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Earlier this year I spoke with bike industry stalwarts to get a sense of the industry’s direction. I asked a series of broad questions and received some interesting answers.
My third question is a personal one. We all come to the bike industry from different backgrounds, following our own paths to the point where we are now. Most everyone seems to have a fascinating backstory. So I wanted to find out what was the inspirational moment that compelled these industry insiders to make bicycles their life’s work.These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Gary Fisher, founder of Gary Fisher Mountain Bicycles
I got into racing when I was 12 and when I was 14 I started working in a shop. It was this moment of being a little kid and like wow, riding is incredible! I was like 89 pounds and I could ride with my club on these 80-mile rides. It was insanity. It opened my mind to the engineering world. When I was a kid I loved bicycles and sailboats, there was so much in common with the efficiency of both things. That fascinated me, and that was it. I said to myself I’m never ever going to quit being a bike guy.Scot Nicol, Ibis Bicycles
I still have an 8mm video of the first bike ride I took when I was five years old. My parents filmed me on this ride, and I rode my bike endlessly as a kid and it’s been with me my whole life. The real moment came when I took the trip with Joe Breeze and Charlie Kelly to Crested Butte in 1980. That was the first Pearl Pass tour, and seeing how that was the very beginning of mountain biking, and being able to be out there and experience that event, driving out across the desert and then having an amazing time riding I was spending a lot of time with two frame builders and asked them if I could apprentice with them to build frames. They said yes, and here we are 37 years later.
Joe Breeze, Breezer Bikes
You know at first I figured I would be with bicycles no matter what. I loved bikes. Really it was just the realization of the wide spectrum of what cycling is. It’s not just this narrow recreational thing. It’s in your life all day long for all of your life.
I saw it as such a secret in our country that I wanted to share it with people. That one little nut, that is really the glue that held the whole mountain bike movement together. I had that idea, but other people that I knew in Marin County had that idea that bicycling wasn’t just like this football or a golf ball, the very tool was so useful to humanity in our everyday life. We all wanted to turn others on to cycling, whether it was through road riding or off-road riding like we did, that’s what kept us coming back for more to propel this bicycle forward. We were passionate about what the bicycle stood for in our lives, in our world.
That’s probably it, but there was one particular bicycle that made my passion for the bicycle extend beyond being just a starving artist framebuilder, and that was, of course, my first Breezer mountain bike that I made. It is considered the first modern mountain bike ever made. I was just that guy with the skills and the passion to put that all together to be that guy at the moment and do something that was just ripe to happen. It made it so I wasn’t that starving artist framebuilder. It really made it so I could carry on my whole life in a better way.
John Parker, Underground Bike Works, founder of Yeti Cycles
Since [I was] a child, I have been obsessed with bicycles and motorcycles. My real first freedom came on a bicycle. I grew up on the beach in Santa Monica. On a skateboard or walking, we could go to Venice we could go here or there. But on a bicycle we could go all the way down to Palos Verdes. And then what we’d usually do is call our aunt or something and say, ‘So-and-so’s got a flat tire, come and get us.’
Bicycling is my first real form of freedom, my real first form of expression. Growing up in Southern California with all the hotrods, and the motorcycles, and the racing and everything. I find bicycles to be a form of art that I’m very inspired by.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });My influences are anything from World War II airplanes to trains to motorcycles, the Coca-Cola building with the streamlined porthole round windows. I find influences everywhere, and for whatever particular reason, those influences come back in the bicycles I design and build. And then when I see other bikes, I truly admire them with no jealousy or malice. When I had Yeti cycles, the Marin guys, anybody that made bicycles, truly as never my competitors, they were my contemporaries. We would truly feed off each other and inspire each other. I look at it as a form of art, and I’m an artist. It was my calling to do this. I’m a welder. When I’m at the welding bench next to Frank the Welder, I’m trying twice as hard as that guy, I’m overthinking stuff, but it’s all to express the end product. Fancy paint jobs I guess are for guys that are shitty welders. The assembly, the vision, the design, the flow, the ergonomics, the welds. It’s a challenge.
It really consumes my whole life. It’s everything, trying to arrive to that point. I’m not doing it to outdo anybody, and the truth of the matter is many times my inspiration has come from other bike builders, other designs. I will never stand in front of you and claim to be the originator or anything of the sort. I’ve been inspired and influenced by all sorts of people. I love Steve Potts. I love Joe Breeze. I admire all these guys to a fault. The small builders, Chris Herting, 3D Racing. It’s a community that by choice I want to belong to. It’s a community of inspiration, of craftsmanship, of deep thinking.
If anything, all I can do is say I’m a lucky guy and what a blessing to be a part of all this.
Richard Byrne, Speedplay pedals
I think the big turning point was I went to the Tour in 1972 and I watched Eddy Merckx race, and it made me think, ‘Hey I want to be in this.’ That got me started, and I fell in love with racing and got involved with design. It’s been an avocation turned vocation. It’s been a big challenge and very rewarding for me.
Chris Chance, Fat Chance Bikes
I can’t say it was any one moment, but I remember when I was in high school and skipping class and kind of going nuts at how much I loved riding a bike. This feeds me so much, I love it so much. I was racing on the road and I got offered a job at Whitcomb USA back in ‘75. I worked there for a couple of years almost, and then when they went under I bought some of their equipment. I was working for another builder in Boston. I got this fire — I have to buy some of their equipment. I called them up and they said, ‘We have a frame jig, this and that. You used to work for us so we’ll give you a good deal.’ I had to have it. I can’t pass this up. I went down there and bought some of this stuff and brought it back up to Boston. I figured I’d stick it in my garage and just have it. I was building frames for this other guy.
Three people I spoke to said well if you go into business, I’ll buy a bike from you. So before I even knew I was going to be in business I had three orders. I dove in with both feet. There was a guy who had a shop, paying $75 a month in rent, so I split it with him, 1,000 square feet. Put a spray booth in it and that was that. Started building frames with my own name on them. That was 1977. I did that until around 2000, and realized that while I’d been in this total immersion of bikes, there was part of me going, ‘Is there something else besides bikes in this world,’ 20 years later. So I took a break and it did me good.
I’m really stoked to be back at it. Really feels good. It’s in my blood.
Read the full article at Industry insiders: What was your inspirational moment? on

They file down the corridors of this soaring hotel clad in matching pink t-shirts and carrying identical pink backpacks, an electric magenta army marching to the beat of bicycle racing.
More than 1,600 employees from EF Education First have traveled to Denver from across the country to watch their company’s cycling team compete in the Colorado Classic. The three-day corporate outing is equal parts team building exercise and basic training in cycling fandom. Employees assemble bicycles to be donated to a local nonprofit; they also meet the riders and learn the difference between “peloton” and “echelon.”
The herd enters a conference room where chattering voices quickly hush. Edward Hult, the company’s North American CEO and son of founder Bertil Hult, climbs aboard a stage to deliver an update on the team’s progress. Hugh Carthy sits in third place overall, just 22 seconds out of the lead. There’s one stage to go, a pan-flat circuit race through the streets of Denver. Carthy can still win this thing, Hult says emphatically.Woo! cheers the crowd.
Carthy’s result is not Hult’s most impressive update, however. In the team competition—yes, the often overlooked “Team GC” prize—EF now sits in second place overall. The squad’s collaborative effort has advanced them into this lofty position, which is an important lesson on the power of teamwork, he says.WOOOOOOOO! much louder.
Hult’s speech represents an important cornerstone of EF’s strange new status as the latest savior of American cycling. It’s been a year since the company inked an eleventh-hour deal to save America’s longest-running WorldTour squad from extinction. The deal marked perhaps the most pivotal moment in the history of the team that, over the years, has been known for its various cycling-specific sponsors, Cannondale, Garmin, and Cervelo, among others.
The deal also launched this Boston-based study abroad company and its 46,000 global employees headfirst into the tumultuous business of pro cycling. EF is one of American cycling’s largest benefactors, spending between $8 to $10 million each year on the team.
Now, the company and its cycling team face a common challenge: how do you make a multi-million dollar pro cycling operation a worthwhile component of a global study abroad company? The answer may rest with EF’s employees, and their collective desire to become fans of the sport and the team.
There are early signs that it is working.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });“I thought cycling was an individual sport, not about teamwork,” says Robin Hauck, a director of strategic partnerships, as she exits the room. “You know, Lance Armstrong and all that stuff.”
EF erected a massive cheering section at the Colorado Classic for employees. Credit: EF Education FirstFor two weeks last August the riders and staff within the Slipstream Sports anxiously awaited their collective fate. On August 26 team CEO Jonathan Vaughters revealed that the squad faced a $7 million shortfall, the result, Vaughters said, of a potential sponsor axing a deal at the last minute. Vaugthers launched a very public cry for help, and officials maintained a hopeful attitude that a last-minute sponsorship deal or crowdfunding campaign could save the organization.
Riders and staff knew that the news was likely a kiss of death for the team.
“It was hell,” says Lawson Craddock. “I had come off a terrible year and had nothing for [2018] except this team. I raced [the Montreal GP] and [Quebec] GP off of like six hours of total sleep.”
On September 9 the worrying ended. An employee with EF Education First had seen the team’s crowdfunding campaign and alerted the company’s executives. After a series of phone calls, Vaughters traveled to Boston and struck a deal with company chairman, Phillip Hult (brother of Edward Hult). This was no ordinary sponsorship agreement—EF purchased the team outright from Vaughters and his co-owner Doug Ellis, who served as the team’s financial backstop since its inception in 2004.
“Did I receive a check? No, neither did [Ellis],” Vaughters said. “Our team doesn’t have revenues, we have financial liabilities. So it’s like [EF] goes and deals with those financial liabilities, and there you go.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. EF became sole owner of the team, and responsible for its annual budget, which hovers between $15 million to $17 million each year. The company committed to back the team for at least three years.
The unorthodox deal raised eyebrows within North America’s cycling community. The market for title sponsorship is historically bad—many of the largest teams are fronted by a bicycle company. Why would a global company focused on study abroad programs, language immersion, and other travel-centric education plans buy a professional cycling team?
Edward Hult declined to speak for this story, however VeloNews spoke with nearly a dozen EF staffers to better understand the deal. The picture that emerged was of a global company that for years had struggled to find the right advertising opportunity. EF Education First is more than 50 years old, with offices and schools in more than 50 countries worldwide. Yet the company’s success had, prior to 2018, relied almost entirely on word-of-mouth and specific marketing toward teachers and schools.
“For a long time we’ve been under the radar. Promoting ourselves beyond contacting a potential customer wasn’t something we have ever done,” said Skip Carpenter, an EF executive vice president. “Our reach has been our clients telling other people.”
The company wanted to market itself to the masses, in North America and overseas. It wanted average Americans to recognize its electric pink “EF” logo. That meant EF needed to get on television and in mainstream media.
And EF wanted to accomplish these goals on a limited budget, which eliminated many mainstream advertising opportunities.
“If you wanted to do a massive branding campaign around the world you’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Shane Steffens, a 20-year EF veteran. “We’re the company that nobody knows anything about, and we want to tell our story, and we have limited resources. It’s like where do you even start?”
And EF had a completely separate corporate desire: it wanted a new way to entertain its own employees. In 1998 EF sponsored a boat in the Round the World Race, the global yachting competition now called the Volvo Ocean Race. For months, EF employees followed the progress of the company’s yacht. When it docked at international ports, EF brought its employees out to meet the crew.
A decade after the sponsorship ended, employees still raved about the yacht competition. Could the company find a branding opportunity that was equally as entertaining?
For years EF investigated various advertising opportunities, always shooting down the options. American sports lacked the international component; international sports were too expensive. TV ads cost a fortune and provided little internal excitement.
And then, one day, a cycling team on the brink of financial ruin fell into the company’s lap.
Steffens, who now manages the team’s budget and business development, was operating EF’s Educational Tours division at the time of the acquisition. He said the deal was highly unusual—he had never seen anything like it during his time with the company.
“Normally we haven’t grown through acquisitions,” Steffens said. “This is super new for us.”
EF Education First riders took over the chase through Vail Village. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.comSlipstream’s financial crisis was one of several scares during the team’s 14-year history. After the 2011 season the team nearly disbanded after its then bike sponsor, Cervelo, went through a rocky acquisition. From 2007 until mid 2008 the team operated without a title deal after its original sponsor, TIAA-CREF, did not renew for a fourth year.
The 2017 crisis was different. So worried was Vaughters that he assembled his CV and reached out to professional contacts seeking career advice. The sponsorship failure put dozens of jobs at risk, not just his. The stress was overwhelming, he said.
“When you get within inches of a deal and you don’t get it, you’re crushed,” Vaughters said. “Every single time you’re putting yourself in this very binary position. The deal either works, or everything is blown to pieces. People who work for you don’t understand that is going on behind the scenes.”
Behind the scenes, Vaughters said he was often pulled in too many directions at once, which limited his effectiveness as Slipstream’s leader. With one of the smallest budgets in the WorldTour, Slipstream required its staffers to perform multiple jobs. Vaughters oversaw performance plans for the athletes. He also managed the budget and the team’s existing sponsorships, and the outreach to potential new sponsors, among other tasks.
“I can be a B-minus director and logistics manager and sponsorship sales person, and a C-plus accountant,” Vauthers said. “I’m the only person who can do roughly everyone’s job, but I’ve never been the best at anyone’s job.”
The deal with EF brought a level of financial security that Vaughters had never enjoyed. It also removed some of the tasks from Vaughters’s plate. EF took over the team’s North American travel and allocated a handful of staffers to help various tasks, from creating the team’s design and look, to managing its social media. It brought on a vice president of marketing to track the team’s media impressions.
It even created a mascot for the team, a pink crocodile named Argyle.
In January 2018 EF’s upper brass asked Steffens to take on management the team, effectively replacing Vaughters atop the team’s org chart. Steffens peeled back the team’s financial layers and saw a budget-conscious operation that cut costs at nearly every opportunity. The financial strategy meshed with EF’s vision for the team—adhering to the budget was more important than winning every race.
“Some people may think that we’re some big company that sits on money and is going to spend a lot of it,” Steffens said. “It’s not like we’re going to come in and triple the budget. We’re never going to be the team that spends the most amount of money.”
Steffens also took over managing the team’s sponsorships. Rather than seize ownership of the team’s name, EF maintained sponsorship arrangements with longtime benefactor Drapac Capital Partners and bike sponsor Cannondale. The decision created one of the longest team names in the WorldTour, EF Education First-Drapac powered by Cannondale. It also preserved millions in sponsorship dollars for the team.
Steffens also addressed the business challenges that EF faced with the team. The company’s marketing goals were fairly straightforward; the team’s WorldTour status guaranteed it entry to the Tour de France, the Amgen Tour of California, the Giro d’Italia, and other races with international television broadcast. The EF brand was sure to be splashed across television.
But how to promote the team within the company? Unlike football or soccer, where the season builds toward a championship, cycling’s non-linear calendar poses a headache for novice fans. Why should employees care about EF’s results at smaller races like the Volta Catalunya or Gent-Wevelgem?
Cycling’s complex rules and strategies posed a challenge for everyone to learn, Steffens included.
“I was your typical American cycling fan,” Steffens said. “I knew about the Tour de France and that was about it.”
EF employees traveled to Denver for three days of corporate team building, which included a bicycle donation drive. Credit: EF Education FirstAs the peloton speeds by in a colorful blur, Ivan Perez, a Boston-based EF employee, stands alongside the course barriers in downtown Denver and cheers, waving a sign that says “Phinney For The Winney.” Perez, 24, is flanked on all sides by fellow EF employees, who are crammed into a 400-foot-long EF party zone, designed to look like a pink backyard barbecue.
With every pass of the riders, the entire EF area erupts with cheers.
“My favorite is Rigoberto Urán,” Perez says. “I always cheer for the South American riders.”
Perez knew very little about cycling prior to this summer. Throughout the month of July EF promoted the team’s Tour de France ambitions to all 46,000 employees. Employees received two emails each day updating them on the team’s progress in the race. Included in the emails were daily video recaps done by Vaughters.
A massive map of France was erected in the lobby of EF’s Boston headquarters; the map showed the race’s progress across the country. At all of the company’s global offices, managers were encouraged to hold viewing parties during the race.
The three-week Tour de France promotion capped off EF’s months-long strategy to teach its employees about pro cycling. In the spring EF flew riders out to the Boston offices for a meet-and-greet with employees. Pro rider Alex Howes operated a bingo trivia night with cycling-centric trivia questions. The company raffled off signed jerseys and other memorabilia.
“People were jazzed,” said rider Nate Brown, who visited the Boston campus in the spring. “I just hung out and talked to a lot of people about cycling.”
The company also brought its employees to races. Hundreds attended the Amgen Tour of California, and others traveled to Rome for the finale of the Giro d’Italia. EF brought 450 employees, including 75 from the Boston offices, to the final stage of the Tour de France. After the race, EF even threw a congratulatory party in Houston for Craddock, whose struggle to complete the race with a broke scapula earned mainstream headlines.
“That wasn’t a marketing thing—it was just a big party,” Craddock said. “We had 500 people there. It was huge.”
Has EF’s internal promotion of the team transformed its employees into lifelong fans? Perhaps. During interviews at the Colorado Classic, EF staffers consistently spoke positively about the cycling team, even if those employees revealed a cursory understanding of the sport. Most interviewees did not know, for example, that the team has struggled to collect WorldTour victories in recent years, or that it has never won the country’s biggest race, the Amgen Tour of California.
For now, access to the heroic riders, and the company’s Tour de France promotions are far more important than results. That may change, of course, as EF’s employees become more acquainted with the sport.
As he pours himself a beer at the EF tent, Hector Lopez, a custodian in the Boston offices, recounts his favorite moments from the Tour de France. Lopez had never followed cycling prior to 2018, and found himself drawn into the race due to his company’s attachment to the team.
And then, on the ninth stage, Lopez watched in dismay as team leader Rigoberto Uran crashed and fell out of contention.
“After [Uran] crashed on the cobblestones it was like wow, what does the team do now?” Lopez says. “After that it’s like well, it’s going to be hard to win.”
Read the full article at We bought a cycling team! Inside EF Education First’s pro cycling experiment on

Veteran Canadian rider Svein Tuft has signed a contract to ride for Pro Continental squad Rally Cycling for 2019.
The deal was announced Wednesday, and the 41-year-old Tuft will bring wealth of veteran experience to the North American outfit.
“My role with Rally Cycling will really be about support,” Tuft said. “I’ve done pretty much every WorldTour race on the calendar and understand the difficulties of transitioning from North America to Europe. The biggest difference is not in physical ability but it’s in all the other details of European racing. Distance, pace, technical ability, reading the race, lifestyle and time are really the main factors.
“So, my goal will be to share as much of my knowledge that I can and then within the race help them through positioning and navigating the European peloton.”
Tuft first turned pro in 2005 with Symmetrics, and later rode for Garmin-Slipstream, SpiderTech-C10, and the Orica franchise. His current contract with Mitchelton-Scott is up at the end of this season.
Tuft earned the silver medal in the time trial at the 2008 UCI road worlds and won a handful of time trials and team time trials on the WorldTour. In the 2014 Giro d’Italia, he wore the pink leader’s jersey on stage 2 after helping pace Orica to the opening-stage TTT victory.
“We have a lot of talented young riders on our team who are capable of making the transition to Europe and it’s important that we have a veteran rider with lots of European experience to mentor those guys,” Rally’s performance manager Jonas Carney said.
“For three years Danny Pate filled that role but with Pate retiring and our European schedule expanding, it was more important than ever that we fill that position. Svein was the perfect fit for us. He knows all the races, is well respected in the European peloton, can operate as a road captain, and sets a great example off the bike.”
Read the full article at Svein Tuft inks deal with Rally Cycling on

All of Spain is abuzz following the breakthrough performance of Enric Mas during the Vuelta a España.
Mas’s second overall with a stage victory in the final week is pulsing through the Spanish cycling community, which is hungry for a new star to cheer for.
“Spanish cycling can dare to dream with him,” said Alberto Contador, the retired star who said Mas could be Spain’s next big thing. “He really stepped up and he did it in his style of attacking, which is something the fans really love.”
It’s not what the 23-year-old Mas did but how he did it that is reverberating. In just his second grand tour start, Mas put his stamp on this Vuelta with aggressive racing and strong character that has many in Spain hoping they’ve found a star to give fans and media someone to route for.
“This Vuelta only motivates me for the future,” Mas said. “I never thought I could do so well when we left Málaga, but by the third week, I started to believe.”
Thousands turned out this week to cheer on Mas on a homecoming to his village of Artá on the Spanish island of Mallorca. He now trains and lives in Andorra and is a product of Fundación Contador, a development team founded by Contador who hailed Mas as his natural heir last year.
Mas caught the eye of Joxean Fernández Matxin, now a director at UAE-Emirates who worked for years as a talent scout for Quick-Step Floors. In 2016, Mas joined the Belgian outfit’s Klein Constantia development team, which at the time included current WorldTour pros Ivan Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), Nuno Bico (Movistar), Remi Cavagna, Jhonathan Naváez and Max Schachmann (Quick-Step). Mas was impressive enough to get a bump to the WorldTour team in 2017.
After a solid rookie season, he won a stage at this year’s Vuelta al País Vasco where he finished an encouraging sixth overall in what’s considered the most demanding one-week stage race on the calendar. After riding to fourth overall at the Tour de Suisse, he only raced four days before the Vuelta started.
“I really didn’t know how I would go,” Mas said. “I felt better and better as the race unfolded. I had no pressure and I could make my own race.”
Even more impressive about how Mas rode to second was that he did it without much of a team around him. Quick-Step brought half the team to help sprinter Elia Viviani, who delivered with three stage victories. Pieter Serry and Laurens De Plus helped out where they could, but it was often Mas vs. the world when the pack hit the major climbs.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });“I don’t know how well I could have done with a full team at my service because a lot can happen over three weeks,” Mas said. “This Vuelta only encourages me.”
Mas was hanging around the top 10 for the first two weeks and with some firepower ahead of him on the GC, no one really had him on the radar for a podium spot.
A strong time trial at Torrelavega in stage 16 pushed him into fifth. Mas revealed his character and attacking style in the final three mountain stages, which he capped by winning the penultimate stage across Andorra.
Quick-Step knows it has a diamond in the rough, but will the team step up and sign riders to support him? With such bounty in the classics and one-day racers — coupled with ongoing sponsorship questions — the team might not have room on the roster to build a parallel GC program.
“That responsibility motivates me,” Mas said. “I know I have to keep learning and keep working to improve everything.”
Mas’s rising star coincides with a Spanish peloton suddenly bereft of major stars. Only Alejandro Valverde remains active of Spain’s golden generation that included Contador, Carlos Sastre, Óscar Freire, and Joaquim Rodríguez.
There are some other young Spanish riders coming up and Mikel Landa (Movistar) seems poised for a breakout ride, but it’s Mas who is delivering the goods right now.
“I’d love to race the Tour, but I have time to speak with the directors and we can plan out the coming season,” Mas said. “It’s the first podium I’ve reached and I hope it’s not my last.”
Spain isn’t hoping it’s his last either.
Read the full article at Spain hails Enric Mas as next big thing after Vuelta performance on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Bradley Wiggins, Great Britain’s first Tour de France winner, could not see Simon Yates winning the Vuelta a España had he joined Team Sky.
Yates conquered the Spanish grand tour Sunday. Team Mitchelton-Scott has been working to develop the Englishman since he joined with twin brother Adam Yates in 2014.
The win came after a seventh-place result in the 2017 Tour. In the 2018 Giro d’Italia, Yates cracked with two days remaining and placed 21st. Before that, he led the race for 13 days and won three stages.
“If he’d gone to Sky, I don’t think he’d have won the Vuelta,” Wiggins said on a Eurosport show.
“It was a sliding doors moment, whether his career would have gone down this path. By nature of the fact that Sky wouldn’t take Adam as well in one package, he’s ended up finding a great team and won a grand tour at 26.”
Yates raced in the highly regarded British Academy program that produced Geraint Thomas, winner of the Tour this year, and Mark Cavendish.
When the Yates twins signed in 2013 to join the Australian WorldTour team then known as Orica, Wiggins said, “Sky missed the boat.”
The twins both said they would have “more options” in a foreign team. Adam added, “If we went to Sky, there might be fewer options.”
The Yates feared they would be smothered by the talented riders and lost on Sky’s deep roster. After the Mitchelton franchise signed Simon Yates, it took him to the 2014 Tour.
At Team Sky, Chris Froome continued to dominate. He won four Tours and the Vuelta, and this spring he rode clear to the overall Giro title when Simon Yates crumbled. It supported Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas too, the latter winning the 2018 Tour this summer.
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“I’ve learned a lot at Sky, from the best: Froome, Wiggins, and Thomas,” Boswell, now with Team Katusha-Alpecin, said last year. “I learned a lot, but to see what I am capable of on a more regular basis, I had to change teams.”
Sky even pursued the Yates twins before they renewed their contracts for the 2016 season with their Australian team. Sky boss David Brailsford said, “We are a British team ultimately, to have them would seem to make absolute sense.”
The Yates form part of Mitchelton’s grand tour trio with Colombian Esteban Chaves. Both have won the white jersey of best young rider in the Tour de France. Adam Yates did so in 2016 when he placed fourth. Now, the team has its first grand tour victory with Simon Yates’s Vuelta title.
“We all knew that Simon was capable of it,” Wiggins added. “To execute it was obviously another thing, but I’m certainly not surprised because he’s been knocking on the door for years.
“We asked whether [the Giro] could have been the best thing that ever happened to him and I think it probably was because he’s learned from it and now he’s won the Vuelta.
“At 26 he’s got chances to win more Giros and more Tours down the line. There’s only one way to learn, and that’s through mass failures, and that must have been a massive disappointment for him.”
Wiggins also advised upcoming British cyclocross and road star Tom Pidcock to stay clear of Sky. “Don’t go to Team Sky in the future,” he said in February. “Steer clear of them because they’ll ruin you.”
Read the full article at Wiggins: Yates wouldn’t have won Vuelta with Sky on

Earlier this year I spoke with bike industry stalwarts to get a sense of the industry’s direction. I asked a series of broad questions and received some interesting answers.
My second question focuses on how technology can change the way we ride. Is there a new product, or a product in development that has the potential to be a game-changer?These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Joe Breeze, Breezer Bikes
What I would love to see is a transmission that can stay clean and efficient. The chain is still the most efficient way to transfer power known. And wouldn’t it be lovely to keep it clean all the time? Especially for a mountain bike, wouldn’t it be nice to enclose that chain? Perhaps with these transmissions coming along, that is not a derailleur transmission, up near the cranks perhaps. That you could have a single chain going to the rear wheel and have less unsprung weight at the rear wheel no less, maybe have the chain covered by a chain case of some sort. Fifty years down the road when you go to inspect the chain you’ll see a nice clean beautiful chain.
Scot Nicol, Ibis Bicycles
What I’m most excited about now is tire and rim technology. Now we’re all running tubeless and using wide rims. Those two factors, the wide rims combined with the low pressures you can run with them, has been an amazing game-changer. Some of my bikes I’m running like 15 psi and the traction is unbelievable. That for me is where it’s at.
John Parker, Underground Bike Works, founder of Yeti Cycles
I think the oversized tires have changed everything — brought me back into the industry. I was living on the beach in Ventura, was down on the shore looking for beach glass. I saw a guy on a fat bike, and I instantly had to have one. It’s the most fun I’ve had on a bicycle in many, many years.
Although that was great for riding down on the sand at the seashore, back in the day Doug Bradbury and I had always talked about what this sport really needed was oversized, bigger tires. Doug went so far one time, he took wheels off a 75cc Kawasaki motocross bike made his own hubs and laced them to a mountain bike. They were prohibitive in the weight but the thought and the idea was there. 1997, we were using the same size tire that Ignatz Schwinn took to the 1939 Worlds Fair.
I remember sitting with a young Kozo Shimano in my booth one time and telling him the only thing we need now is disc brakes. The drivelines, the disc brakes, the tires, the suspension. It’s rather provocative now how great it is. This was the beauty of mountain biking when I started. Everyone went into their garage with a dream of making something. And now it’s wide open. I can’t say there’s just one thing, but the ride, the technology, the improvements, for me it started with these oversize tires. Every bike I’m going to make from now on will be a plus-size-tire vehicle.
Gary Fisher, founder Gary Fisher Mountain Bicycles
The whole electric-assisted bicycle thing is what I’m interested in. It is the world’s most efficient motorized transportation, and I think we should be very proud of it. I think the way it’s being sold can also be something we learn from. We’ve identified 700 bike shops in the U.S. that only sell electric bikes. Those guys have a much different way of selling things. I tell my regular shops to go in and check out the way they do business because we can all learn from them.
Richard Byrne, Speedplay pedals
I think disc brakes are the latest potential … I mean they’re not new. I think Phil Wood had them first for road bikes a few years ago.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });What they’re doing to bicycles is they’re giving designers the freedom to use larger tires and rims and making it where bikes bridge the gap between road bikes and mountain bikes. And you can have one bike that’s practical for a lot of different purposes, and I think it’s a game-changer.
Chris Chance, Fat Chance Bikes
I don’t have anything that comes to mind to point my finger at directly. But I’m really excited about how things are evolving in the bike business. People are doing a lot of refining, looking at what works, what doesn’t work. What survives is really serving us now. I love talking to people about how, say, their old Yo Eddy Team Fat Chance was their favorite bike years ago. They get on a new one and say ‘Wow this is even better, I couldn’t even imagine back in the 90s it would get even better than this.’
The culmination of all this experience and technology and honing and refining I just find really exciting. We’re riding this wave of ingenuity in parts, geometry, tire design, wheels, brakes, you name it. It’s really getting somewhere.
Tom Ritchey, founder Ritchey Logic LLC
If there was a game changer, we wouldn’t notice it, because there are so many people getting lofty ideas that everything is a game changer! We’ve lost the ability to even recognize one. From my perspective, the only thing that matters is that the uniqueness of the bicycle and its elemental components that exhibit the utility of a bicycle are there. That’s a game changer. Whatever it is that gets people into riding will be our future. Electricity will be in our future, but to the degree that we’re [riding] without electricity and that makes us feel like we’re in control and making it down the road, that is a wonderful thing.
Read the full article at Industry insiders: What new technology could be a game-changer? on

Gravel is growing, fast.
On Tuesday Life Time Fitness, a national chain of workout facilities, agreed to purchase the Dirty Kanza, one of the most prestigious gravel races in the world.
Financial terms of the deal were not available.
“We both are about creating life-enriching experiences and building community,” Dirty Kanza co-founder and executive director Jim Cummins told VeloNews. “We felt their dedication to both of those things was as strong as ours. We felt it was a really good match.”
The deal adds the Dirty Kanza to Life Time’s growing portfolio of endurance races. Life Time already owns Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100 series, as well as the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Wisconsin.
“Our main goal as a company is to help people live happy, healthy lives, and we can do that outside the walls of our clubs with great events like Leadville, those are core to our heart and soul as a business, and Dirty Kanza will fit right in with that as well,” said Kimo Seymour, senior vice president of Life Time Fitness.
Cummins said that conversations with Life Time began in July 2017, shortly after the running of the Dirty Kanza. The conversation began in earnest that December and continued until last week.
The vetting process was thorough as Cummins and his fellow owners LeLan Dains and Tim and Kristi Mohn attended Life Time events to be sure they were comfortable with the sale. They attended the Leadville Trail 100 and Chequamegon, speaking to organizers and members of the local communities. Cummins said he felt a strong obligation to the community of Emporia, Kansas, where Dirty Kanza his held.
“That was the primary driver in this whole decision,” Cummins said. “We wanted to secure the future of this event for decades to come, and we felt an obligation to do that for Emporia and greater cycling community.”
Attending the Leadville Trail 100 in person was perhaps the turning point in their decision on the sale, Cummins said.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });“That really sealed the deal in my mind, when I saw all the great philanthropic initiatives. Man if they could just do a fraction of that for Emporia, what a wonderful thing that’d be,” Cummins said.
Cummins referenced the Leadville Legacy Foundation, which supports local parks and trails, as well as the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation, which has awarded $340,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors since 2009.
Cummins founded the race in 2006. There was no registration fee, just 34 riders and a barbeque afterward. By 2018, the event had grown to the point where riders had to enter a lottery system to register due to high demand. The event was capped at 2,750 participants.
Cummins said Life Time has no plans to overhaul the race’s current format.
Cummins said the race’s current operational staff will remain on board. Cummins, Dains, and the Mohns will keep their existing roles.
“We want them to continue doing the great things they’ve been doing in Kansas, just like Ken and Merilee [Chlouber] in Leadville,” Seymour added, naming the couple that founded the Leadville Trail 100. “This is a natural fit for us.”
Cummins also said there are no plans to grow registration although in 2019 the field will be slightly larger at 3,000 people for all four distances options combined (200, 100, 50, and 25 miles). Where participants might see a change is in an expanded expo and more activities surrounding the marquee Dirty Kanza 200 race. Dirty Kanza might also expand its slate of training camps and take them on the road to other parts of the U.S.
Given how quickly gravel racing has grown from its grassroots — Dirty Kanza was founded in 2006 — some riders might feel trepidation about the sale. Cummins knows there might be some questions or hesitation to embrace the change. However, he was quick to emphasize that Dirty Kanza and Life Time are in it for the right reasons.
“This has never been about the money,” he said. “Every single one of us on staff we could make twice as much money in our original fields of profession. I took a 50-percent pay cut to come do this full-time. We do what we do because we feel called to make the cycling community better and to make Emporia a better place to live. This move was about securing that future for decades to come it was never about money.”
Read the full article at Life Time Fitness acquires Dirty Kanza on

Headset spacersDear Lennard,
I have seen several references that suggest that 30mm of spacers below the stem is the maximum you should have for a full carbon fork steerer tube. I have seen others that say 40mm would be the maximum. What is your position on this matter?— RichardDear Richard,
Even though people want a blanket answer to this question, there is no way such an answer can be given because it depends on so many things.
Obviously, stress on the steerer and how many spacers can safely be used depends on the construction of the steering tube — its wall thickness, types of fibers incorporated and their orientations, the resin used, and the compaction and complete wetting of layers with resin.
It also clearly depends on the weight of the rider and his or her position on the bike, which determines what percentage of that weight is resting on the handlebars. Another critical dependency is how long the stem and handlebar are, as greater leverage puts greater stress on the steerer. The shape of the stem clamp and sharpness of its lower edge also affects the stress on the steerer.
Finally, the spacer height that can be safely used depends on the type of riding the bike will be subjected to. If the rider pedals it gently on smooth roads, the answer will be different than if he rides it into curbs and big potholes or off of semi-truck loading docks.
I have a philosophy on this that is colored by the fact that I design and build both custom and non-custom bikes for very tall, and often very heavy, people. I don’t want to ever have a steering tube fail, and, for that reason, we use a long, glue-in aluminum insert inside the top of carbon steerers on the bikes of big riders. Only then am I confident enough to use a tall spacer stack on the fork steerer.
Tall riders who do not have a custom frame that fits them often have a big spacer stack of as much as 100mm under their stem in order to get their handlebars high enough. They are playing with fire, in my opinion, if they have a carbon steering tube and don’t have one of our inserts inside the steerer. Breaking a steering tube is a guaranteed crash. And even flexing the steering tube, when flex is an issue for the entire bike and fork for any tall, strong, heavy rider, reduces efficiency and control.
We go to considerable expense and extra effort to install our glue-in insert system in the carbon steering tubes of forks that go on bikes for tall and heavy riders, as it provides a greater margin of safety for big riders. We have never had a customer break a carbon steering tube, and we intend to never have it happen; going to all of this extra trouble is our way of further ensuring it doesn’t happen.
Most carbon forks come with a simple expander system that is about an inch long. We feel that it doesn’t give us the same certainty of longevity of the fork steerer, nor does it provide as much stiffness to the steerer as ours does. Those expander inserts ONLY support the steering tube directly under the areas inside the stem clamp. Worse, if the user has a tall spacer stack above the stem, there may be no support at all inside of the stem clamp. And, critically, even if the expander is in the right spot inside of the stem, it provides no support of the steering tube below the stem. That may be enough, and for most riders it probably is, but I insist on a bigger margin of safety for a really big rider; I want to reinforce a long way down inside of the headset, even if the rider uses a bunch of spacers below or above his stem, or both.
Long ago, we had True Temper make special carbon forks (called Alpha Q Z-Pro) for us for tall bikes; they had 450mm-long double-thickness steering tubes. Despite that extra thickness, True Temper supplied, and we used, a four-inch-long, glue-in insert for them (it was an Alpha Q insert for a 1” steerer, rather than for a 1.125” steerer; because the steering tube wall thickness was so great, that’s what fit).
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });When True Temper quit making carbon fiber bike equipment, Ben Serotta, who had bought the Reynolds Composites factory, made carbon forks for us with 450mm steering tubes. When Serotta shut its doors in 2013, ENVE made us rim-brake forks with 400mm tapered steerers. Now, ENVE offers the Gravel Road Disc fork with a 400mm tapered steerer. Both of these steerers have the same wall thickness at the top as all ENVE forks and come with a standard expander plug. Since I have never heard of an ENVE steerer breaking, maybe I’m being overly cautious, but I don’t want to mess around when building bikes for 6-foot-10, 350-pound riders; consequently, we get special glue-in inserts made specifically for these forks.
The Alpha-Q insert was four inches (100mm) long and had a star nut pounded down into its bore. Wheels Manufacturing, which is conveniently located near us, now makes us a five-inch-long (125mm) aluminum sleeve insert with integrated thread inside for the top cap bolt. We glue it in with JB Weld epoxy.
We first sand inside the steerer, blow it out with compressed air, and wipe it clean inside with a clean rag soaked in rubbing alcohol. After epoxying it in, we leave it sit for 24 hours before adjusting the headset and tightening the stem clamp.
We sell that insert separately.
For a while about nine years ago, Isaac made a 60mm-long expander plug, which I think is also a more secure method than standard expanders, but I don’t believe those exist anymore.
Anyway, that is a very long answer to your question. If you are a lightweight rider who sits up very high on the bike with the handlebar much higher than the saddle (so that little of your weight is on your hands), and you ride on smooth terrain at relatively moderate speeds, you can probably get away with a very tall spacer stack (probably as tall as you want) on almost any carbon fork while using the standard expander plug under the stem clamp. But if you are heavy, ride with a long stem, and your handlebar is far below the height of your saddle, you should be cautious about using more than, say, 25-30mm of spacers. Same goes if you ride your bike fast on rough terrain.
I just don’t think I can give a blanket answer to this question that is more specific than this.― Lennard
Read the full article at Technical FAQ: Headset spacer stack height on

North America’s professional cycling circuit faces major challenges for 2019, with multiple professional squads facing an uncertain future, and a shrinking competition calendar. In the coming weeks, VeloNews will publish a series of essays written by the people within this community. The first column in this series is written by Thierry Attias, co-founder of Momentum Sports, which has operated a professional cycling team since 2003, most recently with the title sponsor UnitedHealthcare. In August Attias revealed to the public that his team was in jeopardy for 2019, with UHC not returning as a title sponsor. Attias says he is still hopeful that the team will continue next season.
I believe to accurately comment on the current state of U.S. pro cycling, one must compare where we are today, to where we were decades ago.
In August of 1991 I opened my bike shop, called, Cycle Sports, in Alameda, California. Back then cycling was booming as a form of recreation. Mountain bikes were all the rage, and new bike technology was everywhere. Fans had heroes like John Tomac, and Greg Lemond, and a young and charismatic Lance Armstrong, who was on his way up. At our shop, we often sold out of pro jerseys by the first week of the Tour de France.
We were blissfully ignorant of the doping culture that allowed us to witness superhuman feats on a bike.
Because of the growth both endemic and non-endemic companies wanted to get involved with cycling because the sport was cool and exciting. Most importantly, Americans were good at it. We were beating the Europeans at their own game.
The success had a snowball effect. As more companies became interested in cycling, they sponsored more races and teams. Each sponsorship was often the work of some champion of the sport inside the company, who explained why cycling met the company’s business goals. Team representatives typically met with a company and created an activation plan to address their marketing needs.
So, today, we find the bike racing industry in a much different state. As you have probably seen, it’s not a great moment for pro cycling. Bike shop sales have been clobbered over the past half-decade. The number of brick and mortar bike shops and wholesalers have dropped. Races are being canceled. Teams are finding it very challenging to find funding and the public is looking elsewhere for inspiration.
The $64,000 question is: Why?
In my opinion, two things are required in sports to create a groundswell of attention and to, simply put, make the sport cool. First: we need characters, or at the very least, big personalities (be they heroes or villains) to follow. Second: we need success.
These two elements give average fans — those who are not connected to the sport — a reason to identify with and become interested in the sport. It’s no coincidence that the cycling industry was booming during the Lemond and Armstrong eras, both in terms of retail sales and TV viewership. Both of these guys had big personalities, and they were highly successful.
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Here’s the part that disappoints me. From a sports marketing perspective, cycling is still one of the best deals in town! There are few participatory sports that offer a naming right at this price, as well as a return on investment that is anywhere from three to eight times greater than what a company could get in television advertising. A team sponsorship takes place over a 10-month season, and checks so many other marketing boxes that I can’t list them all (employee engagement, unique client experiences, etc.)
Every major company knows how to entertain at a golf tournament or inside a luxury suite at a basketball game. No marketing executive was ever fired for erecting a billboard. Unfortunately, investing in cycling is still seen as a great unknown for the majority of companies, a risky and untested marketing spend. Do you think some mid-level marketing person is going to stake his or her corporate reputation on the success of a bike sponsorship? Unfortunately, no.
I recently saw how these dynamics have impacted the sponsorship market. We at Momentum Sports Group (currently the UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team) were fortunate enough to know that our title sponsorship was set to end at the conclusion of the 2018 season. We allocated resources to recruiting new sponsors to take the place of UHC. We hired an outside company that specialized in sponsorship acquisitions. This company reached out to more than 120 different firms across 15 different industries.
Do you know how many solid leads this netted us?
Just one.
We then reached out through our network of friends, colleagues, and supporters to find additional leads.
Two more leads.
Finally, we hired a creative agency to run three separate campaigns on the social media platform LinkedIn. The campaigns created reached out to chief marketing officers and sponsorship decisionmakers and invited them to view our sponsorship proposal. Our campaign netted 11 views per week over the course of a six-week period.
Zero leads.
Our search included dozens of meetings, hundreds of hours of phone calls, and too many presentations to count. We spent tens of thousands of dollars on the search. And we got three companies that were interested in sponsoring the team. As any decent salesperson will tell you, success in sales is often a numbers game. The more viable options, the better.
We told each respective company that we were open to exploring a wide range of sponsorship arrangements: WorldTour, Pro Continental, Continental, Women’s WorldTour, or any combination of these.
As of today, we still have one viable lead we are working with, and we are still in the hunt. Our team is not off for 2019, and we hope to be able to register with the UCI for 2019.
My goal with this column is not to cast a negative view on the sport of cycling. In my opinion, our industry happens to be in a trough, due to the aforementioned occurrences. But cycling, like all sports, is cyclical. We will see good days again.
And there are multiple reasons to be excited about cycling, and some of these stories could help our sport rebound. There is the well-deserved growth and prominence of American women’s cycling. As was recently pointed out by USA Cycling CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall, the United States has some of the best female cyclists in the entire world. And these women are well-educated and highly articulate, in addition to being fierce competitors.
Cycling is also making a comeback as an alternative form of transportation that is being embraced by the millennial generation. Thanks to the work of urban activists, cities are building bike infrastructure. More casual cyclists equate to more visits to the bike shop, which should help the entire industry.
There is no quick fix for our sport’s current dip. In order to see another boom, we should continue to develop the characters that comprise the professional peloton. We should also step-up our game in data collection so that investors in the sport and industry know exactly who they are reaching, and what they are getting for their money.
I’ll leave you with this nugget. In our meetings with prospective partners, we spent about 20 percent of our time telling our story, and a whopping 80 percent of our time educating them about our sport.
If we can make Americans think that cycling is cool again, then they would already be experts. If we can make the sport of cycling attractive to mainstream audiences again, then we are sure to see another boom. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Read the full article at The state of racing: Momentum Sports co-founder Thierry Attias on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Cyclocross world champion and rising classics star Wout van Aert appears ready to join LottoNL-Jumbo in 2019 — one year early because of troubles with his current team.
Overnight, the 24-year-old Belgian and his team, Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, announced they have severed their contract. That frees up the three-time elite men’s ’cross world champ, who made a big debut in the cobbled classics this spring, to join WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo next year instead of waiting. He had already signed earlier this year to join the team in 2020.
“Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with Sniper Cycling on Monday evening, September 17, 2018,” read a release from team management company Sniper Cycling.
“This decision came despite the fact that the team management tried to unblock the situation last week, e.g. by offering him an improved contract for 2019.
“Van Aert did not accept this proposal and has opted to terminate his contract unilaterally with immediate effect. The team management regrets that decision. This matter is now in the hands of our counselors. No further comment will be made in the meantime.”
Last month, van Aert said “it’s been enough” when team general manager Nick Nuyens announced the squad would merge with Dutch outfit Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij for 2020. Van Aert’s agent Jef Van den Bosch explained, “he is not happy with the situation. It is clear that he is not served well with the merger.”
Van Aert won the last three cyclocross world titles. He is transitioning to the road, making a big splash this spring when he placed ninth in the Tour of Flanders and 13th in Paris-Roubaix.
He was under contract with Belgian team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan through the end of 2019. The team reportedly was planning to merge with Aqua Blue, but instead announced at the end of August that it would merge with Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij.
Van Aert would have been the star rider of the announced merger. The new Roompot-Crelan team will ask the other riders to step up, but it’s now unclear if the team will even exist since the merger may hit a roadblock without van Aert included in the package.
Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij includes Taco van der Hoorn, who brought in a recent WorldTour stage victory at the BinckBank Tour.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });Ending his contract early, van Aert will have to pay a fee to Sniper Cycling. He could pay upwards of 500,000 euros, the estimated value of his contract. It is unclear if he would pay the fee himself or if sponsors would help.
Van Aert is just beginning his cyclocross season, but it’s not known which kit he will wear. An announcement is expected soon.
“From the airport of Schiphol, where I am currently waiting for my flight to Chicago, I can only confirm this news,” Van Aert told Wielerflits Tuesday. “The last few days, things have happened that made any cooperation with the team impossible. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you anything more at the moment due to the delicate aspect of the case.”
Van Aert will be racing at the upcoming Waterloo and Jingle Cross events in Wisconsin and Iowa.
“What I can say? I do not have a team at the moment,” he added. “I board the plane to the United States in great ignorance about the practical aspect of the case. It’s annoying, but we will sort it out in the coming days.”
Read the full article at With ’cross contract annulled, Wout van Aert free to join WorldTour on

Editor’s note: News director Spencer Powlison raced Rebecca’s Private Idaho on September 2. This gravel coverage is sponsored by 3T, Mavic, Bell, and Roka. Spencer will ride a 3T Exploro on Mavic’s Allroad Pro UST Disc wheels and Yksion Allroad XL tires and was equipped with a Bell Z20 MIPS helmet and Roka GP-1 sunglasses.
Idaho is the kind of place you’d go to be alone, and in the middle of a gravel race of 1,000 people, I somehow managed to do just that.
Granted that was not my intention. Not really. I needed to take a nature break and underestimated how fast our group of about 10 was riding into Big Lost River Basin. I also overestimated how quickly I could chase back to them as the breeze kicked up dust on the dry roads.
So I was alone. But it wasn’t so bad. I marveled at the Pioneer Mountains — Idaho’s second highest range. I waved at some cowboys who were wrangling cattle in the vast sagebrush valley.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho serves up all the scenery you can ask for, and maybe a little more suffering than I planned to stomach.
Photo: Wil MatthewsI should have known better. I should have known I’d be dropped if I stopped on the windy, high plateau. And really, you know you’re in for a tough day on the bike when a race is organized by a woman whose nickname is “The Queen of Pain.”
Over the last six years, Rebecca Rusch has developed a gravel race that delivers on the promise of a difficult day in the saddle. But like all good gravel events, Rebecca’s Private Idaho keeps things fun and welcoming, with a post-race party unlike any other.
The race started off as a modest one-day event in 2013. Now, the activities start Thursday and run through Sunday before everyone heads home on Labor Day. Those looking to do a mini tour of Sun Valley can start Thursday with the three-day Queen’s Stage Race. Most riders stick to the one-day event on Sunday with three distance options — Tater Tot (19 miles), Small Fry (50 miles), and Big Potato (92.5 miles).
Bright and early on Saturday morning, Rusch hosted a casual group ride that previewed most of the Tater Tot course. Although it’s a laidback spin, this ride has grown in size to the point that it sees more participants than the event’s first edition.
On that chilly 8 a.m. spin, I couldn’t help but notice something out of place. The Ketchum streets were lined with folding camp chairs. The locals were already staking out their spots for the afternoon entertainment: the Wagon Days Parade. They told me it is the largest non-motorized parade in the U.S., and I believe it. The procession has everything from political candidates to a funeral home to a Native American Tribe represented. And it culminates with an old-fashioned covered wagon train.
Photo: Spencer Powlison | VeloNews.comwindow.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });Although the Big Potato course is hard on a bike, traveling through those mountains must have been terrible in a narrow, cramped wagon.
Pacing was a little tricky on this route. Ideally, you ride with a group after the major climb to Trail Creek Summit at 8,000 feet. The upper part of the course can be windy on a high plateau. Even aboard a bike with an aerodynamic design like 3T’s Exploro, drafting can make a big difference.
However, it is risky to put in a hard effort so early in a 92-mile day. And if you were generous with the bacon on your burrito — like I was — it doesn’t feel great to ride at threshold right after breakfast.
It’s also not advised to sit up out of a well-established group to water the sagebrush — like I did.
Eventually, as the gravel got a bit loose and rough on the loop around Copper Basin I began catching stragglers. The 40mm Mavic Yksion tires I had mounted up helped me chug along through the rough.
As we left Copper Basin, a group of us formed a paceline that cooperated nicely into the headwinds. By that point, it was heating up without a cloud in the sky. I tend to sweat profusely, so the ventilation provided by my Bell Z20 helmet made a big difference. Also, the combination of superior ventilation, unobstructed field-of-view, and lower-rim protection on Roka GP-1 sunglasses perfectly handled the terrain and conditions of the day.
Our group finally came apart on the final kicker before the downhill to the finish at Festival Meadows. We couldn’t help ourselves and sprinted for minor placings.
Photo: Wil MatthewsIf you were fast enough — under six-and-a-half hours — you got a special prize. Despite my tactical blunders, I pulled it off and took home a snazzy Rebecca’s Private Idaho bolo tie for my efforts.
But no matter the finish time, a party was in store on the large green just outside Ketchum.
Like many great gravel events, Rebecca’s Private Idaho celebrated a big day on the bike with live music, food, and local beer from Sawtooth Brewery, which brewed a special lager just for the race — the “Queen’s Kolsch” for the Queen of Pain to quaff.
Once the awards were over, though, this party kicked into high gear.
Rebecca Rusch showed perfect catch form in the gelande quaffing event. Her team, however, did not survive the first round of the high-speed beer drinking contest. Photo: Wil MatthewsNorthwestern ski towns have a drinking game that is very regionally specific: Gelande Quaffing. As you might expect, it was created by ski bums, reportedly in Jackson Hole in the 1980s. And Rusch saw fit to add it to the after-hours festivities starting with the first edition of her race.
You’re probably better off watching YouTube videos to understand Gelande Quaffing, but in a nutshell, it’s a team game where you slide beers along a table. Your teammate at the other end catch them in midair, drink them as fast as possible, and run around to switch places and slide the next beer down, repeating the process.
Suffice to say that it is fun, hilarious, and downright impressive as the final rounds of the competition bracket incorporate 360-spin moves, under-the-leg catches, and the “freestyle” round.
Rusch set out to share her hometown of Ketchum by hosting Rebecca’s Private Idaho. By incorporating ample local flavor (even if it sometimes tastes like PBR), she has succeeded. Before the start of the ride, she read a quote by Ernest Hemingway:
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
We then rolled out and rode past the Hemingway memorial — he’s buried in Ketchum.
Photo: Wil MatthewsAnother Hemingway quote came to mind as I looked back on my 92 miles of gravel riding in the wilderness beyond Ketchum:
“The only thing that could spoil a day was people.”
I’d say he’s partly right. Having a little time to suffer in solitude gave me a chance to absorb the experience and not fixate on someone’s rear tire.
But you do need a team for Gelande Quaffing, once the ride is over.
What I rode:
Photo: Wil Matthews
Read the full article at Gravel Dispatch: Happy solitude at Rebecca’s Private Idaho on

Erica Zaveta won her second race in a row at Pennsylvania’s Nittany Lion Cross, while a fresh face landed atop the men’s podium with France’s Matthieu Boulo taking victory Sunday in the UCI C2 event.
Zaveta attacks through the mud
Erica Zaveta won her second race in as many days at Nittany Lion Cross. Photo: Bruce BuckleyAlthough sunshine broke through for the second day of racing, the course featured a notable mud pit early in the lap around the Valley Preffered Cycling Center venue.
Knowing that the mud would be a factor, Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme) took the holeshot, followed by Cassandra Maximenko (Van Dessel Factory Team) and Zaveta (Garneau-Easton Cycling).
“This was an important holeshot today,” said Kemmerer. “I just wanted to be the first one in there [the mud pit] so I could go where I wanted to go. I also did not pre-ride it. I knew it wouldn’t be ridable. So I usually have good starts. I thought it would split the field more than it did.”
One lap later, Zaveta moved into the lead. By the halfway point of the race, it was down to four riders — the same four who were in the winning selection in Saturday’s race — Zaveta, Kemmerer, Laura Van Gilder (Mello Mushroom-Van Dessel), and Regina Legge (Green Line Velo-Zipcar). Maximenko slipped back to fifth position.
“I made a move in the middle of the race, and kind of rode away in the technical turns to test, see how things were going,” Zaveta said.
The four stayed together until the last lap when Zaveta accelerated and took a 13-second lead over Kemmerer.
“With one lap to go, I attacked, right in the mud pit. I ran through it and got a gap there,” Zaveta said about her winning move. “Then I was committed, so I [was] full gas after the mud for the rest of it. I thought I went a little bit too early, but then I was ‘here we go.’”
Zaveta came home six seconds ahead of Kemmerer. Van Gilder rounded out the podium in third place.
“We were a group of four for a long time,” added Kemmerer. “We would get gaps without even knowing. The three of them attacked past the first pit on the last lap, going into the mud pit. All three of them went around me and there was nowhere to go. I just attached myself as fourth wheel and didn’t love doing that, but figured it’s OK. We were going really slow in the turns before the second pit entrance, and I was like, ‘I have to go now.’ I put some good time into Erica, but I didn’t have enough. She wasn’t that far ahead. I wish I would have executed a little differently, but I’m really happy to finish where I did.”
Boulo sprints to victory in men’s race
Matthieu Boulo out-sprinted Curtis White to win day two at Nittany Lion Cross. Photo: Bruce Buckleywindow.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });By the time the pro men lined up, the course had mostly dried out, apart from the mud pit, which had become sticky and slow.
With Saturday’s winner Kerry Werner (Kona) skipping day two, Boulo took the holeshot from the start, followed by Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld).
Behind, Alex Ryan (Pactimo-Mock Orange), Daniel Chabanov and Michael Owens (House Ind-Dwr-Hm) formed a chase group.
Nearing the halfway point, the teammates Chabanov and Owen moved past Ryan, but could not reel in Boulo and White.
“We weren’t making the race easy for each other. We both were pushing the pace, and wanting to test each other where we could,” White said about his battle with Boulo. “The first three laps, I think, he [Boulo] took control. I didn’t see him look back once. We were able to fight it out and it came down to, literally, the last couple hundred meters, or to the last corner.”
The lead duo kept pushing the pace with each lap and extending the gap to over two minutes on Chabanov headed into the final lap. With one to go, White tried to make a pass at the stairs but then lost position going into the turns.
“After the stairs, I took the lead and led through the chicanes in the woods,” White added. “I just wanted to take away any advantage he had there. In the last couple of meters before the corner, he dove to the inside, which maybe I would have done the exact same thing. It was a corner that we needed to race to. And it was too tight to make any other passes. I kept it within a bike length or two for the last few corners, but it just wasn’t enough to make the difference.”
It came down to a sprint at the line with Boulo taking the win.
“Two and one are good races,” Boulo said, referring to his second-place finish on Saturday and his win Sunday. “It was very fast in the corners. It’s technical — tight, tight, tight on the corners. It’s a good feeling on the bike.”
Belgian Yorben Van Tichelt (Neon Velo) overtook Chabanov on the final lap to take third on the day.
“I knew I was not in good shape coming into these races, so mentally I was just prepared that this was training. So, I’m pretty happy with this podium,” said Van Tichelt, who has been training in the U.S. for a month. “I was just so hot in the start, that my legs said, ‘No, not today.’ You know? I was in sixth or seventh place, and I just felt like something needs to happen. Well, it didn’t. I just said to myself, try to do good sections of the course not full laps, like interval training. And I saw that I was catching some people. That made me motivated to the finish.”
Van Tichelt will not race the World Cup races in Waterloo, Wisconsin or Iowa City later this month, but will return home to Belgium.
“I’m looking forward to this bad, rainy Belgian weather again,” he added. “I’m heading back to Belgium. I’m just not in good shape to do World Cups yet, I don’t want to disappoint myself.”
Racing for week 4 of ProCX will feature the midweek RenoCross in Reno, Nevada on Wednesday. This is the second C1 race of the season. RenoCross coincides with the Interbike tradeshow.
A Friday matinee will be held September 21 at the Trek Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin. On Sunday, the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series will begin in Wisconsin.
Read the full article at Nittany ProCX: Zaveta takes two; Boulo wins men’s race on

Earlier this year I spoke with bike industry stalwarts to get a sense of the industry’s direction. I asked a series of broad questions and received some interesting answers.
My first question focuses on the industry’s ever-changing landscape. New categories are evolving, direct-to-consumer sales are growing, and every week, some new innovation is marketed as an industry game changer. Which of these innovations and inventions are part of a long-term trend, and which are simply a fad? It’s harder to differentiate between the two than you might assume.
Here are some thoughts on how to tell if an innovation or movement has true staying power.These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Gary Fisher, founder Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes
Gary Fisher. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.comYou’d like to think that [you have a trend], and its inception, the testing you’ve done around your idea has proved out your theory that the technology actually works. With the 29er, it was about six months of using a Polar heart rate monitor and riding two identical bikes, only the wheel size was different, to prove it. We got some data that said we should move forward. Then you think this can’t be a fad! But then, of course, the recumbent bicycle, that the UCI outlawed in the 1930s, is a damned fast and efficient machine. Because of its geekiness, it has never caught on with the mainstream. California is one of the last places to catch on to these new ideas. We’re much more controlled by the coolness factor.
John Parker, Underground Bike Works, founder of Yeti Cycles
John Parker. Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.comIf I could do that, I would move to Vegas and put a hurt on the financial center. Growing up in California where fads turn into trends, be it hula-hoops, skateboards, whatever, mountain bikes, it’s sad but it’s the financial success that determines whether it’s a fad or the latest craze.
It has to have heart, it has to have soul, it has to have appeal, it has to have a look, it has to stir something in you. The more it energizes you and draws to your emotion, then it becomes more than a fad.
Sometimes at Yeti, we were rather trendsetters. But that wasn’t our goal. Our goal was more, ‘Hey this is a new deal, there’s no rules.’ I was working with two really talented guys, Frank the Welder and Chris Herting. Just our dreams and our vision reached out and became trends, but not intentionally, just by our tenacity and our vision I guess.
Richard Byrne, Speedplay pedals
Richard Byrne. Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.comI think if it’s based in science and physiology, it will be a trend. If it’s based in fashion, it will be the opposite. The keys to performance in cycling are physics and physiology. Anything that helps with either increasing power or reducing resistance will stick and the others will be here today and gone tomorrow.
Scot Nicol, Ibis Bicycles
I think if there is a bonafide advantage, then it’s going to be a trend. If there’s not something you can speak of as an advantage, it will be a fad. There have been just a ton of incremental improvements of bikes over the years. We’ve gone from 100-millimeter quick releases in the front to through axles, and from straight 1-inch forks to 1 1/8-inch forks to tapered forks. Every time that happens some people say it’s a fad, but they have all really improved the way the bike rides.
Chris Chance, Fat Chance Bikes
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });I like to think that I have enough experience to be able to tell some of these things, but sometimes people get on a fad, and they need to ride it through. I remember back in mid-90s the market was really leveling off and we started getting a lot of customers that all they were concerned about was what it weighed. They wanted to have a low number to impress their fans about how light their bike is. To me, that was like a fad.
The whole thing about light weight to me that was a phase, I don’t know if you call it a fad. Those things cycle through. Sometimes fads are like that like, a fashion. What’s the fashion of the moment? They just come and go. To me, elevated chain stays was like that. We’re talking way back now. People asked me when I would make an e-stay bike, and I said never. I come from the connect-the-dots school of framebuilding. You got a bottom bracket, a head tube, a seat, and a rear wheel, and all those dots get connected and you’re fine. That’s the way the structure works its best. That was a fad. Of course now we hardly ever hear about chain suck thanks to the component companies.
I do my best to not get in with the fads unless I think it’s fun. Sometimes fads are fun. If it is about some serious function of the bike, I don’t give it much credence unless I believe in it.
Joe Breeze, Breezer Bikes
Joe Breeze. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.comI imagine if it’s a fad it might not have the function of the next thing that’s coming. If there isn’t some use in the idea, it’s only going to have a certain shelf life, not as long as something useful right? I’ll be looking at the utility of it, the beauty of it, whatever way that makes it useful at the time.
Maybe that’s rather abstract. An example, that’s kind of in this category, I think of as I’m going through the Marin Museum of Bicycling, especially the hall of fame section with the mountain bikes. My favorite is Charlie Cunningham’s prototype aluminum bike that he made back in 1979, 1980. Charlie was an aeronautic engineering student at Cal at Berkley where he first learned that aluminum was a viable structural material for one thing, but also to go with the big diameter. He also has a sloping top tube. He was doing all these things outside the box, including a one-by chainring, ways to grease the parts, boost hubs, even back in 1980.
Each one of these ideas was seen as ugly — that’s ugly, that’s ugly, that’s ugly, that’s ugly — or you could say that’s a fad, that’s a fad, whatever. That ain’t gonna fly. Of course, it flew. Whereas today people look at that bike as beautiful. That’s the test of time. Charlie, of course, knew it all along being a smart cookie and just realized, ‘Hey I don’t care what you think this is the way I want to do it.’ And look what it is today. It’s my favorite bike in the hall of fame.
Tom Ritchey, Ritchey Design LLC
Tom Ritchey. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.comThat’s something that [framebuilder] Jobst [Brandt] used to think about. He used to go through Hewlett-Packard’s product development definitions that decided what was worth spending product development dollars on. It had to be completely unique and never been done before. That’s a tough one. It had to solve a problem that was solvable in an economic and affordable way. Expensive solutions were not part of the engineer’s mind. There were five total components, and those were the two that were most important. We now live in such a breakneck era of product development culture. It’s not necessarily based on whether a product is needed or not. Does it solve a problem?
Read the full article at Industry insiders: Trend vs. fad? on

Thanks to a winning performance in Saturday’s team time trial, Sunweb took first and second place in the Madrid Challenge Sunday with Ellen van Dijk in first and American Coryn Rivera second. Wiggle-High5’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot was third in the two-day Spanish race.
Sunweb’s riders had a healthy 18-second advantage on Wiggle-High5’s team after the 12.6km TTT in Boadilla del Monte. Mitchelton-Scott’s squad was third, 46 seconds slower in stage 1.
Stage 2’s 100.3km circuit through downtown Madrid was mostly flat, meaning those time gaps were insurmountable.
Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) took the sprint victory in what may be the final pro race of her career. The Italian is retiring from racing to work as a director for the new Trek women’s team, which coincidentally, van Dijk will join for 2019.
Van Dijk credited smart tactics for defending her overall lead Sunday. She rode in the day’s breakaway even though the team originally was hoping for a stage win with Rivera.
“Our original goal was to go for the intermediates with Coryn but when the big break went, we had to adjust the plan,” the Dutchwoman said. “We still wanted to have the breakaway back before the final to sprint with Coryn, so the girls tried to chase in the bunch but there wasn’t enough help to be able to do so and me and Lucinda stayed away in the break until the finish.”
Mitchelton-Scott’s Sarah Roy was second in Sunday’s stage. Charlotte Becker (Hitec Products) was third.
Van Dijk rode to sixth on same time as the winner and Cordon-Ragot.
Rivera was 13 seconds back in 18th, still good enough to take the second step on the podium.
Read the full article at Sunweb’s van Dijk and Rivera go 1-2 in Madrid Challenge GC on