Coryn Rivera sprints to Tour of Flanders 2017 victory

The American was able to hold off rivals from a lead group to take her second WorldTour victory of the year

It was heartbreak for the breakaway as Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) sprinted to victory at an aggressive and entertaining Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

The American rider became the first woman to win two Women’s WorldTour races this year, her team achieving the same feat.

The 24-year-old American had been part of a group of 15 riders who caught a break of four within the final kilometre. It was an emotional moment for Rivera, winner of Trofeo Alfedo Binda two weeks ago, she collapsed in tears over the line, hugging team mate Ellen van Dijk, who had done so much work to catch the escapees.

As the bells high in the tower of Oudenaarde’s church tower tolled the 11 o’clock, the peloton rolled out for the longest race of the season so far. At over 153km, the route contained four cobbled sectors and 12 climbs, some of which were also surfaced with pavé.

Though the opening hour was aggressive, with a number of attacks, none were successful in gaining a meaningful advantage. However, with 41 km covered in those opening 60 minutes, three riders managed to gain 30 seconds, on a bunch seemingly content in the knowledge they could close the gap on a whim.

This proved the case. As the peloton approached the second third of the race, re-entering the Oudenaarde, the gap closed and, by the time they reached the first climb, the Achterberg, they were caught.

The ensuing climbs did not bring any significant selection, though they did begin to wear down the peloton, weaker riders being dropped one by one. It was the climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen which created the first gaps, the peloton splitting and, shortly after, Rivera’s Dutch rider Rozanne Slik attacked and quickly building a gap in excess of one minute.

An attempt by French rider Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal) to catch the Dutch woman proved fruitless, however, as the Slik maintained her gap until, after 112 km, on the Pottelberg, five rider launched a counter attack.

This brought a reaction for the bunch and Slik’s advantage began to tumble and she was caught on the climb of the Kanrieberg, with just 35 km to ride. A group of around 35 riders emerged from that climb which was later split again when Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) attacked on Oudestraat forming what was so nearly the winning break

With Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5), Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) and Polish champion Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) the quartet built a significant gap, however, with Canyon-SRAM and Team Sunweb absent, the gap began to close.

With those two teams working hard the escapees came in sight and the die was cast when the catch was made with little over 800 metres to ride.

Lizzie Deignan finished as top Briti in 17th place, five seconds down

The Next round of the Women’s WorldTour is Amstel Gold Race on April 16th.

Result

Tour of Flanders Women – 153.2km Oudenaarde-Oudenaarde

1. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb 4-02-38
2. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-Scott
3. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott
5. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto-Soudal Ladies
6. Elena Ccecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
7. Rasa Leleivyte (Lit) Aromitalia Vaiano
8. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energie
9. Janneke Ensing (Ned) Ale2-Cipollini
10. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5 all at same time


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Morning Splash: Revisiting the Most Exciting NCAA Distance Race Ever

Photos Courtesy: Peter H. Bick & USA TODAY Sports

By David Rieder.

Long before four men touched the wall with the four fastest times in history, all of those watching the 1650 free at the men’s NCAA championships realized that they were being treated to an epic.

In lane one was Michigan’s PJ Ransford, the Michigan junior who put the pedal down on the second 500. As Ransford opened up a five-yard lead, Michigan’s Felix Auboeck, Texas’ Clark Smith and Northwestern’s Jordan Wilimovsky were battling for position in the middle of the pool.

But after the 1000, Ransford faded, and out in lane eight, South Carolina’s Akram Mahmoud had surged. Mahmoud was desperate for redemption after a narrow defeat in the event in 2016, and by the 1300 he found himself head-to-head with Auboeck, Smith and Wilimovsky.

After a furious, intense final stretch, it was Smith who pulled away on the last 50 to get his hand on the wall first in 14:22.41. The time was more than a second under the American and U.S. Open record of 14:23.52. Auboeck finished second (14:22.88), followed by Mahmoud (14:22.99) and Wilimovsky (14:23.45).

After the meet, we collected impressions from five interested observers and will share those thoughts below. Those referenced include:

  • Sam Kendricks, meet announcer
  • Austin Surhoff, former University of Texas All-American and NCAA champion
  • McGee Moody, University of South Carolina head coach
  • Cathleen Pruden, Swimming World High School Content Manager
  • Connor Jaeger, 2016 Olympic silver medalist in 1500 free and former American record-holder in 1650 free

All watching the race that night in Indianapolis except for Jaeger, who was back home in New Jersey. But despite the distance, it didn’t take him long to find out his American record had gone down.

“I looked at my phone and had a bunch of texts like, ‘Oh my god!’” Jaeger said. “Texts of different points in the each, who was winning at what time. It sounded really exciting. I do plan on watching it on YouTube, but I looked at all the splits, and it definitely looked like an exciting race.”

Read below for a collection of their thoughts from throughout the race.

Kendricks on the lead-up to the race:

“I don’t like to do predictions, but this race was sitting in my head since a week after it finished last year. All I was thinking was, ‘How will this affect Akram Mahmoud, and what will be his resiliency level, and what will it mean for him training-wise?’”

Pruden pre-race:

“Going into the mile I knew it was a hyped up race. While I recognized that it had potential, it seemed like media, fans, etc. were setting their standards a little too high. Despite being a distance swimmer myself, it was, after all, the mile. I know that it’s usually not as exciting as so many other events.”

Kendricks on Ransford:

“When I saw Ransford go, I thought, ‘This is the guy in the pack that’s going to try and break everybody.’ But in looking at the race again, I thought he went too early. Too hard, too early in the middle. I think he would have been right there if he had just gone with the pack, stayed with the pack and try to race them. His rabbit approach in the middle third set the race up for the finish because it forced those other guys to stay at a pretty high intensity.”

Surhoff on Smith:

clark-smith-2017 mncaa 3662

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

“There’s such a mystique around Clark. Every race you wonder what the ceiling is and what the limit is… I couldn’t help but have the feeling that once Clark got past the 700 or so and was still in the race that there was no chance he was going to lose. That’s the honest-to-God truth—I did not think it was possible for him to lose that race.

“Watching him over the years, if he’s in the race, there’s no one in the sport that has the capacity to finish like he does. I watched it his sophomore year in Iowa when he won the 500 free and just took everyone down the last 100. The races that he wins and that he succeeds in, he just has to be in the race. Nobody else can finish like he does on the last 500.”

Moody on Mahmoud:

“We did our best to have Akram put last year’s race out of his mind. We worked really hard to design a race plan that was going to keep that from happening this year. It basically came down to him running out of gas last year.

“The plan this year was to take the first 500 out in about 4:22. Wanted to be about 4:22-4:23 on the second 500. As we’re watching that first 500 unfold, and he came into wall in about 4:23, we knew that he was on his race plan. He was where he needed to be.”

Pruden on Mahmoud:

“I knew Mahmoud had done well last year, but he seemed so out of it. I knew he relied on a really quick latter half, but the gap still seemed like far too much.

“I don’t really know how it happened but suddenly Mahmoud was very in the race, swimming from the outside. It was a five-man race that fell off to a four-man race and for that last 200 or so it seemed like every 50 had to be the last.”

Kendricks on finish:

“We get into that last 50, and I’m like, ‘This is Clark’s race. He’s going to kill those guys. It’s not even going to be close. He’s going to win by a bodylength and a half.’ That’s what I felt like was going to happen.

“Then with 25 to go, I see Auboeck winding up and closing on Clark… And then I see Mahmoud—maybe he’s going to do it. And the whole time that last 25, I’m thinking, ‘It’s gotta be Mahmoud. The story has got to be Mahmoud.’ I honestly think, had Auboeck wound it up 10 to 25 yards earlier, he runs down Clark because it seemed like the last five strokes, [Smith] didn’t have a lot left in the tank.

Surhoff on seeing an injured Smith helped off the deck:

“That’s a tough as hell swim. In retrospect, after finding out about the injury and how much it affected him during the race. That’s one of the tougher, more gritty performances I’ve seen when you consider that he set a record as well.”

Jaeger on the record:

“In one race, I had a quick drop from fastest of all-time to now fifth.”

Moody on Mahmoud’s post-race emotions:

“It’s one of those things where you can be upset that he didn’t win—because you know he wanted it really badly—but what do you tell a young man that just put up the third-fastest time in history but then also had the third-fastest time in the heat. We just told him how proud we were of him. The biggest thing is he raced with heart. He battled through that last 300 to 400 yards.”

Pruden’s final impression:

“It’s cool to think that Katie Ledecky does that by herself all the time—sets a world record. This was in some ways equally impressive because all four of these guys demolished history, but they relied on each other and raced one another to get there. If you put walls in between their lanes and they were swimming alone, what would have been the result? I don’t know, but I really think those times were the result of it being a race, not just four very talented swimmers.”

Jaeger from the distance swimmer’s perspective.:

“A lot of people were saying they thought the mile was the best race of the meet, and I have a lot of pride for that, just being a miler. I’m biased—I would say it was the most awesome race of the meet with how much back-and-forth there was going on—but to hear other people say it and to hear other non-distance people say it is awesome.”

“Congrats to all of them. Great representation of distance racing in general.”

Kendricks—“the greatest race I’ve ever witnessed:”

“I wasn’t talking about the greatest race ever. I was talking about the greatest race I’ve ever seen in person. Would I put it ahead of the [U.S. 400 free] relay victory [from 2008] and the [Jason] Lezak close? I wouldn’t do that. But in terms of what it was, what we all saw and what I just witnessed with my own two eyes in front of me, I think I’ll be hard-pressed in my career to ever call a race that has that kind of drama.”

Moody on historical implications:

“To see all four of those guys go under the American record, in my opinion, that’s the greatest race in NCAA history. Definitely the greatest mile, but to have those guys over that length of time to battle in an event that’s so mentally challenging, so physically challenging, and then the four of them go the four fastest times ever in the event, that was awesome. That was fun. All the guys in that heat deserved a pat on the back because it was incredible.”

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Marianne Vos misses Tour of Flanders for a fourth year as a health precaution

The former winner is trying to avoid succumbing to health issues she suffered throughout 2015

As the women’s peloton rolled out of Oudenaarde for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday morning there was one notable absence.

>>> Tour of Flanders 2017 LIVE!

Marianne Vos missed the race as a precaution, in the hope she will not succumb to heath issues which have blighted previous seasons.

Vos has not made an appearance at the Belgian Classic since she won it in 2013, missing the 2014 race after a full cyclocross season which saw her win a seventh rainbow jersey in the discipline.

She missed the entire 2015 road season to illness, injury and fatigue, and opted against participation last year as the race came to easy in her rehabilitation.

The three time road world champion returned to competition last spring, however, though she bagged nine road wins, she did not but did not enjoy the dominance she experienced earlier this decade.

Over the winter she raced a reduced, but highly successful cyclocross season, though she was unable to regain her world crown in Luxembourg in January.

The Dutchwoman’s seventh place at the Ronde van Drenthe last month was the best of her three road race starts this season. She has not raced since finishing 29th at the Trofeo Binda – a race she has won on three occasions – two weeks ago.

“When you do an intense period of cyclocross you also have to be aware that you need a rest,” Team WM3 Energie team manager, Eric van den Boom told Cycling Weekly.



“We decided after the cyclocross season, which took a lot of energy from her, to build up more easily and prepare more with some training blocks and be ready for the April and May period, especially the Ardennes week.”

Van den Boom denied that Vos’s lack of competition was the result of a recurrence of her health problems, explaining it was purely a precautionary measure.

“We need to be secure, with good solid planning, that is important, especially if we go back one year when she was starting from zero. It is not good that you forget there is history.”

After all her years dominating the top races in women’s racing, when Vos returned last year she appeared to have lost some of the climbing ability which brought her three Giro Rosa victories as well as other wins on hilly courses.

Indeed, she did not race the 2016 Giro, instead opting for the less challenging Thüringen Rundfhart, where she finished fifth on general classification, despite taking three stages.

“Yes, but not always and everywhere,” van den Boom said when asked if Vos wold ever regain her dominance. “There’s no rider doing that, rest is normal and is the modern way of planning.“We need to be careful because we want to be successful.”


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Simon Yates shows impressive form with solo victory at GP Miguel Indurain

24-year-old broke away in the final 10km of the Spanish one-day race

Simon Yates showed some impressive form to finish off some excellent teamwork by Orica-Scott at the GP Miguel Indurain, with the Briton soloing to victory in the Spanish one-day race on Saturday.

The 24-year-old broke away from a reduced group with 10km to go and managed to increase his gap to the chase group up to the finish, managing to hold off Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) and Paris-Nice winner Sergio Henao (Team Sky).

Orica has managed to get Roman Kreuziger in the early breakaway of the 186km race, which acts as a precursor to the Tour of the Basque Country on Monday.

When that break was eventually caught with 50km to go, numerous attacks came on the following climbs, with none sticking.

It wasn’t until 20km to go that a nine man group was able to jump clear, with Yates and his teammates Damien Howson and Carlos Verona managing to make it in.

The gap back to peloton held at around 30 seconds, before Yates was able to make the decisive attack with 10km to go.

Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates attacked to claim a solo victory today for ORICA-SCOTT at Gran Premio Miguel Indurain in Spain.

The 24-year-old launched away from a reduced front group at a perfect moment with 10kilometres to go and impressively worked to increase his advantage until the finish line, to take his second victory of the season.

“It was a hard race today, at the start with the wind and the rain but the team rode really well, protecting me at all times,” Yates said.

“Roman Kreuziger went into the main break which was great for us, it meant we could sit in the wheels and save energy.”

“On the climbs the guys were always there and we made it a hard race so I am extremely happy to win today.

“Next I have Pais Vasco and I hope I can ride well there and maybe get another victory, I am looking forward to it.”

It’s Yates’ second win of the season after he broke away to take a stage win at Paris-Nice in March.

Results

Gran Premio Miguel Indurain

1. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), in 4-34-01
2. Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac), at 23s
3. Sergio Henao (Team Sky), at 23s


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Sunday trading: The best deals on spring jerseys, Oakley glasses and summer tyres

Revamp your wardrobe with some of these wicked deals from the likes of Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Evans Cycles and many more

The Cycling Weekly tuck shop is open for business! What’ll it be today? A new jersey perhaps? Or some tyres, maybe? Perhaps even a new wheelset? Who knows! Delve further into this week’s Sunday trading to bag yourself a bargain.

Gore Power Windstopper softshell short sleeve jersey £124.99 £62.49

Read more: Gore Power Windstopper softshell short sleeve jersey review

Gore is a market leader when it comes to performance textiles, and its Windstopper jersey is no exemption.

Its a great option for the spring when the weather can be blustery and unpredictable.

Buy now: Gore Power Windstopper softshell jersey from Evans Cycles for £62.49

Oakley Jawbreaker Tour de France sunglasses £195 £90.61

Read more: Oakley Jawbreaker review

The sun has been out and about lately, so what other excuse could you want to buy yourself some fancy new sunnies.

Oakley’s for less that £100 is definitely nothing to be sniffed at!

Buy now: Oakley Jawbreaker Tour de France sunglasses from Wiggle for £90.61

Castelli Corsa Shoecover £60 £34.99

Read more: Spring cycling clothing: a buyer’s guide (video) 

Windproof, waterproof and about everything you could need to keep your feet warm and dry this spring.

These are some seriously stretchy overshoes, too so you’ll always get the right fit whatever shoes you wear.

Buy now: Castelli Corsa Shoecover from Chain Reaction Cycles for £34.99

Continental Grand Prix 4000s II £49.95 £34.95

Read more: Buyer’s guide to road bike tyres (video)

This is a tyre jammed full of a lot of technology, and it’s considered something of a benchmark in the cycling world.

The Vectran Breaker tech should keep punctures to a minimum while the BlackChili compound is fast rolling.

Buy now: Continental Grand Prix 4000s II from Evans Cycles for £34.95

Dealz, dealz, dealz:

Giro Empire SLX shoes – £274.99£137.49

BMC Team Machine ALR01 105 2016 – £1,249£949

Sidi Wire Carbon Vernice road shoe £325£226.99

Endura women’s Photon packable jacket – £69.99£15.99

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 without brakes – £1,620£899

Continental Grand Prix folding tyre – £34.95£18.98

Campagnolo Comp One OT 11spd Chainset – £339 –£132.03

Mavic Cosmic Pro carbon wheelset – £875£787.50

Campagnolo Bora One 50 clincher wheelset – £1719 – £1349.99

Castelli Imprevisto Nano water-repellant jersey – £80£63.99

Altura women’s Pro Gel bib-short – £54.99£27.49

Louis Garneau arm warmers – £19.99£11.99

Giro women’s rain jacket – £169.99£48.49

Endura women’s Roubaix jacket – £54.99£35.74

Specialized SL Expert bib-short – £99.99£79.99

Louis Garneau knee warmers – £19.99£11.99

That’s all for this week folks, check back next week for more mega deals!


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Lexi Thompson leads first women's major as Charley Hull slips back

Charley Hull

ANA Inspiration third-round leaderboard
-13 L Thompson (US); -11 S Pettersen (Nor); -10 Mi Jung Hur (Kor), M Lee (Aus), Inbee Park (Kor), So Yeon Ryu (Kor); -8 A Jutanugarn, K Icher (Fr), C Kerr (US), M Wie (US)
Selected others: -5 C Hull (Eng), L Ko (NZ); +2 M Reid (Eng)

American Lexi Thompson takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the first women’s major of the season after a five-under 67 took her to 13 under.

World number nine Thompson, 22, carded six birdies in the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, California to lead Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (68).

England’s Charley Hull, 21, had three birdies in a one-under 71 as she slipped eight shots off the lead.

She is tied for 11th on five under par with world number one Lydia Ko.

The 19-year-old from New Zealand, who won this tournament last year to collect her second major title, bogeyed the first hole but posted two birdies and 15 pars for a one-under 71.

Seven-time major winner Inbee Park is in a group of four on 10 under that includes fellow South Korean So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 US Women’s Open champion.

The event is back on schedule after delays caused by stormy weather but Thompson was among 56 players who had to complete their second rounds on Saturday before playing the third.

The halfway leader, who won the 2014 title, said: “Experience always helps me out, but I’m just going to focus on one shot at a time, relax out there between shots and just focus on doing my routine.”

Pettersen, winner of the Women’s PGA Championship in 2007 and the 2013 Evian Championship, has been runner-up in the event on three occasions and said: “I’m driving the ball well and that’s a major key on this golf course. If you do, you can kind of attack it as well.

“The leaderboard is packed behind me. You’ve got to expect to go out there and shoot low. There’s a lot at stake, but I’m all in for it.”

After two sub-70 rounds, former US Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie returned a 71 and shares seventh on eight under.

England’s Mel Reid, the only other Briton to make the cut, is two over par after a mixed round of five birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey saw her post a two-over 74.

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Swimming World Presents “American Swimming Team: The Base & Core of the Team”

Photo Courtesy: James Deville

American Swimming Team (Future): The Base & Core of the Team

Beginning with the December 2016 issue and running through May 2017, Swimming World takes a look at the American Swimming Team past and present, and will provide some thoughts on the future. This month: Part V.

In this fifth of a six-part series, Swimming World takes a look into the possible future of the American Swimming Team, beginning with learn-to-swim programs and progressing through more challenging levels of training that stress the importance of excellent technique, cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and a strong self-image.

Author Chuck Warner explains that,

The future will undoubtedly include discoveries that will lead to better technical models for swimmers. But the greatest potential for improvement of the American Swimming Team is not in knowing what the “perfect model” is, but in knowing how to teach and train swimmers to actually ingrain the model in mind.

To read more about “The American Swimming Team” check out the April issue of Swimming World, available now! 

april-cover-ashleigh-johnson

[PHOTO PROVIDED BY Jeff Cable/USA WATER POLO]

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

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

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

FEATURES

014 AMERICAN SWIMMING TEAM (Part V): FUTURE—THE BASE AND CORE OF THE TEAM
by Chuck Warner
In this fifth of a six-part series, Swimming World takes a look into the possible future of the American Swimming Team, beginning with learn-to-swim programs and progressing through more challenging levels of training that stress the importance of excellent technique, cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and a strong self-image.

016 2016 TOP 12 WORLD MASTERS SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
by Taylor Brien, David Rieder and Annie Grevers

024 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH BRADLEY TANDY
by Annie Grevers
None of Bradley Tandy’s success is accidental. Every step of his day leading up to a big race revolves around visions of future moments of triumph. Here’s a glimpse into the mind of South African Olympian Bradley Tandy on race day.

026 ASHLEIGH JOHNSON: THE RELUCTANT OLYMPIAN
by Annie Grevers
Most Olympians dream about competing in the Olympics by the time they’re 10 years old. But Ashleigh Johnson—Team USA’s water polo player who was named “Goalkeeper of the Games” at last summer’s Olympics— didn’t start thinking about it until the year before Rio.

030 NUTRITION: AROUND THE TABLE WITH MICHAEL CHADWICK
by Annie Grevers and Tasija Korosas
After being part of an American record-setting 4×100 free relay in his international debut at the 2015 Duel in the Pool, then winning four medals at last December’s World Short Course Championships, University of Missouri senior Michael Chadwick is hungry for more collegiate and global swimming success. Let’s see what this sprinting stud consumes to keep his body moving at lightning speeds.

COACHING

009 SPECIAL SETS: SHORT COURSE TO LONG COURSE TRAINING
by Michael J. Stott
Moving from short course to long course training presents challenges for swimmers and coaches alike. With long course on the horizon, it now becomes incumbent on coaches to ease swimmers effectively and seamlessly from one season to the next.

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: JOZSEF NAGY
by Michael J. Stott

012 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE MISCONCEPTIONS: TRAINING DISTANCE
by Rod Havriluk
This month’s misconception is that “total training distance” is the best indicator of the value of a training session. In reality, the total distance typically includes many strokes executed with a less than optimal technique that do not comply with the coach’s instructions.

032 WHOOP! (THERE IT IS)
by Michael J. Stott
College coaches are examining a new way to help change habits and alter the way they and their athletes look at sleep. The device, in bracelet form, is called WHOOP. It was used by some American Olympians in Rio, and has found favor with more than 50 college sports programs across the United States.

042 Q&A WITH COACH JESSEN BOOK
by Michael J. Stott

043 HOW THEY TRAIN ARTHUR CONOVER
by Michael J. Stott 

TRAINING

041 DRYSIDE TRAINING: HOW’S YOUR KICK?
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

035 GOLDMINDS: SWIMMING AND NEUROSCIENCE—TRAIN THE BRAIN TO WIN IN THE LANE
by Wayne Goldsmith
Neuroscience is a fancy way of saying that your brain and your body can—and should— work together as a team in helping you to realize your full potential.

045 UP & COMERS
by Taylor Brien

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT
038 MOMS AT MEETS
046 GUTTER TALK
048 PARTING SHOT

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Check out six of the key Tour of Flanders climbs on Strava

Eighteen climbs make up the modern Tour of Flanders, each of them with their own characteristics. Here are six of the key ascents of the famous Classic as Strava segments

Paterberg

Length: 400m
Gradient: 12 per cent (avg) 20 per cent (max)
KOM: Eli Iserbyt 53sec

Riders ascend the Paterberg twice on the 260.8km route: once with 51km to go and again as the last climb of the day, 13km before the finish.

With 11 climbs already in the legs when the riders first go up it the 20 per cent gradient is tough, but in the heat of the final kilometres it becomes even harder.

Taaienberg

Length: 800m
Gradient: Seven per cent (avg), 18 per cent
KOM: Daniel Oss 1-12

The Taaienberg is by no means the longest climb on the route, but with a gradient of 18 per cent in places and coming 36km from the finish it’s a prime place to make an attack.

>>> Tour of Flanders 2017 preview

Kruisberg

Length: 1,825m
Gradient: Five per cent (avg), nine per cent (max)
KOM: Daniel Lloyd 4-03

What the Kruisberg lacks in steepness it makes up for in length. At over 1,800m long the climb takes over four minutes at a crucial point in the race. With 26km to go to the finish the action has more than heated up by that point.

Koppenberg

Length: 600m
Gradient: 13 per cent (avg), 22 per cent (max)
KOM: Cameron Bayly 1-39

When it comes to cobbled climbs, few can compare to the Koppenberg for difficulty. Again, it’s not massively long, but with gradients of up to 22 per cent it’s an incredibly challenging climb, even for the professionals.

There’s only one ascent of the Koppenberg in the Tour of Flanders, but it comes with 44km to go, so no-one can afford to take it easy.

>>> The Koppenberg and the defining cobbles, bergs and climbs of the Belgian Classics

Oude Kwaremont

Length: 2,500m
Gradient: Four per cent (avg), 12 per cent (max)
KOM: Niki Terpstra 4-55

The Oude Kwaremont may be incredibly long, but thankfully it’s not hugely steep. When you’ve climbed it three times, though, you may be glad to see the back of it.

Sitting at 2,500m long, it is the second and also the penultimate climb in the race, with riders also taking it in at the 54km to go mark for good measure.

>>> Tour of Flanders live TV guide

Kanarieberg

Length: 1,000m
Gradient: Eight per cent (avg), 14 per cent (max)
KOM: ‘Strava athlete’ 2-24

Unlike the other climbs on this list, the Kanarieberg is slightly kinder to the riders in the fact that it’s not cobbled. With the standard of Belgian asphalt, though, that might not make that much difference, but it’s slightly less bone jarring.

At 1,000m long, the climb is the final climb before the brutal final section. It comes with 70km to go, but all the hills after it are pretty unappealing and are all cobbled.


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Tour of Flanders odds: Who are the bookmakers tipping for victory?

No major surprises in who the bookies are tipping for the top podium spot in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders – although many are still offering bets on Geraint Thomas

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BC Racing) are unsurprisingly the bookies favourites to take victory in this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

Both riders have all but dominated the classics so far this season, with Van Avermaet completing an impressive triple winning streak at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem.

Defending Flanders champion Sagan, meanwhile, has not been far from the action, having won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and placed second in Milan-San Remo and Het Nieuwsblad, plus third at Ghent-Wevelgem.

>>> Tour of Flanders 2017: Latest news and race info

Resurgent cobbles man and current Belgian road race champion Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep-Floors) is also rated highly by the bookies – more so after his convincing solo win in the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin), Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) are also among the favourites, along with one oddity: Geraint Thomas. According to Odds Checker, many are offering odds of 20/1 – best avoided.

The Team Sky Welshman is sitting out the classics this year as he focuses on the Giro d’Italia, something which has evidently passed many of the bookmakers by.

>>> Greg Van Avermaet will ‘race aggressively’ at Tour of Flanders

There are several riders who could figure highly in Flanders who appear further down the bookies’ list of favourites: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors), Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac), Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Edvlad Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky) among them.

Bet 365 was offering odds of 40/1 for Rowe on Wednesday morning.

The 2017 Tour of Flanders takes place in Belgium on Sunday, April 2. The gruelling 260.8km route includes 18 climbs and cobbled sectors. Crashes and mechanical mishaps can play as much a part of the race as strength, stamina and tactics.

Last year, Van Avermaet was forced to abandon the race with 100km remaining after a heavy fall.


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