Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lance Armstrong training with Alberto Salazar

Lance Armstrong has enlisted the help of the legendary running coach Alberto Salazar to help prepare him for the 2011 Ironman World Championships. Here are some shots of Salazar teaching Lance about proper running form.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ivan Basso Checks In......

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has declared himself disappointed with his results in March, as he failed to make the impact he wished in both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya. After an effervescent opening to the season that included victory in February’s GP Lugano, the Italian fell short of his expectations in the past month.

“I’m the first one not to be satisfied with what I gathered in March and in such cases it’s right to recognise that,” Basso said. “My objectives were, and are, to ride the spring at a high level.”

Basso was 7th on the queen mountain stage to Andorra in the Volta a Catalunya, and would finish in the same position overall. While Basso was not content with this result, nor with his 4th place finish at Tirreno, he was able to console himself with the knowledge that his form is currently more advanced than it was this time last year.

“My athletic performance was positive, better than it was in the spring of 2010,” Basso said. “For this reason the fact that I didn’t win doesn’t worry me: the condition is there. Now I will tackle the April races, with routes that on paper are more demanding and more suited to my characteristics, so I’m convinced I can do well.”

This optimism was echoed by Liquigas trainer Paolo Slongo, who believes that Basso’s qualities of endurance will yield greater dividends as the year progresses.

“Ivan’s resistance is his strong point,” Slongo said. “We can compare his motor to a diesel: the peak performance does not come immediately but over long distances. The athletic tests that we did before and after the two races confirmed Ivan’s good condition, in line with what we expected. I’m convinced that if Tirreno and Catalonia had offered more stages with summit finishes, the results could have been different.

Lance Armstrong Talks About the Cuts on Cancer Research

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dave Zabriskie - Criterium INTL

By: DZ

Set my alarm for 4am and got in the taxi at 4:30. We’re heading over to David Millar’s house. We’re traveling together for the infamous Criterium International a three stage event typically held in France and this year hosted by the tiny French island of Corsica. We were off to the small Perpignan airport north of the French city of Perpignan about 100 kilometers from Girona. The driver didn’t quite take the right exit to the airport and we were getting close to missing our check-in time. That’s the type of thing that always goes over well with the team management. But after a few tricky maneuvers we made it through and forked over 165 Euro’s for that piece of questionable taxi service. First stop is Paris then onto the island of Corsica. When we land I thought, ‘wow, we’re only here for two days…48 hours’.

Early into my arrival I tell teammate Andrew Talansky (‘Silver Bells’) that he will be Nick Nolte and I will be the wise-cracking Eddie Murphy, then I let out one of those signature Eddie Murphy laughs to confirm that I’m not fooling around. I’m confident the kid can pull off Nolte and there’s little doubt about my Eddie Murphy. I tweeted that we were play acting the 1982 classic, 48 Hours, and someone told me to sing Sting’s ‘Roxanne‘ from the prison scene. Now I thought that was a great idea so I borrowed some headphones and had Silver Bells hold the camera. It was only 30 seconds of video but it took two days to get it loaded up on the internet from my phone. It could have been the quality of my impersonation but I really don’t think the phone power was strong on the island.

Stage 1 was a 200 km road race and it was quite hilly. When it was all done people said we climbed over 13,000 feet. The whole day was up and down. There was a lot of attacking coming from Jens Voigt who was on a mission to have a hard day and attempt to capture his 6th Criterium Int’l win. Jens was in all the breaks except the decisive one. I saw him pull over to the side of the road to go talk to the team car, I suppose. We were sans radios, so he must’ve been asking them if he should attack because that’s exactly what happened next. He bridged up to the break that was 4 or 5 minutes up the road. He’s a true battler and he didn’t make it to the finish line in good shape. On the last climb I was in the front group and there was only about 10 km to go and my body gave out on me, really felt like I was having a heart attack and I had to stop pedaling to make it stop. I caught up to Wiggo who was also having a bad day, and he was going pretty easy but I got dropped from his wheel too. Finally made it up to the finish and over to the camper. It was freezing. I put a leg warmer on my head to stay warm and started holding onto Silver Bells for some warmth.

This race always coincides with a time change and a two stage day that was next. We woke up at 6am for breakfast but it was really 5am. Ahhh! The stage started at 9am and it was sunny but cold. Stage 2 was only 75km but it took us two hours to finish. Our team was controlling the race because we had one of the only sprinters left in the race that made the time cut the day before. Jens rode up to me and said wouldn’t it be nice if no one attacked and it was nice and calm to the finish. I said, ‘that would be nice, Jens, but there are people like you who get all crazy.’ He said, ‘yeah, crazy like believing in themselves and that anything is possible!’ It was classic Jens. Like myself, the man loves the movies, video games and his kids, and he still has the attitude that super powers are possible. Our sprinter Murilo Fischer showed some power this day and took second for the stage.

The same afternoon was Stage 3, short but intense 7 km TT. Silver Bells and I took a big long nap. We woke up in character,traded some verbal jabs and got some coffee and drove the course. It looked like a good one and I was excited. I gave it a go and ended up 4th on the day, beating Silver Bells by one second. I told him with all the earnestness of my Eddie Murphy character that I double flatted and had a bike change. I’m certain he believed me for awhile.

I hear the tour will start in Corsica in 2013. It’s going to be a good one if they use the hills we went over. I look forward to coming back for it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ride With Tim DeBoom In Kona Hawaii

Tim is returning to Kona…this April. Tim will be leading a group ride starting at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows and heading onto the world famous Hawaiian Ironman Course along the Queen K Highway and up to Hawi. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the CNN Fit Team will be along for the ride as well. The event takes place April 16th. More details coming.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An open letter from Jens Voigt

The German veteran puts across his side of the race radio debate.

Words by Jens Voigt

Dear cycling fans,

The ongoing discussion about the radio ban seems to put a lot of different views and opinions out there. That’s why I feel the urge to put things in a perspective from a rider’s point of view.

I am 100 per cent pro the radio, for different reasons. The most important argument in my view is the security, not only for the riders but also for the crowds. Let me give you one or two examples.

Last year in an U23 race in France a spectator ignored all regulations and entered the parcours in the opposite direction of the race. What normally happens is this: the race director puts that news on ‘radio course’, the official communication channel between the race organizer, the UCI and the sports directors. Immediately, all sports directors spread the message amongst their riders over the radio to prevent a potential fatal accident. Now, in that French race there were no radios, which is the case in all U23 races. Try to put yourself into the position of any sports director, that knows there is a car riding towards the bunch. He’s not allowed to drive to his riders and warn them. All he can do is sit and wait. And maybe think about what he can tell the parents of one of his riders if he got hit by the car. Because this is what happened: the car hit a young Dutch rider, who was in a coma for three weeks. Everybody present in that race agreed that the accident could have been prevented if the riders had been wearing radios.

Now, I ask you: did anybody ‘who wants cycling to be more thrilling’ go to the hospital to see this young man and explain to his crying mother why its necessary that we keep on working on a radio ban? I don’t think so.

Another example, coming from my own experience. Two years ago I crashed badly in the Tour, riding in a breakaway. While I was lying there, bleeding, there was a big fuzz going on. Cars, doctors, press, etc. At least half of the road was blocked. Keep in mind that there are still 150 riders coming down that mountain with 80km/h. Luckily, the sports directors were able to warn their riders. Can you imagine that big group of riders flying down the descent, trying to make up time and come back to the group in front of them come around that corner unwarned and see half of the road is blocked with cars?!

Now let me ask you: aren’t these two stories – only these two – not enough to drop the discussion? If I had a fatal crash, who of you, who think the radio ban is a great idea, will go to Berlin and explain to my six children that it was the right decision and daddy was just an unlucky victim in the so important battle for more drama in cycling?

There’s more. Can anybody please explain me how we’re going to attract sponsors if we develop our sport back into the stone age? An anecdote: two years ago Andy Schleck punctured five kilometres before the finish line. Luckily, we had radios and warned Bjarne Riis, who could bring Andy a new wheel in no time. Moreover, the team waited for Andy and we managed to get him back into the peloton, save his white jersey and his second place in the GC. Everybody was happy: Andy, the team, Bjarne and also the sponsor. Now let me tell you the same story, but now without the radio. Andy punctures, only one rider sees it, it’s noisy because of all the spectators, the other team riders move on, Andy raises his arm for the official sign of a puncture, other teams notice that Andy is not there, they start riding faster and faster. Once Andy has a new wheel, there’s only one rider there to bring him back. Andy loses his white jersey and the second place, finishes ninth overall, Bjarne is unhappy and so are our sponsors. In the end the sponsor might even pull back and it’s the end of the team. Thanks to the radio ban. Of course, this is exaggerated, but I just want to get my point across.

Another urban myth is that the breakaway has better chances without the radios – never heard more nonsense than that. I am in the lucky position to talk on both sides, I was often in breakaways and I liked to have the radio, get some support from my team car, some motivating words and get exact info what team is chasing me with how many riders, so I can plan my effort after the action in the peloton. If i won a race in a breakaway it was because I was strong, in good shape, suffered like crazy and worked hard – does anybody think the radio made me go faster?

As far as I know every World Tour team pays about €150,000 per year for the licence. Feel free to make the calculation for 18 teams. One would expect that for that amount of money there would also be an interest in making the teams and riders happy.

To all the ‘fans of yesterday’, the ‘fans of tradition’ – what are you people talking about? Do you really want to go back to the times of Jacques Anquetil? In that time the Tour de France was a tiny little race with riders from France and maybe Belgium and Italy. Maybe 25 journalists where there. Each edition cost more money than it actually generated. Is this what you want? Because that’s how tradition looks to me.

To the journalists that support the radio ban – what are you talking about? How do you even dare to try to influence our working conditions? Do we riders give you tips of how you should work? Do we push for a ban on cell phones or laptops for you? Do we want to make your lives ‘more interesting and spontaneous’?

Finally, to the race organizers that agree to ban the radios – what are you talking about? Do I tell you to not use your mobile phone during the stage? No, I don’t. So what gives you the right to ask me to drop my communication? But if you are interested in more dramatic cycling, I’ve got some ideas: drop the silly, long stages, don’t let us suffer three or four days in the high mountains and don’t give us a week of boring, super long, flat stages. Why not consider some circuit stages: the fans will see us more often, it’s easier and cheaper for the tv crews and it’s safe to ride without radios.

Why don’t we agree on opening the communication available for everyone, like in Formula 1? That will attract people and the sport would prove to be modern and global. Everybody who is in the cycling world – fans, organizers, sponsors, riders, UCI and media – will agree that we face some more serious problems in the moment. So, let’s talk and find a way out of this homemade problem.



Cycling enthusiasts can kick off the Amgen Tour of California in style during the Start at the Top - Lake Tahoe Legends Ride scheduled for Saturday, May 14. Participating cyclists will have the opportunity to ride the majority of the Stage 1 route of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. Considered the largest cycling event in North America, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California races nearly 800 miles and visits 15 cities in eight days, attracting approximately two million people.

The Legends Ride allows participants to ride the Stage 1 course of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California and pedal elbow to elbow with cycling legends and dignitaries, including Bobby Julich, Sky ProCycling Race Coach and 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist; and John Howard, who rode on the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympic Teams, set the world 24-hour cycling distance record of 593 miles and finished second in the Race Across America (1982), which he co-founded. Other legends include Max Jones, Mike Neel, David Brink and Roland Della Santa.

The Legends Ride is produced by TGFT Productions and Bike the West and is fully supported with rest stops, technical support, first aid and support and gear assistance. Options include a 72-mile roadway route around Lake Tahoe and a 35-mile ride that transfers participants from South Shore to North Lake Tahoe via the Tahoe Queen paddle wheeler to cycle around East Shore and finish in Stateline, Nev. A sightseeing boat cruise is available for non-cyclists.

The event is open to the first 1,000 cyclists who sign-up online by April 30. Registration is $125/person for the 72-mile ride, and $140 /person for the Boat Cruise +35-mile option, which is expected to sell out.

Pre-registered participants will receive a Lake Tahoe welcome bag with a commemorative event number, wrist-band, water bottle, ride pin and t-shirt. They also have the benefits of food and beverages at rest stops along the route, lunch and an after ride pasta feed with live music.

The Start at the Top - Lake Tahoe Legends Ride is supported by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association as well as cycling clubs, organizations and advocacy groups in and around the Lake Tahoe region: The Alta Alpina Cycling Club, Alta Alpina Challenge - Riding the Wild Sierra; the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition - Tahoe Bike Challenge: the North Lake Tahoe Music Dept., the Tahoe Sierra Century Ride: the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association and the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board.

Check-in for pre-registered cyclists and late registration is Friday, May 13, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., at the Horizon Casino Resort Convention Center Ballroom in Stateline, South Shore Lake Tahoe. Confirmation number and identification are required to pick up materials.

Late and same day registration is May 14, will be in Parking Lot C of the Horizon Casino Resort, from 6 - 7 a.m. For details about start times and location, visit to

TGFT Productions / Bike the West also produces the 20th Annual America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride - Lake Tahoe, June 5; Tour of the Carson Valley - Barbecue & Ice Cream Social, June 26; Tour de Tahoe - Bike Big Blue, September 11 and 20th Annual OATBRAN - "One Awesome Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada, Sept 25-Oct 1. For more information, visit

The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will cover nearly 800 miles and visit 15 Host Cities for official stage starts and finishes, while other cities along the route also will have the opportunity to witness the excitement of elite professional cycling. Stages for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California include:
Stage 1: Sunday, May 15 - South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe-Northstar at Tahoe Resort
Stage 2: Monday, May 16 - North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA to Sacramento
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 17 - Auburn to Modesto
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 18 - Livermore to San Jose
Stage 5: Thursday, May 19 - Seaside to Paso Robles
Stage 6: Friday, May 20 - Solvang Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Saturday, May 21 - Claremont to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 22 - Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks

For best viewing points, where to catch the riders up close, a complete list of events (including the Tahoe 10-Day Countdown leading up to the race) and lodging accommodations, click to

Kara Goucher - That Felt Good

by Kara Goucher

I’ve gotten exactly what I needed to get out of each race I’ve done this year. The difference with last weekend’s race—the New York City Half Marathon—was that what I need to get out of it was the satisfaction of a really good performance. And let me tell you, that was a lot more enjoyable than what I got (and needed to get) out of my previous race, the USA Cross Country Championships, which was pain, losing badly, and coming away with a fire lit under me!

Last weekend’s race wasn’t perfect. I’m still not 100 percent as fit as I could be, and I made one tactical mistake. But I came away from it pretty happy with myself. The first mile of any race is always telling. I wasn’t sure if I would feel great because of my recent breakthrough in training or flat because of the 120-mile weeks I’ve been logging. Turned out I felt great. And it didn’t hurt that the pace was honest but not crazy-aggressive. The first few miles in Central Park were hilly, and I was happy to see that I seemed stronger on the hills than most of the girls in the lead pack. That’s a good sign, considering I’m training for a hilly marathon in Boston.

In the past, when I’ve gotten about seven miles into a half marathon, I’ve found myself thinking, “I can’t believe I still have to run another six miles!” But that didn’t happen this time. I think that’s because of the heavy mileage and the strength work I’ve been doing.

At ten miles, the lead group really sped up, and split up. I went with the move initially, but then I started to worry about blowing up, and let three women go ahead of me. About a mile later I realized I felt fine. I hadn’t let the others go because I had to; I’d let them go because I was afraid. That was my big tactical mistake of the race.

I rallied and ran as hard as I could to the finish. I was able to pass Alene Amare Shewarge for third place, but I wasn’t quite able to catch Edna Kiplagat for second place. Still, my last mile was my fastest and strongest of the race. I almost felt like I could have kept going, which has certainly never happened to me before.

I must confess that I had an advantage in the race, though. From start to finish, spectators were shouting encouragement to me and holding up signs with my name on them. It gave me a big lift, although at times I worried that my competitors might be annoyed by all the attention I was getting. Oh, well, let them be annoyed! Thank you to everyone who was out there supporting me!

Ivan Basso praises Alberto Contador's form in Volta a Catalunya

Italian lost some time but vows to fight on

Ivan Basso, who had announced that he came to the Volta a Catalunya to win it, had to give in to somebody stronger than himself in yesterday's queen stage up to Andorra-Vallnord. Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador simply shrugged off any attempts to destabilise his reign as he set out on the final climb's steep slopes to take the stage victory and overall command.

Basso finished seventh, 38 seconds down on the Spaniard, and acknowledged his helplessness with regard to his rival. "There was nothing I could do," the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Contador was clearly stronger. When he attacked, it was impossible to follow him.

"I'm not happy with my performance, but I'm not really disappointed, either. I had other expectations for this stage, but you also have to remain realistic," said Basso, who had announced his will to win the summit finish stage as well as the overall classification before he started the race.

The 2010 Giro d'Italia winner assessed his showing in light of his competitors. "When all the best riders are there, it's always difficult to know whether it's you who are going slowly or the others who go very fast. I lost 15 seconds on Scarponi, who has exceptional form, and I took 12 seconds from Evans... It's a discreet performance. Now, I will try to do something on the remaining stages."

The Volta a Catalunya still has three stages left before it finishes in Barcelona on Sunday. Friday's stage five is particularly mountainous and could see Contador's overall lead threatened, even if it is not a summit finish.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

K-Swiss Issues $1 Million Challenge to Raelerts

Inspired by the vision of professional triathlete Michael Raelert, the California-based shoe and apparel company K-Swiss will take its triathlon commitment to a new level at this year’s Ironman World Championships. Raelert has vowed to cross the finish line in tandem with his older brother Andreas Raelert in an effort to take first and second place in the event held every year in Kona, Hawaii. In response, the company’s CEO has pledged to award a total of $1 million to the duo if they successfully meet the challenge.

The bonus would mark the largest sum ever awarded in the competition’s 33-year history, putting the payout in the range of such events as Wimbledon and the Masters. In 1990, World Triathlon Corporation offered a 100,000 bonus for breaking the course record, but in terms of sponsorship pay outs, this is a true first.

"This puts some intrigue into an already compelling race."

The German-born Raelert brothers, just four years apart in age, currently stand as two of the world’s leading triathletes. In a profile on the two he wrote for Issue 04 of LAVA, writer Jay Prasuhn sagely interpreted the current stage of Ironman as “The Raelert Era;” this recent development—even if it doesn’t mark any definitive changes in the sponsorship structure of the sport—does says something about the brothers’ rise to the top.

And it’s not a rise the two have won purely through luck or good breeding. Andreas, after going pro over a decade ago on the ITU circuit, debuted his long-course racing career at the Clearwater 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Fla. in 2008. This was followed by a win at Ironman Arizona—his first attempt at the iron-distance race. In 2009, he placed third in Kona and second at Ironman Germany, and this year he bagged first at the Ironman European Championship and second in Kona in a head-to-head battle with eventual champion Chris McCormack.

Andreas' younger brother Michael has applied equal dedication to the sport since he burst onto the 70.3 with a Clearwater win of his own in 2009, followed by a stellar 2010 with wins in Oceanside and Wildflower. He has never raced in Kona, however, or any race Andreas has entered out of admiration for his older brother, and it is this kinship and dedication that K-Swiss is calling the chief motivation for their newly issued challenge. In doing so, they hope to reward the athleticism and drive that so often goes unrecognized in the sports world.

Last year at Kona, Steven Nichols, CEO of K-Swiss, asked Michael why he wasn’t competing. The athlete told Nichols that ever since he was a child, his brother Andreas has been his hero, and that he simply couldn’t race against him. “Michael said that the only way he would compete against Andreas was if they finished in unison,” Nichols said. The athlete’s response moved and motivated Nichols: “This really shows the world what the triathlon community is all about—we hope to meet them at the finish line in Kona with a check in hand to award that dedication.”

Through a grassroots effort broadcast and shared on the company’s Tumblr page (, K-Swiss hopes to draw attention to the sport of triathlon and its passionate community. Erik Vervloet, Vice President of Sports Marketing for the company, says the decision was motivated by the brothers’ dedication to the sport and each other. He said that even though every October something incredible happens in Kona, for whatever reason, there aren’t very many eyes on it. It's true that most people outside the Ironman community see it as crazy and unattainable, not as an entertaining and inspiring event—even for those who don’t run, bike, or swim.

“It’s a shame. The spirit of Kona is incredible, the beauty, the history, everything,” Vervloet said. “This is sport that changes people’s lives. A sport where the amateur starts in the same water as the pros. This puts some intrigue into an already compelling race. People tune in when there’s money on the line. People don’t watch poker because it’s nine fascinating people sitting around the table.”

For K-Swiss, a company that has sat at the forefront of the team model in triathlon, it all comes back to cameraderie: “Triathlon is a lonely sport, and it’s difficult to win Kona on your own,” Vervloet said. “But two brothers training, supporting, and winning together would be a game-changing moment for the sport.”

Issues of rules and regulations will surely follow in the wake of the company’s decision to essentially pad the prize purse. And whether or not other companies and race organizers follow suit is, of course, a lingering question. But one thing is certain: this is a significant move in a sport that’s slipped under the public radar for reasons many of us lament.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lance Armstrong’s Coach: He Wants To Win An Ironman

Running legend Alberto Salazar has confirmed that not only is Lance Armstrong seriously training for Ironman, but that the seven-time Tour de France winner is out to win one of them. In a recent interview with Competitor Radio, Salazar – who has helped Lance on the run since 2006 - commented that Armstrong is not only aiming to make a comeback in the sport of triathlon, but he’s looking to do it in a big way.

“When he asked me to help pace, obviously I was happy to assist,” Salazar explained. “I was honored. My main goal was to slow him down. It was hard. He wanted to go out a lot faster than we did. I got him to slow down some but we were still out there a little too fast.”

Ever since 2006, the two have kept up communication. It appears that Armstrong is now using Salazar as his go-to guy when it comes to advice on how to become a faster runner.

“We’ve kept up the acquaintance,” Salazar continued. “He was actually out here two weeks ago. We did a bunch of video analysis of him running and so forth, and I was filming him and giving him tips on things that he needs to change and I gave him some workouts to do while he’s up in Aspen. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but if he wants to continue doing it, I’m going to continue to give him workouts in his running. He wants to get very competitive in triathlon.”

So exactly how fast does Armstrong hope to run a marathon at the end of an Ironman? According to Salazar, Armstrong has a pretty exact number in mind.

“He’s going into this seriously,” he said. “The way he talked about it, he said, ‘You need to be able to get me to run 2:30 when I’m fresh. If I can do that, I can run 2:50-2:55 [in an Ironman], and if I can do that, I’ll win.’”

Many triathlon experts are quick to point out that Armstrong’s 2:46 marathon performance at the ING New York City Marathon in 2006 does not suggest he’s capable of running fast enough in an Ironman to contest for the win. Based on his conversations with the cycling star, Salazar does not believe Armstrong was trained to his potential in that race.

“I was talking to a triathlon coach today and he said, ‘No way. He ran 2:46. You know how hard he trained to do that?’ I told him, ‘You have no idea how little he trained to do that.’ He was running like 20 miles a week. I mean, it was a joke. Lance told me, ‘You know we said my longest run was like 16, but it was actually closer to 10.’”

Regardless of how fast Armstrong is capable of running, Salazar’s comments make it clear that an attempt at an Ironman is likely in the near future.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Summer Sanders - My divorced family is perfectly imperfect

By: Summer Sanders

Something just happened that made me want to brag a bit about my parents. I can't talk about that "something" but I will say this, I am very proud of my them. They divorced when I was 7 and my brother was 9. I had no idea what "divorce" actually meant at the time and when they told me that my mom was moving out and getting her own place, I quickly drew up a plan where they could both live in our current house by sticking to a strict schedule when it came to the kitchen(the only room they both needed to use.) The plan went out the window and so did a little piece of my heart as I moved houses every six months for the next 10 years.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel sorry for myself. I think divorce had a ton of positive affects on my life. It allowed me to REALLY get to know each of my parents. I am very proud of my relationships with my mom and dad. When you are a kid of divorce, you either talk about your feelings or you drown a little bit and WE TALKED. There are only a few fights that I remember between my mom and dad but they are far out-weighed by the great times. It was when I was about 12 years old or so when I noticed they started to become friends again.

Often times, my parents were the only two at our swim meets. So, they were kind of forced to talk to each other. I also like to think that they decided that it was worth it to try to patch up their broken relationship enough so that we could all hang out together as a "family" when needed. And, "when needed" ended up being quite often as time ticked on. Christmas', Thanksgiving's, birthday's and swim meets, we were often a mixed up random bunch, but we were together. My mom would bring her boyfriend, my dad would bring his girlfriend and my parents would, suck it up.

I was married when I was 24 and divorced 3 years later. I am thankful that we did not have any children and that our break was clean. Believe me, I know how difficult it was for my mom and dad to become friends, and I am damn proud of them for it. They have put my brother and I and our happiness before their own. They continue to do this now for us and even more so for their grandkids. Time is precious, and they are soaking up every second. My mom said to me the other day that the fact that her and my dad come together during the holidays is unique maybe even a bit strange. I told her that although I think it was unique 20 years ago, it is becoming more normal. In a way, they indirectly paved the way! Divorce can bring out the worst in people. I am proud to say that my parents are amazing and they have brought out the best in each other!

For more on Summer please click on the title link.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brad Kearns Seminar At the Studio In Danville, CA April 28th

Brad Kearns will come to the Studio in Danville California to discuss weight loss for endurance athletes and devoted fitness enthusiasts. Despite impressive weekly workout volumes and careful attention to healthy eating and portion control, many active folks struggle to achieve and maintain ideal body composition. Burnout is a related challenge, as folks with busy modern lives attempt to balance life responsibilities with a stressful training schedule.

Brad will discuss principles of the Primal Blueprint , the sensational new diet, exercise and lifestyle program that he has worked with fitness expert Mark Sisson on for the past three years. The Primal Blueprint reached the #1 ranking on Health&Fitness category in March of 2010 and is enjoying strong global popularity. Brad will discuss dietary and training modifications that you can make to immediately begin dropping excess body fat, without having to resort to deprivation, obsessive portion control, or exhaustive exercise so common with mainstream programs. The Primal approach is about moderating insulin production and balancing exercise stress to naturally stimulate optimal fat metabolism around the clock and avoid the fatigue/burnout/sugar craving cycle that many serious exercisers are stuck in.

Brad is a former national champion and #3 world-ranked professional triathlete and noted author, motivational speaker and coach. Brad is the producer of the Auburn Triathlon every May in Auburn, CA. He has written nine books about athletics, peak performance, and health, including a recent 30-day comprehensive weight loss program called the Primal Leap that he will introduce at the lecture.

Cost: Free

Time/Date: April 28th 6:30 PM

Place: the Studio (Danville, CA)

Very limited space. RSVP to

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chris Horner to headline Cascade GranFondo

RadioShack’s Chris Horner will headline a first year mass-start group ride called Cascade Gran Fondo. The ride is set to depart from Bend, OR, Horner’s hometown, on 20 August.

The ride proceeds will benefit a trio of causes, including: the LIVESTRONG Foundation, World Bicycle Relief and the local Mt Bachelor Ski Education Foundation.

“I have done a few Gran Fondos before and I thought that Bend would be a fantastic place to have one,” Horner said. “I knew that the town of Bend would get right behind it.”

The Cascade Gran Fondo will travel a, single, 85-mile mountainous course around Mt Bachelor Ski Resort, which boasts nearly 5,000ft of climbing and descending. The ride is set to start and finish in the Old Mill District of downtown Bend, which hosted the 2009 and 2010 US national cyclo-cross championships, and head out along the Deschutes River straight into the Cascade Mountains.

“We will be riding on a gorgeous loop around Mt Bachelor,” Horner said. “The climb out of town is about 20 miles long. We’ll ride out to the Sun River Cut Off and drop down to the Sun River. We will loop around the mountain, climb back up to the top of it and then drop back down into town.”

Sponsors of the Cascade Gran Fondo include VisitBend and CamelBak, while the ride is courting Horner’s team, RadioShack, and The Bend Bulletin local newspaper for additional support.

Registration for the Cascade Gran Fondo is US$120 for adults and $30 for juniors under the age of 18. Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.

“Anyone who registers for the ride can also donate to the event and they can also raise their own donations prior to the ride,” Horner said. “All of those funds will go back to each of the charities.”

A series of pre-ride events include ‘An Evening with Chris Horner — Stories from the Road’ held on 18 August in Bend’s Tower Theatre and a VIP dinner to be held on 19 August.

Horner has participated in several similar events including the Portland Echelon Gran Fondo last year. He will arrive to the Cascade Gran Fondo following the bulk of his racing season including the Tour de France, where he is aiming for a top-five placing.

For more information please click on the title link.

Mario Cipollini’s Milan-San Remo form guide

Super Mario analyses the chances of Cavendish, Hushovd, Freire and Gilbert

Mario Cipollini epitomises Milan-San Remo perhaps more than any other rider in the near 100-year history of the race.

Cipollini rode ‘La Classicissima’ in each of his 17 seasons as a professional, with neither illness nor injury stopping him from setting off for the 300km ride to the Mediterranean coast.

Milan-San Remo became ‘his’ race after seeing for the first time in 1982 with his father on the Turchino.

“My brother Cesare was in the early break and my dad was really excited and proud of him,” he told Cyclingnews. “But when we next caught up with the race on the coast in Varazze, Cesare had been dropped and my dad was really disappointed, so much so that we didn’t even go to San Remo to see the finish. That’s when I fell in love with the race and I promised my dad I’d win it one day.”

Cipollini had to wait 14 years before finally winning Milan-San Remo in 2002, when he made it over the Poggio in the front group and then powered up the Via Roma to win the sprint ahead of Fred Rodriguez and Markus Zberg. He won the world title in the same year and ended his career with 189 victories but victory in Milan-San Remo was the best day of his career.

“I love everything about Milan-San Remo,” he said. “It’s the way the race is so finely balanced and the how the tension and adrenaline grows during the long ride start from early morning cold in Milan to the finish in the sun in Sam Remo. It’s also close to the date of my birthday on March 22 and so was always a special day for me.”

Cipollini retired in 2005 but still follows the racing with a critical eye. He spent three days at Tirreno-Adriatico and studied the favourites for this year’s closely.

“I think it’s going to be a great race this year. There’s no big favourite and everyone seems at about the same level,” he said. “It’s the first race where everyone comes together for the first big show-down of the season.

Cipollini is never afraid to speak his mind. Here is his exclusive form guide for this year’s race:

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

“I’m a big fan of Mark because of the way he sprints and because his character but I’m disappointed to see he’s so far behind with his preparation.”

“He doesn’t seem mentally or physically at his best and doesn’t seem able to compete with the best sprinters. He’s only won one minor sprint at the Tour of Oman and I was surprised to see him sit up in both sprints at Tirreno. I don’t know what his problem is but if he has won Milan-San Remo and loves the race as much as he says he does, then he should be at his very best. But I don’t think he is. Of course I’d love for him to prove me wrong on Saturday.”

The Garmin-Cervelo Dilemma

“The Garmin-Cervelo team will have more tactical options than any other team thanks to having Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler in their line-up but that could also cause them a dilemma.”

“Hushovd and Farrar worked well together in the finale of the two sprints at Tirreno. Farrar won the first one well but then Haedo got the better of him quite easily the day after. Farrar is fast but I think Milan-San Remo might still be a bit too much for him to handle this year. I think Hushovd is more of a guarantee for a result. He’s proved he’s fast after 250km by winning the world title and I’m sure the team would love to see him win in the rainbow jersey. The problem could be Haussler. If he wants to ride his own race it could lead to some confusion. It’ll be up to the team’s managers to sort that out before the race.”

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

“A lot of people seem to have forgotten Oscar Freire this year but they made the same mistake last year and he won. He’s been quite so far but he’s won three sprints and was often in the front group in Tirreno. I think he’s been hiding and saving himself. He’s won Milan-San Remo three times and has been world champion three times. He knows how to prepare for it perfectly and is smart enough to know how to take advantage of other teams and riders. I’m sure he’ll be up there if there is a sprint.”

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

“A lot of people are talking about Gilbert but I’m not totally convinced. He won a stage at Tirreno and won it well but struggled on the two uphill finishes in Chieti and Macerata, which were in theory suited to him.”

“Gilbert’s big handicap is that if he wants to win he’s got to try and get away with a group on the Cipressa or the Poggio. If someone like Pozzato wakes up and is on a good day and goes with him, then it could work out, especially if the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Alessandro Ballan, Lars Boom and Edvald Boasson Hagen go with them too. The problem is that there is always a team ready to chase a break down for their sprinter and nobody gets away on the Poggio anymore.”

Other contenders

“As well as the riders I’ve talked about, we can’t forget some outsiders like Alessandro Petacchi, Tom Boonen, Andre Greipel, Giovanni Visconti, Daniele Bennati. I'll also be keeping my eye on Matthew Goss and Michael Matthews, they're both tough Australians and are fast too. All of these riders have got a chance but exactly how much of a chance will depend on what happens on the day and how they feel after 300km.”

“That’s what so great about Milan-San Remo. Every one sets off from Milan dreaming about winning it but in reality very few riders have the talent, tactics, fitness and the fast finish to be first over the line in San Remo.”

Another Great "Primal" Success Story - I'm a lean, mean racing machine!


I have worked harder than ever on my fitness and I reckon I have never been in better shape.

I won't say you wouldn't recognise me if you saw me in the street, but lots of people who have not seen me since the end of the 2010 season are quite impressed with how I look now.

I've lost a couple of kilos and my body is really well toned and have been very strict with my diet, following one called the Primal Blueprint. I am not one for fad diets but this has been amazing.

I have cut out carbs and focused on meat and vegetables. The diet says it gives you "vibrant health and boundless energy" and this is certainly what I have got.

It's an exciting challenge ahead of me but feel I am ready now in every way. It all starts this weekend with the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for the world's top sports and GT cars.

I'll be in a BMW M3 fighting for victory in the GT class against Ferraris, Chevrolet Corvettes and Porsches, which will make for fierce competition.

There is no better place to start our campaign. Sebring is an old track with an incredible history, having held the first US F1 Grand Prix in 1959.

It was previously used by the US Air Force, so there are parts of the track that are original runways laid in concrete, which makes it quite bumpy.

It is a pretty tough track that challenges both cars and drivers.

Teamwork is always important so I consider myself lucky to again be sharing the car with two great team-mates, my pals Dirk Muller and Joey Hand.

We came third last year so it would be great to be a couple of steps higher on the podium this year.

This whole week is intense as we are on track most of it to test and practise.

But for the fans, Sebring is very much a party event. American students are on Spring Break, so they descend on the place in their thousands to have a really good time.

They turn the centre of the track into a big party area where they pitch their tents and set up bars.

The noise that comes from it is often as loud as that made by the cars!

The ILMC will offer an entirely new focus for me. I'll be driving for two teams — BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan in US races and BMW Team Schnitzer around the rest of the world.

I know all the guys from Schnitzer very well as they were my opposition for many years in the European and World Touring Car Championships.

I have also raced with them in the past at various events including the 24-hour races at Le Mans and Nürburgring.

It is bound to be hectic out there on the 3.7 mile Sebring circuit. There are about 50 cars entered so you can never relax and must concentrate like mad.

But I am a bit like my kids at the moment. I am excited and can't wait for it to start.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Basso - “I’m not afraid of Contador or Schleck”

Ivan bassoIvan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has started 2011 in an entirely different way to 2010. Last season he barely registered a result before arriving at the Giro d’Italia, which he won; this year he has already won a race and is poised to finish on the podium of Tirreno-Adriatico. He currently sits third in the standings, just 12 seconds behind race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) with just the final 9.3km time trial to come.

The difference for Basso this season is his demeanour, as he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“I needed to win and I was stressed out for an entire season,” he said, “but after the victory in the Giro I spent a quiet winter and now I feel very good.

"Well, basically I've only done two races,” Basso explained, “I raced in Argentina just to train, I won in [the GP] Lugano, a one-day race, and this is the first stage race that I’ve done with any effort. Moreover, when you’re a leader you have a duty not to disappoint the fans; at 33, and with my experience, you can’t come to the races and do not play the role of protagonist."

Having won his second Giro, Basso is leaving his home tour to teammate Vincenzo Nibali, and will instead try to win his first Tour de France.

“It 's not the goal of the season but of my career,” he explained, “I’m working mainly for that. First I’m doing a couple of classics like La Flèche [Wallonne] and Liège[-Bastogne-Liège], but the goal remains that.

"But it is the most important race in the world and I feel like I’m very close."

In terms of his opponents, Basso feels that he has no one to fear; as someone who has served a suspension for doping himself, he doesn’t want to comment on the specifics of the case of 2010 winner Alberto Contador.

“Alberto is a friend,” he said. “Personally I have always had a good relationship with him. I won’t go into the details of his story, but I think the best Basso should not be afraid of anyone; neither of Contador, or Andy Schleck, neither [Samuel] Sanchez nor any for them. My goal is to get there in the best condition."

On the subject of his age, Basso is a little defensive, and he will by no means be the oldest pretender to the yellow jersey this July. He maintains that his enthusiasm for the sport, that he has held since his return from suspension, is more important.

“I do not feel old at 33, if that's what you mean,” he said in reply to a direct question on the subject. “If I don’t win I can try again. And if I win for me is the same. When you come across routes that are not suited to your characteristics such as the steep hills of le Marche and discover that you still have the desire to suffer at the front with the best, it means you are still intact and undamaged; at least in my head.

“Honestly: I still wanted to race and train as like kid, this counts in cycling, not your age."

Aside from himself, Basso sees the immediate future bright for his countrymen, with young Italians ready to move to the top in virtually every side of the sport.

"Italian cycling is good and should do very well,” he said. “We have youngsters like Oss for the classics, sprinters like Viviani. For stage races, it takes time, because before emerging at certain levels you must develop slowly and build strength and quality brick by brick. But I shouldn’t be pessimistic, Italian cycling has nothing to envy other nations for."

"The Primal Leap Program" Results Are In!

The results are in for the first group of Primal Leapers who went through the program at the Studio in Danville California. Han Chang was one of those who took on the challenge for 30 days.

"I was a skeptic when I first attended Mark Sisson's seminar at The Studio in Danville. It just sounded too easy and too good to be true: eat a lot of the things I like, limit cardio and intensive workouts, and STILL lose weight? After discussing it with my wife, (who dragged me to the seminar like a good Grokette), I figured what I'd been doing ain't working, so I might as well try something new".

"I started Primal Leap weighing 193 lbs with 27.5% fat (according to my handy bathroom scale). After 28 days, I was at 185.2 lbs and just under 25% fat, which is just under 7 lbs of fat loss, and I've dropped a pant size. This is the lightest I've been in almost five years. More importantly, my energy levels have gone way up, which is incredibly helpful at work. During a typical week, I do 1 hour of yoga twice a week, and 1 hour of spin once a week. Surprisingly, I haven't missed carbs and grains (although I still sneak a gourmet cupcake once a week). The Primal lifestyle really is as easy as it sounds".

Han Chang

Click on the title link to learn more about The Primal Leap Program.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tirreno-Adriatico remembers the victims of the Japanese earthquake

Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu leads a moment of silence

The Tirreno-Adriatico peloton gathered for a minute's silence before the start of the fourth stage on Saturday morning to remember the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu (RadioShack) stood head bowed at the front of the peloton, as the riders respected the moment of silence.

He revealed his parents were safe and plans to continue in the race. On twitter he thanked the riders who had shown their support but said “I'm worried. My parents were safe but there is so much damage because of this disaster. When I think about it, my heart is very painful.”

Today’s stage passes through the central Italian city of L’Aquila which was hit by a massive earthquake in 2009.

“We felt we had to do something to remember the victims of the tsunami,” race director Mauro Vegni told Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ivan Basso expressed the sentiments of the riders in the race: “It’s an incredible tragedy and hurts us all. We wanted to offer our support just as they helped us when we had an earthquake in L’Aquila,” he said.

The 240km fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico is from Narni to Chieti and is the first of two long days of the saddle. Sunday’s stage is from Chieti to Castelraimondo and is also 240km long.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chris McCormack Pre Race Interview

Pre Race Interview for the Abu Dhabi Race.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lance Armstrong, Sporting Kansas City announce Livestrong stadium-naming deal

SKC president Robb Heineman, Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman and Lance Armstrong think that nonprofit naming rights will become a trend.

​As if those ubiquitous yellow rubber bracelets weren't enough of a marketing tool, Livestrong, Lance Armstrong's cancer research nonprofit, now can add stadium-naming rights to its name-recognition arsenal.

Inside of the nearly complete new Sporting Kansas City arena on Tuesday, the club and the seven-time Tour de France champion announced a unique deal that will name the team's posh new 18,000-seat digs Livestrong Sporting Park, and give Armstrong's organization a portion of all stadium revenue including ticket and concession sales.

The biker and cancer survivor, who retired earlier this year, and team president Robb Heineman, told assembled media and VIPs at a press conference in the stadium that the goal is to raise $8-$10 million for cancer research.

"It's the first-of-its-kind partnership with an athletic venue that's core mission is social change," Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman said. "And for us, it's just humbling to be a small part of it."

As part of the unusual deal, Sporting Kansas City is forgoing the traditional sports team route of selling stadium-naming rights. Team president Robb Heineman said he's fully aware that the club is turning its back on what he estimated could have been a $2.5-$3 million arrangement with a corporate name. But, he said, the team never considered another name.

SKC and Livestrong say the naming agreement is the first of its kind.
​"We weren't evaluating it up against XYZ Company. It just never really came down to that," he said, adding that SKC and Livestrong had been working on the deal for about eight months.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kara Goucher - I’m Back!

by Kara Goucher

Yesterday I experienced something that I’ve been waiting to experience since my very first post-pregnancy run. I ran one of my key “measuring stick” workouts as fast as I used to run it before I got pregnant. I’m back!

The workout was a 10-mile tempo run at marathon pace. I averaged 5:22 per mile. That’s the same pace I averaged when I did the same workout before the 2009 Boston Marathon. I felt so relieved after I finished it. I celebrated by running another seven miles. (There’s no rest for the weary marathoner on a 120-miles-per-week schedule!)

The rational part of me always knew I would get here if I put in the work. Unfortunately, the rational part of me is not as strong as the emotional part of me. So, in the back of my mind I constantly worried that I never would run as well as I used to, until yesterday, when I actually did it.

I’m not exactly the same runner as I used to be, though, because I’m not training like before. When I prepared for my first three marathons, I trained more or less the same way I trained for the track, except I padded my volume by 20 miles per week. I tried to hold onto all of my track speed and layer a little extra endurance on top of it. But Alberto says that’s not real marathon training. So this time we’re letting my speed go a bit and building a lot more strength with much heavier mileage.

And, sure enough, I am slower but stronger than I was in 2009. I can’t hit the times I used to hit when I run mile repeats. In tempo runs, as I mentioned, I’m now right where I used to be. And in long runs I feel better than in the past. I used to dread my faster long runs. Now I feel at home in them. I have no problem starting a 20-miler at 6:30 pace and picking it up from there.

It would be nice if I could be as fast as I am when I focus on speed and stronger, but that’s not realistic. And when I hit the 20-mile mark in Boston, I know I’ll be glad that Alberto had me focus on strength.

Now that I’ve hit my tempo run milestone, I’m really looking forward to my next race: the New York City Half Marathon on March 20. I’m nervous about it, because this is the first race since I started my comeback where I expect to run up to my usual standards, no excuses. My main goal is not to win (although I’ll try my best) or hit a certain time but to be mentally strong the whole way through. At some point, I know the race is going to get really tough, and when that happens I want to avoid giving in and feeling sorry for myself. If I stay mentally strong the whole way through, the numbers will take care of themselves and I will walk away feeling good about Boston.

DZ checks in from Tirreno Adriatico

By Dave Zabriskie

Yesterday I received an email from the team that said,“if you go you, leave at 2:00". Now I guess I too can be accused of sending out the occasionally cryptic email but this one was taking it to a new level and it had me stumped. I mumbled to myself ‘Go where?’ as I simply didn’t know what they meant. But there’s a touch of Sherlock Holmes in the DZ noggin and I put it together rather quickly that they needed me for Tirreno Adriatico, a seven stage race that would start in less than 24 hours. OK, sign me up, I want to go. And then I mumbled, ‘Ah, Italy in March. Bellissimo!’ But not everyone thought it was such a beautiful idea.

Because of the extremely short notice, the team fixed the flight so that I didn’t have to fly until today, the morning of the race, and notified the UCI that I wouldn’t be in the race hotel until mid-morning. A small detail, right? Well not so fast. I would later learn from the team that the UCI wasn’t going to allow me to race because all riders are required to be in the team hotel the night before the race begins. Well that’s not going to happen. To put my mind at ease Jonathan forwards me an email from a UCI official that grants the team and I permission (this one time) permitting me to arrive the morning of the first stage. But what I would later learn is that there are several UCI officials that hurriedly convene to discuss the matter. And in the end of much discussion they grant Mr. Zabriskie an exception. Fantastico!

It was nice spending the day with the family in Girona and not having to bolt out the door upon reading the email. Time with the family, well, I don’t take these little pleasures too lightly. So after some great family time we all went to bed early and I set my alarm for 5:45am. But around 3am I was awoken by noises in the kitchen. Startled, I venture in there to find my boy Waylon who answers my quizzical look with one of the most glorious explanations I may have ever heard. “My eyelids are too small and I can’t close my eyes, so I can’t sleep”. I snapped out of my slumber with enough laughter to wake the rest of the family. When I stopped laughing I decided to stay up with Waylon and maximize the family moment until I had to go. When I announced that plan the look on both of our faces was, well, Magnifico!

The taxi arrives on time, and it’s kisses and hugs to the family. I load 3 bikes and my other luggage into the car and we race off to the airport. I’m thrilled to report that check-in and the flight were quite easy and smooth, even with that much luggage, on one of the worst known airlines in the business: Ryanair. I landed in Pisa and my head is immediately flooded with memories of all the CSC camps that I did here.

We drive to the team hotel and I get there at 9:15am. I see a team director and he tells me to be ready to ride at 10am. OK, I can do that. When I walk into my room I see Thor and he immediately gets on the phone and calls the front desk and says ‘we have a problem with our toilet.’ We? I just got here. He’s joking right? Nope. And he’s sporting a sheepish look. I don’t want to say anything too harshly but I’d never mess up a toilet.

Well that gets sorted and we get all kitted up and we go to look at the course. Along the coast here I’m suddenly flooded with a lot of memories of my wife and I celebrating her birthday here in 2005. I’m liking this unexpected turn of events in my race calendar and now I’ve got all these good thoughts and feelings rolling through my head and body. I’m getting pretty excited for the race.

The team decides to take a ‘hot lap’ on the course and while I’m out front I completely miss a turn. I think I might be a bit sleep deprived, jet lagged and over-excited. But we get it all dialed-in and then go back to the hotel for lunch. I eat fast so I can take a 30 minute nap before take-off. I fell asleep quickly and woke up in what felt like less than 30 minutes . We go back to the starting area again. I get on the bus and have a quick coffee and then jump back on the bike and take another lap on the course. When I get back on bus, I go into the toilet and totally plug the thing up. Can I blame this on Thor? Nope. The guys are not seeing the humor in this and are getting upset because they too have to go. The bus driver calmly fixes it and we’re all relieved, literally.

It’s that time, time to roll. We go to the start area and, as is the UCI protocol, an official will measure up the bikes before we get on the start line. I see big George Hincapie and we say a quick, ‘hi’. But it’s all business now. The body and mind are ready. We get on the ramp. We mount. We focus. We breathe. And then we go. The Team Time Trial is a tricky test of team coordination. We have a good ride over the nearly 17 kilometers of the course, but not a great ride, and take 2nd place to Rabobank. We’re pleased, even though we know we are capable of better.

Back at the hotel I’m wasted. My body wants to rest. I should take some sleep but my mind is restless and I can’t help but smile about racing in Italy in March. Bellissimo!

For more on DZ check out his site at


Over the past fifteen years, our dietary establishment has made a virtual industry of extolling the virtues of carbohydrates. We're constantly told that carbohydrates are the good guys of nutrition, and that, if we eat large amounts of them, the world should be a better place. In such a world, the experts tell us, there will be no heart disease and no obesity. Under such guidance, Americans are gobbling breads, cereals, and pastas as if there were no tomorrow, trying desperately to reach that 80 to 85 percent of total calories advocated by the high-carb extremists.

This creates a terrible paradox: people are eating less fat and getting fatter! No medical authority will tell you that excess body fat makes you healthier. There is but one alarming conclusion to reach: a high- carbohydrate, low-fat diet may be dangerous to your health. Overeating carbohydrate foods can prevent a higher percentage of fats from being used for energy, and lead to a decrease in endurance and an increase in fat storage.

Eating fat does not make you fat. It's your body's response to excess carbohydrates in your diet that makes you fat. Your body has a limited capacity to store excess carbohydrates, but it can easily convert those excess carbohydrates into excess body fat.

It's hard to lose weight by simply restricting calories. Eating less and losing excess body fat do not automatically go hand in hand. Low-calorie, high-carbohydrate diets generate a series of biochemical signals in your body that will take you out of the balance, making it more difficult to access stored body fat for energy. Result: you'll reach a weight-loss plateau, beyond which you simply can't lose any more weight.

Diets based on choice restriction and calorie limits usually fail. People on restrictive diets get tired of feeling hungry and deprived. They go off their diets, put the weight back on (primarily as increased body fat), and then feel bad about themselves for not having enough will power, discipline, or motivation.

Weight loss has little to do with willpower. You need information, not will power. If you change what you eat, you don't have to be overly concerned about how much you eat. Adhering to a diet of low carbohydrate meals, you can eat enough to feel satisfied and still wind up losing fat-without obsessively counting calories or fat grams.

Food can be good or bad. The ratio of macronutrients protein, carbohydrate, and fat-in the meals you eat is the key to permanent weight loss and optimal health. Unless you understand the rules that control the powerful biochemical responses generated by food, you will never achieve optimal wellness.

Unfortunately, many people don't really know what a carbohydrate is. Most people will say carbohydrates are sweets and pasta. Ask them what a vegetable or fruit is, and they'll probably reply that it's a vegetable or fruit-as if that were a food type all its own, a food type that they can eat in unlimited amounts without gaining weight. Well, this may come as a surprise, but all of the above - sweets and pasta, vegetables and fruits - are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are merely different forms of simple sugars linked together in polymers - something like edible plastic.

Of course, we all need a certain amount of carbohydrates in our diet. The body requires a continual intake of carbohydrates to feed the brain, which uses glucose (a form of sugar) as its primary energy source. In fact, the brain is a virtual glucose hog, gobbling more than two thirds of the circulating carbohydrates in the bloodstream while you are at rest. To feed this glucose hog, the body continually takes carbohydrates and converts them to glucose.

It's actually a bit more complicated than that. Any carbohydrates not immediately used by the body will be stored in the form of glycogen (a long string of glucose molecules linked together). The body has two storage sites for glycogen: the liver and the muscles. The glycogen stored in the muscles is inaccessible to the brain. Only the glycogen stored in the liver can be broken down and sent back to the bloodstream so as to maintain adequate blood sugar levels for proper brain function.

The liver's capacity to store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen is very limited and can be easily depleted within ten to twelve hours. So the liver's glycogen reserves must be maintained on a continual basis. That's why we eat carbohydrates.

The question no one has bothered to ask until now is this: what happens when you eat too much carbohydrate? Here's the answer: whether it's being stored in the liver or the muscles, the total storage capacity of the body for carbohydrate is really quite limited. If you're an average person, you can store about three hundred to four hundred grams of carbohydrate in your muscles, but you can't get at that carbohydrate. In the liver, where carbohydrates are accessible for glucose conversion, you can store only about sixty to ninety grams. This is equivalent to about two cups of cooked pasta or three typical candy bars, and it represents your total reserve capacity to keep the brain working properly.

Once the glycogen levels are filled in both the liver and the muscles, excess carbohydrates have just one fate: to be converted into fat and stored in the adipose, that is, fatty, tissue. In a nutshell, even though carbohydrates themselves are fat-free, excess carbohydrates ends up as excess fat. That's not the worst of it. Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates will generate a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rapid rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin then lowers the levels of blood glucose.

The problem is that insulin is essentially a storage hormone, evolved to put aside excess carbohydrate calories in the form of fat in case of future famine. So the insulin that's stimulated by excess carbohydrates aggressively promotes the accumulation of body fat. In other words, when we eat too much carbohydrate, we're essentially sending a hormonal message, via insulin, to the body (actually, to the adipose cells). The message: "Store fat."

Hold on; it gets even worse. Not only do increased insulin levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy. So the excess carbohydrates in your diet not only make you fat, they make sure you stay fat. It's a double whammy, and it can be lethal.

Insulin is released by the pancreas after you eat carbohydrates. This causes a rise in blood sugar. Insulin assures your cells receive some blood sugar necessary for life, and increases glycogen storage. However, it also drives your body to use more carbohydrate, and less fat, as fuel. And, insulin converts almost half of your dietary carbohydrate to fat for storage. If you want to use more fats for energy, the insulin response must be moderated. Diets high in refined sugars release more insulin thereby allowing less stored fat to be burned. High insulin levels also suppress two important hormones: glucagon and growth hormone. Glucagon promotes the burning of fat and sugar. Growth hormone is used for muscle development and building new muscle mass.

Insulin also causes hunger. As blood sugar increases following a carbohydrate meal, insulin rises with the eventual result of lower blood sugar. This results in hunger, often only a couple of hours (or less) after the meal. Cravings, usually for sweets, are frequently part of this cycle, leading you to resort to snacking, often on more carbohydrates. Not eating makes you feel ravenous shaky, moody and ready to "crash." If the problem is chronic, you never get rid of that extra stored fat, and your energy is adversely affected.

Thomas Voeckler victorious in Belleville

Once again at Paris-Nice the long breakaway foiled the best efforts of the sprinters, as French champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) won stage four from a four-man break in Belleville. Voeckler outkicked Rémi Pauriol (FDJ), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Rémy Di Gregorio (Astana) for the victory, while Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) won the field sprint for fifth place 13 seconds later.

One day after surrendering his leader's jersey to Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), De Gendt rode himself back into the yellow jersey in an improbable break which lasted nearly the entire stage. The Belgian won both of the intermediate sprints en route to the finish, picked up bonus seconds at the finish line and bested the peloton by 13 seconds to secure a return to the leader's jersey. De Gendt now leads breakaway companion Voeckler by 10 seconds and Pauriol by 16 seconds overall.

Ivan Basso targets overall success at Tirreno-Adriatico

Ivan Basso is targeting overall success at Tirreno-Adriatico but has warned that Robert Gesink (Rabobank) could be the dark house of the race after his impressive victory at the Tour of Oman.

Basso is almost certain to miss this year’s Giro d’Italia to focus on the Tour de France and so Tirreno-Adriatico is his big goal of the spring. He is already on form and won the GP di Lugano on February 27.

“To ward off bad luck I’ll say I’m not the favourite but I’m feeling really good. It’s not a secret that this is a race I put a red circle around on my race calendar,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport before explaining the factors that are expected to decide who emerges as overall winner next Tuesday.

“The two time trials will be vital. For me they’re also an important test for the rest of the season. The length of the stages will also decisive, even more than the climbing in them. We’re going to be very tired on Sunday after the stage to Castelraimondo. Time bonuses will also be a factor because you can gain or lose vital seconds every day. I would have been happier if there’d been an uphill finish but it’s not a big deal. But I know I’ll have to suffer more than some of the more explosive riders on some of the stage finishes.”

This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico begins with a 16.8km team time trial around the Marina di Carrara. Liquigas won the team time trial at the 2010 Giro d’Italia and Basso considers the Italian team one of the favourites for today. Liquigas-Cannondale will start at 15:46 local time, with only Leopard Trek and Acqua &Sapone after them.

“My teammates are strong, motivated and can do well,” Basso said.

“We’ve got a well-drilled line-up with only two new riders: Marangoni and Caruso, who know how to do well. We’ll have a good chance of winning, along with Leopard Trek, Team Sky, Saxo Bank-SunGard and HTC-Highroad.”

Vincenzo Nibali will also be in the Liquigas-Cannondale team for Tirreno-Adriatico. He has only recently started his season and will ride in support of Basso, who again insisted there is no rivalry between them.

“I’m happy he’s riding. Vincenzo hasn’t changed since winning the Vuelta; he’s still a good guy. The only difference is now he knows how good he is. We both know that being rivals would damage both of us.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Riis compares Contador to Merckx, Hinault and Lance Armstrong

Saxo Bank-SunGard team manager Bjarne Riis has compared Alberto Contador to some of the most successful riders in the history of the sport after he dominated the Vuelta a Murcia with stage victories on the uphill finish and the final time trial.

The three-day Spanish race was only Contador’s second stage race since being cleared of doping in Spain and the UCI has to still to decide on an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, Riis was not afraid to praise Contador.

“Contador is the strongest rider I’ve ever had in my team. Alberto is of the same calibre as Merckx, Armstrong, Hinault and Indurain,” Riis told Gazzetta dello Sport, implying that the Spaniard is better than his former protégés such as Ivan Basso, Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre and Tyler Hamilton.

“He’s a fantastic climber because he’s an animal on the climbs and then in time trials, he manages to put out virtually the same amount of power.”

Contador covered the 12.4km time trial in Murcia at an average of 52.518km/h. Gazzetta estimated that Contador must have produced between 430 and 440 watts of power to go so fast. Riis was careful not to reveal Contador’s physiological data, preferring to point out the work he has done with the Spaniard to make him even more aerodynamic.

“In time trials it’s not about the power but about aerodynamics,” he insisted.

“Contador had a good position but I’d had a few things in mind ever since last year’s Tour de France. This winter we worked a lot to improve his position. We made minimal but important changes. He’s more compact on the bike now.”

Contador revealed that the Saxo Bank-SunGard riders did a 150km training ride on their time trial bikes last week in Mallorca.

“We’ve worked on finding the best compromise between speed and comfort. My position in Algarve was new and then in Mallorca we did more tests on the road and the track. My position for Murcia was more evolved and we’ve shortened my position by about two centimetres especially with the bars and stem,” Contador explained.

“I train on my time trial bike quite often but I’d never done 150km in a day like we did last Monday in Mallorca. It was hard but you can see the results.”

Contador has opted for a mainly Spanish race program in the first part of the season. He will be back in action at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya that begins on March 21.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dr. Testa weighs in behind Biological Passport

BMC team doctor Max Testa has spoken in support of the UCI’s Biological Passport but warned that the programme is still in the process of being refined and perfected. The Italian also suggested that in the future, anomalous power output figures could be added to the list of parameters used to target riders for anti-doping controls.

“The biological passport’s main value is that it tests riders out of competition so that you can look at the changes in biological parameters, because unfortunately there are products you cannot find in urine,” Testa told us recently.

“I think that the shift in concept from looking for forbidden substances in the urine to the biological effect of these substances is the way to go.”

The Biological Passport faces a stiff test this week as Franco Pellizotti and the UCI make their cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Italian rider was sidelined when he fell foul of the passport ahead of last year’s Giro d’Italia but he was then cleared by Italy’s Tribunale Nazionale Anti-doping in October on the grounds that his blood values could have been altered by factors other than doping.

Testa acknowledged that the passport is still a work in progress, but he stressed that the important thing is to gather as much information as possible in order to create detailed biological profiles and tighten the net on doped riders. However, he admitted that the data gathered is still open to interpretation.

“There are areas that can be improved but the more we use it, the more we can learn,” Testa said. “The main concern I have as a physician is that the variation [of blood values] can be huge. We don’t know what the variability is in this specific population [professional cyclists], as they train a lot and travel a lot, so maybe their variations are not exactly the same as those of average people.

“Most of the studies they use to support this are done on athletes, but not athletes to this extreme level of fitness, so there is a margin of uncertainty and some fluctuations can be physiological in this specific group.”

On the particulars of interpreting Biological Passport blood values, Testa maintains that a certain degree of fluctuation is natural, whereas perennially fixed blood plasma numbers should arouse suspicion.

“To be honest, I like to see some kind of fluctuations because that is the way it should be,” he explained. “It’s natural: when you train, you expend plasma volume and you expect the numbers to be a little diluted. When you don’t train, the numbers go up. What’s not normal is when you see the numbers going up after a stage race.

“The problem is how we interpret the variation – is a stable number good or is it bad? Sometimes it’s better to see some variation rather than someone always at the same number, because you can think that that is also the result of manipulation. We’re just learning.”

Biological Passport in tandem with targeted testing

One of the criticisms the Biological Passport system has drawn is that it is not being backed up with dedicated and targeted anti-doping controls. WADA’s independent report into the UCI’s testing at the Tour de France drew stark attention to the issue and Testa agrees that the newer biological testing must work in tandem with traditional controls.

“I’m not sure if I would use the [biological passport] parameters to say a guy is doing something but it would make me focus more on the athlete and do more controls on him,” Testa told us. “They have to work together.”

Testa also believes that while biological passport data can be used to target riders for testing, it could also be used to establish culpability when a rider returns a positive test for a product that he or she claims to have used or consumed accidentally, a recent case being that of Alberto Contador.

“If you find a small amount of something in the urine but the biological parameters are stable, it means that they were either trying to use a performance enhancer without knowing how to use it and so were not getting the benefit, or else there was a contamination,” Testa said.

“I don’t think we have a mistake-proof system right now. Maybe one day in the future we can test riders’ hair twice a year and see what they’ve done for the previous six months but right now it’s the best we can do.”

Testa was previously team doctor at 7-Eleven and Motorola, and a number of riders from that set-up would later go on to become important figures in the controversial US Postal Service team, which is the focus of a federal investigation in the United States. The Italian claims that the increased availability of biological data means that it is now easier to keep tabs on his riders’ activities than it was when he first entered professional cycling.

“When I started in the 1980s, we couldn’t even look into the athletes’ blood, there was nothing,” he admitted. “You had no way of knowing if a rider was having a blood transfusion if he didn’t want to tell you. You were just there, maybe worried that this guy was doing something, maybe thinking, ‘I heard that he’s training with this other guy…’ So there were a lot of dark areas.”

Power output testing – the future?

Last season, BMC joined the growing band of teams that have abandoned “internal” testing programmes and Testa explained that it was simply because they felt such testing was superfluous with the advent of the biological passport programme.

“30 [biological passport] tests a year is already enough and we really support the effort of the UCI and WADA with the biological passport,” Testa said. “I don’t think that we were bringing anything more by doing more tests.”

While internal dope testing is no longer on the agenda, BMC has stepped up the level of physiological testing it performs on its riders, and Testa believes that in future such analysis could play a significant role in the fight against doping. Every rider at BMC is equipped with an SRM power-meter and must upload his data after every training ride and race for analysis.

“We have an internal testing for physiology, so we test the athlete for the whole year, so that could be seen as part of all of this [the anti-doping effort],” Testa said. “This year we have SRM power-meters and by contract the riders have to load their data everyday. We have three people that analyse their power files. Every week we have a report, we see how the spectrum of the power changes and that can be done to see how good they do but also if there is any variation. It’s like a biological passport applied to performance.”

While Testa reiterated that an unusual fluctuation in power output alone is not a reliable indicator of doping, such information could be used in conjunction with other available data to step up testing on specific riders.

“I think it’s even a little more complicated than the biological passport because some of the conditions aren’t standard, but if you enough data for each athlete, you know how much power they can sustain for 20 minutes or an hour or whatever and you expect a certain trend of improvement through the season,” he said. “Then maybe the next season you have all the data of the year before, and if you see the numbers start to go up at a time when they are not training or only training a little, that could be a warning.

“You cannot use it to judge in and of itself, but it’s an extra way to approach the problem.”