Bold blocks of colour define 2018 WorldTour team kits

Long gone are the days of Johan Museeuw’s colourful montage of tiles on his Mapei shorts, Mario Cipollini’s zebra striped Domina Vacanze kit, or Bernard Hinault’s tastefully modern Mondrian-inspired La Vie Clair jersey. The 2018 WorldTour peloton will be more like Molteni than Banesto, if the first 10 designs are any indication, with many teams favouring bold blocks of colour over eye-popping patterns.

While EF Education First-Drapac brings neon pink, a colour not seen in the WorldTour since the demise of the Lampre squad, and Movistar lightens up its blue to a hue uncomfortably close to Astana‘s, Quick-Step Floors deepened its blue to dark navy.

Team Sky moved from black to white, putting a vertical blue stripe down the center and riders’ names prominently across the upper back.

Bora-Hansgrohe also went lighter, putting a triangular aquamarine fade on a white background below its black upper chest panel. Dimension Data swapped their black upper chest for white, moving their sponsor’s green colour to the lower part of the jersey.

While Lotto-Soudal added some lively spheres on the lower back, its jersey largely retains the same theme, albeit with more white on the lower half.

AG2R La Mondiale finally shook up its angular design which has been virtually unchanged since 2011, losing the brown and blue diamonds in favour of solid horizontal panels.

Finally, Katusha-Alpecin replaced the white upper half of the jersey with a light blue while keeping the rest of the mostly red kit with the large K on the back.

There are still eight WorldTour teams with kits to unveil, so there’s still time for some pizzazz. FDJ’s new sponsor Groupama has a promising green and orange logo that, mixed with FDJ’s red, white and blue could provide an interesting artistic direction.

Click through the gallery above to see what the first 10 teams will look like in 2018.

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Lefevere allows Kittel to wear Katusha kit to highlight UCI 'hypocrisy'

Quick-Step Floors team boss Patrick Lefevere has said that he gave Marcel Kittel permission to wear Katusha-Alpecin’s 2018 kit at their team presentation in Mallorca on Saturday. The Belgian said that he did it to show the hypocrisy of the current UCI system.

After two years on Lefevere’s squad, Kittel decided to move to Katusha-Alpecin for next season after it became clear that he might have to make way for Fernando Gaviria at the Tour de France. Kittel is at his new team’s training camp in Mallorca but is still technically under contract with Quick-Step Floors until December 31, due to the way that UCI contracts are done.

Riders moving teams are usually barred from wearing any kit or riding a bike from their new team before the start of the new year. If they break this rule, they can be docked pay by the team they are leaving. In the past, some riders have been banned from even appearing in training camp photos with their new teams, but Lefevere chose to allow Kittel to break with this tradition.

“I authorised him to participate to the @katushacycling photoshoot to prove the hypocrisy of the @uci_cycling system. We @quickstep_team have to pay until December 31,” Lefevere wrote on Instagram, captioning a picture of Kittel in the new Katusha-Alpecin team kit.

Kittel was not the only new signing to don the new team jersey. Nathan Haas, who is moving from Dimension Data, and Alex Dowsett, who joins from Movistar, were also on stage at the presentation in the new kit.

Katusha-Alpecin confirmed to Cyclingnews that the teams of all the new signings had allowed the riders to wear it for the team presentation. They will return to their respective Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data and Movistar kits for the remainder of the training camp. The new additions will officially be able to wear the new team colours come January 1.

In addition to attending the team presentation, Cyclingnews was able to take a first look Kittel’s new bike for the 2018 season. Click here to look at Kittel’s Aeroad CF SLX.

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Sunday trading: save up to 45% on Spesh shoes, over £100 off a Castelli jacket and more

Revamp your wardrobe and give your bike some love with some of these wicked deals from the likes of Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Evans Cycles and many more

Specialized Comp cycling shoes were £149.99, now £81.99

Cyclestore has a special offer on Specialized cycling shoes at the moment. Unlike many shoe discounts, you can find a range of shoes from different men’s and women’s models in a variety of colours to fit sizes other than 41 or 50.

Buy now: Specialized Comp cycling shoes from Cyclestore for £81.99

Shimano Ultegra R8000 compact groupset was £1099.99, now £690.19

Get over £300 off Shimano’s latest 10/10 rated Ultegra groupset, with the most popular 50/34 chainring combo and 172.5mm cranks.

Buy now: Shimano Ultegra R8000 compact groupset from Ribble for £690.19

Castelli Perfetto Convertible jacket was £210.00, now £100.00

Castelli Perfetto Convertible Jacket Black Friday deal

We love Castelli’s rain- and windproof jackets here at Cycling Weekly. The Perfetto convertible gives you full protection for cool wet rides and the option to zip off the sleeves if you’re riding in warmer wet weather.

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto Convertible jacket from Tweeks for £100.00

Kask Protone helmet was £199.99, now from £129.85

As worn by Team Sky, Kask’s helmets feature top notch design for comfortable day-long riding. If you fancy black and blue, you can save yourself £70 on a Protone from Ribble.

Buy now: Kask Protone helmet from Ribble for £129.85

More great bargains

Garmin Edge 520 £279.99 £179.99

Oakley Radar Pace talking sunglasses £399.99 £199.99

Eddy Merckx Petit Enghien 61 children’s bike £999.00 £349.99

Exposure Diablo Mk9 front light £209.95 £157.49

Fulcrum Racing Sport wheelset £149.99 £99.99

Knog Blinder Mini Dot rear light £23.99 £13.19

Altura Peloton windproof jacket £69.99 £30.99

Michelin A1 Aircomp Ultralight inner tube £9.99 £5.49

Dhb Blok women’s halterneck bibshorts £49.99 £29.99

Shimano Ultegra 6800 cassette £74.99 from £39.95

Continental Gatorskin tyre £40.00 £25.99

Knog Straight Jacket Skinny chain lock £23.99 £9.99

Garmin Vector 2 power meter £999.99 £764.99

Alé PRR Bubbles short sleeve jersey £89.99 £39.99

Shimano Ultegra R6800 rear derailleur £74.99 £49.99

Topeak Aero Wedge Quickclip seatpack £18.99 from £13.29

Chapeau! Legwarmers £49.99 £25.00

SKS Rennkompressor track pump £69.99 £44.39

Castelli Inspirata women’s short sleeved jersey £85.00 £55.49

Zipp 404 Firecrest tubular rear wheel £999 £649.99

Castelli Nanoflex 2 bibshorts £85.00 £68.00

There’ll be more great deals on offer in Sunday Trading next week.

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Ride With… Newport Shropshire CC

We weather the remnants of Storm Brian with a diverse group of riders from the Newport Shropshire Cycling Club
– Words: Sean Lacey / Photos: Andy Jones

Based: Newport, Shropshire
Formed: 1976
Members: 264
Meets: Sundays at 9.30am in the town square with A, B, B+ and C paced runs. Wednesdays also meeting in the square for a medium-paced shorter group ride.
Website: | Twitter: @NewportShropsCC

There was an awful lot of weather-checking going on leading up to this ride, as Storm Brian was set to potentially spoil the party on Sunday morning, but luck was with us as the worst had passed through on Saturday, leaving us with the wind but otherwise fair weather.

This was reflected by the huge turnout in the town square, the Newport Shropshire CC’s traditional meeting point in the centre of the ancient market town.

It was good to see that a large proportion of the riders in the square that morning were women too — the club has made great strides recently with a big push into the British Cycling-initiated Breeze scheme; women-only rides that encourage more women out on bikes.

Catering for all abilities, there were to be four groups out today. The C ride would take in around 25-30 miles at a slower pace, the B group a step up to around 40 miles, the B+ I would be joining going to 55 miles at a 16mph average, and the fast A group usually doing 60-plus miles.

>>> Find a cycling club near you

Charlie Fisher, who has been a member of the club for three years, had started out as a newbie 14-year-old, tentatively joining a Sunday run, and was about to go out with the A group: “I remember those early days, unsure of what to expect or whether I would manage. The encouragement and knowledge passed on was invaluable. I now race for the club on track and road, and have recently represented the West Midlands competing in the Junior Tour of Ireland.”

Perfect storm
With all of the groups on the road, our B+ group is led by Paul Evans and Steve Grice, who are feeling strong today, with directions called out by club chairman and group disciplinarian Nick Jeggo.

Under his guidance the group rides in perfect formation and at a nicely consistent pace, with hazards shouted out nice and early — it’s needed; the storm may have passed, but the debris and standing water were making themselves a nuisance on the lanes.

Jeggo has been chairman for a good few years now and has seen the club build in number dramatically: “Six years ago, we found we had just 49 members, few of them were female and only one member was under the age of 19. We decided to do something about it. We became a Go-Ride club in 2012 and this has helped to revive us. Now there are 103 members under the age of 19.”

The loop today takes us through some of Shropshire’s lovely countryside and we meet at the cafe stop, at Alderford Lake, after 28 miles.

With suitable hot food, sweet treats and drinks ordered, I speak to Alex Capstick who tells me he had retired a year ago: “I joined the club a few years back through a colleague who was a member. I had ridden for years on my own but since joining have completed sportives all over the country, ridden Land’s End to John o’ Groats, and now I have more time to come along on the Wednesday and Sunday rides if I’m not somewhere exotic!”

Also present is Graham Cook, who after joining the club wanted to give something back; his insurance company is now the club’s prime sponsor.

>>> Ride With… Sotonia Cycling Club

During the morning’s ride, a bike in the group had caught my eye, a handsome steel frame with modern components; an unusual steed for a young rider. I rode with the owner, 16-year-old Oli Hulland, to find out a little more: “My school, Adams’ Grammar [whose alumni includes Jeremy Corbyn] have run a Design Technology course for the last couple of years where we design our custom-fit bikes using CAD, then follow through the complete manufacture of the bike in steel, selecting our own components to finish the build, resulting in a product we can own for a lifetime.”

With their youth and women’s contingent blooming, Newport certainly made an impression as a club that is widely diverse and benefiting from the changes going by the huge turnout today.


The club was formed in 1976 by the late Robert Prentice, a history teacher and cycling coach at the local Burton Borough School. It started out with its young members training locally and competing in circuit racing, time trials, grass track and hard track racing throughout the Midlands area.

The club still has strong links with the school as a Go-Ride accredited set-up, which coaches children as young as four up to junior racing age, and meets there on Saturday mornings, mirroring those early days.

In 1977 the club had its first Midlands area schools champion, when Richard Goddard (still an active member to this day and still racing too) won the under- 13s race at Birmingham. With increasing interest from parents and friends it was decided to open up the club to more like-minded people who enjoyed cycling; and so in 1977 the Newport (Salop) Cycling Club was formed.

In 2007 it was decided that the name of the club needed to be brought up to date and was renamed Newport Shropshire Cycling Club.

In the following years as cycling was in the spotlight much more, membership has swelled and the biggest increase has been with youngsters and women (who now form 37 per cent of the membership), partly due to the bike club influence and a flourishing Breeze Ride initiative, with Newport running the largest number of women-only rides in the area.


  • Brothers Ian and Simon Holt both started out with Newport, with Ian going on to be a criterium specialist and younger sibling Simon riding for various domestic pro teams.
  • Rob Lambton won multiple youth track National Championships and placed in the top three in a number of disciplines between 2007-2011.
  • Numerous members have completed LEJOG/JOGLE, some multiple times and in as short as four days, members even holding the relay record for a short time.
  • The Newport Nocturne, the UK’s first floodlit night race is still run by Michael and Nick Jeggo, Nick being the current chairman of the club.

Newport Shropshire club run

Ride highlights

1 Moreton Corbet
Crossing the River Roden into the village of Moreton Corbet provides a fine view of the Norman castle built around 1200AD. Although now a ruin, it’s still mightily impressive.

2 Wem
The historic town is a regular stop on the Newport runs, famous as the home of the sweet pea flowering plant, and the site of a couple of good cafes and a bike shop for rolling repairs.

3 Market Drayton
Another old town, but rather than the local attractions it’s the road out of town as it dips down into a fast descent, before turning sharply up into the woods for the testing climb of the day.

Favourite cafe
The club has a few cafes they like to visit in the area, but the favourite is the recently renamed Alderford Lake. It’s a popular destination for cyclists, with the added bonus of a 10 per cent discount if you arrive by bike. Alderford Lake, Tilstock Rd, Whitchurch SY13 3JQ.

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Katusha-Alpecin unveil 2018 team kit in Calpe

The Katusha-Alpecin team unveiled its new look for the coming season at the 2018 team presentation in Calpe, Spain today. The squad will have a splash of light blue combined with the red and white of past years for the coming season.

The team’s big signing, Marcel Kittel, went against the usual rules of not appearing in his new team’s jersey before January 1, being pictured in the jersey in a Twitter post by the Katusha-Alpecin squad.

Other new signings including Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), Ian Boswell (Team Sky), Alex Dowsett (Movistar) appeared on stage in their next year jerseys during the team presentation.

Katusha Alpecin has 26 riders for the 2018 season: Maxim Belkov, Jenthe Biermans, Ian Boswell, Steff Cras, Alex Dowsett, Matteo Fabbro, José Gonçalves, Nathan Haas, Marco Haller, Reto Hollenstein, Robert Kišerlovski, Marcel Kittel, Pavel Kochetkov, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Maurits Lammertink, Tiago Machado, Tony Martin, Marco Mathis, Baptiste Planckaert, Nils Politt, Jhonatan Restrepo, Simon Špilak, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Willie Smit, Rick Zabel, Ilnur Zakarin.

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Wiggins makes rowing debut in London indoor championships

Bradley Wiggins‘ post-cycling career in rowing continued apace, with the retired Tour de France champion taking out 21st place in the British Indoor Championships in London today.

The 37-year-old is aiming for a start in the rowing competitions at the next Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

It was an inauspicious start for Wiggins, who, according to the BBC, faltered at the beginning of the race because he thought he had false started. He finished the 2000m race in 6:22.5.

The winner, Adam Neill, clocked a 5:48.2.

Wiggins is around 25 kilograms lighter than the indoor record holder Mo Sbihi, but hopes to put on another 10kg to try and reach the 100kg mark. When he won the Tour de France, Wiggins was 67kg.

Wiggins, one of the subjects of a year-long investigation by UK Anti-Doping into the delivery of a suspect medical package from British Cycling to Team Sky, has been criticized for obtaining Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) for the corticosteroid triamcinolone during his cycling career. While he was not charged with any anti-doping rule violations, detractors accuse Wiggins of ‘gaming the system’, but the Briton asserted he had a genuine medical need for the drug.

He recently garnered the support of British Rowing chief executive Andy Parkinson, who had no problems with Wiggins competing in the Indoor Championships today. “It would be a slippery slope if we started to exclude athletes who haven’t actually been found guilty of breaking any rules,” he told Telegraph Sport last month.

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Mark Beaumont’s ultimate endurance masterclass

Mark Beaumont rode around in world in just 78 days, covering 240 miles a day. What did he discover about himself, and about the limits of human endurance, along the way?
– Photos by Daniel Gould

On day nine of his attempt to ride around the world in 80 days, Mark Beaumont found himself on the floor. A face-off between his front wheel and a pothole — one of Russia’s liberal stippling — had rendered him a battered heap on the deck.

Nursing a cracked tooth and a sharp pain in his left elbow — later diagnosed as a fracture — Beaumont dusted himself off, clambered back aboard his custom-built Koga, and continued on his unremitting tack across the globe.

If you have ever ridden over 200 miles in a single day, you probably recall a period of great suffering and woe. Perhaps you wept for a while as your entire being simultaneously throbbed, ached and spasmed with excruciating twinges. Now imagine eking out 240 miles for 78 days on the bounce.

The thought alone would have most people reaching for the TV remote and a mug of Horlicks. Yet it’s exactly this feat that Beaumont achieved, rewriting the record books, beating the previous mark by an incredible 45 days. It’s a record that will surely last for many years. But how did he do it?

>>> Mark Beaumont’s amazing around-the-world cycling record on Strava

How was Beaumont able to weather such unceasing physical stress coupled with the mental fatigue accrued from having just five hours of sleep per night, and spending an average of 15 hours in the saddle each day?

We sat down with the record-smashing Scot on home turf in Edinburgh and asked: what did he learn about himself and his ability to withstand such an extreme workload?

1 Beat the heat

Midsummer in Europe and Beaumont’s first external adversary came by way of the weather. Although temperatures on the Continent rarely make it much past 30°C, heat was nonetheless a big risk. Every hour spent cranking out the minimum pace while losing around two litres of sweat would end up taking its toll.

But Beaumont’s team had planned for ‘80 days’ with pinpoint precision. “We went into the lab three times [prior to the event] to get markers on where I was, and spent time in the climate chamber, which was really useful for adapting to hot weather and moderating fluids properly,” says 34-year-old Beaumont, whose first endurance ride was from John o’ Groats to Land’s End at the age of 15.

2 Roll with the punches… if it’s safe to do so

Any concerns with the temperature were surpassed when Beaumont suffered his ninth-day pothole mishap, just shy of the Urals in Russia. “The immediate concern was around my face and my [broken] tooth.

We thought the elbow was just bruised to begin with, but as the days and weeks went on we realised it was something more serious. We could have got it X-rayed, but I could pinch and could control the bike quite safely; it just hurt like hell.”

Despite the team’s seemingly isolated location at this stage, two days after the accident, they found themselves in the company of a British diplomat who pulled alongside the support van bearing a bag full of dental equipment to rebuild the cracked canine.

>>> ‘18,000 miles without fault’: Mark Beaumont selling around-the-world bike on eBay for charity

Impromptu surgery took place by the side of the road in Russia, with Beaumont’s performance manager Laura Penhaul assuming the role of chief practitioner, calling on the help of bike mechanic Mike Griffiths as chairside assistant.

The combination of the accident and “lots of industry, pollution and diesel-belching traffic all the way to the Mongolian border” had combined to make this a far from ideal start. Once into Mongolia, though, the going became smooth all the way to the transition point in Beijing, and for a while all Beaumont had to focus on was turning the pedals.

3 Pain is mind over matter

After a flight from Beijing to Perth, Beaumont hit the ground rolling. From the wheels touching down at the airport to riding out took just 35 minutes. To stay on course for the 80-day target, there would be no time for duty-free shopping. It was winter in the Antipodes, and now that the sting from his elbow fracture had begun to subside, there were a few other niggles to contend with.

“It’s interesting how pain manifests itself,” says Beaumont, who crossed Australia solo over a decade ago, during his first record-breaking ride. “It’s never your muscles, it’s the conditioning, the pressure points: pressure from your cleats — like riding on hot coals, bloody painful — to your backside. I can’t remember being saddle-sore in Russia or China, when my arm had been the overriding focus and concern.”

4 Adapt and overcome

Spending much of each day hunkered into the aerobars also began to tell. Beaumont was as good as living on his 60cm Koga, and the sheer volume of saddle time was an unavoidable problem.

“The worst [discomfort] issue I had was with my neck. Pretty unforgiving. Using a visor and sunglasses helped because I could drop my head even lower. My neck hurt like hell for the first three or four weeks and the only way to release it was through acupuncture.

“By the time you get into the second month, it’s amazing what the body adapts and gets used to.”

New Zealand’s South Island dawned bleak and brisk: “It was bloody cold,” remembers Beaumont. “The graveyard shift from 4am to 6am, when it was always below freezing and dark with icy roads; even my jacket had ice on it.”

This could go some way to explaining the hasty fashion in which he dispatched this leg of the journey, covering both islands in six days.

5 Power naps really work

A textbook pedal through Oceania left the team with a day in hand as they entered stage three, which began in Anchorage, Alaska, and concluded in the Nova Scotian city of Halifax.

With the back of the trip officially broken, it looked to be a downhill swoop into Paris to meet the good people at Guinness for Champagne and certificates. But it was far from a sealed deal, and stage three proved to be the toughest leg of the journey, both mentally and physically. The 80-day target still hung very much in the balance.

“We lost half a day in North America: the first part was tough on hills, and through the flatlands of North Dakota and Saskatchewan, I did the slowest miles of the whole trip because of a cracking headwind and I struggled to clear 200 miles a day.”

For the first time since the start of the journey — partly due to the slower pace — psychological cracks began to appear.

“Laura [Penhaul] was monitoring me psychologically and was quite happy until about halfway across the US, and then there were about 10 days when she was pretty worried about me. I was going deeper and deeper into myself.”

Beaumont explains how fatigue and sleep deprivation finally began to catch up with him. “For most of the trip I would have a normal emotional reaction — I’d laugh, I’d cry, I’d react according to what was happening — whereas for the second half of the US, I’d finish an entire day but then couldn’t tell you a single thing about it. I could ride 250 miles on autopilot. I’d genuinely struggle to have a normal conversation.”

To rectify this and wrestle him back from the never-never, Penhaul prescribed a new sleep strategy. “I’d make him have another sleep at lunch break [eight to 10-minute power naps],” she explains. “If that didn’t help, I’d get him off the bike again within two hours.”

6 Come to your senses

On occasion, as he began to flag, Beaumont would sidle up to the support vehicle complaining of a slow blink. Penhaul describes how she decided whether or not his fatigue at the time merited a nap or just a quick pick-me-up:

“I’d think, OK, what stimulants can I use; is it a case of let’s give him a caffeine hit, a sugar hit, is it an ice-cold towel to the face, does he need to brush his teeth to get a stimulant from that, or give him a lemon drink. All different things you use your senses for, whatever creates stimulation, you draw on.”

Thus the team punched the clock at Halifax International with time to spare — and suddenly the world Beaumont had been quietly crossing, began to sit up and take notice…

Back in Europe, Beaumont and the team began fielding calls from zealous journalists demanding to know how it felt to ride around the planet in 80 days. This was not the time for explanation; it was day 74.

Despite their now comparatively close proximity to the finish line in Paris, there was still a huge amount of riding to be done.

This was by no means over, as Penhaul underlines while recalling the run in to the French capital: “It was maybe about three or four days out from the finish and he’d been sick that morning, which wasn’t great because we were going through quite a busy environment, so he needed to be very cognitively switched on. But he wasn’t properly fuelled. He’d chucked stuff up and was struggling to keep fluid down, and I was really concerned there was going to be a stupid mistake at the end.”

>>> Tips for effective rest and recovery after cycling

7 Keep your eyes on the prize

Internal problems were just the start. “That day there was a horrendous headwind,” says Penhaul. “Plus it was the hilliest day out of the whole 80 days, so he got absolutely hammered.

“As we were descending a hill a few miles from where we were staying that night, he took his hand off the bar to swipe his Garmin and hit something in the road, spun across the road, almost straight into a barrier and into the path of oncoming traffic” — which thankfully was far enough away to see the crash unfurl.

The endurance gods were beaming on Beaumont, though, and a trip that had been three years in the making, painstakingly planned — all 18,000 miles broken down into four-hour sections — came to its breathtaking conclusion. It was September 18, 2017, and Beaumont had just ridden around the world in 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes.

What an achievement, but for someone so prone to always going one better, can he ever top it? “I’m waiting for the idea to occur, but the 80 days was my Everest,” Beaumont shakes his head. “I’m not going around the world for a third time.”

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Marin suffers £30,000 bike theft from van in Rotherham

Marin Bikes’ van is broken into in Rotherham, with eight bikes removed and vehicle left in ‘undriveable’ state

Eight bikes worth a total of £30,000 have been stolen from Marin Bikes in Rotherham on Thursday night.

The bikes were in a Marin branded van in the car park of the Aston Hall Hotel when they were removed by thieves.

The thieves caused extensive damage to the vehicle, destroying the door locks and ignition, leaving the van unuseable.

Marin were due to visit Rotherham dealer JE James on Friday with the demo bikes. JE James listed the missing Marin bikes on its Facebook page as:

2 x Wolf Ridge 9 (large)
1 x Wolf Ridge 9 (medium)
1 x Hawk Hill 3 (medium)
1 x Hawk Hill 3 (large)
1 x B17 3 (large)
1 x Rift Zone 3 (XL)
1 x Rift Zone 1 (large)

Marin are asking anyone with any information to contact them on telephone number 01709 361919 (UK), or to report to the police via 101.

Photos of the bike models stolen can be found on JE James’s Facebook page.

The incident is not an isolated one. Cycling Weekly suffered a similar theft from vans parked in Blyth, Nottinghamshire on Thursday, November 24 – around 20 miles from the location of the Marin theft.

A total of 27 bikes and various other products were stolen from three vans, with a retail value of around £150,000.

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Canyon-SRAM confirm 2018 line-up and updated racing colours

The Canyon-SRAM women’s team have confirmed their 13-rider roster for 2018, with Kasia Niewiadoma, Alice Barnes and German pair Lisa Klein and Christa Riffel bolstering the squad that already includes Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Trixi Worrack as leaders.

The team gathered in Germany this week to plan and prepare for the 2018 season, where they also revealed an update to their racing colours. The distinctive bright colours remain on the kit and Canyon bikes, with only subtle changes to the design. The team indicated they will race on disc-brake bikes.

The winner of the 2017 Zwift Academy will be revealed on December 13, with the rider joining 2016 winner Leah Thorvilson in the Canyon-SRAM line-up. Three finalists attended the German get-together and were put through their paces to decide who secures a professional contract and the final place on the team’s roster for 2018.

“I had an amazing week in Germany meeting my new team,” said Niewiadoma, who joins Canyon-SRAM from WM3.

“Immediately I felt that I’m part of the team, a lot of positive energy and good vibes motivate me to work harder for our success that I feel will come in 2018. We created a solid group where everyone knows what they want, is super motivated and inspired. I simply cannot wait for the first race.”

Boosting success

Canyon-SRAM won just seven races in 2017 and hope Niewiadoma can boost their success after winning a stage and the overall classification at the Women’s Tour in Britain.

“We at Canyon-SRAM are excited to have managed to bring together a group of some of the most talented and determined athletes from around the globe to further develop and strengthen our team for the future,” experienced team manager Ronny Lauke said.

“We are confident to have kept our quality in undulating races and see ourselves now better positioned in hillier races and aim to go for victories at spring Classics at the Women’s WorldTour level as well as winning a Women’s WorldTour stage race.”

Ferrand-Prévot is expected to return to her best after racing for just nine days in 2017 and is due to return to cyclo-cross racing at the weekend after a two-year absence. The former multiple world champion is keen to turn the page after pulling on the updated team colours.

“It’s been an important team building camp. It’s been cold but fun and we’ve shared some good moments on the bike together that have given me the feeling that we know each other well, even the new teammates,” she said.

“The 2018 design is really cool. I still love this year’s bike and kit, but if I see the new design now, it’s modern, dynamic, the new graphic at the back of the jersey, the new pattern on the bikes. It’s stylish and sharp.”

Canyon-SRAM roster for 2018: Alena Amialiusik (Blr), Alice Barnes (Gbr), Hannah Barnes (Gbr), Elena Cecchini (Ita), Tiffany Cromwell (Aus), Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra), Lisa Klein (Ger), Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol), Leah Thorvilson (Usa), Christa Riffel (Ger), Alexis Ryan (Usa) and Trixi Worrack (Ger).

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Talent or training? How a gifted young rider becomes a champion

How does a gifted young rider become a champion? Is it more about talent or training? CW asks scientists, coaches, and a teenage sensation
– Words by Jamie Ewbank

Most riders dream of winning a national or World Championship title. A few dedicate their lives to it. Fewer still achieve it. Among this successful minority, the thing they have in common is talent, in spades — talent that, for most of them, shone through at an early age.

>>> Mining for talent: How the Junior Tour of Wales uncovers the next generation of stars

But talent alone isn’t enough: nature and nurture must come together to build an exceptional set of skills. What exactly does that take? How is raw potential turned into solid gold?

Who better to ask than Tom Pidcock? Aged just 18, he has won six major titles in the past year alone: the national, European and world junior cyclocross titles, the scratch race at the National Junior Track Championships, the National Criterium Championships and, of course, a stunning ride in Norway to win the World Championship junior time trial title.

Pidcock has transitioned from youth to adult racing as though he barely noticed the step up. Did he ever regard cycling as mere play?

“I took it seriously right from the start,” admits the young champion, “because I always wanted to be successful. Even when I was an under-14, I was training. Mum and Dad would check that I wasn’t taking it too seriously, because there’s a lot of time to take it seriously later on.”

Pidcock insists that, despite being very determined to get results, he always wanted to have fun too.

“I rode to school every day from the start, went to the jumps and the BMX park, just wanting to ride my bike and have fun — nothing to do with training I’d been given, it’s just what I wanted to do.”

The right attitude is the first building block, but there is much debate over what comes next. Does innate talent trump dedicated training?

It’s about having fun as well, says Pidcock (Andy Jones)

Are our physiological limits as an adult set in stone by our DNA, or can they be stretched and redefined as we mature? Dr Laura Dugas of Loyola University Chicago founded a study group to research specialisation in adolescent athletes. Her team has made some interesting findings.

“We are all limited by our genetics, which can be considered a hard ceiling,” says Dugas.

“No amount of training or hard work can overcome your genotype, which can be interpreted as raw talent resulting from your genes. This dictates your sporting phenotype: how well you actually perform. Training is fundamental to developing as an athlete, but it is not the only predictor of whether you will actually perform.”

This understanding was brilliantly popularised by David Epstein in his book The Sports Gene, which investigated whether the ‘10,000-hour rule’ — the notion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach expert level — actually stacked up. Epstein eviscerates the foundations of the rule, explaining that, if you don’t have the genotype or raw talent, you won’t become an expert, regardless of how much you practise.

Watch: Top training myths

Dugas is quick to stress two important caveats, however. Just because some people have a higher genetic potential than others doesn’t mean that everyone who beats you is beating you on that advantage.

Most of us are somewhere towards the middle on the scale of ‘natural talentedness’.

The guy who took your KoM probably isn’t Superman; you can probably snatch it back by making some sensible improvements to your training.

Secondly, having talent isn’t enough — it doesn’t lead to success unless it is complemented with effective training. Talent can go unrealised for a wide variety of reasons.

Keep it varied

“Inappropriate training as a developing rider can lead to burn-out, which may impact upon outcomes later, as an adult athlete,” says Dugas.

“Our research group has published on this subject extensively. Young athletes who specialise too early are at a considerably higher risk of sports-related injuries, particularly overuse injuries which take much longer to heal.”

Not only excessive training but also over-specialisation can cause problems, warns Dugas. She believes that young athletes should be encouraged to pursue a wide variety of sports rather than specialising.

A young cyclist who also enjoys tennis, rowing or gymnastics will develop an array of useful skills, such as hand-eye coordination, improved endurance and balance.

According to Dugas, early specialisation is crucial only in sports that rely heavily on technique and hand-eye coordination, such as golf and tennis. In an endurance sport like cycling, a youngster may pay a heavy price for narrowing their focus too early.

“I am also wary of too many hours [of training],” adds Dugas. “Our data was clear that, for kids, as soon the number of hours per week of training exceeded their age, the risk of overuse injury jumped significantly.

“We propose that a young athlete’s weekly training hours should always be fewer than their years of age; and that the number of hours adolescents spend training and competing in their primary sport should be less than twice their free play hours.”

Hitting the sweet spot

Hitting the sweet spot between doing enough to develop an athlete’s talent and overtraining is a complex job best handled by a qualified coach. Even then, the rider’s attitude and enthusiasm may throw in some stumbling blocks.

“I first began using a training diary when I joined the Olympic Development Apprentices,” says Pidcock. “I started recording my training in Excel and my coach monitored it. That’s when it became structured, in my second year as an under-16.”

This monitoring added control, specificity and, whenever necessary, a degree of caution.

“There were specific things in the plan intended to make me better that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to do, like more time on the rollers or turbo, controlled training, and less time on the jumps.”

Pidcock pauses before wryly confessing: “Well, I say that, but on rest days I went to the dirt jumps anyway.”

Occasional extra-curricular jump practice notwithstanding, Pidcock’s dedicated training load remains around 16 hours per week — neatly complying with Dr Dugas’s fewer-hours-than-your-age maxim. Pidcock reveals that, at junior level, there is little emphasis on objective data; intensity is based on feel.

“We don’t use power at junior academy, efforts are just efforts — you go hard [by feel] or you don’t go hard.”

Michael Guilford is a British Cycling accredited coach who specialises in developing young riders.

“You need to be careful with expectations of physical improvement in young riders,” he says.

“Development in power is likely to come mostly from natural physical growth, so setting goals like ‘improve 10-minute power from 200W to 300W’ may be unhelpful for a younger rider.

“It might be more appropriate to focus on a different area such as cadence.”

According to Guilford, building good habits is more important than hitting numbers, since the numbers will change anyway as the rider grows.

Guilford was drafted in by Surrey club VC Meudon to create a youth development plan (Mike Guilford/

“Habits die hard, and the best habit for a top-level cyclist is training to be a better bike rider. Young riders are more adaptable, in particular their brains are more ‘plastic’ so they can learn techniques quicker and form a stronger drive to train. This is their real ‘headroom’ to make training adaptations.”

Guilford was drafted in by Surrey club VC Meudon to create a youth development plan after they noticed a high turnover of younger riders.

“Riders would move from team to team for material offers, such as a frameset on loan or a set of team kit.
The image I had in my mind was a tight-knit group of youngsters who belong to an aspirational cycling club.”

The solution was to create a pathway that developing riders could follow, all within one familiar, step-by-step set-up.

“What I wanted was a road racing specific training programme with a clear exit route. That way the devo [development squad] club and VC Meudon race team all tie together and create a place which young riders want to belong.”

In Guilford’s view, the traditional club run no longer serves young riders as well as it used to.

The cycling boom of recent years has changed the ratio of inexperienced to seasoned riders, meaning fewer mentors to go around, and diluting the number of learning opportunities for developing riders.

With the VC Meudon development team, Guilford’s approach is to harness the leadership skills of experienced riders to play a support role alongside conventional coaching.

“As a teenager, Chris Froome went cycling with much older cyclists, completing rides that must have pushed him to an uncomfortable level. I think this has played a big part in his dominance now. Successful athletes focus on progress in specific areas that will yield the performance they want, regardless of how uncomfortable it is.”

Release the pressure

Linking up with a good coach is one thing, then, but finding the right group of training mates matters just as much — perhaps more.

“Finding opportunities to learn skills and techniques requires more outside input and organisation,” says Guilford.

“If you hire a coach, they can easily tell you what training session to do to get fitter, but it’s more difficult to prescribe someone a session that teaches them how to sprint from a group of 120 riders.”

Getting a developing rider to sometimes push beyond their comfort zone is important but also risky, requiring careful control.

Mixing disciplines can make the training load too much for some young riders (Ellis)

This raises the spectre of the overly pushy coach or parent. In a business where reputations are made by results, ambitious coaches can do more harm than good. This doesn’t apply to Pidcock, who assures me that his coaches have always done their best to protect him from his own tendency to overreach.

“I’ve never been pushed too hard by anybody else, but I think I’ve pushed myself too hard. Before the Worlds last winter, over Christmas, I did a lot of miles and ended up having to take five days off training, after I blew up. I’d done too much.”

Pidcock has not only had to keep his own determination in check; he’s had to squeeze in schoolwork while developing the skill and versatility to switch between three different disciplines.

“I got through school and learnt things that will help me in life, although I didn’t necessarily care about the grade on the piece of paper at the end. What has been difficult is going from ‘cross to track. They’re completely different.”

This, he explains, is why he has decided to focus on just the two disciplines, road and cyclocross.

Age-appropriate training

“In winter I’d finish racing, come home, and then go straight out for training again on the track. It’s difficult on the track when you’re riding full-gas with no breaks. In road and ‘cross, you get little breaks; it is difficult without them.”

Victor Thompson ( is a sports psychologist who specialises in working with children and young athletes.

He warns against making assumptions about younger riders, who are finding out everything for the first time. No matter how talented, they are confronted with new challenges that can be extremely daunting.

“De-emphasise the rider’s lack of knowledge or unfamiliarity with the task at hand, otherwise their fear will rise,” says Thompson.

“Instead, emphasise what they do know, and keep things simple. They know how to ride their bike, have an idea of pacing, effort levels and how they feel.”

The British Cycling Academy members are taught a range of life lessons. Photo: Russ Ellis

Aim to give advice that reassures rather than complicates.

“Tell them what the course will be like; that their only obligation is to do their best and learn and take away
some positives. Preparation should be geared towards precluding stresses that could arise on race day or even on the start line.”

Of course, there are additional psychological challenges when it comes to training adolescent riders.

Irritability, lethargy and apathy can be symptoms of simply being a teenager rather than of overtraining.

Good communication and collaborative goal-setting are especially important, explains Thompson.

“Ask the rider if they are enjoying racing, liking the challenge, and want to continue or change what they are doing. Some young riders take a ‘if some is good, more is better’ view of training — they have yet to learn this is faulty logic.”

Thompson has another concern, related to distractions off the bike.

“With social media, the temptation to compare oneself to others is ever-present. Young riders can get lured
into overtraining by reading about the big miles their heroes are doing.”

Which brings us back to Tom Pidcock, and his admiration for Peter Sagan: “Well, he’s pretty good, isn’t he?” he
says in a knowing, slightly cheeky tone.

“But he has fun while he does it, and that’s what I do too. I don’t want to be boring and a goody two-shoes; I like to race a bike, have fun and win.”

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