Philippe Gilbert beats Michal Kwiatkowski to victory at Amstel Gold Race

The Belgian champion continues his fine 2017 with a fourth victory in the Dutch Classic

Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) took a fourth career victory at the 2017 Amstel Gold Race, beating another former winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in a two-up sprint for the line.

The pair had broken away from a leading group of seven riders on the final climb of the Bemelerberg, with none of the following riders Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida), Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) able to bridge the gap to join them.

>>> Lizzie Deignan takes second as teammate Anna van der Breggen solos to Amstel Gold Race victory

The pair quickly gained 15 seconds with around 5km to ride, and worked well together until the final kilometre when they began to watch each other for the final sprint.

Gilbert, who has already had a storming season after taking victory in the Tour of Flanders, lead through much of the final kilometre with Milan-San Remo winner Kwiatkowski on his wheel.

But with a slight uphill drag and a headwind to the line, Kwiatkowski decided he would need to go early and launched his sprint from around 200 metres out.

That gave Gilbert enough time to jump on to the Pole’s wheel and wait until the final 50 metres where he came round him and jumped ahead to take victory on the line.

Belgian champion Gilbert is now just one ride behind record holder Jan Raas for the most wins at Amstel, having won the race in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017.



How it happened

The 264.6km day kicked off with a 12-man break that got up the road fairly early on.

Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R-La Mondiale), Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin), Tim Ariesen (Roompot), Nikita Stalnov (Astana), Michal Paluta (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Brendan Canty (Cannondale-Drapac), Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Kenneth Van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Pieter Van Speybrouck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie) managed to establish a maximum gap of around eight minutes on the peloton before it began to come down.

They still held over three minutes with 80km left in the day, but early impetus from Greg Van Avermaet’s BMC teammates brought the quickly down over the next 30km, and much of the breakaway was brought back by 50km remaining.

Several riders attempted to stay away, but nothing was sticking, with decisive attacks likely to come on the seventh from last climb of the day, the Kruisberg.

Lotto-Soudal’s Tiesj Benoot was the first to strike out on the climb, followed by Gilbert, with Henao working hard for his leader Kwiatkowski to make sure Sky were in the front group.

16 April 2017
52nd Amstel Gold Race
Peloton
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Benoot was soon dropped, and eventually those attacks settled into a group of seven riders, with LottoNL-Jumbo’s Bart Jan Lindeman joining six of those who would make up the final group that Gilbert and Kwiatkoswki attacked from.

There were notable absences in Kwiatkoswki, Van Avermaet and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who all failed to make it into the group that got away with 40km or so to go.

Van Avermaet, Valverde and Kwiatkowski all began to chase towards the front group, and when they hit the steep slopes of the Keutenberg climb, Kwiatkowski was the only one to be able to bridge the circa 15 second gap to the front six, with Lindeman dropped.

A seven-man group then formed behind to chase on with Van Avermaet and Valverde there, but the gap to the front grew constantly, and with 20km remaining, there was 30 seconds between the front two groups and another 30 to the peloton further back.

There were a number of attacks from the second group, but no-one was able to reduce the gap, and it was clear the winner was going to come from the front seven.

With one more ascent up the race’s former famous finishing climb the Cauberg, it was onto to one more circuit towards the finish where Gilbert and Kwiatkowski were able to make their decisive attacks and contest the finish.

Results

Amstel Gold Race 2017 (264.6km)

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, in 6-33-55
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, st
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott, at 10s
4 Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
5 Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
6 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, all same time
7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida, at 14s
8 Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-10
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-11
10 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, at 1-11


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Lizzie Deignan takes second as teammate Anna van der Breggen solos to Amstel Gold Race victory

Two riders shared third place after they were unable to be separated by a photo finish

Boels-Dolmans proved they are back to their swaggering best by bagging first and second place at the re-born Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

It was Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen who won her home race alone, some 55 seconds ahead of Lizzie Deignan, who led the sprint for second place.

>>> Seven things to watch out for in the Ardennes Classics

Unusually third place was shared by Polish champion Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) and Dutch woman Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS), as a photo-finish was unable to separate them.

Van der Breggen was part of a small group who attacked from a reduced peloton, catching three riders – including Deignan – before powering clear with 6.5km to ride. With her team-mate up the road Deignan was able sit on during the ensuing pursuit.

The 121km event left the centre of Maastricht just 20 minutes after the men rolled out, and took in the same opening circuit.

By the time they had reached the Lange Raarberg, the third of 17 climbs, Sara Mustonen (Veloconcept Women) and Marta Tagliaferro (Cylance) had built a gap of 50 seconds. However, the lumpy terrain meant the gap was constantly fluctuating, and they were never able to safely establish an advantage, eventually being caught on the Eyserbosweg.

Here it was the strongest teams who increased the speed, splitting the peloton into two distinct groups.

Over the subsequent kilometres, where the road was exposed to a strengthening wind, Boels-Dolmans worked hard on the front to keep the pace high, and when they passed the finish line for the first time, the winning group of around 35 riders had an advantage of over one minute.



The women’s race used the finish the men have used in previous years, the line just over a kilometre from the top of the Cauberg.

This first passage took the race onto the first of three laps, each containing the Guelemmerberg and the Bemelerberg, before concluding on the Cauberg. It was after the first pass of the Bemelerberg where the pace increased significantly sparking repeated attacks.

The second half of the race was extremely aggressive, attacks coming throughout.

Boels-Dolmans managed to place all six of their riders in the group of 35, setting up the win for van der Breggen.

With a group of four up the road including Amy Pieters, the Dutch team were sitting pretty in the group behind, and when that quartet were caught on penultimate climb of the Cauberg, Deignan’s breakaway formed.

WorldTour leader Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) Once again proved her class hanging onto to the ending group until the final climb, finishing in sixth place and retaining her position at the top of the overall standings.

This is the fourth edition of a women’s race at Amstel Gold. The previous three races were held between 2001 and 2013, British rider Nicole Cooke was the last winner.

The next round of the Women’s WordTour takes place in nearby Huy next Wednesday, when the women will race Flèche Wallonne.

16 April 2017
1st Amstel Gold Race Women
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Result

Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition  (121.6km)

1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans 3-15-57
2. Lizzie Deignan (Gbr) Boels-Dolmans at 55
3. Kasia Newiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energy
– Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott
5. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5, at same time
6. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb at 1-02
7. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 1-51
8. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM
9. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla
10. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Sunweb, at same time


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Elinor Barker claims GB’s second gold on final day of Track World Champs

Barker adds gold in the points race to two silvers she’d already taken at the 2017 Worlds

Elinor Barker took a sensational gold for GB on the final day of the Track World Championships, claiming victory in the points race.

It’s Britain’s second gold of the Worlds after Katie Archibald won the omnium on Friday.

Barker took two laps on the field to win with 59 points from Sarah Hammer of the USA (51) and Dutch rider Kirsten Wild (35).

The 22-year-old picked up points consistently through the race, including taking a lap midway through with Hammer.

Barker trailed Hammer by 51 to 39 points with only one sprint and 29 laps remaining, but she dealt the winning blow with 15 laps to go as she attacked.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 16/04/2017 – Cycling – 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Day 5 – Hong Kong Velodrome, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong – Great Britain’s Elinor Barker celebrates after winning Gold in the Women’s Points Race.

It took until six laps to go until Barker caught the bunch, but that propelled her into the lead with 59, with Hammer unable to take anything in the final sprint.

The Olympic team pursuit champion adds the gold and the rainbow jersey to two silvers she already took at the Worlds in the scratch race and the madison.

“I’m incredibly happy,” Barker said. “Until the last lap it was looking like another silver. I’m so happy it was a gold.”

Picture by SWpix.com – 16/04/2017 – Cycling – 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Day 5 – Hong Kong Velodrome, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong – Men’s Madison Finals – STEWART Mark and WOOD Oliver of Great Britain.

Elsewhere French pair Banjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky took the madison world title, with young British duo Mark Stewart and Ollie Wood pulled from the race before the final having lost two laps.

Katy Marchant was unable to break through the first round of the Keirin, with Germany’s Kristina Vogel taking the gold.

Academy rider Joe Truman finished 11th in the kilo, which was won by France’s François Pervis.


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Bikes from the 1950s onwards at Wilier

A look at some of Wilier’s collection of bikes going back to the 1950s

With a history going back to 1906, Wilier has a huge amount of cycling heritage. Founded by Pietro Dal Molin, the brand won the Giro d’Italia with Fiorenzo Magni in 1948.

>>> Wilier launches Cento10 Air aero road bike

Cambio Corsa gave you up to four speeds

Cambio Corsa gave you up to four speeds

It went into hiatus in the 1950s following an unsuccessful foray into motorcycles, before being resurrected by Lino and Antonio Gastaldello in 1970. Lino was killed in a collision with a car while out cycling in 2010 aged 71, but the company continues to be run by his three sons. His photo is displayed in several places around the Wilier factory north of Venice.

>>> Marco Pantani’s Alpe d’Huez record setting Wilier

A Wilier bike from the mid-1980s

A Wilier bike from the mid-1980s

Wilier’s bike collection goes back to the mid-1950s, when the acme of cycling tech was the Campagnolo Cambio Corsa rear mech. To choose between its three gears, all you had to do was to flip a lever on the seat stay to release the rear hub, back pedal to disengage the chain, flip another lever to push the chain between cogs, pedal forwards to reengage the chain and finally reflip the first lever to tighten the hub again. Pro cyclists could change gear in a few seconds.

>>> However large you like your gravel, Wilier has a bike for you

Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport rear mech

Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport rear mech

Wilier’s stock in trade was its Giallorosso frames, made by highly polishing the tubing before plating it and it has bikes in this finish going up to the mid-1980s on display.

>>> Wilier GTR Team Endurance Athena review

Engraved Campagnolo chainset in an all-Campag build

Engraved Campagnolo chainset in an all-Campag build

There’s some lovely lugwork on its older bikes along with an array of Campagnolo’s finest technology, much of which has been custom etched with Wilier’s branding.


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David Tanner aiming to continue career after season-ending crash in 2016

A training ride crash late last year left David Tanner with a litany of broken bones, ending his season and time with IAM Cycling. As bad as the accident was – Tanner spent three weeks in intensive care – the Australian never thought that it would end his career.

Almost seven months from the crash, Tanner is close to the level that saw him spend seven years at WorldTour level, but he is currently without a team and fearful his career may have been prematurely cut short.

The injuries from Tanner’s crash were extensive, which becomes clear as he lists them off.  A “collapsed and punctured lung, six broken ribs, a broken shoulder and a shoulder blade shattered into pieces. Then six fractured vertebrae. My head was opened up.”

“I did the job properly,” Tanner told Cyclingnews.

Complicating Tanner’s bid for a contract while laid up in hospital was the fact that his IAM Cycling squad and fellow WorldTour team Tinkoff where both closing up shop, ensuring a tough market for any rider out of contract at the end of 2016.

“I was close to getting a ride sorted, and that was right in the middle of all that,” he told Cyclingnews when discussing accident’s impact on signing a contract. “All my options fell through as you would expect. If you are talking to a guy who is in intensive care and maybe never finds his level again, or there are another 15 guys who can do a similar job and who can start racing in January, you will take the other guys, won’t you?”

Rather than let the injuries get the better of him, however, the 32-year-old Tanner flew back to home to Melbourne, Australia, from his European base of Monaco to start the rehabilitation process with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS). The 10-week programme, five days a week and “sometimes twice a day,” got Tanner back up to speed.

“I am very grateful those guys because they are the best to work with, probably in the world. Australia has the best support system in the world with that kind of stuff, I believe,” he said. “If I didn’t have those guys, I wouldn’t have been able to get back to the same level.”

With the VIS rehab completed, Tanner jetted back to Monaco, where he has been training on familiar roads since. Having toyed with the idea of racing some mountain bike events, Tanner has poured his time and energy into securing a ride and extending his career.

“What I fear is that if I don’t get into the right situation this year, then the cycling career could be over,” he said. “It’s one thing to do a few races, but sometimes you need the right races to show yourself to get the contract for 2018 and beyond. A few smaller local, regional races will not help in that respect. I need to find the best scenario. I am looking at all options at the moment, but it’s quite complicated.”

For Tanner, the bike has been his raison d’être since the age of the nine and a part of life he wishes to continue. While Tanner had plans for retirement, a focus on coaching and completing the UCI’s rider agent and sports director courses, those ideas have been brought forward and forced him into considering life after racing.

“I am going to keep up with the rehab and training this year. I see what the situation is, and I know what the outcomes can be, and it can either go one or two ways. Everything works out and goes back to normal, and I keep racing at a high level for four of five years,” he said.

“The other outcome is that cycling doesn’t work out due to the situation and I have to look at another option for the rest of my life. I am slowly getting my head around that which has been pretty difficult. I had planned for what I was going to do after the bike, but I was working toward that. When you are faced with that four of five years early, it is very difficult to accept.”

Time off the bike has also provided Tanner with a great appreciation and insight into racing. Whether that be mistakes made in training, recalling having never done an eye test, or having greater gratitude for the profession of professional cycling, he is hungry for a return to racing and giving it his all over the next few years.

“It has made me open my eyes that we don’t know how lucky we are. For most of us, it is our dream job and career, and I feel like a lot of guys don’t realise it and don’t make the most of it,” reflected Tanner. “It is a dangerous career, and your career can be taken away from you pretty quickly, and I have realised with my time off and training the things that I could have done in the past to be a better rider and better teammate.

“I believe what happens tends to do so for a reason and you have to make the most of the situations you have been placed in and the cards that you have been dealt. I am trying at the moment to see it as a blessing in disguise, but it is a difficult situation.”

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Amstel Gold Race 2017 live TV guide

Where to catch the Amstel Gold Race live on TV this year

Yes, we know, it’s not Paris-Roubaix but at least the Classics are still rolling on, this time with the Amstel Gold Race which takes place on Sunday, April 16.

One of the Ardennes Classics (despite taking place in the Netherlands) the Amstel Gold is usually a hotly contested affair being the first of the three Ardennes, before La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

It’ll feature another stellar line-up for the 2017 edition, including this year’s Strade Biache and Milan San-Remo champ Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), man of the moment and this year’s Paris-Roubaix winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and three-time winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors).

>>> Iconic Places: The Cauberg

Eurosport have got you covered for the whole of the Ardennes this year, with live coverage of the Amstel Gold kicking off at 1.40pm on Sunday. Don’t worry if you miss it though, there are highlights scheduled later in the evening for you to catch up on all the action.

The peloton climbs the Gulpenerberg in the 2014 Amstel Gold Race

TV schedule

Sunday, April 16
13.40-16.00, LIVE Amstel Gold Race, Eurosport
22.00-23.30, highlights, Eurosport 2

Social media/web

Official Twitter account: @Amstelgoldrace
Official website: www.amstel.nl/amstelgoldrace


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JLT-Condor’s Ian Bibby takes the glory in Chorley GP (Gallery)

Bibby took a fine solo win in the Lancashire race
– Photos by Andy Jones

Ian Bibby (JLT-Condor) took a fine solo victory in the latest round of the Spring Cup at the Chorley Grand Prix in Lancashire.

Bibby broke away from a leading group in the final lap of five of the race circuit and kept increasing his gap to those behind. It’s the second time the former national cyclocross champion has taken victory at the Chorley GP in the last three years.

Race descends off Belmont on first lap

There was also another podium spot for JLT, with Bibby’s teammate Ed Laverick taking third from the 11-strong group behind.

One Pro Cycling’s Kamel Gradek was able to take second place, separating the two JLT riders. Gradek had been one of the riders in the early breaks of the day in what was an attacking race on the hilly course.

The break lap two

The Spring Cup Series concludes on May 14 with the final race of the Lincoln GP.

Results

1. Ian Bibby JLT Condor
2. Kamil Gradek One Pro Cycling
3. Edward Laverack JLT Condor
4. Dexter Gardias BIKE Channel Canyon
5. Richard Handley Madison Genesis
6. Rory Townsend (u23) BIKE Channel Canyon
7. Robert Partridge BIKE Channel Canyon
8. Jonathan Mould JLT Condor
9. Connor Swift (u23) Madison Genesis
10. Joshua Outram (u23) Richardsons-Trek RT

Ian Bibby and Matt Holmes on the KOM

Lap four and the trio of Karol Domagalski, Rory Towend and Tom Moses head up the KOM. Towend would take the KOM prize for the race.

Sprint for 2nd. Gradek from Laverack

Podium of Kamil Gradek, Ian Bibby and Ed Laverack


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Elinor Barker and Emily Nelson take silver in historic women’s madison on Track World Champs day four

The British pair finished behind Belgium in the first female madison event held at the UCI Track World Championships

Olympic gold medallist Elinor Barker and her teammate Emily Nelson took an historic silver medal on day four of the Track World Championships 2017, finishing runners up to Belgian pair Lottie Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore.

>>> Aero is the future: Why you should be paying more attention to aerodynamics

Belgium took the gold and the rainbow bands after finishing 10 points ahead of GB, with 44 to Barker and Nelson’s 34. Australia finished third despite suffering a crash during the 30km (120 laps) race.

“I was nervous because we’d only ridden one each before, we didn’t know what to expect,” Barker told BBC Sport on riding the madison.

“I’m not surprised at all by the Belgians wining,” she added, “they are a madison nation, so hats off to them, they were impressive.”

Picture by SWpix.com – 14/04/2017 – Cycling – 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Day 4 – Hong Kong Velodrome. Women’s madison final podium.

The silver medal is Barker’s second of the 2017 championships, having taken second place in the scratch race on day one. Britain now has four medals with Chris Latham’s bronze in the scratch race and Katie Archibald’s stunning gold in the omnium.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for young sprinter Ryan Owens in the men’s sprint, as he lost out on a bronze medal, losing 2-0 to New Zealand’s Ethan Mitchell. Owens claimed fourth place on his debut in the World Championships.

Picture by SWpix.com – 15/04/2017 – Cycling – 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Day 4 – Hong Kong Velodrome, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong – Men’s Omnium Elimination Race – LATHAM Christopher of Great Britain.

Chris Latham was also unable to make an impact on the men’s omnium, with France’s Benjamin Thomas narrowly winning his first world title ahead of former champion Aaron Gate of New Zealand in the final points race of the competition.

Earlier in the day, Katie Archibald missed out on a place in the finals of the individual pursuit by 0.258 seconds, which was eventually won by the talented young American rider Chloe Dygert, who took her second world title in these championships after victory with her country in the team pursuit.

“I don’t feel fantastic, I woke up in agony. Maybe I would have slept better if I hadn’t had so many messages,” Archibald told BBC Sport

“I thought I could still give it a good go but I’m pretty disappointed and a bit embarrassed if I’m honest, I put in a lot of work.

“On paper it looks like I’ve not moved on in two years, so I don’t feel so good about that. But it’s amazing to have won the omnium world title.”

Picture by SWpix.com – 14/04/2017 – Cycling – 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Day 4 – Hong Kong Velodrome, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong – Woman’s Individual Pursuit Finals – DYGERT Chloe of USA wins Gold.

Russia’s Daria Shmeleva won the day’s only other event in the women’s 500m time trial, with Britain’s Katy Marchant unable to make the cut for a final spot.

The championships continue tomorrow into the final day of events, with the men’s madison providing the finale.


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Aero is the future: Why you should be paying more attention to aerodynamics

How aero you and your bike are dictates how fast you go, yet few of us pay it much attention. Change, though, is literally in the air

How much does your bike weigh? Chances are you’ve got a pretty good idea.

You may have even bought it on the strength of — among other things — how light it is, and have spent a good deal of money bringing this figure down even further. Good.

How about your coefficient-of-drag area? (That’s cdA to you and me). What, roughly, would you say that is?

>>> At what point does aero become more significant than weight?

If you have even the faintest idea, you’d be in a small minority and yet it is this measurement above all else which decides how fast you can ride your bike.

The aero profile of yourself and your bicycle and how you fit together to push through the wind is what determines your cdA.

And given that, at 20mph, 80 per cent of your effort is expended on overcoming wind resistance, it’s a figure you should probably get aquainted with.

Knowledge, as they say, is power. Of course, this is something you may well have done already if only there was a simple way to do so that didn’t cost more than your bike itself.

In fact, cost-effective solutions are out there — they just take a little tracking down. What’s more, the tide is turning ever faster in favour of aerodynamics.

>>> How much faster does a skinsuit make you? (video)

For the vast majority of bike rides and races, there is so much speed there for the taking in this way, that once the tools for solving the problem become widely accessible, it’s unlikely we’ll look back.

It’s probably unnecessary to introduce Chris Boardman. His accomplishments number many, and as part of British Cycling’s fabled Secret Squirrel Club, knowing a thing or two about aerodynamics is one of them:

“I think everybody knows theoretically that aerodynamics is the main force that governs how fast you go,” he says,

“but then you go into a bike shop, pick a bike up and go ‘oh isn’t that light!’ — even though we’ve read articles that tell you how unimportant it is.

“As to how you convince people,” he adds, “you don’t have to convince them, all you have to do is give them the tools to look for themselves and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Boardman was well ahead of the aerodynamics game back in the 90’s (Watson)

So convinced is Boardman of aerodynamics’ value for cyclists of all kinds, he’s decided to set up his own cycling-specific wind tunnel, due to be ready by the end of the year.

While there are plenty of bike riders of all persuasions who remain to be convinced of the value of a heavier, more aero frame or wheelset over a lighter model, Boardman is no lone voice in the wilderness.

Nearly every major bicycle manufacturer features at least one aero road model in its line-up, while the pro peloton is awash with deep-section wheels and tight-fitting speedsuits.

It’s just a matter of time and a little more awareness says Chris Yu, head of applied tech at Specialized:

“Aero wasn’t even part of the conversation until relatively recently,” he notes. “But now the conversation’s rolling. Once there’s that mass understanding it’ll flip pretty quick, I’d say.”

The basics are already in place: deeper-section wheels are an accepted and widely adopted way of gaining extra speed, while closely fitted clothing and aero-styled helmets have proved popular even in non-competitive circles.

Project Boardman

Many of the best ideas are conceived on the back of a table mat over a few beers in the pub, and Chris Boardman’s wind tunnel project wasn’t so different.

It was over a curry with aero expert Rob Lewis — a fellow member of British Cycling’s fabled Secret Squirrel Club — that the idea was first mooted.

>>> Icons of cycling: UK Sports Institute track bike

“We were sitting down having a curry,” Boardman recalls, “and he said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if we could do it for the price of this curry?

“If my hobby cost thousands of pounds then I might do it once, but if it cost this kind of amount of money then I’ll do that on a regular basis.’

“And that was the genesis for thinking how could we make a viable, accurate wind tunnel for cyclists.”

Wind tunnel access for cyclists is very expensive, and not exactly widely available, Boardman explains:

“There’s a couple of pockets in the world that have either produced a rudimentary [cycling] wind tunnel, though the air quality’s not good, others that have used commercial wind tunnels that are built for other things, and have managed to scab some time for cyclists. So it’s been dawdling on a fraction of a per cent around the world.”

By stripping out a tunnel’s automotive capabilities Boardman and Lewis found costs could be brought down massively.

There is light at the end of the wind tunnel

“Particularly if you stop working with people from the F1 industry as well, where they just put zeroes on the end cos that’s what you do,” Boardman deadpans.

The tunnel will be bookable online, offer instant, useable aero data in any format you like — be that your cdA, time saved in a 25-mile time trial and everything in-between — and as for that price?

“The cost of the curry was the starting point,” says Boardman. “Let’s just say the cost of a very good curry for a couple of people, and that’s as close as I can get it at the moment. But it’s an accessible price.”

Planning permission was secured for the facility’s Evesham site at the end of last year and is set to be finished at the end of 2017.

The tunnel itself will be housed in what Boardman calls a “performance centre” along with a physiological testing suite, shops, cafes and also the Boardman Bikes HQ.

“If you’re interested in going faster, be it in a sportive or at the highest level of pro racing, there’ll be a place that you can come and have services that are there for you,” enthuses Boardman.

“I’m not one for over-dramatisation but if it becomes a standard part of how people try to go faster, then it is revolutionary.”

What a drag

Velodrome testing yields accurate results at a lower price than the wind tunnel (Credit: Catchpole)

It won’t be for everyone though, says Dr Xavier Disley.

He heads up aero testing and kit company Aerocoach, where one of his specialisms is velodrome testing using the Alphamantis Track Aero System, which crunches power and speed numbers against various other rider stats to estimate drag factor.

It’s an accessible way into testing which claims to yield signficant gains, but Disley concedes that for many non-competitive riders the pursuit of aerodynamics just won’t resonate:

“I don’t think in the future you’re going to see packs of riders in sportives where everyone’s looking like Cancellara chewing the stem, doing a solo breakaway, it’s just not going to happen.

“But I think you’ll see more people taking a bit more care in making sure their position — and all their equipment — is better.

The aero tuck is not for everyone (Credit: Watson)

“Just having it in the back of your mind does the job too,” he adds. “But I don’t see the whole sportive market turning into people bent over on their hoods.”

But as Yu points out, there’s more to aerodynamics than just going fast.

His team at Specialized have what might be the ultimate aero R&D tool — an in-house wind tunnel, and he reports that:

“one of the things that was a pretty stark realisation for us — especially after the wind tunnel got built — was understanding that aero was much more than speed.”

>>> Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Di2

Things like stability and handling confidence, efficiency, and he reveals, “even down to things like how comfortable is kit — is it flapping or making a lot of noise? This past year we looked at rain fenders [mudguards].

“People would say ‘how is that aero?’

“Well, when you’re riding a bike, water gets kicked up and the path it travels is completely defined by the windflow over you and the bike. So to design an effective rain fender even, that’s an aero problem.”

It’s obvious that aero has a lot to offer us all. In terms of outright speed — what Yu very appropriately terms “the pointy end” of the issue — it means faster times for no more effort.

Surely a Holy Grail in cycling. The manufacturers appear to be on board and it seems all but inevitable that aero’s widespread adoption will bleed out of pro cycling and into the ranks of the everyday rider.

How it will play out over the coming years is an exciting prospect.

In terms of equipment, says Disley, the buzzword will be integration:

The Trek Madone offers serious levels of integration

“The only way to make something as fast as possible is to integrate it, so you see these bikes these days like the new Trek bikes, Scott Foils and the Canyons, and they all come with handlebars, and some of them are designed for particular wheel systems and stuff like that.

“I think what you’ll find is that manufacturers will be pushing people towards a complete system, rather than adding components together.”

Inclusive approach

It’s a prediction echoed by Yu:

“If you look at any company that’s making a fast, efficient vehicle, you have to address every part of it.

“So we’re starting to see that from bikes like our Venge Vias and some competitor bikes as well, where in order to squeeze the most performance out of it, you kind of address how everything works together, and not just the traditional thought of a bike frame as a parts hanger.”

Of course, the bicycle itself is but an ethereal wisp compared to the bulk of even the smallest of riders, and it is inevitably rider position that plays the biggest part in deciding how cleanly you slice through the air.

Once we’ve decked ourselves out in well-fitted kit and crouched low over the bars, it’s traditionally been difficult to make any further gains, but companies like Aerocoach, and Boardman with his ever more anticipated wind tunnel, are paving the way towards accessible, affordable aero testing.


Watch now: How much speed can you buy?


As Boardman says: “Without that massive piece of information of ‘what’s the aero cost of this’ you are just guessing — and we’ve been guessing since the start of racing bicycles.

“Sometimes very informed guesses, but they’re still guesses. It’s a massive assumption that lower is better and higher is worse — sometimes it isn’t, depending on the body shape.”

Testing is, he says, as much about being able to make an informed choice as pursuing outright speed:

“I’ve been in the tunnel with people who’ve had said: ‘Oh look, that’s 30 seconds faster over 40km, but it’s so uncomfortable that I’m prepared to give that up for a more comfortable position.

“And you get another time where you go, ‘That’s really uncomfortable, I’m not sure I can maintain that, but it says there’s a three-minute gain there, so I’m probably going to stick with it’.

“It just allows people to make that choice — even if they choose not to do something, they know what it’s costing them.”

Specialized’s Yu takes up the thread: “It’s complex to be able to quantify aero, and that’s why we have wind tunnels. But it’s just a matter of technology and time.

“There are a lot of ways you can get very good estimates of how efficient something is by doing testing in a velodrome or even out on the road.

“I think that will be a big part of the future of aero, that as people understand it, and crave it, they will want to be able to measure it just like anything else, so that technology will just go viral to allow that experience.”

Divisive dynamics

Despite the obvious benefits, aero will always be like politics — something that affects everybody and yet something that many people simply aren’t interested in.

For many of us, crunching numbers in the relentless pursuit of an extra mph here and there is the complete antithesis of what cycling is about — which is fettling the drivetrain on a cherished road bike before saddling up for a leisurely spin along sunny lanes.

But for others, the science and the numbers is as exciting and rewarding as the riding itself.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum you can be assured of one thing: faster, more efficient bikes and more accessible testing are on their way.

Speed, while perhaps not entirely free, will be there for the taking.


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Specialized accepts blame for Niki Terpstra’s Paris-Roubaix wreck

This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

A pre-production part and a chain of miscommunications lead to a crash that took Quick-Step Floors racer Niki Terpstra out of this year’s Paris-Roubaix, according to Specialized.

Like many riders sponsored by Specialized, Terpstra tackled the cobbles aboard the new Roubaix, which uses a spring housed in a cartridge in the steerer tube to provide 20mm of suspension to take the edge off rough roads.

Unlike other Roubaix riders, Terpestra opted to run a rigid cartridge in place of the stock version, or the stiffer, pro-only spring used by Quick-Step teammate Tom Boonen during the Classics.

As first reported by Cycling Weekly, this equipment change necessitated the creation of a prototype rigid alloy cartridge for the 2014 Paris-Roubaix winner.

According to Specialized, this pre-production unit was not intended to be raced. Through a series of unfortunate miscommunications it was never replaced with a version engineered to withstand the rigors of Paris-Roubaix.

While this failed part took the 32-year-old Dutchman out of the race, he was lucky enough walk away from the crash with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises.

Specialized notes that since the failed component isn’t found in production Future Shocks, there is no failure risk to Roubaix owners.

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