Richie Porte: Team Sky are ‘playing games’ when they say I’m the Tour de France favourite

Porte says that behind the scenes Sky will be thinking that Froome will win yellow

With the Tour de France just two days away, Richie Porte (BMC Racing) has dismissed suggestions by Chris Froome and Team Sky that he is the favourite to win the yellow jersey.

Speaking at a pre-race press conference, Porte suggested that his good friend Froome and the rest of Team Sky might not be being entirely honest when they labelled him as the man to beat after he finished second at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

“Sky saying that I’m the favourite is just one of the games that they like to play,” said the 32-year-old, who spent four seasons at Team Sky between 2012 and 2015.

“Behind closed doors they think Chris is the guy who will win. He’s the defending champion and he’s the one with the big target on his back.”

>>> Chris Froome ‘My Tour de France rivals probably think I’m weaker than before, but I feel like I’m fresher

In contrast with Froome, who is yet to win a race in 2017, Porte has enjoyed a successful build up to the Tour de France, winning the Tour de Romandie and finishing second at the Dauphiné after losing time to Jakob Fuglsang in an aggressive final stage.

The Australian said he had learned a lot from that race, where he missed out on yellow by 10 seconds after being dropped in aggressive racing early in the stage, but said that he hoped there would be no repeat of that experience come the Tour.

“Mistakes like at the Dauphiné are part of bike racing. We were incredible the day before on Alpe d’Huez, and it’s a shame the race panned out like it did.

“You learn from experiences like that, and I’ve learned that when people gang up on you it’s going to make for hard racing. Hopefully nothing like that happens again, but the Tour’s a different race – there’s always someone interested in going for it.”


Watch: Tour de France 2017 preview – stages one to nine


Porte, who has signed a new contract to keep him at BMC Racing for at least another season, also hoped that his time in yellow at the Dauphiné would stand him in good stead for the off-the-bike aspects of the Tour.

“The Dauphiné gave me a taste of wearing the leader’s jersey and everything that goes with it,” he continued.

“You have to do all the anti-doping stuff and the media protocol, and it does take a bit away from your recovery each day. But it’s manageable, and I’ve got a great team around me to help me deal with that.”

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

That team, which includes another former Team Sky rider in Nicolas Roche and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, is, according to BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz, the same nine rider who were originally selected in a provisional Tour team at a pre-season training camp in December.

Van Avermaet will be given the opportunity to chase stage wins, but the rest of the team will be solely dedicated to looking after Porte, with Roche saying that the BMC line-up was “at least as strong as Sky” whereas in previous Tours the British team were “by far the best”.


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3 Gethin-Approved Back-Training Machine Hacks

My aim is to always enhance muscle stimulation, and I’ve found one of the best ways to do it is to endlessly search for unique angles from which to attack each muscle. Unfortunately, the standard lineup of bodybuilding machines often doesn’t offer me everything I’m looking for. This leads me to create completely new exercises using machines that were designed to train another muscle.

Like I did for shoulders and chest, I’m going to share some back-training hacks you probably haven’t seen before, but which I promise will leave your back muscles in a state of annihilation. If you like this style of training, check out my 8-Week Hardcore Trainer, which packs unique moves like these into workouts for each and every muscle group.

Chest Machine Unilateral Rows

Most gyms will have a standard seated-chest-press machine that you can load up, grab, and row with. The arm I’m not using to row will be used to support my torso on the head pad, as my torso leans forward.

This exercise is particularly good for working the lats, and I’m able to experience a really in-depth connection with each side because this is done unilaterally. This is something I’d really recommend for somebody who’s failing to get that connection in their lats. I’d also preload the workout with a solid pre-workout like Pre-Kaged in order to maximize blood flow, which I find leads to an improved feel.

Shoulder-Press Machine Bent-Over Rows

This exercise is awesome for higher rep sets where I’m either supersetting with another move, or crushing a DTP pyramid of, say, 5 sets of 20, 15, 10, 10, 5 reps, and then climbing back up to 20 reps using a different grip.

Standing on the seat of the machine facing the pad, I’ll perform bent-over rows gripping the arms of the machine. Note: This does require a specific type of shoulder-press machine, and not every one will allow this move. However, once you open your mind to this style of training, you view the gym in the whole new way. Look around, and you might find the perfect machine where you’ve never noticed it before.

To really isolate the back muscles, I like to get my forehead down to the top of the head rest so my back is parallel with the floor. This acts as a good gauge of posture, so when fatigue starts to attack my muscles I know I’m still in the correct position.

Staggered High-Pulley Cable Row

This is an exercise that expands upon a regular lat pull-down. Using a cable stack, position the pulley at the highest point and use a V-bar attachment. To begin, sit on the floor with your legs out in front and against the bottom of the weight stack to provide stability. For the first 10-12 reps, do pull-downs with your torso tilted backward at a 45-degree angle. Then sit slightly more upright and immediately perform another 10-12 reps. The goal is to reach failure at the end of each rep range at both angles.

This is a perfect example of how to utilize a switch in position to increase strength as fatigue sets in. It dramatically increases the volume I’m able to complete in a working set.

Why not just perform something like a regular lat pull-down dropset? The back is one of the most complex muscle groups due to its size, so to maximize growth in the lats, erectors, traps, and rhomboids, you need a diverse range of angles—not just the same one hammered harder and harder. This is why I’ll always keep searching for different exercises, even if it means using machines the “wrong” way.

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The Focus Project Y: The e-bike we’ve all been waiting for

Focus has released a new e-bike, the Focus Project Y, and it might be the best looking one yet

The Focus Project Y is the brand new e-bike from Focus, and frankly, it’s stunning.

Why Y? Well, the two branches symbolize how the new bike is breaking from the trend, and pioneering new technology. The new ride is an experiment, a vision of the future and what electric bikes can achieve.

Technically speaking, it’s as impressive as it is good looking. The battery and motor are one, and all stuffed inside the down tube, which has been slimmed down far more than we’ve seen on e-bikes before.

Focus Project Y battery

The motor and battery are combined and stuffed inside the down tube

In fact, the bike is something of a featherweight – especially when compared to its peers – coming in at a supposedly slim 12.5kg with the 4.5kg battery included.

Focus claims that this lightweight means it’s identical to riding a normal bike, with no pedal resistance when the motor isn’t turning.


Watch: What’s it like to ride an e-bike?

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/?bctid=4930253634001


Because the motor and battery are both stuffed in the down tube, a gearbox can be fitted in the space now available in the bottom bracket. For a change, the bike isn’t powered by a Bosch or Shimano battery, and instead uses a lesser known Fazua.

It still obeys the same laws, though, and you’ll only get assistance up to 25kmh, at which point your legs have to pick up the slack.

Foucs Project Y battery

The battery weighs 4.5kg, Focus claim

Initially though, that battery will give out up to 400 watts assistance, which will have you racing up climbs or from stopped.

Whether the Focus Project Y becomes a trend setter remains to be seen but it sure is trying to introduce new standards.

The company terms it “road boost”, and it’s basically an expansion of both hub axles. Project Y has 110mm spacing on the front hub and 148mm on the rear.

Those into their mountain biking will already be aware of “boost”, but for us roadies, it’s another standard in an area that only just changed thanks to the advent of disc brakes.

Focus Project Y R.A.T technology

A new hub standard

Of course, there’s solid reasoning behind the update, the most important including stiffness, especially when you add in the extra torque of the motor between your legs.

Plus, with the gearbox stuffed in the bottom bracket there’s a natural expansion in the bike’s Q-Factor which needs to be accommodated. To keep the chain line efficient, then, it’s width needed to also increase, hence the expansion in the hubs.

Focus Project Y is a versatile bike

Variety is the spice of life

Whopping 35mm tyres should keep the ride comfortable, as well as give the bike three possible uses – road, cross and touring. The same bike can complete all three duties, with bags of clearance, despite the oversized tyres.

Sadly, we weren’t able to ride the new bike, but can attest to its stunning looks. Focus are looking for feedback from cyclists on the bikes potential uses, a forum community for the future of e-bikes.


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Kevin Cordes Breaks US Open Record in 50 Breast Prelims at Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.

Kevin Cordes continued his momentum after a huge 200 breast win last night with a US Open Record in the 50 breast on Thursday morning at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships. Cordes swam a 26.89 to break Brendan McHugh’s US Open and meet record at 27.10 from 2014. Cordes now sits second in the world behind Great Britain’s Adam Peaty (26.48).

Cordes also narrowly missed his own American Record from 2015 at 26.76. Cordes leads Andrew Wilson (27.29), Cody Miller (27.39), Nic Fink (27.41), Michael Andrew (27.45), Ian Finnerty (27.54), Connor Hoppe (27.78) and Matthew Anderson (27.79) into the A-final. This was the first appearance of the meet for Olympic bronze medalist Miller.

Cordes could have the option to swim the 50 in Budapest since he is already on the team. See the qualification rules here.

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Castelli on the cheap: Nine great deals on Castelli spring and summer clothing

The best deals on quality Italian kit that the internet has to offer right now

Seeing the little scorpion logo of Castelli on a piece of clothing is usually a sign of some high quality kit, but unfortunately that usually means that it comes with a high price tag too.

>>> Better than the Castelli Gabba? Wet weather racing jackets on test

Happily, the big internet retailers often offer some pretty hefty discounts, making the best kit become that bit more affordable.

Prosecco base layer £50 £29

We’re firm believers that base layers should be worn all year round. You’ll be surprised at the comfort they can add to the ride, even if you would usually think it was too warm for one.

Buy now: Castelli Prosecco base layer at Evans Cycles for £29

Women’s Inspirata short sleeve jersey £85 £42.49

Tight fitting, breathable with a full length zip – there isn’t really much more you could want from a piece of cycling kit. Good job it’s half price, then.

Buy now: Women’s Inspirata short sleeve jersey at Tweek’s Cycles for £42.49

Women’s Viva Donna £19.00 £13.49

It might be a tad warm to want anything else on your head at the moment, but there will come a time when you’ll want to keep the heat in.

This looks a lovely piece of kit, which will keep you snug when you’re out on the bike.

Buy now: Women’s Viva Donna from ProBikeKit for £13.49

Diverso Merino wool sock £17.99 £10.79

As far as socks go, these must be some of the best looking ones around. That diamond pattern looks great and merino is superb material, too. It never gets stinky, meaning no one will know if you don’t wash your socks.

Buy now: Diverso Merino wool sock from Evans Cycles for £10.79

Women’s Climbers jersey £70 £41.99

As you might expect, the climber’s jersey is a super lightweight top that’s made for heading uphill. Thanks to its skimpy nature, it also happens to be really cool, making it ideal for those boiling days when the heat can feel a little overwhelming.

Buy now: Castelli Women’s Climber’s jersey from Evans Cycles for £41.99

Women’s Velo Vest £65.99 – £38.99

Read more: Castelli Women’s Velo Vest review

Castelli’s Velo gilet is perfect for when the spring weather turns a little inclement and blustery.

Even better, it packs up tiny so there should always be space for it in a jersey pocket.

Buy now: Castelli Women’s Velo Vest from Chain Reaction Cycles for £31.99


Watch: Buyers’ guide to spring and autumn clothing


Imprevisto Nano water-repellant jersey £80 – £55.99

Another great piece of Spring riding kit when you’re likely to get wet on the bike.

Currently, these are discount anywhere between £55.99-£63.99 so grab a bargain while you can.

Buy now: Imprevisto Nano jersey for £55.99 from Evans Cycles

Women’s Gabba windproof jersey £111 – £69.99

The female equivalent of the superb Gabba jersey.

It’s currently over 50% off in the purple colour, making it an absolute steal now for your spring riding.

Buy now: women’s Gabba jersey from Evans Cycles for £69.99

Perfetto Long Sleeve Jersey £174.99 £122.99

Buy now: Castelli Perfetto from Evans Cycles for £104.99

So named because it is perfect, apparently. While we’ve not had chance to test this one, it does have some pretty neat features.

The Italian brand has made it more waterproof as well as redesigned the tail so it should sit flatter.


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Lilly King Breaks 50 Breast Meet Record in Prelims at Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Indiana’s Lilly King broke the meet record in the 50 breast on Thursday morning at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships with a 29.96. The time broke the meet record held by Jessica Hardy at 30.12 set in 2014. King also just missed Hardy’s American Record at 29.80 set in 2009. She now sits second in the world rankings behind Russia’s Yulia Efimova (29.88).

King is the top seed into tonight’s A-final ahead of Katie Meili (30.47), Molly Hannis (30.67), Jorie Caneta (30.85), Andrea Cottrell (31.13), Breeja Larson (31.14), Natalie Pierce (31.22) and Katharine Ross (31.25).

King can elect to swim the 50 breast in Budapest if she wins tonight because of the World Championship qualification rules. King could challenge the World Record held by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte (29.43), something she has said she wants to achieve this year. If she doesn’t get the record this year, she will for sure be shooting for the number one time in the world that Efimova has.

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Eastbourne 2017: Johanna Konta edges past Jelena Ostapenko

Johanna Konta

Eastbourne 2017
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Date: 26 June-1 July Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online

British number one Johanna Konta passed a major test before Wimbledon as she edged past French Open champion Jeleana Ostapenko in Eastbourne.

World number seven Konta, 26, won 7-5 3-6 6-4 against her 20-year-old Latvian opponent, a surprise victor at Roland Garros earlier this month.

Konta, the fifth seed, will play world number one Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals later on Thursday.

Compatriot Heather Watson reached the last eight with a straight-set win.

The British number three, ranked 126th in the world, won 6-4 6-3 against Russian 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Like Konta, the 25-year-old from Guernsey will also play twice on Thursday, facing Czech Barbora Strycova later.

Rain delays earlier in the week have caused a backlog of matches, meaning all eight women’s quarter-finalists faced having to play twice on Thursday.

Konta, who will be the first British top 10-ranked woman at Wimbledon since 1984, is aiming to win her first WTA grass-court title in her home town.

The Australia-born player, whose family moved to Eastbourne when she was a teenager, held her nerve against Ostapenko to serve out for victory on her third match point.

“The scoreline and match shows it was an incredibly tough battle and very little in it,” said Konta, who has won only one main-draw match at Wimbledon.

“On both match points she played incredibly well, hit two winners.

“I knew I was trying to play the right way. I had trust that I was going to take another chance.”

Second seed Simona Halep fought back from a set down to win 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 against Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in her last-16 match.

Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova also progressed to the quarter-finals.

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Jack Conger, Caeleb Dressel Pace Quick 100 Fly Heats

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.

In the post-Phelps era, Jack Conger posted a very quick time in the 200 fly on Tuesday night with a 1:54.47. He came back Thursday morning to have another good swim in the 100 fly heats with a 51.37 to swim the fourth fastest of 2017. Conger now sits behind South Africa’s Chad Le Clos (51.29), China’s Li Zhuhao (51.34) and France’s Mehdy Metella (51.36). Conger just out-touched 50 fly champ Caeleb Dressel in his heat at 51.38.

Tom Shields (51.73) and Tim Phillips (51.76) both have legitimate chances to make return trips to the World Championships as those four swimmers are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the seeds.

Matthew Josa (52.33), Justin Lynch (52.63) and Andrew Liang (53.08) will swim in the A-final tonight. There was a tie for eighth as Michigan’s Miles Smachlo and Louisville’s Zach Harting tied for eighth at 53.16.

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Kelsi Worrell Tops 100 Fly Heats

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.

Kelsi Worrell had a very strong swim on Wednesday morning in the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships with a 57.40 in the 100 fly. Worrell looks to be in good shape to pick up her first individual spot on a World Championship team as she is already on the team for the 4×100 free relay. Worrell was followed in the prelims by North Carolina’s Hellen Moffitt (58.24) and Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson (58.41).

Moffitt is in line to make her first Worlds team after she competed for the USA at the short course worlds in December. Gibson also has a good chance to get on the team after she narrowly missed making it in the 200 fly Tuesday night.

One of the big surprises of the morning was Mallory Comerford getting into the final here. She placed fourth at 58.61 and could play spoiler to Moffitt and Gibson. Comerford already won the 100 free at this meet. Cal’s Katie McLaughlin (58.80), Canyon’s Amanda Kendall (58.97), Trojan’s Kendyl Stewart (59.03) and Minnesota’s Danielle Nack (59.11) will all swim in the A-final.

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Cavendish: ‘Without this illness, I’d be going to the Tour looking to pass Merckx’s stage record’

Mark Cavendish says he could be setting himself up for failure by going to the Tour de France with a lack of fitness

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) says he would be eyeing Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins this year if he hadn’t contracted glandular fever and missed months of racing.

The Manxman only returned to racing in June at the Tour of Slovenia, having stopped racing after finishing Milan-San Remo in March and becoming ill.

>>> Tour de France route 2017: stages and key climbs

After racing the British National Championships road race last week, he was selected for the Dimension Data Tour de France squad despite question marks over his fitness.

While Cavendish has retained his trademark confidence, saying he still believes he is the world’s best sprinter, he says he has to be realistic about what he can expect from himself at this year’s Tour.

“I truly believe that I am the best sprinter on the planet,” said Cavendish in an interview with the Times. “Without this illness, I would be going in looking to pass the [stage] record this year.

Cavendish surprised everyone by showing exceptional form and winning four stages in the 2016 Tour (Sunada)

“The competitive fires are burning but I have to be realistic. It’s like, you know, Ducatis are going to be faster than Hondas. I’m not firing like a Ducati right now.”

Asked if he was planning on ducking out of the Tour after the opening week of racing, which sees at least three sprint opportunities, the 32-year-old said he wouldn’t have come at all if that was the plan.

With 30 stage wins to his name, Cavendish is on the cusp of extending his legacy as cycling’s greatest ever sprinter if he can get past Merckx’s record of 34.

With nine potential sprint stages on offer through the entire Tour, it would certainly be a possible for a fully fit Cavendish, who says that he’ll find it hard if he begins consistently losing at the 2017 Tour to rivals like Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Cavendish added that he had to weigh up whether he would be doing “more damage” by turning up undercooked at the Tour, saying  “I could be setting up myself to fail.”



“If I was planning on bailing after a week, I wouldn’t be going to the Tour at all,” Cavendish said. “The hardest thing for me is sprinting and losing.

“Not just because it’s damaging to my morale, the team’s morale, but it’s actually good for the other sprinters’ morale and once you are on a roll at the Tour, you build on that.

“I had to ask myself, ‘Would I do myself more damage not winning?’”

“As soon as we start on Saturday, a lot of journalists will forget I have been ill, that I’ve had glandular fever.”

“Half won’t have had it, half don’t like me anyway. A few people won’t even know.

“I could be doing myself more damage going and not winning than not going at all. I could be setting up myself to fail.”


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