Simon Yates attacks rivals to win Paris-Nice stage six

British rider Simon Yates takes his first victory of the season, as Julian Alaphilippe fights to keep his Paris-Nice overall lead

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) launched a stinging solo attack during stage six of 2017 Paris-Nice on Friday to net the victory and move up into the top 10 overall.

Yates made his move on the climb-filled stage from a lead group of around 25 riders just before the summit of the second pass of the Col de Bourigaille with 18 kilomeres left to go. The remnants of the day’s eight-man escape group – Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) – had been caught just a couple of kilometres before.

None of the main favourites reacted to Yates’s move, including race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors). As Yates crested the climb and hit the twisting descent, he quickly built up a significant lead.

Despite a concerted chase behind from the favourites’ group led by Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) – working for Sergio Henao – and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) – working for Richie Porte – Yates continued to gain time.

>>> Paris-Nice 2017: Latest news, reports and info

By the base of the final 1.3km climb to Fayence, Yates had 45 seconds in hand.

As the chasers hit the climb, Porte was the first to attack, dragging Alaphilippe with him and with Henao in close attendance.

Porte and Alaphilippe faded as they reached the steepest section of the ascent, and were passed by Henao, who accelerated ahead – but it was too late for the Colombian national champion to overhaul Yates, as the British rider crossed the line with his hands in the air.

Henao came home for second place, 17 seconds behind Yates, with Porte settling for third at 26 seconds.

Alaphilippe staged a comeback aided by team-mate Dan Martin to finish in fourth place and retain his position in the yellow jersey. Martin appeared to sacrifice gaining any time for himself, waving Alaphilippe through to take the higher placing.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) finished in eighth place, at 32 seconds, and now sits seventh overall.

Yates’s move means he now moves up to eighth overall, one minute and 37 seconds behind Alaphilippe. Having lost time in the weather-affected opening stages of the race, Yates said after the finish that he had to try something to claw back time.



“I said to myself why not, I have nothing to lose,” Yates explained. “If I get caught, I get caught. I tried and it worked.

“It’s one of the biggest races to do, one of the hardest. I’m sure happy to win again, my first of the season. I’m still quite far behind [on GC], so it will be hard to take the time back. We’ll see what happens.”

Yates will not have to wait long for another climbing challenge, as the race hits the highest point in its history on Saturday’s stage seven, with a finale atop the first category climb of Col de la Couillole. The 2017 edition of Paris-Nice concludes on Sunday, March 12.

Result

Paris-Nice 2017, stage six: Aubagne to Fayence, 192 km
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, in 4-37-51
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 17 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 26 secs
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 29 secs
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at same time
6. Jon Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 32 secs
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
8. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, all same time

General classification after stage six
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, in 21-58-22
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 36 secs
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 46 secs
4. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 57 secs
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-20
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-31
7. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-34
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 1-37
9. Jon Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-04
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb, at 3-08


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Peter Sagan sprints to Tirreno-Adriatico stage three win as crash disrupts finale

Sagan beat Elia Viviani to the line on the third stage of the Italian race

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his squad’s second WorldTour victory as he sprinted to the win on the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

A crash in the final 500 metres of the race split the peloton, leaving many sprinters like Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) out of contention for the win.

Team Sky put in the best lead out for their sprinter Elia Viviani on the winding and slightly undulating run to the finish with the Italian launching his effort for the line first.

He wasn’t able to do anything about the power of world champion Sagan though, who roared out of the bunch behind Viviani and left him over a bike length behind as he took his first WorldTour win of the season.

Sagan had complained of illness earlier this week, abandoning Strade Bianche last weekend, but appears to be back on top form as he builds towards the spring Classics.

BMC’s Rohan Dennis took over the lead in the overall rankings, finishing ahead of his teammate Greg Van Avermaet who wore the leader’s blue jersey into the stage start.

The stage’s main activity had been dominated by Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Andrei Grivko (Astana), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Luca Wackermann (Bardiani-CSF), Luri Filosi and Kohei Uchima (Nippo-Vini Fantini), who formed the early break of the day and established a maximum 3-00 gap.

As the sprinters teams began to work a bit harder in the bunch, just Gougeard, Grivko and Filosi remained with around 35km to go.

Things broke up further and Folosi dangled out on his own with around 10 seconds on the bunch with 21km to go, before getting caught close to 19km remaining, with a sprint finish setup.

Sagan and the other sprinters will need to wait a bit longer for another chance at victory though, as the race heads into its queen stage on Saturday with a 171km ride to the summit finish on the Terminillo.

Results

Tirreno-Adriatico 2017 stage three, Monterotondo Marittimo – Montalto di Castro (204k)

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-51-59
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
3. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
6. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Andrea Palini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
9. Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Sunweb
10. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb

General Classfication after stage three

1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, in 11-07-13
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team


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Watch: Tim Stevens – The Racer (video)

Short film follows former Great Britain rider Tim Stevens as he trains to ride the East Surrey Hardriders time trial, prior to his untimely death in 2016

Former Great Britain cyclist Tim Stevens in the subject of an engaging short film, showing the Surrey rider talking about his career and training for a comeback at the East Surrey Hardriders time trial in 2016 at the age of 55.

Stevens was a well-known and popular figure in time trialling and road racing, and the film includes an interview with former pro cyclist Sean Yates who was a contemporary of Stevens in their early days of racing.

Film-maker Duncan Murdoch wanted to capture Stevens as he prepared for, and raced, the tough early-season time trial that he won on several occasions during his riding career. Stevens also counted several big domestic road race wins in his palmares, and represented Great Britain in the world championships team time trial in 1985.

The film has extra resonance as shortly after filming had finished, Stevens was diagnosed with cancer and died on August 30 2016. The East Surrey Hardriders was his last race.

>>> Obituary: Tim Stevens (1960-2016)

“I contacted him a couple of years ago with the idea for the film,” Murdoch told Cycling Weekly.

“He hadn’t been riding for a while, and just missed racing and wanted to make a comeback. So it all came together. The idea of the film was Tim’s comeback to do the East Surrey Hardriders, and his preparation for that.”

Murdoch added: “I hope it’s true to Tim and his character, and does him justice. He was one of the country’s best cyclists, but because he was not a self-promoter, he went under the radar.”

The film was shown for the first time in front of a public audience at the Maison du Velo bike shop and café in Reigate last Friday, March 3, and is now available to view online.


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Dave Brailsford says he’s not thinking about quitting Team Sky

“My thoughts are about what’s good for the team and what’s right” says Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford

Sir Dave Brailsford says that he is confident in remaining Team Sky‘s boss despite increased scrutiny from the British parliament’s Select Committee and UK Anti-Doping.

He watched his cyclists ride off to the start of Tirreno-Adriatico‘s stage three in central Italy on Friday. Geraint Thomas stepped off the bus with a smile, having won the stage on Thursday afternoon in Pomarance.

Brailsford turned his attention to a telephone conversation. The discussion could have been about Thomas’s solo win or about an impending, and reportedly damning, independent report into the culture at British Cycling.

“I’ve got nothing to say,” Brailsford told Cycling Weekly as he headed to the front door of Sky’s bus.

>>> Team Sky chair backs Dave Brailsford as team hits back at ‘inaccurate’ and ‘untrue’ assumptions

“No,” he said when asked if he was thinking about quitting the British WorldTour team that he started in 2010.

“My thoughts are about what’s good for the team and what’s right. We’re just here to win as many races as possible and do it the right way and that’s my primary concern and that’s what I think about.”

Currently the team is under attack and cyclists like Thomas are left to answer the media’s questions about issues that revolve around Brailsford, Doctor Richard Freeman and Bradley Wiggins.


Watch: Dave Brailsford questioned by Select Committee


If Brailsford did step aside to allow things to cool down, it is hard to imagine how the ship could still sail without its main architect. Brailsford did not have that answer, either.

>>> Everything you need to know about the British Cycling/Sky mystery package saga

“It’s not for me to answer that but it’s certainly something that I’ve worked on for a long time. I would say that it’s something personal for me, but it’s Team Sky, it’s a team and there’s a collection of individuals who are all doing a brilliant job and they deserve the opportunity to do their jobs without having to deal with issues that they shouldn’t have to deal with,” he continued.

“I guess I’m part and parcel of this project but, like I say, from a personal point of view, you’ve got to put the team first and the riders first, and think about what is good for them and what’s good for our owners.

“What is going to make people proud.”

Brailsford, 53, looked as fit as ever. Despite the storm brewing at home in Great Britain, he smiled comfortably next to Sky’s black bus.

>>> Team Sky riders rally to show support for Dave Brailsford

“I’ve done it a long time. Managing people has never been easy, never has been. There’s always issues. There’s always an issue, it’s always difficult. Over the years, you learn to deal with that and you try to deal with the issues and do the right thing,” he explained.

“I think one of the key things in general is to step back and dispassionately look at the facts. I think that’s important so that you don’t get caught up in the emotion of it all and react emotionally.

“My job is to oversee and think, what is best for the team now, the partners, the riders and Chris [Froome] and think how do we make sure we perform and win races, which is what we’re here to do.”

Brailsford’s name, though, is in the British daily newspapers frequently, not for the team’s performance, but for issues stemming back to the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné and Freeman’s actions.

“It appears as though the ship is sailing through the worst of storms with the biggest sporting events like the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France on the immediate horizon that deserve 100 per cent of his attention.

“It’s the most high profile [issue yet]. I don’t think it’s the worst,” he added. “It’s the most high profile, which adds another dimension to it.”

In recent days, more than half of the team’s riders wrote in support of Brailsford staying onboard as principal. Chris Froome, who is returning to Europe from a South African training camp, was notably quiet.

The three-time Tour de France winner has reached out to Brailsford. He kept the chat private and said, “We had a good conversation, that’s it.”

Claudio Lucchini, Sky’s bus driver, leaned out the door to get Brailsford’s attention. Brailsford, who seemed to be enjoying the chat, turned away and climbed on board for a ride south to the stage finish in Montalto di Castro.


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Fed Cup: Great Britain to face Romania on clay in Constanta

Johanna Konta (left) and Heather Watson (centre)

Great Britain will travel to the Black Sea city of Constanta for their Fed Cup World Group II play-off against Romania.

The home city of Romanian number one Simona Halep will host the tie on outdoor clay on 22-23 April.

Britain are looking to return to the elite level of the competition for the first time since 1993, but will go into the tie as heavy underdogs.

Halep, the world number four, has already said she will play in the tie.

Romania have four other players in the top 100.

GB captain Anne Keothavong’s team kept their promotion hopes alive last month with a 2-1 win over Croatia. and while she will hope to call on Johanna Konta, the world number 11 is not at her best on clay.

British number two Heather Watson is currently ranked 108 but has a strong Fed Cup record with 25 wins and only seven losses.

It is the third time Britain have reached the World Group II play-offs in the past six years, with the team then captained by Judy Murray losing to Sweden and Argentina in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

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Swimming World Presents “Up & Comers: Emma Warner”

Up & Comers: Emma Warner

Swimming is a demanding sport that requires not only mental and physical endurance, but also perseverance. Emma Warner, 14, of Sedona Swordfish Swimming and Mingus High School in Arizona knows all about “perseverance”—not only for her skill at managing the life of a student-athlete, but also for her strong will as she battles thyroid cancer.

In January of 2015, Warner was diagnosed with the disease, and she’s had three surgeries since then. Still, she’s maintained a positive attitude and a dynamite 4.0 grade point average.

To learn more about Warner and her perseverance, check out the March issue, available now!

march-2017-cover-ryan-murphy

[PHOTO BY MATT RUBEL OF RUBEL PHOTOGRAPHY]

Not a subscriber?  Subscribe With This Special 3-Year Offer! Swimming World Magazine gives you unlimited access to all online content on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com and access to all of the back issues of Swimming World Magazine dating back to 1960!  Visit the Swimming World Magazine Vault.  

Order a single “Collectors” issue print copy here or download a single .pdf copy here.

Take a video tour of the current issue of Swimming World Magazine…

FEATURES
014 AMERICAN SWIMMING TEAM (Part IV): PRESENT—THE CORE AND BASE OF THE TEAM
by Chuck Warner
In this fourth of a six-part series on the American Swimming Team, Swimming World addresses the questions: Where do American world-ranked swimmers come from? Which LSCs are most successful at developing them? And why?

016 TEXAS—NOBODY BETTER
by Dan D’Addona
After dominating the last two NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, the University of Texas is poised for a three-peat…and they have the talent to win big again!

020 STANFORD—THE PROHIBITIVE FAVORITE
by Dan D’Addona
Not even a relay disqualification—which hurt Stanford’s chances of winning last year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships—can prevent the Cardinal from taking the title at this year’s meet.

024 FAMILIAR FAVORITES
by James Sica, Diana Pimer and David Rieder
At the start of every season, there’s always hope for a new team to make its way to the top. But in NCAA Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA swimming circles, the top teams just have a way of continuing their winning traditions.

028 OLYMPIC-SIZED DREAMS COME TRUE
by Annie Grevers
Twenty-one-year-old Rio rookie Ryan Murphy navigated the Olympic waters last summer like a seasoned sailor and produced golden results, winning three gold medals and setting a world record in the 100 meter backstroke.

COACHING
009 SPECIAL SETS: TAPER TIPS
by Michael J. Stott
University of Georgia associate head coach Harvey Humphries along with Stanford women’s head coach Greg Meehan and associate head coach Tracy Slusser talk taper

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: MIKE PEPPE
by Michael J. Stott

012 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE MISCONCEPTIONS: VIDEO
by Rod Havriluk
Two common misconceptions are that video is an appropriate technology to evaluate the technique of competitive swimmers…and that the video of a champion provides an appropriate model for effective technique. In reality, video does not provide the quantitative data necessary to evaluate technique accurately and unequivocally.

032 RESISTANCE TRAINING: DRAGSOX, PARACHUTES AND OTHER TOOLS
by Michael J. Stott
This is the third and final article of a multipart series on resistance training and how coaches are using it to make their athletes stronger and faster in the water.

043 Q&A WITH COACH BILL WADLEY
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN MATT McHUGH
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING
027 DRYSIDE TRAINING: THE IM DRYLAND WORKOUT
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER
047 UP & COMERS
by Taylor Brien

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS
008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT
034 2017 SWIM CAMP DIRECTORY
048 GUTTER TALK
050 PARTING SHOT

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12 of the most beautiful cycling sportives in the UK

We pick out a dozen of Britain’s most scenic cycling sportives taking place during 2017

Cycling Weekly South Downs Spring Sportive

When: 1st April 2017
Where: East Sussex, Plumpton
More information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-south-downs-spring-sportive/

The South Downs Spring Sportive is the ideal way to ease yourself back onto the bike after the winter and with three varied courses and distances there’s no better way to start your sportive season than in beautiful East Sussex. Heading off from Plumpton, riders will enjoy a loop that will cover most of East Sussex’s stunning scenery. You will experience mainly flat, long-ranging, and quiet countryside roads, you will flirt with some of the climbs in the local area but this sportive is one for the scenery. To finish you will cross the picturesque River Ouse to complete what should be a enjoyable spring time sportive.

>>> 12 of the best upcoming cycling sportives to ride


Wiggle South Downs 100 Sportive

When: 22nd October 2017
Where: West Sussex, Chichester
More information: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/wiggle-super-series-south-downs-100-sportive-2017/

This October time sportive is another one that takes in the beautiful Sussex area; it might not be in the heat of the summer time but it should still promise some spectacular riding as you will take in parts of the South Down National Park. Starting in Chichester, the South Downs Sportive will take in surrounding areas of Petersfield and Billinghurst. And with three different courses on offer which will suit riders of all abilities it’s a sportive that’s not to be missed.


Wiggle Mega Meon Sportive

When: 23rd July 2017
Where: Hampshire, Waterlooville
More information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-mega-meon-sportive/

This summer corker is another must-do sportive; the Mega Meon will not leave you disappointed in terms of spectacular scenery. Starting in Waterlooville, Hampshire you will take in gorgeous country roads as well stunning views across the Solent, Spinnaker Tower, and the Isle of Wight. After taking in some of the area’s challenging climbs pass through Northington, Tichborne, and Cherlton to complete what should be a hard yet rewarding sportive.

>>> Best cycling sportives in Scotland


Wiggle Forest Ranger Sportive

When: 22nd October 2017
Where: Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
More Information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-forest-ranger-sportive/

The Wiggle Forest Ranger Sportive will give riders a lovely flavour of the undulating East Staffordshire and Leicestershire countryside. Starting at Uttoxeter racecourse you will head south towards Blithfield Reservoir, after that you will head through the pretty National Forest at Newborough. Along the way back you will pass through yet more beautiful forest areas such as Needwood and Marchington before you finish back at Uttoxeter.



Fell Beast Sportive

When: 3rd September 2017
Where: Carlisle, Cumbria
More Information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/fell-beast-sportive/

If you know Cumbria, then you will know two things: firstly the area boasts many places of astounding natural beauty, and secondly there are hills, lots of them. But if you love Cumbria and enjoy climbing on your bike, the spectacular Fell Beast Sportive will be just the ride for you. With over 7,000ft of climbing it’s among the toughest sportives, but it is also one of the most stunning ones. Starting at Carlisle racecourse riders will be treated to a number climbs including Warnell Fell, and the big one at Honiston Pass. But along the way you will ride pass the beautiful River Derwent as well taking in the breathtaking Lake District National Park.

>>> Best cycling sportives near Bristol


Herefordshire Devil Sportive

When: 7th May 2017
Where: Leominster, Herefordshire
More Information: http://www.drovercycles.co.uk/events/herefordshire-devil/

Starting in Leominster, this Herefordshire-based sportive is another event which couples stunning scenery and superb riding. It’s very climbing orientated with each route taking in well over a 1,000m of climbing, with the most being 3,092m in the more advanced 133-mile route. But if you suffer the climbing, in exchange you will get great views over the surrounding areas of Herefordshire and on into Wales.


Chiltern 100 Sportives

When: 16th July 2017
Where: Penn House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire
More Information: http://humanrace.co.uk/event/chiltern-100-sportive/

Part of the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival, these Sportives in the summer will be perfect if you want to experience all the natural beauty of the Chilterns and the surrounding areas of Buckinghamshire. The longest sportive will see you take in 172km worth of riding over vastly differing terrains, with one of the main attractions being the notorious Whiteleaf Hill. Not only will this give you a huge sense of gratification it will also provide you will some rather splendid views.

>>> Best cycling sportives near London


Sodbury Sportive

When: 13th August 2017
Where: Chipping Sodbury Rugby Club
More Information: http://www.sodburysportive.co.uk/the-event.asp

Another summer sportive that should be on the ‘to-do’ list this year is the Sodbury Sportive. Starting at Chipping Sodbury Rugby Club you will embark on an enjoyable sportive which will take you into the heart of the Cotswolds. During the route you will take on the tough climbs of the Cotswold Ridge, but you will be rewarded with fantastic scenery across the Severn valley which should well than make up for a tough day in the saddle.


Cycling Weekly Ripon Revolution Sportive

Ripon Revolution Sportive

When: 24th June 2017
Where: Ripon, North Yorkshire
More Information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-ripon-revolution-sportive/

Yorkshire has become synonymous with British cycling over the past couple of the years; the Grand Depart in 2014 put the area on the map, and with subsequent big-name races thereafter this sportive is certainly one to get stuck into. Put on in the height of summer is advantageous as you will experience the stunning Yorkshire scenery. Starting in Ripon, riders will take in a variety of challenging climbs starting with Masham and Leighton Reservoir, and ending with High Ash Moor where you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery of the surrounding areas.

>>> Best cycling sportives for beginners


Cycling Weekly Dartmoor Demon Sportive

When: 29th April 2017
Where: Exeter, Devon
More information: https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-dartmoor-demon-sportive/

As well as being one of the most difficult sportives on the calendar, the Dartmoor Demon is also one of the most spectacular as it gives riders a stunning sense of the Devon countryside. Shortly after starting off from Exeter racecourse you will pass through the spectacular Haldon Forest, and then after that you will take in the stunning surroundings of the Dartmoor National Park. To end you will cross the River Dart to finish back at the racecourse, after what should be a enjoyable ride.


Tour of Pembrokeshire

When: 20-21st May 2017
Where: Crug Glas County House Hotel, St. Davids
More information: http://www.tourofpembrokeshire.co.uk/

This year is the 10th edition of this wonderful event, and 2017 promises to be one of the best ones yet. With four new routes added it will give riders a wonderful taste of the Pembrokeshire area. The 80 and 130 mile route does contain an eye-watering amount of the climbing with the former having 8,000ft of climbing and the latter taking in 13,000ft of climbing. But with stunning coastal scenery and lovely views atop climbs this is certainly an event that should not be missed this summer.

>>> Best cycling sportives in Wales


Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales

When: 11th June 2017
Where: Margam Park, Port Talbot
More information: http://www.letapeuk.co.uk/wales/letape-wales/event-info/maps/

Part of the L’Etape Wales, the Dragon Ride beginning at Margam Park is one that will provide riders both a test, but also some superb views of South Wales. Organised by the Human Race and ASO this event hopes to bring the ‘spirit’ of the Tour de France to South Wales, and with plenty of climbing involved it will certainly feel like a Tour stage for the riders. On the Dragon Ride riders will be treated to the Bwlch and Rhigos climbs which will not only test their climbing ability it will give them some fabulous views over South Wales.



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Luke Rowe: Why a good training partner is so important

“The perfect training partner is on time, motivated, reliable, has all the necessary kit, a tale to tell and knows a good route”

Welshman Luke Rowe is Team Sky’s Classics specialist and often the team’s road captain, and he writes exclusively each week for Cycling Weekly. He’s also a huge Cardiff Devils ice hockey fan

Us professional cyclists ride pretty much every day of the year and rack up a fair few hours in the saddle. And the best way of passing these long, and sometimes boring, hours is to surround yourself with a good few training partners.

The perfect training partner is on time, motivated, reliable, has all the necessary kit, a tale to tell and knows a good route. I have yet to meet this perfect person but I’ve got a few guys around me who come pretty close.

On time: most of the guys who come from the British Cycling programme are good — it’s the way it’s always been. Be on time or you may be riding alone. Owain Doull is the top time man!

>>> Luke Rowe reveals his cycling heroes

Motivated: you don’t want a whinger. Geraint ‘G’ Thomas is solid; he’s the guy who will always push you and suggest the extra hour.

Reliable: if you say let’s meet at the cafe at 10am and go from there, you don’t want a phone call at 10:08 from someone saying, “I’ll be there in five minutes,” or someone who will bail on you if it’s raining.

Sam Harrison lives in Wales all year round and gets some horrific weather, so come rain, hail, sleet or snow he won’t let you down!

All the gear: simply, being equipped for a puncture, have some cash in their pocket and a rain jacket. One name instantly springs to mind: Swifty [Ben Swift] — so organised, he even carries a Swiss Army Knife in his saddlebag.

A storyteller: only recently did I start riding with Astana’s Michael Valgren and he’s a top lad, a rival when we race but a top mate any other time. I recently did a six-hour ride with him and a few others, and it flew by. He didn’t shut up but it was great, full of funny stories.

Route master: you need someone who will occasionally show you a new road or a new climb; someone who knows all the twists, turns and cafes. Ian Boswell is king here. He knows all the roads down in the south of France and never ceases to get me lost despite living down there myself.

So all that is left to do now is somehow merge all the aforementioned folk and their respective attributes together and I would have the perfect training partner.


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Arnold Palmer Invitational: Tiger Woods out with back injury & Masters doubt

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a doubt for the Masters after pulling out of next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, saying he has “no timetable” for his return.

The 14-time major winner has been suffering with back problems and has not played since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on 3 February.

Woods, 41, has won the Masters four times and the first major of the season begins at Augusta on 6 April.

“I’m especially disappointed because I wanted to help honour Arnold,” he said.

“This is one event I didn’t want to skip. Arnold has meant so much to me and my family; I thought of him as a close friend. He will be greatly missed and can never truly be replaced.”

Palmer, who won seven majors, died last September at the age of 87.

Woods who last played in the event at Bay Hill in Orlando in 2013 has won it a record eight times. No other player has won it more than twice.

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Holt and Howell Dominate First Night of Columbia Sectionals

Photo Courtesy: @SwimMoVal Twitter

By Katie Wingert, Swimming World College Intern.

Young upstarts like Holt and Howell owned the first night of Speedo Sectionals in Columbia, MO. The first day of competition–consumed completely by the 1000 freestyle–sets the tone for an exciting long weekend of fast swimming in the central zone.

On the men’s side, it was 15-year-old Evan Holt of Central North Swimming who dominated an experienced field in the distance event. Holt dropped a whopping 31.63 seconds from his seed time and climbed up from his tenth-seed rank to snatch the gold out of his elders’ fingertips. His blazing 9:18.51 was sustained with mathematically methodical 100-yard splits; all but the first two hundreds of his race were in the 56-second range.

The real race was for second in the men’s 1000. Adam Grimm of the Rec Plex Sharks followed Holt in 9:20.85, while Jonesboro’s Jack Little, the top seed in the event, touched just behind in 9:20.23. Grimm found immense closing speed in his final 100 (53.70) that no one else–including Little–could match.

As for the women, the forty-lap chase for gold came down to a touch. Despite a strong front half from the Kansas City Blazers’ Katherine Sullivan, it was Liberty Howell of SwimTulsa who brought home the race. Howell touched in 9:56.00 after an aggressive final fifty, while Sullivan stopped the clock in 9:56.35.

The next closest competitor was Alexis Daniels of the Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders, who stayed close to Sullivan and Howell for the first few hundreds but ultimately fell off the pace in the middle of the race. Eighteen-year-old Daniels achieved a respectable 10:04.25 for third.

The meet continues tomorrow–through Sunday–with a more extensive program. The 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, the 100 butterfly, the 400 IM, and the 800 free relay are all slated for competition in the morning.

All results can be found on Meet Mobile – 2017 Speedo Sectionals Championship Series

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