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- On a week that showcased promising youth across the USA Cycling National Development Program (NDP), the U.S. menandrsquo;s team took fourth in the Tour Alsace, July 30-Aug. 5, in France.
Moreno Hofland (Belkin) again proved to be the fastest finisher at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
On a flat, windy stage from Lehi to Miller Motorsports Park, Belkin kept its cool, letting SmartStop do much of the work to put the breakaway in check.
As the peloton entered the final circuits on the speedway, UnitedHealthcare took the initiative with nearly its entire team on the front to wind up the sprint. However, the American team spent its matches too soon. Belkin easily delivered Hofland around the final sweeping lefthand bend to his second stage victory.
“Our plan was to save the guys for the final and it worked out pretty good,” Hofland said. “With two laps to go UHC went to the front and we grabbed their wheel pretty easy. My position was perfect with my teammates in front of me with one and a half kilometers to go. Robert Wagner pulled until 250 meters and I stayed to the left side because the wind was coming from the right. I hold it to the line pretty easy…not easy…but okay.”
The early breakaway
Nearly from the gun, Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare) initiated the day’s escape. He was joined by Darren Lapthorne (Drapac), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Tyler Wren (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development), and Daniel Eaton (Bissell Development Team).
Having earned time bonuses in the stage 1 breakaway, Carpenter was within 14 seconds of the GC lead. He won the first bonus sprint in Saratoga Springs, chipping away at the overall lead held by Jure Kocjan (SmartStop). Eaton placed second, and Rathe was third.
Wary of the threat posed by Carpenter, SmartStop patrolled the front of the peloton, keeping the gap close to two minutes.
Carpenter was also first over the KOM at Eureka, reclaiming the king of the mountains jersey he won on the first day and lost to his teammate, Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development) on stage 2. Wren and Summerhill were second and third, respectively on the Category 4 climb.
After the KOM, Carpenter gave up on the breakaway and drifted back to the peloton.
“After yesterday’s stage, you kinda knew the break was going to roll away pretty easily today,” Carpenter said. “Once it didn’t get much above two minutes, I took account of everyone in the break, and knew I was the highest ranked rider in the group and decided it was more important to save my energy coming into these really hard mountain stages.”
With 16.5 miles remaining and a two-minute gap over the peloton, Summerhill attacked out of the break to take the day’s final intermediate sprint. Rathe and Eaton were second and third at the line in Toole.
From that point on, the field applied the pressure, bringing back the escape’s advantage. By the time the leaders reached the raceway for the final laps, the peloton was within sight, only 40 seconds behind.
As the catch became imminent, Rathe struck out on his own with five miles to go, but the peloton was eager for a field sprint, with UnitedHealthcare leading the charge.
Though the blue and white jerseys were all over the front of the race in the final few miles, UnitedHealthcare was swamped in the final kilometer by a hard-charging Belkin team that expertly set up Hofland for his second stage win. Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) finished second, and Eric Young (Optum) was third.
Kocjan keeps the GC lead after finishing safely in the group.
“The guys were awesome today,” Kocjan said. “They went on the front of the peloton from the start – they work hard. The crosswinds made the stage much more difficult than it looked. We just wanted to stay in the front. I didn’t want to risk it…just sit on the front and control the pace.”
Thursday’s 104.7-mile stage will include the tour’s first summit finish, a six-mile, 3,000-foot ascent of Powder Mountain.
“The stage tomorrow is very difficult where the pure climbers will probably show their legs,” Kocjan said. “We’ll see… they say the yellow jersey takes off 10 pounds, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
The Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting several important transfers for the 2015 cycling season.
Among them are several Cannondale riders finding new homes as that team has lost its title sponsor.
In addition to star rider Peter Sagan heading to Tinkoff-Saxo for the 2015 season, La Gazzetta reports that Sagan’s brother Juraj, Polish rider Maciej Bodnar, and Italian Ivan Basso are all headed to Tinkoff-Saxo.
Basso, a two-time Giro d’Italia champion, will be reunited with Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis; Basso rode under Riis at Team CSC from 2004 to 2006. Basso was later suspended for his involvement in the blood-doping scandal Operation Puerto during those years. Riis denied any involvement or wrongdoing, however Tyler Hamilton wrote in his tell-all book The Secret Race that Riis had introduced Hamilton to Puerto mastermind Eufemiano Fuentes. Basso was suspended from June 2007 to October 2008.
Two other riders from the Cannondale team, Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi, are headed to BMC Racing, La Gazzetta reports.
The article also reports that Tinkoff-Saxo has signed Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, from Team Sky, and Croatian Robert Kiserlovski, from Trek Factory Racing.
Additionally, the report claims that Irish rider Nicolas Roche is leaving Tinkoff-Saxo, headed for Team Sky, and confirms that Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez and Dutchman Lars Boom have signed with the Astana team of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step has added Colombian Carlos Betancur, winner of Paris-Nice, from Ag2r La Mondiale, to help support his compatriot and friend Rigoberto Uran, La Gazzetta reports.
The piece also reports that French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, winner of three stages and the points classification at the Giro d’Italia, is leaving Française des Jeux to head to Cofidis.
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When it comes to social training sites, Strava and Garmin Connect are the Yankees and Red Sox. In the same league, with a history as bitter rivals.
On Monday, Strava and Garmin Connect announced a partnership in the form of one-way data sharing. Riders using Garmin Connect can upload rides directly to Strava, as well as MapMyFitness sites MapMyRun and MapMyRide and Endomondo, another fitness and ride tracker. The partnership is the result of Garmin Connect opening up its API (think of it as a back door to Connect’s databases) to Strava, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo.
Both Strava and Garmin Connect are designed to capture ride data and share it with the world. Strava has millions of segments on its site, and has a following in the cycling world that Garmin Connect can’t yet hold a candle to. Garmin has a leg up as the undisputed top name in GPS-enabled cycling computers, and has been trying to compete online, introducing segments on Garmin Connect and launching a head unit, the Edge 1000, designed for chasing its Garmin Connect segments.
Today’s scorecard shows Strava dozens of runs ahead of Garmin Connect in the realm of online ride-sharing and comparing. But Strava relies on the GPS maker to record athletes’ activities, and both brands need the other to survive. Up until now, though, there was no cohesion between the two.
Garmin Connect announced a similar partnership with TrainingPeaks two months ago. Garmin Connect keeps its API closed, only allowing its partners access to it, usually for a fee. This wasn’t always the case, though. Garmin closed off its API earlier this year, around the time it launched the Edge 1000 — a headunit designed for racing Garmin Connect’s segments. The closed API and the new head unit was seen as an attempt to overtake Strava’s stranglehold on social training in cycling.
This new partnership is entirely one-way. Garmin Connect users can link their accounts on the Strava website, and then all rides uploaded to Garmin Connect will go directly to Strava. Strava is not sending rides uploaded in its site back to Garmin Connect. So, it would seem that the major winner here is Strava, and of course riders who use a Bluetooth-enabled Garmin device, like the Edge 510, 810, and 1000.
Further cooperation between Garmin and Strava is in no way guaranteed, but given the symbiotic nature of the relationship, it would not come as a surprise.
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Coryn Rivera earned UnitedHealthcare’s second win of the week, sprinting to victory at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Women’s Edition circuit race. It was the 21-year-old’s first victory since the Sunny King Criterium in April.
On Monday, her teammate, Alison Powers took the honors at the Cedar City Grand Prix, and today, the national champion returned the favor, controlling the pace and delivering Rivera to a win in the bunch sprint.
Behind Rivera, Mandy Heintz (Guru Cycles) was second, and Meredith Miller (Pepper Palace) was third.
The inaugural women’s edition of the Tour of Utah race took place Wednesday at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, where stage 3 of the day’s men’s race finishes. An elite field of more than 60 riders contested 15 laps of racing on a 2.2-mile circuit.
Reigning national champion Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare) was one of the early aggressors, going off the front on the race’s first prime lap.
Riders from Pepper Palace and Vanderkitten also made attempts to get away on the wide-open, windy circuit, but the front of the peloton was firmly controlled by Powers and Robin Farina (DNA Cycling).
Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) also staged an ill-fated attack midway through the race.
With four laps remaining, Breanne Nalder (DNA Racing) was one of the few riders to make a move stick, gaining a 17-second advantage over the peloton.
However, UnitedHealthcare’s plans for a field sprint would not be foiled by late-race attacks. Alongside Colavita, they brought the field back together to set up a lead-out for the finale.
In the end, Rivera’s turn of speed delivered her across the line with a bike-length to spare over second place.
“It was a little up in the air today, with all the wind along the course. We were going to feel it out, and if there was an opportunity to go off the front, we would take it,” Rivera said. “There were a few riders off the front late in the race, but at that point, we knew we wanted to keep it together for a field sprint. We had to ride the front a little to keep the speed up in the last 2km, so we kind of blew up our riders pretty quickly, but Alison [Powers] pulled through, per usual, with a super long lead-out, delivering me to the line. Luckily I didn’t run into any bad luck today, so it went perfectly to plan.”
Heintz said that her three-woman Guru team knew it had to let the bigger sprint teams, such as UnitedHealthcare and Tibco, dictate the race.
“My team only had three riders, so we had to be really conservative, and put the big teams out front,” Heintz said. “We had to sit in, because the wind was a big factor. With 2km to go, you had to start fighting your way to the front, and position yourself. We knew UnitedHealthcare and Tibco would start leading it out early. I had to work to the inside coming into the final corner. I found myself in a really good position, right behind Coryn, after Powers did her long lead-out. I took advantage of their team lead-out.”
Editor’s Note: This is a first-hand account from the Tour of Utah’s stage 2, written by SmartStop’s second director, Gord Fraser
The views were magnificent as we traveled through Bryce Canyon dropping into Torrey, Utah to conclude the second stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Tuesday.
Along the way the relentless pace set by the Garmin team had shed five of our riders in various groups that were splintered all over the vast countryside.
With the yellow jersey, Moreno Hofland (Belkin), back with some of our guys, the GC lead was certainly in play, but BMC’s Michael Schär was holding off the group.
Schär was the lone survivor of a serious five-man break that went early. With only Josh Berry and Rob Britton to lend a hand in the chase, we would do our best to close the gap on the Swiss rider but the splits coming over race radio weren’t encouraging.
Looking at the GC picture, our SmartStop rider Jure Kocjan held an 11-second advantage over Schär but with the Swiss strongman taking a mid-race three-second bonus, that advantage was reduced to eight seconds. This wasn’t looking good.
I was following the third group on the road in car two, leap-frogging with the fourth group in an effort to keep the SmartStop guys fueled.
The battle up front was witnessed by Mike Creed in our first car, and I’m sure he was as nervous as I was 10 minutes behind. Our last time gap was 25 seconds with two kilometers to go. Surely our chance at the stage and the coveted yellow jersey was not to be.
Schär was confirmed as stage winner and Jure would mop up the field sprint for second. Normally I’d be pretty elated, but knowing the yellow jersey slipped through our fingers was truly bitter.
I’m going to be honest. I was already picturing the words I was going to type and how I was going to paint this pretty picture of how we gave it our best shot and that second-place two days in a row was a great accomplishment.
I knew it would sound hollow.
What I really felt was disappointment and anger. I was pissed that a bunch sprint win would garner the points jersey surely, but the yellow would go to powerhouse BMC. My mechanic will attest that my language was colorful those last few minutes.
Finding Mike’s car and the RV, I pulled up, ready to congratulate the team on a fantastic effort but the ear splitting grin on Mike’s face immediately changed my inner tantrum to delight. What wasn’t mentioned over race radio was the time gap, and Jure would take the jersey by a meager two seconds. I’ve seen Mike celebrate with his team time and again this season but to share the joy of the moment with this team was truly special. I’ve been around this sport a long time, and it’s refreshing to me that I can still feel surprise and elation from a poignant result.
The SmartStop Pro Cycling Team has worked very hard to step up their game in these prestigious races and everyone should take a little credit. It’s a team sport and I’m truly glad to be a small part of it. Wednesday is another day, and we’ll try our best to claim that elusive stage win. As today shows, anything is possible.
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