Friday, February 27, 2009
By: Katharine McCoy
We all know we should do it. The pros do it and the best amateurs do it. Warming up is essential to a good performance, whether you are going on an a training ride or a race. Once you understand why the body needs a warm up you will be more motivated to do it even if you are just heading for a ride with some friends.
WHY WARM UP?
Most of us understand the basics of why a warm-up is important. Anyone who has ever skipped their warm up because they were running late knows that it can affect your performance. If your muscles are cold and you simply gun it with cold, tight muscles you will pay a price with stiff, oxygen starved muscles that can feel exhausted within just minutes of a ride. But what is really happening in our muscles?
When your muscles are at rest they conserve the amount of blood and oxygen that that goes into the muscles. Few of the small blood vessels that allow blood flow and thus oxygen into the muscles are open. As you begin to work out and your muscles become warmer and blood flow increases into the skeletal muscles which results in the blood vessels being opened and allowing more oxygen in into the muscles. This process takes about 10-12 minutes to occur
Warmer blood actually holds less oxygen which leaves more for the muscles. As the body begins to warm-up it also begins to activate its cooling mechanism which keeps you from over heating early in the ride.
Warm muscles are able to contract and relax faster. The joints are looser. The nervous system is also more responsive. And the metabolism begins to rev up giving your body better access to the fuel that it will need on your ride.
This is just part of what happens during the warm up. The other part is what happens during your minds as you warm-up. The warm-up allows your mind time to focus. This is a great time to think about what you need to do during your race. If it is a long ride that you are about to do it is a time to focus on relaxing, but if it is a short ride your may want to get yourself a little pumped up. Either way you want to make sure that jumpy nerves are not sabotaging you. This is the time to make sure that your mind is in fixed on the positive. This is why you so often see athletes using music in there warm ups as a way to get their mind focused on what is ahead.
HOW TO WARM UP
Okay, you know that you should warm up and now you even have an idea why but how do you do it. This is the hard part because different events and different people need different warm ups. Even the temperature changes the way that you should warm up. That is why each person needs to customize their warm-up to their fitness level, the length and intensity of their event and to temperature and humidity. Here are a few examples of warm-ups.
THE PRE-RIDE RIDE
Let’s say that you are meeting your buddies for a Saturday morning group ride. You might make people look at you funny if you bring out your rollers in front of Starbucks or even the local bike shop. For many people a great way to do a warm up is to ride to the start of the ride. A 15-20 minute pre-ride. Start at a very comfortable pace. Keep your heart rate in a low zone for most of the warm-up. During the last half of the pre-ride add in a few high intensity sprints with long rests in between. An example would be three or four 30 second high intensity sprints with 2 minutes of low intensity recovery. You will also want to get out of the saddle a few times to prep your muscles.
If you are just going for a solo ride you simply need to allow yourself about 15 minutes added on at the beginning of your ride for a similar warm-up don’t cheat your body out of this warm up just because you are on your own. Pushing yourself too early in your ride can result in injury and a less productive workout.
This is where you need to know yourself. Many people are the most comfortable doing their pre-race warm-up on rollers. This way they have complete control over their warm-up. Other people like to ride around a pre-determined warm-up route. However if you are not very familiar with the area that you will be going to it is a good idea to plan to do your warm-up on rollers. You don’t want to get there and realize that there is no good place to get in your warm up ride. Your warm-up will vary depending on the type of race you are doing. Longer rides that are going to start out slow may mean that you can save some of your warm up for on the road so that aren’t just adding extra time in the saddle.
HOT WEATHER WARM UPS
Keep an eye on the temperature and the humidity when figuring out your warm-up. In hot weather your body will warm-up faster and if it is humid you may raise your likelihood of suffering heat-exhaustion if your body is not able to cool itself sufficiently. Of course, you need to make sure that are also drinking more liquids and electrolytes so that your body does not become depleted. Some endurance athletes actually try to cool themselves before races when the temperatures are extreme. This may not work for those of us that don’t keep cooling stations with them but make sure that you are aware of extremes in the temperature when you decided on your warm-up.
The fitter you are the longer you need to warm-up. That means that at different times of the season you may need a longer or shorter warm-up. Also some people just need longer to warm up. Endurance athlete often feel that it takes a long time until they really feel they have hit their stride, while sprinters may have to worry more about using up to much energy during a warm-up. Experiment with what works for you and don’t be afraid to change as your level of fitness or circumstances change.
What is recovery from strenuous sports performance training about? People who exercise regularly and play sports often spend a lot of time preparing careful sports performance training programmes. These focus on positively building all the areas of fitness and technique important to the successful conduct of their favorite activity. Some enthusiastic runners, cyclists and triathletes plan their year’s activities around participation in races (marathon, triathlon, etc) or hoping to perform maximally at each race. In the haste to go faster and stronger, an important aspect of training is often neglected: sports recovery. From the experience of successful athletes though (particularly those in endurance sports) more time spent on sports recovery leads to improvement in the quality of sports performance training as well as optimal results in competition.
What is Sports Recovery?
Exercise at all levels of intensity acts to do one thing to the body: it depletes it. The depletion involves your energy stores (muscle glycogen, blood glucose and fat products in your blood), hormones, and muscle structures. In other words, you use up the body’s valuable resources as you exercise and something must be done to replace them.
In order to return to training and to continue conditioning your body to meet your exercise goals, it is important to create time and take active steps to bring about a re-building of the depleted body resources. This is what sports recovery is all about: the conscious action to help the body return to its optimal exercise state. This is especially important if you are intending to exercise intensively or for long durations soon after an exhausting bout. This could be endurance programme training, multi-stage bike race, or sports competitions that are only 2-4 weeks apart
Why bother with Sports Recovery?
In the very simplest terms you need to bother with sports recovery to keep you physically exercising at the level that you want to. Even more importantly, to allow the body’s systems to re-charge sufficiently that your mental edge remains honed to that fine sharpness you desire. A blunted edge comes about from insufficient recovery and can come back to haunt you in these ways: staleness, loss of interest, reduced physical ability, decreased sports performance training tolerance. Yes indeed, the first steps towards over-training.
A good approach to sports recovery will ensure that the quality of your sports performance training and competition is high. This will contribute to you feeling satisfied with your efforts and achievements, and bring about continued confidence in your chosen endurance sport. Good recovery also enables you to exert a greater overall sense of control of your sports performance training destiny!
When should I think about Sports Recovery?
You should consider sports recovery at both macro- and micro-levels. An example of a macro level would be a period of sports performance training preparation time (e.g. a week or month), or the period between competitions on your race calendar. A micro-level consideration would be after a single very hard or exhaustive work-out.
At the macro level, the depletion of resources will have arisen as a systematic and progressive wearing away that parallels your rigorously planned training program. It is not the single mind-blowing training session that is involved here but rather the accumulated effect of all the sessions combined, and possibly inclusive of the race. While a single sports performance training session may leave you feeling fatigued, the depletion of body resources over a period of time (it can be as short as a week or as long as months) will leave you feeling that your ability to physically exert yourself is a little blunted. Your legs feel heavy and tired, and are unable to sustain prolonged effort in the way they used to.
The micro recovery level answers the body’s aching need following that supremely challenging sports performance training session, back-to-back training sessions in some training camp, or the actual huge effort put into a competitive event (e.g. marathon running) . The latter involves not just the event itself but also the mental stress, increased adrenaline surges, and even mundane activities such as travel to the competition venue.
What are the steps I should take to recover properly?
Ensure that you take account of your macro and micro needs. Maintain an awareness of these using a sports performance training /race calendar that allows you to visually assess the training and competition phases you are going through. Akin to the periodisation approach to training, this will help you to plan for recovery periods and make these an integral part of your sports performance training plan. Now consider the elements of the recovery: nutrition, structure regeneration, inflammation reduction, hormonal, and mental. Make plans for each of these.
Nutrition involves replacing the resources that you have used up in your prodigious attempts to go faster and stronger. This includes particular emphasis on replacing the following nutritional components: carbohydrates to re-build muscle glycogen for muscle recovery, and minerals and electrolytes to make up for loss in your sweat. The best time to re-build glycogen stores is within the first 3 hours after sports performance training as this is when the rate of glycogen storage is highest. Such storage remains elevated in the next 21 hours but not at the same rate as during what has been called the “critical re-energising window.” There is scientific evidence to suggest that the very first hour after your exercise bout is actually the time that your body responds best to glycogen replenishment.
However, for some athletes, there are barriers that need to be overcome to meet this immediate post- exercise nutrition need. This includes not feeling hungry or not having the correct nutrition available. Positive steps must be taken to overcome these. Have nutrition available. If you can’t stomach eating, then drink your nutrition (energy drinks, carbohydrate mixes). Find nutritional sources that agree with you, and use these.
If you are quite lean (meaning your body fat content is low), you should also ensure that your energy replacement includes a balanced diet that has FAT and protein in it. Your overall energy needs are higher than someone who has not discovered long distance runs or triathlon training yet (poor people). So meet your higher energy needs and balance the sources of your energy: about 50-60 % from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and up to 30% from fat.
Reducing your physical exercise is a good idea for 4-5 days after a punishing race. This does not mean just lying around doing nothing, although that may be the order of the first day or so after competing. You will want to spend time actively stretching those tired and tight muscles, and by the 4th or 5th day, a light spin on the bike or some easy laps will help to keep your mind happy while you rest the muscles, tendons, joints and bones of your body. This is what is called “relative rest” with components of “active recovery.”
The sports recovery period is a useful time to catch up with equipment maintenance matters. And in the long run, these really do matter. Clean the sea water out of your running shoes, wash your bike and take it to the shop for a tune-up, wash those hard-worn heart rate monitor straps and, so on.
Finally, there is massage. Do I detect some glee out there? The aim of massaging tired aching muscles is to relieve the tension that has built up in the muscles, as well as to assist in the removal of chemical substances that build up during exercise and as a result of cell activity. So, just as top cycling teams bring their own masseuses to races (especially cycling tour competitions), you can help your body along with some judiciously administered massage. And if aches or pain persist, perhaps there is an injury that needs some attention from your sports doctor. The recovery period is a great time to have this managed, to deliver you in optimal shape as you return to training again.
All in all then, sports recovery is not something which every athlete thinks about, and some do it better than others. It’s something you should invest your effort into as much as you do your sports performance training preparations. It is an integral part of restoring your body to a condition which allows you to enjoy regular and continuous challenging training and competition.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Salt Lake City police reportedly made an arrest in the home burglary of Garmin-Slipstream cyclist David Zabriskie on Thursday, but have only recovered one car of the numerous items taken. According to the Deseret News, the rider's Toyota Scion was recovered by a Salt Lake City gang unit while it was staking out the home of a fugitive in South Salt Lake.
All of the other valuables, including Zabriskie's bicycles and equipment, clothing and collectibles remain missing.
According to the report, Arthur Roll, 30, was arrested after he drove up to the home they were watching in Zabriskie's stolen vehicle. He had been arrested earlier on Tuesday for another car theft and possession of stolen property unrelated to the Zabriskie case.
Sergeant Robin Snyder said the arrest marked a significant starting point for the investigation.
"We'll hopefully be able to follow the trail back to the rest of the stolen property and possibly others who might be involved," she said.
Anyone with information on Zabriskie's other stolen items can call police at 801-799-INFO (4636).
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By Dr. Ben Miller
There are a lot of people who think taking vitamins and carrying around a bottle of filtered water all day will make them healthy. It is true that this practice may make the person healthier than if he/she did not do it, but it does not necessarily make them “healthy” if they also smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. On the other end of the spectrum, we all have that friend who eats (or even drinks) whatever he/she wants and still goes well on the bike. As I have stated before, some people are given a great set of genes, and no matter what they do, they will still go well. Going well despite a poor diet, however, does not mean that the person is going as well as he/she could. I hope this column will give you a little perspective on the importance of nutrition for cycling performance. What I hope you take away is that you can do well without proper nutrition, but you will never do as well as you have the potential for with proper nutrition.
To understand why nutrition is important, it is first important to understand how the body adapts to exercise. The basics of human adaptation are that you stress the body, the body senses the stress, and the body takes appropriate steps so that the next time the stress is imposed, the body is better suited to deal with the stress. The “appropriate steps” the body takes has to do with making proteins since proteins make up the structures of your body and directs most reactions in the body. For instance, if you perform a bout of weight training, your body makes proteins in the muscle that are better suited to generate force so that you can move that weight easier next time. This example of course is why your muscles get bigger with weight training. Not so obvious are the proteins your body makes after a long training ride since there is no physical appearance of those proteins. The proteins your body makes after a long training ride are the ones that make your muscle better suited to use oxygen for energy production, e.g. mitochondrial proteins, enzymes, and cell transporters.
The application of adaptation to exercise training has been termed the overload principle. What the overload principle states is that one must apply an appropriate stress to the body so that the body is not understressed, thus providing no stimulus for adaptation, or overstressed, causing failure and overtraining. The stress must be specific to the goal you are trying to achieve and designed for the individual person. “Specific” has many levels of complexity from cycling rather than running to get better at cycling, to doing 5 second jumps rather than 3 hours of easy riding to get better at criteriums. Individuality refers to the fact that all of us adapt to stress differently as a result of our genes, and therefore what might be right for one person may not be right for another person.
There is one more component of the overload principle that most of us know all to well and that is reversibility. What reversibility means is that if a stress is not applied for some time, the ability to deal with that stress will go away; or said another way, reversibility refers to detraining. A good question is why does the body detrain? Why do we have to go through all the work of building up resistance to stress again? The answer has to do with the proteins the body makes to help us adapt to stress. These proteins have to be built up and broken down to stay in good working order. The process of building up and breaking down proteins takes a lot of energy. In fact, while resting the making of protein is the single largest consumer of ATP in the body. Therefore, the economics becomes quite simple, if the body does not use a protein for a little while it gets rid of it so that it does not waste energy sustaining it and the body can focus its resources on other proteins that it does need. Looked at another way, a body that is not provided enough energy will get rid of proteins to maintain itself, which is why muscle wastes when someone does not eat enough.
As mentioned, the body “senses” a stress. The means by which it senses is beyond the scope of this column. What is important is that the sensing of a stress sets in motion a series of events that makes proteins. You may then ask how the body knows what proteins to make? The search for the appropriate pathways and what turns them on is a very active area of cellular biology research. For the purpose of this column, though, we will call these pathways “signaling pathways” because a sensor turns on the pathway and signals only the correct proteins to be made. For example, when people go to altitude to train, a sensor detects that there is less oxygen in the air and turns on signaling pathways that make proteins that will help make oxygen delivery more efficient (EPO is one of those proteins). Specific to cycling, the time spent on the bike doing long slow rides, sprint workouts, and intervals are the stimuli that are sensed, and turn on signaling pathways that tell the body which proteins to make so that we may do those specific tasks better next time.
Why is this column really about nutrition? As stated, when the body receives an exercise stimulus, it sends out a message to the cells to build proteins that will better help it deal with that exercise in the future. To build those proteins you need the building blocks of protein (amino acids) and energy. Amino acids and energy can only come from the diet and therein is the need for proper nutrition. I want you to think of the process of building a house. Suppose you visit the architect and have your dream house drawn up on blueprints. You then buy the perfect plot of land, stake your lot, and hire all the best contractors. Finally, the big day comes, the ground is broken and the crew gets to work. Now imagine that you only had enough money to buy second-rate construction materials, how close will that dream house really come to its potential? Will it really be a dream house with inferior building materials? This analogy is really quite simple and obvious, the blue print is your training plan, the contractors (translates blueprints to a house) are your genes (translates training stress to proteins), and the construction material is the nutrition that builds the body’s structures. Inferior building products will lead to an inferior finished project no matter how good the plan and construction crew is.
I was careful to state above that the signaling pathways tell the body what proteins to make. However, in the absence of the appropriate building blocks, the body can’t actually make the proteins. In other words, training sets in motion an adaptive potential. To take advantage of the potential, amino acids (from protein that you eat) must be provided to build the proteins you need in the body, and energy (primarily from carbohydrate) must be provided because of the energy it takes to build those proteins. As I write this, my first thought is that people will take away from this column that eating lots of protein is the most important nutrition modification you can make, which is wrong. Yes, eating protein is important, but for the endurance athlete eating enough carbohydrate is still most important. Since the body uses up energy during exercise, you need to replace it after you are done or you will not have enough energy to make the proteins you need in your body to adapt to the training. In fact, if you don’t have enough energy, your body will break down proteins that you may need without replacing them, because at that point in time, having energy to sustain body function is more important than maintaining more protein. Interestingly, scientists have recently discovered that the amount of energy in the cell is one of the “signals” that determines which proteins are made, which clearly shows that energy provision and protein requirements are tied to each other. The take away message is that eating carbohydrate and protein around your training makes available the high-quality building materials to take advantage of the message your body sent out on what to do to get stronger. Conversely, not eating correctly around training diminishes the outcome of those messages considerably.
Dr Ben Miller is Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology. Ben did a PhD at the University of California – Berkeley and a Post-Doc at the Institute for Sports Medicine, Copenhagen.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Although Lance Armstrong made his return to professional cycle racing at the Tour Down Under in January, the focus on the seven-time Tour de France was always going to intensify in his home country.
Armstrong finished the Tour of California on Sunday in seventh place, with Astana team-mate Levi Leipheimer winning the event for a third consecutive year.
Armstrong was happy to play super-domestique for team leader Leipheimer, and was seen on numerous occasions sat at the head of the bunch pounding away on the pedals for his compatriot.
"I'm tired, but I was very impressed with the event and I think I can speak on behalf of the other riders and directors that everyone enjoys the race," Armstrong said after the final stage on Sunday. "Obviously we'd have preferred the weather to be a little different, but the crowds were simply amazing."
"I spent 15 years sitting on people's wheels and waiting until the final moment to attack and take all the glory, it's kinda cool to be on the front all day and might be good for my life. I was excited."
Fit for the Tour
Having spent the past three and a half years in retirement, Armstrong was generally happy with his condition in the race, and seemed to suggest that he is aiming for an eighth Tour de France win in July.
"To win the Tour you need to be as strong as possible and as light as possible and so I don't necessarily need to get that much stronger but I need to get lighter," Armstrong said.
"Three and a half years of not watching every gram of food you put in your body and the amount of wine you consume takes its toll, so you've got to get back in to it."
"Also, spending time in the gym, the body weight is coming down naturally from the TDU to here the Giro [d'Italia] will be very beneficial for that. Come July hopefully I'll be 74 kilos like before, but all in all, they're little things we have to work on. It's not complicated."
"The goal is to be competitive, if I can be top ten or top five - if I'm going great, top three - absolutely, that would be perfect. Having never done the Giro and the Tour it's a difficult thing to do and something I've never experienced. But we'll go in to the Giro as fit as we can possibly be, but you don't want to kill yourself."
While David Zabriskie was busy claiming second place at last week's Tour of California, thieves were at work stealing over $150,000 USD worth of the American's belongings. The figure doesn't include the value of two vehicles taken from Zabriskie's place during the raid.
The Garmin - Slipstream rider didn't learn of the break-in until he returned to his Salt Lake City home on Tuesday. Salt Lake City Police said the theft occurred some time between February 13 - 23, while Zabriskie was contesting the Tour of California.
"My head is just swimming with the things they've taken," said Zabriskie's mother Sherry Hamik to Desert News. "They even took his clothes. There's not much left."
In addition to electronic equipment and, remarkably, two vehicles, thieves took both sporting and comic memorabilia from Zabriskie's house. "The Marvel sideshow statues are very distinctive," a release from Salt Lake City Police read. "They stand two-three feet tall and are very heavy. The stolen statues were of: Hellboy pistol figurine, Ash Army of Darkness, Tomb Raider Lara Croft, The Punisher, Alien, Ironman Limited Edition, and a Gears of War character."
Items stolen include the following:
Black 2008 Subaru Outback, Utah plate A189NC
Black 2006 Toyota Scion, Utah plate 094VWM
Giro D Italia Race Medal (approx. 6" circumference)
Olympic Seiko watch
Beijing Olympic ring (silver) with initials "DZ" engraved ($4,000)
Olympic Time Trial Bike, plus 12 other bikes (combined value of $100,000)
Cervelo (black/red) bike frame - team issued ($5000)
Tag Heuer watch ($6,000)
Bose Speaker/Receiver System ($15,000)
Sony 52" flat screen TV ($4,000)
Two Mac Books and one Mac desktop, plus hard drive ($8,000)
A pair of Space legs, a recovery compression system for legs ($5,000)
7 Marvel sideshow statues ($11,000)
News of the theft put a put a damper on an otherwise encouraging month for Zabriskie, who was also fined for speeding on the way home from California. He jumped up to second place in the Tour of California with a solid time trial, one spot behind compatriot Levi Leipheimer (Astana).
Detectives have appealed for help from the public, as they expect some of these items to turn up in local pawnshops or online auction sites. Anyone with any information on the burglary or the location of the items is asked to call the Tips for Cash line at 799-INFO (4636) and reference case #09-32767.
Should anyone from outside the United States of America come across some of the smaller items, the Salt Lake City Police Department can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nigel Wynn
It's hard to believe that Mark Cavendish has only just started his third year as a professional cyclist - and it looks like it's going to be another year of racking up the victories for the Manxman, with four wins already to his name.
Cavendish literally burst onto the scene with his explosive sprint finish in 2007, winning a total of 11 professional races, followed in 2008 by 17 - four of which were at the Tour de France. So far in 2009 he has chalked up four wins: two stages in the Tour of Qatar and two in the Tour of California. And it's still only February.
Being a pure sprinter, all of Cavendish's wins have come from bunch finishes - which is where he excels in finding the narrowest of gaps and punching himself across the line. He describes himself as the fastest man over the final 200 metres. It's not an idle boast, but a statement of fact.
What is different this year is that Cavendish has won a stage that featured significant hills. He has traditionally only fared well on flat stages - like those in the Tour of Qatar - and has always struggled on mountain stages. However, California's stage four from Merced to Clovis was littered with lumpy terrain. Cavendish's Columbia team rallied to pull back the day's break and then propel the sprinter to the head of the field, where he paid them back with an emphatic win.
“To be truthful I wasn't planning on getting anywhere near the front today," Cavendish said after stage four.
"I thought it would be about survival, but like I always do, even if a stage finishes on Alp d'Huez, I make sure I know the final few kilometres just in case."
Cavendish has matured as a rider very quickly, and his preparation and team back-up now match his natural talent for a fast finish.
It's no wonder that Cavendish has moved up to second place in our all-time list of British pro winners - only Chris Boardman has won more professional races. Who would bet against Cavendish sitting at the top of the table by the end of the summer.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
By Cathy Mehl
After taking the leader’s jersey a week ago in the pouring rain as the peloton headed into his hometown of Santa Rosa, it was obvious that a long week of defending the race lead was ahead for Levi Leipheimer and his Astana Cycling Team. But if anyone had doubts that Levi would be supported by an incredibly strong and determined team, those thoughts were put to rest today in Escondido as Leipheimer took his hat trick of wins in the Amgen Tour of California, making it three-in-a-row for the California native. A fast breakaway in the last part of the race kept Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) off the front to take the win over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), with George Hincapie (Team Columbia) taking 3rd at forty-seconds later. Leipheimer was joined on the final podium by Dave Zabriskie (Garmin) and Michael Rogers (Team Columbia) at 36 and 45 seconds back respectively.
“In my head I’ve been thinking about how to articulate it,” commented Leipheimer after his win. “To win it once, that was huge. To win it twice was a little bit of a surprise. But now, three times….it’s the sweetest victory of the three. To keep a streak going like that is really difficult. The pressure builds and the expectations are higher because second is losing. I had the best team in the race; there is no question about it.”
Massive crowds lined the barriers in the start area of Rancho Bernardo as the peloton rolled out in North San Diego County for the 8th and final stage of the 4th Amgen Tour of California. Cloudy skies but warm temperatures of 70 ºF/21ºC made for good racing conditions for the peloton to face the toughest final stage in race history. The riders faced four climbs but the grand-daddy of them all was Palomar Mountain, 5,123 ft/1561m, a 11.7 mile climb with 7% average grade and 21 switchbacks. Certainly a tough test for the riders, but located some fifty miles from the finish in Escondido it was regarded as important but not a deal-breaker for the race.
A group of eight riders attacked the climb, including Jason McCartney and Andy Schleck from Saxo Bank, as well as Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell). Local rider Floyd Landis (OUCH) also attacked to bridge to the break as he climbed on his familiar training mountain. Huge crowds gathered on the climb, some reportedly camped out since Saturday to ensure a good viewing spot, and plenty of local cyclists rode the course well before the professionals arrived, showing tremendous local support for the race’s first visit to this area of the state. Leipheimer found himself alone covering the moves over the top, but once on the descent Team Astana re-grouped and Chechu Rubiera, Yaroslav Popovych and Lance Armstrong all lead Levi home safe and sound to secure the win.
“I’ve said all along that the comeback is about a couple of things," said Lance after the race. "If we achieve our goals from the cancer perspective and I ride as a domestique all year long, for me it’s a win-win situation. I think it might be good for me personally, too, to do things like that. I’ve spent 15 years sitting on people’s wheels waiting to attack and take over the race. I was excited to ride for Levi. I speak for the team. In our mind there was no doubt that Levi was going to do what he did.”
Leading in the Team classification throughout the race, the final gap from Team Astana ended up at 1.40 to Saxo Bank, and the boys celebrated on the podium with sprays of champagne on each other and the crowd. Estimated numbers for the week of racing topped the two-million mark, far-surpassing attendance in years past.
General Classification after Stage 8
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 31.28.21
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0.36
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.45
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 1.10
5 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad 1.29
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 1.37
7 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 1.46
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 1.54
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 2.24
10 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana 2.48
Triple major Tour winner Alberto Contador showed that he is in great shape for 2009 with victory in the Tour of the Algarve in Portugal on Sunday.
The Astana rider's win came after Contador took second place in the race's summit finish on stage three and then steamed home in first in the stage four time trial, outgunning France's Sylvain Chavanel by 33 seconds.
“This is the first step towards the Tour,” Contador said after his stage four victory. “It gives me a lot of confidence.” - and given this was his first race of the season, that was understandable.
“It's the first of four stage races I'll be doing before I have a bit of a break.” The other three are Paris-Nice, Castille y Leon and the Tour of the Basque Country.
Contador won Paris-Nice in 2007 and the other two in 2008, and to judge from his Algarve form there's no reason why he shouldn't be up there again in all three this spring.
The Spaniard's victory was seen in the local press as putting pressure on team-mate Lance Armstrong who finished 14th in the California time trial on the same day.
Contador had played down his chances in his first race of 2009, saying beforehand he was not in great shape becaue of offseason nasal surgery. He was also slightly over his top form weight and had had to change his arm positioning to help his breathing.
However despite all those disadvantages, Contador's victory in the Algarve time trial was the first for a former Tour winner in the Portuguese race since a certain Lance Armstrong back in 2004. 24 hours later, Contador had gone one better - and won the race overall.
Best British finisher overall was Garmin's David Millar, who took tenth on gc despite puncturing in the time trial.
“I am pleased with how it's going in general,” David Millar told Cycling Weekly on his way to the airport on Sunday evening.
“I wouldn't have won the time trial even without the puncture, but I've proved I'm in good shape.”
“The aim was to get a good block of racing in here and in the Tour of the Med. as part of my build-up to Paris-Nice, and that's what I've done.”
As for Contador, Millar said, “I think it's been a long time in this race since a former Tour winner came here and his team were on the front, taking control from day one. And what Alberto did was really impressive.”
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After dispatching with Tom Boonen fairly comfortably in the sprint, Cavendish sat up, lowered his hands, and seemed to cradle his - how shall I put this - 'special area'.
Just what was he trying to say? Mark failed to elaborate on this during the press conference, but thankfully some one else did. Step forward Dave Zabriskie. The self-styled wacky man of pro cycling, and owner, founder, chairman and product developer of DZ Nuts chamois cream reckons it was all down to him.
“I offered Cavendish a hefty bonus yesterday if he dedicated the win. I don't know if you noticed his victory salute," Zabriskie said after being asked how DZ nuts were holding up. "So I had to give him a large wad of cash and a couple of packs.”
Ivan Basso heads home from California tomorrow having decided not to start Friday's time trial after he injured himself during his warm up.
The Italian banged his knee on his tri-bars when his foot came out of the pedal. Basso was doing a lap of the course in Solvang when his chain jumped off of the drivetrain. When this happened his cleat came out of the pedal and his knee shot forward in to the back of his handlebars.
Although the injury is nothing serious he and his team manager decided not to risk anything and instead fly home to Italy to get it checked out. "It's just some pain," said Basso. "I was happy with the feelings [when riding] and was happy to be here for the six stages. It's been good preparation."
Basso had been lying in 13th place before the time trial, 42 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer. Although it is unlikely he would have challenged Leipheimer for the lead, he had been consistent as he continues his comeback from his doping suspension.
Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France and last year's Giro
d'Italia and Vuelta a España, took an early-season victory Saturday in
Portugal's Volta ao Algarve. The Spaniard of Astana won the 33.7-kilometre
stage four time trial in Tavira and moved into the overall race leadership.
Contador made his bid for the overall win by finishing second in yesterday's
uphill finish to Malhão. He started today's test four seconds down on
overnight race leader Antonio Colom (Katusha).
He finished the time trial in 44:05; he was 33 seconds ahead of France's
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and 36 seconds on teammate Andreas Klöden.
Briton David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) finished in ninth.
The final stage is not likely to change the overall standings. The riders
will faces 168.8 kilometres from Vila Bispo to Portimão tomorrow – the only
categorised climb comes midway into the stage.
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
4 Tiago Machado (Por) Madeinox-Boavista
5 Rubén Plaza (Spa) Liberty Seguros
6 Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad
7 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Columbia-Highroad
8 Ignas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervélo TestTeam
9 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream
10 Antonio Colom (Spa) Katusha
General classification after stage 4
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step
3 Rubén Plaza (Spa) Liberty Seguros
Friday, February 20, 2009
Astana's Levi Leipheimer has delivered on expectations in Solvang, outclassing a quality field in the 24km time trial to cement his place on the podium in Escondido on Sunday. The defending champion took the Tour of California's major race against the clock for the third consecutive year besting his previous course record by seven seconds.
Leipheimer's winning time of 30:39 was fast enough to secure victory over US National Time Trial Champion, David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) by eight seconds. Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank) proved his pedigree by finishing 17 seconds behind Leipheimer with a time of 30:57 for third place.
"It gets more special every time," said Leipheimer about his triple time trial treat. "This is more special, because to win by only eight seconds... that's nothing. I consider Dave [Zabriskie] one of the best time trialists in the world and in the history of American cycling. "Not to blow hot air against him, but I really respect him because he has been a three-time national champion and one of the best. For him to show up here and be in great shape and be so tight to me makes this a special victory. Also Michael [Rogers] is a three-time world champion. It has been a big honour for me to win this with riders like that here. It really was a great race."
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 30.41 (47.15km/h)
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0.08
3 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0.17
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.22
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 0.30
6 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.36
7 Tom Zirbel (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 0.39
8 Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Saxo Bank 0.41
9 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank 0.43
10 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.51
11 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 0.55
12 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 1.09
13 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 1.15
14 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 1.16
By Philippe Maertens
Alberto Contador was disappointed about the result but not about his performance after the finish. Alberto was only beaten by one rider, former teammate Toni Colom. The two were clearly the strongest two riders on the mountain top finish.
"I am satisfied with my performance because it was my first test of the season and it was good enough, but I feel a bit in debt with the team, because they have worked very much during the whole day," said Contador after the stage. "Besides, we have gone all together up to the last 800 meters," added Contador. "I had preferred to attack earlier on the climb but it was not possible. Kloden was in the front."
It looks like it is an obligation in the Tour of Algarve. For the third day in a row, a breakaway of six riders colored the stage. Team Astana, with ambitions for the stage win had to control the race and managed to catch the six riders. Andreas Klöden attacked in the beginning of the final climb, the Alto do Manhão, 3K with gradient of the climb 10% . Sylvain Chavanel (Quick-Step) followed our German rider. The two never got a big advantage of the group that fell in many pieces. At 800 metres of the finish, the two were caught and Alberto attacked. Colom took the wheel of the leader. With 300 meters to go, Contador threw his last attack, but again Colom showed to be strong. In the sprint the ex-Astana rider was the strongest of the two. Colom, already winner of the Tour of Mallorca this year, is always strong in the first month of the season. Last year he performed well as well as a teammate of Alberto Contador on the roads of the Tour of Italy.
Tomorrow, a time trial over 33 K will decide over the final victory in this Tour of Algarve which finishes on Sunday).
"For a beginning of a season It is a long time trial", commented Team Director Dirk Demol. "However it is that way for everybody. We have no choice. We have to go for it. Full speed. In normal circomstances, Alberto has to be stronger than Colom in the time trial, but there are still some good time trialists left in the top of the GC, like Ruben Plaza. Fortunately, some others, like last year's winner Stijn Devolder, lost today already some time.
Top Ten Results
1. Toni Colom (Katyusha) 4.35.42
2. Alberto Contador (Astana)
3. Rubén Plaza (Liberty Seguros) 0.06
4. Bruno Pires (Barbot-Siper) 0.10
5. Tiago Machado (Madeinox-Boavista) 0.12
6. Simon Gerrans (Cervélo) 0.17
7. David Blanco (Palmeiras Resort - Prio -Tavira)
8. Nelson Vitorino (Palmeiras Resort - Prio - Tavira)
9. Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
10. Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) 0.22
When Lance Armstrong announced that he was coming back to cycling, he said he is doing it for two reasons.
Yes, he wants to ride hard and win bike races, but he also wants to continue his fight against cancer and raise awareness of the dreaded disease through his work with the Livestrong Foundation.
Thursday night in Paso Robles, after the finish Stage 5 of the Tour of California, while the rest of the racers were back in their hotels getting massages or eating dinner, Lance took time to visit with cancer patients at the Central Coast Wellness Community facility in Paso Robles.
Armstrong's meeting with the cancer survivors was held in private, but CycleTo was invited in to watch Lance interact with friends, family and staff at the Wellness Community. To them, he is both a bike racer and a beacon of hope...a living example of how cancer can be beaten. Take a few moments to watch Lance in action in the following video.
Click on the title link to watch the video.
World Bicycle Relief co-founder Leah Missbach Day (L) signs the Memorandum of Understanding with Permanent Secretary of the Zambian Ministry of Education, Lillian E.L. Kapulu. (World Bicycle Relief)
International relief organization World Bicycle Relief (WBR) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambian Ministry of Education, engaging the two parties to work together to deliver some 50,000 bicycles to schoolchildren, teachers, and community supporters in Zambia’s 16 neediest districts.
The MoU, signed in Lusaka February 5th, sets forth a programme that will distribute approximately 100 bicycles each to some 500 schools in Zambia’s nine provinces.
Working in partnership with local communities and other relief organizations, World Bicycle Relief will begin distributing the bicycles in June to students, teachers, and community supporters. To further enhance sustainability, World Bicycle Relief will also identify local field mechanics where the bicycles will be distributed to train and supply them with the proper tools and spare parts access to properly maintain and repair the bicycles.
"Currently, only 20 percent of primary schoolchildren in Zambia complete their grade 12 education," said WBR co-founder Leah Missbach Day. "While this problem has multiple causes, one thing that can have an immediate impact is safe, reliable transportation to and from school. Some children travel up to 15 miles – or five hours on foot – to and from school each day. Children who walk these distances – especially girls – are at increased risk of harassment and fatigue, and are not adequately prepared to learn."
Recognizing the particular vulnerability of female children, and the importance to overall development goals of educating girls, the program favors girls: 70 percent of student recipients will be girls; 30 percent will be boys. The World Bank has recognized 'there is no investment more effective for achieving development goals than educating girls.' And UNICEF speaks of the beneficial 'multiplier effect' on society that comes from making sure girls are educated.
According to Day, the World Bicycle Relief Bicycle Educational Empowerment Program seeks to:
Improve access to education for pupils that have not reported to school due to the distance to the nearest school
Improve school attendance and performance of vulnerable children – especially girls - by reducing the time they spend traveling to and from school
Improve the safety and security of vulnerable children when traveling to and from school
Increase participation in continuing professional development of teachers.
"This initiative builds on World Bicycle Relief's successful model of providing bikes to needy local populations that it pioneered following the 2004 tsunami, and then refined for its Project Zambia healthcare initiative," Day added. "To date, the organization has provided more than 50,000 bicycles through its projects."
For more information, visit www.worldbicyclerelief.org.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Mark Cavendish delivered a second stage win to his Columbia-Highroad squad in the fifth stage of Tour of California, once again getting the better of Quick Step's Tom Boonen in the bunch sprint. Rabobank's Pedro Horillo filled in for his fallen leader Oscar Freire, who crashed out in Wednesday's stage, with a fine third place finish.
"This was the stage I was targeting since we got here, it worked out perfectly," said Cavendish. "The guys worked so well for us. It was touch and go whether we were going to get the break back. Once again it was George [Hincapie] and Mark Renshaw – once I get dropped off in that position there's no way I can do anything but win."
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Tour of California finished in its second bunch sprint in a row, and Mark Cavendish gave the victory to Columbia-Highroad with a long dash to the line after the 187.7km journey to Clovis. Cavendish was nearly pipped on the line by a fast charging Tom Boonen (Quick Step), but held on to get the win. Juan José Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) was third.
The mountainous stage passed over the Sierra Nevada range with five KOM bonuses. Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Jason McCartney (Team Saxo Bank), Tyler Hamilton and Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) escaped after the first mountain, and with Franciso Mancebo (Rock Racing) a threat to overall leader Levi Leipheimer (Astana), he was ordered back to the peloton to allow the break to survive for the day.
The trio lasted until three kilometres to go when the Cervélo train came chugging by towing Thor Hushovd in search of a second stage win. But a last kilometre attack from a Rabobank rider, Pedro Horrillo, disrupted the lead-out, allowing Columbia to put Cavendish in position to launch his sprint.
The day was once again marred by crashes, the worst of which took out Rabobank's star sprinter, Oscar Freire. Team Columbia-Highroad lost Kim Kirchen in the crash as well. BMC's Scott Nydam abandoned the race after crashing in a separate incident later in the race.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad 4.42.38 (39.289 km/h)
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
3 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
6 Markus Zberg (Swi) BMC Racing Team
7 Freddy Rodriguez (USA) Rock Racing
8 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light
9 Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Fly V Australia
10 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
I am here in the 'Golden State' of California but the weather has been glumly since day one. It is just the same as the weather I left at home in Varese, Italy but rainy as well.
The good side of it all is that I am going well and I think that my condition is already at a good level. I am right there with the others on the climbs. Overall the most important thing is that I am very happy with how I am doing.
We are working on getting near the goal: the Giro d'Italia. Every race it is a step up, with Argentina and now California. You know that there are many riders who are on form for the spring, but I can say that I feel good amongst them and can hang with them in the climbs.
The race is really at the same level as a race in Europe, because you can find a lot of the strong European riders here in California.
The big difference has come in the form of jet lag. The nine-hour difference in time from here to Italy was hard. It is a lot for a European to come here and to adjust. Remember I was already in Argentina - a long trip - but only four hours of time difference and it was 40 degrees Celsius there.
I returned home after what was a good first race for 2009. I raced the GP Etruschi and now I am back over this way. This time there was only three days before the race's start to adjust, and I can say that it took me all of those days to get used to the time difference.
"We are here to race and not on vacation."
- Basso on San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge
Fans pack the stage starts and finishes. I think that if someone comes to a race, he can see that there is a lot of affection towards me. Those that continue to attack me for the past have nothing better to do. Remember we are only 80 days away from the start of the Giro d'Italia on the lido of Venice and so it is not the time to joke around.
Of course you would have noted the monster escape by Francisco Mancebo on Sunday, the first road stage. It looked like a miserable day with the rain, but don't forget these are my first races in two years, so all the race experiences are new.
It was the first time under heavy rain in some time, the fact that I can be out there and be at the front makes me happy. I am getting used to all the sensations of a cyclist: the rhythm, racing in the rain, all the things that you can't find in training.
It was really very beautiful to pass over the Golden Gate bridge on Monday in stage two. Seriously though, we had some 200 kilometres ahead of us and it was raining very hard so it was not as though you have time to look at the Golden Gate Bridge. We are here to race and not on vacation. However I know that it is very special, even if there was not a time to take it in.
I know at the end of the day I was up there next to Lance Armstrong on the Boony Doon climb, but I race my own race. It is not as though I need to show myself in every race, that I need to ride better than this rider or that rider. Every one of us has their own objectives and level of progression.
Sure, I do look over at him and see how he is going. I can tell you in the Liquigas team there is not pressure to be any better than someone else at this point.
So today's stage three is another rainy affair. The team is looking at the next stages day by day and we will search for a result, if possible. Like I noted, there are a lot of strong riders and the quality is high.
Vincenzo Nibali has a chance for the classification and we will protect him. He is building to be on form for the Tour de France. If all goes well here in California, he can arrive on the podium.
Thanks for reading and following me in California. I will go to the wind tunnel at the end of the race, before heading back home to my family. I will be sure to update everyone with the second half of the Tour of California and the wind tunnel test.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Volta ao Algarve - Interview
Contador: “I’m hoping for a leap forward in quality in 2009"
Alberto Contador’s 2009 race debut will be this Wednesday, February 18, at the Volta ao Algarve (February 18-22), his first race of the season. Although he’s not yet ready to ride to win, the champion from Astana is eager to get to know the cycling scene in Portugal.
He’s also looking forward to confirming in competion the good sensations he’s experienced in training.
How was training camp in California? Did you reach your goals?
I’ve come back from camp feeling great. I think that we did good work, and I felt better on the bike than I expected. Yes, I think I’ve more than reached my goals, because considering the time of year and my training up till now, I’ve gotten a very good state of form. I’m happy with how things have gone.
Have you worked with the time trial bike?
Yes, one of the goals in California was to see what was needed, and to try to find the ideal position to improve the aerodynamics, according to the parameters determined by the wind tunnel. We wanted to leave with the exact measurements needed to enable us to use what we learned as soon as possible.
What have changes have you made from 2008?
Mainly, we’ve changed the angle of the arms, which will allow me to breathe normally. But once we have the new data, we’ll need to fiddle with it a little on the road in order to adjust everything. At the Algarve, I still won’t have the new input, but I hope everything will be ready for Paris-Nice, which is a very important race, both for me and for the team.
Have you started quality work yet?
Yes, although it’ll be a little too soon at the beginning. I do prefer to be fighting for victories in this first part of the season, because I like to be competitive in most races. I hope to have some possiblities in the first block of races in my program this year.
What are your goals for the Algarve?
It’s still too soon. The Volta ao Algarve will only be the first contact with competition, to get into race rhythm and to enjoy the people in Portugal—they’re great fans.
How are you, what’s your current weight?
I’m still 2.5 kg above my weight during the Vuelta a España. I have enough time to lose it if I need to, but it may not be necessary. I think I’m at a good weight for this time of year.
Will Sergio Paulinho be the team teader?
I don’t know. We still have to decide just what the team will target when we get to Portugal and talk to the director. What’s clear is that since he’s on his home turf, Sergio will have more opportunities than in other races. We’re also taking a very good team, with Paulinho, Klöden, Muravyev, Noval...
How do Leipheimer and Armstrong look to you for the Tour of California? Are they favorites?
At camp I think they were doing really well. They’re at a very high level, especially Levi, who was already thinking about that race. The biggest change that I noticed was that at training camp in Tenerife, where I arrived without having done much training, I thought—without meaning any disrespect—that I was doing better.
I think Leipheimer can win in California, although now the race has gotten a bit complicated. As for Lance, he looks mentally very strong and very motivated, but he’s maybe still a bit short of competitive form.
What do you think about the 33 km time trial at the Algarve?
I would have preferred a shorter one, because it’s too long an effort right now. We’ll soon see how it is when I get there, because whether or not I try a first test of my legs depends on how things go.
How do you feel this year? Do you think you’re going to improve your performance at the age of 26?
I sincerely do think so. I’ll think I’ll improve a lot this year. I’m using the data and comparisons we’ve made in training in past years. I’m a little surprised at how my body is responding, so I hope to make a leap forward in quality.
Who will your biggest rivals be in 2009?
Well, they’ll be the guys that everybody imagines: the Schleck brothers, Menchov, Evans, my teammates Levi and Lance, Gesink and other young guys like Nibali, Kreuziger…I can’t name them all. The unknown factor is whether the young guys will make the leap forward in quality this year. Obviously, there’s a lot you can’t know at this point.
How do you rate Astana in 2009? Is it stronger than it was last year?
To me, it’s a very good team, and it will be a lot like it was in 2008, with some super-motivated team players. I think our form will be especially impressive in the grand tours.
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam 4.28.12 (37.3601 km/h)
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
5 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad
6 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam
7 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light
8 Freddy Rodriguez (USA) Rock Racing
9 Markus Zberg (Swi) BMC Racing Team
10 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank
General Classification after Stage 3
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 13.51.14
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.24
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0.28
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0.30
5 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana 0.34
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana 0.38
7 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad
8 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0.39
11 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing
12 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 0.40
13 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 0.42
14 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
15 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step 0.51
16 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Rock Racing 0.56
17 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 2.10
18 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Quick Step 2.12
19 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step 4.32
20 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
Monday, February 16, 2009
By Mark Zalewski
On what was the closest thing to a mountain top finish in the history of the race, Levi Leipheimer (Astana) put his foot down and stamped his authority on the Tour of California. A well-timed attack just over 20km from the finish has handed the advantage to Leipheimer. Despite Tom Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream) besting Leipheimer for his first professional win, the defending race champion took the overall lead from Rock Racing's Francisco Mancebo, who trailed in more than a minute behind the pair.
"I think the most important thing is that you have seen all the fans come out despite the weather," said Leipheimer. "They are suffering through the weather just like we are. As we ride we think that they deserve a show and deserves our best effort. I was touched yesterday in Santa Rosa by all the people standing there in soaking, freezing rain."
"So today I took off all my [rain] clothes despite the fact it was pouring freezing rain. When we hit the bottom of the climb there were a couple of attacks. But I felt great, looked around and saw people at their limit. I had Popovych next to me, and I felt really inspired, so I said, 'Light it up Popo, let's go!"
Leipheimer's massive attack slowly picked off the remnants of the day's early breakaway, which included Peterson and Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank). The trio came together just before the top of the climb, but only the younger American was able to hold the wheel of Leipheimer as they made their way down the fast descent into Santa Cruz.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Spaniard Francesco Mancebo stunned the entire Tour of California by attacking from the gun on the first full stage and staying clear of the chasing favorites group to win the stage and take home the yellow jersey.
1 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Rock Racing
2 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Quick Step
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
General classification after stage 1
1 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Rock Racing
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
3 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Quick Step
Saturday, February 14, 2009
1. Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Saxo Bank 4-32 minutes
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 2 secs
3. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 3 secs
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) Columbia-Highroad at same time
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team at 4 secs
6. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia-Highroad
7. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
8. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Columbia-Highroad all at same time
9. Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin-Slipstream at 5 secs
10. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at same time
Friday, February 13, 2009
By Kirsten Robbins
Ivan Basso, 2006 Giro d'Italia winner, returns to racing in the USA for the first time since 2007. The Italian will face key rival Lance Armstrong in the Tour of California stage race that starts tomorrow in Sacramento.
"I've seen the courses in the last months," Basso said. "It looks like a great race this year. I'm very happy to be here but my condition is not optimal right now. It will be good work for me to prepare for later on in the season."
Basso last competed in the event back in 2007 with the Discovery Channel team. He rejoined the peloton after completing a two-year suspension for his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping investigation.
The stateside event marks phase two of his preparations to win back the pink leader's jersey of the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31.
Lance Armstrong returns to the sport after retiring in 2005. He also has his attention placed on the Giro d'Italia. The seven-time Tour de France winner noted that he has been keeping a close eye on Basso's stair-stepped improvements.
"Most people know that there was a situation that unfolded between Ivan and I," said Armstrong, who supported Basso's mother during her cancer treatments in 2006.
"I've watched him do his first race back in Japan and his results in Argentina. I was closely monitoring his time trial results and how he was doing on the uphills. I think he is the favourite to win the Giro d'Italia this year."
Both riders have one early season race under their belts: Basso at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and Armstrong in Australia's Tour Down Under.
Basso began the 2009 season with a three-tiered training program intended to have him in peak condition for the Giro d'Italia. He completed phase one at the Tour de San Luis in mid-January. California marks phase two, and the third and final phase will be at the Tirreno-Adriatico, March 11 to 17.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
By Bob Cullinan
At a Sacramento press conference intended to focus on all the good things about the Tour of California, the comeback of Lance Armstrong, and the strongest field of riders to ever race in America, the comments of one European journalist set Lance off...big time.
Paul Kimmage, a writer for the Sunday Times of London, has long been an adversary of Armstrong. When Kimmage asked Lance, in front of the assembled media, about why he "admired dopers" like David Millar, Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso...Lance launched.
Click on the title link to see the video that shows what happens when you make Lance mad.
Lance Armstrong (USA)
"I think we've made it very clear from the beginning that there are two parts to my comeback. One is the race – the reason we'll be on the start line on Saturday – but more important really is the thought and the idea and the initiative to take Livestrong around the world."
On the start of the 2009 season:
"We were blessed to have amazing launch in Australia, and I don't just mean the team, but the foundation as well, and I hope we can carry that momentum through California and Europe for the rest of the year."
On his return from retirement:
"I've been trying to stay reasonably fit; it's comforting to know that I'm not the oldest guy in the race. I've been at this a long time and it has been an interesting 17 years. I think as far as the science of older athletes goes, performance doesn't drop off, the mind drops off. I've had a couple of breaks and my mind is fresh. Let's do it one more time. I feel strong. At 37, I feel just as strong as I did at 27."
On drug testing:
"I think that we, in cycling, can sleep well knowing we've been more vigilant than anyone else with our testing. Our testing is unannounced and unexpected. It would be great to push for a global standard where everyone plays by the same rules. There has been dark spot on cycling, but I think cycling is on its way out of that dark spot."
On racing in California:
"California is prime cycling territory, and back in the 80s and 90s, I raced all over. It also is a mythical place for a lot of people; everyone knows about California – people sing about California, there are movies about California, they dream about Highway 1. California holds a lot of mystique, so for AEG to put together an event that starts in Northern California and ends in Southern California is great and provides a good prep for the season. I'm looking forward to being on a bike for these nine days. In just a few short years, the Amgen Tour of California has become a marquee event."
On the team's strategy:
"Our biggest concern this year is to try and avoid the cold, wet days that these guys had to race in last year. Bad weather makes it harder and a bit more dangerous, but we're still excited."
"I'm looking forward to the Amgen Tour of California. I'm confident in my talent and my ability."
Levi Leipheimer (USA), Two-Time Defending Champion
"The Amgen Tour of California is very near and dear to my heart. When we first announced that there was going to be an Amgen Tour of California, I recognized right away that it was going to become one of the best races in the world in a very short amount of time, and that it would require the best effort that I could put forward. The philosophy from the first Amgen Tour of California was to train extremely hard and just be as good as possible."
"We have a fantastic team. It's an unbelievable team and we're really motivated for race. This is a huge race and it deserves our best effort."
"The Amgen Tour of California is a huge race and the support behind it requires our best effort. The power of peloton is phenomenal; you'd be hard pressed to find a better field before July than right here. It's going to be on this week. Our team is really strong; I'm not the only one that can win this race."
"I trained all through the winter for this race. I've been thinking a lot about the time trial in Solvang, and I'll start on Saturday knowing that I've done everything possible to train for this race."
"The field is stronger than ever; everyone is taking it that much more seriously, so the race is getting harder and harder to win, but we came to this race prepared."
"Cycling is a team sport. Last year, the entire peloton threw their best at us; blood sweat and tears went into that race."
George Hincapie (USA)
Team Columbia-High Road
"It means a lot to me to be a part of the Breakaway from Cancer initiative."
"Lance one of my best friends; he is an incredible rider. I am really looking forward to this race. We have brought an amazing team to the Amgen Tour of California. It's essentially our Tour de France team; this is an important race for us. We would love to win some stages here. I'm feeling good; better than I have in a long time. I expect big things from myself this race. Our team has a lot of options for this race, so it should be exciting."
Tyler Hamilton (USA)
"I am really excited to be here. We just finished training camp yesterday outside of Los Angeles. We had a great training camp and the new riders are fitting incredibly well; we're already like a family. I can't tell you how excited we are to be here at the Amgen Tour of California, one of the biggest races in the world."
"This is the fourth or fifth largest race in world and that's pretty incredible. Hopefully one day it will become a Grand Tour. We have four riders who have been on a podium in a Grand Tour – I'm excited to see it! We've got a lot of up-and-coming talent. I think there are at least three different riders that have the opportunity for a podium spot here at the Amgen Tour of California."
"I've seen this race grow and I'm excited to be a part of it. There is an amazing amount of talent in the peloton and I'm happy to be here and happy to race. Our team is looking forward to making a statement."
"I think it's great that Lance is back, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that it has already brought so much excitement to the sport. He has shown that he is fit and ready to go, so we're expecting great things. He is an amazing talent and we are fortunate to have him back."
"I'm just going to take it day by day and hope I can do something on a stage and then support my teammates. I'm going to be a domestique in this race and I'll be happy to do it."
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
"We're doing our own thing and doing the best we can."
"The Amgen Tour of California is a huge objective for every American cyclist. I've done my best to prepare; that's all I can say."
"I don't like the rain at all, but we raced here last year and it was raining. Hopefully we won't back down too much due to weather this year."
Ivan Basso (ITA)
"I am very happy to be here at the Amgen Tour of California. I am maybe not in my top form, but definitely have a conviction to do as well as possible. We've got a very young team, so we're going to try and race together as united group and do as good as possible."
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
"There is maybe a little bit more pressure this year. We've got a strong team here, and we've got some good chances. I'd like to cross the line in front many times here in California."
Carlos Sastre Candil (ESP)
"It's like the Tour de France. You can see the proof that this race is growing, even since last year. This is my first time in this race, but it seems like a great race and draws a lot of media attention."
Juan Jose "JJ" Haedo
"I think there are a bit too many good sprinters in this race (laughing). Our team is doing really well; we've been working really good together. Everyone knows this is one of the most important races; harder than some races in Europe . When I won my first stage at the Amgen Tour of California, it was my ticket to Europe, because of the attention I received, so it's always special to race here. I always feel welcome in America."
Oscar Freire Gomez (ESP)
"This is my second time racing in the Amgen Tour of California. Last year was a different race; the level of competition gets better every year. In my opinion, I would like to win here because the riders are really good and the level of competition is the highest. If I win here, it means I can win other races. Cycling is still a relatively new sport in America, but I think people enjoy this race a lot."
Scott Nydam (USA)
BMC Racing Team
"A rider like me is indebted to this race because, as someone who is trying to move up through ranks, we need opportunities like this to get alongside the best riders in the world. It's a good opportunity for us to showcase that we do have talent in the U.S. and that we need to find creative ways, like to the Amgen Tour of California, to extract it; to develop programs that provide a gap between junior and professional riders. For me, the Amgen Tour of California is the biggest race of my season; it's in my home state."
"I do train with Levi (Leipheimer) in Santa Rosa, and I think we've developed a mutually beneficial training partnership that challenges us both. I'm trying to build my career, so I can hang in some of the biggest races this year. It's an honor to wear a jersey in the Amgen Tour of California."
"Our team goal is to get a 2011 bid to the Tour de France. I'm here to race a bike and do what we can do. The ultimate goal is do what you can while you can, but the tone has shifted and we're looking now to be more present during the second half of the race."
Phil Liggett, VERSUS Announcer
"The peloton is terrific. The organizers have put in a lot of hard work, in a very short amount o f time, to put together a race that encompasses almost the entire state of California. It slots into the world cycling calendar nicely, and the fact is, now, you can happily call it the fourth or fifth biggest race in the world. The organization of this race just ticks. It is the best field that has ever raced in the U.S. It is a tremendous race and I congratulate everyone involved."
"The race is going to be broadcast live every day; the first time that Versus has attempted something like this, apart from the Tour de France. We're going to have a terrific week of coverage."
"The Amgen Tour of California has a big part to play in the world of cycling now. The teams have honored that by sending very good riders here. This is the next big race. The elements in this course will create a very big race."