Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photo Finish Ends US Pro Championships

In an exciting photo finish, Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) defeated Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin - Chipotle p/b H3O) for top honors as the new American professional champion.

Garmin-Chipotle dominated much of the race, putting the most riders in all of the day's breaks, but in the end, the team's Caldwell was outsprinted by Hamilton. In the final break, Hamilton and Caldwell were joined by Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin Chipotle) and Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team).

Pate was the first to try his hand at getting off the front with a solo effort in the final miles, but was reeled back in. The last attack to stick was that of Hamilton and Caldwell. The two played cat and mouse as much as they could with their 13-second margin over their three chasers. Although Hamilton had to do much of the work in the final half lap to keep the duo away, he managed to come around Caldwell after the Garmin racer made his final bid for the sprint.

1 Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)
2 Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
3 Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
4 Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
5 Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team)

Vuelta a España - Stage 2

Sapinsh team cyclist Astana Alberto Contador (L) signs autographs after the second stage of the Tour of Spain, on August 31, 2008 in Granada. Spain's Alejandro Valverde, of the Caisse d'Epargne team, took the overall race lead after winning the second stage, a 176.3 kilometre run from Granada to Jaen.

La Vuelta Overall After Stage 2
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d' Epargne 4hrs 31' 10”
2 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas + 13”
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas same time
4 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel + 15”
5 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel + 19”
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner same time
7 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank + 20”
8 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel + 21”
9 Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel
10 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel same time

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Zabriskie wins US pro time trial championship

A new course and a season of injury stood in front of Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Chipotle) as he tried to defend his time trial national championship in Greenville. Despite having an off-year he targeted this race as a way to prove he is still the fastest – both to himself and to everyone else. And he did just that, riding aggressively over the fast course to beat domestic sensation Tom Zirbel (Bissell) by just five seconds.

"I didn't care what the conditions were going to be like, what the course was, I came to win!" Zabriskie told Cyclingnews after the race. "Coming back from injury this is really just my third race back," he said. "Cycling is full of ups and downs and my career has been up and down. I've had numerous injuries so I have to say thanks to all the people who stand behind me and keep believing in me."

While this result reaffirms his status as a top time trialist, he does not think it salvages his season – particularly with only 35 starters. "It feels great to have this win, but it's not like it saves my season or anything. It's me with something to prove time and time again... that I am Dave Zabriskie!"

Giving Zabriskie a run for his money was Zirbel, who started out slow but came on steadily over the three laps of the TT course. "I knew Zabriskie was going to bring his A game and he is one of the best in the world," said Zirbel. "I knew I was going to have to have a good ride and take some chances. I just came up short."

His second place finish did spoil the sweep for Garmin-Chipotle, who still took four out of the top five with Christian Vande Velde in third, just five more seconds back. Tom Danielson came in fourth with Steven Cozza posting an early fast time and holding on for fifth.

1 David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) 40:39.40
2 Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) 0:05:33
3 Christian Vandevelde (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) 0:10:31
4 Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) 0:34:39
5 Thomas Danielson (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) 0:52:21
6 Michael Creed (Rock Racing) 1:27:31
7 Roman Kilun (Health Net p/b Maxxis) 1:54:27
8 Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly) 2:19:02
9 Scott Zwizanski (Bissell Pro Cycling) 2:19:07
10 Justin Spinelli (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) 2:20:45

Vuelta a España - Stage 1 Granada TTT 7.7 KM

Filippo Pozzato was first across the line and takes the leader's jersey of this Vuelta

1, Liquigas, LIQ, 8:21
2, Euskaltel - Euskadi, EUS, at 8
3, Caisse D'Epargne, GCE, at 9
4, Quick Step, QST, at 10
5, Team CSC - Saxo Bank, CSC, at 11
6, Tinkoff Credit Systems, TCS, at 12
7, Rabobank, RAB, at 13
8, Astana, AST, at 14
9, Team Milram, MRM, at 15
10, Gerolsteiner, GST, at 18
11, Lampre, LAM, at 19
12, Cofidis, le credit par telephone, COF, at 20
13, AG2R - L aMondiale, ALM, at 20
14, Silence - Lotto, SIL, at 20
15, Xacobeo - Galicia, KGZ, at 21
16, Credit Agricole, C.A, at 23
17, Française Des Jeux, FDJ, at 27
18, Bouygues Telecom, BTL, at 28
19, Andaluci a- Cajasur, ACA, at 35

Friday, August 29, 2008


One day prior to the Vuelta d' España, Alberto Contador was at the disposal of the international press in Granada. Here are excerpts from the press conference.

Q - Alberto, everybody expects and hopes for a duel between Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre. Is that your idea too?
A - That is difficult to say. The media say so. It makes a good race if there is a fight between two riders. It means spectacle and many press articles,
but for the riders that is not so good, because a third rider can take advantage of the situation. You should not forget about Alejandro Valverde. In the
last Tour de France, he had only one bad day (on the Tourmalet). He has finished second as well in the Vuelta.

Q - Are you more motivated because you can race against the winner of the Tour the France?
A - No, I am not. My biggest motivation here is to ride the Tour of my country. I will enjoy it and will love the encouragements and warmth of the fans. For
me, Carlos Sastre is just a rider like all the others.

Q - Carlos Sastre says that it will be easier for you as you did not do a hard Tour de France.
A - OhŠ everybody is looking for excuses or quotes to put the pressure at the other riders. I am used to that tactic but I apply that technique as
well. Every rider does.

Q - Before the Giro you were not prepared. Now you are. That means that the Vuelta will be easy for you?
A - That is theory, of course. I had indeed a super preparation for this race, but there can always be someone who will be stronger. It is difficult to
predict such things. Cycling is still not mathematics.

Q - You are the leader of the team?
A - Yes, I am, but it feels comfortable for me that I have in Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden two guys who can take over when necessary. It gives me a
bit more peace and rest before the race.

Q - What do you think of the Angliru?
A - It is nice. It is hard as well. It will be a nice stage. Many people or riders say that it is too hard, but I don1t agree with that. It is good for
the spectacle. The public will be wild. Of course the organizers shouldn't do that every day, and they don't. So what's the problem? I talked about the
Angliru with Alejandro Valverde. When he did the recognition, it was very difficult with the small stones (gravel) on the road, but when I
checked the climb in July, everything looked good. It was steep of course.

Q - Did you see in advance every stage?
A- No, not at all. I have no idea what the TTT tomorrow will bring. It is short, I saw, and dangerous. I think that the team that takes the most
risks not us will win. I only checked the Pyrenees and Asturias stages in July. Plus last week I went to see the circuit or the TT in Ciudad Real.
It is difficult to say which stage will be the decisive stage. Probably Ciudad Real will be the first test. The Pyrenees and Asturias will be
decisive, but which stage? No idea.

Q - When you will win the Vuelta, you will be only the fifth rider to win Tour, Giro and Vuelta. Does that give a special feeling?
A - Honestly? No. It certainly will be important, but it is so far away for me. Once in my career I hope to win the Tour of Spain, but if it only happens
the year of my retirement, then it is okay for me as well. I am only 25 years old. I still have time enough.

Q - After the Vuelta, there are the world championships in Varese. You are not on the list of Spain's coach Paco Antequera. Why?
A - That is a mistake. I already talked about it with Antequera. If my condition is good when I finish the Tour of Spain, I'll go to Varese. If
necessary I can work for Valverde or Oscar Freire. No problem. The circuit suits them better. The time trial can be more something for me, like in the Olympic
Games. I enjoyed being in Beijing. My condition was not super yet but that was fortunate, otherwise my Vuelta would not be good. But it was so nice to
be there with all best sports men of the world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stop the Insanity! - Top 10 Craziest Diet Fads

Desperate to lose weight for your upcoming wedding, high school reunion, or beach vacation? Then you might just be desperate enough to try (or have tried) a fad diet.

Although they promise quick results, these diets are virtually impossible to follow (unless you actually enjoy lemonade mixed with maple syrup and cayenne pepper) and often have highly unpleasant side effects (we’re looking at you cabbage soup diet!). Stick to a Primal eating plan and you’ll never be tempted into an unhealthy and unproductive extreme fad diet.

Click on the title link to read on to learn about Mark Sisson's picks for the top 10 diet fads of all time:

Contador Leads Astana Super Team

Vuelta organizer Victor Cordero knew he had a great show in the works when Contador took the Giro's maglia rosa in June.

Astana brings a loaded team looking for nothing short of domination in the 63rd Vuelta a España that opens with a team time trial Saturday in sunny Granada.

Still miffed it was left out of the 2008 Tour de France, the Astana blue swaggers into Granada with its A-team for the season’s third tour with overall victory as the main objective.

Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer provide heft to the nine-man lineup, but it’s budding Spanish super star Alberto Contador who will be captain of this ship.

“It’s always good to have various options, just in case some surprise happens, but it’s also good to have a clear idea of things. Alberto will be our only leader on the team,” Astana manager Johan Bruyneel told Spain’s sports daily MARCA. “Alberto is the only one of our leaders who know what it’s like to win a grand tour.”

After coming off the beach to win the Giro d’Italia back in May, Contador will be taking aim at his second grand tour victory of the 2008 season, but with better preparation.

Unlike the Giro, which gave Astana a surprise, last-minute invitation to start just eight days before the opening stage in Sicily, the Vuelta has been on the team’s radar screen for months.

Contador has prepared well for the three-week Vuelta and, with the absence of defending champion Denis Menchov (Rabobank), lines up as the pre-race favorite.

Bruyneel said there’s no worry that the team’s top riders might begin to fight internally for control of the race.

Leipheimer and Klöden both boast Tour podium finishes on their resume, but Bruyneel insists that the team will ride as a unified front.

“The Giro victory was decisive for everyone to understand that Alberto, when he’s good, he’s the best rider for grand tours,” Bruyneel said. “Also, he’ll be racing on home roads and the team is interested in having a Spanish winner.”

When Tour organizers snubbed Astana for this year’s edition, the Vuelta increased in importance both for Astana and Contador.

Elite company
With his unexpected Giro win already in the bag, Contador enters the Vuelta with perhaps less self-imposed pressure, but perhaps more media pressure to perform. Winning this year’s Vuelta would put Contador atop an elite cadre of cycling greats.

Only four riders have won all three of cycling’s major three-week tours and Contador is poised to become the rider to achieve that hat trick within the shortest amount of time.

Jacques Anquetil was the first to complete cycling’s grand tour sweep, with five Tours, two Giros and one Vuelta between 1957-1964. Felice Gimondi became the second, winning one Tour, three Giros and one Vuelta from 1965-1976.

Eddy Merckx, who holds the record with the most grand tour victories at 11, won five Tours, five Giros and one Vuelta from 1969-1974.

Bernard Hinault currently holds the record for claiming all three within the shortest time frame, winning the first of five Tours in 1978, his first of two Vueltas in 1978 and one of three Giros in 1980, within a period of 26 months.

Contador will be under the gun to become the first Spaniard to earn that distinction and to do it on his home roads.

Contador’s profile is flying sky high right now in his native Spain, and he will be keen to beat back 2008 Tour winner Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) in what’s expected to be an all-Spanish showdown for the Vuelta crown.

A strong and unified team
Leipheimer and Klöden provide the team with guarantees and shouldn’t be discounted for anything, especially Leipheimer, who is fresh off winning a bronze medal in the Olympic time trial and an impressive victory in the Clásica a los Puertos last weekend in the mountains north of Madrid.

Supporting the three leaders will be a solid lineup of support riders, including two Kazakh riders to keep the title sponsor happy, as well as José Luis Rubiera, riding in his last major race before retiring at the end of this season.

“This will be my 20th and final Grand Tour. I am very grateful to all the riders, staff, sports directors and fans who have supported me throughout my entire career,” Rubiera said on the team’s web page. “It is a true honor to have had the opportunity to race for Johan, Lance (Armstrong) and now Alberto. It has been a dream and I would love to complete my career with another grand tour victory.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Preview: Vuelta a España

The climbers can celebrate. A return to the gruelling Angliru, a very tough day in the Pyrenees, an uphill time trial, a total of five summit finishes and just 40 kilometres of flat time trial for the specialists against the clock; this is, in truth, a Vuelta tailor-made for those who shine when it comes to battling with gravity.

Reigning Vuelta champion Denis Menchov will not defend his title, and double Tour de France bridesmaid Cadel Evans has bowed out due to injury. This gives 2008 Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador a clear shot at winning his third Grand Tour, after taking the 2007 Tour and 2008 Giro d'Italia.

Starting in Granada on August 30th and concluding in Madrid 23 days and 3,169 kilometres later, the Grand Tour will be fought on uphill terrain and should see some epic tussles by the mountain riders in the battle for the final maillot oro.

"I think the race will be for the climbers," said race director Victor Cordero to "We have four summit finishes plus the uphill time trial. We will have surprises, we have things to offer the climbers and the time trial kilometres have been really limited.

"The first time trial is just 40 kilometres," he added. "It is not the longest time trial to have been in the Vuelta and the specialists will be limited as regards what they can gain. Because of that, I believe that this is a race that is more for climbers than time trialists."

The 2008 edition of the race gets underway in Granada with a 7km team time trial, almost exactly replicating the 7.2 kilometre test which kicked off the 2006 Vuelta in nearby Málaga. After three mainly flat stages, the riders cross swords in a 40km race against the clock based around Ciudad Real, then have one more leg before the first rest day. A transfer to Barbastro in the north east of the country gets three tough climbing legs underway, with the first of these – a summit finish to Andorra (Naturlandia – La Rabassa) the longest, and quite probably the hardest, of the race.

Two more mountain legs follow (including a summit finish at Pla de Beret, where defending Vuelta champion Denis Menchov won the 11th stage of the 2006 Tour de France), then three flatter stages precede another transfer and the second rest day. The climbing mayhem begins again immediately afterwards with the 199 kilometre race to the summit of the backbreaking l'Angliru and another mountain-top finish at the ski station Fuentes de Invierno.

A respite from climbing gives the sprinters and roulers four flattish stages to target – five if they get over the two early first category climbs on stage 19 – before a climatic 16 kilometre uphill time trial to the Puerto de Navacerrada. That stage will surely reveal the 2008 victor with just the final processional stage to Madrid standing in between him and the Grand Tour title.

Team CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre, the recent winner of the Tour, was one of the main animators of last year's race and the 2007 runner-up liked what he saw.

"I think that this is better for the climbers," he stated at the launch at the IFEMA centre in Madrid. "There is only a small amount of time trials and in that way it is good for me…I am not a heavy rider, I have to suffer a lot not to lose time in long, flat time trials.

"This type of route is not easy but it is better for me to get something. If I do the Vuelta a España, for sure this type of course is hard and is good for a climber like myself."

2008 Vuelta details

21 stages, total distance of 3,169 kilometres
10 flat stages, 8 medium and high mountain stages
1 team time trial
1 individual time trial
1 mountain time trial
Other facts:

5 summit finishes (Andorra Naturlandia-La Rabassa, Pla de Beret, Alto de l'Angliru, E.E. Fuentes de Invierno, Puerto de Navacerrada)
3 Categoría Especial (hors categorie) climbs
13 first category climbs
9 second category climbs
15 third category climbs
First time start locations: San Vicente de la Barquera Cudillero La Granja de San Ildefonso San Sebastián de los Reyes
First time finish locations: Naturlandia - La Rabassa (Andorra) Suances Ski station of Fuentes de Invierno

Hey Fattie

Remember when we were told that fat was bad? And the stores responded by stocking reduced fat foods. And then Americans were thin…wait, what? Nope, it didn’t happen like that, and here’s why. When food manufacturers reduced or altogether eliminated the fat in products, they added sugar to improve the taste. As for the claims that following a low-fat diet could improve your health, a 12-year study published in 2006 the Journal of the American Medical Association found that low-fat diets did not significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease or stroke in women (with the same being said for men, just not in this particular study). So to clear up any confusion, low fat diets DO NOT WORK and fat is not the enemy. In fact, a diet that contains a high amount of healthy fats is considered only one thing in our books – healthy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Contador Focused On Spanish Glory

With both the French and Italian Grand Tour titles to his name Alberto Contador is focused on claiming his home Grand Tour when it starts later this week, according to the Astana rider. Contador is ready to battle at the Vuelta a España, having added the Giro d'Italia win in May to his Tour de France victory from last season.

"I have been focused on this race for a number of months," said Contador. "I've spent time with the rest of the team and I feel that we are prepared and motivated for the next three weeks. I am better prepared than I was for the Tour of Italy. Mentally, but technically as well. Right now we're not looking too far ahead, but our goal is to win another Grand Tour for Kazakhstan."

Contador will have the support of big names Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer in Astana's roster for the Spanish event. The team is expected to enter the race as favourites to win, having been so strong in Italy despite only being invited one week earlier, and being hungry to prove the squad's strength after not being selected to defend the Tour de France title in July.

"Since early in the season, we identified the Tour of Spain as a major team goal," said Johan Bruyneel. "We've had an excellent season to date and our riders are extremely motivated to end in winning fashion. I think we've assembled a well-balanced team that can accomplish our final major goal of 2008. We have riders for the mountains and flat stages, as well as the experience of super champions like Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer."

The Vuelta will also see one of the team's riders farewell his home Grand Tour, with 34 year-old José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera to retire at season's end. The rider is hoping to play a roll in a successful final Grand Tour outing. "This will be my 20th and last Grand Tour," he said. "I am very grateful to all the riders, staff, sports directors and fans who have supported me throughout my entire career. It is a true honour to have had the opportunity to race for Johan, Lance and now Alberto. It has been a dream and I would love to complete my career with another Grand Tour victory."

Astana has selected an experienced team in the hope of guiding Contador to home soil glory, according to sport director Alain Gallopin. "It was not an easy choice, which really shows the strength of our team," said Gallopin. "We have a lot of talented riders on Team Astana, but Johan and I decided that certain intangibles, such as experience, were very important. This group knows what it takes to win the big races and I'm hopeful we can prove this in the next three weeks."

Astana for the Vuelta a España: Assan Bazayev, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Dmitriy Muravyev, Benjamín Noval, Sérgio Paulinho, José Luis Rubiera and Tomas Vaitkus.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leipheimer, Contador 1-2 los Puertos

Showing that the squad is rested and ready to take on the Vuelta a España, the Astana squad took first and second in the Spanish 1.1 race, the Clásica Internacional a los Puertos in Guadarrama, outside Madrid. Leipheimer soloed to the win after attacking 20 kilometers from the finish, and came in 41 seconds ahead of Contador.

"This is a very special victory for me", commented the winner. "Today I raced for the last time in my USA national champion kit. It's been a honor to wear the stars and stripes and win a medal for my home country, but this year I've decided to focus on the Tour of Spain, which has been a major Team goal since early in the season."

Leipheimer was part of the early breakaway of the race. On the Puerto de Navacerrada, a first category climb, Contador escaped from the chasing peloton to join the leaders; five of who went to the finish in Guadarrama. Contador tried to escape, and when his effort was unsuccessful, Leipheimer used the same power which took him to a bronze medal in the Olympic time trial to solo to his sixth victory of the season. Contador finished behind Leipheimer in 2nd place. Contador was pleased with his performance. "It was nice for me to race on my training circuit in the madrilene sierra. I'm feeling good and am very happy to see that my teammates are in good condition as well. We are excited to start the last Grand Tour of the season on Saturday."


1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 3.15.10 (44.85 km/h)
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0.41
3 Diego Gallego Arnaiz (Spa) Burgos Monumental 0.49
4 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Burgos Monumental 0.58
5 Iñigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
6 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Andalucía - Cajasur 1.47
7 Oscar Pujol (Spa) Burgos Monumental
8 Enrique Salgueiro (Spa) Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario 1.52
9 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 2.18
10 David Martin Velasco (Spa) Orbea - Oreka S.D.A 2.20

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Live From Beijing: Race Recaps

By Greg Welch

Emma Snowsill is the Olympic champion. The three-time International Triathlon Union world champion executed the perfect choreography Monday to become the sport's third women's Olympic Triathlon gold medalist.

Snowsill stuck like glue to Vanessa Fernandes on the bike and covered every attack. The Aussie elected to not race Worlds this year in Vancouver, and it has now been proven that training in a warmer, more-humid climate worked. Based on the Gold Coast under direction of coach and fiance Craig Walton, Snowsill trained solo and worked in her own safe environment.

The run was always going to win the race for the dimunitive Aussie, and she made her break with a ridiculously fast transition. The pace was fast as Snowsill took it out hard - not even Fernandes, a 20-time World Cup winner could hold Snowsill's pace settling into the chase pack. Snowy was running faster per kilometer than any athlete on the course .

A drink truck made its way onto the course in the third lap, forcing Emma to jump the barriers. Mate, at this stage I reckon she could have competed in the steeplechase, too! Snowy went on to win by a lengthy margin claiming Australia's first gold medal in triathlon.

The men's race was a little different, with most of the athletes emerging from the water together.
I was surprised to see Olivier Marceau of Switzerland and Brit Tim Don behind, though. The main group formed on the bike and it was on from the go.

The group was easing into this race and that allowed two chase groups to catch back up. By the end of the third bike loop of six, the field became 51 athletes.

The men's race was a procession until a group of three exited and went up the road. One of those athletes was XTERRA's Francisco Serrano of Mexico, who was unable to hold the cracking pace, blew up and fell into in no man's land.

Luxembourg and Belgium had one athlete each off the bike first and ran out with 10,000 screaming spectators on their feet. The mad rush was next to arrive into transition and I swear it was like there was a red light sale at a flea market as they fought for position heading in.

Alistair Brownlee was the early pacesetter and it looked as though this 20-year-old had been racing for years as he set a solid pace over the first kilometers. The favourites were all sitting nicely until Ivan Rana, the former Spanish world champ, made a move on the ascent into the stadium. Javier Gomez, this year's world champion, went with his compatriot amigo, but it proved to be a costly move in the end.

The final kilometer was the most exciting kilometer I have witnessed in ITU Olympic-distance racing, as all the favourites were there: Gomez, Docherty from New Zealand and Simon Whitfleid, the Sydney gold medalist.

The one guy I didn't really know too much about just so happened to be the new Olympic champ. Jan Frodeno form Germany was just sitting in nicely throughout the run. I didnt expect him the hang with the terrific trio. Whitfield started to fade with 800 meters to go and had slipped off the back. With 500 meters to go, the leaders were sorting each other out and allowed the Canadian to catch up. Whitfield was first to sprint, leaving Gomez in a hole - not what I expected. Then it was Docherty who couldn't manage the pace.

Frodeno, the lanky German, was struggling to stay with Whitfield until he gave it a last-ditch effort and it worked, catching Whitfield with 75 meters to run. Whitfield was shot, he had nothing left, triathlon's first Olympic men's champ was now going for a mixed bag. In saying that, I challenge Simon to hang around and maybe get the bronze in London!

Triathlon was the real winner, however. In my opinion, the venue at Chanping was phenomenal. You have to be here to understand what really went into this to make it a success.

OK, I am catching up with some athletes today and will give you all the juicy goss next time.


Usain Bolt. Insane speed.

The Jamaican wunderkind hurtled to his second world record and his second Olympic gold medal, finishing the 200-meter race Wednesday night in 19.30 seconds to break Michael Johnson's 12-year-old mark.
Bolt became the first man to break the world record in both the 100 and 200 at the same Olympics. Not since Carl Lewis in 1984 has any man doubled in the Olympic 100 and 200.

He had this one won about halfway through, but unlike his record-setting performance in the 100 four nights before, there was no hot-dogging, no celebrating until he crossed the line. He went hard all the way, looking at the clock down the stretch, leaning at the line, knowing that Johnson's venerable mark was within reach.

When he saw the number come up -- a number that never has before -- he raised his arms, then fell flat to his back, arms and legs outstreched, and basked in the roar of the Bird's Nest crowd.

It is no understatement to call him not just "The World's Fastest Man," but maybe the greatest sprinter of all time.
He will also compare well to Jesse Owens, one of the eight other men to pull off the double at the Olympics.
Wallace Spearmon of the United States finished third but was disqualified for leaving his lane, a decision that U.S. officials protested. He was celebrating along with Bolt -- even picking up his friend -- carrying the American flag around the track for several minutes after the race and was shocked when an official told him of the DQ.

That gave Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles the silver medal and Shawn Crawford of the U.S., the defending Olympic champion, the bronze.

Indeed, they were racing for second. Martina finished in 19.82, incredibly more than a half-second behind Bolt.
Bolt is simply a different kind of runner -- coiled power in his 6-foot-5 frame, supposedly too big for success in the 100, but certainly built to run the 200.

His move out of the starting block isn't nearly as important in the longer race, which makes this more about raw speed. But a good start certainly doesn't hurt. He got one in this race, bursting out of the blocks from Lane 5, overcoming the lag about a quarter of the way through, then beating Martina to the line by four body lenghts.

Bolt's 100 record is 9.69 seconds. He averaged 9.65 per 100 meters in the longer sprint, running into a very slight headwind.
"Incredible," Johnson, now the former record-holder, said after the race. "He got an incredible start. Guys of 6-5 should not be able to start like that. It's that long, massive stride. He's eating up so much more track than others. He came in focused, knowing he would likely win the gold and he's got the record."

Bolt won the race on the eve of his 22nd birthday and a version of "Happy Birthday" played over the public-address system as he took off his gold shoes and wrapped the Jamaican flag around his shoulders like a scarf.

He did another hip-swiveling dance, then raised his hands and pointed toward the scoreboard. A little later, he posed near the scoreboard -- the traditional picture that all world record-setters take. Bolt now has three of them -- this, the 100 from Saturday and the picture he took in New York in May when he broke the 100 record the first time.

"You're back there giving it everything you've got -- it's brutal," said Kim Collins, the 2003 world champ who finished seventh. "He's doing it and making it look so simple. Michael Johnson did it, and it didn't looked that easy."

Bolt's victory made Jamaica 3-for-3 in the Olympic sprints, and the women's 200 Thursday will include three Jamaicans with gold-medal potential -- Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart.

None of them, however, will surpass what Bolt has done at these games. And while Michael Phelps and his eight swimming golds may be The Story of these Olympics, Bolt's sheer dominance in the most basic tests of speed there are will not soon be surpassed -- unless he does it himself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jennifer Lopez - Triathlon Training (2008)

Contador Talks About Beijing And La Vuelta

Alberto Contador got home from Beijing on Thursday with one thing on his mind. The Vuelta a España starts in two weeks, hot on the heels of the Olympic Games. Thanks to an initial test of form in Beijing, Contador knows that when the peloton leaves the gate in Granada, he'll be ready to win.

Did you like your experience at the Olympic Games?

Yes, it was very beautiful. Every athlete wants to be in the Olympics at least once in his life, because it's a privilege few can have. Being in the Olympic Village with the best athletes in the world is something that we want to be able to enjoy.

What conclusions have you drawn about finishing fourth in the time trial? Will you return in four years for the gold medal?

My conclusions are very good. I'm happy with the result, since my physical condition was not the best. I worked very hard and squeezed every ounce of potential from my body, although I was deflated at the end.

I can see that my preparation for the Vuelta a España is on target and that I've improved enormously in the time trial, which gives me peace of mind regarding the other climbers. I need to fine-tune my form, but I believe that I can arrive at the Vuelta in very good shape.

Will you want to go back to the next Olympic Games?

I would definitely like to return for a triumph, but that's very difficult to do. I believe that in a few more years I should've improved in the time trial and then I'd like to go back to fight for the gold, although I'm not obsessive about that goal. What I know is if I'd ridden the Tour and finished well, I would've gotten a much better result in Beijing.

A controversy has arisen over Levi Leipheimer's time trial bicycle. What do you think of that?

What I would never want is for them to take his medal away and give it to me, because Levi is a colleague and a friend.

Also, I don't believe there's any reason. They've already looked at his bike at other races and if there was something wrong with it, they wouldn't have allowed him to take the start in Beijing. I'm not concerned about it.

When you got back to Madrid, you got the good news that your new website is ready. What do you think about it, what do you expect from it?

I was eager to see it, because the previous one was beautiful and had lots of visitors, but it lacked updates.

Good work has been done and it has very interesting things. I'll write contributions myself when I'm in competition, and we'll have a lot of content.

The best thing I can say is that I hope lots of fans will visit and tell us what they think and how to continue improving it. It's not cool to be without a good website these days, plus I can be in closer contact with fans all over the world.

There are 15 days before the start of the Vuelta. What's your plan?

To get over jet lag and the effort of the race on these first 3 days so that I can start training again.

I also want to scout out the Sierra de Madrid stages, because the team will train at Navacerrada just before the start. Also, I'm going to ride the Clásica a los Puertos to get back into the rhythm of competition.

How do you see yourself before the start of the Vuelta?

Mainly I'm really excited and very motivated to ride to win, because unlike in the Giro or the Tour, here I know the parcours very well and I want to enjoy the Spanish fans.

All this is very important in the month of September, and since I didn't ride the Tour, I believe that I'll be very good physically.

Also, I'm lucky that in this team I'm not under pressure to win. I'll start the race with my duties clear, I'm still very young, plus Leipheimer will ride, and he's another guy that can fight for the general with confidence, plus Klöden will probably come, and his quality makes him another candidate.

The objective is that Astana wins, and we have three very solid tricks up our sleeve.

Will the road choose the leader?

Yes, the road will tell us the best strategy. Astana wants to win, and I'm lucky to have these two teammates with me, because we'll be able to defeat stronger rivals.

Do you believe all the program changes will affect you, as well as having done the Giro?

No, this year hasn't affected me. This year has been an exception, because I won't ride two big tours in the same season again, but I believe that I'm going to arrive fresh, especially mentally.

Will your debut in the Vuelta be lucky, like the Giro?

I don't know, but I'm sure that both knowing the race and my desire to enjoy my country and the Spanish fans will work in my favour.

What will be the key elements of the race?

I think that we have to wait until the end to know the winner, but the first test will be the first 40 km time trial, where some of the favorites might fail.

Then the Pyrenees stages will show proof of each rider's form. After this group of mountains, the big story will be the stages in Asturias - Angliru and Fuentes de Invierno.

Whoever leaves Asturias as leader will have won most of the Vuelta, which only leaves the last test in the Sierra de Madrid and the time trial to Navacerrada to settle things, if the differences are still small.

Is the Vuelta a España for climbers or time trial specialists?

For climbers, although it's not bad either for people who can do well in the TTs, then ride defensively in the mountains.

The Alltime Olympian Michael Phelps

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Snowsill runs away with women’s triathlon

Emma Snowsill of Australia has won the Olympic women’s triathlon, pulling away toward the beginning of the 10-kilometer run to finish over a minute ahead of the field.

Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal won the silver, and Emma Moffatt of Australia came across the finish line about 20 seconds later for the bronze.

Four years ago, Australia’s Loretta Harrop ran alone for over a half-hour before being passed only a few seconds away from the finish by Kate Allen. This year, Snowsill had time to grab a flag, pull up and wave for a bit before strolling across.

Snowsill, ranked No. 3 in the world, was the world champion in 2003, 2005 and 2006. She’s a nine-time World Cup winner.

Tereza Hurikova Arrives In Beijing - Scouts Course For Olympic Mt. Bike Race

Friday, August 22 - Venue: Laoshan Mountain Bike Course

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps ties Spitz's record with seventh gold medal ... just barely

His Olympics looking lost, Michael Phelps decided to flap those gangly arms one more time.
Milorad Cavic, inches from spoiling it all, glided along just under the surface, convinced he had won gold.
But it didn't matter who was fastest. Just first.

Phelps swam into history with a magnificent finish Saturday, tying Mark Spitz with his seventh gold medal by the narrowest of margins in the 100-meter butterfly. One-hundredth of a second, the time it takes lightning to strike the ground.
Whew! "Dream as big as you can dream and anything is possible," Phelps said. "I am sort of in a dream world. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it is real." Call it the Great Haul of China -- and it's not done yet. Phelps has one more race on Sunday, which will likely complete his coronation as the greatest Olympian ever.
Spitz already ceded the title. "It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he's maybe the greatest athlete of all time," said the icon of the 1972 Munich Games. "He's the greatest racer who ever walked the planet."

The finish was so close the Serbian delegation filed a protest and swimming's governing body had to review the tape down to the 10-thousandth of a second. Phelps thought he lost -- until he saw the "1" beside his name on the scoreboard.
"When I did chop the last stroke, I thought that had cost me the race," he said. "But it was actually the opposite. If I had glided, I would have been way too long. I took short, faster strokes to try to get my hand on the wall. I ended up making the right decision." Phelps' time was 50.58 seconds, the only time in these Olympics that he won an event without breaking the world record. Not to worry. The 23-year-old from Baltimore has now pulled even with the greatest of Olympic records.
"One word: epic," Spitz told The Associated Press from Detroit. "I'm so proud of what he's been able to do. I did what I did and it was in my day in those set of circumstances. For 36 years it stood as a benchmark. I'm just pleased that somebody was inspired by what I had done. He's entitled to every second of what's occurring to him now. "I feel a tremendous load off my back."

Phelps will return on Sunday to swim in his final event of these games, taking the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay. The Americans will be heavily favored to give him his eighth gold, leaving Spitz behind. Phelps slapped his hands on the water and let out a scream after the astonishing finish. The crowd at the Water Cube gasped -- it looked as though Cavic had won -- then roared when the "1" popped up beside the American's name. Cavic's time was 50.59. The Serbian delegation filed a protest, but conceded that Phelps won after reviewing the tape provided by FINA, swimming's governing body. USA Swimming spokeswoman Jamie Olsen said the tape was slowed to one frame every 10-thousandth of a second to make sure Phelps actually touched first. It was impossible to tell on regular-speed replays.

"We filed the protest but it is already over," said Branislav Jevtic, Serbia's chief of mission for all sports. "They examined the video and I think the case is closed. The video says (Phelps) finished first. "In my opinion, it's not right, but we must follow the rules. Everybody saw what happened." FINA referee Ben Ekumbo of Kenya said there was no doubt who won after a review of the super-slow replay. "It was very clear that the Serbian swimmer touched second after Michael Phelps," he said. "One was stroking and one was gliding. "Cavic still wasn't sure he actually lost, but said he would accept FINA's ruling.
"I'm stoked with what happened," Cavic said. "I don't want to fight this. People will be bringing this up for years and saying you won that race. If we got to do this again, I would win it." Cavic watched the replay himself. "It's kind of hard to see," he said. "I know I had a long finish and Michael Phelps had a short finish. "A notoriously slow starter -- Phelps was seventh out of eight at the turn -- he really turned it on with the return lap, his long arms gobbling up huge chunks of water as he closed the gap on Cavic and fellow American Ian Crocker, the world record-holder.

As they approached the finish, with Phelps' head in line with Cavic's shoulder, the Serb took his final big stroke and glided underwater toward the gold. Phelps, his timing a bit off but fully aware of where he was, did another mini-stroke, propelling his upper body out of the water, swooping his arms in a huge circular motion and slamming the wall with his hands on the follow-through. Phelps watched the replay on the video board, then saw it again in the massage area.
"I saw it slow down frame by frame," he said. "It's almost too close to see. "It was reminiscent of the 100 fly finish at Athens four years ago, where Crocker appeared to have the race won but Phelps got him at the wall by 0.04. "I thought four one-hundredths was close and I was shocked then," Phelps said. "I'm even more shocked now than I was then. One-hundredth is the smallest margin of victory in our sport. I guess it's pretty cool. "Makes that 400 free relay, in which Jason Lezak chased down France's Alain Bernard to win by eight-hundredths of a second, look like a blowout. "My last two Olympics I've been able to nail my finishes, and it's been by four one-hundredths and one one-hundredths," Phelps said. "I'm happy and kind of at a loss for words."

As if Phelps needed any extra motivation, his coach, Bob Bowman, took note of Cavic's reported comments a day earlier that it would be best for the sport if the American lost. On their way to breakfast, Bowman brought it up. "I wasn't going to at first, then I was saying to myself, 'This race is going to be very tight and I'm going to use everything I got,' so I put it out there," Bowman said, chuckling. "Maybe it was worth a hundredth." Just enough.

"It fires me up more than anything," Phelps said. "I always welcome comments. It definitely motivates me even more."
Cavic didn't leave anything to chance, either. Right before the race, coach Mike Bottom shaved a few stray hairs off the back of his swimmer's neck, looking for any edge he could get. The 24-year-old Serb endeared himself to his homeland in March when he was suspended from the European championships for wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Kosovo is Serbia" -- a reference to Kosovo's disputed declaration of independence. After returning home, Cavic was greeted by hundreds of fans and met with Serbian nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who called the swimmer a "hero." Cavic knew where Phelps was all along. "There was no need to look over," he said. "I saw his shadow in the corner of my goggles."
Phelps collected a $1 million bonus that Speedo, one of his sponsors, first offered four years ago if he could tie or break Spitz's record. Phelps failed to cash in at the Athens Games, where he won six golds and two bronzes, but he got it on his second try.

What's left? Already the winningest Olympian ever with 13 golds and most likely a 14th before he leaves Beijing, Phelps will have another thing to shoot for at the 2012 London Games. Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina captured a record 18 medals in her career: nine golds, five silvers and four bronzes. "My big goal is to change the sport of swimming," Phelps said. "I am sure Bob and I can think of some more goals in the next four years. "Phelps set world records in his first six events, some of them by ridiculously large margins. He merely settled for a personal best and Olympic record in the 100 fly, which will at least give Spitz's supporters some reason to gloat: all seven of his wins in Munich were with world records. But, like Spitz, Phelps is 7-for-7 with a chance for one more. Or maybe that should be 6.99-for-7. Andrew Lauterstein of Australia won the bronze medal in 51.12. Expected to be Phelps' main challenger, Crocker was again denied the first individual gold of his career. He didn't even win a medal, finishing fourth by a hundredth of a second in 51.13.

"It was a tight one," Crocker said. "I saw my short differential between getting a medal or not, but then I realized Michael's was pretty close, too. I'm really glad that he came out on top. "It was everything that an Olympic final should be. It doesn't matter who's in the heats, you just got to get out and race and it's anybody's game. It was one of the more intense races that I've been in, which makes it a great way to end the meet. "While the medley relay figures to be nothing more than a coronation, Phelps isn't ready to talk about No. 8. "It's not over yet," he said. "I really think the Australian team looks great for the relay. It's going to be a race. "Lauterstein was just thrilled to be part of history. "It was an amazing final," he said. "Every time you race Phelps, you'll have a great race and a great time. Just hearing his arms slap on the block gets your heart racing, he's amazing." Those arms sure came in handy Saturday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How Stress Can Make You Fat

By: Mark Sisson

O.K., we acknowledge the title is a bit over the top, but didn’t it get your attention? No, stress alone won’t pack on the pounds, but there’s still truth in them thar’ hills. We thought we’d dig up some of the dirt on stress – fat and otherwise.

The fact is we think stress gets short shrift when it comes to the realm of health and wellness. As you know, we spend a lot of time talking about how our eating and exercising impacts our biochemistry. Stress absolutely, positively plays into this same picture. A great diet and diligent exercise routine are never wasted effort, but chronic high stress can put a serious damper on the benefits you should be getting from your healthy endeavors.

Let’s examine stress as saboteur. First off, we all know that a moderate amount of stress is good – natural even. (Grok didn’t live in Pleasantville after all.) In the face of danger, the physiological “fight or flight” stress response was crucial to our favorite caveman’s self-preservation. Ah, the flooding of adrenaline (a.k.a. epinephrine) and norepinephrine, the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone, the emergency shut off of the immune system. We notice the sweating, muscle tension and the heightened sense of smell and hearing, the sudden increase in heart rate (getting uncomfortable yet?). All these helped our ur-selves either attack that Sabertooth tiger or run like heck—to get away from the snarling beast. Flip to modern day when the “predator” is more likely a passive-aggressive co-worker, catty neighbor, daily traffic jam, or looming pile of bills in the corner, and suddenly the fight or flight instinct isn’t as relevant or particularly helpful. (But there’s always the “vacation from your problems” ala What About Bob?…)

Stress today is more often a chronic low-grade condition than the powerful punch complete with cathartic end. (Maybe that’s why we love adventure-thriller movies so much?) That low level of stress day after day acts as insidious antagonist, aforementioned saboteur. That adrenal action described earlier? The constant release of cortisol, our star of the hormonal show, eventually causes major functions in the body to shut down or operate at only a subpar level – immune function, digestion, endocrine function, etc. Do you get sick more often when you’re under a lot of stress? We thought so. Wonder why so many people have digestive issues in this country (besides the prevalence of obesity)? Ever heard of adrenal exhaustion? Stress is nearly always a – if not the – major factor. Oh, and the list goes on and on. A chronically high level of cortisol and other stress hormones impacts the brain, compromising memory function (Where are those stupid car keys?!) as well as the balance of dopamine and serotonin instrumental for psychological well-being.

Yeah, yeah, you might say. What about the fat connection? The bottom line is this: research has demonstrated that stress can contribute to the build-up of body fat as a result of stress’s effect on hormonal secretion and its physiological consequences. Let us explain. Cortisol sets off an increased rush of glucose from your tissues (including breaking down muscle tissue to make glucose). Yikes! Remember, the body thinks something major is going down. In response to the rise in glucose comes the rise in insulin. You know the drill. Do this again and again, day after day, and what do you have? Insulin resistance eventually.

In the meantime, the cortisol is signaling the body to store fat. (The body thinks it will need it after all.) Specifically, the body directs fat storage in the abdomen, around the organs, where there are more receptors for cortisol and a greater supply of blood.

A lot of research has been done on this in the last few years highlighting the contribution of stress to abdominal fat in particular.

And don’t think that you’re off the hook if you happen to be thin. A study out of Yale University looked at how thin women developed abdominal fat in connection with stress. Individual response to stress, not just “body shape” plays a significant role. Women in the study who reacted more severely to the study’s assigned stressors had more abdominal fat. The trend encouraged the researchers to suggest that in women’s case “it is possible that stress may influence body shape more than for men.”

So, where are the gentlemen in all this? The Yale researchers believe the same stress “relationships likely apply to men” but that it works within men’s tendency to accumulate fat around the abdomen anyway as opposed to around the hips, as many women do.

Ultimately, excess stress and associated cortisol levels can undo all of us, but we all have plenty of options to control the impact. As the researchers note, “smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise all contribute to greater abdominal fat.” Add to these other lifestyle factors like diet, sleep (duration and quality) as well as stress processing, and you’ve got plenty to work with.

For instance, research published last year in Nature Medicine highlighted the coinciding impact of a “high fat, high sugar” diet (always a bad idea) with stress on the release of a neurotransmitter, neuropeptide Y, which “increases fat cell proliferation and vasularization.” The researchers found “increased secretion of neuropeptide Y” when stress was coupled with the high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. And so we’re back to where we started. Stress, by itself, does not make a person fat. Chronic stress, together with poor diet and lifestyle, will come back to bite you in the butt – or belly, we should say.

Our suggestions? Choose a lifestyle that supports hormonal balance. Eat a low carb, high anti-oxidant diet, exercise according to the Primal Blueprint model (overtraining actually raises cortisol dramatically), and get plenty of sleep. Take omega-3 supplements to help counteract the inflammation damage related to stress. But as for the stress itself? Find stress relief practices that work for you. Experts particularly recommend spending time in a quiet natural setting. (What better way to unhook from the modern world?) Experiment with meditation options - however simple - whether prayer, guided imagery, or TM. (Check out our past posts on stress and stress relief.) Finally, as a complement to these efforts, consider a cortisol balancing supplement to help you get a leg up.

Swiss Olympian Nicola Spirig

Rebecca Preston Checks In......

Hi Everyone,

I’m writing this blog from Calgary, Canada. I arrived here on Saturday after a full day of traveling. I’m doing IM Canada on the 24th of August, however, I am also here to race an olympic distance race this sunday on the 17th of August, at Lake Chaparall. Joel Goralski, owner of The Niklas Group, a land development company here in Calgary, has sponsored me to come and race at Lake Chaparall and Penticton. Joel is an age group triathlete, and is coached by Marc of Ironguides. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to stay in Calgary in the lead up to these two races. Bob and Lyn are my hosts, and I have to be honest, I’m being a little spoilt. Their house is only 10 mins to the shops, pool, running trails, so I feel like I’m back in Leysin (well….not really….it’s a ‘little’ bit flatter here).

Anyway, back to the title of my blog- ‘blog-worthy’. This morning while kicking in the pool, I saw something that was definitely blog-worthy. A man (probably about 40-50 years old, and not very fit looking) got out of the pool, walked towards the change room, wearing nothing but a skimpy g-string. It was one of those ’string like g-strings’ (you know, like dental floss). I wish the fellow iron chicks were there with me, so we could all have a huge laugh about it. Instead, I looked around the pool, to see if anyone else was concerned and thought this site was little bit out of the ordinary. Nope. No one even took any notice of him.

That was one of the most bizarre things I have every seen. So Matt, Donna, Luke, Marilyn, is this the norm here in Canada, eh?

Liukin brings home the gold her father nearly had

Valeri Liukin came oh-so close to an Olympic all-around gold medal. On Friday, his daughter gave him one.
"The machine had a Visa ad with my picture on it," Liukin said, her words flying excitedly from her mouth faster than her spins on floor. "And next to it, in Chinese symbols, was the word, 'Destiny.' I stopped and thought hard when I saw that."

Destiny is difficult to ignore here in Beijing. The word is plastered around the Olympic venues, incorporated into T-shirt designs, posters and press releases. It is mentioned more often than hard work, long hours in the gym or mental tenacity. But Friday, it was impossible to ignore the kismet surrounding Liukin's gold-medal win in the all-around.

Exactly 20 years ago, her father and coach, Valeri Liukin, finished less than one-tenth of a point behind his Russian teammate Demitri Artemev in the individual all-around competition, the gold slipping from his neck as he swung his arms to balance himself after an imperfect landing from the high bar.

Although he still leads his daughter in the overall medal count (Valeri has two gold and two silver medals from those 1988 Games), when it comes to the all-around gold, he must settle for simply being the father of the best gymnast in the world.

"He was so close to winning that all-around gold medal," Nastia said moments after her medal ceremony. "I hope I made up for that. I hope he is as proud of this as I am."

Liukin has spent much of the year leading up to the Games in the shadow of teammate Johnson, the current overall world champion. Liukin had beaten Johnson only once since the 2007 World Championships, at the American Cup in March, when Johnson fell attempting a new vault, the Yurchenko 2½.

Friday, there was no fall. There were no bobbles. Both gymnasts were virtually flawless. But with a combination of high start values, beautiful lines and a grace that seemed to appeal to the Olympic judges, Liukin stepped out from behind that 4-foot-9 shadow.

"I believe they did, yes," Valeri said, when asked if he believed the judges appreciated his daughter's style more so than the powerful, less artistic routines of Johnson. Friday was the first time that belief was reflected in the scores, as Johnson finished both the team qualifier and team final with the highest overall score in the competition.

"It wasn't easy for Nastia to be second, but I never believed Nastia was No. 2," Valeri said after the event. "Some judges maybe like Shawn, but Nastia's level of gymnastics is high. We calculate our course and come to the conclusion she is not second. She just makes mistakes."

Liukin and Johnson both started the day with clean vaults, Johnson earning the highest score of the competition on the apparatus. But it was the second rotation, the uneven bars, that has been the deciding factor of these Olympics. In the team final, the Chinese women created a deficit on bars that the Americans would have had a hard time topping even without the falls. With a start value of 7.7 (the highest on bars in the world), Liukin needed only to land her routine cleanly to score in the high 16s, which she did, earning a 16.65 on Thursday, the second-highest score of the day. She did not, however, match the 16.9 she received in the team final. "They got her on her landing," Valeri said.

Shawn Johnson finished second overall to teammate Nastia Liukin in the women's all-around Friday.
But on the next rotation, the balance beam, Johnson was expected to pull into the lead. When her start value is higher than that of her competitors, and when she lands solid, she pulls some of the highest beam scores in the world. Her score was only second-best Friday. Again, it was Liukin with the highest score, a 16.125, which was a full .125 ahead of Johnson's 16.050. After the third rotation, Liukin took the lead, with Johnson sitting in third behind Yang Yilin of China.

Just like the team finals, it all came down to the floor exercise. Johnson is the reigning world champion in the event and was last to compete. But as Liukin walked to the floor in her sparkling pink leotard, the American fans in the crowd could feel they were about to watch something special.

"This morning, when I woke up, I knew there wasn't anything else that could make me better," Liukin said. "I just had to give it my all and hope it was enough."

Her floor routine was spectacular. The 18-year-old's usually stoic expression melted away with each landed tumbling pass. On her final pass, Liukin landed, raised her arms and smiled, something she rarely -- if ever -- does while performing. It was hard not to smile along with her. As she walked off the floor, Liukin walked to her teammate and slapped hands. For a moment, they looked into each other's eyes, a moment of silent acknowledgement of the long road both women had taken to get to this point.

"When I saw her score come up, I knew I couldn't score six-tenths higher," Johnson said, her chin shaking as she spoke to the media. "So going into floor, I didn't care about score or placement anymore. I just wanted to finish my Olympic experience as best I could."

Just like her teammate, Johnson finished the competition with a flawless routine, then walked to her teammate and gave her a hug. "Nastia has been around a long time and has a lot of experience and she deserves the gold," Johnson said. "I was meant to have the silver."

Liukin is only the third American woman to win the all-around; Carly Patterson (2004) and Mary Lou Retton (1984) are the others.

But perhaps this is not Johnson's final chance at individual gold.

After the meet, both gymnasts retracted earlier comments that this Olympics would mark the end of their careers.

"Now she is thinking to keep going," Valeri said of his daughter.

Then, during the news conference, Johnson said she'd changed her mind, too.

"A month ago, I would have said I was done," Johnson said. "But after being here, I would give anything to feel this way again."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Caveman Training for Optimum Health

By: Brad Kearns

Warning: Endurance training, when pursued even at a seemingly sensible level, can be unhealthy and depleting to your body, mind and spirit. Fitness and supplement guru Mark Sisson argues that endurance training is counter to our basic caveman physiology. This is where we are programmed to produce shorts bursts of life or death energy to avoid a predator or feed our families with a kill, which is balanced by the downtime of a simple, hunter/gatherer primitive life. It's clear that endurance training causes a steady reduction in testosterone levels, along with a corresponding increase in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

High cortisol (low testosterone) causes a very distressing chain reaction of negative events. The immune system is suppressed and the body stays in a catabolic state. Taken to the extreme in the classic over-training state (which seems commonplace among triathletes and distance runners of all ability levels), an athlete's muscle will literally waste away. This is identical to the "dying of old age" scenario, Sisson explains.

Sisson, inspired by a lifelong fascination with evolutionary biology, argues that you should align your dietary choices and training methods with the nature of human lifestyle over the course of thousands of years. Eat healthy, natural whole foods; conduct regular sustained exercise at moderate heart rates (the Gatherer); and, once in a while, conduct extremely intense, short duration workouts to get and stay fit (the Hunter).

Sisson, my coach during my professional career and a former 2:18 marathoner and fourth place Hawaii Ironman triathlete, and I have experienced outstanding results from turning our backs on the "mileage/consistency" endurance cornerstones in favor of a more varied routine that eliminates excessive duration workouts and features the occasional very intense "caveman" session. I feel healthier today than I have been since I was 13.

"I believe that training for more than an hour a day destroys your immune system and the more hours you train, the worse it gets," Sisson reports.

This kind of talk may not sit well if you are currently pondering a season with marathons or long-distance triathlons. It's obvious that the way to succeed in endurance sports is to approximate the challenge of your race in your training. However, the old-school philosophy of racking up weeks upon weeks of consistent mileage is inferior to pursuing competitive goals--even extreme endurance goals--with a balance of stress, rest and a constant respect for your health. Your schedule should be centered on the occasional key workout, that approximates your competitive goals and is difficult and challenging enough to stimulate a fitness improvement.

Feel free to experiment with your training methods so that they align with your lifestyle, intuition and caveman physiology, built for occasional heavy stress balanced by down time. Understand that an obsessive-compulsive tendency to accumulate measurable results day in and day out sabotages your ultimate athletic potential and compromises your health. If you feel like resting or backing away from ambitious training plans, give yourself the freedom to do so. Try pushing yourself really hard once in a while to stimulate breakthroughs in fitness, body composition, general health and well being.

Lieto Turns Roadie For 5 Days at Tour of Utah

WALNUT CREEK CA - Professional Triathlete Chris Lieto races the 2008 Tour of Utah, August 13th -17th. 5 Stages, 342 Miles, over 30,000' of Climbing.

Professional Triathlete Chris Lieto is taking a break this month from triathlons and racing with his cycling team, Cal Giant at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Lieto who is known for being one of the strongest cyclists in the sport of triathlon will be racing side by side with other professional cyclists from Garmin-Chipotle, Health Net, Rock Racing and The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Teams.

“I like to switch up my Ironman training and add cycling races to the mix. It keeps things fresh and it serves as a great training camp. The Tour of Utah is a great event and I’m excited to be back here racing with my cycling team” said Lieto.

Positioned along the Rocky Mountain’s Wasatch Front mountain range, the Tour of Utah is a 5-day, 5-stage, 342 mile race with 30,000 feet of climbing, all taking place in a 100-mile radius. The Tour will take advantage of the close proximity of Salt Lake City, Nephi and Ogden downtown venues and high altitude mountain climbs to create a race that is exhilarating for spectators and extremely challenging for the professional cyclists.

The Tour is part of the prestigious 2008 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The National Racing Calendar acts as a showcase for the highest level of domestic events in the United States and provides season-long points series to determine the top riders and teams in the nation.

About Chris Lieto
Chris is a three-time Ironman Champion and former U.S. National Ironman Champion. Lieto placed 6th at the 2007 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. To learn more about Chris please visit

About Xcel Sports Group
Xcel Sports Group is an agency representing the top endurance athletes in the world. The agency connects athletes and brands to promote Xcellence in Sports.

Athletes test out Olympic course

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games triathlon countdown officially started yesterday with the opening of the triathlon venue in the Changping District. A number of the sport's top competitors took advantage of the opportunity to preview the final course before next week's competitions. Top medal contender Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal was on-site testing the waters of the Shisanling Reservoir along with a handful of other athletes.

With only five days until the women's competition, organisers are finalizing their preparations in anticipation of the majority of athletes arriving in the next two days from around the globe. One hundred and ten of triathlon's best athletes from 37 countries will represent their nation in the pinnacle sporting event in the world next Monday and Tuesday.

Main events of interest over the next five days include:

Thursday, August 14th
10:00 - Athlete bike course familiarization
11:00 - Athlete swim course familiarization
All day - Athlete arrivals (Jundu Tourist Villa)

Friday, August 15th
10:00 - Athlete bike course familiarization
11:00 - Athlete swim course familiarization
All day - Athlete arrivals (Jundu Tourist Villa)

Saturday, August 16th
10:00 - Athlete bike course familiarization
11:00 - Athlete swim course familiarization
12:30 - Athlete technical briefing & swimming start position draw (Jundu Tourist Villa)

Sunday, August 17th
10:00 - Athlete bike course familiarization

Monday, August 18th
10:00 - Women's Triathlon Competition

Tuesday, August 19th
10:00 - Men's Triathlon Competition

The mystery of the hot Paraguayan -- solved!

By Chris Chase

During Fourth-Place Medal's award-winning* live blog coverage of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, one question haunted our panel and reading audience, and it wasn't whether the fireworks were real or how they managed to do that cool display with the blocks. No, we didn't care about that stuff. All we wanted to know was, who was that gorgeous woman who marched into Beijing National Stadium with the Paraguayan delegation?

After an exhaustive investigation by 4PM's crack investigative team, the mystery woman has been identified as Leryn Franco, an athlete with the Paraguayan delegation. Ms. Franco represents her native country in the javelin throw.

The 26-year old Franco is competing in her second Olympics, thanks to a burgeoning modeling career that gave her the financial support to continue competing in javelin competitions. Since finishing 42nd in Athens, Franco has balanced her athletic career with both the modeling and pageant work (she was runner-up Ms. Paraguay in 2006 -- no word on whether throwing a javelin was her talent).

The javelin competition begins August 19 in Beijing.

Fernandes Confident for Monday

Today at the Jundu Tourist Villa, the official hotel for the triathlon at the Olympics, Vanessa Fernandes spoke to the media about her preparation and mindset for the Beijing Olympic Games.

For months Fernandes has been widely regarded as the gold medal favourite. She is still among the major players for a spot on the podium but she respects the other 54 women in the field.

“Every girl is talented. I think any of the 55 women can be in the top three,” said Fernandes. “I’m not stronger than them, I’m just another girl to compete with them. I know I worked for that. This is another test in my life, another part so and another experience and I will learn a lot with another Olympic Games.”

Fernandes also spoke about how her approach to these Games is different than Athens.

“Everything is different for these Olympics, really different. In my first Olympics I was young. In the race I went with the girls and see what I can do. But in the last four years I won some things and I put my name a little high in triathlon. The mentality is different and my goals are different and I’m growing up,” said Fernandes.

Despite her recent lacklustre performances which included a DNF in Hamburg and a 10th place at the world championships, she appeared confident and ready to race.

“I’m just going to be Vanessa on race day, just to do my best and take the pressure off my mind and to believe in me and believe in the work I have done in these last few years and last few months and to think that everything is possible,”

After failing to finish in Pontevedra because of the cold and finishing 10th in Vancouver also for the same reason, it was clear Fernandes does not enjoy racing in the cold. But that will hardly be a problem here in Beijing as athletes will have to battle the heat and humidity.

“The last few years here I felt good but I know the humidity and the weather will be a little difficult for everyone so I don’t know but I think I will feel good with this weather,” said Fernandes.

Much has been said of Fernandes not winning as much as the last few years. She admitted her last few races have perhaps shaken her confidence.

“I think maybe in the last months maybe a little but I think in the last few stages I have learned a lot with my coaches, only not training physically but psychologically it was very good for that. I think I’m prepared for Monday.”