Peter Sagan blows away sprint rivals with stunning Tour de Suisse stage win

Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) remains in overall lead as Sagan wins bunch sprint

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) produced a devastating final burst of speed as he took a comprehensive victory on stage five of the Tour de Suisse.

The world champion was well-positioned for the reduced bunch sprint into Cevio, and reacted quickly when Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) went long with 500m to go.

Sagan swung across the road to get into the German’s wheel, and was then able to come around the outside as Arndt faded to take a comprehensive victory ahead of Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) and Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), both of whom finished many bike lengths behind.

As for the overall standings, there was no change at the top, with Damiano Caruso maintaining his lead, and even managing to pick up a bonus second at an intermediate sprint late on.

How it happened

Stage five of the Tour de Suisse saw an aggressive start with no break able to go clear from the peloton until more than 70km into the race.

When the move eventually went clear, it consisted of Arman Kamyshev (Astana), Ben King (Dimension Data), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Aqua Blue Sport) and Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij).

The leaders took an advantage of six minutes onto the major climb of the day the 19km-long Simplonpass.

However the ascent took its toll, and despite King pushing the pace, the leaders’ advantage was down to 3-50 by the top of the climb with 100km still to race.

The long descent saw little change in the gap, but did see defending champion Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) crashing hard, abandoning the race and having to be taken to hospital for checks.

The other climb of the day, the third category ascent to Druogno, saw the gap drop further, before UAE Team Emirates went to the front on the technical descent and the valley roads that followed, making sure the gap was down to 30 seconds with 30km remaining.

That gap wasn’t big enough to survive to the finish, with Assleman and King fighting on to be the last to be caught with six kilometres remaining as the sprinters’ teams massed on the front of the bunch.

Quick-Step Floors had control under the flamme rouge but Peter Sagan was poised, and reacted quickly as Nikias Arndt accelerated with 500m to go.

Sagan jumped onto Arndt’s wheel, and as the German faded was able to come around, sprinting clear of the rest of the bunch to take a comfortable victory.

Results

Tour de Suisse 2017, stage five: Bex to Cevio (222km)

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 5-15-50
2. Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-Scott
3. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
4. Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana
9. Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport
10. Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky, all at same time

General classification after stage five

1. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, in 12-08-35
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 16 secs
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 25 secs
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time
5. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team, at 32 secs
6. Mathias Frank (Sui) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 34 secs
7. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, at 1-10
8. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-11
9. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-21
10. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-38


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More than 1,000 people sign petition to stop ‘dangerous’ road resurfacing

The petition was started after a rider apparently nearly crashed on a surface dresses road

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for roads to be properly resurfaced, ending the practice of surface dressing.

The petition was started by Danny Shafrir on June 11 after he apparently nearly fell off his bike while descending on a road which had been surface dressed in Theydon Bois in Essex.

The petition calls for the government to resurface roads instead of using a process called “surface dressing.” This cost-cutting technique happens when a road is scraped, layered with tar and covered in stone chippings. The stone chippings are slowly embedded into the road by slow moving traffic.

>>> Cars, taxis and lorries banned from major London junction to improve cyclist’s safety

One problem with this is that traffic can cause the chippings to accumulate on the sides of the road, creating patches of gravel which can cause dangerous for cyclists.

It’s not just rider’s lives at stake with motorists’ precious paint jobs being subject to scratches that the thrown-up debris can cause.

One person who had signed the petition, which can be seen here, said “I nearly had an accident on my bike last year because of the pools of loose chippings that get left behind.”

Another called the process “bloody dangerous” for both cyclists and car drivers.


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Staff speak of ‘culture of fear’ and ‘dictatorial regime’ at British Cycling

Independent report criticises British Cycling’s World Class Programme

An independent report into allegations of sexism and bullying within British Cycling has criticised the actions of former technical director Shane Sutton, the BC board, and UK Sport.

According to the much-delayed report, staff members spoke about a “culture of fear” within the elite-level World Class Programme, saying that they were scared to criticise British Cycling for fear of retribution and possibly losing their jobs.

These problems ramped up in the build up to the London 2012 Olympics, when the pressure for success increased and Shane Sutton presided over a “dictatorial regime”.

>>> British Cycling to ask Team Sky to leave Manchester Velodrome

Concerns about this were apparently raised by an internal report in November 2012, however the British Cycling board failed to act on the report, allowing a regime to continue that had “little interest in focusing on athletes as people” and discouraged athletes from having outside interests.

UK Sport is also the subject of criticism as it was aware of some of the problems within British Cycling highlighted in the November 2012 report, but failed to make BC’s funding conditional to implementing changes.

The report also found that there was different treatment for different disciplines, with non-track riders saying that they were treated like “second-class citizens”, and Shane Sutton, who resigned as technical director in April 2016, used discriminatory language towards female and disabled athletes.

>>> British Cycling to appoint new head of medicine as part of medical overhaul

Reacting to the report, British Cycling chair Jonathan Browning said that changes were already being made to the way the organisation operates.

“It is clear from the report that our structures and procedures, especially at the leadership level within the World Class Programme (WCP), were lacking. Since the findings were shared with us, we have rapidly made major changes to the WCP and to our leadership, operations and governance so that we can ensure that British Cycling learns these lessons and becomes a world class governing body.

“The report states that the experiences of some people on the WCP were not representative of the whole. However this does not diminish the seriousness of the allegations. We hear those criticisms clearly and have and are, committed to acting on them.”


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Watch: Cyclocross pro stops disc brake using his hand in attempt to prove their safety

Former American Cyclocross champ adds his “two cents” to the debate

Cyclocross powerhouse Jeremy Powers has entered the disc brake fray by stopping a disc with his hand in a video posted on Instagram.

Adding his “two cents” Powers, who rides for SRAM-sponsored Aspire Racing team, supported their use stating that newer disc brakes were a “game changer” by spinning his rear wheel and duly stopping it with his hand.

The video comes after the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) issued an announcement that they had banned disc brakes at their national championships. After reading about the announcement, the American admitted he was “curious” about the controversy and wanted to run a test.

>>> Watch: SRAM Red eTap HRD groupset review

Being a cyclocross rider, where disc brakes are legal, Powers is a big user of the stopping system but confessed that he didn’t disagree with some of the issues raised by road riders competing in a large field

However, in the video the rider laughed as he stopped the disc with his palm. “There is nothing that will cut you any longer” he said, while simultaneously spinning the wheel and holding his hand against the rotor.

>>> Are disc brake covers the answer?

The former US CX champ will certainly add fuel to a debate that has been raging on for some time. The UCI is currently trialling the use of disc brakes in professional road racing.


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Mark Renshaw: how to be a lead-out rider, and why he works so well with Mark Cavendish

What does it take to be a lead-out rider? Cycling Weekly spoke to Australian Mark Renshaw — one of the best in the peloton and Mark Cavendish’s team-mate — to find out

In front of every great sprinter is usually a great lead-out rider. Someone to safely navigate them through the chaos of a bunch finish, ensure they don’t waste energy they need for the sprint, keep them out of trouble, and get them to the perfect place so they can launch their attack and — hopefully — take the victory.

While the sprinter may be the one that takes the spoils, gets the trophies and enjoys the podium celebrations, often they wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for their lead out. It’s a selfless job but one that comes with responsibility — mess up and it’s not your own chance at a race win you could end, but that of your team-mate.

One of the peloton’s most experienced lead-out men is Mark Renshaw, chief lieutenant and right-hand man to Mark Cavendish. This season is the seventh the duo has raced together having first paired up at Colombia-HTC in 2009.

The 34-year-old Australian has been alongside the Manxman at almost all of his major career victories on the road; of Cavendish’s 30 Tour de France stage wins, Renshaw has played a role in 19 of them.

So what does Renshaw thinks are the key traits to being a lead-out rider?

“Experience — that’s probably the main thing. If you don’t have the experience then I suppose the feeling for positioning is probably the most important,” Renshaw told Cycling Weekly.

“I came from a sprinting background so I know what position you need to win, but I never had the legs to win. I know the position but I never had the power. I was always good over a longer sprint, I suppose that’s how I fell into doing lead-out. I just missed that little bit extra punch.”

Of course, having a good sprinter to pair with, Renshaw admits, does make him look even better at his job. Before Cavendish, Renshaw led-out Thor Hushovd at Credit-Agricole and though he says he did some of his best lead-outs then, the Norwegian didn’t have the same pure speed to always get the result like Cavendish.

“I probably did some of my best lead-outs for him as well but he didn’t have that pure speed that Cavendish has,” Renshaw says. “He was always second, third or fourth, probably coming from the best position but not having the best power.”

When HTC disbanded in 2011 Renshaw and Cavendish parted ways, before reuniting in 2014 at Omega Pharma-Quickstep and moving to Dimension Data together in 2016. This season however, both riders have been hampered by injury and illness – Cavendish has been out with glandular fever and hasn’t raced for three months, while Renshaw suffered an ankle injury in a crash at Scheldeprijs and only returned to racing at the Tour of California.

The duo are set to race together at the Tour of Slovenia (June 15-18), with Cavendish hoping to prove his fitness to get selected for the Tour de France which starts in just over two weeks’ time.

Such was Renshaw’s impact when he and Cavendish first paired up, that first season they partnered together is still the most prolific of Cavendish’s career so far with 22 wins. Though the Australian says the partnership didn’t “click straight away” recalling their first race on stage three of the Tour of California when he finished third and Cavendish fourth, they rectified things pretty quickly — Cavendish took wins the next two days.

“Our characteristics are complete opposite,” Renshaw says of their relationship. “That’s probably why it works really well in the race because one guy has one certain type of view and the other guy has another view and we meet somewhere in the middle. If you had two hot heads or two really calm guys it wouldn’t work.

“To be a sprinter you have to be aggressive because that’s what sprinting is. Leading out you have to be more patient and still have that little bit of aggressiveness, which is probably what my traits are.”

Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish after winning stage one of the 2016 Tour de France (Credit: Sunada)

Now, the team directors will do most of the research before a race into the route and how the finale might pan out, with experienced riders like Renshaw, Cavendish and Bernie Eisel adding their thoughts. Yet while there may be a “perfect scenario” to how a sprint pans out, it doesn’t often work that way.

“More often than not you plan on the perfect scenario and it’s up to the riders to juggle on the run in and make it work,” Renshaw says, explaining he and Cavendish work almost entirely on instinct now.

“He leaves it up to me to make sure he’s in the right position,” Renshaw explains. “I try to look behind every now and then to make sure he’s there; if he loses the wheel he’ll yell out. If he can let me know quick enough then I can hesitate that moment and wait for him to come back. Otherwise there’s not so much talking going on.”

A lead out rider may be one of the highest pressured roles in cycling, where making split second decisions could mean the difference between winning or losing. But the high pressure isn’t a problem to Renshaw.

“That’s why I enjoy it, the part of the job I enjoy doing.”


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‘Chris Froome’s not the same rider he was in the last few years, but that he’s still the man to beat’

Astana general manager tips Froome as the favourite for the Tour despite falling short at Dauphiné

Chris Froome (Team Sky) lacks that same magic that he had in previous years, but remains the favourite in the upcoming Tour de France, says Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli.

For the first time since 2012, Froome will go in to the Tour de France without having won a race earlier in the year. His last win was the time trial in the Vuelta a España on September 9, 2016, a race in which Nairo Quintana (Movistar) narrowly beat him to the overall win

In last week’s Critérium du Dauphiné, however, Froome showed moments of brilliance. He went on the attack one day, trying to drop Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang and Fabio Aru, and Richie Porte (BMC Racing). Fuglsang won the race overall.

“I think that Froome’s going to be strong like always,” Martinelli told Cycling Weekly.

“But what he showed in the Dauphiné is not Froome from last year or two years ago. That’s been the case over the last year. However, the man to beat at the Tour will still be Froome. It’ll be Froome because he has a strong team and knows how to win the Tour.”

>>> Chris Froome ‘on track for Tour de France’ despite falling short at Critérium du Dauphiné

Australian Richie Porte, Froome’s former helper at Team Sky, won the time trial and only lost the yellow jersey to Fuglsang by 10 seconds on the final stage.

Froome attacked Porte over the penultimate climb and at one point, held the virtual leader’s jersey. However he lacked the punch to resist Porte’s pursuit, saying that he may have spent too much energy earlier in the stage.

“No, I don’t think it’s Porte [who is the man to beat],” Martinelli added. “Someone who wins three Tours is able to win the fourth.

“But for sure, his adversaries have become stronger, more competitive. He’s going to need something extra compared to the other years.”


Watch: Tour de France contenders – Chris Froome


The turquoise Kazakh team head to the Tour de France with a spring in their step. Ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné, the team only had one win in 2017, with star rider Fabio Aru in unknown form.

Aru crashed and injured his knee, forcing him to miss the 100th Giro d’Italia starting on his home island of Sardinia. However at the Critérium du Dauphiné, after three months without racing, he showed to be back on top.

The Sardinian attacked several times and helped Fuglsang to two stage wins and the overall title. The Dane had been appointed Tour leader since the beginning of the 2017 season, and his performance underlined his status

“We have two important riders instead of one,” Martinelli continued.

“What Jakob showed is that he is in condition to do well at the Tour. I think that we can start with Jakob as captain, who knows Fabio is at the start. Fabio can be competitive in the Tour like how he showed in the Dauphiné. It’s better to have two options rather than one.”

>>> Analysis: It’s advantage Porte, but Chris Froome has reason for optimism as the Tour approaches

Aru has a Vuelta a España victory and a second place in the Giro d’Italia on his palmarès. Fuglsang’s best performance in a Grand Tour is seventh place in the 2013 Tour de France.

“I want to think about getting to the Tour and defining the roles there. In this moment, I want to be content with what we’ve done. To win the Dauphiné was a big thing,” added Martinelli.

“We needed that win to keep us relaxed and to know that we’ve worked well heading towards the Tour. The strategy of the race will be decided closer to the Tour, [General manager Alexandre] Vinokourov will have a hand in that

“It’s important to have two men who’ve shown at the Dauphiné to handle themselves against those who’ll be the best at the Tour. In the Dauphiné this year, the only person missing was Nairo Quintana. Other than him, everyone was there who will be contesting the Tour.”

>>> ‘What makes me the rider I am?’: Critérium du Dauphiné winner Jakob Fuglsang on what”s behind his success

Martinelli followed Aru training on the Italian championship course in Ivrea on Tuesday. It will be his only race before the Tour de France begins in Düsseldorf on July 1.

“The Dauphiné gave something extra, that Jakob merits the leadership in the Tour. Everyone is also thinking of Fabio, including us, but in this moment, it’s important that we have a bit of serenity back in the team. A little bit of faith. That’s important,” said Martinelli.

“I saw that Fabio was calm today, knowing that he worked well for the Tour. He’s on a good path and that’s going to make a difference.”


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Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen dies

Verbruggen was UCI president from 1991 to 2005

Dutchman Hein Verbruggen, former president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), died last night due to leukaemia.

The 75-year-old presided over cycling’s governing body from 1991 to 2005, when he was succeeded by Pat McQuaid, and remained an honorary president. He also was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), chairing the coordination commission for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

More to follow…


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UCI suspends Bardiani CSF for double doping positives

The UCI has issued a 30-day ban to the Bardiani CSF team, effective June 14, 2017 through July 14, 2017 for having two doping positives in a 12-month period.

Before the Giro d’Italia, the UCI announced that Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi had been issued adverse analytical findings (AAFs) for GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) in out-of-competition controls taken on April 25 and 26, respectively.

Their anti-doping rule violations were confirmed by the B-sample analysis weeks later, and both were fired from the team. Bardiani-CSF was allowed to complete the Giro d’Italia before the UCI’s Disciplinary Commission could rule on any team-wide suspension.

The UCI Anti-Doping Rule 7.12.1 allows for teams with multiple AAFs in a 12-month period to be issued a ban of 15-45 days.

The Italian team will miss the Tour of Austria, but will return in time to compete in the Trofeo Matteoti on July 16, and the Tour of Utah on July 31.

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UCI bans Bardiani CSF for 30 days after Giro d’Italia doping scandal

The Pro Continental team have been banned for 30 days after two riders tested positive for growth hormones at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year

A UCI ruling has suspended Bardiani CSF for 30 days after the governing body concluded its investigation into two riders from the team who  tested positive for growth hormones earlier this year.

In accordance with rule 7.21.1, if two riders on a team are caught utilising banned substances the team will subsequently be banned for 15 to 45 days, meaning this isn’t the harshest sentence they could’ve received but nor is it a slap on the wrist.

Bardiani CSF will be banned from racing for the next 30 days forcing them to miss the Tour of Austria which they had hoped to have contended for next month (July 2-9). However, the ban is limited to international races meaning that Bardiani riders can take place in the Italian National Road Race Championships on 24th and 25th June.

The pair, Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi, had tested positive for GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) on the eve of the 2017 Giro d’Italia but had relied on their B samples to prove their innocence. Their hope was soon vanquished when it was revealed their B samples tested positive too and they were to be sacked from their team.

The UCI ban starts tomorrow keeping the team out of international races until the 14th July before they take on the Tour of Utah at the end of the month.


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Larry Warbasse claims heroic breakaway victory on Tour de Suisse summit finish

Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) moves into yellow as Aqua Blue Sport rider takes his first pro win

Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) took a heroic victory on stage four of the Tour de Suisse as he held off the general classification contenders to win on the first summit finish of the race having spent the day in the break.

Warbasse was the last surviving rider from a four-man break, having gone solo early on the final climb to the finish at Villars-sur-Ollon.

Despite attacks behind from the likes of Matthias Frank (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin), Warbasse was able to cross the line with a comfortable margin of victory, with second-placed Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) moving into yellow.

How it happened

A fast start to the day made it difficult for a break to be established, with it taking a number of kilometres for Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Antoine Duschesne (Direct Energie) and Nick van der Lijke (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij) to move clear.

They established a maximum advantage of more than eight minutes which slowly came down as the peloton approached the final two classified climbs of the stage.

The first category Col de Mosses was crested with 27.2 km remaining on the 143.2km stage, and saw the first action from the break as Warbasse attacked, dropping Boom in the process.

That meant a trio of riders who started to final climb, the hors-categorie ascent to the finish at Villars-sur-Ollon, with a 4-30 advantage over the bunch.

The  break didn’t stay together long as Warbasse raised the pace to go solo, but struggled to maintain his lead over the bunch as FDJ led the peloton and reduced the gap to the front of the race to 2-30 with 7.4km to go.

That pace was enough to drop the yellow jersey of Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) as the bunch was reduced to around 20 riders as the climb began to bite.

The first attacks came with five kilometres to go as Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) was the first to be able to go clear from a chasing group of Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Marc Soler (Movistar), Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin), and Matthias Frank (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Pozzovivo’s attack further reduced Warbasse’s lead, which was down to little more than a minute with three kilometres remaining.

Spilak set the pace among the chasers to catch Pozzovivo, before launching a couple of attacks himself, neither of which were successful.

However a better move came from Frank, who had previously looked to be suffering at the back of the group, going clear with two kilometres to go.

Frank was able to open a few seconds lead over the elite group, but Warbasse was still up the road with a 50 second lead.

The American’s victory looked to be in the bag even as Frank had him in his sights on some of the longer straights in the last couple of kilometres.

In the break for the whole day, Warbasse looked exhausted as he approached the line, raising his arms in victory as Spilak led the chasers home while Frank was caught in the final few hundred metres.

Results

Tour de Suisse 2017, stage four: Bern to Villars-sur-Ollon (150.2km)

1. Larry Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport, in 3-48-55
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, at 40 secs
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at same time
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 44 secs
6. Mathias Frank (Sui) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 47 secs
7. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 59 secs
8. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana, at 1-07
9. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, at 1-20
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-34


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