Alaphilippe adds Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo to spring Classics goals

Julian Alaphilippe has confirmed he will again target the Ardennes Classics in 2019, adding Strade Bianche ands Milan-San Remo as possible early season goals.

The Frenchman will kick off his 2019 season in Argentina at the Vuelta a San Juan, staying in South America to ride the Colombia Oro y Paz stage race, where he will go up against Chris Froome and Egan Bernal (Team Sky), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

Alaphilippe has enjoyed a low-key winter after the huge disappointment of the Innsbruck world Championships, skipping Il Lombardia and the end of season criteriums in Japan and China, instead preferring to spend time at home. His fast sprint finish and climbing ability made Alaphilippe the designated team leader of the French team but he was unable to go with Alejandro Valverde, Michael Woods and compatriot Romain Bardet on the final steep Höll climb.

Despite his Innsbruck disappointment, Alaphilippe had a successful 2018 season with Quick-Step Floors, winning Fleche Wallonne ahead of Valverde, the Clasica San Sebastian, the Tour of Britain and two stages at the Tour de France plus the polka-dot mountains jersey. His friendly nature, bike handling skills and success has made him the new hero of the French cycling fans.

On Friday evening he honoured in his hometown of Saint-Amand-Montrond in the Centre-Val de Loire of France. He revealed his 2019 race schedule to local newspaper Le Berry Republicain.

“I’ll be back in Colombia for the Oro y Paz Tour but there will be a small variation to my programme because I’ll start with a race in Argentina,” Alaphilippe explained, pointing out that he will use the South America races to work on his form for the spring.

“I know that I won a stage in Colombia last year but the goal will really be to return to racing without any real pressure and without a goal of results.”

Alaphilippe rode Paris-Nice in 2018 but will head to Italy in early March and ride Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico before Milan-San Remo.

“My first classic will be the Strade Bianche and my first stage race Tirreno-Adriatico. I will also do Milan-San Remo,” he confirmed, recalling that he finished third in Milan-San Remo in 2017 after contesting the close sprint with Michal Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan.

“After that I should do roughly the same races as last year: The Tour of the Basque Country and the Ardennes Classics.”
Alaphilippe attended the presentation of the 2019 Tour de France route and saw several chances for stage victories but was keen not to think about the Grand Boucle for now.

“Frankly it’s still very early. I’m not thinking about it yet. Of course, the route looks pretty difficult, there should be nice opportunities but let’s not go too fast, we still have time to study all things,” he concluded.

Alaphilippe’s success at the Tour de France was captured in the Cyclingnews film Running With Wolves.  It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD.

You can also still purchase our first two films, THE HOLY WEEK and CRESCENDO, on Vimeo. RUNNING WITH WOLVES from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo, produced by La Pédale and with special thanks to Quick-Step Floors.

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Can you perfect your pedalling?

Want to go faster? Push harder on the pedals! But what about honing the way you apply that pressure? Is it worth trying to improve your technique? Hannah Reynolds investigates

Some riders seem to have natural style and grace on a bike, others quite frankly don’t. But whether you have the cadence of a metronome or mash the pedals as if fighting with your bike, does it make any actual difference to your performance?

Intuitively, most of us feel it probably does. There are certainly plenty of magazine features, blog posts and products to help us improve our pedal stroke, but a quick glance around at the most successful cyclists shows there is a broad range of riding styles and pedalling techniques. So, what’s the truth?

>>> Ideal cycling cadence: why amateurs shouldn’t try to pedal like Chris Froome

Dr Barney Wainwright, head of science at the Boardman Performance Centre and research fellow at Leeds Beckett University, has worked extensively in this area. We asked him: is there an optimal pedal stroke?

“It would be nice if there was an easy answer to that,” he says. “First of all, you can have a pedalling technique that is effective, that is, a pedal stroke that generates a lot of force and helps you go faster or go up a hill.” Here comes an important distinction.

“Though it is effective, it might not be efficient — the energy cost might be relatively high for that technique, working muscles in an inefficient way.”

Cyclists need their pedalling to be both effective and efficient in order to produce large amounts of power and to sustain a good level of power over time.

“The research so far is a bit confusing,” says Wainwright. “It shows that a pedalling technique that is biomechanically effective and produces a lot of power is not necessarily great from an efficiency point of view. A style that is very efficient you can do all day, and when you need to generate large amounts of power, you can change it slightly to recruit muscles in a different way.”

Research into pedalling is still far from conclusive and there isn’t a definitive answer to the question of what is the optimal pedal stroke. Wainwright says: “There hasn’t been a long-term study to see if, when we get used to that more effective pedalling style, we also adapt and become more efficient at it.”

Pedalling technique is a hot area of research because the evidence is so inconclusive.

“Although we have good knowledge about training, about ways to optimise physiology and aerodynamics, the missing thing at the moment is, we don’t fully understand the effect of pedalling technique or efficiency on power output.”

Power on screen

Set your cycling training zones for the most effective use of a power meter

Though it is not fully understood, pedalling technique can still be worked on and improved. Wainwright worked with Wattbike on its latest project, a Pedalling Effectiveness Score (PES).

You may have used the original Polar View, which used a force diagram to show where you were applying force throughout the pedal stroke. Poor effectiveness produced a peanut shape, good effectiveness a sausage shape. The Pedalling Effectiveness Score has simplified this to a score out of 100, with 70-80 being the optimal range.

“Most people, if left to their own devices, will develop a pedalling technique that is quite energy-efficient but isn’t always very effective at generating high amounts of force,” says Wainwright.

Having the Wattbike screen in front of you gives you direct, detailed feedback.

“With the right guidance it is relatively easy to change your pedalling technique, but it’s not a quick fix.” Adapting your style isn’t straightforward, explains Wainwright: “Typically, those who understand the relationship between what they are doing and how the Polar View changes can change their technique within a few weeks.

“If people don’t make the link between their pedalling technique and the force profile, then we don’t see any change, even over several months.”

Understanding and interpreting the feedback from the Wattbike seems to be key to making any meaningful change.
Wainwright: “Real-time feedback helps you understand how effective your pedalling is. The PES score helps you figure it out in your own way. You start to realise, ‘if I pedal like this, it is having a positive or negative effect on that score’.”

The PES cannot tell us the optimal pedal stroke, but it is a way of providing direct feedback, enabling us to work on our technique and see how movement pattern alters the score.

“What we wanted to do was give people a target to aim for, where they could see what is good and what is bad. The optimal range is set at 70-80 out of 100.”

Now for a further complication: greatest efficiency is not best all-round style. “If someone is setting a very high pedalling effectiveness score, over 80, it is not the best thing for cycling performance, as you are making an almost equal pull-up force to push-down force, creating a circle. Aiming for a perfect circle or a high PES value is detrimental as overall power will go down because they are producing less force on the down-stroke.”

Across disciplines and rider types you can clearly see that everyone pedals slightly differently. Just compare Chris Froome to Simon Yates, for example — very different styles, yet they are both Grand Tour winners.

Froome and Yates both have very different pedalling styles (Sunada)

“People tend to talk about pedalling technique as a specific movement, but individuals have different solutions for themselves. Although we all just turn a crank in a circle, personal anatomy dictates different movement strategies.”

The strength and endurance of different parts of the musculature involved in the pedal stroke, flexibility and range of movement all contribute. “Two people may have very different movement patterns yet have the same PES.”

Try mountain biking

Former British Cycling physiotherapist Phil Burt ( agrees: “Pedalling is an acquired skill.

Everyone pedals in a different way, depending on what we have been exposed to, our genetics, our biomechanics,
our injury history. Every human being completes tasks in different ways, in terms of movement.”

So there is no universal optimum technique? “Some people are better at the task than others. To say there is a perfect pedalling style would be complete rubbish because it is all task-dependent.”

Though Wattbike gives direct and visual feedback to help improve pedal stroke, it’s also possible to get feedback from your pedals in a real-world setting.

“Pedalling is a task that human beings approach in many different ways,” stresses Burt. He is in favour of Wattbike guidance, but also recommends mountain biking: “Mountain bikers are consistently shown to have the most even pedal stroke of all cycling disciplines. This is because they need to maintain power through the upstroke to have grip at the rear wheel.”

Mountain biking can improve your pedalling technique (Watson)

The key is feedback: insight into the effects of your technique. “Any feedback mechanism, whether Wattbike or mountain bike, is a good thing,” says Burt, “the only difference is, if you don’t hit the number on the Wattbike, nothing disastrous happens. On a mountain bike, you lose traction.”

Getting feedback

Telling someone to pull up as well as push down doesn’t work, in Burt’s opinion: “Studies have proved that asking someone to pull up — to decrease the negative torque seen on the returning pedalling leg — is counterproductive and results in an overall loss in efficiency. That’s not to say there isn’t a better or worse way to pedal, just that coaching on technique makes no difference.”

If you don’t fancy getting off road and don’t have access to a Wattbike, riding the rollers is another way to get feedback on how you are pedalling. Quite simply, without a smooth, even pedal stroke, you will find it hard to maintain your balance.

Another option is track. “Everyone who came to British Cycling had to ride the track,” says Burt, reflecting on his time at British Cycling, “even if they were a road endurance rider. Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Mark Cavendish, they all rode the track. The philosophy was that track in the winter taught them how to pedal better, which would transfer onto the road.”

What is it about track riding that improves pedalling? “A fixed gear, and no brake, challenges you to pedal in a different way. It teaches you to be more constant, improving your pedalling.”

Burt has one more tip: “You can manipulate bike-fit parameters such as saddle height and set-back to help certain key muscle groups, such as your glutes, making them contribute more to your pedalling.”

Sort your set-up

Wainwright’s advice chimes with this: “An obstacle to improving your pedalling efficiency is your bike set-up. Saddle height massively affects your ability to contract muscles throughout your pedal stroke.”

A saddle that's too high can cause knee pain from cycling (Photo: Watson)

Saddle height can have a huge effect on pedalling efficiency (Photo: Watson)

Before beginning on any pedal stroke training, therefore, it is a good idea to get your bike position checked and make sure it is optimised for your body and your goals. Poor position will likely have a greater effect on your power output at the pedals than will your pedalling technique — to reiterate, set-up matters more than technique.

We come back to the big question: will changing your pedal stroke improve your performance?

“It’s different for different people,” says Wainwright. “When I test the mechanical efficiency of athletes, the range is massive. A rider might be trying to increase their power output by 10-15 watts or reduce their aerodynamic profile by 10-15 watts, which are quite big changes at an elite level, but they could have 20-40 watts more by changing their pedalling style and getting better mechanical efficiency. The opportunities for performance gain are massive.”

However, with little conclusive evidence, it is hard for any scientist to give a definitive answer on how to improve your pedalling. Wainwright again: “Anecdotally, from our experience, if you were to do any time duration-based power output efforts, such as an FTP test, using your normal pedalling style, then did a period of training to improve your pedalling effectiveness score, you would see an improvement, given enough time for your muscles to adapt to the new technique.”

If the newly adopted technique sticks, the rider sees a performance improvement. “They will always better their power output, because they are eliminating a dead-spot, creating more force and recruiting muscles in a better way around the whole pedal stroke.”

Anecdotal or not, that seems like a good enough reason to at least make a concerted effort to optimise
your pedalling.

Can tech improve your pedalling?

Many riders are turning to bike technology to find a pedalling advantage. Gearing, crank lengths and oval chainrings are frequently experimented with. Oval and elliptical chainrings aim to decrease the time you spend in the ‘dead spot’ where you are not producing power.

Champion time triallist, CW’s Michael Hutchinson, paid close attention to such innovations throughout his racing career: “I used Osymetric rings for 13 years. I liked how they felt.”

Chris Froome Pinarello Dogma f8 osymetric rings shimano dura-ace crank 2

Osymetric rings are not simply a different shape, as importer TrainSharp stresses: “The Osymetric chainring
is not an oval or an ellipse chainring — it is a unique patented twin-cam [two curves symmetrical about a single point] chainring designed to eliminate the dead-spot that is part of every cyclist’s pedal stroke when using standard chainrings.”

For Hutchinson, the improved feeling wasn’t sufficient: “We did some experiments on the treadmill using Osymetric and an identically-sized round ring. It didn’t make any difference to oxygen uptake one way or the other. We didn’t test every single aspect of the rings, so there may be some benefit that we didn’t identify. However, I kept using them, as they felt good to ride, which in itself may be an advantage.” Research into oval chainrings has, like Hutchinson’s experiment, proved inconclusive.

Crank length is a perennial discussion in the time trial world. “I rode 170mm, 172mm and 175mm — I couldn’t tell the difference,” says Hutchinson. “I’m pretty confident I could change the saddle height by a similar amount and not even notice — it’s such a small margin. Are my legs exactly equal in length anyway? To make a difference, you have to make a much more extreme change.”

Hutchinson offers an anecdote to support his case: “Chris Boardman in the summer of 1990 rode around with one 170mm and one 172mm crank because he’d stopped concentrating when he put the bike together — and in that time broke the national ‘25’ record!”

Homing in on a single component as a way to improve pedalling efficiency may be a waste of time, warns Hutchinson, as the potential for improvement is relatively small.

“There is so much variability in the drivetrain: you’ve got chainring, gearing, crank length, wheel size — and to some extent they all compensate for each other. There is very little advantage to be gained from tweaking one element.”

The exception may be crank length — not because of its direct influence on pedalling, but because of its role in bike-fit, determining how your body works on the bike.

Phil Burt advises: “Muscle-shortening velocities do change if you alter crank length — but only at the extremes (120mm and 220mm). Even here the changes can be accommodated without a change in efficiency simply by altering your pedalling rate or the gear you ride in.” Small changes to crank length are “negligible because it can be compensated for”.

Burt continues: “Crank length is an important bike-fit parameter for reasons other than pedalling efficiency (for example, hip closure). Riding smaller cranks can open your hip angle up without changing any other fit coordinate (other than saddle height, for some).”

Changing crank length may not change your pedalling efficiency but it might put your body into a better riding position.

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Former Bardiani-CSF pro fails to overturn growth hormone doping ban

The Italian rider had appealed his four-year ban but the case was rejected

Former Bardiani-CSF rider Nicola Ruffoni has failed to overturn his four-year doping ban.

The Italian tested positive for growth hormone on the eve of the 2017 Giro d’Italia and was sanctioned by the UCI in December.

Ruffoni, 27, filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but the case was dismissed.

The four-year ban will stand.

>>> Operation Puerto doping case may be closed without identities of 29 athletes being revealed

A statement from cycling’s governing body, published on Friday afternoon, said: “The UCI announces that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Nicola Ruffoni against the decision rendered by the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal on December 14, 2017.

“The CAS confirmed that Mr Ruffoni committed an anti-doping rule violation and upheld the four-year sanction imposed on him.

“The matter resulted from the analysis of a sample collected in the scope of out-of-competition control on April 25, 2017, which revealed the presence of GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs).”

>>> Former Trek-Segafredo rider André Cardoso banned more than a year after EPO positive 

According to WADA the performance enhancing attributes of growth hormones include reduction of body fat, increase in muscle mass and strength, and tissue repair.

Ruffoni initially said that the presence of the banned hormone in his system could have been due to treatment for a prostate infection that he had suffered in March and April.

His suspension will expire on May, 3, 2021.

Ruffoni joined Bardiani in 2013 and rode for the professional continental outfit until he was banned last year.

He scored a win the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli in 2016 and two stages of the Tour of Croatia in 2017.

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Operation Puerto doping case may be closed without identities of 29 athletes being revealed

WADA’s attempts to publish may be coming to an end, according to Spanish media

The Operation Puerto doping case may be closed without the identities of 29 athletes linked to the scandal being revealed.

A number of athletes have been identified via DNA tests of 200 blood bags seized in police raids in 2006.

Doping authorities have been battling for years to publish the names of those connected with the scandal, but their attempts may be coming to a close.

Spanish newspaper AS is reporting that the Constitutional Court has rejected an attempt by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to use the blood bags to identify the athletes.

In June 2017, the Provincial Court of Madrid blocked WADA from identifying the 26 male and three female athletes linked to the Puerto investigation.

>>> Former Trek-Segafredo rider André Cardoso banned more than a year after EPO positive

The court prevented the naming of the athletes because there are no active cases against them – the WADA 10-year time limit on disciplinary action has passed so no action can be taken.

Athletes from a number of sports are believed to be involved, including several cyclists.

WADA took the decision to the Constitutional Court in an attempt to overturn the decision, but As reports that the attempt was rejected.

Operation Puerto was launched in 2006 and centred around Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Big name riders were implicated in the scandal, including Alejandro Valverde, Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Frank Schleck.

The names of the 26 men and three women linked to Puerto through the blood bags have not been published due to fear of lawsuits from those involved.

Earlier this year, the Spanish Criminal Court ordered that the blood bags be released to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) for examination, but the committee declined to take possession of the samples.

It now falls to WADA lawyers and a data protection experts to fight to identify those linked with the scandal, with the final decision being made in May.

But the Constitutional Court ruling means it is likely that Puerto will be closed without the names being published.

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Ribble Pro Cycling to roll on Walker Brothers wheels next year

Team take to wheels from Newcastle based brand next season

The Ribble Pro Cycling team will be using Walker Brothers’s WideBoy deep section road wheels in races. They will train on a yet-to-be-launched brand new wheel from the marque.

Walker Brothers is owned by Brian Walker, a top time trialist in the 1990s. His company was an early adopter of the wider and deeper wheelsets that have become the norm for fast road riding. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Walker Brothers manufactures many of its products in house.

>>> Ribble bikes: which model is right for you?

Ribble Pro Cycling says: “Brian is a renowned innovator, and in just a short space of time his wheels have been recognised as not only some of the best but the most aerodynamic on the market.

Walker Brothers makes its wide and deep wheels in Newcastle

“Following on from the success of our use of the Ethereal Disc and Wide Boy wheels in 2018, it seemed an obvious decision to develop this partnership further into partnering with Walker Brothers for all our wheel requirements in 2019. We are looking forward to represent Walker Brothers at the highest level possible this coming season.”

The Ribble Pro Cycling team was formed to provide a platform for developing riders and allow riders competition at a global level. With one of the most international calendars in British teams, it allows riders with the ability and ambition the chance to move beyond the small UK domestic scene. It claims to be the top ranked UK team in 2017 and 2018.

According to Walker: “Ribble Pro Cycling are a team going places so we couldn’t be happier to be a partner in that journey. As with HUUB-Wattbike we will be working with the team continually to try to improve our products with testing in real world conditions at the highest level. We look forward to 2019 which I am sure will be their most successful to date.”

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City unveils plans for ‘world-class’ cycling and walking route

The £13.4million project has been designed based on best practice in the UK and Europe

An ambitious new cycling and walking route for Manchester has been unveiled.

Details of the £13.4million project were revealed on Friday morning by Manchester City Council, who are seeking the public’s opinion on the plan.

The three-mile Manchester to Chorlton cycling and walking route has been designed using examples from across the UK and European cities, with the input of former Olympian Chris Boardman.

>>> Former golf academy to be transformed with cycle circuit and mountain bike trails 

Boardman, now a prominent campaigner and Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, said: “We want to make cycling and walking the natural choice for short journeys, giving people the freedom not to have to drive.

“That means creating world-class streets where people want to socialise and relax.

“Some of the junction designs proposed are the most advanced yet that we’ve seen in the UK.”

He added: “Manchester City Council and Traffic Council deserve full credit for coming up with such an ambitious and appealing cycling and walking route.”

The route will feature Dutch-style segregated lanes for both cyclists and walkers.

The project is part of the ambitious ‘Beelines’ cycle network

Some junction details are still to be finalised, but Manchester City Council has put the plans out to public consultation, which closes on January 11.

The council’s executive member for environment, planning and transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “Lot’s of people have said that they want to walk and cycle more in Manchester and we present this scheme for consultation, as part of our ambition and absolute determination to create a new network of high-quality, safe cycling routes across Manchester.”

Chris Boardman had a major input in the design process

Cllr Stogia added: “This is already a very busy corridor for cyclists, but the proposed upgrade will make the route much safer and more appealing, encouraging many more people to adopt cycling and walking as their preferred modes of transport.

“Developing better cycling and walking routes is key to our aims of improving local air quality, reducing traffic congestion and encouraging more active travel choices.”

>>> Cycle commuters and walkers have the shortest daily journeys, according to new study

The route will form part of Manchester’s huge new £1.5billion cycling and walking masterplan that was unveiled earlier this year.

‘Beelines’ will be the UK’s longest complete network for riders and pedestrians, made up of more than 1,000miles of routes, and 75 miles of segregated cycle lanes.

Cllr Stephen Adshead, executive member for environment at Trafford Council, said: “Local air quality and reducing our impact on climate change is really important to making Trafford a great place to live, work and relax.

“The provision of a better and improved cycle and walking route will give residents the opportunity to easily commute in and out of the borough whilst reducing their CO2 emmissions.”

The Manchester to Chorlton route was designed by the Transport for Greater Manchester walking and cycling team, alongside award-winning Manchester City Council engineers.

No timescale for the completion of the route has been given.

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Werner and Noble dominate top of US Pro CX standings

Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) and Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX) continue their strangleholds on USA Cycling’s season-long Pro CX calendar heading into a pair of events this weekend.

Noble has finished on the podium in all 11 of her elite women’s Pro CX races so far this season, including taking seven victories. A silver medalist at the recent Pan-American Championships in Ontario, Canada, and winner in last weekend’s Pro CX race in Massachusetts, the Northampton International, she has a total of 613 Pro CX points. Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano), Noble’s nearest rival, is 179 points in arrears, while third-placed Maghalie Rochette (CXFever-Specialized) is another nine points back.

Fourth and fifth place are also closely packed together with all but Noble. Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) is in fourth with 385 points and Katie Keough (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) is fifth at 376.

In the elite men’s standings, Werner’s 596 points give him a healthy 180-point advantage over runner-up Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz-Donkey Label Racing), who has 416 points. Third-placed Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) is another nine points back at 407, with Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports) another 30 points back for fourth at 377. Fifth-placed Jamey Driscoll (Pivot Maxxis-Stans DNA Cycling) has 369 points.

With 31 races in the books, the 42-race series continues this weekend with a pair of C2 events in Indiana and New York. The Major Taylor Cross Cup will have two races on Saturday and Sunday at the Indy Cycloplex in Indianapolis, while the Supercross Cup in Suffern, New York, is ready for its 16th year overall and third year at the Rockland Community College. 

After a break for Thanksgiving, the series returns the weekend of December 1 and 2 with the NBX GP of Cross in Warwick, Rhode Island, and the Resolution Cup in Dallas, Texas.

USA Cycling Pro CX Top 5

Elite Women
1 Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) 613  pts
2 Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 434  
3 Maghalie Rochette (CXFever-Specialized) 425  
4 Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) 385  
5 Kaitlin Keough (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld) 376  
Elite Men
1 Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 596  pts
2 Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz-Donkey Label Racing) 416  
3 Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) 407  
4 Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports) 377  
5 Jamey Driscoll (Pivot Maxxis-Stans DNA Cycling) 369  

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Groupama-FDJ confirm 28 riders for 2019

Groupama-FDJ have confirmed their line-up for the 2019 season, with 28 riders on their roster. The number is the same as this year, with only a few small changes to the squad. 

The French team have been quiet since the transfer window opened, choosing to solidify what they already had through a series of contract extensions. Many of those were for at least two seasons, so we’re unlikely to see many changes next winter either.

Departing the team at the end of the season are Jeremy Roy, who is retiring after 16 years as a pro, Davide Cimolai, who is moving to Israel Cycling Academy, and Arthur Vichot, who is on his way to Vital Concept.

Groupama-FDJ did not look too far for their replacements, with all three new signings coming from the BMC Racing set-up. Stefan Kung and Miles Scotson will strengthen their time trial department, while 24-year-old Kilian Frankiny is a promising climber.

Once again, the crux of the team’s ambitions will be focused around Frenchmen and longtime FDJ riders Thibaut Pinot and Arnaud Démare.

Pinot did not enjoy the success he’d hoped for in Grand Tours but still came away from 2018 with a lot to be happy about. The 28-year-old won the Tour of the Alps in April before a strong performance at the Giro d’Italia that was brought to a premature end by illness. He took the summer off before returning at the Tour de Pologne, where he finished third overall, and went on to win two stages of the Vuelta a España. He closed out his season with victory at Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia – his first Monument. 

Démare has also found plenty of success this season, with stage wins at the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Suisse and Tour Poitou-Charentes, as well as podium places at Milan-San Remo, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg.

All-in-all, Groupama-FDJ enjoyed a largely successful season with 33 victories over the year, a tally only bettered by Quick-Step Floors, Team Sky, Mitchelton-Scott and Bora-Hansgrohe. However, they only managed 14th out of 18 teams in the WorldTour team rankings, based on points in WorldTour races. 

Groupama-FDJ will also run a Continental squad next season, which they announced earlier this week. 

Groupama-FDJ for 2019: Bruno Armirail, Mickael Delage, Antoine Duchesne, David Gaudu, Daniel Hoelgaard, Stefan Kung, Olivier Le Gac, Valentin Madouas, Steve Morabito, Georg Preidler, Anthony Roux, Miles Scotson, Ramon Sinkeldam, Benoit Vaugrenard, William Bonnet, Arnaud Demare, Kilian Frankiny, Jacopo Guarnieri, Ignatas Konovalovas, Matthieu Ladagnous, Tobias Ludvigsson, Rudy Molard, Thibaut Pinot, Sebastian Reichenbach, Marc Sarreau, Romain Seigle, Benjamin Thomas, Leo Vincent.

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USA Black Friday cycling sales: Big discounts on Shimano Ultegra, Rapha kit and much more

The best deals from all the major internet retailers

We’ve done some digging on the interweb and come up with some major deals on some quality bike products from the likes of Chain Reaction Cycles, Jenson USA and ProBikeKit, plus others.

The products featured have been chosen because we know they’re good quality and are an excellent offer at the price we’ve included (at the time of writing). Our tech team have unrivalled expertise and years of experience testing new products, so you can trust our recommendations – and we also know what represents a good deal.

 With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay. Where we’ve reviewed the product, we’ve included a link to the product so that you can read more about it in greater detail.

Rapha Winter base layer was $110, now $66

Warm and stylish, the Rapha winter base layer is a great way to stay warm on the bike this winter. Made of 100% Merino wool it’s superbly insulating yet remains remarkably odour free at the same time.

Buy now: Rapha Winter base layer at Wiggle for $66

Rapha Pro Team jersey was $190, now $114

Made of a high-wicking material but insulating material, this jersey is one that’ll keep you cool on the bike for seasonal rides. The Pro Team fit means its figure hugging, avoiding any frustrating bunching that can happen on looser jerseys. Plus it’s available in pink which is so in right now.

Buy now: Rapha Pro Team jersey at Wiggle for $114 

Shimano Ultegra groupset was $1456.39, now $659.99

Shimano groupsets Ultegra - R8000 series

Read more: Shimano Ultegra groupset review

Shimano Ultegra, the brand’s performance groupset, is now discounted by a whopping 55%. It’s almost every bit as good as the top tier Shimano Dura-Ace groupset just with a slight weight penalty. This particular groupset is rim brake which are direct mount and mechanical shifting which is crisp and sharp.

Buy now: Shimano Ultegra groupset at Chain Reaction Cycles for $659.99

Scott SMU Road RC shoe was $279, now $159.99

A stiff carbon sole makes these Scott SMU shoes performance orientated whilst a conforming microfibre upper keeps the overall shoe comfortable. Two Boa dials are used to close the shoe and keep it snug to the foot.

Buy now: Scott SMU Road RC shoe at JensonUSA for $159.99

Continental Grand Prix 4000s II was $84.99, now $47.99

Read more: Continental GP 4000 S II review

The continental GP 4000 is probably one of our favourite tyres, and it’s also the fastest on the market.  In fact, we like it so much that last year we rewarded it with our Editor’s Choice award.

In particularly we love the fact that it has great resilience out on your everyday rides but it won’t get left behind when it comes to the race course. It’s an almost perfect ride quality, mixed with a decreased amount of time on the side of the road fixing punctures. Bargain.

Buy now: Continental Grand Prix 4000S II at ProBikeKit for $33

Oakley Jawbreakers were $232, now $140

Buy now: Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses at Chain Reaction Cycles for $140

Here at Cycling Weekly, we’re big fans of the Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses. They’ve got massive lenses for a decent field of vision and rubber edges to prevent any unwanted drafts.

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Katie Archibald column: Cycling is like public speaking — timing is everything

Katie reflects on the perils of public speaking and, erm, finishing sentences

Sometimes when I’m listening to a podcast I think wow, this is fantastic, I wish I ran a podcast. Sometimes when I’m listening to race commentary I think wow, this is terrible, I wish I was the one doing commentary.

And then sometimes I’m asked a simple question and my arrogant desire to have the world hear me speak, arrogance that looked like a tiger when I saw its reflected shadow but is revealed as a sloth on all fours when it steps into the light, collapses into “um”s and “ehm”s and “well”s.

>>> Katie Archibald column: Go bigger gear or go home, or walk

I had such an experience at the Sunday Times Sportswomen Of The Year awards last weekend. I may have set myself up to fail by panicking so much beforehand, but I’m struck with panic before every bike race I do and most of those go quite well. This wasn’t the same.

My speaking style, unfortunately, is that I don’t end sentences.

I start without much sense of where I’m going which leaves two options: (a) find out on the way or (b) find out once I’ve stopped. The problem with option (b), an option I often go for, is that if I only settle on what I want to say once it’s already been said, my tone never makes it clear where the climax was.

An interviewer will keep looking at me assuming they’re experiencing an ellipsis when in fact it’s a full stop. Fine one-on-one. Less fine when there’s 100 people watching.

The universe did what the universe does, however, and sent me a sign in a glossy magazine that came in the awards goodie bag: an advert for a book on improving your public speaking. You might be wondering if the universe sends me lots of signs, like ads for clothes on Instagram, and you’d be right; the universe knows me (and maybe my browsing history) very well.

So I’m going to order this book, learn how to speak by reading about it rather than by speaking, and bamboozle you all with my new ability to tell a story that plants a flagpole right where the punchline is.

Even if it’s not funny, at least people will know where in the story they’re meant to fake laugh.

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