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Organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under have revealed the courses that will make up the men’s and women’s races in 2020.

The 21st edition of the men’s race runs from January 19-26 and comprises the Down Under Classic criterium (which doesn’t contribute to the GC) and six road stages. Four of those stages are likely to finish in a bunch sprint, including stage 2 which concludes with the oft-used uphill drag into Stirling.

Two stages will help shape the GC: stage 3 with its uphill finish into Paracombe, and stage 6 which ends with the now-traditional double ascent of Willunga Hill.

Race Routes | Santos Women's Tour Down Under 2020 - YouTube

A look at the stages of the 2020 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.

The sixth edition of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under will again be held before the men’s race — from January 16 to 19 — and will be contested over four stages. Stages 1 to 3 are all lumpy and could impact the GC, but only stage 3 — which finishes in Stirling — features an uphill finish. The final ramp is the same as the one that will be used by the men’s race on stage 2. As usual, the final stage of the women’s race is a circuit race in Adelaide, held the same afternoon, on the same circuit, as the men’s Down Under Classic.

Course breakdown

Men’s race

Down Under Classic (51km): The circuit moves to Flinders St, near the TDU event village. 30 laps of a flat 1.7km circuit.
Stage 1 (150km): A circuit race around Tanunda that should end in a bunch sprint.
Stage 2 (135.8km): The traditional Stirling stage with three laps around the finishing circuit and an uphill drag to the line.
Stage 3 (131km): Paracombe uphill finish. A couple kilometres at about 9%.

The profile of stage 3.

Stage 4 (152.8km): A sprint finish in Murray Bridge.
Stage 5 (149.1km): Probably a sprint in Victor Harbour but a late climb could be a good launch pad.
Stage 6 (151.5km): Twice up Willunga, finishing at the top of the second ascent.

The profile for the Willunga stage.

Women’s race

Stage 1 (116.3km): Lumpy stage into Macclesfield with a flat finish.
Stage 2 (114.9km): A sprint into Birdwood.
Stage 3 (109.1km): Two laps of a tough finishing circuit around Stirling, uphill finish.
Stage 4 (42.5km): Dead flat circuit race. 25 laps of the 1.7km circuit.

The profile for stage 3 of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.

For more information about the 2020 Tour Down Under, follow the link to the event website.

The post Tour Down Under 2020 routes revealed: Willunga, Paracombe to decide men’s GC appeared first on CyclingTips.

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The UCI has recognised Chris Froome as the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a España, retrospectively making him the first British rider to win a Grand Tour.

Froome originally finished the Spanish Grand Tour in second place behind Spaniard Juan Jose Cobo. However in June 2019, nearly eight years after the race’s conclusion, the UCI announced that Cobo had been found guilty of biological passport abnormalities between 2009 and 2011. The now-retired Cobo was given one month to appeal that verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Spanish newspaper AS reports that Cobo opted not to appeal against the UCI’s ruling, leaving Froome the winner of the race ahead of Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank).

The UCI is yet to officially announce a revision to the overall standings of the 2011 Vuelta, but its website lists Froome as the winner of the race:

Should Froome’s title be confirmed, it will give the now-34-year-old seven career Grand Tour victories: four wins at the Tour de France, two at the Vuelta, and one at the Giro d’Italia. That total would move Froome into equal fourth on the all-time list, alongside Alberto Contador, Miguel Indurain and Fausto Coppi. Only Jaques Anquetil (eight wins), Bernard Hinault (10) and Eddy Merckx (11) sit higher on the list.

Chris Froome is currently recovering from a horrific crash at the Criterium du Dauphine which left him with several broken bones and forced him out of the 2019 Tour de France.

The post Chris Froome handed 2011 Vuelta a España title, eight years later appeared first on CyclingTips.

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Gravel bikes these days fall somewhere on a spectrum that ranges from ultra-capable and adventure-ready, to pared-down and race-ready, and Cervelo is being very clear where its new Aspero gravel machine falls on that spectrum. The generous tire clearance and multi-diameter wheel compatibility are obvious nods to versatility, but whichever wheel and tire setup you decide on, the Aspero is meant for one thing: going fast.

A clear direction

Let’s get a few things out of the way first: Yep, the new Aspero is pretty light, just as you’d expect from anything that wears the Cervelo logo on the down tube. Claimed weight for a painted 56cm frame with hardware is 1,110g, plus 450g for the matching fork — both in carbon fiber, of course. And yes, of course, the frame is designed to be highly efficient under power.

Down below is Cervelo’s now-trademark BBright press-fit bottom bracket shell, with its oversized diameter and generous 79mm width, and similarly proportioned adjoining tubes that are all clearly designed with bending and torsional stiffness in mind. If you look closely, you even see some hints of aerodynamic design in the flat-backed down tube and seat tube.

The frame is admirably elegant, stripped down of needless adornment and free of any “gimmicky” moving parts.

Tire-wise, Cervelo has built into the Aspero all the clearances you’d expect from a modern gravel machine, with room for 700c tires up to 44mm-wide, or 650b ones up to 49mm. And many of the boxes for expected features are checked. Flexibility for 1x or 2x drivetrains? Yep. Internal cable routing that will accommodate both mechanical and electronic setups? Of course. A burly guard to protect the underside of the down tube? Naturally. Disc brakes, 12mm thru-axles, and a tapered steerer tube? Duh. And dropped seatstays? I don’t even need to answer that last one. This is 2019, after all.

But what you won’t find is anything weird. There are no pivots, no engineered flex points or crazy seatpost designs, and no proprietary integrated carbon fiber “cockpits”. Heck, the round seatpost even measures a totally normal 27.2mm in diameter, and is held in place with an actual external seatpost collar.

“We didn’t get into any of the gimmicky stuff,” said Cervelo’s director of product management, Maria Benson. “It was a focus on being fast.”

Dropped chainstays and a 79mm-wide bottom bracket shell help keep the rear end to a very compact 420mm while still providing generous tire clearance.

That focus on fast does come with a sacrifice in versatility, however. For one, there aren’t very many supplemental mounts. There are two bottle mounts inside the main triangle (with two positions for the down tube bottle), and a feed bag mount atop the top tube, but that’s about it. Fenders? Not fast. A third bottle? Ride faster so you can get to the next aid station before you run out. So-called “anything” mounts on the fork blades? Please.

It’s all so wonderfully clean and sleek, and exactly what you’d expect from Cervelo’s first real foray off the tarmac.

It’s all about trail

All of this discussion on frame features and design is overshadowed by what truly distinguishes the Aspero from other high-end gravel machines: the frame geometry. And what Cervelo has done here is legitimately clever.

According to Cervelo engineering director Graham Shrive, there are two extremes of gravel riding the Aspero is meant to address: one being Dirty Kanza, and the other being the Grinduro series. Moderate-width 700c wheel-and-tire setups are more common at the former, but the latter tends to favor burlier setups with more air volume and tread.

Cervelo could easily have built sufficient clearance into the Aspero frame and fork to allow users to run either choice, but doing so would have introduced undesirable consequences.

“Trail really dictates the way the bike handles and the way the bike interacts with your body,” he said. And the problem with bikes that are designed to accommodate both 650b and 700c wheel-and-tire setups is that the steering geometry has to either be optimized around one or the other, or made to be a compromise on both.

“When you look at a rider for Dirty Kanza using a 33 or 35, and a rider for Grinduro using a 43, or even bigger, you get profound changes in trail, and the way that the bike turns, and the amount of force that you put into the bike as you corner, based on the outside diameter of that tire. The easy reaction as a bike manufacturer is to, say, put on a 43mm tire, that’ll be our spec, and it’ll handle with this trail, job’s done, and off we go. But then some poor bugger puts a 33 or 35 on there, and the bike is like a total hot rod, and [offers] a sub-optimal experience.”

To deal with this, every Aspero fork has a set of aluminum “flip chips” in the dropouts — officially referred to as “TrailMixer” — that change the rake by 5mm. The rearward position is generally used for smaller-diameter setups, while the forward position is used for larger-diameter ones. Both are designed to produce the intended trail of 62mm.

Dropped chainstays and a 79mm-wide bottom bracket shell help keep the rear end to a very compact 420mm while still providing generous tire clearance.

Cervelo is so committed to its concept of optimal steering geometry that there are even three distinct forks for just six total Aspero frame sizes (52/57mm, 49/54mm, and 46/51mm) so that everyone enjoys similar handling characteristics, regardless of rider height.

“We wanted to focus on making the head tube angle as steep as possible while maintaining the trail that we wanted,” Shrive explained. “It’s a little bit of a different approach than what a lot of mountain bike companies are taking right now.”

For the sake of comparison, the recently revamped Santa Cruz Stigmata (and geometrically identical Juliana Quincy) has the same 72° head tube angle in a 56cm size as the Aspero. But whereas the Stigmata and Quincy have a 45mm fork rake in that size, the stock rake on the Aspero is a substantially quicker 51mm.

Keep in mind, too, that the TrailMixer concept means you’re not necessarily locked into Cervelo’s philosophy on quick-and-agile handling when it comes to gravel, depending on your wheel and tire choices. For example, if you still want to run the stock 700x40c tires, but want to slow things down, you can just switch to the rearward position on the flip chips to yield more forgiving handling traits.

Changing the setting is a little easier said than done, however. While physically turning the dropout inserts is simple enough, doing so also requires changing to a different disc brake caliper mount, so it’s not exactly a trailside process.

Cervelo may not have wanted to subscribe to the lower-longer-slacker approach that currently engulfs the world of mountain bike frame geometry today, but it still borrows one page from that playbook to keep the Aspero from feeling too twitchy on the dirt.

Although the steering geometry is conducive to quick changes in direction and a light feel at the bars in tight quarters, Cervelo stretched the top tube and lengthened the reach substantially. This increases the distance between the bottom bracket and front axle, and also lengthens the wheelbase. What you get as a result is additional confidence on steeper and/or more technical descents, and more stability on loose surfaces where a longer bike is more apt to hold its attitude through a corner. That longer top tube is then paired with a shorter stem so as to maintain the desired fit characteristics.

As a bonus, the longer front-center minimizes toe overlap issues on smaller frame sizes, too.

The Donnelly X’Plor MSO tires are well suited to the Aspero frameset — fast-rolling, reasonably light, and more than capable in the right hands.

Other aspects of the Aspero geometry further the stated goal of effectively creating a two-wheeled rally car.

Given the generous tire clearances, the chainstay length is quite tidy at 420mm. That’s 5mm shorter than the Trek Checkpoint, which is only approved for a 700x40c tire (and won’t officially accept wider 650b tires at all). Meanwhile, the 73.5-78.5mm of bottom bracket drop is at the lower end of what you’ll find in many other modern gravel bikes for additional cornering prowess.

Rider positioning is clearly on the more sporting end of the spectrum. Compared to the Stigmata, the reach on a 56cm Aspero is 9mm longer, while the stack is 16mm lower. In fact, the stack and reach aren’t all that far off a Specialized Tarmac. A comparably sized Aspero is 5-18mm higher, depending on size, but the reach is only 5-8mm shorter.

In other words, if you’re specifically looking for a new gravel bike with casual upright positioning, you should probably look elsewhere; this is not the gravel bike you’re looking for.

Models, prices, and availability

Cervelo will offer the Aspero in three complete builds to start, along with a frameset option for DIYers.

The top-end model comes with a SRAM Force eTap AXS wireless electronic groupset with a single 36T chainring and 10-33T cassette, 700c DT Swiss GRC 1650 Disc carbon gravel wheels wrapped in 40mm-wide Donnelly X’Plor MSO tubeless tires, a Prologo Dimension snub-nosed saddle, an Easton aluminum handlebar and stem, and an Easton carbon fiber seatpost.

Retail price is US$6,000 / AU$7,900 / £5,300 / €6,000.

The top model is well equipped, as it should be for the asking price. Photo: Cervelo.

Sitting in the second spot is the Aspero GRX, which comes equipped with Shimano’s new gravel-specific GRX groupset, an Easton EA90 47/32T crankset, Easton EA70 AX aluminum tubeless gravel wheels with Donnelly X’Plor MSO tires, and Easton EA50 aluminum finishing kit.

Retail price is US$4,000 / AU$5,300 / £3,600 / €4,000.

The SRAM Force eTap AXS build is the most expensive on offer, but anyone looking for more gearing range will likely want to check out the GRX build. Between the 47/32T chainrings on the Easton EA90 crankset and the 11-34T Shimano HG800 cassette, there’s more than enough range for most gravel adventures. Photo: Cervelo.

Exclusive to the North American market is the Aspero Disc Ultegra RX, built with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset (upgraded with the Ultegra RX clutched rear derailleur), an Easton EA90 47/32T crankset, Easton EA70 AX aluminum gravel wheels and the same Donnelly tires as the flagship model, and an Easton EA50 aluminum handlebar, stem, and seatpost, topped with another Prologo Dimension saddle.

Retail price is US$4,000.

If you want a two-chainring drivetrain, you’ll have to go with one of the Shimano builds. Both of the SRAM setups are only offered in 1x configurations. Photo: Cervelo.

Rounding out the trio is the Aspero Apex 1, built with SRAM’s value-oriented Apex 1 single-ring groupset and 40×11-42T gearing, a more generic Alexrims Boondocks 7-D aluminum tubeless clincher wheelset (again, with the same Donnelly tires), a house-brand Cervelo saddle, and Easton EA50 aluminum cockpit components.

Retail price is US$2,800 / AU$3,900 / £2,700 / €3,000.

The Aspero SRAM Apex 1 is only US$300 more expensive than the bare frameset, which makes it the easy value choice of the bunch. Pictured is the Burgundy/Dark Orange color option. Photo: Cervelo.

The frameset is offered in three colors, and comes with a headset and Cervelo carbon fiber seatpost for US$2,500 / AU$3,300 / £2,330 / €2,500 (which certainly makes the Apex 1 model look like the value proposition here).

Cervelo will offer the bare frameset in three different colors. Shown here is the Dark Teal/Light Teal option, which looks fantastic in bright sunlight. Photo: Cervelo.

All of the Aspero models should be available at Cervelo retailers immediately, albeit in limited quantities to start.

Checking out the local scene on the Aspero

Cervelo perhaps could have just shipped a test sample my way prior to launch, but flying me out to Scotland for a day (well, it was originally supposed to be two) somehow seemed to make more sense to them. As ludicrous as spending roughly three days in transit for a few hours of riding seems, I have to say that the gravel riding there far exceeded my modest expectations, and provided more than ample opportunity for some solid first impressions.

As promised, the Aspero is certainly not a casual cruiser of a gravel machine. It feels fast and efficient, with a clear focus on covering ground quickly. The way it responds to pedal pressure is indeed road bike-like, and, as it turns out, the positioning is more along the lines of what I prefer, anyway (ignore the headset spacers in the images; I didn’t have time to mess around with the bike too much before heading out).

I shouldn’t be smiling in this picture; instead, I should be concentrating on going fast. But you know what? Riding gravel is fun, and riding fast is also fun. So there. Photo: Gruber Images.

For riders coming off of more traditional road bikes, the quicker handling should feel quite natural. In fact, overall, the Aspero’s handling reminds me of the Allied Alfa All-Road, a bike that I specifically noted for its road bike-like handling when I reviewed it last year. Looking at the dimensions, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Although that bike has a one-degree steeper head tube angle, the 48mm fork rake (and typical 35mm tire width) yields a trail dimension that differs by just a single millimeter.

You might have noticed that I haven’t said anything at all regarding ride quality on the Aspero, and to be perfectly frank, Cervelo doesn’t talk much about it either. Clearly, boosting rider comfort wasn’t as important during the bike’s development as nailing the desired fit, handling, and efficiency goals. As a result, the Aspero is no magic carpet like the Trek Checkpoint or Cannondale Topstone, and it relies more on its tires for any measure of bump isolation.

Nevertheless, I didn’t find the Aspero to be unusually harsh or jarring over the highly varied mix of terrain I encountered in Scotland, but then again, running meaty 700x40c rubber at low pressures obviously helps a lot in that department.

That’s more like it. Serious face. Photo: Gruber Images.

Feature-wise, it’s a bit of a bummer that Cervelo pared things down so much. The top tube bag mount is nice to see (and although the hole spacing is standard, there’s a dedicated bag that will be available), but would a third bottle mount detract from the “go fast” mission statement so much? And surely a bike like this is likely to see some wet weather, no? Would it have killed the Aspero’s designers to include some fender mounts?

Generally speaking, I expect the Aspero to be one of the more polarizing gravel bikes on the market, and again, Cervelo makes no apologies for what it intends this bike to be. Clearly, the safe middle ground wasn’t the goal here.

That’s just fine, though. No bike is going to satisfy everyone, and if anything, I applaud Cervelo for not only taking a different approach, but totally owning it, too.

In all seriousness, the Cervelo Aspero is one hell of a fast gravel bike, but whether it satisfies your expectations for what a gravel bike should actually be is a question only you can answer. Photo: Gruber Images.

By the time you read this, my long-term tester will have been in my hands for all of a single day. Will the Aspero win me over once I’ve had more of a chance to thrash it on some local singletrack? What about if I toss some road wheels and tires on it so if it’ll serve double-duty as a proper road bike? Will I die of dehydration during an especially hot Colorado day because I don’t have a third water bottle?

All of those questions, and more, will be answered in due time.

www.cervelo.com


Cervelo’s first entry into the gravel market is just about what you’d expect from a performance-oriented road and triathlon company.

Each dropout insert is held in with a single bolt. The bolt head also helps locate the hub end cap in the dropout. Photo: Cervelo.

The angle of this image doesn’t accurately show how much space there is around this 40mm-wide Donnelly tire. There’s room to spare.

You could say that the down tube sports a truncated airfoil profile, but even if it does, Cervelo doesn’t make a big deal of it here.

Graceful lines characterize the Aspero frame. It’s very grown-up.

A bolt-on hatch at the bottom of the frame makes for easier access when routing cables, wires, and hoses.

Dropped seatstays, of course. And check out that gloriously functional external seatpost clamp.

The front derailleur mount is removable for a cleaner look when running a 1x drivetrain.

The internal cable routing can accommodate a wide range of drivetrain and accessory setups, including a dropper seatpost should you so desire one.

The top tube bag mounts are covered by a neat-looking bit of plastic if you don’t want to use them. It’s certainly better-looking than a couple of empty holes.

There’s an available bag for the Aspero to hold your snacks. The mounting hole spacing is standard, though, so you can feel free to run just about whatever bag you choose.

Sorry, folks, no fender mounts to see here. They’re so hidden that they’re non-existent.

The tapered head tube is painfully graceful in how the fork crown blends so well with the rest of the frame. It’s one of the best-looking parts of the frameset, in my opinion.

Cervelo could have done a better job of routing the front brake hose, though. The exit hole location in the crown was chosen so as to minimize the chance of any fatigue-related cracking over time, but it also does nothing to divert the hose away from the head tube. As a result, it doesn’t take long for the paint to get scuffed up. This bike was brand-new a couple of hours prior.


The post Cervelo Aspero first-ride review: The go-fast gravel bike appeared first on CyclingTips.

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As CyclingTips’ Iain Treloar wrote from Toulouse on Wednesday, there was a feeling of inevitability about Caleb Ewan’s maiden Tour de France stage win. He’d gone third, third, second and third in the four previous bunch sprints at this year’s race, and his second place was agonisingly close — mere centimetres separated his front tyre from Dylan Groenewegen’s in Chalon-sur-Saone. It seemed like a matter of time before everything fell into place for Ewan.

On stage 11 it did. Even after being held up by a wayward teammate with 10km to go, Ewan got his way to the front and timed his sprint wonderfully, passing and then holding off Groenewegen by a margin similar to the one that had separated the pair on stage 7.

Ewan’s win had been a long time coming. He’d been held back from the Tour by Mitchelton-Scott and had to move teams to get his opportunity on the sport’s biggest stage. His new team, Soudal-Lotto put full faith in him and, on debut, Ewan delivered. He now joins a club of 97 riders to have won a stage at all three Grand Tours. He’ll also be one of the big favourites on sprinting’s most important boulevard — the Champs-Elysees — in a little over a week.

For now, here’s Caleb Ewan’s first Tour de France stage win in photos, courtesy of the Grubers, Kristof Ramon and Cor Vos.

The post The ecstasy of a dream fulfilled: Caleb Ewan’s first Tour stage win in photos appeared first on CyclingTips.

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Sunweb’s Michael Matthews will no longer focus on racking up points for the green jersey battle at the Tour de France.

As the 28-year-old Australian explained after stage 11, his team has decided to give up on the points classification to instead focus on scoring stage victories with both Matthews and teammates like Cees Bol, who was the team’s featured sprinter on Wednesday.

“I’m too close in the green jersey points for Sagan to let me go in the breakaway, so in the end we have to either keep fighting for the green and give away stage wins, or go for stage wins and give away the green jersey,” Matthews said. “It’s a decision we had to make.”

Matthews, who won the Tour’s green jersey in 2017, came out of the first rest day sitting second in the points classification behind six-time winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Although Matthews seemed like the strongest potential challenger to Sagan’s green jersey dominance, the three-time world champion had already built a sizable lead after only 10 stages. With Sagan tallying 229 points to Matthews’s 167, the green jersey seemed almost out of reach halfway into the race.

On top of that, Matthews has not won a stage so far in this year’s Tour, despite logging seven top 10 finishes, including a runner-up ride on stage 3. In abandoning the battle for green, Sunweb can give other fast finishers waiting in the wings a shot at the flatter stages that suit purer sprinters.

Michael Matthews won the field sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de France, but that was only good enough for second behind Julian Alaphilippe. Photo: Nico Vereecken/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

That led to a role reversal for Matthews and Bol on stage 11. Bol has served as a lead-out man for Matthews so far this Tour, but it was Matthews playing the support rider for Bol in the Toulouse finale on Wednesday.

“It was the team’s idea. On the rest day they came up with the idea and it makes sense,” Matthews said.

“We thought with a short hectic stage maybe it was good to give me a day off and give Cees a chance. He’s a big guy for a stage like this and it was a faster sprinter’s sort of stage so we decided to give him the opportunity.”

The 23-year-old Bol has had a strong neo-pro season so far, with a Nokere Koerse victory and a sprint win on the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California among his 2019 results. In his first sprinting opportunity at the Tour on stage 11, he registered an eighth-place finish after being led out by Matthews.

Matthews said he expects to be fully motivated to continue fighting for his own wins when the opportunities arise moving forward, while also being content to play the support role when the situation calls for it.

“I show the team I’m willing to help them on a stage that suits them better than it suits me,” he said. “That’s what brings the team spirit up, one of the leaders dropping back and saying ‘OK, now we ride for you today, you’ve done some really good work for me, so let’s reverse the roles, have a bit of fun and mix it up a bit.'”

The post Matthews will no longer fight for the green jersey at the Tour de France appeared first on CyclingTips.

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Sunweb’s Michael Matthews will no longer fight for points in the green jersey battle at the Tour de France.

As the 28-year-old Australian explained after stage 11, his team has decided to give up on the points classification to instead focus on scoring stage victories with both Matthews and teammates like Cees Bol, who was the team’s featured sprinter on Wednesday.

“I’m too close in the green jersey points for Sagan to let me go in the breakaway, so in the end we have to either keep fighting for the green and give away stage wins, or go for stage wins and give away the green jersey,” Matthews said. “It’s a decision we had to make.”

Matthews, who won the Tour’s green jersey in 2017, came out of the first rest day sitting second in the points classification behind six-time winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Although Matthews seemed like the strongest potential challenger to Sagan’s green jersey dominance, the three-time world champion had already built a sizable lead after only 10 stages. With Sagan tallying 229 points to Matthews’s 167, the green jersey seemed almost out of reach halfway into the race.

On top of that, Matthews has not won a stage so far in this year’s Tour, despite logging seven top 10 finishes, including a runner-up ride on stage 3. In abandoning the battle for green, Sunweb can give other fast finishers waiting in the wings a shot at the flatter stages that suit purer sprinters.

Michael Matthews won the field sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de France, but that was only good enough for second behind Julian Alaphilippe. Photo: Nico Vereecken/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

That led to a role reversal for Matthews and Bol on stage 11. Bol has served as a lead-out man for Matthews so far this Tour, but it was Matthews playing the support rider for Bol in the Toulouse finale on Wednesday.

“It was the team’s idea. On the rest day they came up with the idea and it makes sense,” Matthews said.

“We thought with a short hectic stage maybe it was good to give me a day off and give Cees a chance. He’s a big guy for a stage like this and it was a faster sprinter’s sort of stage so we decided to give him the opportunity.”

The 23-year-old Bol has had a strong neo-pro season so far, with a Nokere Koerse victory and a sprint win on the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California among his 2019 results. In his first sprinting opportunity at the Tour on stage 11, he registered an eighth-place finish after being led out by Matthews.

Matthews said he expects to be fully motivated to continue fighting for his own wins when the opportunities arise moving forward, while also being content to play the support role when the situation calls for it.

“I show the team I’m willing to help them on a stage that suits them better than it suits me,” he said. “That’s what brings the team spirit up, one of the leaders dropping back and saying ‘OK, now we ride for you today, you’ve done some really good work for me, so let’s reverse the roles, have a bit of fun and mix it up a bit.'”

The post Matthews says he will no longer contest the Tour’s green jersey appeared first on CyclingTips.

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Perhaps following the lead of competitor American Airlines, Delta Airlines today announced that it would be eliminating additional fees for checked bicycles, effective immediately.

“Delta customers traveling with surfboards, bicycles, golf clubs, scuba gear and other large-sized sporting equipment will now be allowed to check them as part of their standard baggage allowance,” read an official statement on Delta’s web site.

This doesn’t mean there are no charges at all, however; bikes will still be subject to standard luggage fees, which will vary depending on the class of ticket purchased and loyalty status of the passenger. And as with American Airlines, there are some caveats.

Bicycle cases will still need to weigh less than 23kg (50lb), and the total linear dimension (length plus width plus height) must be less than 292cm (115in). Cases weighing more than that will still be subject to an overweight fee, and cases weighing over 46kg (100lb) won’t be accepted at all.

There are some conditions regarding the type of case used as well, specifically as pertaining to damage liability.

Delta recommends that passengers pack their bikes in hard-sided cases, and provided the bike is “properly packed”, there’s no need to sign a liability waiver. Passengers using soft-sided cases (our preferred travel case type), however, will be asked to sign a limited liability release form — and at this point, it’s unclear exactly what that looks like.

Either way, this is most definitely a big improvement, and hopefully a continuing trend that other major airlines will follow.

Your move, United Airlines.

The post Delta Airlines eliminates additional fees for checked bicycles appeared first on CyclingTips.

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TOULOUSE, France (CT) – For a victory so tight, there was a sense of inevitability about Caleb Ewan’s first Tour de France win. In a career to this point defined by promise, consistency, and sometimes thwarted ambition, a throw past Dylan Groenewegen in Toulouse closed a chapter of Ewan’s career, and opened another.

The question of the day wasn’t whether stage 11 of the Tour would come down to a sprint, but rather, who the winner would be. The breakaway broke away; the breakaway got caught. And so, like a storm brewing on the horizon, the sprint trains massed to the front and began their manic dance toward the finish.

A familiar cast. Jumbo-Visma, trying to set it up for Groenewegen. Deceuninck-Quickstep for Viviani. Sunweb, trying a different tack today with Cees Bol. Bobbing like a buoy in an ocean of bigger, better-backed opponents, the shortest rider in this year’s race, Caleb Ewan.

Ewan hasn’t been regarded as the fastest sprinter of this race, but he’s certainly the most consistent. Before today, on a race stingy on sprint finishes, he’s collected two third places and a second. Today, he went one better, edging out the Dutch powerhouse Dylan Groenewegen. It was a result that was equal parts torque and tactics.

“I was on Groenewegen’s wheel for the last 3km. QuickStep came up and tried to take the wheel off me, but I knew I had the right wheel and I fought for it,” Ewan said after the race.  “It’s a hard thing, beating Dylan. He can go from a long way out. His team did a great job for him … I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to beat him.”

In the last kilometre, it was Jumbo at the front. 400 metres out, Teunissen took the lead. 150 metres later, he swung off, forcing Groenewegen to break cover a bit early, and Ewan shot across the road to jump in the slipstream. There he hung, for a crucial second or two, off the back of his more fancied rival before dipping low over his bars for the kick to the line and the throw. “I’m happy this time I could finish a few centimetres ahead of him, rather than a few centimetres behind him,” said Ewan.

In one sense, today is a fairly simple story – one sprinter, faster than some other sprinters – but it’s also a story mapped across a dual sense of scale. A victory by centimetres; a victory years in the making. Ewan was named on the shortlist for Mitchelton-Scott’s 2018 Tour squad, was vocal in his frustration after missing the cut, and has spent his 2019 building towards the Tour de France for Lotto-Soudal. “This shouldn’t have been my first Tour de France,” Ewan said today. “I believe I was ready 3 or 4 years ago … I’ve been held back.” Not with bitterness; just the matter-of-factness of an elite sportsman who knows his capabilities.

Even so, the relief in the result was palpable. At the finish, Ewan cheered, embraced teammates and finally, burst into tears. The emotional reaction, he said, was out of “disbelief, firstly. And a huge weight off my shoulders. I came to my first Tour de France as a leader for the team. I think the team hired me because they had faith I could win, and up until now I couldn’t do it for them. I’m so happy that they never gave up on me.”

There was another reason for those tears, too. One month ago, Caleb and his wife Ryann welcomed their first child into the world. “I have to thank my wife for letting me come here, and leave my young daughter in hospital,” he said after the stage today. “That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m so happy that I could repay my young family.” Ewan has felt the push and pull of many pressures over the course of his career, but new parenthood, perhaps, is the most visceral.

For Australian fans, Ewan’s ascension onto cycling’s biggest stage has felt a foregone conclusion for close to a decade, but that decade has contained many more losses than wins.  “As a junior, I never won. I always finished second or third. But it never got to me,” Ewan said today. “I always think that if I keep working at it, I can get there.”

Today – down a wide, perfectly flat, plane tree lined boulevard in central Toulouse – he did.

The post Centimetres apart, years in the making: Caleb Ewan’s first Tour win appeared first on CyclingTips.

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TOULOUSE, France (CT) — Richie Porte will be checked for a concussion, his team confirmed Wednesday, following a high-speed crash some 30 kilometers from the finish of Wednesday’s stage that also took out the majority of his Trek-Segafredo team.

“I hit my head pretty hard, so I guess we’ll see how that is,” Porte told reporters at his team bus after the stage.

The only two Trek riders to escape the high-speed crash were Koen de Kort and Julien Bernard. Porte hit his head, Toms Skujins came across the line with a bloody nose and a tire mark on his leg, and former yellow jersey Giulio Ciconne looked the worst for wear. He stepped gingerly onto the team bus after crossing the line last on the day, over 12 minutes behind stage winner Caleb Ewan, and reported to the medical truck for X-rays.

Porte got off much more lightly, at least in terms of visible injuries. A bit of blood trickled out of his elbow and leg, but he appeared otherwise unscathed.

“Grand scheme of things, for me it wasn’t a terrible crash I don’t think,” Porte said.

The early kilometers of the flat, fast run from Albi to Toulouse went by largely without incident, and Porte and his Trek team were well-positioned when the crash occurred. Porte said an EF rider crashed in front of him, but he wasn’t sure why.

“We were up in the front. They’re pretty indiscriminate, the crashes here,” he said. “It’s probably a relief to get the first crash over and done with.”

The team was quick to remount and pull Porte back into the peloton. He lost no time on the day. Niki Terpstra went down in the same crash and was forced to abandon with what appeared to be a broken collarbone.

Trek’s press officer confirmed that the team has a concussion protocol in place, and that the team doctor would check Porte thoroughly before deciding if he’s clear to take the start for tomorrow’s difficult stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

The post Richie Porte: “I hit my head pretty hard” appeared first on CyclingTips.

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Caleb Ewan wins stage 11 of the Tour de France, Drapac will cease operations at the end of 2019, Nippo-Vini set to fold. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Ewan tops Groenewegen to win stage 11 of the Tour de France

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to his first career Tour de France stage victory on Wednesday’s stage 11.

The 25-year-old Australian narrowly pipped Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) on the line in Toulouse to take the win, with Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) settling for third.

“I’ve been close in the last four sprints that I’ve done, said Ewan, who had already racked up four top-three finishes in Tour sprints so far.

“My team never lost faith in me. I never lost faith in my sprint. I knew that if everything came together I could be the fastest on the day, and I think I showed that today.”

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) finished safely to retain his overall race lead as the Tour heads into the mountains.

More to come…

Moving Pictures

The latest entry in the EF Gone Racing series from Rapha offers a fascinating look at Lachlan Morton’s GBDuro. The Australian covered 2,000 self-supported kilometers on a journey across the island of Great Britain, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

GBDURO - EF Gone (Alternative) Racing - Episode 002 - YouTube
Race Radio

Drapac Cycling will cease operations at the end of 2019

Australian Continental squad Drapac will close shop at the end of the year, the team has announced.

The reasons behind the decision remain unclear, although founder Michael Drapac suggested in a May interview with CyclingTips following the tragic death of his son Damion that he was interested in shifting his focus to grassroots cycling.

Michael Drapac has backed an iteration of the team since starting a domestic squad back in 2004. That team became a Continental outfit in 2006, and then upgraded to the Pro Continental level in 2014. From mid-2016 to the end of 2018, Drapac linked up with Slipstream Sports to form the Cannondale-Drapac team and then the EF Education First-Drapac team, while a separate Continental squad under the Drapac name came into existence in 2017.

This year will be that team’s last.

Nippo-Vini Fantini set to fold at the end of the season

Nippo-Vini Fantini also reportedly set to close its doors at the end of 2019. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, team manager Francesco Pelosi says new UCI regulations – which include an increase in the minimum number of riders on a team – make it financially impossible for the team to continue.

The Nippo-Vini Fantini organization has raced under moniker or another since 2008, and took an elusive first Giro d’Italia stage victory earlier this season thanks to Damiano Cima. Invites to the Giro will be much harder to come by next year, however, as reforms will create a new system to standardize some WorldTour race invites. That, in conjunction with cost increases, reportedly signals the end of the line for Nippo-Vini Fantini.

“With the 2020 reforms in place, professional teams need a much bigger budget in the face of minor guarantees,” Pelosi told La Gazzetta, pointing out that the team’s €2.8 million budget would need to increase to €4.5 million to survive.

“There is no way to continue, and the only solution is to combine [with another team].”

Whether a merger is possible remains to be seen.

Tech News

Lezyne updates its mid-range GPS units

Lezyne has updated its well priced mid-range Super and Macro GPS models, adding longer lasting batteries (28 hours claimed), improved screen resolution and optional landscape screen orientation. The new Super Pro GPS (US$150) is a smaller, simpler, and cheaper model that sits directly below Lezyne’s top-tier Mega XL and C units we reviewed previously.

Smaller again, the new Marco Plus GPS (US$100) loses a few functions, such as ANT+ connectivity, but surprisingly retains mapping functionality. Finally, there’s the new Macro Easy GPS (US$80), a basic Bluetooth-ready GPS computer without mapping.

In case you missed it …

Visualising the 2019 Tour de France: The ups and downs of the first ‘week’

Top mountain bike jumps in Tour de France history

Feature Image: Caleb Ewan tops Dylan Groenewegen to win stage 11 of the Tour de France. Photo: Nico Vereecken/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

The post Caleb Ewan wins stage 11 of the Tour de France: Daily News Digest appeared first on CyclingTips.

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