Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By Cathy Mehl
'Popo" has long been a crowd favorite with Johan Bruyneel's teams. He's always laughing and smiling and seems to enjoy his time with friends and family. Two years ago when I first interviewed Popo we used team massage therapist Elvio Barcella to translate for us, and this time I set it up to do again. But Popo told me matter-of-factly that he didn't need or want an interpreter anymore and would sit down with me and speak in English. Indeed, he gave a lovely interview, full of laughter and stories, all from a man very happy to be riding for Team Astana. This interview was conducted on February 7, 2009 during training camp.
Cathy: I hope you know how exciting it is to have you back on Johan’s team. The fans are excited, the staff is excited, your friends on the team…all of us.
Popo: (Laughs) Well, I hope that’s true! For two or three years I stayed with Johan and his teams and then I only went away for one year with Lotto. 2008 was a very difficult year for me. I didn’t feel so good with the team and they were depending so much on my results. I didn’t get the results so that meant things didn’t go well for me. I had many crashes, maybe 11 or 12 crashes, an average of one crash a month so my results were nothing. At the end of the season I had some problems with the management at Lotto. I felt like something strange was going on so I called up Johan and said, “Hey Johan, do you have a place for me?” And he told me he did have a place, he just had to check on a few things and then the next day he called me back. I told him right then I would come back to his team.
When we looked at pictures of you last year most of the time you didn’t look too happy.
Well, when you aren’t getting results and that’s what’s expected it’s hard to feel good in the team. For me it was such a different organization than what I had gotten used to. There were many riders from one country on that team. If you have 27 riders and 20 of them are from one country, the 20 stay together all the time and the others don’t go with them. Here we have guys that stay together of course but we act more like one team. I was here three years before; I spent a lot of time here so I am already like family.
I know in the past Johan has talked about what a great rider you are and that he felt some day you could be a Tour winner. Do you still think that is possible for you?
The last three or four years I have always ridden for a team that had one rider that everyone was riding for. If I stay in this position with a team then I will never be trying to win the race for me. But it’s about who is stronger. It’s my mentality, in my head, that I think in the next 2 years I can learn more and perhaps I can still think about winning a big stage race. I need to do things step-by-step. I’d like to win a five or six-stage race.
So you feel like you’re still learning things about being a professional rider?
Yeah, always. In Ukraine you say the longer you live the more you will learn. You spend your life learning. If you live 60 or 70 years you will keep learning all of that time.
You will be riding with Lance again this year.
Five or six months ago when I first heard Lance was going to race again I immediately thought it was really good. Not just for me or for the team but for cycling in general. I was really glad to know he wanted to ride again. I know in Italy everybody is waiting for the Giro because Lance will be there. Everyday in Gazzetta della Sport there is something about Lance, Lance, Lance. Many sponsors came back too because of him.
So you will ride the Giro?
Yeah, this is very exciting for me. I live there and have for a long time, nine or ten years. Italy is my home now, my wife and my baby are there. In Ukraine I have my parents and many friends but I live in Italy. So for this reason I am very excited about riding there plus one stage is 15k from my house. It’s perfect; I love the Giro.
What is the rest of your schedule like?
Tour of California for the first time, Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, Pais Vasco, Paris-Roubaix, Giro del Trintino, Giro and the Tour.
You have had some great wins for yourself in your career. You won the white jersey as the Best Young Rider in the 2005 Tour, you got a stage win in the 2006 Tour. Is it hard to change your mindset from that of being the one that wins things to the one that helps someone else win?
I think what I am doing now is the best thing for me. I’m staying with a team I like and I’m staying with Lance. Before I met Lance of course I only saw him on television but once I came on the team and was his teammate I would eat meals with him and race with him and for me it has been really exciting. It’s like having my head in the clouds. When I took the white jersey we defended the jersey and it was all very important to me. For me it’s a good thing to help someone else. It’s important to know when someone is stronger and it’s best to ride for the person that can win.
I still remember Stage 12 when you won in the Tour in 2006. You just kept attacking and attacking and it was such fun watching you do your thing.
That was such a great day, a real highlight in my life. I was dropped on the first climb that day because we’d worked hard as a team to try to bring back a breakaway. Then I came back and was later dropped again. After 100k we were in a single line, all spread out and once I got my feedbag Alessandro Ballan attacked and I stayed with him. I followed his wheel. But I didn’t really mean to! But for 20-25km I stayed with him and was feeling pretty bad. In my mind I was wondering why the group didn’t come back to us because I didn’t want to be out there in the break! But….I started feeling better, and better, and better and of course in the end I won the stage.
Now of course this is a Kazakh team and I’m wondering if you know many of the Kazakh riders here and also, what do you think of the young, new talent that is coming onto the team?
I always speak with the Kazakh riders. We all speak Russian. I even stayed in Kazakhstan one time after a race. I see some of the young riders in training and they are going well. Of course as the year goes by we will see how they go in the races, because training is one thing and racing is something very different. I know many riders who train and train and train and ride plenty fast, but then when the race comes they do nothing.
Do you feel you can help the young Kazakh riders?
I am not the type of person who will tell others what to do. But if I am asked for help or advise of course I am happy to share my opinion or my experience. I will tell them how I would do it.
Finally I just wanted to ask how your family is. I know you have a little son, Jason.
Yes he is two years old. He’s really good. After training camp in Tenerife I went home for a few days and when I returned home I couldn’t believe how much he was talking. He would repeat everything I said to him. Every word I said, wow, mama mia he could say everything. He is so different each time I go back home. I take his photo with me everywhere. He’s a big guy, a strong kid.
My wife is good too. She just finished her schooling. She is going to teach Italian in a French school. She wants to try that. I have two dogs and two cats. The dogs are German shepherds, Vodka and Gwendol. Here is a picture of my son, look at him! When I come home he always takes my jersey or hat and wears it. And when I am packing my suitcase to go away he comes and takes everything out so I won’t go!
Hello everyone. It has been an exciting couple of weeks since I last wrote thanks to the fantastic win of Mark Cavendish and the unfortunate news of Lance Armstrong's fractured collarbone.
"When a friend has an accident the first thing you think about is what happened and his health"
- Basso on Armstrong's crash
I was very sorry to hear about Lance. Sure he is my colleague and my rival, but he is also a great friend. When a friend has an accident the first thing you think about is what happened and his health, and then you think about all the other stuff.
I have broken my collarbone before, but you can break them in many different ways. I don't know how difficult it will be for him to return because I don't know the exact details of how he fractured his collarbone – I have not followed it as closely. There are a lot of things you have to know in order to determine how and when Lance will return.
I am sure that he will be back strong because you know how Lance is, he is out of this world. He has done a lot of work in these last months, so in ten days he won't lose it all. Certainly, this incident will upset him, but he has the experience and capacity to overcome it. He is an extraordinary rider and a great champion.
I don't think he is out of the running for the Giro d'Italia title. All you have to do is think about what happened with Alberto Contador in 2008. He had not even planned to race, he had a strong season, he was in the middle of vacation and then he won the Giro.
I did not do anything above average in Milano-Sanremo, but I did the best I could do for the team. I am happy with the race because it shows that I am going well in this phase of the season, after Tirreno-Adriatico. My form is progressing well and this brings me the most satisfaction, I think you could see that at Sanremo.
Nibali and I did well for Daniele Bennati, who was in great form for the race. When a grande campione like Mark Cavendish goes off for the win it is hard to do anything to stop it.
I can tell you that we have a good relationship, every time I see Mark we always exchange a few words and a grin. Often we will talk about the races or whatever when we are out on the road. When someone like him, a 23-year-old, wins, you have to applaud him – he did a heck of a number. Clearly, though, I would have preferred that my teammate won.
I saw the sprint afterwards, that night in the hotel. I don't know how he did it. It was a dominating type of win. He ruled the day like a Roman Emperor.
Bennati was not happy, clearly. I told him that he does not have to worry because sometimes a guy can win on the first attempt and sometimes it takes many attempts. Look at Mario Cipollini who won after 13 attempts!
Il Giro and Il Crono
After Sanremo I went and drove the Giro d'Italia's Sestri Levante time trial stage. It is not the key stage, but it is one of the key stages. I know that you read about me riding it twice already, but I wanted to see it yet again, and this time in my car.
It's like anything in life: the more times you see or do something, the more you become familiar with it. There are a lot of intricacies with this stage. There is the length, the descents, the climbs, the curves... it is inevitable that you have to see it many times to learn. Every time out there I learn it a little bit better.
Thursday, I had a long training ride on my time trial bike at home. I did 170 kilometres, three times the distance of the Sestri Levante time trial! Friday was another long one, but on my road bike: 230 kilometres. The week was strictly dedicated to hard riding, relaxing afterwards and spending time with my family.
I am taking off for the Spanish island of Tenerife on April 3. I will stay there with some my teammates until the 17th. The Classics team is there now, but they will leave and the stage racers will arrive. Of course, sleeping at altitude helps with the blood levels and the weather is always great there.
I will return from Spain to race GP Arona, Giro del Trentino and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The night after Trentino finishes I take a plane directly to Liège. It is not an ideal situation to race Liège the day after, but I promised I would ride Trentino and I need to stick to my word.
Liège and Lombardia are the two classics that are most adapted to my characteristics. I will give it a go, but I don't know how it will be. Certainly, my form will be coming on target as the Giro d'Italia starts only a few days afterwards.
We will see how I progress in Spain. I will send in another diary entry when I am in Tenerife.
Take care and thanks for reading. Ivan.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, David Zabriskie has been a professional cyclist since 2001. He has ridden for the best teams in the world, including Team CSC and United States Postal Service. In the 2005 Tour de France, David rode the fastest time trial in Tour de France history to beat out Lance Armstrong and wear the highly-coveted yellow jersey during the first few days of the race.
David’s Story: Why I started Yield to Life
We all travel life’s roads. I stand before you to ask for your cooperation in providing safe space for cyclists. When you see a cyclist on the road, please, yield to life.
–David Zabriskie, world-class cyclist and founder of Yield to Life
As a professional cyclist I have ridden my bike all over the world, but, sadly, each of the three times that I have been hit by a car has been in the United States; the worst of the accidents was in 2003.
I had just flown back to Salt Lake after my most successful season to date when, on May 23, I was in Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake City. I was enjoying one of my favorite rides when I was hit by an SUV on the way down. The SUV made a left hand turn directly into me. I flew through the air and landed on the ground, unable to move the left side of my body. After spending a week in the hospital, I left with pins in my wrist and my leg, and some cadaver bone in my knee. The doctors did not think I would ride again.
It took a lot of hard work and determination to come back from my injuries. I often wonder what I could have accomplished had I not had such a devastating set back. I also wonder what went through the driver’s mind when she hit me. If she had only thought of me as life, a living, breathing person, rather than an obstacle in her way. Did she ever consider the prolonged agony she was creating by her reckless attitude and wrongful acts? If she had just waited a split second for my safe passage, I would have not been reduced to a wheelchair for months, and then in need of a walker and painful rehabilitation to even walk again, let alone ride a bike.
Ultimately, I was able to overcome my accident; but there are many riders who are not as fortunate. As I hear of the countless other cyclists who have been badly injured and, worse yet, killed by motorists, it sometimes seems as if we are viewed merely as nuisances who don’t deserve consideration on the road.
It is my mission to humanize and personalize cyclists to help motorists to always be aware that we are "life" and that we deserve a safe space on the road. I love to ride my bike as do my fellow cyclists, but we should not have to place our lives at risk everyday for that enjoyment.
Yield to Life is a non-profit organization devoted to creating a safer environment for cyclists and, by so doing, encouraging more people to ride for their own health, the good of the environment and the well being of society.
By making cycling safer and promoting the activity as a responsible means of transportation and a healthy means of recreation, Yield to Life can contribute to tackling some of today's major concerns—from such issues as pollution and global warming to obesity and diabetes. In this way, Yield to Life can play a role in increasing the quality of life not only for cyclists, but for everyone—for our generation and those to come.
Yield to Life’s Mission
Yield to Life will engage in a vigorous awareness campaign to promote positive attitudes toward cyclists and replace any hostility that exists between motorists and cyclists with understanding, respect, and appreciation for all life on the road. Safety for every cyclist is the top priority of Yield to Life.
Cycling is a healthy, life-affirming, environmentally-sound activity that adds value to anyone’s life. Since cyclists' lives are often in motorists’ hands, motorists must understand the vital role they play in a cyclist's safety.
Yield to Life will concentrate on road-rule education programs for motorists and cyclists alike through driver's education programs, public awareness movements and media campaigns in order to ensure a safer and more harmonious environment for all those on the road.
Yield to Life will engage in a hands-on educational program with target audiences that range from school assemblies to corporate conventions. Workshops will be created to arm cyclists with tips for navigating through traffic and tools for riding in a safe and responsible manner. Yield to Life will work on a database for cyclists to find the best, the safest and the most accommodating roads for commuting and for recreation.
Please click on the title link to learn more about Yield to Life.
In his home away from home, Australian and 2-Time World Champion Chris McCormack won yet again on the blistering roads of Hawaii. As always, the big island winds were showing their teeth in ninety degree temperatures that feel more like a sauna as Macca showed why he's the world best all around Triathlete. The 11-Time Ironman Champion not only won on the difficult Olympic Distance course, he broke the course record set by Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield back in 2004. In fact, McCormack smashed the record by more than two minutes!
When asked how he's feeling after only his second race of the season, McCormack replied, "Today was a test for me on many levels and my form is coming around rather well. It's right where I want it to be this time of year and am building it up to where I want it to be. I'm excited about racing the 70.3 events in New Orleans and China over the next few weeks. I feel strong right now and today was a great test on a hard course and in tough conditions. I've really come to love Hawaii and the crowd support here is just amazing."
"I love these type of 'old school' events where it's no wetsuit and no drafting!", stated McCormack. But today was important for me as I was testing a new position on my Specialized Transition as well as my new custom made Zipp wheels. And I raced in Under Armour racing flats for the first time. I'm pretty stoked about it! I've worked closely with the UA team to develop a high performance racing flat and I gave them the biggest test yet. This is a hit out in hot humid conditions in Hawaii. It doesn't get much tougher on a shoe than this and it's also the exact conditions I will be racing in Kona later this year. So the feedback is imperative. I have been doing some solid run training sessions in these shoes, but nothing tests a product like racing and that was the purpose of today's event. I wanted to try out my position on the bike, the wheels in these winds and the shoes in this hot and sticky weather. Needless to say, it all went perfectly and I'm thrilled with the results!"
When asked of his plans to celebrate, Macca stated, "I'm jumping on a flight mate." With no rest for the Champ, McCormack will be racing in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 New Orleans next weekend and the 70.3 China in Haikou China on April 19th. Among other races in 2009, McCormack will be racing in Morgan Hill California on May 17th as well as Ironman 70.3 Austria on May 24th. He'll then defend his Ironman Title at Ironman Frankfurt on July 5th and of course will be back at the Ironman Hawaii World Championship this October.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) was fast just enough in Sunday’s individual time trial to win the Critérium International for a record-tying fifth time.
The veteran German was fifth in the 8.3km course in Charleville-Mézières and held off a challenge from Danny Pate (Garmin-Slipstream), who started the third and final stage in second place, just seven seconds off Voigt’s time.
Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad) won in 10 minutes, 5 seconds, some six seconds faster than Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream), with Czech rider Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-Highroad) stopping the clock for third at eight seconds slower.
The 38-year-old Voigt joins Raymond Poulidor and Emile Idée as the only five-time winners of the race dubbed the “mini Tour de France.” Voigt won the overall title in 1999 and 2004 before sweeping to a hat-trick with three consecutive titles from 2007-09.
Poulidor won in 196, ’66, ’68, ’71 and ’72, while Idée won in 1940, 1942-43, ’47 and ’49 (Critérium International was one of the few major cycling events that continued to be held each year during World War II).
Recently retired Bobby Julich remains the only American to have won the early season stage race, taking the overall crown in 1998 and 2005.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The opening leg of the 2009 ITU Triathlon World Cup Series was won by 20 year old Kirsten Sweetland from Canada as she started 2009 with a bang, beating Olympic Games bronze medallist and local favourite Emma Moffatt to the gold in a time of 2:02:00. In third was under23 World Champion, Switzerland's Daniela Ryf.
Having taken most of 2008 off due to injury, and failing to qualify for the Olympic Games, Sweetland raced ten World Cup events in 2007, and registered her first win with victory at Richards Bay in South Africa. Today's result marks her third appearance on the podium.
“What a great way to come back, today just felt effortless,” said Sweetland. “I race best when it is a little lighthearted, without pressure and today I just felt like I was doing what I love, it is a great way to start the new season.”
Sweetland has based herself in Brisbane since October and the move has clearly paid off.
“That is the first 10km run for me in a long while. I followed my coach’s instructions and started slowly and felt great in the second half. I was always comfortable.”
The swim venue in Mooloolaba changed from the coast to a local river because of large swells in the Pacific, but that didn't stop an exciting start to proceedings as a breakaway group of eight including Sweetland, Moffatt, Ryf and Oceania Champion Annabel Luxford, emerged from the water and established a healthy lead on the cycle.
Despite the best efforts of New Zealand national champion Debbie Tanner, and 2008 ITU World Cup Series runner-up, Felicity Abram from Australia, the chase pack could not work their way back to the leaders, and so the group of eight carried a 90 second advantage onto the run.
Moffatt and Sweetland accelerated away early with Ryf holding on to third place ahead of New Zealand's Nicky Samuels. Further back Abram ran strongly to catch the lead pack athletes with Tanner moving up to eighth.
Sweetland managed to drop Moffatt by the half way point on the run and continued to extend her advantage, crossing the line 55 seconds ahead of the local favourite. Ryf managed to hold off Samuels for third with the fast finishing Abram breaking into the top five.
“That hurt out there, especially on the second part of the run,” said Moffatt. “The hills and the wind were a real battle on what was a challenging course today. The swim felt like there was a surf, and the bike was very windy, especially coming back into town and transition.”
It was however the best result for the Australian in her home World Cup, and a first podium.
“It is nice to finally get Mooloolaba out of the way in terms of a good result. I have had a reasonably short prep with just five weeks with my new coach (Craig Walton) so I feel good and am looking forward to the season ahead.”
Ryf was similarly pleased with her first up effort in 2009, the young Swiss finding her rhythm in the second half of the run.
“I am happy with that race, I was a bit rusty early on the run but happy with my finish. It was a good race, very active on the bike with everyone working hard. I am looking forward to the next four week training block and the first World Championship event.”
Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Gold - Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) 2:02:00
Silver - Emma Moffatt (AUS) 2:02:55
Bronze - Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2:03:03
4th - Nicky Samuels (NZL) 2:04:19
5th - Felicity Abram (AUS) 2:05:28
6th - Julian Petersen (USA) 2:05:33
7th - Annabel Luxford (AUS) 2:05:53
8th - Debbie Tanner (NZL) 2:06:24
9th - Liz Blatchford (GBR) 2:06:36
10th - Misato Takagi (JPN) 2:06:46
By Gregor Brown
George Hincapie will skip Driedaagse De Panne this week for one of the few times in his 16-year career to be ready for his season objectives at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. The American of Columbia-Highroad, 2004 winner of De Panne, will pass a week at his European base in Spain.
"I think it is a bit too dangerous and there are too many risks there, I want to limit those chances," he said. "I have had a lot of racing and I have trained super hard this year. I prefer to go back to Spain and train in nice weather to be a little fresher for Flanders."
Hincapie finished eighth in the E3 Prijs Saturday. The race was won by Italian Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) after the winning move was formed by Hincapie's ex-teammate Tom Boonen (Quick Step).
Hincapie credits his strong 2009 season to his first ever season debut in the Tour Down Under in Australia. It appears to have paid off: he helped Thomas Lövkvist win Eroica Toscana, showed extremely well in both mountain and flat stages of the Tirreno-Adriatico and hand-delivered mark Cavendish to the win in Milano-Sanremo.
Though the rider from South Carolina has won in the Tour de France, he prefers the one-day Classics of Northern France and Belgium. He has battled with the sport's biggest names over the pavé in the past to earn third in Ronde van Vlaanderen, a win in Gent-Wevelgem and a second and two fourths in Paris-Roubaix.
"It feels good to be back in Belgium. These next races are obviously very important to me. I feel good and probably better than ever, so I would like to take advantage of that form to be at my top in Flanders and Roubaix."
He will ride the final 100 kilometres of the 260-kilometre Ronde van Vlaanderen Sunday. After scouting 14 of the 16 climbs, he will board a plane for Girona, Spain.
By Mark Sisson (Marksdailyapple.com)
Coconut flour is simply dried, ground up coconut meat. Most likely you’ll be buying it online or from a specialty grocer, like Whole Foods or a food co-op, but you’ll occasionally come across highly processed, ultra-white coconut flour. Stay away from this. The good stuff will be like actual coconut – slightly cream colored, rather than bone white. You can make your own at home with a food processor, but without a grain mill you’ll probably have issues getting a “floury” consistency. If that’s okay with you, have at it.
Whether you’re making your own or buying it pre-made, always make sure your coconut flour is unsweetened. Pretty much all that you’ll come across is unsweetened, but it’s always worth it to make sure.
Apparently, defatting is one of the major steps in making it, so coconut flour doesn’t have much of the delicious, hearty coconut fat left over. It’s too bad, but understandable when you realize you’re dealing with a dry flour designed for baking. That’s pretty much my only qualm with coconut flour, as everything else looks good. According to my just-bought bag of Aloha Nu organic coconut flour, 2 tablespoons of the stuff contain:
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat)
10 g carbs (with 9 g fiber, bringing the net carb count to a measly 1)
2 g protein
Those are pretty great stats, especially when compared to the glucose-boosting powers of “normal” flours like wheat or white. Less hearty than almond meal, but also less heavy and closer in texture to the other, forbidden flours (if that’s what you’re going for). Coconut flour can be used to bake, but be forewarned that it’s very dry and doesn’t stick together well (hence its uselessness as a sauce thickener); avoid this problem by adding eggs to the mix, which allows it to bond and form batter. I’ve also had success using it in a light egg batter for fried coconut chicken. I’d assume it would work equally well for shrimp or fish.
Okay, onto a few recipes.
I’m not a big baker, but I can appreciate those who are. For those budding Primal bakers who still miss bread, why not try to make some with coconut flour? Slightly sweet and fairly light (as opposed to the denser breads made with almond meal), this coconut bread should do the trick.
1/2 cups ghee (or butter)
1-2 tablespoon honey, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coconut flour
Preheat your oven to 350. Whisk it all together, or blend in a food processor until all lumps are gone. Grease a bread pan with butter or coconut oil and pour your batter in. Bake for 40 minutes.
If we split it up into six servings each slice will, according to FitDay, have:
30.9 g fat
13.2 g carbs (9 g fiber)
8.35 g protein
Drizzle these with honey and berries, wrap up some bacon and eggs for a Primal breakfast burrito, or just eat them plain. These things are incredibly easy to make.
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
Mix these ingredients and let them sit for five minutes. Oil or grease up your pan and heat over medium heat. Pour about a 1/4 cup of batter for each crepe, allowing each side to brown before flipping it.
Without accounting for toppings or cooking fat, FitDay says the whole batch amounts to:
37.2 g fat (20.9 g saturated)
42.2 g carbs (19.4 g fiber)
30.6 g protein
Coconut Crusted Chicken
This doesn’t even require an ingredient list. Simply take your chicken pieces (or shrimp, or fish), season them with salt and pepper, dunk them in an egg bath (just scrambled up raw egg), then dredge them in coconut flour, then back in the egg bath, and then coat with dried coconut flakes. After that, it’s just a matter of frying them in oil (use coconut) or sautéing them in some butter. Crunchy, delicious, and low-carb.
The latest weather report from Belgium says it's about 40 degrees, and raining...perfect weather for the upcoming cobbled classics.
Racing in Belgium is unlike anything you've seen here in America. Long, rolling sections of road, punctuated by kilometer-long climbs of 20%...on cobbles...and usually in the rain.
The passion for the sport is ingrained in the people from birth. Thousands and thousand turn out, just to see the riders sign-in and start the Tour of Flanders. And the crowds on the climbs can run 10-15 people deep on both sides of the road.
In the meantime, if you want to get pumped-up for this most-Belgian of all the classics, take a look at the following video. This short black-and-white film evokes the spirit of the race, and the people of Belgium. It's shows that the Ronde van Vlaanderen is much more than just a bike race.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Astana captain finished safely in the bunch in Friday’s final stage behind winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) to wrap up the overall victory in the five-day stage race across northern Spain.
“Obviously, it’s a good start to the season, couldn’t be any better,” Leipheimer said. “(The victory) was a little unexpected. After California, I was slowed down a little bit by that fracture, but now we see the silver lining in that. Not having done Paris-Nice has afforded me the energy to have won here, so that’s the good thing.”
Two-time defending champion Alberto Contador finished second overall while Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) claimed the final podium spot with third.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
American Taylor Phinney lived up to his promise of taking the rainbow bands in the men's individual pursuit on Thursday evening. The 18-year-old bested Australian Jack Bobridge in the final, taking gold with a 4:17.631.
Phinney led from the gun, building up a lead of fractions of a second over the first kilometre of the 4km event, but fell slightly behind Bobridge over the second kilometre. The American rallied in the third quarter, building up a half second lead which he solidified through a strong final leg to win by 2.46 seconds.
Anemia has been identified as the most common medical condition among athletes. It is more common in females than males and especially in female athletes.
Anemia and iron deficiency
The capacity of the body to transport oxygen is one of the factors which limits physical performance. Oxygen is transported in the blood by the pigment of the red blood cells (haemoglobin). If the concentration of haemoglobin is reduced, the oxygen-transporting capacity of the body is impaired, and therefore the capacity to perform drops.
Anemia is said to occur when the concentration of haemoglobin falls below that specified as normal for the individual's age and sex. Athletes who subject themselves to prolonged, strenuous exertion (for example, by daily endurance training) may develop a degree of anemia.
Iron deficiency is the most common form of true anemia among athletes. Stores of iron are depleted before clinical signs show. Iron occurs in small quantities in the body, totaling about 1.5-1.75 oz (4-5g) in the adult. It is required not only for the manufacture of haemoglobin, but also for that of the related compound, myoglobin, found in muscle tissue. Both these substances bind oxygen and play an important role in its transport. Iron is mainly stored in haemoglobin(64%) and bone marrow(27%). Iron deficiency anemia is most prevalent among menstruating women and males between the age of 11 and 14.
Three conditions occur during anemia: erythrocytes (red blood cells) are too small, haemoglobin is decreased, and ferritin concentration is low. Ferritin is an iron-phosphorous-protein complex that normally contains 23% iron. There are many ways that athletes can be iron deficient. Gastrointestinal (GI) losses are common in runners because of bowel ischemia. Aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may cause cause GI blood loss. Runners absorb 16% of iron from the GI tract as compared with 30% in non-athletes who are iron deficient. Menstrual losses account for most iron loss in female athletes. Average menstrual iron loss is 0.6 to 1.5 mg per day. Inadequate dietary intake of iron is the primary cause of iron deficiency. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 15 mg per day for females and 10 mg per day for males. The average diet contains 5 to 7 mg or iron per 100 kcal. Because female athletes often eat less than they need, they also fail to consume enough iron. If the athlete is a vegetarian they may run the risk of lacking in iron.
Anemia can be confirmed by measuring the hemoglobin levels of the body. An iron deficiency can be identified by blood cell analysis and by determining the serum ferritin level and , if necessary, the amount of haemoisderin in the bone marrow. Young people store only small amounts of iron, and low serum ferritin levels are therefore normal in individuals under the age twenty. The examining doctor needs expert knowledge in order to be able to decide whether or not an apparent iron deficiency is really significant. On the whole, it is not most common for adults on a well-balanced diet to suffer from iron deficiency.
Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) timed his attack up to the Laguna De Los Peces just right in Thursday's stage of Castilla y León. Cobo went with about two kilometres left to race, just when lone leader Xavier Tondo (Andalucía-Cajasur) cracked, and held off the group of favourites by eight seconds. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) led home the group of favourites.
There were no changes in the overall, despite David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) making a strong effort on the day's final climb. But his move was countered by Astana, with Alberto Contador providing full support to race leader Levi Leipheimer.
Tomorrow's final stage runs from Benavente to Valladolid, over 152.5km. Zabriskie continues to be Leipheimer's closest rival at 22 seconds, not counting Contador at 16 seconds back.
1 Juan José Cobo (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.08
General classification after stage 4
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 0.16
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 0.22
4 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank 0.49
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.54
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
By Johan Bruyneel
I had an unexpected visitor stay at my house on Monday night - Lance Armstrong. By now, all of you know why he was at my house, instead of with the team at the hotel. Sitting around the table drinking wine, we spoke about some great memories. And it made me think about this one story I wrote a number of years ago. I thought I would share it again! Thanks - JB
This is a story about a jersey, an important jersey to me. But first you have to know that I am not really a "trophy guy" - I don’t really keep anything in terms of memorabilia, so knowing that you will understand the significance of what I am about to tell you…
It all started with an email from a man I did not know - a collector named Roy Wiggins - and it said: "Please find attached an image of one of Lance's 1999 TDF postal yellows, which he dedicated to you. I have an opportunity to obtain this item, which I intend to auction off to raise funds for the LAF. Can you tell me: What stage from the 1999 race it is from? And surely it is a sentimental piece, why did you let it go?"
And indeed a picture of the jersey was attached - and here it is:
I was shocked when I saw this. Yes, I do have a yellow jersey from each of the seven Tours de France and this was definitely one of them - but they're somewhere in a closet, not framed on a wall. And so I started to contact Roy and told him that I must have lost a piece of this story because while I know this jersey is mine, I was trying to figure out how it ended up on Ebay.
As I kept thinking about it, certain facts started to come to light. A few years ago I sold my house in the south of Spain. It rented out for a while, but there was still one room that had some of my things in it, mostly cycling clothes from years gone by. When the house sold I wasn’t there when the people moved in, but I had some friends of mine looking after the house for me. They called me and said, "We're emptying the house, and there's a lot of cycling clothing here. What do you want to do with it?" This couple had a 14 year old son who likes to ride his bike, so I said, “Just give it to him.” And so he got a nice box of clothing from Rabobank, ONCE, etc. - but apparently this yellow jersey was in there also.
As you might imagine, the young man didn’t really understand the value and significance of this jersey, and when his school asked for items to be donated to support the tsunami relief fund, he said, "Oh, a Tour de France jersey - that should help!" and he gave his newfound jersey for that.
Soon after it ended up on Ebay, and it went from collector to collector until Roy saw it and contacted me. He told me he had the opportunity to buy it outright, but even though he was a collector he really wanted the jersey to be back where it belonged. I was very flattered that he would go to this effort for me, and in the course of our email conversations I found out that he had been trying to get one of the Limited Edition Trek LIVESTRONG bikes signed by Lance.
I got in contact with Scott Daubert at Trek, told them the story, and they arranged for me to buy a bike for Roy. The short ending to this story is that I got my jersey back and Roy got the bike he had really wanted, and everyone was happy, so many thanks to Roy and Trek Bicycles. But in the course of this happening, the collectors' world - which is a fairly small community - knew this jersey was out there and were looking to purchase it. Roy kept telling them that it was coming back to me, but they wouldn’t believe him. One collector not only offered him $50,000 for it, but in fact wired the money to him, sight unseen! But Roy sent the money straight back to the guy who sent it... The bottom line is Roy Wiggins is a really nice and honest guy, and he didn’t have to do this for me at all. And I also really appreciate the people at Trek for helping me as well. There are some things in life that are very special – not in their material significance, but in what they represent - and for sure winning the 1999 Tour de France is something well worth remembering.
Thanks again, Roy - Johan
By Bonnie D. Ford
Lance Armstrong's broken collarbone, the Fracture Heard 'Round The World, was a first in a notably mishap-free road racing career.
Armstrong, who is expected to have surgery on his right clavicle in Austin, Texas, early Wednesday morning, may be an expert at many things. But he's an untried newbie at rehabbing this kind of injury with the start dates of the two most important races of his calendar, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, barreling toward him in early May and early July, respectively.
If he wants advice, he might want to caucus with another American rider, Scott Nydam of the U.S.-based Pro Continental-level BMC team, who has broken his left collarbone four times -- twice since last August -- but is about to race again at this weekend's Redlands Classic in San Bernardino County a scant 4½ weeks after his latest surgery.
"Actually, I've broken it five times," Nydam said in a phone interview from his home in northern California, "counting the time I re-broke it.
"Someone like Lance, what he's been through medically, he knows his body so well -- he'll know what to do," said Nydam, who often trains with Armstrong's Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer in and around Santa Rosa, Calif. "This might sober him up to what he's up against. Maybe he'll dig deeper."
The first two times Nydam fractured his clavicle, he wasn't riding for a living, and opted to let it heal on its own. He was lying on the floor stretching out not long after removing the sling the second time around when he heard a telltale crack, and realized he'd just undone whatever mending had taken place.
That convinced Nydam surgery was called for when he crashed at the Tour of Utah last summer.
"If you're an amateur, you save the money and wait it out," Nydam said. "Both ways work -- one is just more calculated and expedient. With surgery, you avoid the two or three weeks where you stay immobilized and wait for the bone to find itself and reconnect. You stabilize the collarbone, but you can still keep your legs moving."
Nydam has been on both sides of the fence. The 31-year-old, who has a college degree in sociology, rode as an amateur through his 20s. He quit a construction job and turned pro three years ago. Since then, he's compiled some impressive results, earning the King of the Mountains designation in the 2008 Tour of California.
But this year's edition of the race ended abruptly for Nydam in Stage 4. He had just taken a jacket from the moving BMC team car when part of the garment got caught on his brake lever, bringing him down, frighteningly, right in front of the vehicle -- which ran over his front wheel, but fortunately, not his body. He suffered a concussion, and his clavicle snapped right at the end of the titanium plate that had been inserted just six months before.
Nydam knew the drill by this time.
"I crashed Wednesday, and I was in and out of surgery Friday afternoon -- in after lunch and out before dinner," said Nydam, both of whose operations were performed by BMC and USA Cycling team physician Dr. Eric Heiden, the multiple Olympic speedskating gold medalist who is now an orthopedic surgeon. "The bone is right under the skin, so they don't have to do a lot of digging around."
Recovering from the general anesthetic, and the general trauma of a bad crash, is often more difficult than the surgery itself, he added. "If you went down hard enough to break your collarbone, there's a good chance you've done some collateral damage," said Nydam. He still has some unrelated pain in his ribs and back, just as Armstrong will have to deal with bruising on his right side.
Nydam was on a stationary bike within a couple of days of the crash last month, and on the road in a week and a half -- a little earlier than doctors would recommend.
"I jumped the gun a little bit," Nydam admitted. "But it's just a matter of keeping it stabilized. It's more dangerous to pick up a coffee cup. I was guided by pain. If I didn't feel pain, I'd ride."
He hasn't yet attempted a time trial position, which Nydam called a little more "awkward" because of the stress that peculiar tuck puts on the shoulders and arms. "But that's a fixed position," he said. "The hardest thing is when you jump out of the saddle [climbing], and you're moving your bike around, throwing the bars right and left." It took Nydam three weeks before he could try that kind of effort, he said.
But from his perspective, Nydam said he's confident the seven-time Tour de France winner will be at the start line of that race in July with no problems -- and could even be competitive at the Tour of Italy, which starts May 9.
"The collarbone won't be an issue by then," Nydam said. "It's not the time it'll take for the bone to heal, it's how much fitness he'll lose -- race fitness.
"[Armstrong] hasn't raced since the Tour of California, and he just had the one day at Milan-San Remo and then he crashed. I know the way I feel right now. I trained hard for California and then it ended short. I'm overloaded with training and I need to race."
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Liquigas' Ivan Basso has said that the Giro d'Italia "wouldn't be the same" without Lance Armstrong, in a message of support to his friend and one-time Tour de France rival. Armstrong fractured his collarbone during the first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on Monday.
"I think and hope that Armstrong can recover from his misfortune to take to the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 9 in Venice," said Basso. "Without Lance, the race would no longer be the same."
Basso, who this year will ride the Giro for the first time since winning it in 2006, has entered a block of intensive training to prepare for his return to his national tour. It includes a two-week stint on Mount Teide, a volcano on the Canary Islands.
"I'm experiencing a phase of preparation in which nothing should be left to chance," said Basso. "My work is returning to full capacity after the injury I suffered to my left knee a month ago at the Tour of California."
Don't miss the 2009 Auburn Triathlon, featuring the seventh annual World's Toughest Half, the '09 National Long Course Duathlon Championships! (3k-56mile-13.1mile), an Olympic distance tri and Sprint distance tri, held concurrently on May 31.
Auburn is lauded as the most scenic and challenging course in the sport - a great way to build some strength for a successful racing summer. Top pros like Ironman champ Tim DeBoom, Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield and '07 champs Victor Plata and Gina Kehr rave about the stunning course, grass roots, athlete focused feel and incredible athlete support and benefits package. There are extensive maps, descriptions and photos of the courses at the world's most comprehensive triathlon web site: www.auburntriathlon.com
Recovox athletes enjoy a $10 discount on entry fee by downloading
Click on the title link to register.
Transcription of telephone press conference with Lance Armstrong on Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Introduction made by Mark Higgins
Higgins: We’re headed over for a more elaborate CT-scan. It seems that after looking at the film here in the States it’s a little more serious than we had originally thought. It’s angulated and displaced a little more than a clean fracture so it’s not super-serious but we are going in for another scan.
The doctor is an Austin surgeon, Doug Elenz. He’s part of an Austin sports practice and will do the surgery for Lance on Wednesday [March 25, 2009]. It’s a mid-shaft clavicle fracture but a little more serious than we originally thought from the films that came over from Spain.
Question: Tell us about the next consultation and what the prospects are.
Lance Armstrong (LA): The first part wasn’t really a consultation. It was just when I went to the hospital and they took some film. The film wasn’t that clear and wasn’t that close up so we did more films here in his office and it showed the clavicle in quite a few more pieces than we originally thought. So now we’re going to CT it again.
Question: So there are multiple fractures as opposed to just one?
LA: I would say multiple pieces.
Question: What have you been told so far about how that might complicate surgery or recovery?
LA: We’re going to plate it at 7 AM tomorrow morning [Central Time Zone, USA]. He wants clearer images from the CT-scan so he really knows what he’s dealing with when he gets in there. There will definitely be a plate placed on the top of the clavicle so he can anatomically put all this stuff back together.
Question: Remove bone fragments too?
LA: I don’t know. I think they try to put the puzzle back together. Not sure about removing anything.
Question: Does this mean it will take longer to recover versus what you originally thought?
LA: The surgery is tomorrow morning. Once I get out of there I need 72-hours where I do absolutely nothing. And then he’ll check me again and then maybe 3-4 days later I can do some riding on an indoor trainer. Honestly if the surgery goes well and the plate fits nicely and all comes together, I don’t think it complicates things for the future anymore than the initial opinion.
Question: Does that mean four to six weeks or are you hearing a different time frame?
LA: That seems long. This is a very common cycling injury and you hear of guys able to race in two weeks and other guys that race two months later. So we’ll have to see how the recovery goes and make sure simple stuff doesn’t occur—we don’t want to get an infection or anything. Four to six weeks seems long to me but again, time will tell. Obviously the Giro is on people’s minds and that’s about five weeks away. In my opinion I think the Giro is still very doable.
Question: Is your training for the Tour still very doable?
LA: This is definitely a setback, there’s no doubt. It’s the biggest setback I’ve had in my cycling career so it’s a new experience for me. Fortunately I’ve done a lot of off-season work that I think will help me through this. I think my condition was really coming to a place where I was going to be able to ride at the front of the races and that’s good news/bad news. Bad news that I wasn’t able to show it in the races but the good news is that if you get injured with good form you can come back with decent form…you aren’t starting from rock bottom.
Question: You must be exhausted. What about your mindset and emotions and are you willing to ride the Giro at something other than a competitive level?
LA: I am exhausted, primarily from the stress of the crash but also the trip. I literally landed in Austin about an hour ago. It’s been a long couple of days so it’s hard to think about those things. But I can’t lie, these things have gone through my mind—how (will I) approach it? Will (I) even be able to approach it? Then again, we’ll know more in the next week. We’ll know a lot. Once we get the surgery done tomorrow, get out of there with those 72 hours of rest…the quicker I can get on the bike then we’ll know. Even if I went into the Giro underprepared and used it as preparation for other events I’d still be excited to go and do that.
Question: Did you know immediately that you’d broken it when you hit the ground?
LA: I’d never done this before. I knew it hurt like hell and whenever you have a big pain like that your mind tells you to feel it to make sure nothing is sticking out but at the same time you’re a little scared to feel it! So I took a quick brush with my hand over my collarbone and what I thought were cables from my radio in fact weren’t. So I realized then it was broken pretty good.
Question: Was there any moment of thought where you wondered if this comeback was cursed or questioning if you still wanted to do it?
LA: Lying in the ditch in that situation yesterday, yeah, yeah…but I think that’s normal. You’re lying there and asking ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ But I think perhaps that’s a normal reaction and I don’t feel that way today necessarily although I’m feeling a lot of pain and ready to get this behind me. It was a shock, definitely a shock and again I’ve raced bikes for a long, long time and never had anything like that.
Question: Were you pissed off?
LA: No, quite honestly, it’s part of racing and to go as long as I’ve gone without having something happening like this is basically a miracle. So when you’re sitting there (A) - in a helluva lot of pain and (B) - you sort of think it was bound to happen at some point. It’s not good timing but it certainly could be worse. And I look at it from a different perspective, just from the curve ball of my life and what my health has thrown me in the past. Lying in that ditch with a broken collarbone was a lot better than other health scares I’ve had.
Question: How did you choose this surgeon?
LA: It’s a pretty well-known practice here in town. Obviously we looked at places all around the country. Dr. Heiden in Salt Lake City is an old friend of mine. But I wanted to come home and do the surgery here. These guys have an outstanding reputation. I know people who have had work done there and quite frankly I don’t think it’s an overly-complicated procedure although it did just become a little more complicated in the last hour. I think it’s pretty straight forward.
Question: What will the doctors be doing tomorrow?
LA: Surgery at 7AM, which will take 2-3 hours depending on what he sees. Then I’ll be home tomorrow afternoon.
Question: Will you spend the recovery period in Austin?
LA: I’ll spend the 72 hours here, and my son has the pine wood derby in 10 days so I want to be here for that, so we’ll see after that.
David Zabriskie rode into third place in the general classification at Castilla y Leon, with a third place finish in the individual time trial. “I was a little rusty with no racing since the Tour of California and getting really sick,” Zabriskie said. “I felt good on the flats but not so good on the climb — I think that’s where I really lost time. Sitting in third is a good situation for us. I think we have three guys in top 10 so these are good things!”
Lance twittering his fans before taking off for Austin from the airport in Spain.
By Agence France Presse
Lance Armstrong will recover from a broken collarbone in time to bid for his eighth Tour de France crown in July, and may even compete in the Giro d'Italia in May, his team manager said
"A broken collarbone in March does not change anything as regards the Tour de France," which starts on July 4, said Johan Bruyneel, the manager of Armstrong's Astana team.
"For the moment, we are sticking largely with the same schedule. He was going to be leaving for the U.S. after this race and then come back for the Giro, so for the moment nothing has changed," he told reporters before the start of the second stage of the Tour of Castilla y Leon in central Spain.
"Personally, I think it is still possible to take part in the Giro," which starts on May 9, but he is "still going to be less fit," said the Belgian.
Armstrong broke his collarbone when he fell along with several other riders about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the finish line of the first stage of the Tour of Castilla y Leon on Monday.
His injury "changes the way we approach the season from now until the Tour de France," said Bruyneel. But "in terms of being there at start of the Tour, it changes nothing at all."
Armstrong meanwhile left Spain on Tuesday for his home in Texas.
American Levi Leipheimer took his Tour of California-winning form to Spain and demolished the competition in the stage two time trial in Palencia. The Astana rider completed the 28.2-kilometre test in 33:17 to take the overall lead ahead of his teammate and defending champion Alberto Contador. The Spaniard was second fastest with 33:35, while American David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) took third, four seconds slower.
The morning's leader, Joaquin Sobrino (Burgos Monumental - Castilla y Leon) was no match for the GC contenders and waved goodbye to the leader's jersey.
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 33.17
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 0.18
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 0.22
4 Denis Menchov (Spa) Rabobank 0.55
General classification after stage 2
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 5.05.10
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 0.18
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 0.22
4 Denis Menchov (Spa) Rabobank 0.55
Monday, March 23, 2009
Now in its sixth year, the race will begin with a prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa, and will finish eight days and 685km later at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.
1,200 athletes from 46 countries will participate in the African stage race, the only stage race categorized as hors categorie or "HC" by the UCI. Mountain bikers are coming all the way from nationsl like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and Venezuela to earn points and have an epic race experience. Throughout the week, the 600 two-person teams will climb 14,663 meters, the equivalent of two trips up Mount Everest.
Returning for the 2009 edition is a team time trial prologue of 16.5km on the slopes of the designated world heritage, site Table Mountain. Teams will depart at 30-second intervals and race against the clock to determine their start seeding for stage one, which begins in Gordon Bay the following day.
Fires raged across Table Mountain earlier this week and forced the cancellation of practice sessions on Thursday; however, practice sessions on Friday and the prologue itself on Saturday will continue as scheduled.
In 2006, the Cape Epic became the first ever team mountain bike stage race at which UCI points were awarded. The race's HC designation draws some of the sport's top racers, including World cross country champion Christoph Sauser, Olympic gold medallist Bart Brentjens, Olympic silver medallist Jose Hermida as well as the 2007 Cape Epic winners and runners up in 2008, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. The race will also see Under 23 UCI World Cup winner Burry Stander, Kevin Evans, and David George showcasing some of South Africa's best talents. Multiple-time World Champion and World Cup winner Alison Sydor is also expected to return.
The racers will team up to form duo men's, women's, mixed and masters teams.
The Cape Epic is a massive logistics project with organizers pitching over 1,400 tents per day and transporting 275 tons of equipment from stage town to stage town. Twenty-seven heavy-duty trucks and transporters and over 700 crew, volunteers and supplier representatives are involved in implementing the largest mountain bike stage race in the world.
Stage 1 - March 21: Capetown - Capetown, 19km
Stage 2 - March 22: Gordon's Bay - Villiersdorp, 112km
Stage 3 - March 23: Villiersdorp - Villiersdorp, 110km
Stage 4 - March 24: Villiersdorp - Greyton, 73km
Stage 5 - March 25: Greyton - Greyton , 114km
Stage 6 - March 26: Greyton - Oak Valley, 111km
Stage 7 - March 27: Oak Valley - Oak Valley, 86km
Stage 8 - March 28: Oak Valley - Lourensford, 60km
Additional Comments from Lance Armstrong where a fracture of the middle third of the right collar bone was diagnosed:
- How did the crash happen?
“At the end of the race, people started to get a bit excited to win the race. Everybody wanted to be in the front and couple of guys crashed in front of me, crossed the wheels and I hit them over the top. It happens quick when it happens. It could have been worse, I suppose. I have road rash abrasions on right hip and arm but the big problem is the broken collarbone. I never had this before. It is pretty painful. Now we must have to see how it heals. I will go back to the US and there we will decide on surgery.”
- You must be very disappointed. Is the Giro participation in jeopardy?
“I am very disappointed. Very. Especially for the Giro. Now the biggest problem is the pain. It hurts. We will see. The guys in the hospital in Valladolid were great and very nice and helpful. But now I feel miserable. I need to relax a couple of days, fix the problem and make a plan. I hope I can tell you more about the Giro in a week.”
- You almost never crash.
“I was thinking the same thing in the hospital that this never happened in my 17 years of pro cycling. That’s cycling. It’s nobody’s fault. Crashes happen all the time. It is part of the job.”
Lance Armstrong crashed and fractured his right collarbone today in the opening day of the Castilla y León stage race in Spain. The American of team Astana retired from the stage via an ambulance to a hospital in Valladolid.
Armstrong, 37, was in the main group near kilometre 160 of the 176.3-kilometres stage from Paredes De Nava to Baltanás. His group was going at a fast pace over narrow roads in pursuit of the four-man escape. He came down with a group of around 30 riders.
"Two riders crashed in front of me and I was not able to avoid them," Armstrong said to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Perna. "It the first time in my career I fractured my collarbone and I can tell you it hurts a lot."
Doctors verified that it is a clean fracture, meaning his recovery should be quick. Armstrong, who should face operation for his injury, has made contact with specialists in the United States. He should check out of the hospital this evening and is likely to travel back home to Texas.
Armstrong is preparing for the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, and the Tour de France, July 4 to 26. He returned to the sport this year after a three-year retirement following his seventh Tour de France win.
"This is racing. Give me a few days to think about what I have to do. I am upset, it is a big problem ahead of the Giro d'Italia."
A broken collarbone typically needs four to six weeks for recovery, which would leave him in jeopardy for the Giro del Trentino, April 22 to 25. It would also compromise his form for the Giro d'Italia.
"I didn't see the crash," said Armstrong's former teammate Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream). "It was after a climb and [Alejandro] Valverde's team attacked in the crosswind. I think the whole peloton freaked out and people were doing dumb moves to try not to get dropped. That's what I bet caused the crash."
Armstrong started his 2009 season with the Tour Down Under and Tour of California. He made his first racing return to Europe Saturday at the Milano-Sanremo, finishing 125th.
Castilla y León was the first race of the season together for Armstrong and Alberto Contador, winner of all three Grand Tours. The race was to be a time to sort out tactics prior to the Tour de France. The two last met in California for a team training camp, February 1 to 10.
Armstrong's career has been relatively injury-free. His most memorable incident came during the 2003 Tour de France stage to Luz-Ardiden when he hooked his handlebar on a fan's bag and crashed. That day he got back on his bike and won the stage and went on to win his fifth Tour.
Since his comeback, luck has not been on Armstrong's side. He crashed on the first stage of Tour of California, and then again the very next day he went down again when his personal photographer's motorcycle crashed on the second stage.
His most serious injury came in 2000, when he crashed while training in Nice, France. He fractured a vertebra in his neck. This healed in time for him to be able to take part in the Olympic Games in Sydney.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Tomorrow Alberto Contador will begin his third contest of the season, the Vuelta a Castilla y León. He's especially looking forward to his first race back in Spain, his home country. Contador, who has won the last two editions of Castilla y León, sees this race as relaxed and particularly appealing. “It’s a region that, you might say, is very familiar to me,” said Contador.
Are you looking forward to racing in Spain again?
Yes, of course, especially at Castilla y León, which is a race I really like. I’ve ridden it several times and it’s gone very well.
What are your feelings on the eve of battle? Are you thinking about a third consecutive victory?
I’m motivated and ready to race, but I see this edition as very difficult, because everything depends on the 28-kilometer time trial, since the mountain finishes will be for arriving in the group. I’ll do a test on the day of the time trial and we’ll just see what happens then, but in principle this route is better for Leipheimer.
Are you familiar with the stages?
I’ve been finding out about the route, and it’s different from past years. The time trial is flat and longer than at other times, while the mountains are not as hard, with the big summits quite spread out. It’s a less-suitable route for me.
You’ll be together with Leipheimer and Armstrong for the first time. Is this a trial run for the Tour, or a coincidence?
It’s a coincidence, but it will help us see how things go in a race, although you can’t really consider it a test because it’s different here, and although we intend to win if we can, there’s not the same pressure. Whatever happens, it’ll be good to be sharing the team, plus the press will relax a little when they see us together.
At Paris-Nice and in Tirreno-Adriatico, the general classification slipped away. Will that influence tactics at Castilla y León?
If a situation occurs in this race like at Paris-Nice or Tirreno, I think that with the strength of this team it’ll be a little easier to hold on to the leadership. But this is no more than another race for preparation…If we win, that’s the best thing, but if we don’t, it’s nothing to worry about.
How do you feel at this point in the year—better than in 2008?
The truth is that I feel really well, very happy with how the season is going and about my results so far, in spite of not winning Paris-Nice, because you can’t always win. I’m very happy with my preparation and I feel rested, physically and mentally. My results leave me confident and calm about continuing prep for the Tour de France.
The roster for this race is spectacular. Who are the favorites?
There’s more than enough to talk about on this list of names: all of them are clearly favorites. Above all, the race is riding on the time trial, and the best of the specialists will be there, like Zabriskie, Vandevelde, Rubén Plaza, Menchov, Valverde, Gutiérrez, Armstrong, Leipheimer… There’s a ton of great riders who’re going, and they’ll make the fight for victory a tough one. The favorites in the time trial are also the favorites for the overall win.
Astana Cycling Team in Castilla y León: Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Jesús Hernández, Levi Leipheimer, Benjamín Noval, José Luis Rubiera, Tomas Vaitkus, Haimar Zubeldia.
Directors: Sean Yates, Viatcheslav Ekimov.
PALENCIA, Spain (AP)—Lance Armstrong will race against the past two Tour de France winners when the five-day Vuelta of Castilla and Leon begins Monday.
The seven-time Tour champion will line up against Spanish cyclists Carlos Sastre (2008) and Alberto Contador (2007) for the first time since his return this season after three and a half years in retirement.
The 37-year-old Armstrong finished 125th in the Milan-San Remo classic on Saturday, his first race in Europe since his comeback from retirement.
“(The race) will give me a real indication of where I am. I think we’re on schedule,” Armstrong said.
Also taking part in the race are Levi Leipheimer, Denis Menchov and Alejandro Valverde, who testified before the Italian Olympic Committee last month in connection with the Operation Puerto doping scandal.
Armstrong has declared that his goal is to win the Tour de France again in July, but it is unclear whether he will be the top rider for Astana with Contador on the team.
Contador, who has won the past two Castilla Leon races, was unable to defend his Tour title in 2008 because of Astana’s doping scandals the previous year. However, he did win the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta.
Before the Milan race, Armstrong played down comments he made last week suggesting Contador “still has a lot to learn.”
Armstrong said he planned to sit down with Contador to smooth things out.
The race kicks off with a mostly flat 104-mile ride between the towns of Paredes de Nava and Baltanas.
by Brad Culp
There's no need for reigning Kona champ Craig Alexander to fear the post-world championship hangover. Pitted against 2007 Kona champ Chris McCormack at this weekend's Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore, Crowie finished the race with a blistering 1:12:46 run--enough to top Macca by three minutes for the overall win.
Another Aussie, Pete Jacobs, dominated the first two legs of the race, and entered the second transition with a small gap on countryman Simon Thompson. Unfortunately for Jacobs and Thompson, their gap on Crowie and Macca disappeared within the first of two run laps, with Alexander leading the charge. Macca ran his way up to second, but never really contested Crowie for the win. Jacobs and Thompson finished third and fourth, respectively, completing the one-two-three-four sweep for Australia.
In the women's race, the pre-race focus was on last year's Hawaii runner-up Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands, but unfortunately for the Dutchwoman, a flat tire forced her to drop out of the race during the bike leg. It seems unlikely that Van Vlerken would've contested Brit Jodie Swallow for the overall win though, as the former short-course standout finished in 4:19:10--11 minutes ahead of runner-up Andrea Hewitt.
Van Vlerken wasn't the only top female with a little bad luck in the world's largest shipping port, as Aussie Rebekah Keat headed to the medical tent just a few minutes into the race after having a bad run-in with a pack of jellyfish. As Swallow streteched her lead throughout the flat-and-fast bike leg, Hewitt and the Czech Republic's Tereza Macel did their best not to fall too far behind.
With the result never really in doubt, Swallow crossed the line just behind the pro men, with Hewitt making her way to the finish 11 minutes later. Macel completed the podium, finishing just 17 seconds back of the Kiwi.
Singapore Ironman 70.3 Singapore
March 22, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:47:23
2. Chris McCormack (AUS) 3:50:41
3. Simon Thompson (AUS) 3:54:27
4. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 3:56:17
5. Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) 3:58:24
1. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 4:19:10
2. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 4:30:24
3. Tereza Macel (CZE) 4:30:41
4. Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 4:40:38
5. Kate Major (AUS) 4:44:29
By Jeffrey Sheban
Lance Armstrong will ride 100 miles to Athens as honorary chairman of the Pelotonia Tour.
One month after his much-anticipated Tour de France comeback in July, cycling legend Lance Armstrong will set the pace in the first Columbus-to-Athens charity ride for cancer research.
Armstrong, who captured the world's imagination by beating testicular cancer, then winning a record seven consecutive Tours, will ride in the Pelotonia Tour in late August and serve as honorary chairman.
"This means everything to us," said Tom Lennox, executive director of the event. "His involvement will attract more cyclists so we can raise more money."
The tour, named for peloton, or the main pack of riders in a cycling race, is a collaboration between NetJets Inc. and Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, including the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital.
Organizers hope to raise $40 million in the event's first five years for cancer research at OSU. NetJets is donating $12.5 million to sponsor the tour and cover expenses so all proceeds can go to research.
"I'm coming back to Columbus to support my friends at the James and NetJets," said Armstrong, who is in Italy this weekend for a race and responded to questions by e-mail.
"I am honored to be part of the inaugural Pelotonia Tour and inspired by the commitment NetJets is making."
Doug Ulman, president and chief executive officer of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in Austin, Texas, and a close friend of the athlete, said that with Armstrong's renewed focus on competitive racing, the Pelotonia Tour is among the few charity events he'll participate in this year.
"We see Ohio as a really important location for national issues and dialogue," said Ulman, adding that representatives of more than 30 countries have requested appearances by Armstrong since the cyclist emerged from retirement in January.
In Columbus, Armstrong will join an expected 2,250 other riders. They will choose routes of 50, 100 or 180 miles, starting Aug. 29 from the lawn of Chemical Abstracts Service near OSU. All are required to secure donations of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000, depending on the route.
Armstrong, 37, will ride 100 miles to Athens but not make the return trip. As master of ceremonies, he'll offer opening remarks, start the other riders and then get on his bike.
"And he's agreed to raise the $1,500, just like the rest of us," Lennox said.
Against overwhelming odds, Armstrong survived testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs, then became the only person to win cycling's most famous race, the Tour de France, seven times (from 1999 to 2005). He retired after the last win.
In retirement, he has focused his efforts on the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which supports people affected by cancer and pushes for cancer-research funding. The foundation has raised $300 million in the past 11 years.
He launched his racing comeback two months ago in Australia, with the goal of competing in the 2009 Tour de France, which begins July 4 in Monaco.
Ulman, himself a cancer survivor, said Armstrong will use the professional racing circuit as a forum for cancer awareness. He plans to compete in Italy, South Africa and Mexico, specifically because a cancer diagnosis carries a stigma in those countries.
"He still wants to win races, but to him, the results on the bike are not as important as the results of the global campaign," Ulman said.
Armstrong is no stranger to Columbus.
Last year, his foundation held its annual Livestrong cancer-awareness summit at Ohio State. The cyclist is friends with OSU President E. Gordon Gee and Dr. Michael Caligiuri, chief executive of the James -- both of whom will ride in the first Pelotonia.
"For Lance, cancer awareness has become the main mission," Caligiuri said. "The athletics becomes a means by which the mission is supported."
Armstrong emphasized that the Pelotonia Tour is a ride, not a race.
"This is a great ride no matter what your experience level, and I would encourage everyone to come out and support this," he said.
"If you don't have biking experience, come out and volunteer. There are plenty of ways to get involved."
For more information or to register to ride, volunteer or support a rider, visit www.pelotonia.org .
Saturday, March 21, 2009
For anyone who lives in the Bay area a must place to eat and drink is Barlata Tapas Bar. It is owned by chef Daniel Olivella and his partner Team Astana rider Chechu Rubiera.
A few of my friends and I had the most incredible dinner there. A few of the items we tried and loved were...
Gambas ajillo Tiger shrimp/garlic/olive oil/adobo
Grilled steak Angus beef/chimuchurri sauce /french fries
Vegetarian paella Saffron rice/mixed vegetables/vegan stock
Lata de setas Mixed mushrooms a la plancha /parsley picada
For wine a must is the 05 Mas Donís Barrica, Montsant.
Daniel has to be one of the coolest people I have met since moving to the Bay area. So if you are in town make sure to stop by and grab some of the best Spanish food you will ever taste!
They are located at 4901 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, Ca 94609
Click on the title link to learn more about them.
Mark Cavendish burst into tears after he beat Heinrich Haussler to win Milan-San Remo. He was also emotional when the British national anthem rang out over San Remo and later in the winner's press conference.
As ever Cavendish spoke from the heart. He understood what he has achieved by winning Milan-San Remo at the first attempt but also had some harsh words for some of his sprint rivals who predicted he would get dropped on the climbs.
“When you win sprints you prove you're a great sprinter but when you win a great one-day race you've proved you're a great rider. I wanted to prove I'm a great rider and that's what I did today,” he said putting everything about his win into perspective.
Cavendish beat Haussler by just a few millimetres but the rest of the sprinters were timed at two seconds behind him. Even in the sprint at Milan-San Remo, after 300km of racing, Cavendish blew them off his wheel.
As ever he got the sprint instinctively right and knew what he was doing in every split second.
“When Haussler went he took everybody by surprise. There was a small opening on the left but it was close to the barriers, so I waited for it to open up and then went after him.”
“It was touch and go if I got him but got in his slipstream and I got him on the line. It was a close call but I'm glad I did it.”
Cavendish made it clear what he thought about his rivals who predicted he would be dropped in the climbs.
“I knew they would say that and one rider, Tom Boonen, said that every time the road went up I was dropped but if you count the times I was dropped in Tirreno-Adriatico it was one time. I knew I had to play it easy in Tirreno because I had good form and a good team here and it worked out.”
Cavendish hesitated a second and then added with a sense of revenge: “Crossing the line first was the sweetest thing but the second sweetest thing was seeing Tom Boonen go past me backwards on the climbs.”
“I just won a monument. It's the first monument I've ever ridden. I take a lot of desire to win from the fact that a lot of people write me off. I've spoken to my girlfriend and she told the commentator on British Eurosport was adamant that Haussler got me at the line, because they couldn't believe I'd won it. That's how it is, a lot of people cannot believe that I can do what I can do. But when the right people put faith in me, it's so special. The guys put so much faith in me today. It worked.
Cavendish celebrated with Team Columbia sprint consultant Erik Zabel. The Germany won Milan-San Remo four times and passed on his inside knowledge to Cavendish in recent weeks.
“Without his help I wouldn't have won today,” Cavendish said.
“We did the reconnaissance twice and I knew exactly where I had to be at what time and knew exactly how hard I could go and when. It was the knowledge that he gave me that got me through the bike race today.”
“The team worked perfectly for me. They knew that I knew what I had to do. We had four or five guys who could have won but they sacrificed their chances so that I could win. You could see my and Erik's emotions at the finish. I knew it could work and it did. It's a really special day for us.”
“I said maybe I can't win, I never said it was impossible, everything is possible. I knew it would be hard but I knew that if I could play a little poker in the last weeks and play along about what other people thought about me, what they thought my weaknesses were. But when the people that mattered had the faith in me, that was myself and my teammates. Tommy Lovkvist, who's such a stronger attacker, took me on the second wheel in Cipressa. Then George Hincapie guided me to the Poggio, and then went full-gas and led me to fourth wheel with 400m, that was perfect!”