Loading...

Follow Cyclingnews on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

It's an excellent feeling to set a target, create a plan with my team and my coach, and then nail it - I won the Giro Rosa!

This victory has given me confidence in working toward future goals such as the World Championships or maybe even the Tokyo Olympic Games. I know now that I can be mentally and physically prepared for such significant endeavours.

Winning a big stage race like the Giro Rosa, however, is extra special, even more so than a one-day race. Why? Because no one can win a 10-day race without a strong and committed team - My team is Mitchelton-Scott.

ADVERTISEMENT

The moment that my teammates joined me on the final podium to celebrate this overall victory was one of the highlights of the ten days of racing across northern Italy. Being up there on the podium by myself wouldn't have felt right. To celebrate together was incredible, and so much fun.

We went on to celebrate our success with a lovely team dinner in Udine on Sunday night. It was essential for me to commemorate this win together. When I looked at all the people who were seated at our table, I truly felt that everyone contributed something to this victory. I was so pleased that we could all be at one table together, and what’s pretty incredible is that we have more staff than riders!

To give you an idea of what it takes to support a team at the Giro Rosa, Mitchelton-Scott had 14 staff members, not including the riders. We had two sports directors (Alejandro and Martin), three soigneurs (Miha, Nadia and Mattia), two mechanics (Nico and Pat), two bus drivers (Otazu and Jacopo), two photographers (Sara and Luc), along with a videographer (Oliver), our press officer (Lucy) and a physiotherapist (Ellen).

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

It's been a long time since I last raced 10 consecutive days, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my relief that we get to take today easy. The last "week" at the Tour de France has been extra long, and also full of long stages. Today we have enjoyed reminding each other that we are actually past the halfway point of the Tour in terms of distance already. Add in a time trial, another rest day, and the final stage into Paris and it starts to seem like we're nearly done…

The Tour has started well, and I mean that in a few ways for a few different reasons. The weather has been great—well, sunny, at least—which helped to calm the peloton's nerves a bit. Good course design also minimized the stress somewhat, and as a result there have been fewer crashes than expected. The team time trial and mountaintop finish also spread the race out a bit early on, which also had a calming effect. Even the "boring" sprint stages haven't always been so, as yesterday's wind certainly livened things up.

Team Sunweb is holding up well—we still have eight strong, healthy riders and our resolve to win a stage has only strengthened after a handful of close calls. Our first big goal was the team time trial, which we performed well in but were blown away by Jumbo-Visma. The tight grouping of teams in the top-10 is a great indicator of how much work teams are putting into the discipline lately. In the past, it seemed that only a few teams would be within a minute of the winners, but now the margins are always quite small.

ADVERTISEMENT

Then we started focusing on stages that Michael Matthews could win, which also entailed my own contributions at the front of the bunch a couple of times. Most recently, I was tasked with chasing back the breakaway filled with the heavy-hitters of the breakaway world, most notably Thomas De Gendt. In a cruel twist of the cycling world, my friend and fellow American was also in that breakaway destined for success. His success could have directly benefitted me, as American UCI points affect our nation's allocation of starters in the World Championships and Olympics. But my job that day was to bring it back. That's the sport, sometimes.

Monday was an eventful day. A mountain biker jumped the peloton, and shortly thereafter I got in a small dust-up with George Bennett and Yves Lampaert as I tried to attack on the gravel shoulder, and we did a bit of bumping as I ultimately failed to get past them. I thought the aggression was unnecessary, but part of the road-block game.

It's tough to explain, but I'll try: the breakaway only gets away when there are more people at the front who don't want to attack than those who do. On days where it could be a sprint or a chance for the break, the sprinters' teams can sway the decision by overwhelming the front of the peloton in the neutral section, leaving only a small handful of guys even in a position to attack. With the road blocked, the attacking is done for the day.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The only days of a Grand Tour in which time moves faster than on rest days are the days before the race, and nowhere is that truer than at the Tour de France. It's now the middle of the afternoon on the last day before the race, and it's the first time I've stopped moving in three days. For that matter, last night was the first since the trip began that we got a full night of sleep.

Owing to the fact that this is not my first time here, none of this comes as any surprise. The Tour de France is The Big Show, after all. Between training, interviews, photo shoots, dialling in new equipment and team presentations, there isn't a lot of time left to relax. Throw in a couple of early mornings to drive to a decent location for team time trial practice, and the pre-race anti-doping controls, and we're tired before the race even starts! Thankfully the schedule was front-loaded, so we could take today easier.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, though: how did I even come to be at the Tour de France?

ADVERTISEMENT

I've known for quite some time that the Tour was a possibility. I managed to finish the Giro-Tour combo last year in support of Tom Dumoulin, and the team time trial here would take on extra importance this year, given the lack of individual time trial kilometres. So when Tom abandoned the Giro after his crash and I went all-in for the final time trial, I also had in the back of my mind that an easier Giro would pay dividends in France, should my services be needed here.

By now you have seen how that final time trial went for me. The victory was one that resonated with viewers around the world, and the response was overwhelming, as I wrote in my last blog. I needed to get away and unplug for a bit, so my wife and I took a mini-vacation to Mallorca, where I could ride new roads as I dived back into training, and then relax with her at the beach afterwards.

I was still on the bubble for Tour selection, but I needed to train as if I was going. It's a state of mind that I did not enjoy, if I'm honest. To be half-way through a set of intervals and asking myself, "Am I a sweaty mess so that I can take the form of my life into summer break?" is not productive, so I pushed those doubts away. I have friends that did as well, working their hardest to be at this race, and who are now on vacation with great form. Cycling can be cruel sometimes.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As the final week of the Giro d'Italia ticked by, I tried to make a note of things I could write about in my final blog about the race. Aside from the bone-chilling descent off the Mortirolo and an exciting ‘will they/won’t they’ breakaway finale, I wasn’t left with much. But then, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, I had a pretty special day in Verona.

For two weeks – ever since the time trial on stage 9 went so well for me – I had been counting down the days until Verona.

I helped my teammates where I could as they continued to fight for breakaway success, but every time the race started to explode, I jumped on the gruppetto train rather than go into the red. It’s not exciting, and it’s definitely a gamble to pass up opportunities, but I was committed to my choice.

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s not to say that I had an easy ride… The Giro d’Italia is anything but easy, and I actually suffered quite a lot; with the mindset of saving my legs, every effort hurt doubly because I didn’t want to hurt. I had my doubts at times. I wondered how much I was really saving, and whether guys like Roglic would be as tired as I needed them to be by the time they rolled down the start ramp.

With just five climbs between me and the time trial, I started stage 20 prepared to suffer. We hit the first climb and the race immediately exploded, but I found myself cruising past dropped riders, not even feeling the effort. “Whoa,” I thought, as I realized that my plan had worked and I floated up the first climb. I told my director, “These legs can win tomorrow, I just need to get them to the finish today,” and settled in for a long day.

The exasperated cries of “piano!” and “gruppetto!” every time guys felt like the pace was too high became music to my ears, as it was a reminder that most of the peloton was struggling. 6000kJ later, I hopped off my bike and bounded up the steps to the bus. I was tired, but in a great mood after laying the groundwork for a great time trial, and set to work getting everything in order for the next day.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Week two of the Giro d'Italia started off better than we could have hoped for. After enjoying our rest day, we enjoyed two more. Many followers of the race complained about the boring, pancake-flat sprint stages, but we in the peloton savoured every minute of boredom, knowing what awaited us for the remainder of the Giro.

Our only objectives were to get through the sprint days safely and spend as little energy as possible. To that end, we had a competition within the team to see who could have the easiest day. I posted a photo of my average power and heart-rate for stage 10, and Twitter blew up, as expected.

Yes, it was a very easy day, but those numbers are misleading because of the effort and skill required to make it so easy – sagging every small rise and every acceleration out of corners, as well as taking "hiding in the bunch" to extremes. Some of my lighter teammates averaged 40 watts more than me, so even among professionals with the same goal, the effort varied greatly. And for those wondering: I came in a very close second in our competition behind Jan Bakelants, but I did win our heart-rate mini-challenge.

ADVERTISEMENT

Having navigated the sprint stages well, we set our sights on breakaway success as the race entered the mountains. Already eyeing the final time trial in Verona, I focused more on helping my teammates get into the breakaway, before taking it as easy as possible until the finish.

I prefer the second-to-last gruppetto, as this is the group that prefers to climb marginally faster and descend with a bit less risk, whereas the sprinters' gruppetto aims to take back time on the descents.

An added challenge for the gruppetto is that, by the time we get there, many spectators have already begun riding home on the course and don't always do a good job of getting out of our way, which is kind of like a Formula 1 race being held while a vintage car club takes leisure laps.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The longest week in cycling is finally drawing to a close, and it has been far more eventful than we would have liked here in the Sunweb camp. The nine stages of 'week one' have been a true rollercoaster.

Everything started well. Tom Dumoulin was off the mark on the opening time trial, but with a Grand Tour so back-loaded with brutal stages, it was widely agreed that coming in a bit fresh was the wise choice. At the very least we knew he would be in the mix with the GC favorites when the hard days arrived. The only question was whether Primoz Roglic could hang on to such superb form for three more weeks, and only time would provide that answer.

Our young team is on good form and was full of motivation in the first few road stages. We navigated them well and kept Tom out of trouble amid the chaotic sprint stages with the rain adding even more stress.

ADVERTISEMENT

The first 228 kilometers of stage 4 went exactly to plan. It was a tough day, but we still had the whole team there and were fighting to deliver Tom into the uphill drag in a good spot. Then came a frightful reminder that months of preparation can be left on the pavement along with a fair bit of skin and blood with a simple mistake by a single person. With just six kilometers remaining, Tom was involved in the huge pile-up. Our team had gotten split up after a series of corners but were fighting to get back together when it happened. I was on the left side of the road and did what I always do when bikes and bodies start flying: throw my weight back, slam on the brakes, steer towards open space, bounce off whoever I need to, and hope I don’t get hit from behind. I almost managed it, but just before I came to a stop I was sent tumbling upside-down into the drainage ditch next to the road.

My first reaction was that the impact really hadn’t been so bad. The ditch was overgrown, and the drop of a few feet had been cushioned by the branches and roots. I was completely turtled with my feet above my head and my bike sitting atop my tangle of limbs. "Tom crashed! Tom crashed!" came through my radio, but I was in no position to do anything about it. Just as I began to wonder if anyone knew I was down there, a Bora rider’s head appeared over the edge and I pushed my bike upward toward him. Next to appear was Koen Bouwman’s hand, which graciously pulled me to my feet again.

After arriving at the bus, I learned the extent of the damage to Tom’s knee and GC standings. To my eyes, the blood made the cuts to his knee appear worse than they were, but the way he struggled to bend his knee was alarming. After confirming there was nothing broken or torn, he resolved to get through the night as well as possible and give the next stage a try. The GC was gone, but perhaps he could salvage something from all the work he’d put into the arriving in Italy in top shape. We had a team meeting that night to motivate us all to shift our mentality to stage-hunting. They were unfortunate circumstances that provided it, but the opportunity to go for our own results would not be passed up.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The only days of a Grand Tour in which time moves faster than on rest days are the days before the race, and nowhere is that truer than at the Tour de France. It's now the middle of the afternoon on the last day before the race, and it's the first time I've stopped moving in three days. For that matter, last night was the first since the trip began that we got a full night of sleep.

Owing to the fact that this is not my first time here, none of this comes as any surprise. The Tour de France is The Big Show, after all. Between training, interviews, photo shoots, dialling in new equipment and team presentations, there isn't a lot of time left to relax. Throw in a couple of early mornings to drive to a decent location for team time trial practice, and the pre-race anti-doping controls, and we're tired before the race even starts! Thankfully the schedule was front-loaded, so we could take today easier.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, though: how did I even come to be at the Tour de France?

ADVERTISEMENT

I've known for quite some time that the Tour was a possibility. I managed to finish the Giro-Tour combo last year in support of Tom Dumoulin, and the team time trial here would take on extra importance this year, given the lack of individual time trial kilometres. So when Tom abandoned the Giro after his crash and I went all-in for the final time trial, I also had in the back of my mind that an easier Giro would pay dividends in France, should my services be needed here.

By now you have seen how that final time trial went for me. The victory was one that resonated with viewers around the world, and the response was overwhelming, as I wrote in my last blog. I needed to get away and unplug for a bit, so my wife and I took a mini-vacation to Mallorca, where I could ride new roads as I dived back into training, and then relax with her at the beach afterwards.

I was still on the bubble for Tour selection, but I needed to train as if I was going. It's a state of mind that I did not enjoy, if I'm honest. To be half-way through a set of intervals and asking myself, "Am I a sweaty mess so that I can take the form of my life into summer break?" is not productive, so I pushed those doubts away. I have friends that did as well, working their hardest to be at this race, and who are now on vacation with great form. Cycling can be cruel sometimes.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Editor's note: The organisers of the 2019 Giro Rosa have been forced to cancel the summit finish on the Passo Gavia, which was to be the finish of stage 5 on July 9, due to unexpected landslides and bad weather in the area. The conditions have forced authorities to intermittently close the roads to traffic and organisers have re-routed the stage to finish at the Lago di Cancano.

Here we are at the start of the Giro Rosa!

I think it's the hardest parcours that the organisers have ever designed with a lot of climbing and not much for the sprinters. The addition of the Passo Gavia will be the highlight of this year's race, and it will be epic, but it's not the only ingredient that will make this Giro Rosa hard. It will probably be the first place where there are more significant time differences, but there will also be opportunities on the uphill time trial on stage 6 and the summit finish of stage 9. These will also be crucial stages.

ADVERTISEMENT

I was pleased when the organisers announced that this year's course would include the Passo Gavia because I know that climb very well. I've spent about 200 days during my career in that area, and it's always been my preferred region for altitude training. I feel at home in the Valtellina region of Italy. The people from the hotel there – I love them – have become such good friends.

Last year, they closed the hotel in September and invited me for their annual staff BBQ, which was a lovely evening for all the people that work in the hotel to celebrate the end of the summer season. It was two weeks before the Innsbruck World Championships, and there I was at this fantastic party singing karaoke songs with the manager and the maître d'hôtel. It was a lot of fun!

Leading Mitchelton-Scott

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When I step back to think about the fact that I have won 72 US National titles in my career, I recall memories at my very first National Championship in 2004 in Park City, Utah. I was 11 years old, racing age 12. I had just started racing with a licence that year after winning the Redlands Classic kids race for the second year in a row. My family and I were traveling all over Southern California racing almost every weekend chasing the local races. My first year racing US Nationals in Park City I won the ITT and road race and got 2nd in the criterium, it was my goal the next year to win the criterium and improve on my silver medal. In 2005, I went up an age group to 13-14 and accomplished my goal of winning the criterium and also defended my ITT title but then flipped the events and placed 2nd in the road race. I went on in 2006 to continue to improve and challenge myself and win all 3 road titles in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

It turned into a summer family affair, travelling in the motorhome that my younger sister and I had enjoyed since we were babies visiting National Parks like Yosemite and Mount Rushmore. From taking the jet-skis out to Castaic, Perris, or Elsinore Lake in the summers to snowboarding Mammoth, Snowbird, or Big Bear in the winters using our family motorhome multiple times a year was a normal activity for the Rivera family to have fun and enjoy the outdoors together. When racing came into the fold, it also became a norm to travel together to the different national championships around the country chasing the title one jersey at a time.

I then got into racing track and cyclo-cross as we learned more about the different disciplines of cycling. My first track nationals was on my home velodrome, The Velo Sports Center, in Carson, CA. It was 2004 when the LA Velodrome was just finished being built and I remember the junior National Championships was the first event to be held there. One of my favourite memories was getting an extra piece of Siberian Pine that was used to build the track – I still have it to this day. The family and I traveled to different velodromes around America like Trexlertown and Colorado Springs to continue going after track national titles in the summers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cyclo-cross nationals for this Southern California girl was a bit more challenging. All through the SoCal cyclo-cross season was dry and dusty racing and would be rare to get a muddy race in before Nationals. I enjoyed the different aspects of 'cross pushing my boundaries with the aggressive starts, technical sections, speed, and running over barriers and steep run-ups. My first cyclo-cross nationals was in Providence, Rhode Island in 2005 it was my first experience with snow. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I remember breaking my chain and not having a spare bike in the pit and running with my bike in one hand and my chain in the other. I was bummed out to travel all the way to the other end of the country and not be able to even finish the race or let alone feel my hands. I said I would be back and get the jersey. Cyclo-cross Nationals was back in Providence in 2006 and the conditions weren't as bad as the year before, but still had the challenge of mud and slick corners and I was excited and proud to get the stars and stripes on my shoulders after my heart-breaking first try. We went on to travel all over the country like Kansas City, MO and Bend, Oregon for the rest of my junior career going after cyclocross national titles.

I'm not even sure if this is correct, but I believe I ended my junior career with 32 US National titles. Also earning spots to start junior Road and Track Worlds when I was 17 in Moscow, Russia and when I was 18 in Italy. My first year at junior worlds was an eye-opener realizing the level of international junior racing was really high and even though I was one of the best juniors in the country, I still had room for improvement. I worked hard, graduated high school a semester early and had the opportunity to race in Europe more and finished off my junior worlds career with a bronze medal in the road race and the track omnium in Italy. I had some of my favourite junior worlds memories there going after these podium spots with an awesome group of junior girls that are also still in the WorldTour-cycling world today like Kendall Ryan, Ruth Winder, and Kaitie Antonneau (neé Keough).

The count for stars-and-stripes jerseys continued when I was racing collegiately for Marian University. I owe the fun environment of collegiate racing for more than doubling my national title count after juniors! I raced road, track, cyclo-cross, and MTB for Marian while studying business marketing. I remember one year in Banner Elk, North Carolina when I was lining up with Kate Courtney who was racing for Stanford and wondering to myself what the heck I was doing. I was happy to end my collegiate racing career with a short track MTB National title in Snowshoe, West Virginia in 2015 which was my 71st US National title. I remember travelling all over the country with Coach Dean Peterson and the rest of the Knights in our charter bus we dubbed 'The Death Star'. It was no Rivera family motorhome, but we still had plenty of friendships made helping each other for races and memories trying to study on the bus. And for the record, it was the time in my life when I ate the most peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As the final week of the Giro d'Italia ticked by, I tried to make a note of things I could write about in my final blog about the race. Aside from the bone-chilling descent off the Mortirolo and an exciting ‘will they/won’t they’ breakaway finale, I wasn’t left with much. But then, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, I had a pretty special day in Verona.

For two weeks – ever since the time trial on stage 9 went so well for me – I had been counting down the days until Verona.

I helped my teammates where I could as they continued to fight for breakaway success, but every time the race started to explode, I jumped on the gruppetto train rather than go into the red. It’s not exciting, and it’s definitely a gamble to pass up opportunities, but I was committed to my choice.

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s not to say that I had an easy ride… The Giro d’Italia is anything but easy, and I actually suffered quite a lot; with the mindset of saving my legs, every effort hurt doubly because I didn’t want to hurt. I had my doubts at times. I wondered how much I was really saving, and whether guys like Roglic would be as tired as I needed them to be by the time they rolled down the start ramp.

With just five climbs between me and the time trial, I started stage 20 prepared to suffer. We hit the first climb and the race immediately exploded, but I found myself cruising past dropped riders, not even feeling the effort. “Whoa,” I thought, as I realized that my plan had worked and I floated up the first climb. I told my director, “These legs can win tomorrow, I just need to get them to the finish today,” and settled in for a long day.

The exasperated cries of “piano!” and “gruppetto!” every time guys felt like the pace was too high became music to my ears, as it was a reminder that most of the peloton was struggling. 6000kJ later, I hopped off my bike and bounded up the steps to the bus. I was tired, but in a great mood after laying the groundwork for a great time trial, and set to work getting everything in order for the next day.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview