom Caleb Ewan won the difficult second stage of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under into Stirling on Wednesday. Mitchelton-Scott finished first and second on the stage, as Daryl Impey held on for second after leading out Ewan. Ewan also took over the lead in the general classification, as former race leader Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) was dropped on the rolling run-in to the finish.
GC contender and former winner in Stirling, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe), finished third and also gained a few bonus seconds. He’s hoping to improve on his third-place overall finish from last year.
The stage was dominated by a solo breakaway by Movistar’s Jaime Castrillo who was caught with less than 15 kilometers to go in the stage.
Top 10, stage 2
Caleb Ewan, MITCHELTON-SCOTT,1 in 04:03:55
Daryl Impey, MITCHELTON-SCOTT,2 at 0:00
Jay McCarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE,3 at 0:00
Peter Sagan, BORA – HANSGROHE,4 at 0:00
Nathan Haas, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN,5 at 0:00
Elia Viviani, QUICK-STEP FLOORS,6 at 0:00
Gorka Izagirre, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM,7 at 0:00
Domenico Pozzovivo, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM,8 at 0:00
Luis Leon Sanchez, ASTANA PRO TEAM,9 at 0:00
Carlos Barbero, MOVISTAR TEAM,10 at 0:00
Top 10 overall after stage 2
1. Caleb Ewan, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, in 07:54:00
2. Daryl Impey, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 0:10
3. Peter Sagan, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:12
4. Jay McCarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:12
5. Nathan Haas, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:15
6. Jhonatan Restrepo, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:15
7. Elia Viviani, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:16
8. Simone Consonni, UAE-TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:16
9. Carlos Barbero, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 0:16
10. Anthony Roux, FDJ, at 0:16
The second stage of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under traveled 148.6 kilometers from Unley to Stirling. The riders tackled a 21-kilometer finishing circuit in Stirling to end the stage that was by no means flat. The uphill finish in Stirling isn’t too steep to purely suit the GC contenders, but gaps could form in the peloton in the run-in, so positioning entering the finale was critical.
Will Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac), Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data), and Scott Bowden (UniSA) were in the breakaway for the second straight day but were also joined on Wednesday by neo-pro Jaime Castrillo (Movistar). Clarke won the stage into Stirling in the 2012 edition of the Tour Down Under.
Dlamini promptly crossed the only KOM point of the day first at the top of Tea Tree Gully Hill (Cat. 2, 2.5km at 6.3%) after 15 kilometers of racing. He extended his lead in the King of Mountains classification, as he won the only KOM point on stage one as well. After he won the climb, he bid goodbye to his fellow breakaway companions and rejoined the peloton.
As the riders entered the final 100 kilometers of the stage, the breakaway was pushing their advantage over the peloton toward the seven-minute mark. This got the attention of Bahrain-Merida and all of the seven riders on the team went to the front of the peloton to begin reeling back-in the three leaders.
Clarke began the second stage of the Tour Down Under sitting third overall, four seconds behind race leader and stage one winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal). He captured both sprint points out on the course and with them a total of six bonus seconds. This put Clarke in the virtual Ochre leader’s jersey.
After winning the second sprint point with about 70 kilometers remaining to the finish, Clarke decided to drop back to the peloton. Bowden followed suit and all of a sudden Castrillo was left all alone in the lead. The Spaniard crossed the finish line in Stirling to begin the three circuit laps with nearly four minutes over the peloton.
On the first circuit around Stirling, Bahrain-Merida continued to set a fierce pace in the peloton and had shrunk Castrillo’s lead to just 1:20. The final seven kilometers of the circuit is a gradual rolling uphill, which makes the finish more suited to a rider like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), than a pure sprinter like Ewan.
Steve Morabito (FDJ) crashed midway through the second circuit and after recovering from the initial shock of the crash, it appeared he hurt his shoulder badly. He was seen working with the race doctor and doing motions similar to popping back-in a dislocated shoulder. Morabito would remount his bike and continue, though he had lost considerable time to the peloton. He would finish the stage.
Castrillo’s day out front came to an end with 13 kilometers remaining to the finish on the last circuit around Stirling. EF Education First-Drapac was seen at the front of the peloton along with Bora-Hansgrohe.
As the riders began the final seven-kilometer drag up to the line, Team Sunweb took control of the peloton, as current race leader Greipel was seen going out the back. There would be a new leader of the race at the finish line.
Ewan was still near the front of the peloton at the five-kilometer sign and was surrounded by nearly all of his Mitchelton-Scott teammates.
The pink jerseys of EF Education First-Drapac led the peloton under the red kit marking the final kilometer of the stage. Soon after, Lotto-NL Jumbo came to the front of the peloton with two riders. Robert Gesink was sitting in second position. However, he was left on the front of the bunch much too far the finish and simply served as the final lead-out for the fast men. Impey led out Ewan, as World Champion Sagan brought McCarthy to the front from a little way back.
It appeared Sagan may take the stage win, as he went shoulder to shoulder with Ewan, but Sagan began to fade as the steep finish hill started to bite. Ewan pulled away, as Impey tucked into his slipstream and hung on for second on the stage. McCarthy finished third on the day with Sagan finishing fourth.
Ewan’s win in Stirling came as a bit of a surprise, as the steep finish doesn’t particularly suit a pure sprinter. As consolation for his incredible effort, Ewan pulled on the Ochre Leader’s jersey. He has a 10-second lead over Impey in the general classification. Sagan sits third at 12 seconds with McCarthy on the same time. McCarthy is highest in the overall among the riders contending to win the general classification.
The Santos Tour Down Under continues on Thursday with the third stage from Glenelg to Victor Harbor. The 146.5km stage will finish with three laps of 13 kilometers each around Victor Harbor. The stage is expected to end in another bunch sprint finish.Full results to come
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Chris Froome’s legal team is staking out an unconventional, high-risk approach in what could be an all-or-nothing bid to clear his name in his Salbutamol case.
That’s according to L’Equipe, which outlined a possible Froome defense in a three-page report in Tuesday’s edition. Citing sources, the French sports daily suggested that his legal team will try to argue that Froome’s kidneys misfired during a few critical days during last year’s Vuelta a España and provoked the high levels of the asthma drug.
There was no immediate response from Froome or Team Sky.
After weeks of silence from Froome’s legal team, the L’Equipe story provided the first glimpse of how Froome’s defense might shape up.
The four-time Tour de France winner tested for high levels of the asthma drug Salbutamol with an adverse analytical finding en route to winning last year’s Vuelta a España.
Rules do not require a provisional ban, but Froome is facing the legal battle of his life to try to clear his name and salvage his reputation.
According to L’Equipe, Froome’s legal team has ditched the argument that dehydration triggered the Salbutamol reading. It is also not considering pharmacokinetic testing to try to re-create similar readings via lab testing.
Instead, L’Equipe suggests that Froome’s lawyers will argue that their clients’ kidneys were not functioning properly around the stages in the final week of the Vuelta. L’Equipe sketched out a defense that will suggest that Froome’s kidneys were retaining Salbutamol, and then released it suddenly to flood his system, thus triggering the high levels.
The Team Sky captain insists he did not take more than the allowed amount of the asthma medication and vows to fight to clear his name.
Froome has retained Michael Morgan, a leading lawyer whose former clients include Alberto Contador, Lizzie Deignan, Johan Bruyneel, Maria Sharapova and some big-name European soccer players.
Froome’s legal team is lining up experts to make their case in front of the UCI’s Legal Anti-Doping Services (LADS), which has also bringing its own experts to bear, L’Equipe reported.
Because Froome is arguing he never took more than allowed limits of Salbutamol, he is shutting the door to a possible reduction in the ban. During the 2014 Giro d’Italia, Italian rider Diego Ulissi tested for levels similar to Froome’s, but admitted to taking too much Salbutamol to treat asthma. As a result, Ulissi received a nine-month ban, and even raced the 2015 Giro.L’Equipe painted a scenario that Froome could be cleared, or he could face disqualification and a maximum, two-year ban.
Procedurally, arguments will be made before LADS. If the panel agrees, Froome could be cleared without a ban or disqualification of the Vuelta. Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and UK Anti-Doping could appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Froome could also appeal any decision against him to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Froome, meanwhile, continues to train and vows to race the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France as planned during the 2018 season.
The attention will bore down on the case, however, and will play out in hearings over the next several weeks and months. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
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Editor’s Note: The topics of sexism and sexual harassment have made headlines over the past few months, with hundreds of women coming forward to report mistreatment across a wide range of professions, from film and entertainment to professional sports. Cycling is not immune from these problems. In early 2017, The Outer Line published the following report about the culture and legacy of sexism and abuse in cycling based on interviews with 12 riders. This article shares the personal accounts of various women who have experienced these types of problems, their personal insights, and some of their recommendations about what needs to change inside the sport in order to break these cycles of abuse.
A legacy of abuse and sexism, unfortunately, continues to simmer just beneath the surface of women’s professional cycling — and particularly within the smaller and more thinly-supported teams. This negative culture puts many cyclists at risk and severely undermines the sport’s reputation and potential for long-term economic growth. Governance protections and oversight in place today are woefully inadequate. Rather than being rare exceptions, abusive behavior and rampant harassment actually define the standard working conditions faced by many women racing today.
The Outer Line recently spoke with 12 current and former professional women riders who were willing to share their experiences. These women agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, out of concern that they might endanger their position with teams or related organizations. Unfortunately, this kind of retribution is still way too common in the sport. As we will discuss later on, such retribution may even be partially enabled by a flawed UCI governance process — and one which may explain why such abuses tend to be heavily under-reported.
The group of athletes that we spoke to comprised a representative cross-section of the current UCI Women’s WorldTour (WWT): five nationalities; three women are current or former members of top-five UCI teams; four race in the lower-half of the top-ten UCI teams; and the others race or have raced at other, lower levels of women’s pro cycling in the past few years.
In the course of interviewing these racers, we uncovered three different categories of abuses that are all too common inside the women’s sport: (i) financial manipulation, (ii) psychological control, and (iii) physical abuse. These abuses can prematurely end careers, limit professional opportunities and economic mobility, and permanently damage the emotional and physical well-being of women in the sport. While some of these abuses have also been noted in the men’s sport, for the women these problems are pervasive, and they reinforce a culture which is indisputably sexist. This culture frequently puts women into situations which would not be tolerated in any other professional workplace.
“One of my teammates had put up with so much yelling from our DS, that one day she finally started crying and announced she was quitting. Before she left, however, the DS gave her a gift in front of everyone at a team meeting. When she opened it, inside was a fake penis mounted on a trophy base, like an award. Then he congratulated her as she held the open box, and told her she earned it, because she was the first woman on the team that he had made cry.”– Anonymous rider
Below we have summarized the comments and concerns voiced by these riders, regarding the current culture and how each was personally affected by it. (To protect the riders’ identities, The Outer Line has edited certain keywords, phrasing, or locations so as to prevent certain parties from recognizing or being able to retaliate against these women.)Financial manipulation – ‘They will screw you over just because they know they can’
These women shared many similar accounts of contract negotiations being deliberately changed or sabotaged, and of management failing to honor specified contract terms or changing the conditions. Contracts have been cancelled without due process, contract terms have been unilaterally changed just prior to signature, and non-payment for services under the contract appears to be alarmingly commonplace. And in addition to being the result of inept management, riders felt that this manipulation often reflects chauvinistic attitudes — that they are valued less or dismissed more quickly because they are women in a male-dominated sport.
Of the 41 women’s elite and pro squads currently registered with the UCI (the top 20 of which are guaranteed WWT entries) perhaps only the top half-dozen or so actually have the budget to professionally support a team at every WWT race — including travel costs, equipment supply and transport logistics, certified mechanics, medical staff, team directors, coaches and trainers, and so on. But regardless of a team’s level of sponsorship support and financial strength, many of these women were quick to point out that “team finances can be very shady, and a contract is often not worth anything in the end.”
One rider recalls her contract negotiations as an important life-lesson in trust. “I was promised a specific contract, in writing, during the summer. But a few days before the signing deadline, when I received the official contract, they had changed everything! I would only get salary for part of the year, and essentially at only half the rate I was promised in the emails. And by then, it was so late in the year that most other teams wouldn’t return my calls because I had already told them I wasn’t interested.”
Riders are often charged for internal team services such as travel costs to the races or are expected to pay those costs out of pocket. In one example, a rider was even charged €2000 for a pair of sponsored carbon wheels which were damaged in a race-related crash. Some riders reported being fined repeatedly for “infractions” of rules which seem to be invented on-the-fly, with no previous documentation in the contract, team handbook, or similar code of conduct.
In one recent case, riders tried to recover compensation by inquiring if the Federation which held their team’s UCI bank guarantee could release those funds, but discovered that no such deposit was in place. [Per UCI Cycling Regulation 2.17.019, a deposit equal to 15% of the team’s total salary expenses or a minimum of €20,000, held in escrow by the national Federation in which the team is registered to cover potential unpaid salaries or bills, is currently required as a precondition for registering as a UCI women’s team -Ed.]
“The DS constantly demanded that I lose weight. He even restricted my food intake on endurance days during camp! The lack of proper nutrition got so bad that the soigneur had to sneak me energy bars whenever I was fading.”– Anonymous rider
“I am still trying to get unpaid wages and expenses from 2015,” explained another rider. “My team manager refused to pay some wages and expenses, and the DS used any excuse he could find to punish me and the other girls — for being overweight, for going against team rules, for whatever — things which were never spelled out in any conduct guide.”
One rider summed up a collective frustration shared by many of the interviewees: “It costs so much to file a lawsuit, and takes so much time, that you quickly reach the point where it just doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. And there is basically nowhere else to go — for help or to turn them in. And many team managers know this, so they just act with impunity. They will screw you over just because they know they can, and they know they can get away with it every time.”Psychological control – ‘It was so damaging that it really started to affect my confidence’
A disturbing pattern and range of psychological abuses also emerged in the interviews. For example, “body-shaming” or “fat-shaming” is often used to manipulate vulnerable riders, or as an excuse to fine a rider, or to create other monetary, behavioral or performance repercussions. This creates a dysfunctional team environment in which the rider is not appreciated, encouraged or even paid unless she meets an often arbitrary, misguided or simply impossible standard for her metabolism and body-type — regardless of her training and racing results.
“We had a neo-pro 19-year-old rider who was switching over from the track, and she had a lot of extra muscle and her teenage curves,” said one current pro. “It [the coach’s fat-shaming abuse] was so terrible that this poor girl was falling apart by the end of her first training camp.”
In one well-publicized occurrence, the British cycling Federation recently had to take recent action after it validated the complaints of a prominent rider, Jess Varnish, against then-coaching director, Shane Sutton, regarding his alleged use of degrading language to derail her career. And it appears that this is far from unique; fat-shaming was cited by nearly every woman interviewed for this article as something they had either experienced or had seen others experience — and at every level of the sport.
Verbal abuse is also commonplace. Perhaps the worst example mentioned in these interviews is also the most important to consider, as it led directly to a woman abruptly having to leave the team. “It was constant,” said one of the riders, describing the verbal abuse. “One of my teammates had put up with so much yelling from our DS, that one day she finally started crying and announced she was quitting. Before she left, however, the DS gave her a gift in front of everyone at a team meeting. When she opened it, inside was a fake penis mounted on a trophy base, like an award. Then he congratulated her as she held the open box, and told her she earned it because she was the first woman on the team that he had made cry.”
Appalling stories like this one clearly demonstrate a mocking tone and malicious intent by many male managers within the sport, and there were numerous other examples cited which reveal a shocking level of sexism. A few of the more egregious ones were just as notable for how the abuse was delivered, as they were for the words themselves.
For example, there were instances where the team official actually brought in a translator to specifically direct a tirade against the targeted woman in her native language — as if she didn’t understand enough of what was being yelled at her. And the constant verbal abuse can obviously take an emotional toll. “It deeply affected my career. It was so damaging that it really started to affect my confidence. I began to think that maybe I shouldn’t even try to be a cyclist and it wasn’t my place to be racing — and this was when I was already riding for an elite professional women’s team.”
A form of “grooming” also occurs, in the context of changing a rider’s moral decision-making and shifting their perception of right and wrong. In a nearly identical narrative to what many pro men described to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency during those investigations, several women described team staff who tried to convince them to accept injections of vitamins and later recommended injections of PEDs. “He told me everyone does cortisone,” said a former rider of one such encounter with her DS, “like, that made it okay for me to use it, too?”
Several riders described how they were intimidated by having their personal space restricted, and then invaded. “The team manager refused to let me race again unless I moved into a team ‘house’ and allowed him to ‘monitor’ me. He said if my training met his expectations, he’d let me race again and pay me. I didn’t know exactly where the house was, and no one could tell me who else would be living there. I was seriously concerned about my safety in that situation.”
One woman who did move to a team’s headquarters commented on how awful it was for her. “The level of mistrust, not knowing what would set the DS off when you said anything, it just made me paranoid. Even the other riders living there would hardly speak to each other. I was isolated — I wasn’t allowed to use the team car, my food was essentially rationed, and he even had one of the neighbors spying on us to tell him if we returned too early or late from training rides. I was nearly held prisoner — on the promise of racing in the WorldTour.”
Another rider had an even more troubling encounter. “My DS barged into the massage room while I was on the table wearing only a towel, just so he could continue yelling at me, and he never truly apologized.”
Physical abuse – ‘I am legitimately scared of some men in this sport’
Altercations in the sport rarely become physical, but the outcome of financial and verbal abuse often results in physical harm. Riders are expected to perform even when injured or sick, often under the threat of withheld salary or a monetary fine. This has eventually caused many athletes to physically break down and has ruined entire seasons, even careers.
These women uniformly said they found many team staff to be completely unqualified, and unable to differentiate between the basic needs and specific programs for different riders, for example, sprinters vs. time trialists.
“He [the DS] made everyone do exactly the same training, with daily full-race simulations, which led to over-training and worse,” explained one current pro, as to why her teammates rode through the pain for fear of losing their spot in important events.
Another says, “The DS constantly demanded that I lose weight. He even restricted my food intake on endurance days during camp! The lack of proper nutrition got so bad that the soigneur had to sneak me energy bars whenever I was fading.”
Another rider described how this incompetence damaged her career. “Our team manager wouldn’t believe me that I was allergic to gluten, even though I was suffering terribly. He just blamed my ‘poor training’ for the lack of racing results. I went for tests on my own which showed I was celiac, but also had a dangerously low hematocrit and iron. He ignored the doctors and said I was faking it in order to not ride and take his money.”
“If we need to report abuses, who can we call?”– Anonymous rider
And the threat of physical abuse or danger is often present: “One time I dropped off the pace with a teammate to recover from the hill climb intervals the DS was making us do. He saw that we dropped back, then drove dangerously and erratically alongside me and started hurling f-bombs, cursing me for being too soft and disrespectful to him; my teammate truly thought that he was going to hit me with the car and she feared for both of our lives.”
Another rider described an incident where her teammate became fed up with the verbal abuse by their team manager; when she attempted to step past him in a hotel hallway the manager pinned her by her shoulders against the wall to finish his abusive statements and then walked away as if nothing had happened. She chose not to challenge the situation — or the manager — again, because in her words, “If we need to report abuses, who can we call?”
Outright sexual abuse is also a longstanding concern for the sport, and has been highlighted by several recent high-profile stories; the CIRC report (page 70) even identified it as a key concern in need of investigative action two years ago. The Cycling Federation of the Netherlands is currently investigating the prevalence of abusive and intimidating behavior, as it studies the culture of elite women’s cycling, and the British Federation will shortly publish the findings of its own study. Other Federations should follow suit.
Sexual abuse in other organized sports like gymnastics and swimming has happened when governance bodies failed to protect athletes with policies, fully confidential and independent reporting processes, and disciplinary oversight to identify and uproot predators. The culture within these sports became desensitized to and may have even enabled the behaviors which led to abuse. And it is a definite concern within women’s cycling. In what may be an indication of what the British, Dutch, and other future investigations might find, two of the riders interviewed here repeated a deeply disturbing phrase regarding two specific men still involved in UCI women’s pro team management today: “I am legitimately scared of some men in this sport.”
Looking forward – ‘If every woman could start out with just one good experience, she might demand better’
Women racers have tolerated the difficulties inside this prevailing culture for two primary reasons — the desire to achieve their lifelong athletic objectives, and the grudging acceptance that there is very little they can do right now to improve control or oversight.
“There is no clear pathway to becoming to an elite rider, and therefore we just have to deal with the circumstances best as we can,” said one rider of her experiences coming up in the sport.
Another rider added, “There just isn’t any other option — so we just have to put up with it. We tough out the bad situations because we see it all as a possible stepping stone to being picked up by a better team to further our careers.”
Another rider elaborated on the influence of poor governance, which dramatically underscores the overall situation. “We don’t have any association who will back us up when we have a problem. The men’s riders have the CPA; but if we speak out individually, we can get blacklisted and likely not get another good contract. The standards are only on paper, and it seems like no one at the UCI or the Federations really keeps the women’s teams in line. We can’t afford to not to be on a team, so we just don’t speak up.” [Since this story was originally published, the women’s Cyclists Alliance organization launched -Ed.]
Despite these pervasive cultural problems, all of the riders interviewed indicated a desire to stay in the sport, particularly as the wave of optimism for the WWT grows. The new investment in individual teams and races is providing many women a bigger stage on which to shine, and more chances to achieve their goals. The WWT is providing team owners and entrepreneurs with more leverage to seek new and bigger sponsorships. In turn, this creates opportunities for new races in the calendar, and for riders to switch teams and earn a higher salary.
There are also more women entering team management, reducing the risk of sexist influence in some teams. Many of the interviewees say that the level of professionalism in the top-ten teams is notably improved from just a few years ago, but they reiterate that some minimum levels need to be standardized and monitored.
Several credited the influence of American teams like Rally (formerly Optum), UnitedHealthcare and the former Team High Road (and its later iterations) for setting the example of the kind of highly-supported team environment in which they would like to race.
As one rider compared her experiences in a U.S. pro team to that of several European teams, “They respected me, and every rider, no matter if we were just a worker or a winner. American team or not, if every woman could start out with just one good experience, she might demand better and stand up for herself more.” Some of the riders interviewed intend to, or have already moved up into management-level positions, to try and foster those positive conditions for the next generation.
Two of the riders currently racing for well-supported top-five teams are looking ahead to a brighter future. One woman strongly believes that the WWT can do more to increase television coverage for the races. “It is so important to draw new fans into the narrative and stories, to bring in more sponsors and investment.” The other one sees progress being made, and said, “I feel more secure today, and everything is way better today than in my first years. The top teams are at a higher level of professionalism, and I feel it is getting better with more investment. We need the WorldTour, and the UCI for this sport to succeed.”
“My DS barged into the massage room while I was on the table wearing only a towel, just so he could continue yelling at me, and he never truly apologized.”– Anonymous rider
Many things need to change for that success to happen. At this important juncture for the women’s sport, having a reliable and attentive reporting channel for abuse inside some of the national Federations is an important step forward. Although former UCI President Brian Cookson stated that his organization is handling claims of abuse, the only reporting channels today are an anonymous email inbox for the UCI Ethics Commission’s secretariat, and a “filing process,” which has a serious confidentiality flaw. We contacted the UCI for comments on January 17, 2017, but have received no response as yet. But according to Article 21 of the UCI Code of
“Any person may address a complaint or report an alleged breach of the Code to the Ethics Commission. The Secretariat shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint or denunciation, although the person submitting the file shall have no entitlement for proceedings to be opened, to be a party to proceedings or to be informed of any decision passed.”
This potentially represents a key failing in the monitoring and reporting oversight today. Many of these women were keenly aware that if the Ethics Commission investigated their claims by contacting the allegedly involved parties, and if it decided not to pursue a hearing, the abuser would not only be able to identify the accuser but could also potentially retaliate with impunity.
Some riders refrained from filing complaints rather than risking their safety, and as one woman described the situation, “Why would I cry ‘wolf’ directly to the wolf?” The UCI’s critical immediate need is for the prevailing culture to be documented and fully acknowledged so that better governance controls can be installed at each level to protect riders, rather than react later to the damage they have suffered.
Furthermore, the UCI should begin to exercise the same level of review and accountability for women’s teams as it does for the men. It must be willing to exercise judgment on team employees who do not meet the basic requirements to work in professional cycling, and who do not pass — as Cookson has previously described it — a “fit and proper” ethics standard. There is a valid concern that many teams might fall out of the UCI and disband altogether if these standards were rigidly enforced, which in turn could put riders and staff out of work. However, without basic standards like a team financial deposit or ethics being enforced, the aforementioned abuses will probably continue to occur.
Just as the men’s sport staggers every time an organized doping or cheating scandal comes along, women’s racing will be similarly and negatively impacted by continuing cases of abuse. Yet in many ways, women’s professional cycling is perhaps the sport’s untapped opportunity to redefine its image and connect with a new fan base. Women’s racing is full of excitement and visual spectacle and has a unique kind of inspirational athletic storytelling that makes the sport so emotionally captivating. But the women’s sport must put an end to this sexist cultural legacy.
Just as millions of women worldwide defiantly took to the streets on January 21, 2017, to protest social and political inequities, the women inside the WorldTour have the ability to stand up and demand change in their sport. In the process, they could also help to strengthen all of global pro cycling.
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