Dubai Tennis Championships: Petra Kvitova to meet Belinda Bencic in final

Petra Kvitova wins in Dubai

World number four Petra Kvitova continued her fine start to the 2019 season by beating Hsieh Su-wei in Dubai to reach her third final of the year.

The 28-year-old Czech, who won the Sydney title before losing to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final, won 3-6 6-2 6-4 in Friday’s semi-final.

Kvitova will play Swiss youngster Belinda Bencic, who beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, in Saturday’s final.

Bencic, 21, trailed 5-3 in the deciding set before winning 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-3).

“I think from 3-5, I just completely zoned out. Basically I stayed in the zone, even in the tie-break,” said Bencic, who has been mentored by five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis.

“I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

The world number 45 beat a top-10 ranked player for the third successive match, having also fought back from behind to see off Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Romania’s world number two Simona Halep.

She missed three match points at 6-5 before taking her fourth opportunity in the tie-break.

Bencic dropped down the rankings after suffering a serious wrist injury two years ago, but continued a fine week by reaching her first Premier final on the WTA Tour since 2016.

Bencic faces Kvitova again after she lost 6-1 6-4 to the two-time Wimbledon champion in the third round in Melbourne last month.

“There she was on a roll. She crushed us all,” Bencic said. “It will be a tough final.”

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Tadej Pogacar boosts Volta ao Algarve lead as Stefan Küng wins stage three time trial

The 20-year-old Slovenian extended his overall lead to 31 seconds over Enric Mas in second place

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) continued to impress following his summit finish stage win on Thursday at the Volta ao Algarve, extending his overall lead in the race after finishing fifth on the stage three individual time trial.

Swiss champion Stefan Küng took the stage; his first victory of the season for new team Groupama-FDJ, finishing two seconds ahead of Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) and five seconds ahead of Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).

The 20.3km time trial looked suited to the purer time triallists, and it proved a difficult day for overall hopefuls Wout Poels  and David de la Cruz (both Team Sky) and Sam Oomen (Sunweb), who all dropped back on GC after their rides.

How it happened

A fairly flowing 20.3km test against the clock was laid out for the riders on stage three of the 2019 Volta ao Algarve, with some fast times expected.

In the flurry of early riders off of the start ramp, Josef Cerny (CCC Team) went fastest with a time of 25-39, before Mads Pedersen and Irish champion Ryan Mullen (both Trek-Segafredo) beat that time with 25-09 and 24-41 respectively.

Any hopes of a win for Mullen were dashed not long after however, with former Belgian champion Yves Lampaert taking three seconds out of him with a time of 24-41.

Groupama-FDJ’s new signing Stefan Küng then looked like he could deliver a maiden victory for the French team, beating Lampaert to the hotseat by five seconds.

With the overall favourites now beginning to take to the course, Küng looked to have a good chance in holding on to take the win.

Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) came closest to beating Küng at just two seconds short, but none of the other overall hopefuls could really muster a challenge in earnest on the stage win.

However, Kragh Andersen’s time meant he would make a jump on GC, starting the stage in sixth and moving up to fourth overall following disappointing rides from some of those above him.

Sky pair David de la Cruz and Wout Poels both finished at 53 seconds down to the stage winner, with Sam Oomen further back at 1-20.

Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) also lost a chunk of time, but did enough to leave him in third place at 31 seconds to overall leader Pogacar.

Pocagar put in and impressive ride to extend his overall lead, but will face a final test in the mountains on stage five on Sunday.

Beforehand however, the peloton will tackle what should be a sprint day, with two small categorised climbs on a 198.3km route from Albufeira to Tavira on Saturday’s stage two.

Results

Volta ao Algrave 2019, stage three: Lagoa to Lagoa (20.3km, ITT)

1. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, in 24-33
2. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb, at 2 seconds
3. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 5s
4. Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo, at 8s
5. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 17s
6. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 32s
7. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 36s
8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at same time
9. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 42s
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 43s

General classification after stage three

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 10-16-14
2. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 31 seconds
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb, at 36s
4. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 37s
5. David de la Cruz (Esp), at 57s
6. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-08
7. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 2-12
8. Neilson Powless (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-13
9. Marc Hirschi (Sui) Team Sunweb, at 2-35
10. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 2-43

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Viviani leads Deceuninck-QuickStep in UAE Tour

Elia Viviani will look to add to his list of eight wins in the United Arab Emirates, leading Deceuninck-QuickStep as captain in the UAE Tour. Viviani has been named as the leader of the Belgian team but he will share attention with 19-year-old Remco Evenepoel, who is making his WorldTour race debut.

Viviani has wrapped up sprint stages in the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour, taking overall victory in Dubai in 2018. The two races have combined for this year’s UAE Tour and the race is no part of the WorldTour calendar. Viviani will look to Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini to provide a lead-out on the three stages expected to end in mass sprints.

Two of the seven stages are geared more to climbers, with mountaintop finishes on Jebel Hafeet and Jebel Jais.

Those climbs and the whole race will be an interesting test for Evenepoel. The Belgian neo-pro got his career off to a spectacular result with his ninth-place overall finish in his first pro race, the Vuelta a San Juan.

Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honore and James Knox round out the squad for the Belgian team. 

“We come here with Elia as leader, he will have a solid and experienced lead-out train to rely on and we are confident that he can win a stage and be in contention for the points jersey,” said DS Geert Van Bondt.

“We are also curious how Dries, James and Remco will fare on the uphill finishes and what they can do in the general classification.”

Evenepoel was quietly confident he can perform in the UAE Tour against the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Tom Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde. Deceuninck-QuickStep will be one of the favourites for Sunday’s opening 16km team time trial.

“The pressure and expectation are not a problem for me because I really don’t care about it,” Evenepoel said after the Vuelta a San Juan.

“I’ve just started racing and I’m not in very good shape yet, this was just a preparation race. I think my shape is good but hopefully, I can only get better and better.”

Cyclingnews will have daily live coverage of the racing at the UAE Tour, with exclusive news and interviews from Sadhbh O’Shea in the UAE.

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Tim Wellens extends lead at Ruta del Sol 2019 with stage three time trial win

The Belgian beat second place Jakob Fuglsang by two seconds

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) extended his overall lead in the 2019 Ruta del Sol after winning the stage three time trial in Andalucia.

The Belgian rider entered the stage with three riders, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang and Ion Izagirre, and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) breathing down his neck at five seconds back, but managed to trump them all with the time trial win, beating next best finisher Fuglsang by two seconds.

Defending champion Wellens only leads by seven seconds over the Dane though, and will face a tough task in holding onto the lead in the mountains of stage four against Astana, who also have Pello Bilbao in the top-10 overall.

How it happened

The riders face a short but testing course in the stage three time trial of the 2019 Ruta del Sol, with just 16.2km on the cards but featuring a tough climb to the finish.

Of the early riders out on the course, Britain’s Simon Yates set the benchmark time of 22-34, which would remain unbeaten for some time.

The next rider to beat Yates’ time would in fact be his twin brother Adam, who raced through the finish seven seconds quicker.

Again, it would be a benchmark that would hold for some time as riders counted down towards the overall favourites.

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) was the first of the overall hopefuls to look in contention for the stage win, coming home six seconds quicker than Adam Yates.

That was short-lived however, with Ion Izagirre crossing the line and taking the lead by just a 100th of a second. Jack Haig was unable to keep the pace with the other riders in the top three positions, finishing seven seconds down on Izagirre and dropping to fifth overall.

With just the top-two now out on the course, it looked as though Fuglsang may have the advantage as he blasted to the finish seven seconds up on his team-mate Izagirre.

However Wellens was showing no signs of relenting to the pressure on his overall lead, and powered up the final climb to log a time of 22-25, two seconds quicker than Fuglsang, extending his overall lead to seven seconds with two stages remaining.

The Ruta del Sol continues on Saturday with a tough mountain stage from Armilla to Granada, covering just 119.9km.

Results

Ruta del Sol 2019, stage three: Mancha Real to La Guardia de Jaén (16.2k, ITT)

1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, in 22-25
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 2 seconds
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana, at 9s
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
5. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 15s
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 16s
7. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 19s
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 22s
9. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 26s
10. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo, at 47s

General classification after stage three

1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, in 10-42-05
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 7 seconds
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana, at 14ss
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 18s
5. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 21s
6. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 28s
7. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 39s
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo, at 56s
9. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-04
10. Óscar Rodríguez (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias, at 1-16

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Best women’s cycling shorts reviewed

With obvious anatomical differences between boys and girls, specific women’s cycling shorts that fit correctly can make a significant difference to your rides. Here’s what to look for in finding the right pair for you

As one of only three contact points with your bike, the comfort of your derriere is paramount when bike riding and a good pair of women’s cycling shorts can make all the difference.

>>> Best men’s cycling shorts here

While a large proportion of your comfort on the bike will come from finding a quality women’s saddle that suits you, the what sits between that and the most delicate part of your body is just as important.

With a plethora of women’s cycling shorts on the market, finding comfortable short can be a minefield. It’s not just the chamois that matters – you’ll want leg grippers that sit well and fabric that provides comfortable compression.

>> The best women’s bikes 

We’re here to help you find that pair that allows you to freely ride your bike without the worry of sore bits or a builder’s bum making an appearance.

The best women’s cycling shorts

We’ve gone into detail about exactly what to look for in women’s cycling shorts below – but first, here are some of our favourites. You’ll notice we have included mostly bib over waist shorts, largely because if the improved performance they do offer – which is explained below.

>>> Best men’s cycling shorts here

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

We’ve got new pairs of 2019 bib shorts dropping into the office (including something quite exciting from Rapha!) and will get some brand new reviews up soon, but for now, these are our top picks from kit we’ve tested…

Assos UMA GT half shorts

Price: £95

Score: 9/10

Assos UMA GT half shorts

We’re rarely massive fans of waist shorts at Cycling Weekly, but these slipped through the net because the chamois is just so unbelievably comfortable. Most of the comfort comes thanks to the 8mm of memory foam and S7 ‘waffle design’ alongside the ‘goldenGate’ – which means the pad is attached at the front and rear, allowing for movement and ‘float’.

The leg grippers are also really wide and graduate towards the centre, meaning they stay put without digging in, and the waist rises up at the back to ensure no bare skin is ever exposed.

Plus, in all honesty it was quite nice being able to just pull them down for toilet stops and it does mean you can get Assos quality for under £100.

Read the full review here

Buy now at Wiggle for £95

Specialized SL Pro women’s bib shorts

Price: £140

Review score: 9/10

Specialized Women's SL Pro bib shorts women's cycling shorts

Specialized Women’s SL Pro bib shorts

Chosen to feature in the 2017 Editor’s Choice Awards, these bib shorts feature two key fabrics: VaporRize and Cold Fabric. The former is a lightweight, moisture-wicking material, while the latter is used specifically on dark-coloured fabrics to help keep core temperature low while allowing for the coverage of a deeper hue. Deflect UV 50+ treatment protects skin from harmful rays.

A magnetic ‘hook up’ clasp allows for quick bathroom breaks and the bib straps are light and ventilated. The leg grippers are very wide, with a silicone treatment keeping them in place without risk of over-compression.

The pad is the Body Geometry SL Pro Women’s Chamois – a race orientated option which features multi-density padding that’s been placed to look after soft tissue and nerves.
Read our Editor’s Choice write up here

Buy now at Tredz for £70

Santini Wave women’s bib shorts

Price:  £89.99

Score: 9/10

Santini Wave Women's bib shorts women's cycling shorts

Santini Wave Women’s bib shorts

Constructed from Santini’s own Thunderbike Power elastic, these offer compression whilst remaining breathable and lightweight and long lasting.

The raw-cut silicone backed leg gripper is extremely generous, creating a comfortable and flattering fit, whilst the upper uses a classic polyester mesh T-cut bib, a simple central back panel splitting at the neck to create two over-shoulder straps.

The chamois is a C3 Women’s pad, suited to rides up to seven hours.

It’s constructed using a process called ‘Carving Technology’, which consists of digging (carving) two overlapping foam cores to reduce volume and thickness to create multiple densities without stitching. Two gel inserts are then positioned beneath the ischia (sit bones) which Santini claims neutralises vibrations through to the body.

See our full review here

Buy now at Tredz from £65.39

dhb Classic halter women’s bib shorts

Price: £50

Review score: 9/10

We last reviewed the Blok version of these shorts, but the Classic style features many of the same features.

dhb’s halterneck bib strap allows riders to simply pull the back of the shorts down when it’s time for a comfort break – and the strap is super stretchy so it all stays put when you’re riding. We’ve found halternecks to pull on the neck in the past, but that’s simply not the case with these.

The main body of the shorts is constructed from Italian performance fabric, which is stretchy and soft. The chamois is a foam Elastic Interface Giro Air pad, a low-bulk pad designed for between three and five hours in the saddle.

At the legs, the grippers use silicone to stay in place, and the £50 price tag is certainly enticing.

Read our full or the Blok model here

See the Classic halter bibs for £50 at Wiggle

Sportful Bodyfit Pro women’s bib shorts

Price: £90

Review score: 9/10

Sportful Bodyfit Pro W bib shorts women's cycling shorts

Sportful Bodyfit Pro W bib shorts

The outer legs and lower back are constructed from Polyamide/Elastane Aero Flow Compress fabric, which Sportful claims offers improved aerodynamics as well as muscle compression and support thanks to a honeycomb structure. Elsewhere on the legs, a standard black Polyamide/Elastane mix is used.

The grippers use raw cut edges, with a 6cm silicone backed band which keeps the legs in place without being overly tight and the upper is a standard y-shaped design, constructed from a stretchy mesh fabric.

The chamois is a foam Infinity pad, with a bioceramic top cloth, that’s soft and features varying density.

Read our full review here

Buy them for £90 at Wiggle

Assos T.laalalai shorts_s7 women’s bib shorts

Price: £165

Review Score: 9/10

Assos T laalalai shorts s7 bib shorts women's cycling shorts

Assos T laalalai shorts s7 bib shorts

A top end pair of shorts, at £165, these bibs come with an expectation of excellence – and they provided in our tests.

Protective ‘type.439’ fabric offered compression and abrasion resistance, but they’ve been dipped in an ‘IceColor’ dye that helps to reflect sunlight – providing a cool ride even on super hot days. Wide, 4.5cm leg grippers have been used and a clasp at the waist can be disconnected and swing over the head for easy comfort breaks.

Read the full review here

Buy now at Wiggle for £165

Women’s cycling shorts chamois

At the top of the check list for any women’s cycling shorts is the padded insert, otherwise known as a chamois. There’s a fine line between sufficient padding and too much bulk, and this also depends on the kind of riding you’re going to be doing. Long days in the saddle will require more cushioning, but if you’re on and off the bike a lot, for example a quick commute or a cyclocross style ride, you may prefer much less.

A quick squish test can give you a rough idea as to the level of padding, but also take into account construction: is it made from foam, gel or both? As a rule of thumb the more variety and densities of layers, the more cushioning you will receive, especially over a longer time period (both in terms of riding time and age of shorts) when padding can compress flat – offering little in terms of support.

On the whole, the addition of gel inserts may help reduce some shock absorption, but can add weight and bulk to the shorts. Foam may give you a little more road buzz feedback, but will create a lighter, more streamlined and less restrictive pair of shorts.

>>> Embarrassing cycling problems and how to prevent them

To add to this gel-versus-foam conundrum is a myriad of construction fabrics, with a view to reducing the risk of saddle sores (of the infected hair follicle type). But try not to get too bogged down with this as most shorts’ chamois now offer some kind of antibacterial properties, breathability, sweat wicking and quick drying capabilities. To be honest, the best prevention of saddle sores is self help and chamois care by always wearing fresh shorts, using an antibacterial chamois cream, limiting chamois time when not on the bike and hopping into the shower asap post ride.

>>> How to look after your Chamois

Areas of soft tissue need protection. This is often in the form of extra soft padding to help alleviate pressure points and the all-important avoidance of stitching in these regions. The design also needs to appreciate that women’s sit bones are wider apart than men’s and position the thickest padding accordingly.

This attention to padding placement will also help you decide your overall chamois size requirement – bigger is not always better. Bear in mind that when on a bike your legs aren’t any wider than hip distance apart at the top, so too much padding overspill can create an un-natural leg position. While too much length at the rear may just be unsightly, too much at the front will potentially cause friction burns to the top of legs and groin when you start pedaling.

MIP_060314

A women’s specific chamois should be shorter and have sit bone padding wider apart and more central soft tissue support than a men’s

One of the biggest causes for short discomfort can be the chamois-to-short interface. Unfinished edges and badly positioned stitching can irritate legs, buttocks and groin. A niggle, when multiplied by several thousand pedal revolutions, can swiftly turn in to full blown painful chaffing and skin loss. To protect yourself from this, look for flatlock sewing right at the edges of the padding and ensure that the unpadded fringes of the chamois flow a few centimeters below the groin to prevent irritation in creases.

women's cycling shorts

Flatlocked sewn right to the edges will minimize the risk of friction rubbing


How to dress for hot conditions 


Shorts vs Bibshorts

There are two kinds of cycling shorts: ones with bibs and ones without, and both have pros and cons. It’s very much horses for courses as to what type will suit you and your riding needs best, and like chamois padding, this need may change depending on what riding you’ll be doing on any given day.

Waist shorts for women

The biggest benefit to plain and simple shorts is easy access, be it for the inevitable comfort break on long rides or just a bottom half change for quick rides to and from the office.

With no body upper, shorts can also be a cooler option on hot days or indoor training sessions. With less fabric, this generally makes them lighter weight and a cheaper option price-wise.

The downside is, unless you’re a unicycle rider, all forms of bike riding require you to bend in the middle – the exact point where a waistband sits. This can create a ‘digging in’ sensation when on the bike, which can range from merely an ‘awareness’ to ‘organ squeezing’! Some shorts get round this issue with the creation of a low slung waistline, but that can give an unflattering pot belly illusion and create a gap between shorts and jersey at the back. The better option is a wider waistband with a high back to counter the stretching effect on the bike.

However, construction of waist shorts varies hugely, so when trying on, make sure you try with a bike specific jersey and adopt an on-the-bike position to see how the waistband fits and feels.

Brands and retailers agree that waist shorts are currently the biggest sellers for women. However, in terms of performance, bibshorts to tend to offer a better experience when on the bike.

Bibshorts for women

Bibshorts more or less overcome this waistband issue as the shorts’ leg fabric continues much higher up the torso before eventually transitioning into the bibstraps. A good pair of women’s specific bibshorts will take account of a female’s increased hip to waist ratio compared to a man’s and ensure they fit snugly around the waist, preventing crafty gaps and sweat channels. Unlike shorts, some bibshorts offer an element of skin protection if you’re unfortunate enough to end up sliding on tarmac – though the amount of coverage will vary depending upon the design.

This male/female fit difference also holds true for bibstrap design. Traditional up and over straps may work for some, but others find straps directly laying on breasts uncomfortable and/ or find the shorts no longer sit flush on the stomach, again creating drafts or sweat channels. Look for bib straps that take account of the female form by contouring either side of the chest, running directly down your middle or having another solution, such as the dhb halterneck design.

women's cycling shorts

dhb halterneck bibshorts

The other thing to look for on the straps is length: too short will become painful and sore on the shoulders, too long and shorts will sag and not hold the chamois in position. A good fit will feel slightly too short when standing, so again when trying on, adopt a riding position to get a better idea of how they’ll feel on the bike.

>>> The best women’s bike saddles

Many women are put off bib shorts because taking a ‘comfort’ or ‘nature’ break is made a little bit more difficult. However, almost all reputable brands have now come up with a solution for this. Popular options include halterneck bibs, which can be pulled over the head and threaded under a jersey (Ale), or simply pulled down at the back (dhb and Giro), as well as zips around the waist (Gore) and clasps that clip at the waist or back with a similar function to the halter neck (Gore again and Assos).

Though some women prefer to go with the bog standard bib strap design featured on most men’s bib shorts, unzipping a jersey and removing the straps when it’s time to ‘go’, the assorted options offers by those catering for women in this way do make bib shorts more accessible for those who might otherwise have opted for waist shorts.

women's cycling shorts

Twin zips at the back of the Gore Power 2.0 allow for easy access comfort breaks

Bibshort designs without a quick pit stop drop will require you to remove your jersey first, so just watch out for dropping items from your pockets and if you’re wearing a race number, make sure its not pinned through your base layer too!

Legs on women’s cycling shorts

While function is imperative, form isn’t far behind, with the links between looking good and feeling good on a bike being well documented.

As women generally having a higher fat percentage than men, skin tight lycra can be both friend and foe, with the ideal short legs being body contouring and muscle supporting, while avoiding over-compression.

>>> Men’s cycling bib shorts: a buyer’s guide

Aim for a close, but not a restrictively tight fit on the legs, especially on the leg cuff. This is a particularly tricky area to get right, as they need to be snug enough to prevent the legs riding up when pedalling, without squeezing the thigh giving that ‘sausage leg’ look. Wide leg cuffs and raw edges often create the most flattering finish, and when teamed with silicone or other tacky fabrics on the leg gripper, will stay put when riding.

women's cycling shorts

Santini 33 Aero shorts use a wide leg band, with micro silicone dots on the inner and a raw cut finish

Until relatively recently only the use of multiple fabric panels would deliver a close fit, and even now it’s a good way to ensure a simple lycra short contours the body.

With the advent of more technical materials that flow and cling to the skin, a snug fit can now be achieved using fewer panels. These fabrics often have multiple attributes, such as being incredibly lightweight and breathable, so expect a premium price tag on these shorts.

Trying on will allow you to see and feel the fit instantly, but unfortunately it’ll be difficult to judge the shorts’ legs’ staying power until you get out on the bike, so look out for women’s specific cycling shorts reviews to test that for you.

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Five things to look out for at the 2019 UAE Tour

A new race with an appealing balance

Riders at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour (Foto LaPresse – Fabio Ferrari)

Middle Eastern races have been a fixture of the month of February for several years now, and the new UAE Tour – created as a merger between the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours – looks set to be the most balanced and prestigious to date.

With a total of seven stages, the UAE Tour exceeds the likes of the Tour of Oman in terms of length, and will visit each of the nation’s seven Emirates. And whereas the now defunct Tour of Qatar and Tour of Dubai tended to be processions of flat stages, this race is broken down into three sprinter stages, two mountain top finishes, a hilly stage and an opening team time trial.

The UAE Tour will also mark the return of the WorldTour following a month-long hiatus since the end of the Australian events of the Tour Down Under and Great Ocean Road Race.

All this means the inaugural UAE Tour looks likely to produce exciting, competitive racing in an area of the world that has too often been characterised by dull parcours, to be contested by a star-studded line-up of riders (as we’ll get into below).

Team Sky improvise in absence of Chris Froome

Chris Froome lines up at the UAE Tour after racing in Colombia
(Photo by Maximiliano Blanco/Getty Images)

The plan for Team Sky had been to be led by Chris Froome, in what was meant to be his second stage race of the season following an inauspicious opening at the Tour Colombia last month.

However, there will need to be a change of plan following the news on Wednesday that the four-time Tour de France champion will not be competing after all.

His absence should, however, be no cause for panic among the team, neither in the short nor the long term. Froome made slow starts to both his 2017 and 2018 campaigns, yet went on to win his first Grand Tour attempted in each.

And in terms of their line-up for the UAE Tour, in Michal Kwiatkowski and Gianni Moscon the team boast two riders each capable of stepping in as team leader, both of whom will be making their first appearance of the season.

As winner of Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of Poland and Volta ao Algarve last season, Kwiatkowski is probably the team’s best bet, but Moscon also possesses the all-round ability to excel on all terrain, and himself won the overall at the Tour of Guangxi in his last race of 2018.

In the sprints, Kristoffer Halvorsen is more of an outsider, but the 22-year old does already have a win to his name this season and could surprise some of the more established names.

Big hitters make season debuts

There’s been plenty of races already this season, but some of the top dogs of the peloton have waited until the UAE Tour to make their first bow.

One such rider is Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who will be hoping for a better start to the season than the one he endured in the UAE last season, where frustrations from crashes and mechanical issues derailed his hopes at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

He’d no doubt have liked an individual time trial included in the route – as would have Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who built his early season overall victories last year at the Tours of the Basque Country and Romandie on the basis of strong rides against the clock, and will also be making his first showing of 2019.

The there’s Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who will be racing for the first time as a 34-year old, eager to prove that he still has what it takes to compete alongside the younger, fresher stage racers in the peloton.

Valverde chases first win in the rainbow jersey

World champion Alejandro Valverde will look for his first win of 2019 in the UAE (Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA)

It’s a little early to be making references to the ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’ – especially given how Peter Sagan has spent the last three years making a mockery of the very idea of such a curse – but Alejandro Valverde’s stint as world champion has so far been characterised by near misses.

The Spaniard has so far registered five podium finishes in total this season – including second overall at both the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Vuelta a Murcia, and second behind Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) on a stage of the former – without yet registering a win.

The killer instinct might so far be lacking, but these performances suggest Valverde has the form to compete for overall victory in the UAE.

Other on-form contenders to look out for include Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), who was as competitive as ever in the early season Australian races, and Gorka Izagirre, one of the contributors to Astana’s prolific start to the season.

A showdown between the sprinters

Elia Viviani sprints at the 2019 Tour Down Under (Sunada)

So far this season, most of the big names sprinters have managed to bag at least one win, but none have been dominant to win any more than two.

With three stages expected to end in bunch sprints at the UAE Tour, the opportunity is there for one of them to lay claim to being the in-form sprinter of 2019.

The line-up is full of some of the peloton’s top leading talent. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) will resume their rivalry from the January Australian races, where both picked up wins.

It will also be fascinating to see how Fernando Gaviria – who triumphed in a couple of stages at the Vuelta a San Juan – goes up against former team-mate Viviani, in the pair’s first showdown since the former left for UAE Emirates.

Another former Quick-Step rider Marcel Kittel already has half the tally he managed during his entire first season at Katusha-Alpecin following a win at Trofeo Palma, but faces a far sterner test in the UAE up against a far stronger field of riders – a field that also includes Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), who, in the absence of Pascal Ackerman (who denied Kittel a stage win at the Clasica de Almeria last week) and Peter Sagan will lead his team’s sprinting hopes.

It’s too much to expect Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to compete for stage wins, but he’ll be hoping for high placings as he continues his rehabilitation, but the on-form Brit Dan McClay (EF Education First) could spring a surprise.

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Best men’s cycling shorts reviewed 2018

It’s reached the time of year where we’re not full on grimacing when we see bare legs. Here are some of our best rated shorts, if you’re looking to stock up…

There are loads of items of kit you can get away with spending less on, items where you can opt for standard sports wear over cycling specific creations. Cycling shorts are not one of them.

>>> Best women’s cycling shorts

Cycling shorts are the number one piece of kit in any rider’s wardrobe – a good pair of padded cycling shorts can ensure you’re able to put the hours in on the bike, whilst any issues there can lead to enforced rest due to saddle sores.

Whilst most riders will opt for cycling bib tights during the deep winter months, cycling shorts can be teamed with leg warmers and worn during the shoulder seasons as well as the summer months.

The key ingredients to a good pair of cycling shots include a quality chamois (the pad), quick drying and high wicking material, a stretchy fabric so that there’s no flapping about and a comfortable fit.

Shorts for cycling can cost anywhere between £20 and £200. Paying more usually results in a greater number of panels, which creates a more flattering and comfortable fit, usually a high tech pad with a number of features and sometimes handy ad ons like radio pockets and compressive or aero fabric.

Cycling shorts come in two distinct forms: bib shorts and waist shorts. There’s more detail on this below – but bib shorts are the more premium option, offering greater comfort. If you opt for waist shorts, you’ll want a pair with a high and wide band to prevent digging in.


Best men’s cycling shorts reviewed

First things first: there are many, many pairs of shorts out there and there’s a lot of good options. We’ve had the opportunity to test many pairs of cycling shorts and we can’t include every good option in this list (you’d fall asleep) – but we can cherry pick our favourites which is what we’ve done.

For female riders, we’ve got a dedicated round-up of the best women’s cycling shorts here.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

We’ll be testing more newly released pairs of shorts in the weeks to come, but for now, these are our current favourites…

Mavic Essential bib shorts

Price: £89

Score: 9/10

These bib shorts earned themselves a place in our Editor’s Choice award for 2018 – the pros were the quality Ergo 3D pad, comfortable straps, single layer leg grippers and great cut. We didn’t find any cons, and they’re reasonably priced at £89.

The pad is denser than most, yielding itself well to 5+ hour days in the saddle, and the gripper stayed put without digging in.

Read the full review here

Buy now at Bikester for £75.99

Albion bib shorts

Price: £110

Score: 9/10

Albion is an emerging UK based brand, and we reckon it’s done a fine job with its bib shorts.

The key material used is ‘M.I.T.I’ fabric, which is very soft and comfortable against the skin, whilst still feeling robust.

The brand uses strong leg grippers, which will suit those who find anything else rides up the thigh, but won’t go down as well with riders who prefer a raw cut cuff.

The pad was pretty thick, but will work well on long rides.

Read our full review here

Buy now for £110 at Albion

Assos T Equipe EVO bib shorts

Price: £155

Score: 10/10

Assos T Equipe Evo bib shorts

We’ve got a lot of time for Assos when it comes to cycling shorts and the T Equipe EVO bib shorts were a clear choice for our most recent Editor’s Choice awards.

This said, it is worth bearing in mind that since then, Assos has brought out its new S9 bib shorts, and we’ll be reviewing those in due course.

Back to the Equipe pair, these feature Assos’s Equipe_S7 pad, which features its ‘goldenGate’, where the chamois is stitched just at the front and back to allow a degree of float. The pad is very comfortable, and backed up with a second-skin race fit body.

Sure, they are on the pricey end, but we’ve found kit from Assos can easily withstand up to five years of wear.

Read the full review here 

Buy them at Wiggle for £155

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts

Price: £119.99

Score: 10/10

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts

Endura’s party trick is offering three different pad width options to suit varying hip bone anatomies, saddles and riding positions; the brand suggests pad options for various popular saddles but you can also get a custom fit at some bike shops.

The pad itself doesn’t look that structured, but beneath the surface you’ll find the thickness varies throughout, with greater density at the sit bones.

There’s two leg length options, too – and hemless leg ends mask hidden internal grippers that keep them in place without bunching.

Compressive fabrics feature a coldlack treatment which helps reduce overheating and these have an SPF50 rating.

See our full review here

Buy now at Wiggle for £113.99

Castelli Mondiale bib shorts

Price: £200

Review score: 9/10

Castelli Mondiale cycling shorts

Castelli Mondiale cycling shorts

They may not be the cheapest option around by a long shot, but we loved the Mondiale shorts so much they earned a spot in our 2017 Editor’s Choice awards. 

Using 50 per cent lycra, the high content of elastic fabric provides lots of stretch and they’re soft to the touch. Seams are kept to a minimum, and those that are there are taped on the inside.

The shorts utilise Castelli’s Progetto X2 Air seatpad, which features on all of its higher end options and offers continuously variable thickness to provide targeted comfort. The pad is pre-formed to conform to the body and it’s flatlock stitched in.

The leg grippers are bonded on the inside, providing a single price of fabric to the opening. The straps feature laser cut ventilation holes with a stretchy elastic section over the back and shoulders.

Read the Editor’s Choice write up here

Buy now at Ribble for £130

dhb Classic bib shorts

Price: £50

Score: 9/10

dhb classic bib shorts

Our favourite dhb Aeron Speed bib shorts don’t appear to be available in the current line up, and we were less enamoured by the Aeron Lab Raceline pair. However, the Classic bib shorts from dhb still sit at £50 and impressed us enough to gain a 9/10.

They’re a no-frills pair of shorts which prove that good doesn’t need to be complicated. Italian fabric, Action 205 Lycra, is stretchy and comfortable against the skin, the Cytech Elastic Interface ‘Giro Super Air’ pad provides air flow, ventilation and performed well on long rides.

There’s silicone grippers to keep the legs in place, too. Our only concern was that some seams are not perfect.

Why wear padded cycling shorts?

The number one job for a pair cycling cycling shorts is protecting the rider from saddle sores and chafing by providing a layer of padding which is shaped to suit the riding position.

Read more:

Cycling shorts are also constructed from high-wicking, quick drying fabrics which encourage sweat to leave the surface of the skin thus keeping the rider dry and whiff-free on hot days and helping to reduce the discomfort associated with riding in the rain. 

How much should I spend on cycling shorts?

You can pick up a pair of cheap cycling shorts from as little as £30.

These will come with a chamois pad and are constructed from lycra which won’t flap about on the bike – thus answering your basic needs.

BTwin Aero Fit cycling bib shorts

BTwin Aero Fit cycling bib shorts

Spending more – cycling bib shorts can carry price tags over the £150 mark – will provide you with more durable fabrics and extras such as compressive materials, more flattering fits thanks to the use of multiple panels and carefully constructed leg grippers. The chamois will often offer more breathability and multi density padding that provides more targeted comfort.

The middle ground is around £70 to £100 and for that you can expect to buy a high quality pair of bib shorts that will provide several seasons of cycling in comfort.

Waist shorts vs bib shorts

At Cycling Weekly, we test predominantly bib shorts. These have bib straps attached to the main body of the shorts.

The bib straps mean there’s no need for a tougher piece of fabric at the waist to hold them up, eliminating any digging in at the stomach. It’s also impossible for them to fall down – so there’s no chance of having a small slice of cold or sunburnt skin at your lower back. Finally, the straps mean that the material stays put, and the chamois can’t move around.

Waist shorts are, however, still popular. There is a simplicity in just pulling on a pair of waist shorts – and pulling them down for comfort breaks.

Waist shorts are also generally cheaper, and often a good ‘first cycling short’ option for those new to the sport, who perhaps already feel odd about wearing a padded garment.

Regardless what you choose, it’s important to know that you are not meant to wear underwear with padded cycling shorts. The chamois is designed to sit against your skin.


How to dress for hot conditions 


Cycling short materials 

The choice of materials for designers is huge, from thicker leg material used on thermal bib shorts for chilly spring conditions to well-ventilated back panels for summer heat.

It’s a good idea to have a selection of bib shorts in your collection, with varying options depending upon weather conditions.

Breathable fabrics or cut outs at the back are good additions on a pair of summer cycling bib shorts

Breathable fabrics or cut outs at the back are good additions on a pair of summer cycling bib shorts

More expensive bib shorts will use fabrics which aid blood circulation through compression. Those aiming for the aero edge may also feature technologies aimed in this direction.

Cycling short fit

Cycling shorts should be constructed from multiple panels of fabric. The more panels used, the better the fit – a single panel per leg would give the appearance of two moving chipolatas wrapped in lycra. Using multiple panels also increases comfort as the fabric isn’t forced to stretch too far in any given area.

You need to ensure the shoulder straps are comfortable. Some come up short, feeling a little restrictive, even for a rider of average height. Wherever possible, try on bib shorts (over underwear) and – as silly as you may feel in the dressing room – adopt a riding position to get a clear idea of how they’d really feel on the bike.

Styles vary as well – some riders like cycling shorts that reach almost to their knees, whilst others prefer them to finish mid thigh.

Cycling short chamois

The other details are important to consider, but the chamois is the absolute key bib short component. Get it right and your shorts will offer years of comfortable miles. Get it wrong and the pad can become uncomfortable.

Cycling short chamois

Cycling short chamois is at the heart of the construction

Cycling short chamois pads are shaped to suit different sorts if riding – often the product description will give you an insight into the pad sewn into a pair you’re looking at.

Endurance focused chamois pads will be thicker to cater for greater hours in the saddle and will usually have denser foam at the rear to cater for an upright position.

A chamois that’s designed for short, hard, race efforts will often have more padding at the front as riders on the rivet will usually rotate more to sit on the end of the saddle.

Many brands buy in their chamois from an external company, such as Cytech, and can often use the same pad as a competitor.

The chamois often comes with some additional features, such as perforation to provide breathability, and an antibacterial treatment to keep the shorts fresh.

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Ben Swift recovering after suffering spleen rupture in training crash

Swift hopes to be recovered in time to compete at Milan-San Remo in March

Ben Swift is recovering in the hospital in Tenerife, Spain, following a heavy crash on Wednesday and a ruptured spleen.

He was training on the island with Sky team-mate and Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

Swift, who began racing with Team Sky again in 2019, hopes to return in time for Milan-San Remo – only one month away on March 23. Doctors will possibly move him from intensive care on Friday.

>>> UAE Tour start list: Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Dumoulin due to ride

“I’m still in intensive care. Hopefully I’m moving out of here today,” Swift told Cycling Weekly. “My spleen has been stabilised.”

Swift already began his season with Sky with the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, where he spirited to third on stage two, and the Tour de la Provence.

In Spain, he was training ahead of a programme that was due to include the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on March 3. On a training ride with 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas, Swift hit a rock or something in the road.



“It was the same colour of the road on a shaded section,” he continued.

He suffered facial wounds and road rash, but scans revealed fractures. However, he ruptured his spleen. Doctors performed an operation on Wednesday afternoon to reduce the risk of further bleeding, explained Team Sky

“Thankfully though, he didn’t lose consciousness and was aware of the incident afterwards,” Team Sky doctor Inigo Sarriegui explained.

“We will continue to monitor him over the coming days, but 24 hours on from the crash he is already feeling better.”

Swift, who raced the last two years with UAE Team Emirates, remains optimistic.

“Because I didn’t have to have it removed then I guess once I am out of hospital it shouldn’t be to bad,” he said.

“I am guessing Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is off schedule, but I hope to keep my plans for Milan-San Remo.”

Swift placed third in the 2014 Milan-San Remo and second in 2016, his final year before leaving Team Sky for UAE.

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Lutsenko eyes Tirreno-Adriatico, Ardennes Classics, Worlds

Another year, another Tour of Oman title for Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), though this time he was utterly dominant, winning three of the six stages along the way. Lutsenko didn’t win much else in 2018 but there’s a sense that the 26-year-old might be on the verge of building a big palmarès, with stage races and Classics both on his agenda.

Every rider in Oman was happy to admit Lutsenko was head and shoulders above the rest, as he helped himself to victories on the two punchy stages and then on Green Mountain to seal the title. Cofidis directeur sportif Roberto Damiani likened him to 1986 world champion Moreno Argentin.

“I’m not surprised,” Lutsenko told Cyclingnews of his dominance. “I did a lot of work in Tenerife at altitude before this. Now I’m more skinny. I’m two kilograms lighter.

“That gives me more motivation for the important races like the Classics. It’s a good start for my new season, the best I’ve had. Tomorrow I go back home to enjoy a few days with my family before going to Belgium. That’s my plan for this week. After, I go to the Classics with good legs and good motivation.

Lutsenko will line up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next Saturday, where the form he has shown automatically makes him one of the favourites, having already shown his potential on the cobbles with a podium at the 2017 Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Yet, despite Astana coaches insisting he could win the bigger cobbled Classics like the Tour of Flanders, Lutsenko is skipping them in order to focus on the hillier Ardennes races this year.

“I really like Amstel Gold Race,” he said, reminding that he won the U23 world title on the Cauberg – Amstel’s iconic climb – in 2012. “I like this last steep climb in the Amstel Gold Race. That’s my strong point. Also, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a good race for me, I think.”

You can never be too good, but Lutsenko will have to make sure he’s still at the height of his powers in two months’ time, with Amstel Gold Race on April 21 and Liège on April 28.

“I think it won’t be a problem,” he said. “After Tirreno-Adriatico [March 13-19] I’ll rest for three or four days then go again to altitude in Tenerife for more preparation for the Ardennes Classics.”

Lutsenko will also race Strade Bianche on March 8, and there’s another one-day race that stands out in his head, even seventh months away: “The World Championships in Yorkshire.”

As for stage racing, the next big target is Tirreno-Adriatico, one of the most prestigious week-long stage races. Having now won twice in Oman, Lutsenko is expected to take a step forward in those races and to start challenging for the titles at the bigger WorldTour events.

“Tirreno is a good race for me,” he said, having finished 15th last year. “There’s not too much climbing, you have a time trial. For me it’s perfect.

“I think one-week races, like Tirreno-Adriatico, like Paris-Nice, are good for me. Also last year, the Tour of Turkey went well.”

“I’m not thinking about GC in Grand Tours, just maybe maximum one-week races. I prefer those races, you don’t have the long mountains, more short climbs that suit me better.”

Lars Michaelsen insists Lutsenko, at 26, is still developing and has a bright future ahead of him.

“He has proved two years in a row he can win the Tour of Oman, so short stage races, even with a time trial – we didn’t have one here but he’s also good at time trialling. So for sure, the one-week stage races are something he can aim for, also the type like BinckBank Tour,” Michaelsen told Cyclingnews.

“For the one-day racing, it’s still to be proven. The engine is there. You need other skills also, like fighting for position, but the engine is there.”

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Delray Beach Open: Juan Martin del Potro reaches quarter-finals in Florida

Juan Martin del Potro

Top seed Juan Martin del Potro eased through to the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open with a 6-4 6-4 win against American Reilly Opelka.

The Argentine, playing his first tournament since breaking his kneecap at October’s Shanghai Masters, held serve to love in the final game to wrap up victory in one hour 13 minutes.

The 30-year-old will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the last eight.

Fourth seed Steve Johnson of the USA beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi 7-5 7-5.

He will meet Radu Albot in Friday’s quarter-finals after the Moldovan beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Elsewhere, Britain’s Dan Evans takes on sixth seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, while American second seed John Isner faced France’s Adrian Mannarino.

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