Relive the 2017 Tour de France in our book of race reports.
The Lance Armstrong legal battle has been the focus of much discussion lately, with pre-trial motions in full force and a trial scheduled for spring of 2018. I thought it might be useful to go over some of the history surrounding the legal battle and discuss how the legal system in the United States works in relation to the case.
It’s time once again for our roundup of the American performances in the pro peloton. February, unlike January, actually yielded success for our rising stars, albeit there wasn’t a lot of opportunity in January for wins.
Starting off Down Under at the Herald Sun Tour, UnitedHealthcare’s star signing Travis McCabe took a sprint win on Stage 3, securing the first American win of the year. Teammate Tanner Putt (the Polar Bear) took an extremely impressive 3rd place from the breakaway on Stage 2, winning a small group sprint behind solo winner Luke Rowe (SKY) and chaser Connor Dunne (Aqua Blue).
Heading over to what was an exciting Middle Eastern season, even with the departure of the Tour of Qatar. The Dubai Tour didn’t yield any wins for the three Americans Ian Boswell (SKY), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), and Joey Rosskopf (BMC), as all three worked hard for their teammates. Ian Boswell being a climber didn’t fare well in the flat desert of Dubai, especially with the cancellation of the stage 4 climb. Reijnen, however, played an integral part in teammate John Degenkolb’s win on Stage 3.
The Tour of Oman yielded no results for the Americans, but in the World Tour level Abu Dhabi Tour, Kiel Reijnen managed to snag a ninth place the Stage 4 criterium around the Yas Marina F1 circuit, as well as play a huge role in teammate Bauke Mollema’s 4th place on GC.
In the early stage races in Europe, BMC, an American registered World Tour team, took the opening Team Time Trial in Valencia, albeit with no Americans racing. Two individual time trials took place simultaneously, one in Algarve and the other in Andalucia. For the Algarve, US TT champ Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) finished 22nd, 56 seconds down on European TT Champ Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar). Evan Huffman of Rally Cycling was 17th at 47 seconds down. In Spain though, Chad Haga (Sunweb) took 11th in the TT, 32 seconds down on Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL).
In the smaller Volta ao Alentejo, Axeon Hagens Berman opened their season up in fine fashion as the 2015 Tour of Utah stage winner Logan Owen took his second career win on Stage 4. He also finished 6th on the GC, 1 second behind Axeon teammate Eddie Dunbar of Ireland. Colin Joyce, the former Axeon rider who now rides for Rally Cycling, snagged 3rd in a field sprint on Stage 2.
The final stage race of the month was the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia. UHC’s Travis McCabe took two sprint wins on stage 2 and 8 (his second and third of the year) as well as two more podiums in the eight stage race.
The spring classic races started this month with the Belgian Opening Weekend races of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Taylor Phinney was due to start but removed himself from the startlist due to knee trouble ahead of the race. Tyler Williams of the Israel Cycling Academy was the only American starter of the races, but failed to finish either race.
As for the women’s Opening Weekend, US National Champ and 2016 Women’s World Tour winner Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) took home 21st at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, having worked for her teammate Chantal Blaak’s second place. Alexis Ryan (Canyon SRAM) and Allie Dragoo (Cervelo-Bigla) finished the race in a domestique role. The Omloop van het Hageland on Sunday featured a strong move by Team Sunweb that featured 2016 Joe Martin Stage Race winner Coryn Rivera. The sprinter was pulled in around 5km to go, and failed to finish the race. Megan Guarnier suffered a crash that took her out of the race as well.
The Track World Cup started up again this month, firstly in Cali, Colombia, then heading to Los Angeles. Sarah Hammer took home 5th in the Omnium in Cali. Chloe Dygart took the Individual Pursuit in LA, with the US Women winning the Team Pursuit as well.
This month proved to be great for the young Americans, with 4 wins and the providing of tough competition in races. As for the seasoned pros, the domestique role they have been playing has worked out well for their teams. More to come in March!
-Grupetto Chat America
Welcome to our first installment of Americans Abroad, a monthly roundup of how American cyclists have been this past month in the pro peloton. It was, however expectantly, not a particularly eventful January for the Americans, with no wins to show for all the hard effort they put in for their teams.
The 2017 road season started in the Southern Hemisphere, with some of our favorite riders representing the Stars and Stripes in the Tour Down Under: the veteran Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data), Michael’s favorite cyclist Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), the fully recovered pure climber Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), and Koala poser Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo). All finished the first World Tour race, with Stetina faring the best with a respectable 22nd on the climb to Paracombe behind Richie Porte (BMC) in stage 2 and finishing 29th overall.
Also in Australia, Aqua Blue Sport’s signing from the former IAM Cycling team Larry Warbasse as well as United Healthcare’s Tanner Putt (The Polar Bear) and star signing of the offseason Travis McCabe raced in, and finished, the third annual, and now World Tour event, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, but it was Vermeulen who took home a respectable 36th, finishing in the main bunch. Howes and Stetina started but did not finish the long one day event.
Soon afterward in Argentina, UHC’s Luke Keough managed to finish twice in the top 10 at the Vuelta a San Juan, 7th and 5th in stages 2 and 4 respectively. Additionally, our national champ Greg Daniel, riding for Trek-Segafredo, showed off his Stars and Stripes jersey for the first time as a World Tour rider in Argentina.
All of this pales in comparison, though, to Team Sky’s Ian Boswell placing 8th in the 3rd day of the Mallorca Challenge, a sign of good early form from the climber.
The best chance of bringing World Tour results to the States in February will most likely be the Abu Dhabi Tour, where the aforementioned Boswell and BMC’s Tejay van Garderen will try their hand at the ascent of Jebel Hafeet climb on Stage 3 of the Middle Eastern event.
Our Time Trial national champ Taylor Phinney will start his season off at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal this month as well, most likely targeting the Stage 3 time trial won last year by the now retired Olympic TT gold medalist Fabian Cancellara.
Stay tuned for what we hope to be a far more eventful February from the Americans.
-Grupetto Chat America
I really like women’s cycling and I really want to see it become equal to men’s. The women’s peloton is full of talent and I think we as an audience should be able to see these amazing women compete. But unfortunately, almost none of the women’s events are broadcast live. This needs to change immediately.
It’s a common thing back in The Netherlands, fantasy teams. Nearly everyone in the country will participate in one for the world or European cup of football (.. if The Netherlands participates that is). The Tour, however, is the biggest annual event that gets the fantasy team managers excited. In offices all over the country there is some guy that will create a small office-wide fantasy league. All friends and family are welcome to join of course.
All sports, no matter how skill based they are, have a big degree of luck and there are certain routines or superstitions with which an athlete can feel they can control that bit of that percentage which is luck. This can manifest itself in “rules” such as no shaving your legs on the day of the race in cycling, no shaving your face in hockey, not changing the strings in your racket in tennis, I have even heard of not changing your underwear. I really hope that last one is not true.
A lot has been said by us about the men’s UCI World Tour. We’ve talked mostly about how it really isn’t a tour around the world at all. With only three races outside of Europe, it is kind of a stretch right? The same can be said about the Women’s world Tour by the way, only three races outside of Europe. Are we sure we aren’t comparing Apples with Oranges though?
There was a lot of commotion this week on the supposed help Démare got before his first monument win in Milan-Sanremo. One of the most interesting events that happened was the removal, and subsequent reposting, of the Strava data that was automatically published online during the ride. It makes you wonder, could we use data in other ways?
After moving to the US, it seemed infinitely harder to get some decent coverage of cycling events than what I was used to. All the major events were available to me on the free public broadcasting channel on TV, of course with simultaneous livestream on their site. Besides the Dutch national channel, I was usually able to get coverage from Eurosport and everyone’s favorite, the Belgian public broadcaster. Here in the US though, not so much. If you need a list this complicated, you’re never going to get people to tune in regularly.
Since I moved here to Oakland, I’ve gotten into the habit of running. I bought some lycra running pants, some decent exercise shirts, the full package. Whilst running, I was thinking of two things. First; why on earth is it raining here, this is not what I signed up for when I moved to California from Amsterdam. Second; I’m the crazy one out here running in the rain right now, but pro cyclists have to get out there no matter what the conditions are. Not training is not an option.
It's about time the race organizers stepped up and made a tough decision to protect rider safety. Over the past few years, we have seen stages neutralized or flat out canceled, but only when the riders demanded safer conditions. Yesterday, race organizers at Tirreno - Adriatico cancelled Stage 5 due to snow covered mountain passes being unrideable. Race Director Mauro Vegni announced yesterday that, “The weather is expected to worsen. Even today [Saturday], my people were on all the stage’s check things [sic]. Unfortunately, conditions aren’t suitable to hold the race, especially as things will get worse. We’ve decided not to risk the rider’s health.”
The 2016 cycling season started of pretty good, with the first doping case so early on in the year when Vorganov was caught using Meldonium early on in February. This news of course hit the front page of all sports related sites. Cycling is known by all as the black sheep of sports when it comes to doping. Lately though, the tide has been turning a bit. Not to a sport in particular, but to a country: Russia.
Colombian cyclists are known collectively as the Escarabajos (beetles). This is a term coined in 1955 by none other than Literature Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the biography of Ramon Hoyos. His phrase was something along the lines of, “the cyclists in at their hunched back manner looked like beetles attached to the mountains.” This has stayed in the Colombian imagination and has become so prevalent, but most of us don't know where the term comes.
There is no sport where the commentators matter so much. Then again, there is no other sport that is televised sometimes for more than 5 hours a day for 3 weeks in a row. That is a lot of time to fill in with very little happening. A good commentator can turn those 5 hours into something worth watching.
Much has been said on the topic of Carlos Betancur. Good, bad, and in between. His case is fascinating not only because of the amount of mister that seems to surround him but also the perceived raw talent the guy has. Since I like playing devil’s advocate, let me be his.
The UCI Hour Record only takes into account attempts made under the UCI’s guidelines, the holders of which are Evelyn Stevens and Sir Bradley Wiggins. There is, however, another record that hasn’t been bested in almost two decades. Despite the recent surge in interest around the Hour Record, thanks to Jens Voigt’s 2014 successful attempt, no one has beaten the records set during the ‘superman’ era.
For a global sport to truly be global it must reach out to the entire world. The UCI World Tour only includes races in Europe, with the exception of the Tour Down Under in Australia and the two one day races in Quebec and Montreal. To be called a World Tour, the UCI needs to have races in every hospitable continent, and bring the global cycling community together through expansion.
I'm sure a lot of you who are watching the Omloop het Nieuwsblad this opening weekend had the same thought; who was that guy again? In the main breakaway of the day we found Dutchman Kai Reus. He was riding a very good race all day - being in the attack basically from the opening kilometer - until he had to drop from the lead group in an unfortunate puncture on the final cobbles of the Paddenstraat. The group he was in made it to the finish, meaning he would have finished in the top 7 in the big opening race of the season. Instead he finished 71st somewhere in the middle of the second main bunch of about 50 riders.
After the months of cold winter and waiting for the return of cycling to the road, the opening weekend is here. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne have reminded me how amazing cycling is. Yes, there has been a number of races this year, but nothing compares to the cobbled classics in Europe.