Alberto Contador: Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali are the favourites for the Vuelta a España

Spaniard says he is aiming to win final race before retirement

Alberto Contador may have picked out Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali as his two favourites for the Vuelta a España, but the three-time Vuelta champion also insisted he will be racing with his focus very much on victory in what is set to be the final event of his career.

“As far as the favourites go, you have to start by looking at Vincenzo Nibali, who rode the Giro and has had time to prepare for the Tour,” the Trek-Segafredo leader said in his eve-of-Vuelta press conference in Nîmes.

“But the big favourite for me is Chris Froome. He’s very strong, the time trial will suit him and he has a very strong team. Most of them could be leaders in other teams. We’ll have to see how Aru, Bardet, Yates and the others who did the Tour have recovered.”

>>> Nine Grand Tour stages that defined Alberto Contador’s career

Contador affirmed, though, that he hasn’t come to the Vuelta simply to do a final lap of honour before retiring.

“I’ve come to this Vuelta determined to enjoy myself, but I always give the maximum in competition. I will be professional to the very last day of racing,” he stated.

“This Vuelta is special and I want to enjoy it to the max. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity to say goodbye. I’ve come here with the idea of fighting for victory, but I’ll have to see how my legs are and how my rivals are going as well.”

>>> Vuelta a España 2017: Who are the bookmakers backing for victory?

This is the first time in his career that Contador has ridden the Vuelta on the back of finishing the Tour de France, and he admitted he’s unsure what his form will be like.

“My preparation has been quite different coming into this Vuelta. I’ve tried to rest as much as possible at home in Madrid. I’ve done a few good training rides and I’ve recovered well, but there are some questions over my condition,” he said.

Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide

Speaking about his decision to retire at the end of the Vuelta, Contador revealed he had been 70 per cent sure about taking this step before he started the Tour. Events there cemented the decision.

“I’d been talking with Trek about a deal to run through to the 2018 Giro d’Italia, but I was not really sure that I wanted to continue that far. The most important thing going into the Tour was to arrive at the start in the best possible condition and I managed to do that,” he said.

>>> Trek-Segafredo in no rush to find replacement for Alberto Contador

“My condition, the numbers from training were as good as they had been in 2014, and my weight was better than it had been throughout my career. But stage nine proved the key moment.

“The crashes and setbacks I had on that stage into Chambéry made me realise it was time to stop. I also wanted to give the team time to think about its future.’

The Spaniard confirmed he’s happy with the decision and nothing will now change his mind, not even a fourth victory in Madrid.

“There is no better place than this for me to finish my career, with the support of this team behind me and with all of the fans on the road to Madrid,” he concluded.

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ISHOF Grande Dame Marjorie “Marge” Counsilman Passes Away at 93

Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

According to Indiana Athletics, Marjorie “Marge” Counsilman passed away on August 17, 2017. Counsilman was 93 years old at her time of passing and was a resident of Bloomington, Indiana.

Counsilman is best known for her International Swimming Hall of Fame Grande Dame Honor. She was given the award in 2004 for being a woman “who has been involved in swimming for a long period of time in her life. She is seen as a mom, a helper, an organizer, a promoter, a worker, a teacher, an authority, a friend, an enthusiast and a counselor.”

She served as a surrogate mother to the IU Swimming & Diving teams during the 33-year coaching career of her late husband Doc Counsilman. She provided emotional stability, team dinners and ran many behind-the-scenes operations at swim meets.

Current IU Head Coach Ray Looze described her as “the first lady of Indiana Hoosier swimming in perpetuity.” The team has since created the Marge Councilman Service Award in her honor. She will be remembered for her dedication to the IU Swimming & Diving program and to hard work throughout all aspects of her life.


Photo Courtesy: @IndianaSwimDive

View the full press release from Indiana Athletics below:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. Indiana University Athletics is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Marjorie “Marge” Counsilman on Thursday. She was the of late IU swimming coach James “Doc” Counsilman and mother to late IU assistant coach Brian Counsilman. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones during this difficult time.

During Doc’s tenure as head men’s swimming coach at Indiana from 1957-1990, Marge was right by his side, helping Doc and the Hoosiers win six-consecutive NCAA Championships from 1968-1973 and 23 Big Ten titles, including 20-straight from 1961 to 1980. Doc also saw his swimmers break 52 world records, 154 American records and 106 individual NCAA records.

“Marge and Doc Councilman were the definition of ‘a team’ that lead IU swimming to the greatest achievements of any university in the sport of NCAA and Olympic-level swimming,” Indiana head swimming coach Ray Looze remarked. “I am sure Doc would have been the first person to acknowledge how important she was to the overall success of the program during his coaching tenue. We established the Marge Councilman Service Award to highlight her many behind the scenes contributions to this great era of IU swimming. She will always be remembered as ‘the first lady’ of Indiana Hoosier swimming in perpetuity.”

Marge was an important part of the overall success of the IU team during the 33 years Doc coached. She was the team’s surrogate mother. She was a source of emotional stability during a swimmer’s tumultuous time of competitive swimming. She hosted dinners and gatherings at her home. She ran the swim meets, including the Indiana State Championships, staffed the scoring table and kept the records.

Marge ran the 16mm stroke film and pace clock business from 1959 when the first pace clock was sold until 1974 when the business became incorporated. At that time, she became secretary-treasurer of Counsilman Company until the corporation dissolved in 1990.

“Marge played a vital role in Doc’s and IU’s success in the pool,” said Joel Stager, the Director at the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming. “She represented a surrogate mother to thirty years’ worth of swimmers and not just those who swam here in Bloomington. She was highly respected by swimmers around the country and the world, providing them all with a safe home environment in Bloomington though their own families in many cases were thousands of miles away. Her lasagna dinners remain legendary with all those who were lucky enough to have tasted it She was a full partner to Doc and Hobbie, and while they grabbed the headlines, Marge lived her life with grace and good humor by Doc’s and wouldn’t have had it any other way.  She will be greatly missed by the swim community.”

In 2004, Marge was recognized with the Grande Dame Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which is given to a woman “who has been involved in swimming for a long period of time in her life. She is seen as a mom, a helper, an organizer, a promoter, a worker, a teacher, an authority, a friend, an enthusiast and a counselor”.

In 2012, Marge was bestowed the Bill Orwig Award from IU, which recognizes outstanding contributions made by a non-alumnus to the Indiana University athletic program.

In 2013, Marge and Doc were inducted in to the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame, where it was noted that Marge was “a strong partner in all phases of Doc’s career, typed three books and was the business director of youth camps. Also, was a beloved surrogate mother to hundreds of Doc’s IU swimmers”.

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Dan Martin to join UAE Team Emirates for 2018 season

The Irishman will leave Quick-Step after two years in which he secured two top-10 finishes at the Tour de France

Irishman Daniel Martin, after placing sixth overall in the Tour de France, will leave Quick-Step Floors for UAE Team Emirates this winter.

The Arabian team announced his two-year contract, 2018 and 2019, on Friday. The team could become a Grand Tour powerhouse like Team Sky as soon they are set to welcome Fabio Aru, too.

>>> Cycling transfers 2018: All the ins and outs from the WorldTour

“The opportunity to join an ambitious group backed by globally recognised brands and use my experience to create a team capable of challenging the best in the world was one that I couldn’t refuse,” Martin said.

“UAE Team Emirates share my vision, my attention to detail and my passion for the sport, and as I enter into the most important years of my career, they offer me the best platform possible to reach my potential and fulfil my sporting goals.”

Martin, 30, blossomed in team Quick-Step over the last two years after spending several seasons with Garmin/Cannondale. Martin placed ninth overall in the 2016 Tour and sixth this year.

“He performed very well this year, not only in the Tour, and money also starts to become important,” Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere said on Thursday.

“I think many teams want to have a rider like Martin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a sponsorship partner for the team who wanted to pay 10 million dollars. I’m happy with what I have, though.”

Quick-Step will continue to develop Luxembourg rider Bob Jungels, who will race the Vuelta a España after racing to eighth overall in the Giro d’Italia and winning the white jersey of best young rider this May.

UAE is also expected to sign Fabio Aru, who placed fifth in the recent Tour, second in the 2015 Giro d’Italia and won the 2015 Vuelta a España.

Martin could lead one Grand Tour team and Aru another. Martin will also give the team added muscle for one-day races.

“Daniel Martin is capable of excelling both in the [one-day] races as well as the major tours,” team manager Carlo Saronni said.

“We will be able to create the conditions that will allow him to express himself at his best and, with this in mind, we have also secured ourselves the performance of an experienced pacer like Sutherland.”

Nairo Quintana’s Australian domestique Rory Sutherland will leave team Movistar this winter after three years.

Sutherland said: “This new challenge offers me the opportunity to work with my good friend Dan Martin while also helping the development of the younger generation of professional cyclists within the team.”

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Chris Froome tipped as favourite for the Vuelta a España green jersey ahead of sprinters

Relentless summit finishes mean Froome favourite for points classification

The leader’s red jersey might be his main objective, but with the start of the Vuelta a España being just a day away, the bookmakers are also tipping Chris Froome (Team Sky) for success in green.

The points classification might usually be won by a sprinter at the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France, but such is the vicious nature of the Vuelta a España route in 2017 with its nine summit finishes, Froome is the favourite to win win green.

The Team Sky rider, who is looking to win the Tour/Vuelta double, is available at odds of 10/3 at some bookmakers, being tipped slightly ahead of second-favourite Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).

Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide

John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) is the only real big-name sprinter on the start list, but the bookies aren’t tipping him for much success in the fight for the green jersey with odds of around 9/1 – the relentless mountain stages making it tough for him to even make it to Madrid.

Recent history has seen the Vuelta a España points classification won by a wide variety of riders, usually coming down to a battle between an attacking climber and a sprinter.

Fabio Felline and John Degenkolb are the most recent fast men to win the prize in 2016 and 2014, but Alejandro Valverde and Bauke Mollema are also recent winners.

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Nibali and Aru: Finally rivals at the Vuelta a Espana

The Vuelta a Espana will see a myriad of rivalries emerge and evolve during the next three weeks. Chris Froome (Team Sky) is the rider everyone wants beat as he chases the Tour-Vuelta double, Alberto Contador will clash with the Briton one last time before retiring, while Esteban Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates will compete for eventual leadership status at Orica-Scott.

In Italy, all eyes are on Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru. Once teammates at Astana, now they are rivals, with Nibali leading the Bahrain-Merida team and Aru top dog at Astana. After Aru missed out on racing against Nibali at the Giro d’Italia due to injury, the two Italians will finally clash in a Grand Tour at this year’s Vuelta a Espana.

Their relationship was once tense but riding the Rio Olympics for Italy and often training together in Lugano has brought them closer, with Aru hinting that they can become allies out on the road, while still being rivals, as they take on Froome, Contador et al during the next three weeks.

For now, they are fighting for attention in the Italian media, with La Gazzetta dello Sport obliged to give them equal space and consideration on the eve of the Nimes team time trial. Aru was once Nibali’s understudy at Astana but they are almost on equal footing and both have won the Vuelta a Espana – Nibali in 2010 and Aru in 2015.

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Nibali: Focused and on form after the Giro d’Italia

Nibali avoids mentioning Aru and comes across as focused and ready to target a second Vuelta victory. Aru says he will be keeping an eye on Nibali but little else. Their scant regard for each other is a war of few words but one that could blow up on the roads of Spain during the next three weeks.

Nibali has the advantage of having trained specifically for the Spanish Grand Tour in July, while many of his rivals were riding the Tour de France. His carefully chosen words are an indication of his determination and hidden confidence. His younger brother Antonio is also riding the Vuelta a Espana but the two will not share a room, with Vincenzo focused on winning for a second time and so with little time to mentor his brother.

“I’m feeling pretty good. We’ll find out how good along the road, day by day,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I did a good block of training in the Dolomites that gave me the answers [about my form] that I was looking for,” Nibali said. “I rode the Tour de Pologne, which suited to aggressive riders but I was pretty good.”

Nibali last rode the Vuelta a Espana in 2015, when he was disqualified and sent home after being caught hanging onto his team following a crash. Questions about it still irritate him.

“Things like that happen a lot, of course it wasn’t nice,” he said. “Sadly it made people think that Nibali hangs on to cars to win races, while I‘d crashed and I’d lost more than a minute… For me it’s all in the past and I don’t think I have to demonstrate anything to anyone.”

Nibali rolls of the names of his biggest rivals, adding Ilnur Zakarin’s name to those of Froome, Aru, Barguil and Bardet. He is not so sure about Contador’s chances.

“Hmm, we’ll see. It’s his last race and so I’m sure he’ll want to do well,” Nibali said, suggesting all the overall contenders will be at the same level as they ride a second Grand Tour of the season.

“The Tour-Vuelta double is easier to achieve than the Giro-Tour double because everybody at the start has a Grand Tour in their legs. At the end of the day the level will be about the same,” Nibali predicted.

Aru: Ready for a long hard Vuelta

Aru talked to La Gazzetta dello Sport in a different hotel in a different part of Nimes. As usual before a big race, he is more open and chatty than Nibali. Fifth place at the Tour de France helped resurrect Aru’s Grand Tour career. He is refusing to discuss his future until after the Vuelta ends in Madrid but is expected to be the new leader of the UAE Team Emirates squad, despite a new improved offer from Astana and interest from Trek-Segafredo.

Despite riding the Tour de France, Aru dismissed any doubts about his form and chances at the Vuelta.

“I don’t have doubts but I also don’t know how good I’ll be,” he said. “I prepared for the Giro d’Italia and then rode the Tour de France. Now I’m at the Vuelta too. It’s the first time I’ve ridden two Grand Tours in the same season.

“I think I’ve recovered well after the Tour. I’ve trained well without doing too much work but I haven’t done any tests, so I don’t know my exact level of fitness. I’m aiming high. I think I can do better than in the past and so the sky’s the limit.”

Aru picks Froome and not Nibali as the favourite for final victory.

“He showed he can do the double last year by finishing second at the Vuelta after winning the Tour. He’s the rider to beat, then there’s all the other at the same level: Nibali, Majka, Chaves and the Yates brothers. Bardet and Barguil, like me, have ridden the Tour and entering the unknown.

“A surprise? I think there could be two: Poels, even if Sky will ride for Froome, and Julian Alaphilippe.”

What about Nibali?

“He’s strong and I’ll have to keep my eye on him,” Aru said, finally conceding his Italian rival some attention.

Aru is also worried about the difficult opening stages of the Vuelta. The Astana team could lose precious seconds in Saturday’s 13.7km team time trial and the first mountain stages comes on Monday to Andorra. Sunday’s stage across the south of France could also be hit by cross winds and echelons.

“We’ve got to limit the damage in the team time trail and be ready for the wind on Sunday. Andorra will be a shock and then there’s the first uphill finish on stage 5,” he said. “The nine uphill finishes means we’ll be flat out all the time. It’ll be good to watch, with time gaps each time. I feel sorry for the sprinters who will suffer a lot. It’s going to be a long hard Vuelta for everyone.”

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Rapha honour Colombian cycling with stylish Vuelta kit

Rapha has released a series of kit in honour of Colombian cycling, as well as a short film

Rapha has announced a series of stylish kit in honour of Colombian riders ahead of this year Vuelta a España.

In particular, the kit marks the 30th anniversary of Lucho Herrera’s win at the 1987 Vuelta.

Rapha’s KoM jersey

Rapha says that the collection will also be launched alongside a short, thought-provoking film named Abrazos that “lifts the lid on Colombian cycle racing”, and includes an interview with Esteban Chaves‘ mother – it’ll be available to watch on Rapha’s website.

The new kit collection takes its inspiration from the era of Herraras win with a series of 80s inspired designs. In total there will be seven products, Rapha says, including, a KoM jersey, a Midweight Jersey, cap and socks.

Midweight team jersey and bib shorts

The KoM jersey is directly inspired by Herrara’s win at the 1987 Vuelta a España, where he famously also won the climbing competition. Rapha says that “of-the-era design touches with modern fabrics and functionality”. It’ll cost £130 and is available from XXS-XL.

Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide

Meanwhile, the Pro Team Midweight jersey is inspired by Colombia’s 1980’s trade team and looks sleek in minimalist white with touches of the Colombian colours.

The Pro Team bib shorts retain that classic black Rapha look but the bibs are designed with the Colombian flag colours. Rapha says they feature a dual-density chamois and the design pays homage to Herrara’s 1987 Vuelta win. The shorts come in at a sniff under £200 and are available in small to extra large.

Rapha is also releasing a series of accessories to accompany the kit, including socks, a cap and a t-shirt. All of which come in white with dashes of the Colombian national colours. The cap costs £25, the socks £15 while the t-shirt comes in at £35.

Rapha wanted to honour Colombian riding, arguing that Herrara’s first grand tour success marked the beginning of “a long period of Colombian grand tour success”.

Rapha also says that since the 80s, the escaranajos (or the beetles – the collective nickname for Colombian riders) have been a prominent force at the head of the European peloton.

For this year’s Vuelta, there are a total of 12 Colombians starting the race, including Esteban Chaves.

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Britain’s best bike shops 2017 – Vote cloes August 31

Britain’s Best Bike Shops is a UK wide poll to find the best bike shops in partnership with Lezyne, Muc-Off and BikeZaar.

This summer we’re celebrating bike shops by looking for the best in the country. Our Britain’s Best Bike Shops poll, in partnership with Lezyne, Muc-Off and BikeZaar, allows you to vote for your favourite shop, and tell us why it’s so good. It’s your chance to give your local bike the recognition it deserves.

Every rider needs a good local bike shop. As places to go to buy, or just gaze at, new kit, get your bike fixed, get advice and generally have a chit-chat, bike shops are an essential part of any local cycling community.

Bike shops have also played a part in the careers of many aspiring young cyclists. There are even a few pro riders out there who once had a Saturday job in their local shop. Cleaning the boss’s bike and making tea before being let loose on the customers; that was a key part of my early career in cycling and it has served me very well.

But shops are having to change. While we all shop online sometimes, a good local bike shop is as essential as ever, it’s just what they offer is very different to that of 20 years ago.

Now they’re as much a destination as they are a shop. Somewhere to grab a coffee or a cuppa, get a bike fit, do a spinning session or meet others for a ride… All that and you still get to squeeze the tyres, flick the top tube and gaze longingly at the bike that’s just out of your price range.

If you run or work in a bike shop click here for information on how you can get involved in ‘Britain’s Best Bike Shops 2017’.

Every voter will enter a prize draw to win goodies worth over £600 including a subscription to either Cycling Weekly or MBR, a Lezyne Super GPS Navigate computer bundle and enough Muc-Off product to get you through the season.

Winners will be announced in September. Both an overall winner for a standout road and mountain biking store will be chosen, as well as regional badges of honour for Scotland, the North East, North West, Yorkshire, the East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, East of England, London, South East and South West.

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September 2017

September 2017

14 essential tri bike skills to master: Ignored by many triathletes at their cost, having good bike handling skills and riding techniques can make a huge amount of difference – just ask Flora Duffy

Want to extend your season? Here’s a four week duathlon training plan that’ll help

Do you really need to taper? Our experts debate how to carry out the perfect taper so you are in the form of your life for race day.

Qualified for Kona? Who’s better top give you some tips than 4 times Kona queen Chrissie Wellington

Kit Zone: Simply the most comprehensive triathlon review resource available; multisport watch, run shoe, and women’s swimsuit grouptests; three Tour de France bikes get tested for tri suitability; all the latest tri gear tested.

Ask the man: Six-time Ironman world champ Dave Scott answers your questions, plus our panel of experts come to the multisporting rescue

To subscribe to220 Triathlon click here

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Australian track sprinter Shane Perkins thanks Vladimir Putin after gaining Russian citizenship

Sprinter missed out on selection for Australian in 2016 Olympics

Australian track sprinter Shane Perkins has thanked Vladimir Putin after being granted Russian citizenship as he targets selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Perkins, a double world champion while riding for Australia, declared his intention to apply for Russian citizenship after missing out on selection for the 2016 Olympics, and thanked Putin after the Russian president personally signed a decree approving his application.

“I’m very grateful and I’d particularly like to thank the Russian Cycling Federation, President Vladimir Putin, my coach Vladimir Khozov, and the strong team of people behind me that have made this transition possible,” Perkins said.

“I’m ready to race for Russia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I am working very hard to continually raise the bar in my performances both at training and in racing and will continue to do so every step of the way in the lead up to and at the Games.”

While riding for Australia, Perkins won bronze in the men’s sprint at the 2012 London Olympics, also winning the keirin at the 2011 World Championships and the team sprint at the 2012 World Championships.

Perkins is currently competing in the Russian championships in Moscow, where he was part of a winning team in the team sprint, and placed third in the individual sprint.

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