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With a stunning long-range attack out of an all-day breakaway, young Gage Hecht (Aevolo) won the opening stage of the Colorado Classic Thursday, leaving the sprinters to fight for scraps in Vail, Colorado.
Hecht, 20, was part of a four-man group along with Pascal Eenkhorn (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alex Cataford (UnitedHealthcare), and Nicholas Eg (Trek-Segafredo).
Throughout the day the Coloradoan would attack the 14.2km circuit’s dirt road climb to collect king of the mountains points. On the final lap of the 103.2-kilometer race, he attacked again, and that time, it stuck.
Behind in the peloton, EF Education First-Drapac’s Daniel Martinez tried an acceleration but couldn’t break free.
Up the road, Hecht rode a solo breakaway with about a 20-second advantage as the disorganized peloton failed to close down the gap in the final five kilometers.
Though Hecht seemed uncertain of his advantage, frequently checking over his shoulder toward the end, he realized with one kilometer remaining that the victory would be his. He punched up one final short climb and rode alone to the biggest win of his young career.
Travis McCabe sprinted to second behind with his arms in the air, perhaps indicating that he didn’t realize the Aevolo rider was up the road. Joe Lewis (Holowesko-Citadel) was third.
Hecht brought home an impressive haul of leader’s jerseys to his Continental team, which focuses on developing under-23 riders like himself. After Thursday he held the overall leader’s jersey, the points classification jersey, the best young rider’s jersey, and the king of the mountains jersey.
On Friday, the overall GC standings should come into focus as stage 2’s Vail time trial climbs 480 meters (1,574 feet) over 15.88km.
Colorado Classic Stage 1 ResultsStage
RankNameTeamTime1HECHT GageAevolo2:32:562MCCABE TravisUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:063LEWIS JoeHolowesko - Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources,,4TVETCOV SergheiUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,,5BLEVINS ChristopherHagens Berman Axeon,,6MAGNER TyRally Cycling,,7HERNANDEZ MichaelAevolo,,8AVILA EdwinIsrael Cycling Academy,,9SKUJIŅŠ TomsTrek - Segafredo,,10PHINNEY TaylorTeam EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale,,11ROTH RyanSilber Pro Cycling,,12POWLESS NeilsonTeam LottoNL-Jumbo,,13SANCHEZ BrayanHolowesko - Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources,,14EASTER Griffin303Project,,15BOUWMAN KoenTeam LottoNL-Jumbo,,16MARTINEZ Daniel FelipeTeam EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale,,17PICCOLI JamesElevate - KHS Pro Cycling,,18BASSETT StephenSilber Pro Cycling,,19POWER RobertMitchelton-Scott,,20MANNION GavinUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,,21VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ LuisAevolo,,22OLIVIER DaanTeam LottoNL-Jumbo,,23CARTHY HughTeam EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale,,24SHELDEN TaylorJelly Belly p/b Maxxis,,25BURKE JackJelly Belly p/b Maxxis,,26BENNETT SeanHagens Berman Axeon,,27EENKHOORN PascalTeam LottoNL-Jumbo,,28HOWSON DamienMitchelton-Scott,,29DOMBROWSKI JoeTeam EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale,,30JORGENSON MatteoJelly Belly p/b Maxxis,,31STETINA PeterTrek - Segafredo,,32MAAS JanTeam LottoNL-Jumbo,,33ZUKOWSKY NicolasSilber Pro Cycling,,34EISENHART TaylorHolowesko - Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources,,35EG NiklasTrek - Segafredo,,36CONCI NicolaTrek - Segafredo,,37HOEHN AlexAevolo,,38BROWN NathanTeam EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale,,39BRITTON RobRally Cycling,,40ELLSAY NigelRally Cycling,,41HAMILTON LucasMitchelton-Scott,,42CATAFORD AlexanderUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,,43JARAMILLO Daniel AlexanderUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,,44ANDERSON EdwardHagens Berman Axeon1:0145SWIRBUL KeeganJelly Belly p/b Maxxis1:2446COMPANIONI RubenHolowesko - Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources1:4047MURPHY KyleRally Cycling,,48WILLIAMS TylerIsrael Cycling Academy,,49COTÉ Pier-AndréSilber Pro Cycling,,50EASTER Cullen303Project,,51WINN Chris303Project,,52MAWDITT LionelJelly Belly p/b Maxxis,,53NORRIS LachlanUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,,54GIRKINS KevinElevate - KHS Pro Cycling,,55DAVIS ColeHagens Berman Axeon,,56PLAZA RubénIsrael Cycling Academy,,57REVARD ThomasHagens Berman Axeon2:3958KRASILNIKAU AndreiHolowesko - Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources2:5959HAIDET LanceAevolo,,60CASTILLO Ulises AlfredoJelly Belly p/b Maxxis3:19RankNameTeamTime1HECHT GageAevolo0:00Results provided by ProCyclingStats.
Read the full article at Colorado Classic: Gage Hecht fends off the sprinters in stage 1 on

Rebecca Wiasak (Fearless Femme) claimed the opening stage at the women’s Colorado Classic on Thursday, getting out ahead of the other surviving sprint hopefuls with a kilometer to go and holding out to the line to beat Tibco-SVB riders Lex Albrecht and Kendall Ryan.
“I saw the 1k to go banner and one of the UHC girls was off the front, so I was like, ‘Okay, if I bridge to her and launch off her, UHC aren’t chasing because they have a rider off the front,'” Wiasak said after the stage. “I think some other teams must have been scrambling but obviously I was trying not to look back too often.”
Wiasak, a former world champion in the individual pursuit and Australia’s current criterium champion, spent the day trying to survive the main climb on four laps of the 14.2-kilometer circuit.
“I was out of position every time up the climb but was able to get in a group that always got back on,” she said. “The race panned out perfectly for me. I always had Flávia [Oliveira] in the front group. She always made the split, she climbs so well.”
With a few kilometers to go in the final lap, Wiasak was in position to strike, but no one was quite sure how the finish would play out.
“In the last 3k, it was chaotic,” said Rally’s Emma White, who finished seventh. “People were trying to attack, we weren’t sure if it was going to finish with a solo or a sprint finish.”
Things ultimately concluded somewhere in between the two ends of that spectrum — Wiasak bridged to a UnitedHealthcare rider with a small gap and then pushed on to take the win. Albrecht crossed the line for runner-up honors, although as Ryan pointed out after the stage, that wasn’t exactly the way her team had drawn it up.
“Racing at altitude, I’m from sea level so I knew I wasn’t going to have the capacity that I’ve been racing with all year,” Ryan said. “Lex Albrecht led me out, and she’s known for being a climber, but she absolutely smoked me in the sprint, I couldn’t even come around her, just everything cramping up.”
Tibco had to be content with putting two riders on the stage podium, with Wiasak taking the win with a convincing two-second gap to the field.
She’ll have her hands full, however, defending her race lead in Friday’s stage 2. An uphill time trial of 15.8 kilometers, it will favor the climbers.
“Once again it’s going to be about controlling yourself, riding to your power and not going to hard,” she said. “But I haven’t done a time trial in a little while so that’s just me.”
Read the full article at Wiasak surges to victory in opening stage of women’s Colorado Classic on

It wasn’t long ago that frame manufacturers wouldn’t dream of releasing a frame without mounts for a pump. Now the vast majority of us do our roadside inflating with a C02 cartridge and a small inflator head. It’s fast, convenient, and far less bulky.
Of course, C02 systems require that you buy a consumable item: C02 cartridges. Once they’re spent, they’re trash. And it’s a one-off system, so if you run out of cartridges out on your ride, chances are you’ll wish you were carrying a small pump with you.
For unsupported racers who want to change flats quickly during races or training rides, C02 is hard to beat. And if you just don’t want a pump cluttering up your pocket, you can opt for these diminutive systems that fit in your seat bag.
While any old inflator will do in a pinch, the ones you can rely on ride after ride all have a few things in common, like tough construction, light weight, and easy inflation whether you run Presta or Schrader valves. The best systems are designed to help you hold the head or cartridge, even when it freezes during the inflation process. For $35 or less, you can choose an inflator system that will become a staple of your riding gear for years to come.
Choose your CO2 inflator based on these four factors:Head construction. Plastic is light and inexpensive, but not especially durable. Aluminum combines low weight and durability that’s ideal for an inflator head, but it’s likely to cost a bit more. Of course, you’re also more likely to get many years of service from it.Inflation process. The three most common inflation processes are: Press to inflate; twist the cartridge to inflate; and twist a control knob to inflate. All three work well, though the cartridge twisting method generally means once the cartridge is pierced, you’ll need to empty it completely. A control knob allows you to tailor your tire pressure, and a press-to-inflate system is the quickest and easiest method. Racers should choose the latter; PSI weenies should go with a control knob system.Size and weight. Okay, they’re all pretty light. But if you’re looking for the absolute lightest for your featherweight climber’s bike, it’s certainly possible to do so. Just don’t sacrifice usability to save a few grams; you’ll regret it when you’re on the side of the road with a flat. But if your seat bag is tight on space, choosing your inflator head based on size is a legitimate concern.Ease of handling. A lot of inflators now include some sort of cartridge sleeve to protect your fingers from frost on the C02 cartridge during the inflation process. This ensures a more solid grip on the system as you inflate. For systems that don’t include such a sleeve, look carefully at the head’s ergonomics and figure out how you will hold it while you’re inflating to avoid the extreme cold of the CO2 cartridge.
Topeak AirboosterPhoto: Dan Cavallari |
$30 (Includes rubber sleeve)
Weight: 23 grams (head only)
While it’s on the pricey side for an inflator, Topeak’s Airbooster features all-metal construction. It also includes a rubber sleeve to protect your digits from cold cartridges. And it’s impressively light for its size.
The push-to-inflate system activates quickly and holds air when you remove the head from the valve. There’s a rubber gasket on the top and back of the head, which makes for a great place to put your hand to avoid the frost. But the actual function of this gasket is to protect the threaded cartridge interface. This seems like a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.
The ‘storage’ end of the Airbooster is a nice touch: You can screw your cartridge in there tightly so everything’s connected as one unit, without actually piercing the cartridge. When you’re ready to inflate, just unscrew the cartridge from that end and screw it into the opposite end.
The biggest drawback to this otherwise excellent inflator is its awkward shape. No, it’s not awkward to hold; rather, it’s awkward for storage in your seat bag. If you’re tight on space, this might be a bit of a headache for you. Otherwise, Topeak has designed a solid unit with enough nice features to make it a win.
Genuine Innovations Airchuck+Photo: Dan Cavallari |
$30 (includes one 20-gram CO2 cartridge)
Weight: 39 grams
The Airchuck chucks the cartridge sleeve and instead shrouds the aluminum head in a plastic cover to protect your digits from frost. It provides a big gripping surface too, but it does add bulk and weight to the unit. If you’re tight on space in your saddle bag, this might not be the best choice. Opt instead for the diminutive Airchuck.
This is one of the easiest inflators to use and hold. Just push to inflate, then pull off. The head is spring-loaded so you can feel when the system engages and disengages. Everything about this inflator screams burly.
It holds air once you remove the unit from your valve stem, so you could top your other tire with the same cartridge if you want. As long as you’re not short on space in your bag or too concerned with weight, The Airchuck+ shines.
Editor’s pick: Portland Design Works Tiny ObjectPhoto: Dan Cavallari |
$25 (includes leather sleeve)
Weight: 17 grams (head only)
It’s tiny, lightweight, snazzy, and it comes with a sweet leather cartridge sleeve. Portland Design Works has created an excellent inflator for the weight weenies among us who don’t want to take up much space in our saddle bags. The full alloy construction makes this piece feel rugged, like a real tool rather than a throwaway.
It’s also easy to regulate the flow of air so you can customize your air pressure — well, customize it as much as you can without a gauge anyway. You can open the knob on the top a lot to release a big burst of air or just a little to top off your tires. You can turn it with one hand, but it’s easier with two. This is an easy favorite for road, mountain, and gravel use.
Pro (Shimano) Micro InflatorPhoto: Dan Cavallari |
$20 (includes one 16 gram C02 cartridge)
Weight: 22 grams (head only)
The Micro Inflator’s plastic construction keeps the weight down to a slender 22 grams, though this unit doesn’t feel as solidly built as it’s aluminum competitors. If you’re after a light and inexpensive inflator, this is a decent option that includes a rubber cartridge sleeve so your fingers don’t freeze as the cartridge empties.
Operating the inflator is easy: Screw in the cartridge and push to on the spring-loaded head to inflate. You can inflate in small bursts to top off your tire pressure, too. It works on both Presta and Schrader valves (though you’ll need to screw the unit onto a Schrader valve).
One complaint: Once we removed the inflator from our valve, it continued to leak air from the cartridge. This is really only a problem if you’re trying to inflate more than one tire with a single cartridge, or if you try to remove the inflator and put it back on to top off your tire. Still, for a fair price and low weight, the Micro Inflator is a good choice for budget-conscious riders.
Read the full article at Review: Four CO2 inflators to pump you up on

Why do you wear a helmet when riding your bike? For the vast majority of cyclists, the answer is simple: safety. It’s an accepted fact that wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury if you happen to crash or be involved in an accident. But what if you alter that query and ask, why do you wear the helmet that you wear? Suddenly things aren’t so clear. Looks, color, ventilation, weight, even aerodynamic efficiency creep into the equation.
Be honest. Have you ever purchased a helmet because you thought it looked cool? Or you thought it would help keep you cool? Or make you faster? And all the while, you assumed that the helmet you choose was just as safe as all the other helmets on the market. The answer for many if not most cyclists is some form of yes. When it comes to bike helmets, safety is always a priority, but it may not always be the No. 1 priority. And this is true even at the highest level of the sport.All Giro helmets go through an exceptionally rigorous testing protocol.
Take the well-known MIPS technology (aka Multi-directional Impact Protection System) where a slip plane attached to the inside of a helmet can help reduce the impact of rotational forces on your brain from angled impacts, like sliding out in a corner during a high-speed criterium or tumbling over the bars during a rowdy singletrack descent. There’s good science out there that says MIPS works, and that no matter how much skin you may lose when you hit the deck, it can increase the odds that you’ll walk away from a crash with your most important faculties still intact. Yet this safety technology has sometimes been a hard sell, even to the world’s top racers who spend hundreds if not thousands of hours on the bike each year.
“It’s been a challenge at times,” admitted Eric Richter, brand manager for helmet maker Giro. “Of course safety is important to professional riders. That’s why we put so much effort into advancing head protection, including the integration of MIPS into helmets. But for some of them, the slip plane affects fit or ventilation or sweat management.”Greg Van Avermaet descended the Col du Portillon in the Tour de France. Photo: Gruber Images
And when your livelihood depends on your performance on the bike, and the difference between a good and bad performance can come down to seconds, then it can be hard to just look past those compromises. Just listen to answers of three riders who recently wrapped up three weeks of hard racing around France.
Tejay van Garderen, Simon Gerrans, and Greg Van Avermaet all ride for the BMC racing team, whose helmet sponsor is Giro. When asked what they looked for in a helmet, the all listed safety first. But none said safety above all else. Van Garderen added comfort, breathability, and aesthetics as other important factors. “You’ve got to keep it looking fresh,” he added.
Gerrans said it’s nice to have a helmet that looks good, and that, “There needs to be a balance between the performance and safety features. You’re not going to wear a motorbike helmet on a bicycle just because it’s safer.” Van Avermaet struck a similar note, giving his first nod toward safety before adding that, “It has to look good, too. And have a good fit, and be light and aero.”
There’s nothing surprising in any of these statements, but all are burdened by inherent contradiction. If safety is not both the No. 1 and only priority when choosing a bicycle helmet, then is the helmet you choose as safe as it can be?The new Giro Aether MIPS has proven to be more aerodynamic than its predecessor, the highly-regarded Giro Synthe.
The team at Giro recognized this paradox, but more importantly took it as a challenge. What if there were no compromises? What if the most aero, well ventilated, best looking and comfortable road cycling helmet was also the safest?
“We knew that these professional racers were some of the most vulnerable riders,” Richter explained, acknowledging that they actually fall down more than most cyclists, a notion born out in this year’s carnage-filled Tour de France where BMC teammate Richie Porte crashed out for the second year in a row (thankfully not because of a head injury), and countless other riders also hit the deck. “It got to a place where we felt like helmets had almost become undervalued. We can’t say that they will eliminate brain injuries because all accidents are unique events. But we truly believe in MIPS technology. We went into the lab and executed tests that showed it could significantly reduce the force being transmitted to the brain. So we had to figure out a way to get that technology onto the heads of these riders, which basically meant we had to make the technology disappear.”The balance between safety and performance is a delicate one, and has pushed helmet maker Giro to explore beyond traditional design boundaries.
What followed has already been well-documented in the cycling press. Just before the start of this year’s Tour de France, Giro launched its most sophisticated and technology-packed helmet to date, Aether MIPS. Gone was the familiar yellow slip plane tucked inside the helmet, replaced by a unique ball-and-socket design where the critical slip plane is embedded between two layers of foam.
This two-part dual-density Nanobead EPS foam liner helps manage a wide range of impact energies by rotating independently of a rider’s head and the helmet’s outer shell. And this proprietary MIPS Spherical technology removed any obstruction to comfort, while also boasting deep internal channeling to provide cooling airflow. Now the added protective element was no longer a bolt-on accessory. It was a critical part of the overall helmet design. This allowed Giro to carry forward the documented benefits of MIPS, but also eliminate any perceived compromises.Tejay van Garderen followed Greg Van Avermaet at the Tour de France. Photo: Gruber Images
“We think it really does optimize the system as a whole,” noted Richter. “It shifts how MIPS is applied and does so in a way that makes it a much easier decision for all types of riders. There simply isn’t a reason not to embrace MIPS. With Aether, there are no compromises or drawbacks. And that really matters when you’re racing up a mountain in 90-degree heat and you’re at max heart rate. That little extra cooling or aero benefit can mean a few extra watts, and that’s huge when races sometimes come down to the width of a tire.”
And while Richter and his team weren’t necessarily seeking direct validation from the WorldTour peloton, it came anyway.
“It really ticks the most important points for me,” said Van Avermaet. “The new helmet looks good, it’s aero, it’s light with good ventilation, and it’s safer.”
“It covers all the bases,” added Gerrans. “It has all the key performance attributes and ups the level of safety.”
“The balance between safety and performance is spot on,” said van Garderen. “It looks and feels like a normal, sleek, high-performance helmet, and it also has the key safety features. But unless you actually engage that feature, and hopefully no one ever does, you wouldn’t even know it’s there.”
Van Garderen’s final point is arguably most important. Giro has succeeded in developing a revolutionary safety feature, and then made that technology — and all the past compromises — disappear.
Read the full article at Finding a solution to the bike helmet paradox on

Welcome to The Dirt, the weekly news round-up on what is happening in the worlds of gravel, mountain biking, and all things rough and dirty.
This week, we’ve got a Q&A with Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon-Topeak) who just won the 10th edition of the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race. I caught up with Bishop back in May at the Grand Junction Off-Road, the second race in the Epic Rides Series, to talk to him about how endurance mountain bike racing has evolved over the years.VeloNews: What’s the craziest adventure you’ve ever done?
Jeremiah Bishop: Probably training for the Munga, the million-dollar race across South Africa. They had a bank bond, they had a lot of stuff that looked like this thing was definitely on, Carl Platt, five-time winner of Cape Epic, was registered. But they had a big-time sponsor pull out.
Incidentally, the training I did for that was some of the coolest shit I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve won some cool races, but they were in the possible realm of things people were trying to do.
But trying to do a 20-hour solo mission in the dark, by myself, on this bikepacking route called Stokesville-Douthat-Stokesville, that was really scary. It’s really neat stuff. That was one of four big training missions I did. I’m very methodical in my preparations.
Even though I’d never done anything like the Munga before, 1,000 miles across the desert, I knew I had to have a sequential build for it. You chip off pieces, you build up to tougher, nastier stuff.
I raced Hampshire 100 completely self-supported that fall, no outside assistance. I started with 10 pounds of stuff, I ran out of water with an hour and a half to go. They had an aid station about 12 miles to go, they had Coke and Skittles. I just tried not to look — I was cracked.
VN: That’s some discipline!
JB: Dude, for $750,000 [at the Munga] you can have some discipline!
VN: What are your main racing goals these days?
I’ve been with Canyon-Topeak for several years now, and I’m a team rider for the races, oftentimes I’m a backup team rider for Cape Epic, TransAlp, Andalucia bike race …
Last year I did Margie-Gessick 100 in Michigan — they were calling it the hardest 100-miler in America. And I was like yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s in Michigan. Let’s see. Yeah, I almost died! It was just so bad. … That race is so hard. A lot of granite domes, it’s in the old mining belt of Michigan. So it’s these small mountains in the Upper Peninsula. Really good trailbuilding community.
I like to do different races, try different things. That one just caught my attention because they said it was so miserable. No aid stations, no course marking. I was ready for it though.
The lowlight of the race was filling up my hydration pack underneath a Home Depot, there was a creek — it was a Lowes, excuse me — we were racing for hours and hours, no aid stations, and I was definitely out of water. I had an inline water filter. I saw this creek. I could go to a gas station, lose the group and have to come back to the course. Or I could use my in-line filter. I’m not sure what was in that water. And it worked like a champ. Somebody got a picture of this. It was hilarious.
Just putting myself out there in uncomfortable places, it’s fun.
And then big races like Transalp, I’m doing hardcore domestique work like Ben King. Riding at the front like crazy to help Alban or Kristian back after a flat, giving them a wheel, the stuff that doesn’t seem glamorous, but I’m good at it.
Last year I even had a chance to lead the team at Transalp. Last year we were third, and I became the first American rider in the 30-year history of the event land on the podium.
VN: Talk to me about the difference between the mountain bike marathon scene in Europe versus the U.S.
JB: It’s very performance-oriented there, even among amateurs. You have guys out there on trainers. It’s a pretty hardcore level.
You don’t do Transalp if you’re looking for beer time. It’s fun but it’s a little more serious environment.
The U.S. races are cool because now we’re getting a high-performance level but also the backdrop is fun for the majority of the crew. It’s a win-win. That would be one thing I’d say for the biggest races in Europe. They have the amateur finish mentality. Tens of thousands of people do the Birkebeiner in Norway, the Riva bike festival, just thousands of people out there having a great time riding bikes.
VN: How many different mountain bike races have you done over the course of your career?
JB: Total race starts, probably 1,400 or 1,500.
I’ve probably done at least 1,000 unique events. Everything from six-pack downhill events, which is pre-enduro, Tour de Burg — I cut my teeth on all these underground races they’re a lot like the stage races I now do.
Tried BMX racing a little tiny bit, did some NRC road races here and there, did a couple ‘cross nationals. I won a couple UCI ‘cross races, just the right conditions, right place, right time. Just trying different rides and different races is part of what I think makes a well-rounded rider. And that’s what I’ve always strived for, to be a well-rounded rider, to win a fat-tire crit, a cross-country, or a short-track national championships.
VN: Talk about the level of specialization in mountain bike racing — how do pro racers strike a balance between World Cups and endurance events?
At some point, you have to figure out what makes you happy.
In my career, there were sort of these tugs of war. When I was with Trek-Volkswagen, they needed me to be at the World Cup when the team was at its biggest. And then there were other times when the team was more U.S.-focused. … That drive to do the entire World Cup circuit takes a lot of mental energy, a lot of commitment.
Being an early adopter of the endurance races in North America came at a risk. I was getting a lot of flack from Sho-Air about sneaking off and trying to make the schedule so I could do Breck Epic, sneak into Transylvania Epic, or Pisgah stage race. I’d squeeze those in and come back feeling kind of hammered for the Wisconsin XC race.
But all those races are just awesome. I did Transalp, what was it? Damn near 20 years ago. For me, that was a big eye-opener of how awesome stage races are. It just made me tick. I just love being in the hurt locker, digging day after day.
VN: Do you feel there’s been a shift in sponsor interest toward longer races like Epic Rides?
JB: Absolutely, it’s the bikes people want to buy for their activity, go out with their friends to go explore cool places.
Of course what we’re seeing here [in Grand Junction] is a more professional version of that with the Epic Rides races. We have a lot of great races, hundreds of races all over the country. On the endurance side, quite strong. Thirteen races in the NUE last year, and about 10 this year, with a bunch of provisional events.
There are all kinds of different varieties of events. But having a professional platform is different. I can go to some small races, and sponsors are cool with that, but they need us at Cape Epic, they need us at races where there’s good media, good crowds, higher profile.
VN: Would it be a good thing to have a marathon mountain bike race in the Olympics?
There’s been a lot of talk about that. It’s become quite a different sport. Having not too long ago raced some of the Red Bull edition World Cups. I love it but it’s very hard.
It’s evident that marathon riders like Kristian Hynek are proficient at World Cup XC, but he’s not Nino proficient.
It would absolutely be hugely beneficial to have it in the Olympics though. I did the first marathon world championships, it was for training before XC worlds. I was like well, why not.
It started to become a big thing, but yeah absolutely it would be huge. It’s very difficult to think that the Olympics would add another cycling sport. You look at BMX’s inclusion. As soon as you add another they usually take an event out.
Worlds was a huge step, and then you started to see big salaries for specialist athletes. You look at Christophe Sauser’s late career, focusing on Cape Epic, marathon worlds.
Now you’re definitely seeing a separation with big teams that are focused on marathon. Our team is squarely focused on marathon. They don’t care about me doing World Cups. They want to have us leverage races that capture the imagination of the customers — crazy places, exotic travel, amazing trails you only get to dream about.
VN: And also people who are doing it at the same race, they can relate to professionals.
JB: One hundred percent, yeah. At Leadville, people compare their times to our times, and jaws drop. And they’re just like, “OK I get it. That’s amazing.” It’s very much like the Boston marathon experience. You’re in there, in the mix.This interview was edited for clarity and length.
Grotts and Connors repeat at Leadville Trail 100 MTBHoward Grotts won his second Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike race on Saturday. Photo: Glen Delman Photography
The 25th edition of the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race celebrated two familiar faces atop the podium Saturday as Howard Grotts (Specialized) and Larissa Connors (Sho-Air-Felt) successfully defended their titles.
Grotts finished in downtown Leadville, Colorado after just 6:18:08 of racing over 104 miles. Kristian Hynek (Canyon-Topeak) was second, and Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) was third.Larissa Connors celebrated her Leadville win. Photo courtesy Leadville Trail Race Series
Connors won by a convincing margin, finishing in 7:40:13, nearly half an hour ahead of second place Julie Dibbens. Chase Edwards was third. It was also a remarkable win for the Californian because it was her fifth marathon mountain bike race victory in just six weeks. Connors won the Tatanka 100, Breck 100, High Cascades 100, Pierre’s Hole 100. Combined with her win at the True Grit 100 in March, Connors won four National Ultra Endurance (NUE) events, earning her the series overall.
“Leadville is more about the people and achieving something super difficult than it is about being pro and serious,” Connors said. “The highlight every year is cheering for everyone climbing Columbine as I descend, and thinking about how they will all tackle maybe the hardest race of their life on that day. It was crazy humbling and inspiring to hear them cheer for me by name when they too were in the middle of accomplishing something so incredible!”
Courtney and Blevins shine at Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup
Americans Kate Courtney and Christopher Blevins (Specialized) rode onto the podium in the Canadian round of the mountain bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Courtney started off the weekend with a third place in Friday’s short track XC, behind teammate and winner Annika Langvad and Jolanda Neff (Kross), who was second. This gave the 23-year-old American a front-row start in Sunday’s XC, which she capitalized on, riding top-three for most of the race. However, she suffered a late-race flat tire on the rocky course and was out-sprinted by Anne Tauber in the end, settling for sixth place.Kate Courtney at the start of the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup. Photo:Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool
In the under-23 men’s race, Blevins proved his potential with a second place finish to South African Alan Hatherly. Blevins is more than simply a mountain biker as well — on Thursday he starts the four-day Colorado Classic stage race with Hagens Berman-Axeon.
Durango Pro XCT and Pro GRT races canceled
In the aftermath of the enormous wildfire that engulfed 50,000 acres of forest in southwestern Colorado, organizers of Purgatory’s Revenge were forced to cancel the race that was scheduled for August 30-September 2.
“The 416 Fire, which started 10 miles north of Durango, played a direct role in the race’s cancellation by delaying race course trail construction. All registered participants will receive a full refund and we are hopeful to bring this race series back to Purgatory in the future,” said Hogan Koesis, Purgatory mountain bike director.Read more about how the fire has impacted mountain bikers in the Durango area >>Got some news you’d like to share in The Dirt? I’d love to hear from you. Please email me your news and updates on all things gravel and mountain biking.
Read the full article at The Dirt: Jeremiah Bishop on the evolution of endurance MTB on

After eight fruitful years with Quick-Step Floors, Niki Terpstra shocked the world of pro cycling Thursday by confirming a move to French team Direct Energie for 2019.
“I was impressed by Direct Energie this season during the Flanders Classics where the riders of the team were systematically involved in the race,” said Terpstra. “Damien Gaudin, Sylvain Chavanel, and Adrien Petit were among the great animators of the Belgian countryside. I also noticed their aggressive style in the Tour de France. I like it!”
The reigning Tour of Flanders champion was a mainstay on the Belgian Quick-Step team since 2011. The 34-year-old Dutchman also won Paris-Roubaix in 2014, along with 16 other major victories in his tenure with the classics powerhouse team.
Direct Energie seems an unusual home for the three-time Dutch champion because the French team is almost entirely comprised of French riders. Also, it is a Pro Continental team, meaning it isn’t guaranteed invitations to the entire WorldTour calendar.
However, Quick-Step Floors is still seeking a title sponsor for 2019.
“Quick-Step will stay for at least another three years, but they would prefer to become a second sponsor,” team director Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad, “I do not have that main sponsor yet.”
Direct Energie director Jean-René Bernaudeau said he was careful in choosing a rider beyond French borders.
“I am happy to see that he shares our values and wishes to be part of our project,” Bernaudeau said. “We are very vigilant when we recruit riders who do not come from the Vendée region. With Niki, I am sure we made the right choice.”
Terpstra also says the team is the right fit for him.
“I dream to bring Direct Energie a prestigious victory in a major classic,” he added. “And above all, to win a stage victory on the Tour de France — I am turning over a new leaf by joining a French team.”
So far this year, Direct Energie’s best results came at Paris Nice, where Jonathan Hivert won stage 3 and Jerome Cousin won stage 5. Outside of WorldTour races, the team counts 12 additional victories to date in 2018.
Read the full article at Flanders champ Terpstra makes surprise move to Direct Energie on

Confirmation that Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas will skip the Vuelta a España means one thing — the Spanish grand tour just got a lot better.
The Vuelta is already the most entertaining grand tour to watch anyway. But without its two GC aces, Sky will not be riding to throttle the race into the ground. That means the Vuelta should be even more explosive than it would be anyway with its seemingly endless string of uphill finales, punchy finishes, and deep field.
With Sky sending its two top stars for a victory lap at the Tour of Britain instead of going to Spain, the Vuelta won’t see a fully loaded Sky train to mark and control every GC threat in the peloton. And that means it’s anyone’s race to win.
Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your view of Team Sky. The team seems to have just as many distractors as supporters, and after a rough and tumble Tour de France, both Froome and Thomas will likely welcome a bit of a grand tour respite.
If you’re a believer in seeing the best riders in the best races no matter what jersey they wear, you won’t agree that the Vuelta is better off without Froome or Thomas. In fact, it could have been fascinating to see just how well Froome or Thomas could have ridden in this Vuelta.
But after the spite and anger that engulfed the Tour last month, the Vuelta will be better off with a bit of a Sky breather.
Sky fatigue has set in across much of the sport, from rivals desperate to try to beat them to skeptical fans who don’t believe them. Race organizers and even the UCI are scrambling to try to find a way to loosen the stranglehold Team Sky has on the Tour de France and the yellow jersey.
As much that’s made about Sky’s domination, its reach only statistically extends to the Tour. Its grip over the Giro, Vuelta, and other races is much looser — Sky has only won one edition of the Giro and Vuelta during its run of six yellow jerseys in the past seven Tours — and Sky has never succeeded in dominating the classics the way it does stage racing. More on the Vuelta a EspanaSagan ready for Vuelta return after two-year absence
Kuss set to make grand tour debut at 2018 Vuelta
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Tour setbacks help bolster Vuelta start list
More on the Vuelta a Espana
Sagan ready for Vuelta return after two-year absenceThe Slovakian has indicated in recent days that he intends to race at the Spanish grand tour ahead of the UCI road worlds in Austria.
The Sky team that came to the Vuelta most years was never the same Sky at the Tour. Even with Froome in the Vuelta, he was never quite the race-killer he’s been of late in the Tour. It took Froome four cracks at the Vuelta before he finally won it last year.
It was inevitable that Froome would pull the plug on his grand tour run. The four-time Tour winner raced four grand tours in row — winning three on a trot and finishing third in last month’s Tour — so sitting out of the Vuelta is no surprise. And though Thomas might have been tempted to race the Vuelta, a victory lap around Britain certainly must sound a lot more appealing. And after two years of mostly negative headlines in the British media, there might be a bit of a PR push by Sky to bring Froome and Thomas closer to the British racing public.
Even without Froome and Thomas, “Sky light” will still be a factor, but it won’t be the race-crusher it was in July.
That’s not to say Sky might not win its fifth straight grand tour anyway. Michal Kwiatkowski and David de la Cruz — there is still no confirmation about Egan Bernal, but he is not expected to race — will carry the team colors.
Sky always brings a strong team to any race, but its demotion as the pre-race favorite will dramatically alter the tactical dynamics of the Vuelta. Without a clear favorite in the form of Froome or Thomas, Sky won’t be massing numbers at the front to dominate the race in the manner it does at the Tour.
That means the Vuelta should be dramatically less controlled and more dynamic.
Other teams will inevitably step into the Sky void and take control of the race. That weight will surely fall onto Movistar.
The Spanish team, however, will once again bring its three-pronged attack to the Vuelta and everyone saw how that worked out during the Tour. The Vuelta should be less complicated, especially with Alejandro Valverde eyeing the worlds and Mikel Landa looking hobbled following a nasty crash at the Clásica San Sebastian. Nairo Quintana will be the focus of Movistar, if not the entire race.
And even without Froome or Thomas, the Vuelta already has a stellar start list, combining the best of the Giro d’Italia and Tour plus some interesting up-and-comers.
The Vuelta has long become the redemption tour ever since it moved to its late-summer slot on the calendar in 1995. This year’s edition looks to be a who’s who of the banged up and embittered.
What is perhaps the Vuelta’s deepest start list in years includes Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Fabio Aru (UAE-Emirates), Rigoberto Urán and Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac), the Yates brothers (Mitchelton-Scott), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), and the list goes on. Add the likely presence of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), and the Vuelta is the envy of the peloton this year.
Riders across the peloton use the season’s final grand tour to salvage something. Others come looking to prepare for the world championships. Anyone still without a contract is doubly motivated to show something. A few actually even put the Vuelta at the center of their season goals.
The final result is a fascinating, well-aged stew of fitness, ambition, motivation, and weariness against the bleating canvas that is late-summer Spain.
As a result, the Vuelta has emerged as the most engaging grand tour of the season for a variety of reasons. It consistently delivers the surprises and GC drama that the Tour could only dream of.
And without Froome or Thomas, the unpredictability factor just shot through the roof.
Read the full article at Analysis: The Vuelta is better without Thomas, Froome on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Women’s cycling’s new super team Trek is taking shape, with Giorgia Bronzini leading the way and Lizzie Deignan relishing an opportunity to continue racing.
The British star Deignan, winner of the 2015 UCI road worlds and the 2016 Tour of Flanders, said she had doubts about her future until Trek came along. Doing last month’s Tour de France, Luca Guercilena — the general manger of the men’s Trek-Segafredo team — announced the formation of the women’s team for 2019.
“My career was up in the air really, but I was then approached by Trek,” Deignan told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I was concerned about my future in the sport, as it hasn’t really happened before at elite level road cycling.”
Deignan raced with the strong Boels-Dolmans team starting in 2013. She won the worlds, Ronde van Drenthe, GP Plouay, and Flanders. Her last race was the 2017 world championships. Since then, she has been focused on her pregnancy.
“There haven’t really been mothers who have stepped away from it and come back and been supported,” continued Deignan.
“It’s unprecedented in that way,” she added, noting the new Trek team is “step forward” for cycling.
The squad is beefing up quickly. Overnight, management announced that Italian Giorgia Bronzini is retiring from racing and will join retired German sprinter Ina Teutenberg as a sport director in 2019. Bronzini is a two-time road worlds champion.
“I am retiring from the races because I feel now is the time. I really still enjoy the racing, but what I am finding heavy is all the training,” said Bronzini.
“I’m glad to start my new experience with Trek alongside one of my idols, Ina Teutenberg. I am excited to pass on all my experience to the riders and help them find a balance to enjoy racing while also being focused to achieve good results.”
Deignan leaves behind Boels-Dolmans with Megan Guarnier, Chantal Blaak, and Anna van der Breggen. She will join teammates Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini on the Trek squad.
Trek is one of a few men’s WorldTour teams with a women’s arm, the others being Team Sunweb and Movistar. The roster will likely include around 15 riders.
“We will support the riders we will have to be full-time professionals,” Guercilena explained during the July launch.
“The girls are not supported economically right now. The UCI is bringing in a minimum salary in 2020, but we don’t want any athlete being part-time or dealing with private sponsors.”
The budget is nowhere near that of men’s teams, which have $15 million to as much as $30 million to use, but Trek should be at the upper end for women’s cycling. John Burke, the CEO of Trek, confirmed it would be on the “high side” for the top teams.
“Trek is committed to changing the world by inspiring more people to ride, and our world-class women’s road team will be filled with passionate racers who are out to inspire,” said Burke. “We’re putting full support behind our athletes so they can focus on their profession and be the best they can be.”
Read the full article at Trek women’s road team takes shape for 2019 on

LONDON (AFP) — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and the man whose crown he took in July, his teammate Chris Froome, will compete in next month’s Tour of Britain rather than the season’s final grand tour.
Both Team Sky riders have rarely graced their home Tour in the past decade. Thomas finished seventh last year in what was his first appearance since 2011, while Froome last competed in 2009 and finished 50th with his previous team Barloworld.
Thomas, 32, was only drawn to compete in 2017 because the race ended in his home city of Cardiff. He was lured back this year for what will be his first major race since the Tour de France. The British tour begins September 2 at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
The Vuelta a Espana gets underway on August 25.
“As soon as I’d finished the Tour [de France] I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain and race on home roads,” Thomas said on the Team Sky website. “It starts in Wales, which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the United Kingdom. I can’t wait.
“I want to go to the race in the shape to compete and enjoy it. We’ll have to see how the next few weeks go, but I’m looking forward to it and I know we will have a strong team there.”
The four-time Tour de France champion Froome, who finished third behind Thomas in this year’s Tour, said he focused on the Vuelta the past four years before finally winning it in 2017.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced the Tour of Britain,” said Froome. “The Vuelta a Espana has always been such a big goal and sadly coincided with the Tour of Britain, but not doing La Vuelta this year gives me the chance to come back to the UK and race on what looks like a great parcours.
“I’m really looking forward to riding. I always remember there being a great atmosphere at the Tour of Britain and the race has only got bigger over the years. I’m really looking forward to coming back,” added the 33-year-old Kenyan-born star.
Surprisingly given their dominance, especially at the Tour de France, Team Sky has only won the Tour of Britain once — when Bradley Wiggins prevailed in 2013.
Following the start in Wales, this year’s race will take riders into the West Country and up to Cumbria before returning to its regular finishing circuit in central London on September 9.
Read the full article at Thomas and Froome to skip Vuelta for Tour of Britain on

Note: Erik Raschke is an American writer living in Amsterdam. A native of Denver, he has written on various topics for different national and international publications such as the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Denver Post. He has also written about cycling for CyclingTips, Soigneur, and RIDE Media.In a recent and extensive piece for New York Magazine about President Donald Trump’s long history with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the writer Jonathan Chait investigated what he called a plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion, and asked a speculative question. “How do you even think about the small but real chance … that the president of the United States has been covertly influenced or personally compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?” At around the same time, Raschke was independently investigating one narrow but possible aspect of the same story – the history of the late 1980s Tour de Trump bike race, and the possible connections forged at that time between Trump and various Russian sports business and political figures. This article, which we edited significantly and excerpted from a much longer story, recounts this interesting series of events beginning in the late 1980s. – Steve Maxwell and Joe Harris.
In 1983, Vladimir Putin and Sergey Chemezov were living in the same flat in Dresden and working for the KGB. Putin and Chemezov drank together and complained about how Gorbachev was a weak leader. The Iron Curtain was on the brink of collapse and everyone knew it. Both men loved cycling and were proud of the Russian squad which had led the 1980 Summer Olympics in medals, but, because of a boycott, wouldn’t be able to race in Los Angeles in 1984 (Russian cyclists returned to dominate in 1988).
According to Karen Dawisha’s book, “Putin’s Kleptocracy,” Chemezov, Putin, and the other KGB agents in Dresden, largely controlled who came and went from Russia, giving the final stamp on visas, and ultimately deciding who went where and for how long. Why not “lease out” some of these top athletes to western countries, they thought, for a specific amount of time, and take a cut of the profits — soccer players to England, boxers to America, cyclists to Europe? If sports clubs wanted to sign contracts with the athletes, Putin and Chemezov could take a portion of their earnings.
Putin and Chemezov decided to call their operation Sovintersport, playing off Soviet, International, Export, and Sport (Chemezov still today lists Sovintersport on his resume as a major achievement). The numbers on how much Sovintersport profited are murky, but there are some clues. Lou Falcigno, a New York promoter, said that in 1989, he was still paying $200,000 to Sovintersport per Russian boxer, while the boxer himself was only getting a mere $900 per month. Hockey players, some who early on became the best in the NHL, were sending 95 percent of their earnings back to Chemezov. Russian sports Agent, Vladimir Abramov, has written extensively and critically of how Sovintersport siphoned money from top soccer players, many getting paid huge salaries while being simultaneously too poor to pay the rent in the European country where they were playing.
Viatcheslav Ekimov, grand tour racer of 13 years, teammate to Lance Armstrong, former manager of the cycling teams Astana and Katusha, and now head of the Russian Cycling Federation, once admitted that he had made very little money during his years as a professional cyclist, sending most of his millions back home. ”I give almost all of my money to my old club,” he said. ’’If I didn’t, I would have to pay a Soviet tax of 25 percent, but it is more than that. You either give it back to the club or the Government. To give it to the Government is like pouring it into the ocean. At least this way I can help my club develop its program. I look at it as if I was planted and nurtured by my club. I was subsidized by the club, so I feel I have to give it back.”
To make more money out of his bike racers, Chemezov needed more exposure. In the late 1980s, European professional cycling was nearly impossible to join from the outside. Entry into the Tour de France and the other grand tours required a license from cycling’s governing body, the UCI, a prize that often took smaller European teams years to earn.
American cycling, however, was just beginning to take wings. Greg LeMond had won the Tour de France and, soon after, Andy Hampsten became the first and only American to win the Giro. In America, Chemezov’s young Soviet squad would not need a license, but could still compete with lower-tier professional outfits like Team 7-Eleven. The problem was that races in America were still small-time affairs. The Soviet racers might get exposure, but not the kind required to pull in the big contracts offered in Europe. What America needed was a big cycling race, with real European riders, one that would get the Soviet riders noticed not just in America, but also abroad. And there was one person in America known for putting on extravagant, flashy events.
In 1987 Donald Trump had visited Moscow. The Soviet Union was collapsing and there was a fire sale going on, for everything from oil companies to mining to models to athletes. The situation drew businessmen from around the world, including Donald Trump. In a Playboy interview, Trump bragged about his trip to Moscow and Leningrad and how he had laughed at the Russians when they proposed he build a hotel near Red Square. Instead of opening a hotel, Trump left Moscow and went to St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin’s birthplace and home to some of Russia’s biggest sports training centers.
At the time, HBO and Trump were regularly signing lucrative boxing deals. Trump would host the fights, HBO would televise, and Don King would supply the fighters. In the late 1980s, Don King became one of the first boxing promoters to begin looking internationally for talent. In a 1988 New York Times article, King spoke of his forthcoming trip and his desire to bring back Russian boxers for Rocky IV-style fights, Balboa versus Ivan Drago, and so on. Promoter and heavyweight boxing businessman Shelley Finkel told the Toronto Star in 1989 that Donald Trump was willing to make a substantial offer for exclusive rights to the Russian boxers to stage the fights in his Atlantic City casino. If there were a time that Trump met with representatives with Sovintersport, it would have been 1987. Trump needed boxers and Chemezov had the best of Russian athletes had to offer.
Trump’s decision, just after his return from Russia in 1987, to create the Tour de Trump, is interesting for a variety of reasons. Why would a man, who admittedly was not interested in cycling, had never seen a bike race, and who was building a huge casino to promote the biggest boxing fights in the world, suddenly out of nowhere, decide to create the biggest bike race in American history — in one of the most congested, populated corridors of America, in a country that did not seem to care much about professional road racing? One theory is that basketball commentator Billy Packer and cycling organizer Mike Plant approached Trump with the idea. It is conceivable that those two parties stumbled along, encouraging each other to put on a major bike race. However, there are also other possible reasons.
Professional cycling races in the United States are notoriously money-losing operations. For example, the recent USA Pro Challenge — one the biggest and most modern American cycling races — lost $10 million in its first year. Overall, the sponsors — and former owners of Quiznos, the Schaden family — dropped over $20 million of their own money just to keep the race going.
Back in 1988, cycling races in America were even less popular. After its run of popularity, Celestial Seasonings sold the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic to Michael Aisner for a dollar. Later renamed the Coors Classic, this race became the only cycling event where Americans could see the best American cyclists racing against one another (as well as the occasional European; Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault won in 1986). The Coors Classic worked, at least in part, because the western half of the United States offered plenty of space with minimal traffic, and most small towns were happy to provide volunteer organizers. The eastern seaboard, on the other hand, was densely populated and required considerably greater traffic management. A race of this scale on the East Coast had never happened before and was likely to be a financial debacle.
The Tour de Trump was acknowledged to be a mess from the beginning. In the press conferences leading up to the race, stage lengths were miscalculated, and starting times mixed-up among other snafus. Stage 3 was to begin in New York City even though there was no permit, this being in one of the most difficult places in the world to get a permit. In addition, then mayor Ed Koch downright hated Trump. There were, for the first time in American cycling history, some of the top European cycling teams (including PDM and Panasonic) coming to America to race, but there seemed to be little preparation and no understanding of the gravity of having these high caliber teams racing in a country that knew nothing about professional cycling.
In a September 1989 issue of SPY magazine, illustrators drew a child-like cartoon atlas of the proposed race stages illustrating the chaos. However, what the magazine also mentioned briefly, and which was even stranger than the usual Trump promotional chaos, was that not only would there would be a number of European professional teams chasing the $250,000 prize, the race would also “host the first professional Soviet team … a thrilling breakthrough in international sports history.”
Trump’s race unquestionably benefitted Chemezov and his goals for Russian cycling. Was this by design? Neither party has ever commented on the matter. It is more likely that our current president saw a three-pronged opportunity; a major tax-write off, huge brand promotion, and a chance to accommodate Chemezov, who with a gift like the Tour de Trump, might send some more top boxing talent his way. According to SPY magazine, Trump only forked out $750,000 for the Tour de Trump, while getting an estimated $4.5 million in free promotion and uncritical “advertising.” In 1989, Trump was already heavily in debt from his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City and was desperate to shift some of his losses around. The Tour de Trump in all its messy glory could be a place to write off some of that debt. It is also conceivable, although difficult to prove, that while American bankers were pulling away from Trump and his Taj Mahal debacle, the Russians were beginning to step in as investors.
Around Christmas of 1988, an Italian team with an actual UCI license, Alfa Lum, lost its top rider, Maurizio Fondriest as well as many of its domestiques. Chemezov seized the opportunity by purchasing Alfa Lum, along with its UCI license, and filling it with his top Russian amateur riders. After 1990, the Russian riders from Alfa Lum continued to ride for almost a decade in the grand tours with major teams like Deutsche Telekom, Carrera, and Lotto, simultaneously churning out significant profits for Chemezov, but also putting Russian cycling on the map. Chemezov, never one to give interviews, once boasted to a newspaper, “I was involved in creation of Alfa Lum, the first Soviet professional team in 1989.”
In 1989, the year that the first Tour de Trump took place, Chemezov sent Viatcheslav Ekimov to race the event. Already an Olympic-gold winning track cyclist, Ekimov won the very first stage of the Tour de Trump, surprising pretty much everyone and embarrassing the top European riders who were racing for the first time in America. The next day, it was rumored that a few of the pros on 7-11 and PDM shoved a feedbag in Ekimov’s spokes, knocking him off the podium for good. After finishing 13th in the Tour de Trump general classification, Ekimov signed with the mega-team Panasonic for a half million dollars.
In the years to come, Ekimov went on to have a glorious career in professional cycling, riding 15 Tours de France in total. Afterward, he became an assistant to Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong’s long-time director. Armstrong gushed about Ekimov, calling him his “warm blanket” on the rougher rides. Ducking out of the cycling drug apocalypse post-Armstrong, defending Lance until even Lance was no longer defending himself, Ekimov went on to replace Igor Makarov as head of the Russian Cycling Federation. Makarov is another oligarch billionaire cycling enthusiast and currently one of the heads of the UCI, professional cycling’s governing body.
The following year, during the second and last Tour de Trump, an 18-year-old Russian cycling amateur, Vladislav Bobrik, surprised everyone in a breakaway and stayed in the Tour de Trump pink leader’s jersey for more than half the race. Bobrik also signed big the following year and, like Ekimov, it is very probable that most of his earnings went to Chemezov. The irony of the second and last Tour de Trump was that, on the last day, Bobrik was shut-down by the multi-million dollar PDM and team-leader Raul Alcala, a superstar Mexican cyclist, who walked away with Trump’s half-million prize money.
For the next 30 years following the Tour de Trump, Chemezov would not only create the Russian Cycling Federation and the Russian Global Cycling Project but his own professional team, Katusha. As of 2015, the pro cycling team, Katusha (the name is derived from a World-War II Marxist battle song), had a budget of the $32-million a year, the second largest budget in professional cycling after Rupert Murdoch’s multiple Tour de France-winning squad, Team Sky. Chemezov’s team would be stocked with not only the best European riders but up and coming Russian riders as well. (Today, Katusha has few stars, and it is believed to have a smaller budget.)
Putin also still plays a role. In a 2009 interview with VeloNews, ex-Katusha general manager Stefano Feltrin, said, “That’s Putin’s message to the management team. The ultimate goal is to have a Russian winner of the Tour and the spring classics from a Russian team.” Later when asked whether Putin micromanages, Feltrin responded coyly, “He stays informed on what’s happening with the team.”
While Sergey Chemezov stays away from the press, a few years ago the popular Russian online newspaper and aggregator, Meduza, did a profile piece on the Rostec CEO, calling him one of Russia’s most influential people. The article delves into the tight companionship between Putin and Chemezov, how Putin’s ex-wife was friends with Chemezov’s first wife, how Chemezov forced an Aeroflot jet to circle Moscow several times so that he could finish his karaoke song in the plane’s bar. According to an article by Vladimir Voronov, Chemezov has firm control over almost all of Russian’s manufacturing while his second wife is owner of Itera (he claims he didn’t know of her connection to one of Russia’s largest business conglomerations until after they were married). Itera is now run by Igor Makarov, who was Ekimov’s predecessor on the Russian Cycling Federation and has since moved on to the UCI Management Committee.
What relationship, if any, did Chemezov have with Trump during the creation of America’s first major stage race? We may never know, though it is interesting in this regard to note that the Washington Post recently linked the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — who met with Donald Trump Jr. to get dirt on Hillary Clinton — to Chemezov’s company, Rostec. While Katusha didn’t return our request for an interview, Mike Plant — who until recently was on the UCI management committee — did respond.
Plant, who was clearly the prime driver in making the Tour de Trump a reality, says that Donald Trump had “zero” influence on what teams were picked. Plant says that he met the famous Russian coach and trainer Alexander Kuznetsov shortly after the Los Angeles games and that they hit it off. Plant approached Kuznetsov about getting some Russian riders for the Tour de Trump, saying he wanted riders who “wouldn’t fall off the back.” Kuznetsov gave him Ekimov, a renowned track rider.
Plant says he has no knowledge of Chemezov, but knows Makarov, who served with him on the UCI management committee, “well.” Makarov is generally considered, along with Chemezov, to be a member in good standing of the “sanctioned Russian oligarchs” list. Chemezov founded the Russian Cycling Federation but Makarov ran it for years before handing it over to Ekimov. Not only have Chemezov and Makarov served together on Katusha’s supervisory board, but Chemezov’s wife is a 5% shareholder of Makarov’s Itera.
We do know for sure that Chemezov had everything to do with deciding which Russian cyclists received visas to travel to the Tour de Trump. Chemezov is today the unseen Godfather behind Russian cycling, and it is clear that Russian cycling’s original break-out moment was delivered by none other than Donald Trump. It is possible that Trump was only interested in doing the Tour de Trump for his personal and financial reasons, and the general grandiosity of the event. But it’s also possible that Chemezov, and by extension Putin, identified Trump early on as a showman who could help them achieve their own objectives.
Read the full article at The Outer Line: Tour de Trump with a Russian accent on

If you hold a race in one of America’s most mountainous states, will a climber win it? Not necessarily.
The second edition of the Colorado Classic begins Thursday in Vail, running through Sunday where it will conclude in Denver. Although the men’s and women’s races both have plenty of climbing on tap, the dynamics and routes of the four-day races might not clearly favor pure climbers.
Here’s a preview of the final big race on the U.S. calendar.
Women’s race may be decided in VailKatie Hall won the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race in 2018. Photo: Ezra Shaw | Getty Images
The pro women’s race is frontloaded with two decisive stages in Vail.
The race begins with a hilly stage 1 around a 14.2km circuit, racing four laps for a total of 56.7km. Given the stage’s short distance, expect aggressive racing from the gun, especially since the circuit begins with a short, steep climb. Plus, the winner will earn a 10-second time bonus.
On Friday, stage 2 will take the racers up the Vail Pass bike path on the famous time trial route that was included in the USA Pro Challenge as well as the Coors Classic. This 15.8km race is a tricky one to pace. The first half is in a valley, on a gradual rise before reaching the base of the pass where the climb pitches up. Go too hard too soon and you’ll be out of matches to burn on the decisive steeps later on. Plus, the high altitude (near 2,895 meters/9,500 feet) will leave the riders with no margin for error.
It is likely that the first stage will whittle down the slate of contenders to a limited group, and then the stage 2 time trial will open up time gaps enough to give the race a clear leader.
After that, the race moves to Denver for a 50-minute criterium Saturday and a 34.8km circuit race Sunday in stage 4.
Stage 3 is essentially flat and not technical. Stage 4 includes a 200-foot climb on each lap and a few more twists and turns. However, in both cases, it seems unlikely that opportunists or sprinters will make up for time lost in the time trial. On both stages, time bonuses are on offer at intermediate sprints and at the finish. Even if a rider were to scoop up all of those bonuses, however, she would only earn 38 bonus seconds.
With all of that in mind, Katie Hall stands out as the top favorite in the women’s field. She won the top three U.S. stage races this season — Amgen Tour of California, Joe Martin Stage Race, and the Tour of the Gila. Plus, her UnitedHealthcare team is well-equipped to control the race in stages 3 and 4. That win at Tour of the Gila also indicates that Hall has no trouble performing at high altitude, which will be key in Vail.
Defending Colorado Classic champion Sara Poidevin might be able to challenge Hall. The 22-year-old Canadian also has a strong team at her disposal, Rally Cycling. Poidevin was second to Hall at Gila, where she was also second in the stage 3 time trial — five seconds faster than Hall.
Once the race rolls into Denver, expect speedsters such as Emma White (Rally), Lauren Hall (UnitedHealthcare), and criterium national champion Leigh Ann Ganzar (Affinity) to vie for stage wins.
Will queen stage decide the men’s race again?Caja Rural led the chase up Coal Creek Canyon in stage 3 of the 2017 Colorado Classic. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |
Before the 2017 Colorado Classic, the mountainous queen stage out of Denver was underestimated. Many thought the punchy Breckenridge stage would actually decide the overall. But then Manuel Senni escaped with Serghei Tvetcov and stole the show.
For the second edition, organizers have made stage 3 even longer and more mountainous than last year. However, it may not decide the overall this time, given the first two Vail stages.
Like the women’s race, the men begin with a stage 1 circuit and a stage 2 time trial in Vail. The circuit race is longer for the men — eight laps, 103.2km — but the Vail pass time trial is the same at 15.9km. There may be slight time gaps after stage 1, but the time trial will really sort out the pecking order.
Then comes the 161.6km ride from Denver up Lookout Mountain, with two other KOMs along the way. The race will climb 2,479 (8,133 feet) before dropping into Denver to finish. It will be a long, gradual run into the city on Alameda Parkway, 32nd, and 29th street. Opportunistic riders are bound to escape on the tough climbs. The question is whether they’ll survive the final 20km to the finish.
Regardless of what happens Saturday, it seems certain that Sunday’s stage 4 will be strictly a day for stage-hunters, held on the same circuit as the women’s race over eight laps for a total of 114.8km.
So the ideal contender to win this race overall would be a capable time trial rider who can handle high altitude but is also handy on the climbs with a strong enough team to control unruly rivals that might plan an ambush on stage 3.
American Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) has those three advantages, coming off a Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah where he was fourth in the prologue and supported his teammate Sepp Kuss to victory while ending up 13th overall himself. Powless’s Dutch squad is one of four WorldTour teams in the race, meaning its riders should be able to defend a lead confidently.
Also hailing from a WorldTour outfit, Daniel Martinez (EF Education First-Drapac) is a strong contender. The Colombian burst onto the scene with a third-place overall finish at the Amgen Tour of California, where he was a promising 10th in the time trial. However, it remains to be seen how he’ll ride after finishing his debut Tour de France.
Fortunately, Martinez does have strong backup on the EF team in the form of Joe Dombrowski. The American climber is coming off of a sixth-place result at Tour of Utah and may also be a factor in the overall.
Among the Pro Continental teams, Rob Britton (Rally) is also an overall favorite. He has proven himself at high-altitude stage races, winning Tour of the Gila twice and Tour of Utah in 2017. Last year’s runner-up Tvetcov might also be one to upset the top favorites, riding for the UnitedHealthcare team, which is still seeking a sponsor for 2019.
Read the full article at Preview: Can a climber win Colorado Classic? on

Ellen Noble, known for her talents on the mountain bike and ’cross course, as well as her outspoken stance on women in cycling, is the latest cyclist to become a Red Bull athlete, signing a partnership with the brand that begins this cyclocross season.
“It’s such an honor to work with a globally recognized brand that’s non-endemic to the sport. It’s been a dream of mine,” said Noble, who races for Trek Factory Racing. “I grew up doing sports that were so male-dominated. But I want younger girls to see that there is a career path here now. There’s an established role for women in action sports, and a Red Bull partnership really amplifies that message.”
The Austrian energy drink company, which sponsors an abundance of athletes and teams across sports ranging from auto racing to soccer to cycling, has made a recent push into cyclocross. It signed three-time world champion Wout Van Aert late last season. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, the only rider in history to hold world titles in cross-country, cyclocross, and road racing at the same time, is also a Red Bull athlete. Now retired from racing, three-time U.S. cyclocross national champion Tim Johnson has been sponsored by the brand for several years.Noble rips around the beach near her hometown of Kennebunkport, Maine. Photo: Chris Milliman/Red Bull Content Pool
Noble, a former U23 national champion who last year finished second to Katie Compton in the elite field, is one of the most outspoken athletes in cycling. Her eloquent and introspective posts on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets have helped her gather a passionate following. Her stance on women in sport, and particularly cycling, has resonated with fans.
“I think a lot of people who see the news of my signing will make the connection … ‘Oh if you bunny-hop the barriers maybe you’ll get a Red Bull helmet,’” Noble said, referring to the attention she garnered for bunny-hopping 40-centimeter-tall ’cross barriers just weeks before the start of the 2017-18 season, while filming a “Behind the Barriers” episode. She noted, however, that she has been speaking with Red Bull about a potential partnership since long before she made those headlines.
“I like to think that I fit the model of the brand for pushing your own limits and telling a story outside of just racing bikes,” she said. “Supporting women in action sports has become this amazing thing. Women are starting to have a much greater presence in these industries. I’m lucky to be here now when a lot of companies are starting the invest as much in women as they have in men.”
Noble will begin her ’cross season at the Rochester races in September. She will then turn her attention to the full UCI World Cup schedule, as well as many of the domestic UCI C1 category races.
Read the full article at Ellen Noble inks Red Bull deal on

Tour de France organizers threw a bit of everything at the peloton this summer, from cobblestones to gravel roads to a short climbing stage of just 65 kilometers to classic, five-climb stages across the Pyrénées.
Thierry Gouvenou, the man who hunts out France’s unknown corners as the Tour’s lead course designer, said to expect more of the same for 2019.
“We are always looking to change things and innovate,” Gouvenou said. “We want to change the model of the way things used to be and to create something interesting for the fans and the riders.”
Gouvenou, 49, is the technical director for not only the Tour de France but all of ASO’s cycling properties. A former pro, he works alongside race director Christian Prudhomme and a team within the Tour organization to design the race routes. He took over the role from Jean-Francois Pescheux in 2014.
Each Tour route is a work in progress that can take years to develop. Prudhomme helps fill out the broad scope of the route, designating the starting point and broad direction of the race between different parts of France. It’s up to Gouvenou to fill in the blanks.
Gouvenou said the race is committed to bringing innovation to the Tour route without losing its historical roots.
“We are always looking to bring something unpredictable,” he told VeloNews. “It’s to break the tactics of the teams and to force them to race in a different way.”
This summer’s big innovation was the three-climb, 65km stage across the Pyrénées. The Formula 1-style grid start was a bit of a misfire, but the short stage delivered on its promise to shake things up.
The success of the shorter, potentially more explosive mountain stages introduced during the past few years means they are here to stay. Gouvenou was quick to add that the longer, multi-climb routes across France’s most challenging climbs won’t be going away. In fact, it was the longer, more traditional mountain stages that delivered more punch this year.
“The shorter stages will continue in the Tour, but there will be longer stages, too,” he said. “Now it’s going to be a mix between the longer and shorter stages. The average is around 180km, but always have a few that are longer and some that are much shorter. We will have a spectrum of types of courses at our disposal.”
Gouvenou and his staff are already putting the finishing touches on the 2019 Tour route, which will be revealed during the Tour’s traditional route presentation in October.
What we know now is that the race will start July 6 in Brussels for the second time in Tour history to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first of five Tour wins by Eddy Merckx. The race will open with a road stage reaching across the Flanders and Wallonne regions, giving sprinters a chance for the yellow jersey. The second stage will be a 24km team time trial, a format that always proves decisive in the GC.
After that, it’s a blank map.
Beyond that there are rumors of things to come for 2019. There are already whispers of a return of Mont Ventoux and the Vosges and perhaps a climbing time trial. More gravel? Sure, why not. Though the direction has yet to be set, logic would suggest the Alps would come first unless the route takes the long way around to feature the Pyrénées first. Per modern tradition, the Tour will end on the Champs-Élysées on July 28.
Gouvenou wouldn’t give anything away just yet.
“You have to wait to Paris!” he said, refereeing October’s presentation. “I can promise you, there will be a few surprises.”
Read the full article at ASO’s course designer promises more Tour surprises on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The new CCC team with the BMC Racing structure is beefing up for its 2019 debut with key signees American Will Barta and German climbing ace Simon Geschke.
Geschke joins the squad after riding alongside Tom Dumoulin at Team Sunweb. He helped Dumoulin win the 2017 Giro d’Italia and finish second in the Tour de France last month.
“Simon Geschke has forged an impressive career to date, including his 2015 Tour de France stage win, and will bring a wealth of experience to the team,” general manager Jim Ochowicz said.
“Simon is a specialist when it comes to the Ardennes classics and Il Lombardia, so he will add strength to our team for those one-day races, whether it be in a support role or making the most of opportunities that come his way.”
The 32-year-old rode with Sunweb since the beginning of the franchise, joining when it was called Skil-Shimano in 2009. He rode 11 grand tours and won a Tour de France stage.
“I was looking for a new challenge after 10 years with the same team as that is a long time,” Geschke said. “I wanted to change teams at least once in my career and I thought this year would be a good time, and then this opportunity came up so I took it.”
The new BMC Racing team is building quickly after a late sponsorship deal saw several key riders slip away to other teams. Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen, Rohan Dennis, and others will depart at the end of 2018.
BMC bikes will stop its sponsorship, but Ochowicz struck a deal with CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice last month. Ochowicz will take the WorldTour license and structure and add it to the Pro Continental team with its Polish sponsor and some of its riders.
Its star rider will be Greg Van Avermaet. The 2016 Olympic road race champion and 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner confirmed he would stick with Ochowicz when CCC was announced.
Barta, 22, will step up to the big leagues from Hagens Berman Axeon.
“Over the years we have welcomed many young riders in their neo-pro years and Will certainly represents the next generation of American cycling talent,” Ochowicz said. “One of Will’s breakthrough results was fourth at the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2017 and with our focus on the classics, Will caught our attention.
Said Barta, “The races I look forward to most are the Ardennes classics. I really enjoyed that type of racing at the U23 level and in the last few years I have become a better climber. I’ve really worked hard on the longer climbs so I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do in stage races as well.
“Time trialing is also something I like and have done quite well at. I like the aspect of it being just you out there and you can see from the team’s results that time trials are a big focus so that’s definitely attractive for me, to be able to learn from the best. To have the opportunity to learn from a champion like Greg Van Avermaet and the older guys in the team will be amazing and I can’t wait.”
The team also signed climber Serge Pauwels from Dimension Data and classics rider Guillaume Van Keirsbulck from Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
It has yet to announce which of the 20 riders from CCC will stay onboard. Jan Tratnik is already confirmed to be joining Bahrain-Merida in 2019.
Read the full article at CCC/BMC beefs up roster with Barta, Geschke on

After uncertainty plagued the team at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Jelly Belly confirmed Tuesday that it would end its sponsorship of the American Continental team after 2018.
The California-based candy company had sponsored the team for the last 19 years, making it one of the longest- running teams in the peloton. For now, it is unclear whether the Jelly Belly-Maxxis team will be able to continue in 2019 with a new title sponsor.
At Tour of Utah, team director Danny Van Haute told VeloNews he was still waiting to hear from Jelly Belly about 2019 sponsorship.
“I should know something in the next two weeks. We usually get a two- or three-year deal from Jelly Belly and then all our other partners follow,” he said, implying that his other sponsors were also waiting on the Jelly Belly decision.
The Tuesday press statement said Van Haute was hopeful that the team would continue.
“Team director Danny Van Haute is optimistic about the team’s future as he pursues a new title sponsor for the 2019 season and beyond,” the statement read.
Jelly Belly representative Rob Swaigen said that the company wanted to pursue new sponsorships instead.
“We have not reached this decision easily,” said Swaigen, vice president of global marketing. “While we have enjoyed our long relationship with the team and the sport of cycling, we feel that the time is right for us to look for opportunities to more closely align our sponsorship programs with company objectives. It has been a pleasure to support this team and their races, to provide a platform to identify young talent, and to develop and prepare our athletes to advance to the highest level of the sport.”
At Utah, Keegan Swirbul was Jelly Belly’s top rider at seventh overall. Last year, Serghei Tvetcov won stage 3 of the Colorado Classic.
The team has also seen a few of its riders go on to race in the WorldTour, including 2016 Tour of Utah winner Lachlan Morton (to Dimension Data), Kiel Reijnen (to Trek-Segafredo), and Phil Gaimon (to Garmin).
Read the full article at End of an era: Jelly Belly will not sponsor pro team in 2019 on

With about 30 miles to go in the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, I resorted to the most ancient shifting technique known — with a slight acceleration, I unclipped my right foot, kept spinning the left, and gently tapped my chain into the granny gear on my triple-chainring crankset.
This is the sort of adaptation one makes when riding a bike from 1983 in a grueling 104-mile race up above 12,000 feet among Colorado’s highest peaks.
A few months before the race on August 11, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of sourcing the bike industry’s top-of-the-line products to maximize speed and comfort, I wheeled out my vintage Specialized Stumpjumper — a bike approximately as old as I am, bought on eBay last year. I chose to ride this piece of mountain biking memorabilia to prove that no matter how outdated your gear might be, you can (and should) get out and ride.
It came as no surprise that Leadville was a hard 10 hours on the bike. However, I had way more fun than I expected, and that old bike, well, it was almost trouble-free.
I started this 25th edition of Leadville at the very back of a field of about 1,500 riders, among my fellow first-timers. In practically any other race, this would have been cause for anxiety. I’m naturally a very competitive person. But on that cold Saturday morning, with dawn breaking on the peaks above the highest city in the U.S. (10,152 feet above sea level), it was the perfect place to begin my introduction to this race that founder Ken Chlouber calls a “family.”
It is quite an exceptional family. On the pointy end of the masses, there are pro athletes such as Howard Grotts (Specialized) and Larissa Connors (Felt-Sho-Air), who each won their second consecutive titles. In the back where I started, there are even more inspiring riders, just hoping to finish inside the 12-hour cutoff time to win a coveted belt buckle.
For the first 15 miles, I rode near a man who is legally blind and relies on a guide rider to pilot him through the field. As we rode along the field changed pace erratically. We sometimes even dismounted to hike climbs as the course twisted up the trail on St. Kevins. I couldn’t believe the blind rider’s confidence on this trail, which was strewn with loose rocks. I was also amazed by the pilot rider’s selfish devotion to his blind companion.
He wasn’t the only one devoting a long day in the sun to a Leadville rider. At the course’s five aid stations, hundreds of supporters set up tents to hand off bottles, food, Slim Jims, you name it. And they cheered on practically every rider who came through.
This support has provided me my fondest memories from my race at Leadville. The vibe amongst riders and spectators was positive, from mile 1 to 104. Within the mass of humanity, riders encouraged each other. On the side of the trail, fans, friends, and supporters urged everyone on. At the end of the race, the questions asked are more along the lines of, “How was it?” or “Did you make it under 12 hours?” rather than “What place did you finish?”
Well, I did finish. And it was awesome. As I said at the beginning, riding my vintage bike was almost trouble-free. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any flat tires, which was my chief concern. But when I got back to my hotel after a post-race dinner, I heard a funny rush of air, and sure enough, my front tire had just gone flat, not more than six hours after my finish.
The old bike did have a few issues on the trail. The chain fell off on rough descents. I had to stop and get the headset tightened three times — when I finished, the steering was perilously clunky.
And of course, there was that front-shifting malfunction that made the final climb up Powerline quite an adventure.
Despite all that, it was totally worth it. It was worth the sore back, limp arms, and momentary cross-eyed vision on one descent (can your eyeballs get rattled loose?). It was worthwhile because so many people — in the race and along the course were stoked to see this old bike in action.
I finished in time to get that coveted belt buckle, as did 1,100 other riders. The real reward for me, though, was the experience of riding with this family and brushing up on my old-school shifting techniques.Watch the rest of the videos in the Vintage Leadville series >>Thanks to The Leadville Race Series for letting us participate in this year’s race to bring you the most in-depth coverage around the event.
Read the full article at Vintage Leadville video #4: 104 miles on a 35-year-old MTB on

One of the big talking points in the wake of another Team Sky blowout at the Tour de France was the team’s financial heft that allows it to steamroll much of the peloton.
Several voices have called for salary caps and budget parity across the UCI WorldTour to create a more equal playing field.
For Richie Porte, who’s been on both sides of the Sky train, the peloton needs to bring in more sponsors like Sky, not impose some sort of arbitrary salary cap or budget limitation.
“There’s been a lot made of salary cap, but firstly cycling needs more sponsors like Sky,” Porte said in a phone interview. “I think a lot of the crap that’s been thrown around is rhetorical.”
Porte has been inside the Team Sky train and he’s still hoping to have a chance to use that insider knowledge to his advantage. After crashing out of the Tour for the second year in a row last month, Porte is slated to start the Vuelta a España on August 25 in Malaga in what’s expected to be his final grand tour in a BMC Racing jersey.
Porte defended Sky’s tactics and said riding a high tempo at the front of the peloton is the best way to control a grand tour. Some might not consider that the most exciting way to race, but Porte said it’s highly effective.
“It is hard to attack a team like Sky but it’s sensible what they do. If they can ride tempo and win the race it makes sense to do it,” Porte said. “They way they ride is just how you win bike races. You take control of the race and that’s what Sky does brilliantly.”
Many teams have tried to emulate Sky, but few have had much success. Porte pointed to the travails of Movistar during this year’s Tour as an example that there’s more going on at Team Sky than just a deep pocketbook.
“To get the guys to ride on the front like they do is one thing but not every team can get the best out of high paid guys,” Porte said. “Look at Movistar, they’re a prime example. They’ve got three of the highest paid guys but other than Nairo Quintana winning a stage, they didn’t really do a hell of a lot. No disrespect, but maybe if they’d ridden like Sky did, as a unit, they might have had better success.”
Porte watched the Tour with interest from his couch after crashing out in stage 9 in a minor pileup that had massive consequences. He cracked his clavicle and was out of the race when he was perhaps in the best shape of his career. Observing from a distance, he could tell the peloton fears attacking Sky.
“To give them respect, it’s not easy to do,” he continued. “When you see guys like Luke Rowe and [Jonathan] Castroviejo riding like they do. Then having [Egan] Bernal too. Guys were afraid to attack [Chris] Froome, then Geraint [Thomas] was the one who profited out of that the most. People were afraid of Froome, and Geraint was the strongest guy in the race. I don’t know what you do — maybe gang up on them.”
Porte said the only way to beat Sky is to hope that the team’s captains have a bad day. That’s a rather bleak but honest assessment of Sky, which has won six of the past seven yellow jerseys.
“I think people are going to let Sky do tempo, if they’re good enough to attack, they have to hope that Froomey or Geraint aren’t on a good day. That’s the only way I can see to beat them,” Porte said.
“In 2013, one stage Froome was isolated, the rest of us [on Sky] got dropped because the whole peloton ganged up on us,” Porte continued. “We tried to control too many guys that wanted to go in the breakaways. That’s probably the way to take them. If everyone keeps attacking full gas, that’s the only way to beat Sky.”
When asked if he thought it was the end of the Froome era, Porte didn’t hesitate.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Froomey, not for a second,” he said. “It’s Chris Froome, he’s always up for a battle. He hasn’t had the easiest season. If he turns up next year and the Tour is his goal, then he’ll be the man to beat, 100 percent.
“If anyone wins the Giro like he did, that’s an incredible season,” he continued. “I guess Froomey put the pressure on himself to go to the Tour to try to win his fifth. It was probably a big ask. It can’t have been easy with him with all the stuff going on and the hostility at the Tour. At the end of the day he’s only human, and that all had to get to him eventually. To still to be third in the Tour, I’d give anything to be third at the Tour … Chris didn’t win the Tour this year but I think next year he’ll be all in to win that fifth title.”
Read the full article at Porte: Teams need more sponsors to compete with Sky on

Flat-mount and post-mount calipersDear Lennard,
I’ve recently been ogling the new Shimano road hydro shifter/brakes, but I’ve noticed the disc brake calipers are all flat-mount. This is a problem for me, as my ’cross bike is post-mount both front and rear. Are there post-mount brake calipers that work with the new 105/Ultegra/Dura-Ace hydro shifters?— MarkDear Mark,
Yes, it’s no problem to achieve what you want. You can use a Shimano road post-mount caliper in place of the flat-mount caliper. For instance, you can mount an Ultegra 6870 series BR-RS785 or BR-R785 post-mount disc caliper onto the brake hose of any of these flat-mount brakes: a Dura-Ace R9100 series brake, in place of the flat-mount BR-R9170 caliper, an Ultegra R8000 or 6800 series brake, in place of the flat-mount BR-R8070 or BR-RS805 caliper, or a 105 R7000 or 5800 series brake, in place of the flat-mount BR-R7070 or BR-RS505 caliper. More Tech FAQTechnical FAQ: Could aero brakes win a Tour sprint?
Technical FAQ: Tour de France tech
Technical FAQ: Puzzling tire widths; e-bike retrofit options
Technical FAQ: Searching for the ideal tire width
More Tech FAQ
Technical FAQ: Could aero brakes win a Tour sprint?Lennard Zinn addresses a mysterious spinning wheel at the Tour de France and the benefits of an aero bike in sprints.
This is not simply an issue of retrofitting brakes onto an older post-mount frame. We have had many occasions that require a modification like this on new custom bikes we’re building, with Shimano and SRAM, because there are sometimes good reasons for going with post-mounts on either the front or the rear or both. One example is on coupled travel bikes with hydraulic disc brakes. With no way to detach the hydraulic hose easily and without losing fluid, the rear brake caliper must be removed to break the frame down in pieces for travel. Unlike with flat-mounts, with a post-mount brake, the caliper can be removed and reinstalled without need for adjustment of the caliper’s position. You simply unbolt the post-mount adaptor from the IS frame mounts without loosening the post-mount bolts that hold the caliper onto the adaptor. Since the caliper-position adjustments are on the post-mount bolts going into the adaptor, they stay fixed when the adaptor is removed and then bolted back on. By contrast, a flat-mount brake caliper must be readjusted every time it is removed. Those of you who have adjusted disc calipers know that, while sometimes it is as simple as pulling the lever and tightening the bolts while the rotor is clamped between the pads, it often takes a lot of eyeballing and tweaking with the bolts loose to eliminate pad rub. This is something you’d rather not be doing in a hotel room on your cycling vacation.
Also, during this transition period in which forks are available in both styles, sometimes the fork a customer wants — for reasons like steering-tube length, axle diameter, tire clearance, or fork offset — may have post-mounts rather than flat-mounts. The bike may then end up with a front post-mount brake, and it makes it nice and easy that a Shimano or SRAM post-mount caliper can be mounted onto the hose attached to a lever normally attached to a flat-mount caliper.― Lennard
Shimano brake compatibilityDear Lennard,

I have a hybrid/fitness flatbar bike and I would like to upgrade the brakes. The Shimano Ultegra R8070 calipers and matching rotors are a simple bolt-on upgrade and match the Ultegra R8000 drivetrain I recently installed. The problem I have is with the levers. The XTR/XT levers use the same hose, and getting the fittings right looks like it would be no problem. What I’m not sure of is if the master/slave cylinders are compatible. Shimano’s compatibility chart says nothing about road/mountain mixing, while a web search has turned up nothing relevant (or recent). Any thoughts would be appreciated!— JohnDear John,
Since the pistons, fluid, and hoses are all the same, you should have no problem using XT or XTR levers with your Ultegra calipers. That said, Shimano doesn’t support mixing road/mountain brake parts, so I’m not telling you to do so. Unless your frame is flat-mount I’m not sure why you don’t just use a complete XT brake system; that would certainly be the most kosher as far as Shimano is concerned.― Lennard
Patching tubesDear Lennard,
For years, I’ve patched tubes with success. Lately, I’ve found my repairs lacking and the tire flat after a few days even though I’ve checked the tube leak-tight in a bucket of water. I am starting to think I should consider a patch as an emergency rather than a permanent repair.
Am I running a fool’s errand? Should I just throw away punctured tubes rather than repair them?
Do you have any recommended best practices for repairing tubes? Could I patch a tube with rubber from another tube?— ScottDear Scott,
I am a believer in patching tubes and frequently do so.
I wonder if your water test is loosening the patch. I used to do an underwater pressure test after patching and before remounting the tube in the tire as well, but I had similar problems. I decided that the best way to ensure that the patch stayed glued down was to inflate it inside of the tire, rather than running the risk of getting air under the patch by inflating it without a tire constraining it.Best practices:
1. Don’t patch holes near the valve. That is a fool’s errand. So is patching a snake-bite (pinch flat), usually.
2. Sand well with pretty fine sandpaper.
3. Apply glue to a large enough area surrounding the hole. Make sure the glue extends well beyond the size of the patch.
4. Let the glue dry completely before applying the patch. Depending on temperature, wait perhaps 15 minutes after applying the glue.
5. Peel off only the aluminum backing from the patch, and stick it down onto the glued area without touching the orange side or the glue.
6. Burnish the patch well. I rub the top of the patch with a screwdriver handle using hard downward pressure.
7. Don’t peel off the clear plastic top cover of the patch; this accomplishes nothing, and it runs the risk of peeling up the edges of the patch.
8. Install it into the tire right away and pump it up to press the patch onto the tube.
I think the patches with the gummy orange base and edge layer are always going to stick better than a piece of cut-up inner tube.
― Lennard
Dutch bikesDear Lennard,
I just spent a week in Amsterdam and have a question about commute bike geometry. These classic black bikes look to have a large fork offset, combined with a very slack headtube angle, which I would think would create a lot of wheel flop at the low speeds which they are frequently ridden. Any idea why they are designed this way? I can only think that it’s to create a smoother ride by increasing the leverage on the fork relative to the headset. What am I missing? I will say that I’ve seen a few more modern-looking commute bikes that seem to have bigger tires and more aggressive-looking geometry, but these are pretty rare — I believe because theft is so rampant. Someone joked that in Amsterdam the lock is usually worth more than the bike it’s protecting.
P.S. This is a super cool bike you built. It’s the first E-bike I’ve ever seen that looks like … a bike. I am astonished at the energy you can store in that battery. To be able to go over Trail Ridge road is nothing short of amazing. I think we are going to see the number of these bikes increase quite dramatically over the years.— SteveDear Steve,
Actually, the wheel flop will not necessarily increase due to the slack head angle and long fork offset. Wheel flop will increase with decreasing head angle, and it will decrease with increasing fork offset. (The amount of wheel flop is equal to the sine of the head angle (in radians) multiplied by the cosine of the head angle and by the fork trail.)
As you intimated, reduced wheel flop (up to a point) is a benefit for bikes ridden at slow speeds. Greater stability at high speed is associated with high trail and high wheel flop. At low speeds, the bike tends to weave back and forth less with a reduction in trail and in wheel flop. The long fork rake would produce better low-speed performance and reduced stability at speed, whereas the shallow head angle would have the opposite effect. On balance, those black Dutch commuter bikes may not have much different steering behavior (once adjusted for the long wheelbase) than a racing bike. And yes, a smoother ride is achieved by decreasing the head angle and increasing the fork offset, and I do imagine that is the reason for that design.― Lennard
Read the full article at Technical FAQ: Brakes, tubes, and Dutch bikes on