Only 10 WorldTour teams participated in the 2016 World Championships
Teams organisation AIGCP has struck a deal with the UCI to prevent a potential boycott of the team time trial at the World Championships in Bergen, Norway next month.
As was the case in the 2016 World Championships in Qatar, the UCI risked not having the WorldTour teams in the team time trial event with the teams asking for appropriate compensation and freedom of attendance.
“Last year it was a last-minute deal, but this year we found a solution which included two key principles for the teams,” Ivan Spekenbrink, president of the AIGCP told Cycling Weekly. “The teams wanted fair starting conditions and the freedom to chose to race or not.
“This year, the third pillar was that a solution needed to be found early enough for the teams to race, without it, it could have been possible the teams wouldn’t race.”
The UCI re-introduced the team time trial in 2012 and enjoyed early success with a rivalry between teams Quick-Step Floors and BMC Racing.
However in 2016 teams balked at the long trip and huge costs involved. The UCI replied by agreeing to cover some costs and making attendance voluntary. Only 10 out of the 18 WorldTour teams ended up racing.
The situation did not reflect well on the UCI’s prized event and both sides wanted a better solution for 2017.
The governing body stopped saying that teams must attend and even gave more expense money for the teams that do race. Exact figures are difficult to come by, it should be in line with what teams receive for attending a WorldTour event.
WorldTour points will not be awarded. Of the WorldTour 18 teams, 10 to 12 should participate on September 17 in Bergen, alongside other teams from the lower ranks.
Spekenbrink said that having all the WorldTour teams would be impossible this late in to the season.
“It requires time and an early agreement so you can plan and work towards it,” he added. “The teams needed a fair agreement in order to race. It makes a difference when you have an early agreement.
“We need to have an earlier agreement [for the 2018 Worlds in Austria] and the willingness to get that solution early. You need an early agreement and fair conditions so that the teams have time to prepare to be at their best on the start line.”
“As far as the favourites go, you have to start by looking at Vincenzo Nibali, who rode the Giro and has had time to prepare for the Tour,” the Trek-Segafredo leader said in his eve-of-Vuelta press conference in Nîmes.
“But the big favourite for me is Chris Froome. He’s very strong, the time trial will suit him and he has a very strong team. Most of them could be leaders in other teams. We’ll have to see how Aru, Bardet, Yates and the others who did the Tour have recovered.”
Contador affirmed, though, that he hasn’t come to the Vuelta simply to do a final lap of honour before retiring.
“I’ve come to this Vuelta determined to enjoy myself, but I always give the maximum in competition. I will be professional to the very last day of racing,” he stated.
“This Vuelta is special and I want to enjoy it to the max. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity to say goodbye. I’ve come here with the idea of fighting for victory, but I’ll have to see how my legs are and how my rivals are going as well.”
This is the first time in his career that Contador has ridden the Vuelta on the back of finishing the Tour de France, and he admitted he’s unsure what his form will be like.
“My preparation has been quite different coming into this Vuelta. I’ve tried to rest as much as possible at home in Madrid. I’ve done a few good training rides and I’ve recovered well, but there are some questions over my condition,” he said.
“I’d been talking with Trek about a deal to run through to the 2018 Giro d’Italia, but I was not really sure that I wanted to continue that far. The most important thing going into the Tour was to arrive at the start in the best possible condition and I managed to do that,” he said.
“The opportunity to join an ambitious group backed by globally recognised brands and use my experience to create a team capable of challenging the best in the world was one that I couldn’t refuse,” Martin said.
“UAE Team Emirates share my vision, my attention to detail and my passion for the sport, and as I enter into the most important years of my career, they offer me the best platform possible to reach my potential and fulfil my sporting goals.”
Martin, 30, blossomed in team Quick-Step over the last two years after spending several seasons with Garmin/Cannondale. Martin placed ninth overall in the 2016 Tour and sixth this year.
“He performed very well this year, not only in the Tour, and money also starts to become important,” Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere said on Thursday.
“I think many teams want to have a rider like Martin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a sponsorship partner for the team who wanted to pay 10 million dollars. I’m happy with what I have, though.”
Quick-Step will continue to develop Luxembourg rider Bob Jungels, who will race the Vuelta a España after racing to eighth overall in the Giro d’Italia and winning the white jersey of best young rider this May.
UAE is also expected to sign Fabio Aru, who placed fifth in the recent Tour, second in the 2015 Giro d’Italia and won the 2015 Vuelta a España.
Martin could lead one Grand Tour team and Aru another. Martin will also give the team added muscle for one-day races.
“Daniel Martin is capable of excelling both in the [one-day] races as well as the major tours,” team manager Carlo Saronni said.
“We will be able to create the conditions that will allow him to express himself at his best and, with this in mind, we have also secured ourselves the performance of an experienced pacer like Sutherland.”
Nairo Quintana’s Australian domestique Rory Sutherland will leave team Movistar this winter after three years.
Sutherland said: “This new challenge offers me the opportunity to work with my good friend Dan Martin while also helping the development of the younger generation of professional cyclists within the team.”
Relentless summit finishes mean Froome favourite for points classification
Chris Froome at the 2016 Vuelta a España Credit: Yuzuru Sunada
The leader’s red jersey might be his main objective, but with the start of the Vuelta a España being just a day away, the bookmakers are also tipping Chris Froome (Team Sky) for success in green.
The points classification might usually be won by a sprinter at the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France, but such is the vicious nature of the Vuelta a España route in 2017 with its nine summit finishes, Froome is the favourite to win win green.
The Team Sky rider, who is looking to win the Tour/Vuelta double, is available at odds of 10/3 at some bookmakers, being tipped slightly ahead of second-favourite Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).
Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide
John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) is the only real big-name sprinter on the start list, but the bookies aren’t tipping him for much success in the fight for the green jersey with odds of around 9/1 – the relentless mountain stages making it tough for him to even make it to Madrid.
Recent history has seen the Vuelta a España points classification won by a wide variety of riders, usually coming down to a battle between an attacking climber and a sprinter.
Fabio Felline and John Degenkolb are the most recent fast men to win the prize in 2016 and 2014, but Alejandro Valverde and Bauke Mollema are also recent winners.
The Vuelta a Espana will see a myriad of rivalries emerge and evolve during the next three weeks. Chris Froome (Team Sky) is the rider everyone wants beat as he chases the Tour-Vuelta double, Alberto Contador will clash with the Briton one last time before retiring, while Esteban Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates will compete for eventual leadership status at Orica-Scott.
In Italy, all eyes are on Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru. Once teammates at Astana, now they are rivals, with Nibali leading the Bahrain-Merida team and Aru top dog at Astana. After Aru missed out on racing against Nibali at the Giro d’Italia due to injury, the two Italians will finally clash in a Grand Tour at this year’s Vuelta a Espana.
Their relationship was once tense but riding the Rio Olympics for Italy and often training together in Lugano has brought them closer, with Aru hinting that they can become allies out on the road, while still being rivals, as they take on Froome, Contador et al during the next three weeks.
For now, they are fighting for attention in the Italian media, with La Gazzetta dello Sport obliged to give them equal space and consideration on the eve of the Nimes team time trial. Aru was once Nibali’s understudy at Astana but they are almost on equal footing and both have won the Vuelta a Espana – Nibali in 2010 and Aru in 2015.
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Nibali: Focused and on form after the Giro d’Italia
Nibali avoids mentioning Aru and comes across as focused and ready to target a second Vuelta victory. Aru says he will be keeping an eye on Nibali but little else. Their scant regard for each other is a war of few words but one that could blow up on the roads of Spain during the next three weeks.
Nibali has the advantage of having trained specifically for the Spanish Grand Tour in July, while many of his rivals were riding the Tour de France. His carefully chosen words are an indication of his determination and hidden confidence. His younger brother Antonio is also riding the Vuelta a Espana but the two will not share a room, with Vincenzo focused on winning for a second time and so with little time to mentor his brother.
“I’m feeling pretty good. We’ll find out how good along the road, day by day,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I did a good block of training in the Dolomites that gave me the answers [about my form] that I was looking for,” Nibali said. “I rode the Tour de Pologne, which suited to aggressive riders but I was pretty good.”
Nibali last rode the Vuelta a Espana in 2015, when he was disqualified and sent home after being caught hanging onto his team following a crash. Questions about it still irritate him.
“Things like that happen a lot, of course it wasn’t nice,” he said. “Sadly it made people think that Nibali hangs on to cars to win races, while I‘d crashed and I’d lost more than a minute… For me it’s all in the past and I don’t think I have to demonstrate anything to anyone.”
Nibali rolls of the names of his biggest rivals, adding Ilnur Zakarin’s name to those of Froome, Aru, Barguil and Bardet. He is not so sure about Contador’s chances.
“Hmm, we’ll see. It’s his last race and so I’m sure he’ll want to do well,” Nibali said, suggesting all the overall contenders will be at the same level as they ride a second Grand Tour of the season.
“The Tour-Vuelta double is easier to achieve than the Giro-Tour double because everybody at the start has a Grand Tour in their legs. At the end of the day the level will be about the same,” Nibali predicted.
Aru: Ready for a long hard Vuelta
Aru talked to La Gazzetta dello Sport in a different hotel in a different part of Nimes. As usual before a big race, he is more open and chatty than Nibali. Fifth place at the Tour de France helped resurrect Aru’s Grand Tour career. He is refusing to discuss his future until after the Vuelta ends in Madrid but is expected to be the new leader of the UAE Team Emirates squad, despite a new improved offer from Astana and interest from Trek-Segafredo.
Despite riding the Tour de France, Aru dismissed any doubts about his form and chances at the Vuelta.
“I don’t have doubts but I also don’t know how good I’ll be,” he said. “I prepared for the Giro d’Italia and then rode the Tour de France. Now I’m at the Vuelta too. It’s the first time I’ve ridden two Grand Tours in the same season.
“I think I’ve recovered well after the Tour. I’ve trained well without doing too much work but I haven’t done any tests, so I don’t know my exact level of fitness. I’m aiming high. I think I can do better than in the past and so the sky’s the limit.”
Aru picks Froome and not Nibali as the favourite for final victory.
“He showed he can do the double last year by finishing second at the Vuelta after winning the Tour. He’s the rider to beat, then there’s all the other at the same level: Nibali, Majka, Chaves and the Yates brothers. Bardet and Barguil, like me, have ridden the Tour and entering the unknown.
“A surprise? I think there could be two: Poels, even if Sky will ride for Froome, and Julian Alaphilippe.”
What about Nibali?
“He’s strong and I’ll have to keep my eye on him,” Aru said, finally conceding his Italian rival some attention.
Aru is also worried about the difficult opening stages of the Vuelta. The Astana team could lose precious seconds in Saturday’s 13.7km team time trial and the first mountain stages comes on Monday to Andorra. Sunday’s stage across the south of France could also be hit by cross winds and echelons.
“We’ve got to limit the damage in the team time trail and be ready for the wind on Sunday. Andorra will be a shock and then there’s the first uphill finish on stage 5,” he said. “The nine uphill finishes means we’ll be flat out all the time. It’ll be good to watch, with time gaps each time. I feel sorry for the sprinters who will suffer a lot. It’s going to be a long hard Vuelta for everyone.”
Rapha has released a series of kit in honour of Colombian cycling, as well as a short film
Rapha has announced a series of stylish kit in honour of Colombian riders ahead of this year Vuelta a España.
In particular, the kit marks the 30th anniversary of Lucho Herrera’s win at the 1987 Vuelta.
Rapha’s KoM jersey
Rapha says that the collection will also be launched alongside a short, thought-provoking film named Abrazos that “lifts the lid on Colombian cycle racing”, and includes an interview with Esteban Chaves‘ mother – it’ll be available to watch on Rapha’s website.
The new kit collection takes its inspiration from the era of Herraras win with a series of 80s inspired designs. In total there will be seven products, Rapha says, including, a KoM jersey, a Midweight Jersey, cap and socks.
Midweight team jersey and bib shorts
The KoM jersey is directly inspired by Herrara’s win at the 1987 Vuelta a España, where he famously also won the climbing competition. Rapha says that “of-the-era design touches with modern fabrics and functionality”. It’ll cost £130 and is available from XXS-XL.
Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide
Meanwhile, the Pro Team Midweight jersey is inspired by Colombia’s 1980’s trade team and looks sleek in minimalist white with touches of the Colombian colours.
The Pro Team bib shorts retain that classic black Rapha look but the bibs are designed with the Colombian flag colours. Rapha says they feature a dual-density chamois and the design pays homage to Herrara’s 1987 Vuelta win. The shorts come in at a sniff under £200 and are available in small to extra large.
Rapha is also releasing a series of accessories to accompany the kit, including socks, a cap and a t-shirt. All of which come in white with dashes of the Colombian national colours. The cap costs £25, the socks £15 while the t-shirt comes in at £35.
Rapha wanted to honour Colombian riding, arguing that Herrara’s first grand tour success marked the beginning of “a long period of Colombian grand tour success”.
Rapha also says that since the 80s, the escaranajos (or the beetles – the collective nickname for Colombian riders) have been a prominent force at the head of the European peloton.
For this year’s Vuelta, there are a total of 12 Colombians starting the race, including Esteban Chaves.
Britain’s Best Bike Shops is a UK wide poll to find the best bike shops in partnership with Lezyne, Muc-Off and BikeZaar.
This summer we’re celebrating bike shops by looking for the best in the country. Our Britain’s Best Bike Shops poll, in partnership with Lezyne, Muc-Off and BikeZaar, allows you to vote for your favourite shop, and tell us why it’s so good. It’s your chance to give your local bike the recognition it deserves.
Every rider needs a good local bike shop. As places to go to buy, or just gaze at, new kit, get your bike fixed, get advice and generally have a chit-chat, bike shops are an essential part of any local cycling community.
Bike shops have also played a part in the careers of many aspiring young cyclists. There are even a few pro riders out there who once had a Saturday job in their local shop. Cleaning the boss’s bike and making tea before being let loose on the customers; that was a key part of my early career in cycling and it has served me very well.
But shops are having to change. While we all shop online sometimes, a good local bike shop is as essential as ever, it’s just what they offer is very different to that of 20 years ago.
Now they’re as much a destination as they are a shop. Somewhere to grab a coffee or a cuppa, get a bike fit, do a spinning session or meet others for a ride… All that and you still get to squeeze the tyres, flick the top tube and gaze longingly at the bike that’s just out of your price range.
Every voter will enter a prize draw to win goodies worth over £600 including a subscription to either Cycling Weekly or MBR, a Lezyne Super GPS Navigate computer bundle and enough Muc-Off product to get you through the season.
Winners will be announced in September. Both an overall winner for a standout road and mountain biking store will be chosen, as well as regional badges of honour for Scotland, the North East, North West, Yorkshire, the East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, East of England, London, South East and South West.
Sprinter missed out on selection for Australian in 2016 Olympics
Shane Perkins thanked Russian president Vladimir Putin after gaining Russian citizenship Credit: Shane Perkins/Instagram
Australian track sprinter Shane Perkins has thanked Vladimir Putin after being granted Russian citizenship as he targets selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Perkins, a double world champion while riding for Australia, declared his intention to apply for Russian citizenship after missing out on selection for the 2016 Olympics, and thanked Putin after the Russian president personally signed a decree approving his application.
“I’m very grateful and I’d particularly like to thank the Russian Cycling Federation, President Vladimir Putin, my coach Vladimir Khozov, and the strong team of people behind me that have made this transition possible,” Perkins said.
“I’m ready to race for Russia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I am working very hard to continually raise the bar in my performances both at training and in racing and will continue to do so every step of the way in the lead up to and at the Games.”
While riding for Australia, Perkins won bronze in the men’s sprint at the 2012 London Olympics, also winning the keirin at the 2011 World Championships and the team sprint at the 2012 World Championships.
Perkins is currently competing in the Russian championships in Moscow, where he was part of a winning team in the team sprint, and placed third in the individual sprint.
“We believe that after the season that he has had that it would be better balanced if he does the programme like it is now and not doing Eneco [BinckBank], the Vuelta and the Worlds, which would be too much, where he could go on or over his limit. All the work that we are doing towards next season would be [jeopardised],” said Spekenbrink.
“If we stretch it a little bit longer but a little less intensity, it contributes to his 2018 season and future development. The goals are still high, the Eneco Tour was nice, the Worlds and the Classics are nice.”
Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide
The 26-year-old Dutchman nearly won the 2015 Vuelta a España. In 2016, he dedicated himself to Grand Tour stage wins, taking one in the Giro and two in the Tour. In 2017, he and the team aimed for the Giro and succeeded.
His next logical step would be to challenge Chris Froome (Team Sky) for the Tour de France general classification. That could happen in 2018, but much will depend on the race routes announced later this year.
“For sure, he will race [the Tour] one day. The objective is to race the Grand Tours for GC, but it’s unsure if he will race the Tour next year,” Spekenbrink continued.
“He could race a combination of the Giro and Vuelta, or he could do the Tour de France. We want to see what’s on offer and where our opportunities are.
“And yes, we will race the Tour de France but we should not forget that the Giro is a fantastic race and we had an enormous boost from his win. We need to see what the races offer and make the best plan heading into the season.”
New Vital Concept to aim for wildcard for 2018 Tour de France
Bryan Coquard at the 2016 Tour de France
Credit: Yuzuru Sunada
Bryan Coquard is the biggest name of 15 riders heading to Vital Concept, a new French Professional Continental team set up by former professional rider Jerôme Pineau.
The new team takes Vital Concept as a principal sponsor after the agricultural manufacturer separated from Fortuneo shortly before the Tour de France. The addition of a secondary sponsor is expected to give the team a total budget of around €6 million.
Vital Concept will enter the sport at the second division Professional Continental level, aiming to secure a wildcard invitation to the 2018 Tour de France.
Key to that ambition will be star rider Bryan Coquard, the French sprinter being the most well-known of 15 riders to have already signed up to the team, having departed by Direct Energie.
Julien Morice also joins from Direct Energie, while Marc Fournier, Kevin Reza, Johan Le Bon, and Lorrenzo Manzin all make the move from WorldTour outfit FDJ.
Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Bert De Backer (Team Sunweb), and Kris Boeckmans and Jonas Van Genechten (Lotto-Soudal) are the other riders to join from WorldTour teams.
Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Corentin Ermenault (Team Wiggins) Jérémy Lecroq (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), neo-pro Justin Mottier, and Quentin Pacher (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM) are the remaining riders to have been signed so far, with Pineau hoping to add five more to create a 20-strong roster.