Category Archives: Cycling News

Cycling: 14 Teams After 8 Available Pro Tour Licences

It’s a competitive business cycling and not just on the road. Being granted UCI pro team status is proving to be a matter of demand exceeding supply. On 16 August the UCI announced there were 14 applications for eight licences for the season, six of them from teams that do not have pro tour status. Four applicants for pro tour licences, Bbox Bouygues Telecom (FRA), BMC Racing Team (USA), Cofidis, le credit en ligne (FRA) and Vacansoleil ProCycling Team (NED), have pro continental licences.

Two applications are from teams applying for new licences, the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project (LUX) and Pegasus Sports which races as flyVaustralia (AUS). Henk Vogels is the Director Sportif. Pro tour status entitles a team to a starting place in the three Grand Tours of the year. Teams with pro continental licences have to compete for wild card entries. Bbox, BMC and Cofidis all gained entry to the Giro d’Italia and le Tour de France this year.

Sporting Criterion and the New Contenders

The UCI announcement stated, “only those teams fulfilling a series of very strict criteria (excellent performance in sporting terms – the most important criterion; unconditional respect of ethics; assurance of financial stability and effective administration)” will be granted a licence. The sporting criterion takes into account world rankings and performance in the tours and major events.

Of the two new contenders the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project is a heavyweight to the Australians’ flyweight. The Luxembourg team will consist of Andy and Frank Schlek with an as yet unannounced supporting cast that may include Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt and Jakob Fulsang. The new junior time trial champion Bob Jungels of Luxembourg has also been mentioned by Andy Schlek. If you compare the Luxembourg team with the Australian application on the UCI’s sporting criterion the Australian team loses.

Pegasus Racing’s best result to date is Ben Day’s win at the Tour de Beauce in Canada in June, which he also won. Darren Rolfe was 2nd overall. flyVAustralia won the Team’s classification and Ben Day won the points classification to add to his overall win. These are good but not glittering results that demonstrate potential. It is also notable that none of the Australian members of the Pegasus team were selected in the Australian team for the World Championships in Geelong, Australia.

The Australian World team consists of riders already on the pro tour including 23-year-old Wesley Sulzberger of FDJ. His older brother, Bernard, races for Pegasus. The U23 Australian team, the Cyclones, were primarily drawn from Team Jayco-Skins. If it’s a competition between the two new contenders Australia loses and may have to hope they can outrank a vulnerable or similarly hopeful team.

Teams Applying for Renewals

In addition to the six teams applying for pro tour status, eight teams are applying for renewal of their existing pro tour licences, Astana, Euskadel-Euskadi, Ex-Team Milram (provisional name Velocity), FDJ, Geox on a Spanish, not Italian, licence despite its new Italian sponsor, Liquigas-Doimo, HTC Columbia and Telefonica Movistar/Abarca Sports (ESP). Astana with its loss of Alberto Contador and Telefonica with its lack of profile may be the least likely to gain renewals.

The Licence Commission will examine the files submitted by teams applying for UCI ProTour licences during the month of November. An announcement of the provisional list of teams to be awarded licences will be made on 20 November. The definitive list will be published on 10 December.

Australia has produced so many pro tour stars that it deserves a pro tour licence. Whether Pegasus Sports has the talent as yet will be determined by the UCI. Whatever the UCI’s decision some teams are going to be disappointed.

Cheap Christmas Cycling Gifts for a Boyfriend or MTB Geek

So your boyfriend is a cycling nut but you know nothing about mountain biking. You do know, however, that a sure way to his heart is to choose some cycling gifts for a boyfriend this Christmas, so just use the ideas in this article to buy some cheap mountain biking gifts that your boyfriend will love.

Mountain Bike Gifts for Men

Before you start thinking about mountain bike gifts for men, do some detective work by checking what bike your boyfriend rides and what looks worn or in need of replacement on the bike. Talk to his mates about what they spend money on when it comes to replacing parts or having to buy new bike gear or sneak a look at a mountain bike magazine in your local newsagent to check on hot items for Christmas.

Then decide on a budget and choose lots of small cheap items that can be packed together in a DIY gift box or, if he’s a really special boyfriend, pick just one more expensive item as a main gift.

Gift Box Ideas for Cyclists – Items Under £12/$18

The following items are inexpensive but essential items to put into a gift box for cyclists:

  • Inner tubes – check which type he uses, either car valve schrader tubes or presta valves.
  • Grips – these wear out quickly. A good choice is the Race Face Good n’ Evil
  • Puncture repair kit – include some tire levers too as these often break.
  • Bite valve – the little plastic bit that goes on the end of a hydration bladder tube; they get mucky and/or fall off frequently. A hydration bladder, by the way, is a plastic bag filled with water with a tube on the end, used for easy drinking on the trail.
  • Cleats – these are small pieces of shaped metal that fit onto cycling shoes so your boyfriend can ride clipped in or onto the pedals. They wear out quickly so check which type of shoe he wears and pop another set into that gift box.
  • Bike gloves – some brands are very expensive but Ground Effect’s Quickdrawswith a full finger thumb design are great value for money; just check your boyfriend’s hand size before you order.

If you can’t afford the above items, pull together an emergency trailside kit for him using items from your dad’s workshop or the family medical kit. Mountain bikers use things like gaffer tape, zip ties, plasters (they fall off a lot), bandages and aspirin (for those hangovers) all the time and you can also throw in one of mum’s homemade flapjacks as an emergency energy bar.

Mountain Bike Gifts Under £20/$30

Those with a slightly higher budget may want to buy a single gift item so consider these:

  • Hydration bladder – check which type of hydration pack and the size of the plastic bladder he owns and buy a new one.
  • Bike maintenance book – if he likes to do his own maintenance, the best book I can recommend as even I can work out how to fix things with the step by step instructions, is Lennard Zinn’s Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance.
  • Multi tool – the best value multi tool for use on the trail is Crank Brother’s Multi Tool 17which includes a chain tool and spoke key; don’t worry about what that means, this tool does everything and costs just £20/$30.

Where to Buy Christmas Gifts for Cycling

When you’ve tired yourself out deciding which cycling gifts to buy for your boyfriend, sit down at your computer and just buy those Christmas gifts online. If you live in the UK or Europe, the best value websites to use are Chain Reaction Cycles or Wiggle. These sites also deliver worldwide but to save on postage costs, those living in the US or Canada can look at JensonUSA or QBike.

Just be sure to order in plenty of time to make sure that online delivery arrives in time to pack your cycling present.

Cycling La Vuelta a Espana Stage 3 Claims Some Big Names

La Vuelta was always going to be a very difficult grand tour, designed by the organisers UNIPUBLIC, to favour the climbers. The evidence of the Spanish Tour’s difficulty and the effect of the summer heat has appeared early on Stage 3 raced from Marbella to Malaga.

Stage 3 included the category one, 570 metre climb on Puerto del Leon at the 120 km mark and an uphill finish in Malaga. The climbs and the unrelenting Spanish heat have left many GC riders out of contention. Christian Van der Velde of Garmin-Transitions 14.10 behind the leader, Oscar Freire of Rabobank, David Zabriskie of Garmin-Transitions and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) (25.03), have significant time gaps they cannot overcome.

Stage 3 la Vuelta Win to Belgian Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto

The last climb on Stage 3 was a short, sharp 1.8 km climb to the ramparts of the Castillo de Gibralfaro, a Muslim fortress built in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries. The fortress is the highest point in Malaga and provides panoramic views of the city and surroundings. Gilbert had the legs for this last test on the relatively short 157.3 km stage. He won by three seconds to Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and a further three seconds to Eusakaltel-Euskadi’s Igor Anton.

Gilbert took the red jersey from Mark Cavendish of HTC-Columbia who has worn the leader’s jersey since the stage 1 team time trial. Cavendish, predictably finished Stage 3 in the grupetto of sprinters but still supported by his team members Matthew Goss and Hayden Roulston who finished on the same time of 25.03 minutes behind the leader.

GC Classification After Stage 3

Stage 3 did not claim the hopes of Frank Schlek who is Saxo Bank’s GC contender for la Vuelta, although his brother Andy, second placer winner of la Tour de France, who is riding la Vuelta in support, finished 14.10 behind the leader.

Frank finished 9th on the stage, 36 seconds behind and remains in overall contention. Frank broke his collarbone on the cobbled Stage 3 of la Tour and had a fragmented preparation for the Tour of Spain because of the injury and the religious blessing of his marriage on 22 August.

The GC classification after Stage 3 is Philippe Gilbert, Joaquin Constantin (Katusha), Kanstantin Sivitsov (HTC-Columbia), Tejay va Garderen (HTC-Columbia) 22 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Peter Velits (Sky) 28 seconds, Igor Anton (Euskadel-Euskadi) 35 seconds, Xavier Tondo (Cervelo Test Team) with Frank Schlek on 36 seconds and Xavier Florencio (Cervelo Test Team) 41 seconds behind the leaders.

Cycling: Giro d’Italia 2017, Washington Politics May Intervene

The Giro d’Italia is one of three grand tours on the pro racing calendar. In 2015 the race began in Amsterdam and ended in the northern Italian city of Verona. The plans for the 2016 edition of the Giro are underway and the start and finish are confirmed. The 94th Giro will begin in Turin in Italy’s northwest in May with a team time trial and finish in Milan. The remainder of the route is yet to be announced.

The 2017 Giro d’Italia

The Giro Organisers, Gazzetto della Sport, have also been in negotiations to start the 2017 Giro outside Europe for the first time across the Altantic in the U.S. Until 15 September, Adrian Fenty, the Mayor of Washington D.C. and a cycling enthusiast, was keen to host the start in the nation’s capital. The Italian Ambassador Guilio Terzi di Sant’Agata was reported to have lent his support to Mayor Fenty’s bid.

On 12 July 2015 Mayor Fenty rode for charity and wore a maglia rosa jersey mimicking the Giro’s leader’s jersey at the Capital Criterium in Washington D.C. It is not known if the incoming Mayor, Vince Gray, will press to secure the prestigious Giro for the city.

The Mayoral Election Campaign

Prior to the election date the American press was reporting that Mayor Fenty was likely to lose his bid for re-election. The Huffington Post reported, “the winner of the Democratic primary will likely become mayor since there is no Republican challenger in the race.” The primary was held on 14 September 2015 in the heavily Democratic city. The New York Times reported on 15 September, “the race for the party’s nomination is tantamount to winning the general election.”

Former Mayor Fenty was elected Mayor in 2010 after a campaign in which he was reported by the New York Times to have “tirelessly knocked on doors and created a sense of excitement and, at the age of 35, he won every precinct. With pledges to remake the schools, fight crime with new police methods and streamline moldering agencies, the athletic young lawyer with a toothy grin seemed to epitomize the country’s new generation of urban leaders”.

An American Audience for the Start of the 2017 Giro d’Italia

The political demise of Adrian Fenty may have an impact upon the negotiations to take the Giro to a new and massive spectator audience in the U.S. which hosts the Giro’s competitor, the Tour of California in May, the choice of many riders preparing for le Tour de France in July. In 2015 Andy Schlek and Lance Armstrong chose California over Italy. Criteriums are a popular form of pro cycling in the U.S. Washington’s Capital Criterium is the fifth of nine races on the USA Crits pro tour which is in its fourth year.