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MONTECASTILLO, Spain (VN) — Journalists searched out shade from the bleaching Spanish summer sun, waiting for Chris Horner to return from a training ride. They wanted a first-person reaction to the stunning news Friday that the defending Vuelta a España champion would not be starting due to low cortisol levels.
His Lampre-Merida teammates completed a two-hour training spin, showered, had lunch, and were deep into siesta; still no Horner. One sport director went to the local airport to pick up team manager Brett Copeland. Journalists checked their watches. A team PR man came out to say Horner still had 90 kilometers to ride. Another sport director left in a team car, came back, and when asked where Horner was, he shrugged his shoulders; he had gone for a haircut. At 5 p.m., just as a handful of exasperated reporters were packing up to head back to Jerez de la Frontera for the team presentation, Horner finally rolled up.
With the enormity of the news of his Vuelta scratch, Horner searched for solace in the only place he knows, the bike.
“I found out this morning, so I went out and rode my bike for six hours,” Horner said. “It’s the best thing to do. It clears the head. It’s where I feel most comfortable, either riding my bike or hanging out with my wife. For me, the best thing to do was to ride six hours. It’s a great day. The countryside is fantastic. … If you had spoken to me this morning, it would have been a bit ugly. When you’re out training six hours, you realize life is not that bad.”
Horner, 41, was trying to come to grips with what had just happened to him. He woke up Friday morning to discover that pre-Vuelta health controls taken Thursday revealed low levels of cortisol, triggered by his use of oral cortisone to treat a nagging chest infection dating back to the Tour de France. He had done nothing illegal, he had followed the rules, and it was certainly not a doping infraction, but he was out of the Vuelta.
Under UCI rules, Horner was in the clear to race. In fact, he had meticulously followed the protocol, receiving official approval for doctors to prescribe the cortisone with a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Lampre-Merida, however, follows the stricter protocol adopted by the cycling team’s organization MPCC (Movement Pour un Cyclisme Credible), an advocacy group among teams to promote a cleaner image for the scandal-tarnished peloton.
When Horner sat down with team doctors and staffers on Friday morning, they only had one choice. According to MPCC rules, Horner couldn’t start. They pulled Horner out of the Vuelta on the eve of his title defense.
It took a six-hour bike ride alone across the barren Andalusian landscape for Horner to try to get his head around what had just unfolded.
“We understand the rules; we respect the rules. This is unfortunate for me. The Vuelta was a big objective for me. I worked and trained to be here. I suffered through the Tour and Utah. I suffered with breathing at the Tour and Utah, so the only option left was with the medication,” Horner said, explaining how two rounds of antibiotics was unable to break his chest infection.
“After the Tour, with my doctor in Oregon, with agreement of the team doctors, we decided that oral cortisone was the only treatment left to clear up the sickness in my lungs,” he continued. “I didn’t want to come here with the same sickness I had at the Tour, and we took every legal medication we could … the problem was with the cortisol level going too low.”
Horner’s case raised several questions at the eve of the Vuelta. First, a glaring inconsistency between the existing UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency rules, and the even stricter guidelines adopted by the MPCC.
The second issue is how several teams have not joined MPCC, creating a gap inside the peloton. Major teams, including Sky, BMC Racing, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing, are not part of the group. Had Horner been racing for one of the teams not part of the MPCC, he would be starting the Vuelta tomorrow.
Horner also openly admitted he knew he was taking a risk in falling below accepted limits with the cortisone treatment, but insisted that getting well was the priority, instead of starting the Vuelta sick yet again.
“Every ‘I’ and ‘T’ was crossed, with the UCI, with the team, every substance I took was legal, every substance I took was approved … I did know, and I was completely aware, that there could be a problem,” he said.
“It’s frustrating as a rider. I knew the risk with the medication, but it was the only way to be healthy,” he said. “Those are the rules. I don’t disagree with the rules. I knew the risk taking the oral cortisone. I had my fingers crossed, and that I wouldn’t have any problems, but with the health checks, it wasn’t possible.”
Horner said he would leave the Vuelta, spending a few days at his home in Denia along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, waiting for his wife’s arrival to Spain, before returning to the United States.
There is nothing stopping Horner from returning to competition once his cortisol levels return to normal, which could be a matter of days, and he hopes to race the Canadian World Tour races.
“This is one more blow on the chin. I am really disappointed [not] to be racing here against guys like Froome and Contador. I was really looking forward to that,” Horner said shaking his head.
“It’s been a long, trying season. The Tour was incredibly hard,” he continued. “I was hoping to be here at a 100 percent, but clearly I am not. There is nothing more I can do. I did everything right, with training, diet, commitment, but it’s just not meant to be. I have to move on.”
It might take a few more six-hour training rides to get over the latest setback.
Valerio Conti, a neo-pro taking Horner’s spot on Lampre’s roster, will ride with the No. 1 bib in his grand tour debut.
The post Horner finds solace on bike after controversial Vuelta exit appeared first on VeloNews.com.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (VN) — Andrew Talansky starts the Vuelta a España on Saturday with one eye on helping his Garmin-Sharp teammates and another on the 2015 Tour de France.
Talansky returns to competition in Saturday’s team time trial with realistic expectations in his first race back since his bitter exit from the Tour in July.
Healthy again and fully recovered from his Tour crashes, Talansky realizes that the best road back to the Tour goes straight through the Vuelta.
“The easiest thing would have been to race at Colorado, but in order to set yourself up for the next season, you need a grand tour in your legs, and I only did half the Tour, so that was going to be a detriment to 2015,” Talansky told VeloNews. “This will help me moving toward returning to the Tour next year. This is the first stepping-stone toward that.”
Talansky’s season was short-circuited when he crashed hard twice during the Tour’s first week. A brave battle on the stage to Oyonnax kept him in the race, but he was forced to exit without having the chance to test his legs that delivered a dramatic victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Six weeks later, he returns to the Vuelta with realistic expectations, openly admitting he doesn’t have the form he did in June and July.
“If I can come away with a stage win, that would be exciting,” he said of his Vuelta plan. “You have to be realistic. It took me months and months to get to the level that I was at [in] the Dauphiné and Tour. And I haven’t had that time to prepare for this Vuelta.”
Talansky joins Ryder Hesjedal and Daniel Martin in a deep Garmin-Sharp squad. Both Hesjedal and Martin skipped the Tour de France, so they come motivated to do well. Talansky said he’s ready to slot into a helper’s role behind his teammates.
“We have a great team here. For Dan and Ryder, from the Giro onwards, their sights have transitioned to the Vuelta. I am happy to be here to support those guys,” Talansky said. “We have two great leaders for the Vuelta, and I am excited to help them.”
Talansky tipped his hat to Hesjedal, who gave him decisive support during the final-stage raid to secure the Dauphiné victory.
Garmin will bring a loaded team, with real options for the final podium. Hesjedal missed the Tour for the first time since 2007 — he went home after the Giro and regrouped in Maui, returning to competition with the Tour of Poland.
“Everyone has the legs, it’s a matter of how it unfolds. Are we capable of multiple guys up there in the race? I think so,” Hesjedal said. “I think we’ll be better off for it. All three of us are capable of being up there.”
Martin also returns to the Vuelta after crashing out in the opening team time trial at the Giro.
Hesjedal thinks Garmin can stack up against the high-quality Vuelta field.
“It’s a super-deep field here, but that’s what you want. You want the best riders at any race,” Hesjedal said. “Every grand tour is hard. The Vuelta should be a great race.”
With Hesjedal and Martin backed by riders such as Talansky, they could go far indeed.
The post Andrew Talansky plays helper role in deep Garmin lineup for Vuelta appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.
Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.
SRM previews Power Control 8
SRM was the first name in the power meter game and is still the largest. Especially in the WorldTour peloton, most riders use an SRM crankset and a Power Control head unit. The Power Control 7 has been a mainstay for years, but riders have complained about its lack of GPS features.
The new Power Control 8 fulfills riders’ requests for GPS data and more. With an expected ship date in December, the PC 8 will have ANT+, Bluetooth, and WiFi compatibility, bringing wireless downloads to SRM users. SRM expects the PC 8 to retail for about $850-$870. That’s $100 more than the PC 7, and over $200 more expensive than the Garmin Edge 1000.
The head unit screen and general functions are expected to be similar to the PC 7. SRM has designed it to be a precise training tool, without as many of the GPS and route features as a Garmin. SRM is unapologetic about price and features, owner and founder Uli Schoberer told VeloNews earlier this year, “We make professional training tools, and we use some of the finest engineering and manufacturing. This costs money.”
Expect to see a production version of the PC 8 at the Interbike tradeshow next month.
Silca SuperPista Ultimate floor pump
A $450 floor pump. A $450 floor pump?!
In the past year, Silca was taken over by American Josh Poertner, formerly of Zipp, who has breathed new life into the brand. Silca’s latest product is a premier floor pump, which, like everything made by Silca, is expected to last a very long time.
With a price tag of $450, one would expect the SuperPista to inflate your tires on its own and maybe make you a sandwich afterward. But it does neither. What the SuperPista is, though, is a finely crafted tool, made in the USA, that is intended to last long enough to be handed down to your kids.
The handle is made of rosewood, and Silca says that it studied the shapes of a high-end culinary knife company to develop the shape of the handle area. The hose is rated up to 12,000 PSI, while the pump’s gauge goes up to 160 PSI. The base is large and sturdy, and a piece floating above the base, which Silca refers to as the “Surfboard,” holds the gauge and a magnetic garage for the chuck.
Garmin-Sharp will be first team wearing MIPS in a grand tour
Poc’s products are bold in design, even strange-looking to the unaccustomed eye, but the company has been one of the first to implement a number of technological trends in the helmet world. Poc was the first brand to develop a cycling helmet with the MIPS helmet liner, an inner sheath that helps prevent rotation concussion injuries. Now, Poc will be the first manufacturer to provide its sponsored pro road team with MIPS-equipped helmets.
The Octal road helmet, worn by Garmin-Sharp, will now be available in a MIPS version. The new MIPS helmet gets a tweaked look with white accents inside the vents, rather than black, which adds visibility to the already bright helmet. The MIPS-equipped version is also heavier. We hope to test the Octal MIPS in the coming weeks to see how the MIPS liner affects comfort and breathability.
With its new Octal MIPS, Poc has also unveiled a technology called Eyepark. Magnets are placed in the brow of the Octal and the top of the Poc Do Blade sunglasses so that a rider can push the sunglasses up, opening a range of sight below the lenses. This would be advantageous on descents, especially if salt buildup on the glasses compromises the rider’s vision.
“The idea was born at a training camp in Mallorca,” Garmin-Sharp’s Nathas Haas said. “I shared a thought I had about using magnets on the helmet and eyewear, to avoid having to take your glasses on and off and put them in pockets or the team car. POC listened, and here we are.”
We don’t expect the Eyepark technology to be backward compatible with current Poc Octal helmets or Do Blade sunglasses.
Octal MIPS and Poc products equipped with Eyepark are expected to be available in Spring 2015.
SRAM launches carbon Rise 60 mountain bike wheels
In the world of mountain biking, it seems every new wheelset is carbon. Even for daily adventures, carbon wheels are getting more use than ever. Carbon wheels are increasingly stronger and less expensive.
They’re still not cheap, of course. But SRAM is launching a more budget-friendly carbon cross-country wheelset, the Rise 60, to complement its high-zoot Rise XX tubulars. The Rise 60 wheels will be available in 27.5” and 29” models. The rim uses a hookless-bead design, like many carbon mountain wheels, which sheds some weight and drastically improves durability.
For RockShox RS-1 riders, the front wheel can be ordered with a Predictive Steering hub, which adds $40 to the price of the wheel.
Wheelsets are now available starting at $1,990 with weights at 1,390g for the 27.5” set and 1,440g for the 29” set.
The post Week in Tech: $450 floor pump, a safer helmet, and SRAM’s new wheels appeared first on VeloNews.com.