O'Connor excited for Giro d'Italia debut after breakthrough Tour of the Alps

Ben O’Connor headed home from the Tour of the Alps with the best young rider’s white jersey and bucket loads of confidence as he prepares for his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia.

The 22-year-old from Western Australia won stage 3 to Merano with an impressive solo attack after the climbs of the day. He then kept his head, finished fifth in Innsbruck and so even moved up to seventh overall, 1:33 down on overall winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).

“To get the reward as best young rider is brilliant,” he told Cyclingnews happily, as he checked his hair in the reflection of his soigneur’s sunglasses for his moment on the podium.

“It’s always great for young guys like me to aim towards goals but winning a stage at a race like the Tour of the Alps is extremely difficult if you’re young like I am. Success takes time, as does GC racing. To be good every single day is bloody hard.”

O’Connor revealed he even overcame a late, nerve-racking puncture.

“I felt really relaxed. I don’t know why. Maybe because it was confidence, maybe it was just the demeanour of being generally more relaxed about how you ride things.

“I’ve enjoyed the whole thing, this week has been brilliant, except when I punctured on the final climb, that wasn’t awesome at all,” he said, able to laugh about it now.

“I got a quick change but getting a puncture so late on is never, ever a good thing. I got back up to the Froome group and he chased the attack back and it came back together. I was pretty empty by then but I came in with the guys to hold onto everything I’d worked for all week.”

O’Connor’s breakthrough performance has secured his place in the Dimension Data team for the Giro d’Italia. He will play a vital support role as Louis Meintjes targets the overall classification but is looking forward to discovering his own limits on his Grand Tour debut.

“This is five stages and five really hard days of racing. To do that for three weeks… It must be agony sometimes but I can’t wait to find out,” he said.

“I don’t really know what to expect but if my form builds like this, there’s no reason why I can’t be up there in the mountains stages with Louis. Maybe we can play a double edge sword strategy, help him as much as possible and try some new things.”

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Team USA Wins Two Synchro Medals at China Open

Photo Courtesy: USA Synchro

The U.S. Senior National Synchronized Swimming Team started the season strong Friday, winning two medals on the first day of the China Open.

Team USA won silver in the team technical event, and Anita Alvarez (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Ruby Remati (Andover, Mass.) won bronze in duet tech.

“The athletes had solid swims in both events,” said Sara Lowe, an assistant coach for the U.S. Senior National Team. “We noticed improvement in the areas in which we focused on leading up to the competition. We also saw areas in which we need to continue to work.”

The U.S. scored 79.9018 points in team tech to finish second behind host China, which had 89.0903 points. Slovakia was third at 73.6496.

Alvarez and Remati made their debut as a duet, taking third in duet tech.

Competing for Team USA in China are Anita Alvarez (Buffalo, N.Y.), Grace Alwan (Andover, Mass.), Paige Areizaga (Palm Coast, Fla.), Yara Elian (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Nicole Goot(San Jose, Calif.), Hannah Heffernan (Las Vegas, Nev.), Cassandra Neeley (Williamsville, N.Y.), Daniella Ramirez (Miami, Fla.), Ruby Remati (Andover, Mass.), Abby Remers (Sugar Land, Texas) and team captain Emma Tchakmakjian (New Canaan, Conn.)

The U.S. will compete in the team free event on Saturday. The China Open is being live streamed at https://www.finatv.live/en (subscription required).

The China Open is one of 10 events in the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series that made its debut last year. The Synchro America Open, sponsored by Orange County, is the U.S. leg of the 2018 World Series and will be held June 7-9 in La Mirada, Calif.

The FINA Artistic Swimming World Series integrates existing and well-recognized competitions in the sport. The international teams taking part collect points at each meet, and final rankings and prize money are tallied at the end of the series.

— This is a press release provided by USA Synchro.

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Vlad Morozov, Oleg Kostin Break Records On Day One of Russian Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia Dalberto/Lapresse

The 2018 Russian Swimming Championships began today and will serve as the selection meet for this year’s European Championships which will be held August 3-12 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Two Russian national records were broken to highlight the first day of competition, which takes place April 20-25 in Moscow.

Women’s 400 IM

Irina Krivonogova began the 2018 Championship meet with a win in the 400 IM. She stopped the clock in 4:47.46, using her strong breaststroke leg to out-touch the runner-up.

Two 17-year-olds followed: Sophia Chichaykina finished a close second in 4:47.99 and Alexander Denisenko took third in 4:48.53.

Men’s 400 Free

Alexander Red broke away from the field halfway through the race to finish first with a time of 3:45.84. His final time was two seconds off the National record set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Vyacheslav Andrusenko (3:47.25) and Martin Malyutin (3:48.46) wound up third.

Women’s 800 Free

Anna Egorova dominated the women’s 800 free, using consistent splits throughout to finish nearly ten seconds ahead of the field. She posted a final time of 8:30.66.

Anastasia Kirpichnikova finished second with a time of 8:40.49 and 16-year-old Yana Kurtseva Kurtseva touched the wall in 8:44.29 for third.

Men’s 50 Back

The first National record broken of the championship meet came from Olympian and former NCAA Champion Vlad Morozov. In the 50 back final, he got his hand to the wall first in a quick 24.35 to break the old mark.

Clement Kolesnikov wasn’t too far behind and finished second in 24.46. Sergey Fesikov placed third in 24.79.

Men’s 50 Fly

Shortly after Morozov’s record-breaking performance in the 50 back, Oleg Kostin set a new national mark in the men’s 50 fly. He snuck under the old record with a final time of 23.14.

Nikita Korolyov swam to second in 23.42 while Alexander Sadovnikov and Andrey Minakov both tied for third with a time of 23.59.

The second day of competition will see finals in the men’s 1500 free and 100 breast as well as the women’s 100 fly, 50 free and 200 back.

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Pinot: This is one of the greatest victories of my career

Thibaut Pinot called his overall win at the Tour of the Alps the biggest of his entire career. The Groupama-FDJ rider said that it had been a perfect week after he beat Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) to take the title by 15 seconds.

Pinot came within seven seconds of winning the race last season only to be beaten by Geraint Thomas. The Frenchman showed his intentions early on with an attack on the opening stage and continued in that vein for the remaining four days. He moved into the race lead after stage 3, and despite a slim advantage, he kept hold of it for the remainder of the race.

“It’s a very important race. Without a doubt, the Tour of the Alps is a mythical race for climbers, so for me to add it to my palmarès is amazing – and on top of that to do it against riders of the highest level. For me, it’s one of the greatest victories of my career,” Pinot said at the finish. “This was the perfect week. We had perfect weather and a perfect route and everything just went even better than I could imagine.

Just two weeks sit between the end of the Tour of the Alps and the start of the Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem. Pinot finished fourth at the Giro d’Italia last season and is arguably well ahead of the form that he had going into the race 12 months ago. Though he has beaten many of the riders that he will go up against next month, Pinot says that he’s not yet thinking about the Giro d’Italia.

“I’m happy to be one of the favourites for the Giro but the most important thing for me right now was to win such an important stage race and to have it on my palmarès. Much has been said about the Giro but I haven’t started thinking about it yet.”

Though he made many of his own, Pinot had to endure an onslaught of attacks from his rivals in order to win. Both of his closest rivals Lopez and Pozzovivo made stinging attacks on the final climb of stage 5, putting Pinot under a lot of pressure with nobody left from his team to help.

“When Miguel Angel Lopez slipped away during the descent I couldn’t do anything but stick on his wheel,” said Pinot. “When Pozzovivo attacked it was not easy to resist. I actually managed to catch back up with him, and at that moment when I caught him, I realised that I had won.

“It was an incredible race, across all five days. It was five days of battle. There were no gifts. I’m really happy to write my name into this race, which, for a climber, is very prestigious.”

They were unlikely to be thinking about it in the heat of battle but the final stage of the Tour of the Alps gave the peloton an opportunity to recon parts of the World Championships route. The course took them over the Olympia climb three times, although they did not have a chance to see the toughest part of the Worlds route, the ‘Hell Climb’. Some of the riders headed out to check it out following the stage, but Pinot will wait to do it on Saturday. Even without seeing it in the flesh, Pinot is anticipating a hugely difficult Worlds in September.

“I guess the World Championships are going to be complicated and difficult especially with regard to having a 28 per cent gradient stretch with a short descent and no time to recover,” said Pinot. “Today we did not cover this last stretch so it’s very difficult to imagine how it’s going to be, but my feeling is this will be one of the hardest and toughest world championships in a long time. They are going to be super anyway.”

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How To Ease Your Maranoia Ahead Of The London Marathon

So many people get nervous before running a marathon that the pre-42.2km butterflies has its own name – maranoia. The London Marathon can be one of the most nerve-wracking races of all, because it’s such a big event that it’s almost impossible to escape the coverage in the days leading up to it.

Maranoia can cause you to question everything – the gear you’re going to wear, the time you’re aiming for, even whether you can finish. While it’s natural to feel nervous, it can become a problem if you find you can’t sleep because your mind is buzzing with doubts.

Coach spoke to sport psychologist Jo Davies from jdpsychology.co.uk for some advice on lessening the effects of maranoia.

How common is maranoia?

It is absolutely normal to feel some nerves or butterflies before the marathon. This is particularly true if it is your first marathon, because there is some fear of the unknown if you haven’t yet run the full 26 miles.

Even runners who have completed the marathon before may feel some apprehension about the physical and emotional challenges that running that distance brings. Seasoned or competitive marathon runners may experience a slightly different form of nerves, concerning their time or result.

What are the usual ways it manifests itself?

Runners may experience “what if” thoughts. What if my body gives up on me? What if I don’t achieve my goals? Or they may imagine worst-case scenarios, such as not being able to complete the race.

Sometimes the emotional centre of our brain will blow challenges out of proportion. It may say “the forecast is for warm weather but I’ve trained all winter in the cold, so I’ll never be able to run all that way in the heat!” Or catastrophize scenarios illogically, “I just sneezed, am I getting a cold? What if I’m unwell on race day!”

Nerves may also be experienced physically when thinking about the marathon or on race day, for example feeling butterflies in the stomach, nausea, or increased heart rate or adrenaline.

What are some good ways to ease your fears about the race in the days leading up to it?

Remind yourself of why you are capable of achieving your goals, such as the preparation you have done and the training experiences you have accumulated. Write all these reasons down and look at them whenever self-doubt begins to creep in.

Focus on what you can control. Often our fears will take us to uncontrollables like the weather or the outcome. Bring yourself back into the present moment and what you can directly influence by asking yourself what’s important now? It could be that you need some rest, or to fuel your body sensibly, or to have a gentle run, or do some stretches, or to plan your journey to the race.

Imagine achieving your goals. Visualising yourself crossing the finish line will prime your mind and body to be race-ready. You might also work through any anticipated challenges to develop confidence in your coping mechanisms. For example, imagine keeping your pace up despite discomfort.

Remind yourself of what you are most looking forward to to fuel your motivation. That could be passing iconic landmarks, raising money for charity, or the personal accomplishment of running further or faster than you ever have before!

For more info on what it takes to succeed on race day check out New Balance’s Variables Of Victory marathon guide.

Chris Froome enjoys ‘perfect’ Giro preparation despite missing out on victory at Tour of the Alps

Four-time Tour champion says that he’s on track for tilt at Giro d’Italia

Chris Froome may not have won the Tour of the Alps, but he insists that he is still on track for the Giro d’Italia after five days of “perfect” preparation in northern Italy and Austria.

Instead of going on the attack to try and win the race, Froome found himself trying to chase back on after an attack by overall leader and eventual GC winner Thibaut Pinot pulled Domenico Pozzovivo and Miguel Angel Lopez clear.

In the end that group came back on the flat run-in to Innsbruck as Mark Padun snuck away to win the stage, but for Froome the final result was less than the hard training he has enjoyed over the last few days as he targets the Giro, which starts in Jerusalem on May 4.

>>> Thibaut Pinot wins Tour of the Alps overall as Mark Padun claims final stage

“I think the last five days have been perfect build up for the Giro,” Froome told journalists outside the team bus after the stage.

“I think I’m definitely a lot close to being ready for the Giro than I was a month ago at Tirreno-Adriatico so I’m really happy with the sensations now and I’ve still got two weeks to go.”

Having come to the Tour of the Alps off the back of a period of tough altitude training in Tenerife, Froome will now return home to Monaco to put the final touches to his Giro form before travelling to Israel for the Grande Partenza at the start of May.

The 32-year-old had been expected to go into the race to face a tough challenge from defending champion Tom Dumoulin, but given the excellent showing from the likes of Pinot, Pozzovivo, and Lopez at the Tour of the Alps, the Giro now looks to be much more open than it was a few days ago.

>>> Hit by a car four days ago and still on track for the Giro: George Bennett’s incredible comeback at Tour of the Alps

However for Froome, the only things that requires concentration is his own condition and he wasn’t going to make any Giro predictions based on results at the Tour of the Alps.

“I don’t think we can read too much into the last few days,” Froome continued. “Everyone’s different in their approach to the Giro and some guys probably wouldn’t have been at 100 per cent in this race but they will probably be a lot better at the Giro.

“For sure there are some things that you can’t miss. Thibaut is in great shape, Pozzovivo is in great shape on the climbs as well, Fabio Aru is not far off, and Superman [Miguel Angel Lopez] is looking great. It’s been a nice little taste of what is to come in May.”

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Division II Roberts Wesleyan Adding Diving as Official Sport for 2018-19

Photo Courtesy: Steve Russell

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Diving will become an official sport at Roberts Wesleyan College beginning in the 2018-19 season. Bob Segave, Director of Athletics announced on Friday that diving will be added as an NCAA Division II sport in tandem with the newly created swim program that was added this past year.

“We are excited to add Diving as an intercollegiate sport offering which will be combined with our recently added men’s and women’s swim programs,” Segave said. “This addition is a few years ahead of our original timetable, but the overall interest in the program has exceeded our expectations.”

The announcement of adding diving comes just 15 months after the college declared that it would be adding swimming as an intercollegiate sport. The men’s and women’s swim teams kicked off their inaugural season on October 21, 2017 and closed out the season on February 3, 2018.

Head Coach Sara Smith was able to bring in 16 student-athletes in a short turnaround time for the team’s first season and is excited about the potential to bring in an even larger number of student-athletes with the addition of diving.

“I am excited for the opportunity to encompass diving as an additional sport offering in conjunction with our men’s and women’s swim team,” Smith said. “Our first year as a swim program saw tremendous success in the pool and in the community as the athletes came together and shared with Roberts what our sport is all about! Adding diving will only continue to provide the ability for students in the swimming & diving community to practice balanced lives of academics and athletics at the collegiate level while receiving a dynamite education here at Roberts.”

The Redhawks swimming and diving teams will kick off their season in the fall.

Press release courtesy of Roberts Wesleyan Athletics.

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Condor releases limited edition Classico track bike at the Bespoke bike show

Condor Cycles has this week release an old classic especially for the much anticipated World Cycling Revival this year

London based Condor Cycles, which has been hand building steel bikes for 70 years, has created and launched 15 replica 1950 track bikes especially for the Japanese Keirin Trophy, said to be the centre piece of the World Cycling Revival later this year hosted at the 1948 Olympic venue Herne Hill Velodrome.

>>> Condor Super Acciaio frameset tested

The track bike is based off of Condor’s Classico frame design. The British brand has then taken cues from the 1950s and 60s bikes used by Condor racers like Dave Bonner and Hugh Porter. Each bike is handmade in Italy and have all been specifically designed and built with Keirin style racing in mind to stay pure to the racing. This should allow for a riders skill and power to prevail rather than who has the best bike.

A classic design back in the 50’s and 60’s

So all competitors in the Japanese Keirin Trophy will only be using the Condor Classico track bike.

If you’d like a close up view of the racing bike from Condor it will be on display this week at the Bespoke bike show. Up close you’ll be able to see the craftsmanship of the triple butted lugged steel frame, along with chrome plated and etched fork and rear stay.

>>> Condor Leggero frameset review

The World Cycling Revival is set to be a big event

Grant Young of Condor Cycles said: “This year marks our seventieth anniversary building bespoke bicycles. In 1948 the majority of race bikes were custom built, but increasingly, in today’s marketplace this is a rarity. That is why we are so excited to partner with The World Cycling Revival and produce the Classico for the event”.

Between June 14 to June 16 at the iconic Herne Hill Velodrome you’ll be able to enjoy a festival of cycling that will celebrated the last 200 years of cycle racing.

Nice chrome plating sets off the bike nicely

The event will host races in true classic style and will feature the Condor Classico bike in the Japanese Keirin Trophy, which is said to have the likes of six time sprint world champion Francois Pervis and 2017 world champion Azizul Awan. 

The Keirin races will be hosted every day, so you’ll have every chance to see these bikes in action if you head along this summer.

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Adare Manor in Limerick to bid for 2026 Ryder Cup

Shane Lowry, Paul McGinley, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington at Adare Manor

Adare Manor in Limerick is bidding to host the 2026 Ryder Cup.

The course was officially re-opened on Friday by Rory McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.

Ireland last hosted the event in 2006 at the K Club when Europe, inspired by an emotional Darren Clarke, beat the US by a record-equalling nine points.

Adare Manor will host the JP McManus Pro-am in 2020, and is also being tipped to hold an Irish Open, with a new rota of venues to be revealed soon.

McGinley will replace McIlroy as tournament host of the Irish Open next year, with Lahinch & Portmarnock Links in the running to stage the tournament.

2026 is the next vacant date when the Ryder Cup comes back to Europe after the 2024 Ryder Cup in America.

JP McManus, the owner of Adare Manor, said staging a Ryder Cup would be “great for Limerick and great for Ireland”.

“We’ll put our name in the hat. I think we have the facilities to host it and we’d love to have it.”

Four-time major winner McIlroy said he would be “confident the tournament would be very successful” if it were to be held at the Irish course.

“To play a Ryder Cup at home in front of your home fans would be a dream come true. Even thinking about it makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck,” said McIlroy.

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