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While his Rally Cycling teammates are racing on home turf in the Colorado Classic, American Colin Joyce is sprinting to the biggest win of his career Friday at the Arctic Race of Norway.
“Man this one is really special — biggest win of my career,” he said. “First big one in Europe. The team was amazing. Wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for them.”
The 24-year-old beat Dennis van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy) in an 11-man kick to the line at the end of the 195km stage. Local rider Markus Hoelgaard (Joker Icopal) was third. With the win, Joyce moved into second overall in the four-day race, four seconds behind Astana’s Sergei Chernetski.
The Arctic Race of Norway is categorized as a UCI 2.HC race and has four WorldTour teams racing this year.
Rally’s day was made easier by Joyce’s teammate Ryan Anderson, who made the early breakaway.
After surviving the crosswinds that ripped apart the peloton, Joyce rode up to a select group of favorites on the stage’s final climb, Hopseidet summit.
“It was such a hard hectic day,” Joyce added. “So windy and it was exploding. Had a lot of help from all the guys throughout the whole day.”
Jakob Fuglsang had provoked an attack on the last climb with his teammate Chernetski, as well as BMC’s Alberto Bettiol. Their trio survived until the final kilometer before Joyce’s group caught them to sprint for the win.
“I had to do a huge bridge on the last KOM up to the group Robin [Carpenter] was in,” Joyce said. “I was going crosseyed. Legs felt fried the next 40k, but everyone was tired.”
Friday was the first time an American has finished top-10 at a stage in the Arctic Race of Norway.
Joyce may be able to hold his GC position Saturday as stage 3 from Honningsvåg to Hammerfest is predominantly flat over 194km. The race wraps up Sunday with a 145.5km stage that finishes with a hilly four-lap circuit in Alta.
Read the full article at American Colin Joyce wins Arctic Race of Norway stage 2 on

The Vuelta a España confirmed an all-star preliminary start list Friday in what could be the Spanish tour’s deepest field ever.Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) were among the top names confirming their Vuelta plans just a day after Team Sky revealed defending champion Chris Froome and Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas will be racing the Tour of Britain instead.
The 73rd edition of the Spanish grand tour will see a stellar GC field along with a growing number of stage-hunters and attackers honing their form ahead of the world championships. The combination should deliver an exciting race.
“I decided to race the Vuelta this year, as it fits perfectly into my preparations for the world championships in Innsbruck,” Sagan said Friday. “We’ll have to see how my crash at the Tour still affects me, but I feel I am on a good way back to my best.”
Vuelta officials released a preliminary start list Friday that’s deep on GC contenders headlined by four former Vuelta winners. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Fabio Aru (UAE-Emirates) top the list.
Right behind them are Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Rigoberto Urán (EF-Drapac), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), the Yates brothers (Mitchelton-Scott), and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).
A climber-friendly worlds course is seeing many Innsbruck-bound riders heading to the Vuelta to prepare for a run at the rainbow jersey. GC contenders like Daniel Martin (UAE-Emirates) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will use the Vuelta as a trampoline to Austria.
“My preparation has been very different to the Giro d’Italia because like a few guys that will line up in Spain, I have one eye on the world championships later this year,” Yates said this week. “It will be interesting to see how my body responds but, as always, I’ll give it my all to achieve a great result.”
Even without Froome and Thomas, Sky will line up with Michal Kwiatkowski and David de la Fuente. Mikel Landa is still a question mark for Movistar after suffering a heavy fall at the Clásica San Sebastián.
Other confirmed names include Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ion and Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), Enric Mas and Viviani (Quick-Step).
North Americans Michael Woods (EF-Drapac), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), recent Tour of Utah winner Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin) are expected to start the Vuelta as well.
The race opens August 25 in Málaga with a prologue and loops around southern Spain for most of the first week. La Camperona and Lagos de Covadonga will highlight the second week, with an individual time trial in stage 16. Two hard days in Andorra cap the final weekend before the finale in Madrid on September 16.
Read the full article at Vuelta sees all-star start list as Sagan, Viviani confirm on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Cycling’s top team Quick-Step Floors is struggling to find sponsorship to continue at the top level in 2019.
Team boss Patrick Lefevere admits he has not found a replacement for Quick-Step Floors and he cannot keep his ‘wolfpack’ together. Yesterday, star rider and 2018 Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra announced he will join French team Direct Energie in 2019.
“It always hurts,” Lefevere told Sporza of seeing top riders leave his team.
“Sylvain Chavanel hurt a lot because he was a wonderful rider and did a great job, Niki [Terpstra] causes a lot of pain, Matteo Trentin too, Julien Vermote, even Mark Cavendish.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a chest to draw out the money I would like, otherwise I would be the boss of Team Sky and not of Quick-Step.”
Quick-Step Floors’ budget is around €18 million (or $20.4m), competitive with other top teams but not in the same stratosphere as Team Sky’s with around £31 million ($39.4m).
Lefevere has been searching for some time for a new sponsor to ease the burden on owner Zdenek Bakala and to replace title sponsor Quick-Step Floors.
The team is number one in terms of wins. It finished 2017 on top and for 2018, it counts 54 victories so far. The second best team, Sky, has 36.
Lefevere welcomed smaller sponsors recently. He brought in supermarket chain Lidl in September 2015 and this summer at the Tour de France, he welcomed Maes 0.0% beer. Big money backers like Emirates airline company or Sky media group have not appeared, however.
“Quick-Step will stay for at least another three years, but they would prefer to become a second sponsor,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad earlier this week. “I do not have that main sponsor yet.”
“I do not really care where the sponsor comes from. That may well be China or Mongolia. As long as they bring real money and no Monopoly money.”
Working with Mapei and with the Quick-Step team since 2003, Lefevere has learned how to stretch his dollar. He scouts talented new riders and signs contracts with them while their value is still low. The problem is, after he develops them, he no longer has the money to keep everyone.
Budget constraints forced him to let go of some of his star cyclists at the end of the 2017 season. Dan Martin joined UAE Team Emirates, Matteo Trentin went to Mitchelton-Scott, and Marcel Kittel left to Team Katusha. Now, he let Niki Terpstra go.
Terpstra joined the team in 2011 from Milram. Over the eight seasons, the Dutchman won Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders.
“There was no offer on my part because I did not have the money,” Lefevere said. “I think I’m still an honest man at 63. I’m not going to promise someone something I cannot give.
“I didn’t have enough money to make a proposal. I fear that tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or next week, the budget might be there and then it will hurt more [losing Terpstra].”
Lefevere is making the best with his current crop of star riders. He built the eight-man Vuelta a España team, announced today, around Italian Elia Viviani. Viviani, who counts 14 wins so far in 2018, will race for sprint victories in the Spanish tour starting August 25 in Málaga.
Viviani will have support from Michael Mørkøv, Fabio Sabatini, Kasper Asgreen, Laurens De Plus, Dries Devenyns, Enric Mas, and Pieter Serry
Read the full article at Quick-Step Floors still searching for sponsor as riders leave on

VAIL, Colorado (VN) — There’s a sense of urgency buzzing through the North American peloton at this week’s Colorado Classic. For many riders, the four-day race represents one final opportunity to score a major result before the season’s end.
“Some guys took a rest before Colorado but not me because this is the last race of the season,” said Serghei Tvetcov of UnitedHealthcare. “When I want a rest, I rest after this.”
The approaching off-season comes unseasonably early this year. In the past riders often looked to September’s Tour of Alberta and Bucks County Classic as the official end to the season. That’s not the case this year, with Alberta shuttering after the 2017 edition and the Bucks County Classic downgrading to a one-day criterium devoid of UCI classification. North America’s WorldTour squads will compete in September’s WorldTour events in Quebec City and Montreal, however, those races do not allow Pro Continental teams to compete without an invitation.
Rally Pro Cycling is the only lower-tier North American team to have received an invitation for the 2019 edition of those events.
There are also two races remaining on USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour, the Gateway Cup race in Missouri and the Thomson Criterium in Pennsylvania. Neither race holds UCI standing.
The Colorado Classic has benefitted from this shifting dynamic. It now holds a higher level of importance within the North American calendar.
“Utah and Colorado are the second- and third-biggest races for us now,” said Jonas Carney, performance manager for Rally Cycling. “It’s become a major priority for our team.”
This year the four-day race holds 2.HC standing within the UCI, which puts it on level standing with the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Tour of Denmark, and Arctic Race of Norway, among other races. The race’s close proximity to the Tour of Utah has also attracted a smattering of WorldTour squads, lured by UCI points and the presence of media. In addition to U.S.-based Team EF Education First-Drapac, Mitchelton-Scott, LottoNL-Jumbo, and Trek-Segafredo are in attendance at this year’s event.
And the race’s short, punchy stages, and six-man teams has created an unpredictable format that is unlike what is found at other road races.
“For me, [Colorado] is as important as the [Amgen Tour of] California,” said TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel). I prefer this more aggressive style of racing. You’re not doing those 200km days that just drag on. There’s not one team that can control the racing.”
Axel Merckx, director of the Hagens Berman Axeon U23 development team, said the Colorado race has become an important proving ground for his team’s younger, less-experienced riders. This year Axeon’s veteran riders targeted the Amgen Tour of California as well as stage races and one-day events across Europe. The team’s younger riders, however, have had fewer opportunities to race, due to the dwindling U.S. calendar.
“The amount of races in the U.S. is now very poor and for those [younger] guys it gives them the opportunity to race at a pretty high level. Not the highest, but a pretty high level,” Merckx said. “It’s a valuable place to have a race for us.”
Merckx said Colorado’s spot on the calendar does create drawbacks. The Tour of Utah is perhaps the most challenging event in the U.S. with, soaring climbs at high altitude. The tight turnaround between Utah and Colorado — riders had just four days to rest and recover between races — has left many riders with tired legs this week.
“I understand and recognize that [the schedule] is about keeping the WorldTour teams over here — if you added a week of rest then the WorldTour teams may not want to stay,” Merckx said. “Right now 10 days of racing in two weeks is not ideal. The guys only have two days of real rest due to travel.”
Indeed riders looked exhausted as they trickled across the line after Thursday’s opening circuit race in Vail. The course included multiple punchy climbs at 8,000 feet of elevation.
The effort was too much for Colorado native Keegan Swirbul (Jelly Belly-Maxxis), who was gapped off the back and finished more than a minute down Thursday. It was an unusual finish for Swirbul, who finished seventh overall at the Tour of Utah and is one of the country’s best up-and-coming climbers.
The 22-year-old said the combined effort of Utah and Colorado was simply too much for his tired legs.
“I’m messed up. I talked to a few guys who were out there fighting every day in Utah and they said they’re messed up too,” Swirbul said. “It’s hard. You think you’d be able to recover but Utah is just so hard. It catches up with you.”
Read the full article at Colorado Classic gains importance amid domestic racing slump on

Operacion Puerto, the Spanish blood-doping ring dating back to 2006, isn’t dead yet.
According to the Spanish daily AS, officials are still pushing for the release of names of athletes linked to the doping ring headed up by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
According to AS, the World Anti-Doping agency is trying to reveal the names of 26 men and three women whose identities are confirmed via blood bags collected in police raids in May 2006. Authorities want to at least give official notification to the respective governing bodies.
Dozens of professional cyclists, as well as other professional athletes from athletics, triathlon and other sports, were linked to one of the largest doping rings ever uncovered in Europe.
Most of the names were never released and Spanish courts blocked previous efforts to reveal the names. The case was mired in a string of complicated legal issues involving privacy, statute of limitations and the reach of anti-doping laws in Spain at the time of the raids in May 2006. Once a long-running trial ended in Spain in 2016, WADA was handed custody of many of the infamous blood bags linked to Fuentes.
Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde eventually served a two-year ban when he was linked to one of the blood bags taken from Fuentes’s labs. Several other top pros, including Thomas Dekker, Tyler Hamilton, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, and Ivan Basso, later admitted their links to the doping conspiracy.
Several others, however, remain unknown. That could change as WADA continues to put pressure on the case and AS reported that the world anti-doping body will address the issue during its annual meeting next month.
Read the full article at Puerto names still might come out on

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