Monday, August 31, 2009

George Hincapie goes to BMC for 2010

By: ROAD Magazine

ROAD Magazine had an exclusive interview with the recently crowned national road race champion George Hincapie and he explains why he switched to the BMC team. Look for the full interview in the upcoming issue of ROAD.

ROAD: Columbia-HTC is an American team that seems to be winning races every weekend. It seems to be a good fit for you. Why leave and go to BMC?
George Hincapie: Columbia has been an amazing team for me. Some of the best two years of my career with some of the most memorable moments, obviously I had a lot of memorable moments with Lance and the Tour, but with Columbia from the beginning of the year to the end we were winning races. For me it is hard to leave the team. But at the same time it is a huge opportunity with BMC. For starters, Jim Ochowicz is like a father figure in my cycling career. He gave me my first pro contract when I went to Motorola, and has been there for me ever since, even when I wasn't riding for him. So the fact that I can work with him again is already a huge plus for me. Secondly, I kind of like being in a role of helping younger riders and help a team that is not one of the best in the world, but become one of the best in the world. I've been on the best teams in the world my whole career basically. Postal and Discovery, we were winning the Tour de France and killing everybody. Now on Columbia we are killing everybody. I would like to switch roles. I only have a couple of years left so I want to switch the role and see if I can get a smaller team to that same level. It's a new challenge for me. Thirdly, we have an opportunity to promote our brand (Hincapie Sportswear). They are going to use our clothing which is a big thing for our company. It was also a family decision and and wasn't just about me. I included my whole family in this decision. It's going to be fun and I'm excited about it.

Alberto Contador To Stay With Astana

The Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador is resigned to staying connected to his current team, Astana, with whom he has an “existing contract,” one which prevents him, for the time being, from moving to another team, although he has “quite a few” offers. He also states that a team with Fernando Alonso will not emerge at this time, because it is something that must be done “a long time in advance.”

“If I hadn’t had an existing contract, I would not have stayed with Astana. Quite a few teams are interested in me, but I’ve got one more year of contract and we’ll see how it works out,” said Contador on Telemadrid’s “The Early Circle.”

In this sense, the Pinteño referred to rumors about a team created by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso. “We’ve talked a lot with Fernando Alonso about this possibility, but it’s something that must be done a long time in advance. Next year, God will say,” he said with caution.

Contador recounted, concerning his rivalry with Armstrong over victory in the Tour, that he focused on “not entering into comment and not losing my cool and concentration,” and that there were people who were on his side who behaved “very well.”

“Other people, not so well,” he emphasized.

Understanding Armstrong
At any rate, the winner of the three grand tours understands the behavior of the Texan “completely.”

“I knew that he wasn’t just going for a walk, and I saw that in December when were we at training camp, but I was clear about things and I knew that my goal was the same as his, independently of what went out in the press,” he said.

The Spanish cyclist declared that no one “explicitly” communicated that he was the leader of Astana, which he could see in his team’s “conduct and in the manner of working.”

“Armstrong didn’t talk to me. That was a big problem, because when there’s tension between the team’s two main riders, then everybody else is also in an uncomfortable position. I tried not to make tension, but it was difficult,” he said.

In spite of everything, Contador underscored that being on the podium “next to Armstrong, but on top, was a prize.”

“It was a historic photo and I was happy that it happened.”

Time to rest
Looking at the near future, Contador has chosen “to rest” after a “very challenging” Tour, and not to defend his crown in the Vuelta a España, which began on Saturday. “Riding two grand tours makes for a lot of whiplash,” he stressed, assuring that he thinks that the passage of the Spanish tour through Holland and Belgium will go well, because “the public will turn out in droves and they know how to appreciate it.”

Contador doesn’t picture himself at the World Championships, either. “Probably not, it requires a lot of training for only two days,” he said.

Finally, in reference to doping rumors, the Madrileño stressed that he had “heard worse.”

“In this Tour, I went through 17 antidoping controls—we had a lot of controls. Every day you have to report your whereabouts to the hour, because they can show up at any moment to do a control. I’m not against any of it, because it’s all for winning credibility for the sport,” he said.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

George Hincapie wins U.S. pro road race

George Hincapie (Columbia-HTC) won the USA Cycling pro road championship on Sunday in Greenville, South Carolina.

Hincapie out-kicked Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies) for the stars and stripes. The pair caught late escapee Jeff Louder (BMC), who held on for third, in the final kilometer.

The trio had been part of an eight-man break that formed late in the 100-mile race, which included four trips up Paris Mountain.

It's the third national championship for Hincapie, who won the title in 2006 and 1998, when the event was called the First Union USPRO Championship and run in Philadelphia.

This year's event was the 25th anniversary of the one-day national championship. Other winners include Olympic speed skating champion Eric Heiden (1985), Lance Armstrong (1993) and Fred Rodriguez (2000, 2001, 2004).

How 'Bout Maximilian Longree

By: Kevin Mackinnon

Anyone who wants to stereotype German triathletes as a bunch of serious, training-is-everything, kill-the-bike-hang-on-for-the-run, live-sleep-eat-drink Ironman exercise addicts needs to meet Maximilian Longree. Someone forgot to explain to the 28-year-old defending Ford Ironman Louisville champion that Ironman racing is supposed to be serious.

Longree first appeared on the Ironman picture in 2005 when he started to tear up the amateur ranks. He went 8:41 to finish as the top amateur in Kona in 2006, then turned pro in 2007. He finished third in his debut pro race at Ironman Austria. He was interviewed at the finish line by Peter Henning, Ironman's Vice President in charge of television, who was so impressed by Longree that Henning walked away from the interview and promptly told me that Longree was “the real deal.”

Henning made that comment in part because Longree is an incredible athlete, but also because the guy is an incredible character. There isn't a joke this guy won't go along with. Last year during his television interview with Henning, Longree said that he was looking forward to a cheeseburger right after he crossed the finish line. Right after he won the race Henning appeared with a monstrous burger.

“The worst part was I could only eat half of it,” Longree joked at today's presser. “The media wanted to talk to me so I had to leave the rest. I hope I win this year – I'll make sure to eat the whole thing.”

Longree didn't hesitate to joke with his fellow competitors today, either. He gave fellow race favorites Luke McKenzie and Raynard Tissink a picture that they can stick on their stems. “It's a nice picture of me from the finish line in Couer d'Alene – it's a sticker that they can put on their stem in the race,” Longree laughed after the race. “I want them to remember that I will be behind them and coming fast.”

Longree is quite happy to have fun with his competitors and they're quite happy to laugh along with him. Right after the press conference he planned on grabbing a coffee with McKenzie. “Some of the German guys tend to be more serious,” Longree said. “Before the race we can have some fun. I can look in everyone's eyes before the race. Sure we have to battle on race day, but after the finish line we have to be friends.”

As fun as it all is, Longree knows that he's a swim away from competing for a top position in Kona and is ready to do the work to get there.

“It's something I have to work on,” he said. “I can go with the guys on the bike. If you want to do well in Kona you have to be with the lead group. I'm 28 years old. The next step is to get my swimming better and to hold my running or make it a bit faster. I have to work hard for that like every other athlete.”

Henning was right – Longree is the real deal. Not only can the guy race, he's making all the pre-race stuff lots of fun, too. Lest you think that he can't ever be serious, though, here's what he had to say when asked what it's like to hear that someone like Peter Henning figures he's “the real deal”

“To hear something like that from Peter Henning is amazing,” Longree said. “He's a really good guy. If someone like him who knows the sport is saying that, it really really motivates me and I think about those words every day.”

Longree has a great ability to balance the serious side of the sport with a fun-loving attitude that is adding some great life to our sport – whether he gets to eat that cheeseburger as Sunday's race winner or not.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chris Horner's Tour of Spain diary: Best laid plans sometimes don't help when the racing starts

by Chris Horner

ASSEN, Netherlands - Not so long ago it seemed like I had months to prepare for the Tour of Spain. Yet somehow the time flew by and Saturday's start arrived sooner than I expected.

Still, the three days leading up to the opening prologue went almost perfectly. It helped that I had only a few things to focus on before starting the last of this year's cycling grand tours with my Astana teammates.

No. 1: Staying thin. It sounds easy enough but it definitely is not. Two or three extra pounds can change a rider's fitness and ability, and gaining any more than that can ruin a shot to do well in the overall classification. So we all spend a fair amount of time obsessing over food. It is a tricky balance - eat too little and bonk; eat too much and pay a heavy price in the mountains. Each morning I hopped on the scale and was happy with what I saw. When I stepped on Saturday it registered around 139 pounds, which, knowing that the team scale is off a little, means I'm around 142 or 143 pounds going into the start of the race. For me, that is a perfect weight to start a three-week race such as the Tour of Spain.

No. 2: Training. This is almost the exact same balancing act as eating. Train too much and you're tired before the race even starts. Train too little and your form drops in the closing days, leaving you to suffer through the race and perform at less than your best. After just one day of this race, I feel like my training has me well prepared, but I will have to wait a few more days to know for sure.

No. 3: Organization. Multiple elements fall under this category. For clothing, I make sure everything I need is in the right place. Everything is organized in one of several places: my regular suitcase, my backpack and my two rain bags that stay in the two caravan cars that support riders throughout each stage. That makes those rain bags the ones I consider most important.

No. 4: Bikes. Each Astana rider has four or five bikes with the team at the Tour of Spain. Each bike needs to be correctly fitted and ready to go at a moment's notice. Since I frequently change my position a little throughout the season, each of my bikes needs to be updated with the current position at all times. (Yes, the mechanics hate that.)

So, after three days preparing all that, I thought I had everything under control and ready to go when I jumped into the car Saturday on my way to the first stage of racing. Then - BAM! - just as our car took off I remembered what I had missed despite all the planning.

I had forgotten to change the cleats on my cycling shoes.

It sounds like a small and fairly unimportant detail, but cleats can be a crucial element. Typically, I change them a few days before grand tours such as this, giving me time to fine-tune them so I go into each big race with new, perfectly adjusted equipment. Now, if I put the new cleats on slightly wrong going directly into the race it would result in a sore knee for sure, which could cost me the whole race if the knee eventually flared up too much. Luckily, I ride with float cleats that have some play from side to side, which allow me a little room for error when putting on a new pair. But still, it wasn't a good omen.

Soon, however, we were at the motorcycle- and car-racing track on which Saturday's prologue would be run. As we entered the parking lot, my nerves started to flare. It was clear that the crowds were going to be incredible inside on the track. Just looking at the scene from the parking lot, I thought we were at a NFL playoff game. Once we parked, I retreated directly into the safe bubble of the team bus.

Thirty minutes before my start time I came out of the bus and jumped on the home trainer in our team area. Twenty-four minutes later, with six minutes until my start, it was time to head to the ramp. As I stepped out of the safety of the garage where we'd warmed up, I could see the size of the chaotic crowds. They were so big and overwhelming it felt like I was a gladiator striding into the Roman Coliseum before a fight to the death.

When I rolled off the ramp, I could immediately feel that my legs were great, but just after the first straightaway - despite all the days of painstakingly detailed planning - everything went wrong because of one small decision that was going to make the entire 4.8-kilometer prologue seem very long. I had chosen the wrong style of front wheel for the day's windy conditions, leaving me fighting with everything I had to keep the bike upright and under control when gusts blew.

I'm sure I took the longest way around every corner, barely ever pushing the pedals. All I could think of throughout the debacle was that I really hoped my family didn't have to watch it. It was by far the worst time trial that I have ever done. I'm pretty sure that most people watching thought I was an amateur in a really fancy outfit. The one saving grace was that my legs were good, which kept me from losing an even more embarrassing amount of time.

After all I've been through this year - multiple crashes, broken bones, missing the Tour de France - I try to keep a level head about the day. Yes, I forgot to prepare more than just my cleats before the racing started. But I hope my major mistake of the Tour of Spain is behind me now, and that I can make up for the lost time and get back to smart bike racing.

USPro TT David Zabriskie Chat

Zabriskie defends title with convincing win

David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) won his fourth consecutive US professional time trial championship on Saturday, stopping the clock in 39:37 for the 33.4-kilometre course. Last year's runner-up, Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), duplicated his silver medal performance, finishing 44 seconds behind Zabriskie. Kelly Benefit Strategies' Scott Zwizanski rounded out the podium, crossing the finish line 1:41 behind Zabriskie.

For the second straight year, Greenville, South Carolina's Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research hosted the championship event, with riders facing a technical but flat 11.1-kilometre circuit covered three times. While Zabriskie bested Zirbel by a slim five-second margin in 2008, the Garmin-Slipstream time trial ace won comfortably this year, putting 29 seconds into Zirbel after only one lap. Zabriskie increased his lead over Zirbel for the following two laps to record a time 1:02 faster than last year's winning effort.

Zwizanski, winner of time trials in both the Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay and Tour de Beauce on his way to general classification wins in each, held second place after the first lap. Zirbel, however, erased his eight-second first lap deficit and led Zwizanski by 27 seconds after the second lap, ultimately besting the Kelly Benefit Strategies rider by 57 seconds.

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 0:39:37
2 Tom Zirbel (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 0:00:44
3 Scott Zwizanski (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:01:41

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chris Horner's Tour of Spain diary: Ready to contend at cycling's last grand tour after a surprising diagnosis - asthma

by Chris Horner

Today is the last day of rest before the Tour of Spain starts with Saturday's opening prologue. The Astana Team arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and has spent the time since then relaxing and previewing the prologue course to prepare ourselves for the opening battle. The team has come with a strong group of riders, including Haimar Zubeldia, Alexander Vinokourov and myself riding for the overall win for Astana.

At the hotel, the atmosphere around the team is fantastic. The season so far has been great, and the team is riding high on the successes we've accomplished so far. This has made us all feel relaxed while still remaining motivated to keep the momentum rolling in the third grand tour of the year.

Personally, my road to the start of the Tour of Spain has been a little bumpy. During my first race back in Europe a few weeks ago, the Tour de L'Ain in France, I had some problems with my breathing. The problem seemed to appear earlier in the summer during intense training, but having never felt this type of sensation before, I put it down to lack of form. Despite feeling like I knew the probable explanation for my problem, I continued to pay close attention to it each time it reappeared.

On the last stage of Tour de l'Ain, the symptoms reappeared and were significantly worse than what I had experienced before. Amid the intensity of the last climb, combined with the effort of trying to hold on to the race lead on the final day, the symptoms seemed to be magnified ten-fold from what I had previously felt in training. After talking to the team doctor following the race, he recommended that I fly directly to Belgium for an asthma test. With the Tour of Spain coming up very quickly, Dag, our team doctor, didn't want to take any chances with my breathing before the big race.

In Belgium, I met with a specialist who put me through an allergy test as well as an asthma test. After only three rounds of the asthma "provocation" test, I had lost 26 percent of my breathing capacity and my wheezing could be heard across the room. The doctor stopped the test, and immediately diagnosed me with asthma. I had considered asthma as a possible cause for my symptoms from the beginning, but the diagnosis was still surprising! However, I was relieved to have a concrete answer for what I had been experiencing, since that gave me a real problem to work on and ways to solve it. Dag immediately filed the paperwork for what's known as a "therapeutic use exemption" with the UCI, hoping that I could get approval to start the necessary asthma medication before the Tour of Spain began.

After arriving back in Spain, I started on antibiotics for a sore throat that just would not clear up, and got UCI approval a few days later to start using the asthma medication. I had just under two weeks to get everything under control at that point, and between the jitters I felt from the new asthma meds and the lingering cold that I just couldn't shake, it seemed like it was going to be very close. Luckily, my form was already more or less where it needed to be, so I could train a little less and sleep a little more to give my body the time and recovery it needed to get back to full strength.

A week later, with one week to go before the Tour of Spain began, everything was falling into place. I was off the antibiotics, the cold was gone, I was well rested, had caught up on sleep and I had still managed to get some good training in. I could see that the asthma medication was working well, as I was finally able to get in the big efforts in training that had been missing since the breathing symptoms began. I had finally found the 150 watts that had been missing from my life lately, and it was just in time -- not to mention a huge relief!

With all of my ducks lined up and ready to go, it was time to fly out once again. This year's Tour of Spain is starting up north in Holland, where we will spend the first four days of the race. If the wind blows hard I can expect to need all of my form to survive, and with extremely narrow roads and lots of technical turns staying at the front will be the main tactic of every team in the race. If it rains everyone better throw in some crossed fingers, too, to help us all make it through in one piece! But with a little luck and some diligence we will all make it to see the first Spanish stages in a few days where the real tests will begin.

Thanks for reading! Until next time...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lance Armstrong Rates Season A 7

Lance Armstrong has rated his comeback season as a 7 out of 10, noting his consistent performances after three years away from the sport but admitting disappointment in not reaching his fullest potential. In an interview with Eurosport, the seven-time Tour de France winner left no doubt about his ambitions for the 2010 season with his growing RadioShack team. Third place in this year's Tour de France was a solid performance, but Armstrong is aiming for his eighth yellow jersey in Paris in the coming season.

"It was a long year since the comeback in Australia," Armstrong commented. "I think I was solid in the majority of races I did. I finished top 10 at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California.... Then, I had my crash."

"I felt better at the Giro," he added. "I had never done [the Giro] so I didn't know exactly what to expect. I think I can be satisfied with my performance at the Tour de France, and satisfied to be on the podium. It probably was better than what most people expected, but it wasn't quite what I had hoped. So, no more than a 7 out of 10."

Armstrong announced recently that the new RadioShack formation would debut at the Tour Down Under next season, and the team is quickly taking shape around the core management structure from the US Postal and Discovery Channel days. Johan Bruyneel is expected to manage the team along with the majority of the support staff currently working with Astana.

"There could still be some changes," Armstrong noted. "I'm sure we're going to have a very strong team. I don't know if we'll win every race, and I'm not sure we'll win the Tour. Alberto [Contador] has shown that he's the best rider of the moment in the grand tours, but we'll be coming with a strong team and a unified, unique, and honorable approach."

"We'll do our best to win," he said simply. "I want to win the Tour."

Clearly the greatest Tour de France rider in history is eager to reclaim his position as undisputed team leader in the sport's biggest event. With the dust settled after an exciting Tour this summer, Armstrong appears less hesitant to admit to tensions with his Astana teammate and Tour winner Contador.

"I think there was definitely some real tension," he said of the team's Tour ambiance. "But it wasn't just a tension between the two of us. There were others involved and there was more than one dinner where the ambiance was not exactly pleasant. But that's OK."

"We did our jobs and it finished well. Next year the situation will be completely different and I'll try once again to win the Tour."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Armstrong's Tweet turns out more than 1,000 riders for a jaunt around Dublin

By Gerard Cromwell

@lancearmstrong: Good morning Dublin. Who wants to ride this afternoon? I do. 5:30pm at the roundabout of Fountain Road and Chesterfield Avenue. See you there.

What started out as a simple Tweet from his mobile phone just hours earlier turned into a Lance Armstrong frenzy when over a thousand riders turned up at 5:30 in Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tuesday evening.

An army of Armstrong fans turned up from all over Ireland, and indeed from various other countries, in the hope of getting to ride with their idol, and they were not disappointed.

The seven-time Tour De France winner rode for almost two hours around the popular Kyber Pass circuit in the park, used for domestic races in the summer, and spent the whole time shaking hands, speaking to fans and having his photo taken, all while on the move.

All kinds of people turned out in Europe’s biggest public park, from club cyclists and international riders to kids and families. Armstrong had fun with them all. Normally open to traffic, the Irish Gardai (police) had closed down the six-kilometer circuit we were using and crowds thronged each corner, and all the way up the hill.

“I thought maybe there would be 50, or 60 people. But this is amazing," Armstrong said mid-ride. "I did this in Glasgow last week and as soon as I arrived at the airport the police wanted to know what I was planning. I told them I didn’t know, which I didn’t. Here, the Gardai have been great, the roads are closed off. It’s a fantastic circuit.”

Even though the pace was tranquil enough, for those who couldn’t keep up with the Texan tornado, there was ample opportunity to stop and watch for a lap and rejoin the group later on.

The climb of the Kyber Pass was soon lined with fans, who cheered as if it were Alpe D’Huez each time we came around.

“This is unbelievable,” Armstrong said as fans constantly rode up to him and asked him a question or simply thanked him for being there.

“What do you think of the great Sean Kelly?” asked one.

“He was very great, he was a great rider,” came the reply.

“Are you going to win the Tour next year?” came a question from a guy on a mountain bike.

“We’re definitely going to give it our best shot,” answered Armstrong.

Dressed in his trademark black and yellow LiveStrong clothing and wearing his orange Oakley shades, Armstrong looked to be enjoying himself as much as the fans as people of all shapes, sizes and nationalities grabbed a few seconds of talk time with him as they rode around the circuit.

To cycling fans, this was as good as it gets. But for a top professional, riding alongside some of the less stable two-wheeled fans has its difficulties. Some had obviously never ridden in a bunch before and almost nobody had ever ridden in bunch over a thousand-strong. A crash could prove disastrous, so why does he do it?

“You know, people think ‘I can’t ride with Lance. He rides too fast, I wouldn’t be able to keep up, or I’d be run off the road.’” explained the Texan. “It’s not like that at all. I mean, I go ride in Central Park all the time. If five people turn up, then cool. If none turn up, then cool. If a thousand turn up, then it’s also cool.”

After a lap and a half alongside Mellow Johnny, diving into corners and dodging wayward riders, I ask the all important question. “Look Lance, I seem to be going pretty well here for the last lap or two. How about a contract with Radioshack next year? I know I’m a bit old at 40, but ...”

“Nah, you’re not too old,” smiles Armstrong. “We like old guys on our team. Like I said earlier in the week, I think we’re gonna have to sign a couple of ten year olds to lower the average age ... I think we got a couple of spots open.”

With that I pulled over and gave somebody else a chance to chat. For Irish cycling fans, the day they rode alongside Lance Armstrong in the Phoenix Park will remain with them for ever. For me, it could be the start of a glittering, if brief, career in the ProTour peloton. I wonder if RadioShack do size Large jerseys?

@lancearmstrong: Thanks Dublin!! What a great park and a cool ride w/ all of you. I heard a 1000+ came out. I'm speechless. Gotta love a good bike ride!!

Cortisol and Weight

Does stress affect eating, weight, and where fat is distributed on the body? This is a question that has begged an answer from experts for many years. The body makes cortisol to help us handle stress. When stress goes up, cortisol levels go up. And it's often repeated that obese people have higher cortisol levels than lean people.

Cortisol is a hormone in a group of steroids commonly referred to as glucocorticoids. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland as a part of your daily hormonal cycle. However, it is also a key hormone involved in the body’s response to stress, both physical and emotional. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, increases blood pressure, and suppresses the immune system, which is part of the body’s fight-or-flight response that is essential for survival. Your hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, directs the adrenal glands to secrete both cortisol and adrenaline.

Adrenaline production increases your alertness and energy level, also increasing your metabolism by helping fat cells to release energy. Cortisol has widespread actions which help restore homeostasis after stress, including increasing production of glucose from protein to quickly increase the body’s energy during stressful times.

However, cortisol has a two-fold effect on fat. When the stress first occurs, fat is broken down to supply the body with a rapid source of energy. When we experience something stressful, our brains release a substance known as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which puts the body on alert and sends it into "fight or flight" mode. As the body gears up for battle, the pupils dilate, thinking improves, and the lungs take in more oxygen. But something else happens as well: Our appetite is suppressed, and the digestive system shuts off temporarily. CRH also triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which help mobilize carbohydrate and fat for quick energy. When the immediate stress is over, the adrenaline dissipates, but the cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. And one of the ways it gets things back to normal is to increase our appetites so we can replace the carbohydrate and fat we should have burned while fleeing or fighting.

"But when was the last time you responded to stress with such physicality?" asks Dr. Pamela Peeke asks, author of Fight Fat AfterForty and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Your body assumes you have just physically exerted yourself, for example running from a lion, and need to restock your reserves by eating a lot of carbohydrates or fatty food that can easily be stored as fat. In reality, you are probably still sitting in your car or at your desk, still fuming and stressed out. Dr. Peek notes that, “In today's modern world, this elegant survival mechanism may be an anachronism that causes the body to refuel when it doesn't need to. Sustained stress keeps up cortisol, that cursed hunger promoter, elevated and that keeps appetite up, too.”

This is where the potential second effect of cortisol comes into play. Experts now believe that the problem for many of us is being in a constant state of stress. Exposure to cortisol over the long term can lead to weight gain, as your appetite and insulin levels are continuously increased. If stress and cortisol levels stay high, so will insulin levels, says Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford University. Continual stress leads to a constant state of excess cortisol production, which stimulates glucose production. This excess glucose then typically is converted into fat, ending up as stored fat. According to Dr. Sapolsky, "The net effect of this will be increased fat deposition in a certain part of the body." Furthermore, according to the authors of the book The Cortisol Connection, stress and the resulting chronic overload of cortisol, make you feel tired and listless. So you overeat to renew your energy and comfort yourself, with the end result of accumulated extra inches around the middle.

It is generally suggested that stress-induced cortisol weight is usually gained around the waistline, because fat cells in that area are more sensitive to cortisol. The fat cells in your abdomen are richer in stress hormone receptors, are particularly sensitive to high insulin, and are very effective at storing energy – more so than fat cells you would find in other areas of the body. This is the most dangerous place to gain weight, as it can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Yale University compared women who stored fat primarily in their abdomens with women who stored it mostly in their hips. They found that the women with belly fat reported feeling more threatened by stressful tasks and having more stressful lives. They also produced higher levels of cortisol than the women with fat on their hips. And that, the authors reasoned, suggests that cortisol causes fat to be stored in the center of the body.

However, some researchers believe that cortisol’s connection to obesity may be more unsubstantiated than first thought and that cortisol levels may not be the sole, major factor involved in obesity and fat distribution. There are questions as to whether cortisol may rise prior to weight gain or if its increase is an impact of the weight itself.

One area of research involves mutations in a gene called the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene, which may cause obesity but simultaneously decreases glucocorticoid levels. This research shows that cortisol alone may not be major culprit in weight gain, and suggests that glucocorticoids are merely part of a chain of hormonal and neuronal signals associated with obesity.

"The message has gotten across that glucocorticoids are involved in all obesity. And there is a lot of common talk about the role of stress in increasing glucocorticoids," says Malcolm Low, M.D., Ph.D., a senior scientist and associate director in the OHSU Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders. "It seems to make sense: There is a lot of stress today, and obesity is up. But when you look at the facts, it is not as clear." Low notes, “There are multiple controls in our body that regulate body weight and appetite. Glucocorticoids are clearly involved in control of body weight. But it is not the only hormone involved. There are multiple systems involved in the brain and outside the brain that regulate how much fat we are going to have and how much appetite. There is no simple answer to treating obesity."

Marci Gluck, Ph.D., of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University, studies the complicated relationship between cortisol, stress, and weight gain. "Most scientists agree that it is not a simple one-to-one relationship between cortisol and weight gain," she says. "There are so many different peptides and hormones involved. Cortisol might not be the primary one."

Based on a review of literature addressing obesity and cortisol status, the two most integral lab parameters to assess systemic cortisol status and its relationship to obesity is measurement of daily cortisol production rate (CPR) and measurement of 24-hour mean plasma cortisol concentrations. Thus far, few studies have utilized these parameters for measurement of cortisol concentration in obesity, and of the studies that have been done using these parameters, none of these publications has reported elevated plasma cortisol concentrations in obese individuals.

However, recent reports have suggested that a state of elevated cortisol levels in fat tissue cells without elevated cortisol levels in the blood may exist in obesity. Yet, these findings are inconsistent. It is possible that high levels of cortisol within the cells, such as in fat cells, may play a causative role in obesity, but this possibility requires further investigation.

If we do accept that chronic stress and elevated cortisol may be factors in weight problems, what can you do if you want to reduce cortisol? First, focus on becoming stress resistant. One of the best things to reduce stress and improve insulin sensitivity, for example, is getting regular exercise, even a daily brisk walk. Exercise not only helps promote weight loss by burning calories, but is also beneficial because it helps neutralize stress and its effects, which in turn helps you keep weight off. Just a daily brisk walk can help to distract yourself from what is causing stress in your life, allowing your body time to move and awaken.

Second, practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Improving time management can also be essential to reducing stress in one’s hectic lifestyle. These activities or similar techniques, as well as getting adequate sleep, can help reduce your body’s physiological response to daily stressors.

Third, how a person perceives stressful situations is also important. One individual may feel major stress from a particular situation, whereas another person will handle it better by using the event as an opportunity to learn. Hence, stress makes life difficult, but our reaction to it is important as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ivan Basso - Grand Tour to Grand Tour

By: Ivan Basso

Hello everyone! I have been racing in Poland and Italy since I last wrote. My objective is to build towards my first participation in the Vuelta a España (and hopefully a win).

Last diary I talked about a "softer" programme for next year's Giro d'Italia. Well, I am also applying that to the Vuelta a España. The Tour of Poland was the perfect place for me to re-start my season.

"I had to always try to confirm myself prior to the Giro because I did not exactly know my rivals' level of fitness."

I trained at altitude in Livigno, Italy, before Poland. I arrived in Poland and the race organisation immediately impressed me, which made me happy to be there for my re-start.

Ballan took an impressive stage win in his World Champion's jersey and went on to win the overall. I was happy to see him win and look forward to the World Championships this year with him.

My ride in Poland was not impressive, but it was the "soft" return that I wanted. When I returned to Italy I hit the mountains again, training at altitude for eight days in San Pellegrino (the Dolomites). The training was ideal for Spain's big climbs, but not what I needed for the hot and sticky Italian one-day races last week.

Hot and sticky, but ready for the Vuelta

I was a little shocked in Tre Valli and Agostoni. I had been training in cool temperatures and not the 40°C I found back at sea level. I hit back in the Trofeo Melinda Saturday.

Giovanni Visconti won his second race after Agostoni, but I placed fourth. I did not race for the result, but for the feel of the race, above all on the climbs. I was never going to win ahead of Visconti and Garzelli at Melinda, but it was a step ahead with respect to the other races.

My work is now finished for the Vuelta, I just need to re-find my freshness and benefit from all the work I've already done. There is a big difference heading into this race compared to the Giro, I had to always try to confirm myself prior to the Giro because I did not exactly know what the level of my rivals was.

The Giro left me with a feeling of how the others are going. Now, especially in this last week, I am able to follow my own feelings, not the SRM metre.

Who will be the top rivals at the Vuelta a España? They will be the usual suspects, six or seven riders that have the ability to win a Grand Tour. I will watch out for Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Samuel Sánchez, Robert Gesink and Andy Schleck, if he races the classification. But what's important for me is to not think of all the others, but to race at my maximum.

Tour de France

I watched Schleck and Evans closely at the Tour de France last month. Andy showed that he matured from the last year and he will be able to go for the win in the next years.

Then there is Lance Armstrong. What can you say about him? It is all amazing! He is still stronger than all of his past rivals and can battle with the new faces to win the Tour. Third was impressive.

Pellizotti did very well to let the classification go and fight for the climbers' jersey. It was a great show and an honour for Italy, it is always hard to win that jersey.

I read how he would like to race the Giro next year as sole captain and then I would be the sole captain for the Tour. The team managers have to work this out over the winter, it is a little early now to plan it, though. We have always had a great relationship, as you saw at the Giro d'Italia. We will work out a plan and win the races.

Talk to you soon. We can catch up on my progress in the Vuelta and my thoughts on the Worlds.

Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso rates himself a Vuelta contender

Ivan Basso believes he’s a contender for this month’s Vuelta a España, despite falling drastically short of his own ambitions for May’s Giro d’Italia. Basso believes his form has benefited from the lack of pressure leading into the final Grand Tour of 2009.

"I have dealt with the preparation for this race calmly and without undue stress,” said Basso. "It’s the first time that I face the Vuelta in my career and I have decided to leave my mark.

“Five uphill finishes, full of tricky stages and two time trials - I can not deny that it is suitable to my characteristics,” said Basso. “This factor, together with the good form that I have achieved thanks to the races in August, let me lean toward optimism: the final victory is a concrete goal.”

The Liquigas rider will face stiff competition in the race to the Spanish race's title. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) will be hungry to shine on home soil, while there’s a swag of other big named riders seeking redemption at this year’s race like Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto).

In addition to those super experienced names, Basso needs to hold the younger brigade – like Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Daniel Martin (Garmin Slipstream) – at bay. To do that, Basso says he’s moved away from scientific data and if focusing more on his own feelings on the bike.

“The weeks preceding the start of the Giro was full of expectation: the pink race represented the first race where [I could] get some feedback that would allow me to give substance to the sensations felt during preparation,” he said. “It was a fundamental step that has provided me with useful information.

“In summer I was able to focus on areas for improvement, such as changes of pace,” he added. “Finally, having regained the feeling with the dynamics of racing, I have chosen to rely on personal feelings rather than scientific data.”

Basso claimed overall victory at the Giro del Trentino earlier this year and more recently finished fourth at Trofeo Melinda. The Vuelta commences in Assen this Sunday, the first time it has started outside of Spain in 12 years.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Horner ready for the Vuelta a España

After an injury-plagued season and missing out on the Tour de France, Chris Horner is ready for the Vuelta a España, starting Saturday in Rotterdam, Holland. Horner crashed out of the Giro d'Italia in May, fracturing his left leg in a collision involving two other riders. It was the second serious injury for Horner this year after he fractured his collarbone and a rib in the Tour of the Basque Country in April.

"I took two weeks completely off the bike to let my broken leg heal. I did one week easy after that, and then headed to Aspen to start training with Lance [Armstrong] and Levi [Leipheimer]. I built up from there, and was 100 percent in the week leading up the Tour de France. Basically, I just really paid attention to what my body was telling me and used that as my guide for training," Horner told Cyclingnews.

However, Astana's Horner missed out on a place in the team's Tour de France line-up, despite training under the impression that he was preparing for the race. "After not making the Tour team, I began planning on the Vuelta and then extending my season with the late classics, since my mid-season was pretty light," Horner said. "I'm hoping to have a solid ride at the Vuelta. [I'm] going for a good overall result and/or stage wins."

Horner recently raced the Tour de l'Ain where he led the race heading into the final stage before succumbing to a barrage of attacks from Cofidis and losing the leader's jersey to Rein Taaramae. Despite that setback, Horner is looking forward to ending his season on a strong note, adding that he's more than willing to work for Alexander Vinokourov, an ex-Astana rider, who may start the race.

"My fitness is coming along. I had a few races recently to use as tune-ups for the Vuelta, and things are going pretty well," Horner said. "I'm happy to do my job for the team, and if that includes Vino, and he is our team leader, then I am happy to work for him."

Horner remained tight-lipped over who he will ride for in 2010. Now 37 years of age, Horner has ridden for Astana for the last two seasons but with Armstrong setting up his new RadioShack squad rumours have been circulating that Horner could jump ship and join the seven-time Tour de France winner. Horner did confirm that several teams had been in contact but wouldn't specify who. He did add that he would be keen to ride for Armstrong. "My aims for next year are the same as they are every year - race my bike and hopefully do the Tour."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Paul takes part in LeBron's charity ride

The U.S. Olympic teammates and close friends rode through the city's streets Saturday as James hosted his annual "King for Kids" charity bike-a-thon. James and Paul pushed the pace in the lead group of bicyclists, pedaling past James' former high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, and the city's zoo on the 8-mile route.

The Cavaliers' superstar was joined by TV host Nick Cannon, Cleveland coach Mike Brown and Cavs general manager Danny Ferry.

The event ended a busy three days in Akron for James, who screened a new documentary, "More Than A Game," the story of how he and four childhood friends from the inner city achieved their dream of winning a high school national championship. James was scheduled to travel to China on Saturday to promote the film, which will open in the U.S. in October.

On Friday, James made sure he watched his beloved Dallas Cowboys, who opened their new $1.2 billion stadium with a 30-10 win over Tennessee.

"They looked great and that place is awesome, but they better raise that Jumbotron," said James, referring to Tennessee rookie punter A.J. Trapasso's kick that hit the bottom of the massive video boards over the field. "I think he might have tried to do that on purpose, you know, be the first one."

James is excited about seeing Dallas' pigskin palace and will get a chance when it hosts the NBA All-Star game in February.

Along with Paul and others, James spent much of the weekend with Darrius Snow, a 19-year-old from Atlanta who was rewarded by Nickelodeon for helping kids in his crime-infested neighborhood with a surprise trip to Ohio to be a guest of James.

Snow was abandoned by his mother when he was 2 years old. However, he became the first in his family to graduate high school and will attend Voorhees College in the fall.

Snow, who was overwhelmed by the weekend's activities, was also given a scholarship as part of the TeenNick HALO Awards, a show produced by Cannon which will premiere in December.

"There are so many people in our communities that are making this world a better place and never get the recognition -- a lot of young people," Cannon said. "I wanted to highlight all the teens who are making a difference in their community, the everyday people who are making this world tick and go around.

"It's people like Darrius who have truly inspired people, and their stories need to be told. Not only have these people overcome their own obstacles, but they've turned around and given back to make things easier for others."

Kara Goucher and Tera Moody collapse during individual sessions with reporters to talk about disappointing finishes in the Berlin competition.

American Tera Moody, left, finished 28th and compatriot Kara Goucher was 10th overall in the women's marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin on Sunday.

While standing in the mixed zone area to talk with media about her disappointing 10th-place finish in Sunday's World Championships marathon, Goucher suddenly felt so weak she slowly lowered herself to the ground and was led to a nearby medical tent.

It happened next to Tera Moody while she was doing the same thing as Goucher.

Moody, also disappointed in her 28th-place run, was talking about fueling problems when her voice went raspy from shortness of breath. She collapsed in panic from an exercise-induced asthma attack and was carried to the medical tent.

"I think I'm going to pass out," Moody told medical staff around her as they rushed to get her emergency Proventil inhaler while trying to calm her down.

Both recovered and returned to speak about what happened to them in the race -- and, in Moody's case, after it.

Each fell far short of her goal.

Goucher's was a medal after she had finished third in her first two marathons, at New York last year and Boston last spring.

New York repeated itself, but not in a medal sense. Once again, Goucher could not keep down the fluids she drank during the race. Sunday, she said she threw up six times.

Goucher stayed with the leaders until they picked up the pace with eight miles to go. She lost contact almost immediately and wound up finishing in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 48 seconds, more than two minutes from the medals in a race China's Bai Xue won in 2:25.15.

"My body just wouldn't go," Goucher said. "I just wasn't good enough."

Desiree Davila nearly overtook Goucher as top U.S. finisher. Davila was 11th in 2:27:53, more than three minutes under her old personal best.

"Kara was in much better shape than she has ever been," said Alberto Salazar, her coach. "If we can't figure out the fluids, it's not going to help, no matter what shape she is in."

They should have plenty of time. Goucher, 31, hopes to have a child in 2010 and run her next marathon in 2011.

Moody, 28, a prep star at Illinois' St. Charles High School, had conquered severe eating and sleep disorders to become an elite marathoner. She also has dealt with asthma since high school, letting her know when a severe attack is coming.

"I kind of started to see stars," Moody said of her post-race collapse. "I know when that happens, I'm going to pass out. I tried to get closer to the ground, so I wouldn't fall.

"I knew once I took my inhaler I'd be fine, but it's very scary when you can't breathe. I panic, and that's the worst thing you can do."

Moody had remained in control during the race, when the amount she was sweating alerted her to how much toll the 77-degree temperature and bright sun were taking.

"My goal was to break 2:30, but I knew with the heat I was going to have to be more conservative," Moody said.

Even so, she was not happy about a time of 2:36:39.

"I'm really disappointed not to run a personal best at the world championships, because I'm in the best shape of my life," said Moody, whose best in five marathons is 2:33.54. "I started passing a lot of people, but I guess I wasn't getting any faster."

Adrenal Fatigue - What is it?

by Vicki Wade

Have you recently experienced a major stress in your life, be it illness, job, death, children, etc? After this stress, have you felt as though you just cannot seem to get yourself together, or at least back to where you used to be? Are you usually tired when you wake up, but still "too wired" to fall asleep at night? Is it hard for you to relax or to get exercise? Do you find that you get sick more often and take a long time to get well? If so, then you, like many other Americans may be experiencing symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is not a new condition. People have been experiencing this condition for years. Although there is increasing physician awareness, many are not familiar with adrenal fatigue as a distinct syndrome. Because of this lack of knowledge, patients suffer because they are not properly diagnosed or treated.

Adrenal fatigue is a condition in which the adrenal glands function at a sub-optimal level when patients are at rest, under stress, or in response to consistent, intermittent, or sporadic demands. The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit over the kidneys and are responsible for secreting over 50 different hormones—including epinephrine, cortisol, progesterone, DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. Over the past century, adrenal fatigue has been recognized as Non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, subclinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, and adrenal apathy.

Generally patients who present with adrenal fatigue can often be heard saying, "After______, I was never the same." The onset of adrenal fatigue often occurs because of financial pressures, infections, emotional stress, smoking, drugs, poor eating habits, sugar and white flour products, unemployment and several other stressors. After experiencing many of these events over a long period of time, the adrenal glands tend to produce less cortisol, the body’s master stress hormone. Cortisol’s main role in the body is to enable us to handle stress and maintain our immune systems. The adrenal gland’s struggle to meet the high demands of cortisol production eventually leads to adrenal fatigue.

Patients with adrenal fatigue have a distinct energy pattern. They are usually very fatigued in the morning, not really waking up until 10 AM, and will not usually feel fully awake until after a noon meal. They experience a diurnal lull in their cortisol (the stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland) and as a result, they feel low during the afternoon, generally around 2-4 PM. Patients generally begin to feel better after 6 PM; however, they are usually tired after 9 and in bed by 11 PM These patients find that they work best late at night or early in the morning.

Some key signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include salt cravings, increased blood sugar under stress, increased PMS, perimenopausal, or menopausal symptoms under stress, mild depression, lack of energy, decreased ability to handle stress, muscle weakness, absent mindedness, decreased sex drive, mild constipation alternating with diarrhea, as well as many others.

Although there no specific tests that will provide a true diagnosis of adrenal fatigue there are tests that may contribute to an assessment, such as a postural hypotension test, an AM cortisol test, or an ACTH stimulation test. It is customary for a physician to assess the adrenals together with thyroid tests to rule out insufficiency, which sometimes occurs in long-standing hypothyroidism.

A single determination of plasma cortisol or 24-hour urinary free cortisol excretion is not useful and may be misleading in diagnosing adrenal insufficiency. However, if the patient is severely stressed or in shock, a single depressed plasma cortisol determination is highly suggestive. An elevated plasma ACTH level in association with a low plasma cortisol level is diagnostic.

Treatment for adrenal fatigue is relatively simple. Lifestyle modifications can be initiated to treat this condition. Simple changes such as more laughter (increases the parasympathetic supply to the adrenals), small breaks to lie down, increased relaxation, regular meals, exercise (avoiding any highly competitive events), early bedtimes and sleeping until at least 9 AM whenever possible can all benefit those experiencing adrenal fatigue.

A diet that would be conducive to treating adrenal fatigue includes one that combines unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains) with protein and oils (nuts and seeds) at most meals—olive, walnut, fiber, flax and high-quality fish oil. It is also important for patients to eat regular meals, chew food well, and eat by 10 AM and again for lunch. Patients should look to avoid any hydrogenated fats, caffeine, chocolate, white carbohydrates, and junk foods. Diets should have a heavy emphasis on vegetables. It may be of additional benefit that patients add salt to their diet, especially upon rising and at least a half-hour before their lowest energy point of the day. (Preferably, 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoonful of sea salt, Celtic salt, or sea salt w/kelp powder added to an 8 oz glass of water). In adrenal fatigue, one should not follow the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, as these patients tolerate fewer carbohydrates and need more protein.

The addition of nutritional supplements may also offer additional benefits to patients experiencing adrenal fatigue. They should consider the addition of:
• Vitamin C 2,000-4,000 mg/day Sustained Release
• Vitamin E w/mixed tocopherols 800 IU/day
• Vitamin B complex
• Niacin (125-150 mg/day) – as inositol hexaniacinate
• B-6 (150 mg/day)
• Pantothenic acid (1200-1500 mg/day)
• Magnesium citrate (400-1200 mg)
• Liquid trace minerals (zinc, manganese, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, copper, iodine)– calming effect
• If depression is present – Add SAM.e 200 mg bid; DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) 500 mg bid

Some herbal remedies that have been noted as possible therapies include Licorice, Ashwagandha, Maca, Siberian Ginseng, Korean Ginseng. Note: Licorice can and, if taken over time, does have a propensity to elevate blood pressure. It should not be used in persons with a history of hypertension, renal failure, or who currently use digitalis preparations such as digoxin.

Under the supervision of a physician hormone supplementation with DHEA, Pregnenolone, and Progesterone may also offer some benefits. There are several glandular extracts on the market that contain adrenal, hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and gonadal that are also often recommended. Sometimes the initiation of hydrocortisone (Cortef®) may be necessary as a replacement hormone when cortisol is not being produced by the adrenals. While the initiation of corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone may have quick and dramatic results, they can sometimes make the adrenals weaker rather than stronger. As a result, the initiation of hydrocortisone is usually a last resort. It is important to note that patients may have to undergo treatment for 6 months to 2 years.

While a cortisol measurement may be helpful to confirm any thoughts or ideas that a patient may have decreased adrenal function, typically blood cortisol levels would be tested along with blood levels of potassium, and sodium. If the pituitary gland is the cause of adrenal failure electrolyte levels are usually normal. Practitioners usually pay attention to extremely low cortisol levels, which generally diagnoses Addison’s disease—a condition in which the adrenal glands are completely depleted, also considered a medical emergency.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Armstrong fever hits the Emerald Isle

By Ben Delaney

Media and fans swarmed Lance Armstrong before the start of the Tour of Ireland, which kicked off at the Ritz-Carlton in Powerscourt, just south of Dublin. The hundreds of people pressing in on the Tour de France star confirmed what Leadville Trail 100 organizers already knew: Armstrong brings the crowds.

Tour of Ireland project director Darach McQuaid said Armstrong’s presence means a lot to the organizing committee.

“The fact that we had to reduce the race by two days is testament to the difficulties of the economic market,” McQuaid said. “He means so much to this race; he brings it to another level. The past two years we’ve had very good global coverage. But he has put a spotlight on it like pretty much no other athlete could.”

Once Armstrong confirmed his plans to attend, race officials contacted the Irish government about the possibility of the LiveStrong Global Cancer Summit.

Armstrong said that while there is no direct relationship between the race and the three-day cancer meeting, “we used this great event to springboard into the global summit.”

“It’s probably safe to say that the summit wouldn’t have happened without the Tour of Ireland,” Armstrong said. “For us it worked out well. We have a lot of great support from the people in Dublin. It all starts here. We get to race for three days and then stick around to talk about this global burden for three more.”

Armstrong commended the country for its cycling heritage.

“Ireland may not be one of the main cycling countries in Europe but there’s a lot of cycling history here,” he said. “Look at the greats who have come out of Ireland, Currently the leader of cycling is an Irishman. There is plenty of Irish history in cycling.”

Like other riders, Armstrong expects the 2009 Tour of Ireland to come down to the circuits over St. Patrick’s Hill on Sunday in Cork.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I haven’t been doing a lot of specific road work and so hopefully I’ll feel better as the days go on. And adjust to the changes of riding a road bike and riding at race pace. It’ll all comes down to the last day. Somebody will probably make a separation, but probably not me.”

“I was racing Leadville last weekend on the mountain bike, which is a slightly different dynamic,” he said. “Now all the travel. From Colorado to Texas, then Scotland, Norway and then here. It’s been an eventful week.”

As for his own chances on St. Patrick’s?

“It’s completely straight and steep. It’s very straightforward. I have two days to train for it, so we’ll see when we get there.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zabriskie preps for US Pro time trial defense at Tour of Utah

By: Kirsten Robbins

The current US professional time trial champion, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream), is using the six-stage Tour of Utah to prepare for a fourth consecutive victory at the upcoming championship event held in Greenville, South Carolina next weekend.

"Yes, it is the plan to get the cobwebs out of my legs before nationals," said Zabriskie. "I can definitely feel some today."

Zabriskie placed second in the Tour of Utah's opening prologue, only one second behind stage winner Brent Bookwalter (BMC Pro Cycling Team). The prologue stretched over a 4.5-kilometre circuit, a relatively short distance compared to what traditionally favors Zabriskie. The second time trial will be held on a 14.5-kilometre circuit at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele on Friday.

"I try to go as hard as I can every time trial," said Zabriskie. "When I was out there today I had so many thoughts going through my head like 'oh man, I'm getting spanked right now.' I just forgot that it hurts everybody and it didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. But, definitely the longer time trial is going to suit me better, I would imagine."

Zabriskie took some much needed recovery time after completing the Tour de France. With the exception of starting Clasica San Sebastian early this month, he has not competed since the Tour ended in July.

"I did San Sebastian but I dropped out," he said. "That's why I wanted to do this race. It's been very difficult for me to get out on my bike. Trying to get back into a routine has been difficult, to travel back here."

Last year's US professional championship's 33.4-kilometre time trial saw Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) place second to Zabriskie by a mere five seconds. When asked if racing the Tour of Utah gave him an opportunity to test his legs against Zirbel before next weekend he said with a smile, "yes, for sure."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DZ Racing Solo Takes 2nd In Utah Prologue

Dave Zabriskie, who resides in Salt Lake City, had previewed the 4.5-kilometre prologue course prior to race day and also knows many of the decisive climbs held throughout the stage race. He is without his Garmin-Slipstream team-mates this week and will be racing under the banner of his company name DZ Nuts - a chamois cream.

“I checked out the course yesterday and today just to see how they did the entry and the exit,” said Zabriskie, who will start stage one wearing the Best Utah Rider jeresy. “It was a nice course that ran beside the capital buildings with quite a few fans out. I’m really happy to be here. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down being a ProTour team and luckily I have this company, similar to Lance having his company, so I wore this attire.”

He admitted that not having team-mates will make a tough stage race even tougher. Although he is in the company of the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin U23 team, the young counterpart to the ProTour team Garmin-Slipstream, he assured that they would not be working together.

“It’s been laid out to me quite explicitly that that’s against the rules,” he said. “But it’s nice for me to see the younger guys and if I can push them in the right direction, but, they’re racing really well.

“There is never an easy race but, if there were any race to not have team-mates this is it because there aren’t any long valleys were a team would do a full chase on the front,” he added. “A lot of it is real mountain top days.”

The race will continue with stage one’s 137 kilometre road race beginning in Ogden and finishing in Salt Lake City. The stage features two significant ascents and nearly 2000 metres of climbing in total.

1 Brent Bookwalter (BMC Pro Cycling Team) 0:06:13
2 David Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream) 0:00:01
3 Ian McKissick (BMC Pro Cycling Team) 0:00:02
4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) 0:00:03

Dave Zabriskie - Tour of Utah Prologue

Always golden for random thoughts and ramblings, Dave is in good spirits on this day (just day 1). ROAD Magazine catches up with him just prior to warm up for the Prologue.

George Hincapie interview

American River 50 Mile Endurance Run

Welcome to the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run. American River has become the second largest 50 miler in the United States. The race attracts both veterans and novices alike. Whether you are attempting your first 50 miler, seeking a personal record and or dreaming of a qualifier for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, this race is for you! Music, motivational quote signs, superb aid stations and encouraging volunteers will inspire you all the way to Auburn. At the finish line, you will be awarded your one of a kind finisher’s jacket as you enjoy the post race festivities and barbeque at Joe’s Café. AR 50 will sell out. Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 10, 2010 for a spectacular and unforgettable day on the trails you won’t want to miss!

Click on the title link to browse the website for all race information.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, e-mail:

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, April 10th!
Enjoy the Journey,

Julie Fingar
Race Director

Way Too Cool 50k - Presented by GU Sports

Please click on the title link to learn more about this race.

Sierra Nevada Endurance Runs

Welcome to the Sierra Nevada Endurance Runs! The experienced race management team of Julie Fingar and Greg Soderlund are excited to host four events including a 12K, Trail Marathon, Double Marathon and 100K.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2009. All events will begin at Cavitt Junior High School located at 7200 Fuller Drive, Granite Bay, CA 95746. The trail marathon, double marathon and 100K events will begin promptly at 6:30 A.M. The 12K event will begin at 7:30 A.M. Whether you are a novice or veteran runner, we invite you to join us for a spectacular day on the trails.

Please click on the title link to learn more about each run.

Recovox athlete - Julie Fingar Wins 2009 Headlands 100 Mile Endurance Run

By Julie Fingar

I toed the start line of the 2009 Headlands 100 Miler on Saturday, August 8th. The race started at the Marin Headlands at 7:00 A.M. with overcast skies and mild temperatures.

This race course has over 20,000 feet of climbing and descents over the 100 miles with 4 twenty five mile “washing machine loops” clockwise and counterclockwise. Much of the course I have run in other races such as Miwok 100K, Headlands 50K, and Pirates Cove. However, I didn’t quite know how the course was configured and what fun I was in for all day and night with these four loops. I was ready to embrace the challenging terrain, the monotony of running loops, the mental and physical toughness and the sheer brutality of running 100 miles.

As I began the first 25 mile loop, I was feeling strong and confident. It was important for me to get my fueling and hydration started immediately to sustain my body for the long haul. I simply enjoyed the views and ran my pace, power walking the hills and running the flat and downhill sections. I felt solid but was struggling to find my mojo and get in to a nice rhythm. The first part of any run or race is always hard for me to get in the game. I also took a fall about 90 minutes in and gashed up my left leg and hamstring. I prayed that this fall would not limit my chance to continue. As I made my way to the last aid station on the loop, I finally started to relax and smile. As I approached the end of the first loop, I took a reading of my watch and realized I had run a bit faster than planned (4 hrs 32 minutes) but the effort level felt conservative. I was in good shape knowing that my goal was to come in to the 50 mile point at ten hours.

Heading out for Loop 2, counterclockwise, I realized I was leading the women’s race. I made a pact with myself to keep it going exactly like this for the rest of the race. ☺

I also wondered if this direction would be any easier? I quickly found out that the up’s and down’s were equally as challenging in reverse. I floated in and out of packs of runners (the 50 mile event runs simultaneously with the 100 mile event) and engaged in conversations with others which helped to mentally distract from thinking too much. My friend Carla taught me an acronym named “STAR” which I constantly remind myself; Stop Thinking And Run. The conversations and people made the time fly by on the second loop. My fueling and hydration were on and my stomach continued to feel solid. At Mile 46, I was getting excited and really looking forward to seeing my friends at the 50 mile mark. I would re-fuel, pick up my friend and pacer Tom Flahavan and feel like a new woman. As I ran downhill to the start/finish area, I felt awesome. I was incredibly pumped to see everyone. Mike Savage, my crew chief was there with his wife Mellyn, along my friend Angie Pozzi, Lee Mckinley and Tom Griffen. My pacers, Tom Flahavan and Clark Whitten were very encouraging and helpful as they helped me prep for the next loop. Lee took a few pictures and had a few laughs watching me take my singlet off. Seeing all my friends was a huge mental boost for me. I was also told that my Dad was en route to the race and he would see me around mile 54. I was pysched to see my Dad at mile 55.

For most of the third loop, I felt as if I were running on a cloud. My body and mind felt strong and powerful. As we made our way clockwise on the loop, I saw my friend George coming in to finish the 50 miler and Trudy going for her 75 mile race. Seeing both of my friends put a huge smile on my face. Shortly after, Tom and I saw the second place woman. I immediately asked Tom, “how much time?” Tom said, “thirty minutes probably”. He said, “let’s continue moving and you will be fine.” Tom brought along some of my favorite snacks; Trader Joe Cookies with icing (yum!) and Peanut Butter Pretzels. I was enjoying the array of colorful conversations that Tom and I were having on the trail. Good trail snacks, and a great conversation with your friend, what more could you ask for at mile 60?! Tom reminded me to eat, drink and a few times took the lead to keep us running strong. Every aid station, Mike, Mellyn and my Dad met us and had all my goodies ready for me. I felt like a race car in Nascar going through a pitstop. We crusied in, got new “tires” and “gas” and we were off again. The system was very efficient thanks to Mike’s knowledge and experience of running and racing ultras. I even got to say hi to my Mom at one aid station as my Dad was on the phone giving her updates. Dusk hit us about mile 65 and we needed our headlamps to negotiate the trail. As we made our way back to the beach at the start/finish area, (mile 75) I began to feel physically and mentally spent. I continued to remind myself to stay strong and tough.

At the 75 mile mark, I refueled with an In N Out Burger and said good bye to Tom and picked up my next pacer, Clark. As Clark and I headed out for the final loop (thank goodness!), I began pumping myself up again “less than 25 miles to go, Julie, you can do this!” About ten minutes in to the loop, Clark pointed out that the next female was making her way to the beach and he estimated I had a 20 minute lead. I quickly headed to mile 80 as fast as I could. My crew chief, Mike, met us there and said he had not expected us for a bit and we were ahead of schedule. I felt relieved but I still wanted to keep the pressure on. I knew I was continuing to move well but my body was aching. Clark was incredibly patient to put up with my million questions that I asked from beginning to end. “Are you sure no one is coming?” “Are you sure?” I am certain at one point during our time together, he wanted to tape my mouth shut. ☺ The nervous energy of leading the race was coming out and I was starting to feel the pressure. I knew I had to reel it in and remind myself that “Pressure is a Privilege” as one of my favorite sports role models Billy Jean King would say and that I had an opportunity to win. I remember somewhere around mile 82 is where I really had to dig deep in to my gut and vow to push myself as hard as I could. Weakness was not an option.

For most of the loop, I remained quiet and focused. Clark kept checking in with me and just having his presence made me feel comfortable. At mile 88, Mike gave us an update that I was still at least 20 minutes ahead of the next women. I continued to run scared and not look back. Clark kept me going with his positive feedback. By mile 90, I was incredibly frustrated with the sheer brutality of the course. Another up, followed by another down; it was never ending. I felt as if I were on a roller coaster and I wanted off as I was done with this wild ride. My mental toughness was starting to fatigue and several times I needed to vent on the trail. Clark would tell me after my venting “Julie, you can do this and simply c’mon!” Somehow, I summoned the energy and thought back to the conversation with myself that weakness was not an option.

As we surged in to mile 96, I focused on getting some fuel in my body. I had a piece of pizza that I nibbled as we made our way back to the trail. The final 4.8 miles are in one word; ruthless. It’s a very gradual climb, followed by a calve burning steep climb to the top of Wolf Ridge. We actually missed the trail head and had to back track. As we climbed, I got nervous that we were off course as we had not seen a ribbon (or we had missed it). Clark ran back down the hill to check and ensure that we were in fact going in the correct direction. As he ran back toward me, Clark took a warrior fall and I felt bad. I then moved and ran everything I possibly could. I simply wanted to be done, but I also felt like I was getting a second wind. I continued to sound like a broken record of asking Clark if anyone was behind us. I refused to look. My friend Carla taught me when you are leading, you never look back. When I crested the top, I was elated. It was all downhill from here, but easier said than done as my quads and body were screaming. Clark figured we had about 1.5 miles to go. I put on some music and started the descent. I glided down the hill as fast as my legs would take me and felt as if I traversed the last 4 miles of this race incredibly well. I could see the beach and the finish were in sight. I remember the tears welling up but I told myself to stay calm and focus all the way to the end. As I ran the final straightaway, I was in awe. Twenty-three hours and thirteen minutes later, my goal became a reality. I ran 100.2 miles on a very difficult course and I won the race! The Race Director also yelled out that I broke the course record by 3.5 hours. I was simply in shock. I turned around and gave my pacer, Clark a hug and we made our way through the finish area.

As I reflected on many hours, I knew that I dug deep both physically and mentally. I set a goal, embraced the risks and went for it. I believed in myself, ran with confidence and experience and had one of the best races of my life. I could not have done this without the support of many people. My crew chief, Mike, Mellyn and my pacers, Tom and Clark were amazing. My Dad, Angie, Trudy, and all my friends (Jenny, Rich, Carla, Sandra, Monica, Trish, Christina, Pat and Bill….) and supporters at home cheering for me inspired me all day and night. They lifted my spirits and encouraged me every step of the way.

Thanks to Patagonia for the awesome trail running gear to allow me to look, feel and perform my best. Thanks to the power of Recovox for helping and promoting my recovery all through my training and post race recovery. I would not have felt as strong without the support.

This race was my 12th 100 miler and my 5th 100 mile champion title.

About 300 people joined an impromptu bike ride with Lance Armstrong after he issued an open invitation on a Twitter post

About 300 people have joined an impromptu bike ride with cycling legend Lance Armstrong after he issued an open invitation on a Twitter post.

The seven-times Tour de France winner alerted fans that he was coming to Scotland during a Tweet on Monday.

He posted: "Hey Glasgow, Scotland! I'm coming your way tomorrow. Who wants to go for a bike ride?"

Armstrong set off from Ashtree House Hotel, Paisley, Renfrewshire, shortly after 1230 BST on Tuesday.

How great was it that the Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree came out? Legend
Lance Armstrong

Up to 300 people are thought to have turned out for the event - including Scottish former cycling champion, Graeme Obree.

After the event, Armstrong posted the Tweets: "Thanks to everyone who turned up to ride in Paisley! I figured we'd have a nice ride for a dozen or so. But 100's came. Haha! Awesome!

"And yes, next time I'll try to bring some sun. You bring the translator (Scottish to Texan) and I'll bring the rays. Seriously, thanks again.

"And how great was it that the Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree came out? Legend."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Armstrong: I'd bet on Colorado stage race happening....Giro or TOC in 2010?

Lance Armstrong says he'd bet on a professional stage race returning to Colorado in 2011, in part because Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is "motivated and eager" to make it happen.

Armstrong, speaking to reporters after winning the Leadville Trail 100 on Saturday, also said he hasn't decided whether to race in the 2010 Tour of California, which has been moved back to May and now conflicts with the Giro d'Italia.

On the Colorado tour, Armstrong says he remains in close touch with Ritter.

"I spoke with the governor yesterday. It's ongoing, he continues to be motivated and eager to do something," he said.

"It's not an easy thing to pull off in terms of the logistics of the race, getting the racers, finding the space on the calendar, finding the sponsorship, all those things but he's excited so ..."

Armstrong said he'd like to see the race held in August of 2011.

"(It's) too late for 2010 because we missed the UCI cutoff ... so we'll shoot for 2011 ... If I was a betting man I would say it's gonna happen," he said.

California or Italy?
Armstrong said he was pleased that the California tour was moved to a later date.

"May is better than February, the weather was so bad ... but it's a conflict for me because while I suffered through the Giro I think it was not bad preparation for the Tour. But the Tour of California is, as of this date, the biggest race in America, so I've got to think about it."