Kittel doubles up and Nibali wins the tour


Vincenzo Nibali is the winner of the 101st Tour de France, a race he led for eighteen days out of twenty-one. It’s also the big return of French riders on the final podium with Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot second and third respectively. The last stage on the Champs-Elysées went to Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) just like last year. The German outsprinted Alexander Kristoff in a spectacular final sprint on the Champs-Elysées.

The traditional walk in the park

All the way from Evry to Paris, the 164 riders left in the peloton cruised at about 32km/h. The Maillot Jaune Vincenzo Nibali shared some Champagne with his team-mates from Astana. The tradition was respected.

Jens Voigt’s farewell

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) was the first attacker as the race really started on the Champs-Elysées. Jens Voigt (Trek) was the next one and it look like a lap of honour for the soon-to-be retired rider at the age of 43. The German veteran won the last intermediate sprint of his last Tour de France, after which a crash occurred in the peloton. Runner up Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R-La Mondiale) slipped in a curve and a got fright with 43km to go. With the help of three team-mates, he made his way back to the pack five kilometres further. Four riders took the lead with 36km to go: Richie Porte (Sky), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff), José Serpa (Lampre) and Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne).

Kittel makes it four

Porte, Morkov and Serpa insisted as long as they could. Porte was the last member of this breakaway to be caught, with 7.5km to go. His compatriot Simon Clarke (Orica) was the last man to try to escape 5km before the end. But the inevitable bunch gallop saw the domination of Giant-Shimano in the lead out. Marcel Kittel emerged as the winner of stage 21, adding one success to the three he took in the first week of the Tour. Seven stages out of twenty-one have been won by German riders. Peter Sagan crossed the line in ninth position, therefore beating his record of points in the race for the green jersey. The Slovakian champion won the points classification for the third time in a row.

Bring on next year

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eTape Pennines 2014 – brutal but a day or two later and I am enjoying it more.


Well I entered the eTape Pennines as a way into the eTape Caledonia which is always oversubscribed – tickets are never available but i like many others entered the double just to get a place. I loved the Scottish event and was looking forward to this one but it is a very different race.

Event Summary

The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, England’s first closed road sportive, quickly established itself as one of the toughest sportives in the UK following its debut in 2012. Starting and finishing in County Durham, the 60 mile course takes riders through the ruggedly undulating North East scenery.

With over 2,000 metres of climbing to overcome, it’s certainly a challenging ride, but with panoramic views and speedy downhill sections to look forward to, your hard work is duly rewarded. Cycling Plus took part in the 2012 event and said “Beautiful but brutal, the Etape Pennines has the makings of a classic”.

Located in a busy market town, Barnard Castle provides the dramatic backdrop for the start of this year’s Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines. Upon setting off, riders will soon find themselves riding through the stunning rolling countryside at Middleton in Teesdale, which will warm the legs nicely in preparation for the challenging section which awaits.

Following the completion of this uphill section you will be rewarded with a thrilling downhill section into St John’s Chapel. Use this descent as an opportunity to catch your breath and rest your legs, as before long you will be in scaling yet more climbs in Blanchland, home of the iconic moorland Etape Pennines has become renowned for.

From here you drop down Crawleyside Bank into the town of Stanhope and then climb to the top of Bollihope Common where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views across the dales before going back down to Egglestone and into Barnard Castle to collect your medal.

Well the ride down was good and we watched the weather with a keen eye as the earlier in the week forecasts of torrential stormy armageddon gave way to the possibility of a nice even sunny ride. Organisationally it was quite good – the big bugbear being the parking. We turned up in the camper only to be turned away and told that it opened at 4:30am. So we drove around looking for camper parking and not finding any and had to spend the night in an industrial estate with some chavs playing dance music and kicking a football around post pub kick out until 2am ….. aaargh not what i needed when we were going to be up at 5am.

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Then it was race time

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Unlike the eTape Caledonia there was nobody in the ride to work with – well maybe the early group had a peleton but our later start certainly didn’t ….. and I think the course although shortened seems to have been shortened at the expense of flat sections where a group might start working together. For the first part of the ride, my friend Jim and I seemed to be pulling along 2 or 3 other guys who either hadn’t cycled in groups before or had not worried about the etiquette of sharing.

the route
the route

I found the route quite brutal in that it was impossible for me to build up a proper rhythm – it seems to be difficult up and then steep down for most of the race. The bonus being that I hit a top speed of over 52 mph which is a max for me.

Garmin Connect Stats
Garmin Connect Stats
Strava stats
Strava stats

slight difference in top speed between the sites – so best go with the higher one then.

We managed to lose tom at the start of a KOM section, but we knew he might fall back. But a sudden section that lurched left and up which was damp (or some say had spilt diesel) meant i wheel spun and had to step off on the 20%+ slope walk up 20 foot and get back on. Jim in the meantime had gone on so when i got to the first pit stop i stopped hoping he would be there. He wasn’t so I quickly got a refill – the sun was out and already 20 degrees, and then started going again.

It was on a long climb as i crested that i suddenly found myself catching up so we had only been separated for 5 miles or so. We cycled the rest of the way together (we are pretty evenly matched – he ascends and descends faster and i was better on the less steep gradients)

At the very end 10 miles from the finish he stopped to fill a bottle so i carried on thinking he would catch up …. but he never closed the distance and finished a paltry 1m40s behind me. Tom at this stage was still 10 miles out ….

results for us 3
results for us 3

the stats for the KOM and a sprint section (but why place it right after a climb??)

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and a bad photo I haven’t bought

Jim left - me right
Jim left – me right

 

So would we do it again? well maybe

Contador out in stage 10 – another epic stage of the 2014 TdF


So I am running a fantasy team in the TdF on velogames and this year I suck bad picking all the people that are dropping out.

velogames - 3 of my 9 are out already
velogames – 3 of my 9 are out already

Spain’s Alberto Contador crashed heavily during the 10th stage of the Tour de France on Monday and was forced to abandon the race.

 

the race started with these standings

after stage 9
after stage 9

and ended like this

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The double Tour champion spent several minutes being treated by race doctors, blood dripping from his right knee. He got back on his bike and was being helped by his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates, some four minutes behind the peloton led by main rival Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team. But having dropped further back the decision was made for Contador to drop out with more than 80km of the stage remaining. His withdrawal comes five days after reigning champion Chris Froome was also forced to abandon.

alberto-contador

The action on the Bastille Day stage was expected to ignite on the concluding climb ahead of Tuesday’s rest day, but the Tour lost another leading protagonist after Mark Cavendish’s crash on day one and Froome’s exit.

Contador crashed on the approach to the third of six categorised climbs, the Col du Platzerwasel. The Spaniard received strapping to his right knee and lost four minutes as a result of the delay, falling nine minutes behind the day’s breakaway, which held a five-minute lead on the peloton.

The Astana team of Vincenzo Nibali led the main bunch and did not increase the pace on the 7.1km, category one ascent as Contador’s team-mates dropped back to help him.

Contador began the day in ninth place, four minutes and eight seconds behind Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), who seized the race leader’s yellow jersey from Nibali. But the Spaniard struggled to reduce the arrears in the mist-shrouded Vosges mountains.

The finish at La Planche des Belles Filles was a reminder to Britons of the absent Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Froome won at the summit of the “climb of the beautiful girls” in 2012 as Wiggins took the yellow jersey he held until Paris, when he became the first British winner of the race.

 

But what happened – did his frame crack causing him to break – that would be something that the big S would really fear. Cannondale for years (in mtb aluminium) had the term CrackAndFail – and it really affected sales. this from velonews

that frame
that frame

Alberto Contador stood on the wet grass, blood pouring out of a deep cut to his right knee. Photographers swirled around him, the race doctor attended to his injuries. He motioned to his mechanic, a hint of frustration etched across his face. He sat down, dejected, and changed out his left shoe, its buckle smashed to pieces.

He’d just crashed on the descent off the Petit Ballon, just the second of the day’s seven major climbs. Rival Vincenzo Nibali cruised up the road, gaining minutes.

Perhaps it was optimism, or adrenaline, but Contador appeared calm, traces of pain just creeping into the edges of his face. He remounted and rode slowly away. Four teammates quickly came back to pace him.

But optimism waned, and adrenaline wore off — the two were certainly connected. 10km later, Contador pulled the plug on this year’s Tour de France. He gave his mechanic a small hug and slumped into the team car.

Confusion surrounded the crash; reports of a smashed bike, visions of exploded carbon, swirled around the press room and out through hundreds of thousands of television sets.

Initial reports on the Tour’s race radio, in French, and by NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, that Contador’s bike was “in pieces,” appear to be correct. “His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said, noting that he had arrived shortly after the crash.

Contador’s bike broke in the lower third of his down tube and on the top tube just in front of his seat tube. Both tubes were broken clean through, with just a few fibers holding the two pieces of the frame together.

How those failures occurred, though, is not entirely clear.

Specialized, Tinkoff-Saxo’s bike sponsor, initially denied reports that Contador’s bike had broken at all, either resulting in or as a result of the crash, or via some other externality. The company first stated that a bike had fallen off the roof of a car. That story was then amended — it still involved a car, but instead stated that Nicolas Roche’s bike had been run over earlier in the stage. This broken bike was the start of the rumors, it said.

“We have spoken to Alberto’s brother as well as his personal mechanic (Faustino Muñoz) and the mechanic who was at the scene (Rune Kristensen), and contrary to some early, unconfirmed reports, frame failure was not involved in Alberto’s incident today. Nicolas Roche was involved in a separate incident today and while his bike was laying on the road it was run over by a car causing it to break, potentially giving rise to the initial inaccurate reporting,” the original statement read.

But the photos do not lie. Contador is #31, and his race number is on the broken frame. The Roche incident relayed in this statement may be entirely factual, but it is clear that Contador’s bike broke as well.

Specialized later corrected itself again, stating that Contador’s bike that had been run over. A source within the team who was present at the scene of the crash explained that Contador’s mechanic, Faustino Munoz, grabbed his backup bike off the roof, then, seeing the condition of Contador, rushed to his aid, leaving the bike against the team car. The team car drove off and crushed the bike. Photos were taken, and the broken bike story took off.

An alternative potential explanation is that Contador’s bike broke on impact with a large pothole, or on impact with the ground afterwards.

Contador crashed when he hit a hole in the road, according to representatives from his Tinkoff-Saxo team and riders who were nearby.

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde said he saw Contador’s bars slip, which caused him to crash. “I saw him [Contador] crash right in front of me. His handlebars slipped when he hit a pothole,” Valverde told Spanish radio. “I realized at the feed zone that he abandoned.”

In the event of a direct impact with a large pothole, a compression fracture of the frame is possible, though it is unlikely to occur near the back of the top tube, where Contador’s bike separated. Contador’s fork or head tube would likely fail first. The top tube would likely fail just behind the head tube. If fractures to Contador’s frame did come from the crash, they are more likely a result of the bike hitting the ground or something on the side of the road than a direct result of the pothole.

The likelihood of Contador’s frame breaking before the crash, causing his crash, is close to zero. Munoz is one of the best mechanics in the world; Contador’s bikes are pampered, and Specialized has, historically, designed reliable carbon fiber frames.

The timeline from the crash onwards:

Contador got onto his second bike after the crash, an S-Works Tarmac with a normal Tinkoff paint job, and without a race number. A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still apparently in one piece. This could support Specialized’s story, or a few strands of carbon could simply have held the bike together. Without being there, it’s impossible to say.

Contador did not swap bikes onto Roche’s McClaren frame, as initially speculated. Roche finished the stage on his second bike, rather than his McClaren. That would support the notion that Roche’s first bike was also run over.

Whether the frame was broken by a car or a pothole, the result is the same. Contador is out of the Tour de France.

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TdF stage 5 – possible going into the great stages of all time


Lars Boom (Belkin) won his first Tour de France stage on Wednesday after Dutchman soloed his way to victory on a dramatic day in northern France.

Boom, who won the 2011 edition of the Tour of Britain, won the 152.5-kilometre run from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut in three hours 18 minutes 35 seconds, but it was what happened behind him that will make the headlines.

Following his crash during Tuesday’s first stage on French soil when he picked up some nasty road rash and injured his left wrist, Team Sky’s Chris Froome started the day feeling fragile. The defending was later forced to abandon after crashing twice towards the start of a treacherous, slippery stage featuring seven sections of cobbles.

the moment he sat down in comfort
the moment he sat down in comfort

“It’s tragic for Chris, for him to not be able to defend his title and have to leave the race in that way must be his worst nightmare, it would have been mine,” said Greg LeMond later. “To come into the race in good form with the potential to win and then to lose it like that is tragic, for him and for the whole team who have been focusing on this race all season.

“It now really opens the race up to Contador and Nibali, Richie Porte will now take on the main responsibility for Team Sky. There is a lot of racing left and the current top 10 will change a great deal, it will take a while yet for things to settle down.”

With Froome out of the race Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to win the 101st edition of the race which concludes in paris on July 27. However, after the Spaniard lost contact with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) the Italian and his team-mates made their way to the front of the race before they turned the screw on Contador.

Supported by Jakob Fuglsang and Lieuwe Westra, the 2013 Giro d’Italia champion powered onwards to increase his lead over Contador.

“Well, we lost about two-and-a-half minutes to a very strong riding Nibali but we’re still confident,” Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif Steven De Jongh said afterwards. “Alberto lost touch with the back wheel of Vincenzo and we simply couldn’t close the gap. Fortunately, Alberto didn’t crash at any point and he didn’t have any punctures and not having any crashes is very important concerning the rest of the race.

“We’re five days into the race. Alberto is in peak shape and better than he was in Dauphine and we’re going to do some hard mountain stages. So, we’re still absolutely confident but aware that there’s some hard work to be done in order to make it back to the top of the rankings.”

eTape Caledonia 2014


very rare medal - only 5000 riders have this
very rare medal – only 5000 riders have this

So Chris Boardman was along at the event but I didn’t even know or wouldn’t have probably seen him as I was carrying my bike above my head trying to get into my starting heat past the 5000 so riders who had completely clogged up the road. I started in a heat 1 or 2 behind where I should have. I tore off and it was 40min before I decided that riding with a heart rate above 160bpm would probably ensure that i blew up at some point. I then started working with 3 other riders and making sure I was loading in the carbs ……

map of route
map of route

It was my longest ride ever but i loved it. there was a small sprint section thrown in for fun but i had no hope there as I just pulled off the front of the train as I saw the section start and my legs needed their 1 min recovery time at the back of the train. I also blew a small timed KOM section when my chain dropped off – amateur error DOH

stats from Strava
stats from Strava

I was chuffed at the end having averaged a smudge under 33km/h for the 4 hours it took me and best off all – I beat most of my friends (the doctor did 3h50 incl the time it took the rescue Mavic car to come replace his wives bike after she broke her seat post …) So I have left him off the chart below for being too fit and included Sir Chris Boardman instead who thrashed everyone …..

friends and a certain famous person
friends and a certain famous person

Doing the eTape Pennines one later in the summer which is supposed to be harder … so I better train for that one.

 

Brompton World Champs 2014


Toot Toot – you know you want to

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The main event – a mad dash of jackets and ties to unfold bikes, followed by a 15km race around the Goodwood track, spurred on by the crowd’s roar on the grandstand. The Brompton World Championship is now in it’s 9th year and 2nd year at Goodwood Motor Circuit. Competition to participate remains fierce and the 2014 event is expected to be bigger than ever, with 800 participants invited to compete.

Race overview

  • Date: Sunday 27th July
  • Format: one race; start organised in waves
  • Distance: 15.2km/9.6miles (4 laps)
  • Participants: 800
  • Open to all as a single event or as part of the Brompton Treble

How it works…

Always a show-stopper, the race gets underway with a massed Le Mans style start, the pack racing to their folded bikes, unfolding them and speeding off. Jacket and tie are compulsory and there is strictly no Lycra allowed; those looking particularly dapper will be in with a chance for the Best Dressed prize.

Four laps of the course mean that just over 15km must be completed on the fast-paced circuit; no mean feat. Part of the Brompton Treble, the hardiest of souls may wish to also tackle the Brompton Sprint and Brompton Marathon.