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TAYLOR PHINNEY

Art is really the only thing in


my life that I do for myself

SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

1959 TOUR CHAMPION

How he won hearts and minds,


but lost the biggest races

Federico Bahamontes: still a


force of nature at 87

ISSUE 210
DECEMBER 2015
cyclingnews.com

THE GOOD
LIEUTENANT
Lieuwe Westra on juggling

SAGAN
FINALLY
GETS IT
T
H
G
I
R
ctical
We look at the ta

teamwork and ambition

OLDER
&
WISER
Insights from the 1990s

e
secrets behind th
in
w
s
d
Slovak s Worl

pros who are still racing

E XC LUSI V E I N T ERV I E W

CHAMPION
LIZZIE ARMITSTEAD

Lizzie
Armitstead
photographed
exclusively for
Procycling

IM A
PERFECTIONIST
AND CONTROL
FREAK!

facebook.com/orrobike

QUEEN ELIZABETH I
The World Cup, the World Championships
Lizzie Armitstead has elevated herself and her
S-Works Amira to cycling royalty this year. So take
a knee and bow down to your new Queen, and
maybe shell show favor upon you in the sprint.
We wouldnt count on it. specialized.com

Contents
Issue 210 ||| December 2015

38

Lizzie Armitstead

IM CONFIDENT
IN WHO I AM. I DONT
GET TAKEN IN AND MY
OPINIONS ARE OFTEN
VERY STRONG

PHOTOGRAPHY: Chris Auld

***

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Contents
Issue 210 ||| December 2015

72

Taylor Phinney

A PORTRAIT OF
THE YOUNG MAN
AS AN ARTIST

***

FEATURES
LIZZIE ARMITSTEAD

38

Exclusive interview with Britains brand new


world road race champion

WORLDS ANALYSIS

46

How Peter Sagan finally got his tactics right


to win the rainbow jersey

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

50

Procycling sits down with Sky riders


Ian Stannard and Pete Kennaugh

Q&A
ALEX HOWES

58

The Cannondale-Garmin rider talks about the


changing face of the American team

OLDER AND WISER

60

We find the last surviving riders who turned


professional in the 1990s

RACE REVIEW:
IL LOMBARDIA

70

How Vincenzo Nibali saved his 2015 season


at the Race of the Falling Leaves

TAYLOR PHINNEY

72

The BMC rider explains how exploring his


creative streak helped him recover from injury

THE GOOD LIEUTENANT 80


Astana rider Lieuwe Westra explains how to
balance personal ambition with team duties

IAM IN THE TEAM CAR

86

Procycling hitches a ride in the IAM team car


during the Tour of Britain

PROFILE:
SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

92

A look back at the career of one of Frances


most illustrious riders of the last decade

RETRO:
THE EAGLE OF TOLEDO

98

PHOTOGRAPHY: Tim De Waele

We spend a day with 1959 Tour winner and


force of nature, Federico Bahamontes

REGULARS
FOLIO
PROLOGUE
INSIDER
DIARY

14
23
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34

WISH LIST
106
SUBSCRIBE
116
ROAD TESTED 117
NEXT MONTH 122

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

2016

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Issue 210 December 2015

The right riders will


be wearing rainbow
jerseys next year
Inital reactions to the World Championships circuit in Richmond,
Virginia were that it looked more criterium than Classic, with 23
90-degree turns and only three short hills. But the secret of good
race design is where you place those hills and having them in
quick succession shortly before the finishing straight was a stroke
of genius. We were rewarded with a brilliant series of races, the
most entertaining World Championships for years. And in Peter
Sagan and Lizzie Armitstead, we have two worthy winners,
arguably the best one-day riders in the world. You couldnt wish
for two more prestigious wearers of the rainbow stripes for 2016.
Procycling met Armitstead in Leeds, down the road from where
she grew up in Otley, just a matter of days after shed won the
Worlds. In winning the rainbow jersey, shed finally got what she
describes as a monkey off her back, and she is now focusing on big
targets for next year. The Tour of Flanders, her favourite race, is
unfinished business, and after that it will be all systems go for the
Olympic Games road race in Rio. We think Lizzie Armitstead is
a worthy subject for the cover of Procycling. She is already one of
the riders of 2015 and, with the rainbow stripes on her back,
shes hoping for even bigger things next year.

EDITORIAL
EDITOR

DEPUTY EDITOR

FEATURES EDITOR

As always, the new race


calendar has a few surprises.
Ed wonders if the Eneco Tour
moving to September for 2016
will provide Classics weather to
go with the Classics terrain.

The signing of Mark Cavendish


with ProConti team Dimension
Data shocked Jamie until their
prolific recruitment drive was
done. This is a team with a plan
and Cav is far from finished.

With Carlos Betancur accusing


AG2R of being unprofessional
as he departs for Movistar in
2016, Sam would like the
nearest person to sound
the irony alarm.

Edward Pickering

Jamie Wilkins

Sam Dansie

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

11

Issue 210 December 2015

EDITORIAL
FEATURES EDITOR

ART EDITOR

Sam Dansie

Simon Barnes

EDITOR

Edward Pickering

sam.dansie@immediate.co.uk

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

ed.pickering@immediate.co.uk

EUROPEAN EDITOR

Jamie Wilkins

Peter Cossins

Daniel Friebe

simon.barnes@immediate.co.uk

DESIGNER

DEPUTY EDITOR

Craig Iredale

jamie.wilkins@immediate.co.uk

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Tim De Waele

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Capturing the key


moments in
cycling

23 September 2015

World Time Trial


Championship,
Richmond, USA
Vasil Kiryienka was a
surprise winner of the
Worlds time trial. Pre-race
favourites Tom Dumoulin,
Rohan Dennis and Tony
Martin all lacked form on
the day and finished fifth
to seventh respectively.
Kiryienka has a strong
record against the clock
and was in the top four at
the Worlds for the three
previous years. He beat
Adriano Malori by nine
seconds, with Jrme
Coppel in third at 0:26.
We dont think this facial
expression was an
aerodynamic benefit.

Photography: Tim De Waele

27 September 2015

World Road Race


Championship,
Richmond, USA
Britains Steve Cummings
tackles the tough cobbled
climb on the Richmond
road race circuit. Team GB
were working for Ben Swift
and the Yorkshireman was
in the group that sprinted
for silver behind Peter
Sagan. He crossed the line
just three seconds back
and in good company
between Nacer Bouhanni
and Greg Van Avermaet,
albeit in 22nd place. While
there had been criticism of
the course in the run-up, it
delivered a great race and
was roundly praised after
the event.

Photography: Tim De Waele

8 October 2015

Abu Dhabi Tour,


Stage 1
The Abu Dhabi Tour is the
latest Middle Eastern stage
race to join the calendar.
Its main difference from
the races in Dubai, Qatar
and Oman is its end-ofseason position. Other
themes of those races
were firmly in place:
desolate landscape, zero
fans at the roadside,
uninspiring parcours,
excessive heat Here the
peloton slogs 175km from
Qasr Al Sarab to Madinat
Zayed. The flat stage was
won in a bunch sprint by
Astanas Andrea Guardini.

Photography: Tim De Waele

8 October 2015

Abu Dhabi Tour,


Stage 1
The temperatures in
Abu Dhabi were some
of the most extreme
ever experienced by
a professional peloton.
It was over 46C in the
shade. And there was no
shade. In response, the
organisers cut 15km from
the route and the riders
collectively kept the pace
to a steady 35kph to make
it more bearable. Here
Daniel Patten of Wiggins
makes one of many bottle
runs for his team. The
incredible amount of salt
on his jersey from dried
sweat bears testament
to how much the riders
still suffered.

Photography: Tim De Waele

Prologue
Procycling At the heart of the peloton

A TOUR
FOR ALL
The 103rd Grande Boucle
includes two tricky TTs, Ventoux
and a tough Alpine finale

he devil, in Tour de France


routes, is in the detail, and the
October route presentation
does not do detail. Only when
the itineraries are released
sometime in May do we get a
better handle on how stages and indeed the
general narrative of the race may pan out.
Rather, the October event provides just

26
Round-up of cyclings biggest transfers

Scouting Report

28

South Africas Keagan Girdlestone

The Racer

29

Our look at David Millars new book

2015 Giro dItalia

30

Five things you need to know

enough substance to sustain us through


winter and come out the other side with
a ravenous appetite for more.
The big numbers first. There are nine
mountain stages, four of which finish at
summits, including Andorra-Arcalis, Mont
Ventoux on Bastille Day and two separate
ascents towards Mont Blanc: Finhaut in
Switzerland and Le Bettex on stage 19.
There are two tricky-looking time trials:
a spectacular topsy-turvy 37km stage in
the Gorges de lArdche and a 17km uphill
test between Sallanches and Megve on
the Domancy climb, a homage to Bernard
Hinault who won the World Championship
road race here in 1980. Mark Cavendish
tentatively identified six opportunities
for the sprinters but said it is subject to
verification when the final route profiles
arrive. Theoretically, that leaves four
stages for the baroudeurs and puncheurs.
We all know its not going to be as neat as
that and at least one of those, a medium

Image Tim De Waele

TOUR DE FRANCE

Market movers

PROCYCLING

OCTOBER 2015

23

The inclusion of
the Tourmalet will
delight fans and fill
the non-climbers
with dread

24

PROCYCLING

mountain stage in the Massif Central, is likely


to be complicated by the GC battle.
Broadly its a Tour that looks more classical
in form than the past couple of years. Four
summit finishes is two fewer than this year
but is by no means an abnormally low
number. In a further four mountain stages,
the final climb comes late in the day and
those finishes are complicated by a descent.
Nor is there any mucking about with stages
which follow a Classics-type format, which
have been a characteristic of the last two
Tours. The sprinters, who have been starved
of opportunities lately, can sigh with relief.

passes through Raymond


Poulidors home region of
Limousin, has a tough finale in
Le Lioran in the Massif Central.
Stage 7 enters the Pyrenees.
The tradition of alternating
clockwise and anti-clockwise
routes around France ends this
year. The opening mountain
stage starts flat and makes a
virtue of the climb of the Col
dAspin usually a part of the
journey rather than the destination but
followed by a short technical descent to Lac
de Payolle. Its the descent that could throw
Monster Manche
a spanner in the works of teams whose tactic
The department of La Manche hosts the
it is to obliterate the opposition on the first
Grand Dpart. Stage 1 begins beneath the
meaningful climb of the race. Its not quite
fantastical Mont Saint-Michel and the first
the famed Circle of Death but stage 8 passes
two stages could be spiced up by sea breezes.
over four cols, including the Tourmalet and
Stages 1, 3, 4 and 6 look like dead certs for
the Peyresourde, and finishes in Luchon.
sprints. Theyre interrupted by an uphill
Stage 9 hits the roof of the Tour at Andorrafinish in Cherbourg on stage 2. Stage 5, which
Arcalis, which tops out at 2,240m.
A couple of
transition stages,
IT S A PARCOU R S THAT TE STS EVE RY
which could be
hammered by the
A S PECT O F PRO FE S S IO NAL CYC LI N G .
Mistral, take the
YOU RE GOI N G TO HAVE TO B E AB LE TO
race north east.
TI M E TRIAL , C LI M B EXTRE M E LY WE LL
Montpellier to
AN D D E SC E N D PRO PE RLY Chris Froome
Mont Ventoux on

DECEMBER 2015

Thibaut Pinot finds it hard


to conceal his delight at the
increase in the number of
time trial kilometres

stage 12 sets the scene for 10


days of non-stop action. The
climb of the Gant de Provence
is followed by the 37km TT
through the photogenic
Gorges de lArdche and
finishes at the Caverne du
Pont dArc. The Ventoux-TT
combination is an intriguing pairing that
could have a striking effect on the GC; he
who recovers best will survive best. A 208km
stage takes the peloton north to a bird park at
Villars-les-Dombes Dauphin country. Its
a pause before a very heavy stage through the
southern Jura mountains. Bourg-en-Bresse
to Culoz is short at 159km but has barely a
metre of flat. The race tackles the impressive
Grand Colombier once right to the top before
looping back through Culoz and doing the
TV-friendly Lacets de Grand Colombier. The
race came this way in 2012.
The race then takes in its fourth country
with a finish and a day of repose in Bern,
Switzerland. Four gruelling days in the Alps
follow, though they are notably light on
famous climbs. At the centre of the action
will be Mont Blanc, which helicopter cameras

Prologue
OPINION

THE 2016 ROUTE


STAGE 1 July 2nd
Mont Sain-Michel
Utah Beach Sainte-MarieDu-Mont 188km
STAGE 2 JULY 3rd
Saint-L / Cherbourg
Octeville 182km
STAGE 3 July 4th
Granville Angers 222km
STAGE 4 July 5th
Saumur Limoges 232km
STAGE 5 July 6th
Limoges Le Lioran
216km
STAGE 6 July 7th
Arpajon-sur-Cre
Montauban 187km
STAGE 7 July 8th
LIsle-Jourdain Lac de
Payolle 162km
STAGE 8 , July 9th
Pau Bagnres-deLuchon 183km
STAGE 9 July 10th
Vielha Val dAran
Andorre Arcalis 184km
STAGE 10 July 12th
Escaldes-Engordany
Revel 198km
STAGE 11 July 13th
Carcassonne
Montpellier 164km

STAGE 12 July 14th


Montpellier Mont
Ventoux 185km

E DWAR D PI C KE R I N G

CYCLING NEEDS TO
PAY ATTENTION TO ITS
TRADITIONAL ROOTS

STAGE 13 July 15th


- Individual time trial
Bourg-Saint-Andol
La Caverne du
Pont-dArc 37km
STAGE 14 July 16th
Montlimar Villars-lesDombes Parc des
Oiseaux 208km
STAGE 15 July 17th
Bourg-en-Bresse Culoz
159km
STAGE 16 July 18th
Moirans-en-Montagne
Berne 206km
STAGE 17 July 20th
Berne Finhaut-Emosson
184km
STAGE 18 July 21st
- Individual time trial
Sallanches Megve
17km
STAGE 19 July 22nd
Albertville Saint-Gervais
Mont Blanc 146km
STAGE20 July 23rd
Megve Morzine 146km
STAGE21 July 24th
Chantilly Paris Champslyses 113km

will be able to pick over for the rest of the


week. The Finhaut-Emosson finale (used in
the 2014 Dauphin) could catch out riders
who have had a bad rest day, as two big
climbs come in quick succession at the end
of the stage. The Megve time trial is only
17km long but has a tantalising profile. It
starts flat, hits the wall-like 2km Domancy
climb (16 per cent in places) and then is less
steep for a further 7km before a final 2km
descent to the finish.
Dramatic conclusion
Stage 19 is only 146km but is another very
hard slog to Saint Gervais and the Bettex
climb. The final battleground is Megve to
Morzine. Its only 146km but there are four
passes: the Aravis, Colombire, Ramaz and,
the final mountain of the Tour, the Joux
Plane, before the twisty descent into Morzine.
Itll be 10 years since the Joux Plane last
featured 2016 looks like Prudhommes
attempt to take the climb back, after it
featured in one of the most infamous stages
in history, Floyd Landiss win in 2006, later
stripped after a positive test. After the stage
the caravan heads to Chantilly and the
traditional final stage into the centre of Paris.
After a couple of years in which ASO has
placed heavy emphasis on creating drama
and GC battles from the off, there has been

Col de Joux Plane:


Lovely scenery,
shame about the
leg-burning gradient

some criticism that route planner Thierry


Gouvenou has made the race too hard, too
soon especially last year, when the racing
was brutal right from stage 2. The 2016 route
pulls back by making the opening stages a
degree easier but maintaining the difficulty at
the back end of the race. We wont know for
sure until the itineraries come out but there is
also little in the way of medium mountains or
complicated flat stages to interest the large
faction of punchy riders in the peloton.

There was an October day


where cyclings new and
old worlds clashed, in a
serendipitously contrasting
pair of events, one in
the sports heartland, the other in the
relatively new cycling territory of the Gulf
states. On October 11, Elia Viviani won the
final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, while
Matteo Trentin took out Paris-Tours.
Im shooting into an open goal here
but I thought the dry, empty landscape
of the Abu Dhabi Tour was a perfect
visual metaphor for the sterility of the
racing. The race consisted of three very
controlled flat stages on possibly the
widest roads ever seen in pro cycling,
and another controlled stage which
finished up a hill instead. I enjoyed the
desert vistas but they got repetitive and
they werent enough to compensate for
the dullness of the race.
On the other hand, I loved Paris-Tours.
Its one of my favourite races and as
always the landscape was varied and
beautiful, the parcours perfectly
balanced the breaks and chases, and
we were treated to the sight of two of
the most exciting riders in the world
Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin
going on the attack with up-andcoming Belgian Tosh Van Der Sande.
But while Paris-Tours was the superior
race, the cycling
establishment was
voting with its feet, or
maybe with its wallet.
Stars such as Peter
Sagan and Mark
Cavendish were in
Abu Dhabi, tweeting
their support, and
the UCI held their
season-ending gala
after the race.
Theres also an interesting contrast in
the reactions from various people to the
races, which the UCI would be wise to
pay attention to. While they and the
riders were excited, at least in public, by
the Abu Dhabi event, my perception was
that cycling fans enjoyed Paris-Tours far
more. Its important for cycling to explore
new territories and go to new locations
but its even more important that they
dont leave the fans behind.
Edward Pickering is Procyclings Editor

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

25

Prologue
TEAM NEWS

TRANSFER ROUND-UP
With all the major transfer business concluded, we
analyse the big moves ahead of the 2016 season

26

BIGGEST COUP

LEAST SURPRISING TRANSFER

BEST POACH

MOST INTRIGUING TRANSFER

MARCEL KITTEL
ETIXX-QUICK STEP

MICHA KWIATKOWSKI
TEAM SKY

LOUIS MEINTJES
LAMPRE

MARK CAVENDISH
DIMENSION DATA

Youve got to hand it to Patrick


Lefevere. Just when we thought the
transfer markets game of musical
chairs had ended with the official
announcement of Mark Cavendishs
move to Dimension Data (ne MTNQhubeka), the EQS boss hit the play
button and announced the surprise
arrival of Marcel Kittel in 2016.
It was a canny bit of dealing, as
despite the mutual respect between
manager and rider, the Belgian had
scrubbed Cavendishs big salary
off his books, along with the
Manxmans unrelenting focus
on the Olympics. In return he
had bought a sprinter three years
younger than Cavendish. However,
Kittel doesnt arrive without
concerns. How much has the
dreadful past year (one small victory)
dented his confidence? And now that
hes divested of the crack sprint train
that was so patiently built around
him, can he hit the same heights of
2013 and 2014?

Sky had unsuccessfully targeted the


Pole in the past but this time around
they got their man. It has been an
open secret for most of the season,
so much so that when the move was
finally announced, the cycling world
greeted the news with a bit of a
shrug. But Kwiatkowski is a real
asset for Sky. The British team now
has the climbing punch that all but
guarantees it is now a factor in
Amstel Gold and the Ardennes
Classics, where the team has been
conspicuously absent. Sky has made
the podium at the triptych of races
only once in six years. Meanwhile,
Kwiatkowski has been top-three in
all of them. Its a good transfer
Kwiatkowski finds a niche and the
British team fills a rare gap in its
capabilities. Kwiatkowskis season
hasnt hit the heights of 2014, which
he crowned with the rainbow jersey,
but second at Paris-Nice and victory
at Amstel Gold Race in 2015 show
his huge talent.

We didnt see Louis Meintjess move


from MTN-Qhubeka to Lampre
coming but then nor did the MTN
manager Douglas Ryder. Mid-Vuelta,
the 23-year-old climber announced
a two-year deal with the Italian team.
Maybe the saga of Cavendishs arrival
with his sprinting troupe unsettled
him or maybe it was an offer he
couldnt refuse. Either way, MTN
lost both the teams most promising
climber and one of its best
ambassadors. However, the hook-up
is not quite as incongruous as it first
looks: Meintjes is based in Italy so
will be au fait with the culture and
both Meintjes and his agent, the
Cannondale-Garmin DS Robbie
Hunter, have long-standing
relationships with the Lampre
general manager, Brent Copeland.
Despite landing the biggest fish
Cavendish MTN will be still be
smarting at the loss of Meintjes,
who was far more representative
of the teams raison dtre.

At the start of the year, Mark


Cavendish insisted he wanted to stay
at Etixx-Quick Step, saying it felt like
family at the team. And despite 14
wins this season, after a relatively
unsuccessful Tour, Cavendish
couldnt reach an agreement with
Lefevere. There are valid questions
whether Cavendish, a star who
transcends the sport, will fit in
with the still relatively homespun
atmosphere at the South African
team. But in the aftermath of the
announcement, Douglas Ryder
was quick to lay down the rules.
Cavendish would have to submit to
the collective will in races, he said.
Two points why the move could
work: Cavendish brings lead-out
man Mark Renshaw and reconnects
with road captain Bernhard Eisel
who joins from Sky. Second,
Cavendish now has what he wants
a team dedicated to him at the Tour
de France and space to pursue his
dream of Olympic track gold.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

In the last years he showed incredible pure speed, which


makes him one of the best sprinters in the history of the sport.
As a team we will do our best to put him in the right condition,
building a group of riders around him. Patrick Lefevre

AT THE HEART OF THE PELOTON

OTHER
N O TA B L E
TRANSFERS

Mikel Landas move from


Astana to Team Sky was
common knowledge and
adds yet more firepower
to the teams three-week
race options. Third in the
Giro and a mountain
stage winner at the
Vuelta, hes expected
to lead Sky at the Giro.

Pierre Rolland to
Cannondale: could be the
culture clash of the year.

MOST REFRESHING TRANSFER

BEST BACK-UP TRANSFER

MOST POTENTIAL

DAN MARTIN
ETIXX-QUICK STEP

RICHIE PORTE
BMC RACING

RIGOBERTO URN
CANNONDALE

Eight years after joining Slipstream,


the 29-year-old moves on to only
his second professional team, EtixxQuick Step. Martin joins Ryder
Hesjedal as the last of the original
2008 Slipstream riders to finally
leave the team. While Martin has
achieved notable successes Tour
and Vuelta stage wins, victories at
Lige and Lombardia theyve been
offset lately by frustrating crashes
and illness. And while he has clearly
had good general form this year
(twice second on Tour stages), he
seems to have been lacking the
factor that turns potential winning
positions into victories. He hasnt
won anything this year. His new
team is a winning machine that has
topped the victory board for the past
four years and theres a robustness
about the Belgian team that, if it rubs
off on the likeable Irishman, could
help him find the consistency that
he has been craving.

After four years at Sky, the 31-yearold joins BMC. How will Porte, a
good stage racer with a strong time
trial but a tendency to suffer a bad
day, gel with Tejay Van Garderen, a
good stage racer with a strong time
trial but a... you get the picture. Porte
was imperious in the spring stage
races this year he took nine wins
before the Giro began but the
wheels fell off at the Italian race and
critics said he had neither the head
nor the constitution to be a real
contender in three-week races.
However, a rejuvenating move to
BMC, which is a degree more relaxed
in outlook and purpose than Team
Sky, may help Porte loosen up and
rediscover his mojo.

Cannondale (Garmin isnt a headline


sponsor next year) picked up
Rigoberto Urn, which could be
some of the most astute business of
the year. The two-time Giro runnerup is still only 28 but didnt kick on
this year, with consistent but not
sparkling performances. Top-fives
in Tirreno, Catalunya and Romandie
were followed by disappointment
in the Grand Tours but he rescued
his season with victory in the GP
Qubec. In short, 2014 was solid
but hardly sensational. Even if Urn
continues in that vein it would
represent a forward step for
Cannondale but the Colombian
is now entering what should be
his golden period.

Read Dans own thoughts on page 34

TEJAY AN D I HAVE TALKE D ABOUT


IT AN D WE BOTH KN OW THAT WE CAN
CO EXI ST WITH I N TH E TEAM . TH E RE S N OT
A PRO B LE M AT ALL Richie Porte

Movistar have picked


up the underachieving
Carlos Betancur from
AG2R, and if he fails to
perform at the Spanish
team, surely there is no
hope for the Colombian.

Fan favourite and


barbecue-loving Laurens
Ten Dam leaves LottoNLJumbo for Giant-Alpecin
where his experience
will be invaluable as Tom
Dumoulin takes his next
steps on the GC ladder.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

27

NEXT ISSUE

REVIEW OF
THE
YEAR
ALL THE STARS,

Prologue

ALL THE KEY RACES


FROM 2015
ON SALE

04.12.15

So hes a bit of a hitter then. Whats he


learned this year?

SCOUTING REPORT

KEAGAN GIRDLESTONE

Loads, he says. The Charter Mason-Giant


team taught him how to be professional off
the bike, to be better on it and hes also an
enthusiastic user of power meters. Thats
something that is bound to annoy the Old
School, who reckon juniors shouldnt
even be allowed to use HR monitors until
theyre at least neo-pros. In France he
learned to push new limits and learned
how to win under pressure which I have
struggled to do before, he said. Being
in a country where you dont speak the
language or know any of the riders made
it hard but that was the fun part. He also
rather liked the anonymity of the French
peloton. I didnt have to worry about
following anyone, I just worried about
being the first rider to cross the line!

Meet the jet-setting 18-year-old who


capped an excellent year by finishing
fourth in the Junior World Time Trial
Championship in Richmond in September.
With African cycling on a high, thanks to
the exploits of MTN-Qhubeka at the Tour
de France and Louis Meintjess top-10 at
the Vuelta, the search is on for the next big
thing in stage racing to come out of Africa.
It could well be Keagan Girdlestone.
Tell us a little bit about Keagan

Hes the younger brother of Dylan, who


rides for Drapac and is the son of Wayne,
whos a coach. Keagans moved around a
bit. He lived in South Africa for 15 years
until his family upped sticks and moved to
Christchurch, New Zealand because of the
deteriorating crime situation at home in
Pretoria. This year, he raced in Australia for
a squad called Charter Mason-Giant. Some
good results there earned him an invitation
to race for UC Nantes Atlantique, one of
the top French junior teams, this summer.

So what are we looking at? The next


Chris Froome?

I loved it! he told Procycling via email


of his three-month guest ride. It was
amazing to race in France and to learn
how to live and race in another cultural
environment, he added.

Well, he has expressed an admiration for


Froome in the past (its as much to do with
similar history as it is morphology and
talent) but right now hes Mr Versatile and
hes determined to keep developing his
all-round talents. Id consider myself a
tour rider, he says. I love climbing and
dont mind a time trial either. I also recover
pretty well, which bodes well for stage
races. I guess my weakness would be riding
in the rain (big improvements so far) and I
need to work a bit more on sprinting.
He sounds voracious.

Brass tacks: any victories?

Next year. Whats the plan?

Affirmative. He took five victories


including two GC wins in the Ronde des
Vallees and the Valromey Tour. But the
result hes most proud of this year was
winning a stage of the Battle of the Border,
an Australian National Road Series event.
The reason? He beat Kiwi rider Patrick
Bevin, who was second in the Herald Sun
Tour and Tour de Korea this year and has
been snapped up by Cannondale for 2016.
Thats an impressive result.

Its all a bit up in the air at the moment,


he says. But if you were in any doubt
about Keagans level of professionalism
and his ambition, he has already got
himself an agent and they are currently
working on a strategy for his development
in the sport. We reckon that after such
a successful and enjoyable outing in
Europe the first time around, hell be
keen to get back to the Old Continent
at the next available opportunity.

Images: Tim De Waele, SEG Racing (Peters, Biermans)

And did he enjoy his French sojourn?

28

THREE
TO WATCH
Michiel Elijzen, performance
director at Dutch Continental
squad SEG Racing shares his
three riders to watch in 2016

>>>
PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

I LOVE CLIMBING AND DONT MIND A


TIME TRIAL EITHER. I ALSO RECOVER
PRETTY WELL, WHICH BODES WELL
FOR STAGE RACES

JENTHE BIERMANS
Jenthe is a typical Belgian
Classics rider: a real
powerhouse. He was a
winner of the Tour of
Flanders Juniors. Last
year he was second in
Paris-Roubaix U23 and fifth in Paris-Tours
U23, so I think this year was his big step
up. Now he needs to be polished a little
bit but I think next year he will be a top
contender in his type of racing.

TIM ARIESEN
Tim is one of our new
faces for 2016 and comes
from Cycling Team Jo
Piels. He won a 1.2 race,
the GP des Marbriers, at
the end of the season and
I think hes a Greg Van Avermaet type of
rider: he loves the hard races and he has
a really good sprint at the end. I think
2016 will be his breakthrough year, so
Im expecting a good showing from him.

ALEX PETERS
My last choice is Alex
Peters who was in our
team last year. Hes joined
Sky and hes a climber.
Hes a really big talent
and he doesnt even know
how good he is. Hes modest and polite
and then hell do something on the bike
that you cant even believe. He needs to
work on his tactics and his bunch riding
but at Sky hes in the best team to grow.

AT THE HEART OF THE PELOTON

RIDER
TWEETS

From their brain to


their phone to the
world in a matter
of moments
tweeted musings
from the pros
20 October
ADAM BLYTHE
Four more nights
of suffering to go
@sixdaycycling ...
Not going to lie,
breathing out
my arse.
@adamblythe89
20 October
CHRIS FROOME
I won the stage in
yellow on Bastille
Day in 2013 & 2015...
Good omen I hope!
@chrisfroome
16 October
ALEX DOWSETT
Power oversteer, one
of the best feelings
in the world.
@alexdowsett

his 2012 Tour stage win,


But out of the disappointment,
these lighten up the tone in
a fine book emerges exploring
a disappointing final season.
the warp and the weft of
At other times they are heartprofessional cycling: the many
David Millars second book
breaking, such as his memories
points of intersection between
of the 2011 Giro and the death
the sporting and private life; the
gives a deep insight into life
of Wouter Weylandt on the day
friendships and enmities; the
as a professional
he picked up the maglia rosa and
calendar and the races and the
became, involuntarily, the head
physical stress and sensations
of the peloton.
of being an elite athlete. The
David Millar decided to write his second
What is clear is that Millar was
Classics feel like being trapped
book, The Racer, in the aftermath of his
The Racer,
past his sell-by date as a pro. He
in a labyrinth, all sense of
controversial de-selection from Garmins
By David Millar; 20,
published by Yellow
couldnt push himself as hard as
direction lost and his
Tour team in 2014, his final year as a pro.
Jersey Press
he once could and he resented
description of the 2009 Tour
Deemed too sick to take the start by Charly
the long periods of time away from his
team time trial (probably the deepest
Wegelius and Jonathan Vaughters, Millar
family. As he told Procycling, The last
I ever went,) is gripping. Rather than long
was deeply hurt. He still is and more than
season before you retire you hate it because
chapters, its a series of anecdotes that
a year on, there is no rapprochement. As
its so hard and yet you still love it.
allows Millar to explore old stories that
Millar notes tartly, Unfortunately, as is
The book does take a while to get into.
were surplus to requirements in Racing
often the way in professional cycling, the
The pre-season section plods along but
past no longer mattered.
Through the Dark. Sometimes, as with
once the racing starts, the book finds its
rhythm nicely.
AT TIMES THE STORIES ARE HEART-BREAKING,
Millar says he wrote the book for his
SUCH AS HIS RECOLLECTIONS OF THE 2011 GIRO
two young sons as a record of what it was
AND THE DEATH OF WOUTER WEYLANDT ON
like being a professional. A wider reading
public will find plenty to enjoy here, too.
THE DAY HE PICKED UP THE MAGLIA ROSA

BOOK REVIEW

THE RACER

15 October
ELIA VIVIANI
I can confirm WIGGO
is phenomenal! What
a team pursuit final
at Euro Track!
Chapeau.
@eliaviviani
11 October
GREG VAN
AVERMAET
Flat with 1km to go,
there are better ways
to finish the season!
Now finally offseason! #ParisTours
@gregvanavermaet
01 October
DAN MARTIN
Nice reintroduction
to a thing called
lactic acid today
although it felt more
like sulfuric. #burn
#cobwebsremoved
@danmartin86
27 September
SIMON GESCHKE
Im as dead as Elvis.
What a race...
@simongeschke

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

29

Five things you need to know about

THE 2016
GIRO DITALIA
The Corsa Rosa route has been
announced and its full of interesting
deviations from the recent template

THE LOVE
AFFAIR WITH
NORTHERN
EUROPE
CONTINUES

Image: Tim De Waele

When the Giro kicks


off with a TT in
Apeldoorn in the Netherlands it will
be the fourth time in seven years
the Corsa Rosa has started in north
west Europe and the second time
since 2010 that Dutch farmers will
be dipping their sheep in pink dye.
After the TT, the peloton will have a
tour of Hollands best road furniture
with two sprint stages in the east
of the country. The race has
dispensation for an early rest
day to facilitate the transfer to
Catanzaro on the toe of Italy. Fine
for those on the charter flights but
pity the poor souls who have a
2,100km drive on just the fourth
day of the Giro.

30

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

2 3 4 5
NIBALIS
BACK

Vincenzo Nibali is
likely to contest
the Giro for the
first time since
he won it in 2013.
Since then, the Sicilian has gone
to the Tour but next year, with
the Olympics looming, he said he
wants to go for the Giro and either
skip the Tour or support his teammate Fabio Aru in France in order
to be in the best form possible for
Rio. He said: [The 2016 Giro] suits
a complete kind of rider because
theres something of everything.
Theres a real time trial, a mountain
time trial, big mountain stages and
other tricky stages. Nibali is likely
to meet opposition in the form of
ex-team-mate Mikel Landa, whom
Team Sky is sending to the Giro
as their leader.

THREE TIME
TRIALS

Time trials have


been out of favour
in the Grand Tours
recently but the
2016 Giro is
redressing the balance. The last
time there were three individual
TTs in the Giro was 2010, six years
ago. Theres a flat 9.8km effort in
Apeldoorn and another flat route
in Chianti, this time over 40km.
But if any rouleurs thought this
was a cakewalk, theyd better think
again. On stage 15, the peloton
tackles a 10.8km mountain TT in
the Dolomites at Alpe di Siusi. In
common with the Tour, this uphill
TT follows a big mountain stage
and could either reinforce a riders
position on the GC if theyre super
strong or put them in difficulty if
they have not recovered well.

THERES
NOT MUCH
CLIMBING*

*Theres actually
quite a lot of
climbing. Most
of it is disguised
in medium mountain stages that
punctuate the whole race. There
are seven medium mountain stages
and two of them finish at altitude
(Rocarasso on stage 6 and the
216km stage to Sestola on stage 10).
While the Tour has pulled back from
this kind of stage, Giro organiser
Mauro Vegni loves them probably
for their ability to threaten havoc.
There are only four high mountain
stages. The first comes on stage 14
in the Dolomites. This could be the
stage of the season: five climbs
including the Pordoi, Campolongo
and Giau are packed into 210
gorgeous kilometres.

BIG FINALE

RCS has staked a


lot on the final two
mountain stages.
Stage 19 climbs the
Colle dellAgnello on
the way to Risoul in
France. The Agnello, at 2,744m, will
also decide the Cima Coppi. Stage
20 is also a monster: theyll climb
the Col de Vars and the Bonette
in France before plunging back
into Italy for the climbs of the
Lombarda and a finish at Santuario
SantAnna di Vinadio. There could
be a get-out clause and any
sensible rider would do well to
acquaint themselves with the
UCIs fledgling extreme weather
protocol. This is Italy and France
in late May and most of the climbs
mentioned above go over 2,000m,
which means that the risk of
encountering snow is high.

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Discover the

Prologue

OU T S I DE R

WELCOME TO
TRANSYLVANIA
Adrian Aldea
ROMANIAS
LONG MARCH
TO THE CYCLING
MAINSTREAM

The origins of the race are


simple. It was conceived by a group of friends
who watched the Tour de France on television
six years ago. We had the conviction that it may
be possible to organise a decent Romanian bike
race and we were supported by local authorities
and a few key journalists. The first edition was
run in 2011 and weve been growing ever since.
Were a non-profit organisation and were
not wealthy by any means. However, were very
proud of our event and of our city. Sibiu was
the 2007 European Capital of Culture and
Forbes voted it Europes eighth most idyllic
place to live. It has a historical centre, fortified
churches and one of the most spectacular
alpine road passes in all of Europe, the
Highway.
Transfagarasan
My job is in local administration but myself
and a friend, Bianca Agirbicean, work on the
race all year. Two months before the event some
other friends get involved and during the race
we are about 35 people in all. So were small but
ambitious and our objective is clear. We want
Sibiu to become the top 2.1 race in Central and
Eastern Europe. We want every stage shown
live, with helicopter images and
so on, and we want WorldTour teams.
Since 2012 the race has been transmitted by
Digisport, one of the most important networks
in Eastern Europe. They show it in Hungary and
Slovakia as well, and stream it on their site. The
stage finishes and time trial are live, and there is
a highlights show in the evenings.

OUR OBJECTIVE IS CLEAR.


WE WANT SIBIU TO
BECOME THE TOP 2.1
RACE IN CENTRAL AND
EASTERN EUROPE
32

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Television is the key in cycling because the


more coverage you can get, and the more
territories you get it in, the more you can
improve the quality of your peloton. Last year
we managed to attract four ProContinental
teams: three Italian and one, CCC, from Poland.
They come to us for all sorts of reasons but
from the discussions we had with their
managers we learned that they are attracted
because the race is very well organised, with
excellent race conditions, accommodation and
meals. Then, like any bike race, commercial and
strategic considerations play a major part.

OUR COUNTRY HAS a population of 20


million people. For a company like CCC, which
is active in the Romanian market, the exposure
is very important. In fact CCC wants to recruit
a Romanian cyclist to try to build even more
brand awareness and strengthen its position
here. However, thats easier said than done.
Weve always had cyclists here but the sport
as a whole has just never been that popular. Its
popularity is way behind football and even
handball but each year I ensure that old

champions such as Mircea Romascanu


and
Ion Stoica are present at the race. We may
not have a great cycling tradition but I want to
remind people that we too have some history.

There are currently two Romanian riders


competing for Italian teams. Eduard Grosu and
Serghei Tvetcov have each ridden the Giro, and
Tvetcov rode the World Championships. They
are very much the exceptions, though, because
we have such a shortage of clubs and races. We
do have a team in Transylvania: Tusnad. They
take part in international races but as far as Im
aware there are no plans for them to become
ProConti yet. In a country like ours its hard
to find sponsors prepared to make the sort of
investment which would facilitate that step up.
The upshot of all this is that Grosu and
Tvetcov exist in a sort of vacuum. Maybe
youngsters like Emil Dima and Daniel Crista
will be able to make the step up eventually but
otherwise the gap between those two and the
rest is huge. Were doing the best we can to
promote the sport but were not deluded. We
know were a long way behind countries with
an established cycling culture and that were
not even close to what you might call a boom.
But outdoor sports are increasing in
Romania, particularly with the young, and its
fashionable now to be seen on a bike, with road
cycling following the lead of mountain biking.
Small groups and communities are starting to
emerge. Its growing slowly but surely.
Adrian Aldea is a 39-year-old recreational cyclist.
The 2016 Sibiu Cycling Tour begins on 29 June.

Illustrator: Tim Marrs

he Sibiu Cycling Tour is a five-day,


UCI-ranked 2.1 stage race which
takes place over the first weekend
of July in Transylvania, and I am
the organising director.

PRO DIARIES
DAN
MARTIN

C A N N O N D A L E- G A R M I N

race fitness as its pretty much


impossible to replicate the sensations
that you get in a peloton. Motorpacing gets close to the same intensity
and speed but somehow a race always
puts different stresses on the body,
something highlighted at MilanoTorino which is on the Thursday
before Il Lombardia. The first four
hours of the race are basically flat and
ridden at a high tempo but if you took
a look at the power file youd say it

was easy. Indeed, the kilojoule count


and average power would possibly be
one of the lowest of the season and
under usual circumstances the legs
would be quite fresh when you hit the
first climb with 20km to go. There are
two 5km climbs in this last phase and
the result of the relaxed 165km run-in
is an incredibly violent effort: exactly
what is very difficult to replicate in
training. That reintroduction to lactic
acid and the deepest, darkest realms

I AM INCREDIBLY EXCITED FOR THE NEW BEGINNING,


ESPECIALLY AFTER THE BAD LUCK OF THE LAST TWO SEASONS.
I THINK TURNING THE PAGE, AND THE MOTIVATION FOUND
IN A NEW ENVIRONMENT WILL BE JUST THE TICKET TO
HELP ME FORGET THE RUN OF BAD LUCK
34

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

of my lungs was really quite painful


but I was hopeful it was just what
I needed for Sundays Il Lombardia.
The strength I had gained from
weeks of riding in the mountains was
evident as I was able to claw myself
back to a top-15 result after being
dropped immediately after the first
accelerations at the foot of the climb.
This diesel power was what I was
hoping would make defending my
title a possibility with the longer race
meaning strength and endurance
would play a bigger part than pure
tolerance to lactic acid.
Riding my last race for Slipstream
with the number 1 on my back and
at the scene of one of our greatest
shared moments was a fitting way to
finish our time together. The sunny
weather wed enjoyed all week gave
way to intermittent rain, just enough
to keep the roads wet and the new
course proved to be one of the
hardest of the year. I was feeling good
but the legs ran out on the Sormano.
Finishing anonymously, minutes
down, was a stark contrast to last year
but its still a race I really enjoyed.
Theres that end-of-term feeling
throughout the peloton and although
I will see all the team staff, it was a
strange feeling saying my goodbyes
and heading back to that bus for the
last time. Now its time to refresh and
get used to a new uniform. Exciting
times lie ahead. DM

IMAGE: Getty Images

LEFT At least now hes left Slipstream,


Dan wont have to try to match argyle
with Irish champions colours

ILLUSTRATIONS: David Despau

ard to believe that the 2015


season is done and dusted.
Its another year down but
also the end of an era in
my career as Im making my first
change of team since I turned
professional in the winter of 2007.
Slipstream Sports and its various
guises from the bright orange argyle
kit of 2008, through the Garmin years,
to this years green and black has
been my family, where Ive developed
from talented youngster to big race
contender. I will talk about my new
home, Etixx-Quick Step, next month
but I am incredibly excited for the new
beginning, especially after the bad
luck of the last two seasons. I think
turning the page and the motivation
found in a new environment will be
just the ticket to help me forget the
run of bad luck Ive endured lately.
After my crash at the Vuelta the
fairytale end to the Slipstream Sports
story was always going to be difficult
to achieve. Despite being able to ride
about a week after the second grade
shoulder separation I suffered during
the Vuelta, I couldnt really pull on the
bars or ride in the drops until only a
week before Il Lombardia, meaning
high intensity training was difficult.
I knew all along that Id be missing

PRO DIARIES

LOUIS
MEINTJES

VALENTINA
SCANDOLARA
O RI C A-AI S

M T N Q H U B E K A P/ B S A M S U N G

very professional cyclist starts


seeing the off-season on the
horizon in October. During
the season we sacrifice so much, so the
off-season is a wonderful time when
you can relax and get some balance.
I usually take three weeks off the bike
before picking things up again. It is
weird to wake up in the morning and
not have to ride but its something that
you get used to very quickly. When I do
start again, I quickly have to get used
to the heat back home. Living from
summer to summer is not something
I am going to complain about though.
After the Vuelta, I was tired but
happy with the result because I wanted
to end my time with MTN well. It has
been a great journey and ending with
a strong result was a good way of
signing off. I still had some race days
after the Vuelta but obviously you get a
lot more attention during a Grand Tour
so a good result was important for the
team. I mentioned in my previous
column that it was a true African
cycling result because of the make-up
of the team and it is something I will
be proud of for a long time.
To end the season, I had a few races
in Italy. Honestly, it was pretty hard to
find the motivation to go that hard
again after the Vuelta. Youre in a
peloton where guys are still looking for
contracts for next year so they make
the racing hard. A lot of guys say they
have super form after a Grand Tour but

I didnt feel that way. I could definitely


feel the fatigue. It meant it was time to
hang up the wheels for a few weeks
because before you know it, the new
season will arrive and next year will
hopefully be another big one for me.
My plan during the off-season is
always to do as little as possible. I will
stay at home in Rustenberg and catch
up with friends. There is a temptation
to go travelling around South Africa
but we move around so much during
the season that its nice to be at home
and do as little as possible.
I live a very different life to my
friends at home so catching up with
them is always interesting. They dont
always understand what I do and think
Im on holiday in Europe all the time.
Being at home is a good mental
break. Even though I have been in Italy
for three years, everything takes a little
effort because of the language barrier.
Ive been learning Italian but Im
nowhere near fluent yet. It takes a lot
of effort and motivation to learn
another language and you dont always
feel like it when you get back to your
apartment after a hard race. When
Im back home in South Africa, its
nice to be surrounded by familiarity.
You know how everything works
compared to everything being an
adventure in Europe. Afrikaans is my
first language and its great to speak
your mother tongue at home. Its a bit
of a break for the brain. LM

TO END THE SEASON, I HAD A FEW RACES


IN ITALY. HONESTLY, IT WAS HARD TO FIND
THE MOTIVATION TO GO THAT HARD
AGAIN AFTER THE VUELTA
36

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

o the racing season is now


officially finished and almost
all of us are resting and/or
going on holiday to freshen up the
mind and body before next year.
I am very happy with how my
adventure in Richmond panned out.
My last month of races has been great
and I found plenty of motivation and
sources of joy along the way and this
led me to a very good mindset heading
into the race. Perhaps it wasnt really
surprising, then, that I could put in
a good performance. Its not that I am
usually unhappy or demotivated but
September was definitely a month
above the average for me.
I kept training until the Giro
dellEmilia, which I raced with my
national team and which we won with
Elisa Longo Borghini, so all in all it was
a good month.
Now I am resting at home,
unplugging from the cycling bubble
and trying to relax and reset myself

BELOW Valentina wooden normally


be expected to ride a bike like this but
maybe shes heading off to the beech

because I will start again soon with my


winter preparation. I cant believe it all
comes around so quickly.
Next year brings a change of scene
for me. I will leave my Orica-AIS
family for another team. I cant
announce it yet, Im afraid it is the
teams decision! I must say that sadness
and nostalgia are evenly counterbalanced with the excitement of
getting to know new people and
exploring a brand new environment.
2016 will be a huge year for me. The
Olympic Games in Rio are a big target
for every athlete and even the selection
will be crazy hard. So my coach and
I have already started planning the best
and smartest preparation to try and
ensure I stand the best chance possible
of making the Italian squad. This might
also mean I will be somewhere warm
to train in November and December.
Life will be back on the road before
I know it.
Preparation, nutrition and training
are very important to perform but my
last month on the bike reminded me
how happiness and serenity are
definitely essential. Not
only for the athlete but
for the person, too. If the
person doesnt work, the
athlete wont either.
I will try from November
onwards to get in many
miles, workouts, and
climbs. But first and
foremost I hope to get a lot
of positivity from situations
and people around me.
So, welcome, winter
season! VS

MIKE
TEUNISSEN

TOM
SOUTHAM

LOT TO N L-J U M B O

LEFT Mike rounds off


his debut season as a
professional with ninth
place in Paris-Tours, the
final Classic of the year

fter the Vuelta, the biggest


thing on my mind was how
my body had reacted to the
workload and I was happy that I could
see my form improving right to the last
race. I finished ninth at Paris-Tours and
helped Tom Van Asbroeck to second
in the final race of the Belgian season,
the Sluitingprijs. And that was it,
season over. In a way I was quite sad
that there was nowhere left for me to
use my form. But thats the way it goes:
sometimes we just run out of races.
Then it was party time. Just before
everybody went on holiday, the
management organised a get-together
for the 2016 team the week after the
last race, so we can meet the new guys
who will be joining and say goodbye
to those who will be leaving. It was a
bit sad to say farewell to those who are
leaving but, well, Im sure well bump
into each other at races throughout
the coming years.
The meeting was also a chance to
get sized up for new equipment if we
need it and learn about new sponsors.
Lucky for us, things are pretty steady
next year and are looking good for

IMAGE: Tim De Waele (Teunissen)

future years after that.


Though we in the
team could see where
the improvements
could be made, the
Dutch sponsors were
very happy with our
showing at the Tour
this year, so with their
vote of confidence we can now keep
building and make 2016 a great season.
To finish things off, after the
meeting the team took over a local
bowling alley for the night and had a
small party. Even though it was just
bowling, you could see that the
competitive spirit was undimmed after
a long season. You could also see that
some guys obviously misspent their
youth in bowling alleys. I was drawn
against Martijn Keizer and Maarten
Wynants and they were too good for
me! The following day was our annual
fan day and a chance to meet some of
our more enthusiastic fans. It was a
good experience and hopefully Ill be
there for a few more to come.
Though Im not one of those riders
who gets anxious if they dont ride
their bike for a couple of days (I can
always think of something to do that
doesnt involve battering myself on a
bike), my thoughts are already turning
to next years preparation. I heard that
the Bianchi cyclo-cross bikes are being
prepared at the service course, so Im
already looking to get out there this
winter and smashing it. MT

D R A PA C P R O C YC L I N G

hen you think about it,


a cycling team is a
continually evolving thing.
Teams are always seeking to improve
their rosters, to strengthen the squad,
and to keep working towards the best
possible outfit they can be.
For teams this should be an easy
situation. The fact is there are more
riders than there are places on teams
but while there are a lot of bike riders
these days, there are actually very few
hugely talented ones.
If you are smart and lucky enough
to spot these guys before anyone else
does, then these signings are usually
quite easy. The hard part comes a lot of
the time when trying to determine the
majority of the rest of your squad, who
more often than not in a Pro-Conti
team, come from the vast pool of
riders who have the ability to be
professionals but not to be champions.
Often riders will wonder why
so-and-so got a deal with a big team
when they had beaten them earlier in
the year, or other riders had won more

BELOW Darren Lapthorne is one of the


riders Tom has had to replace for 2016

as amateurs and so on. But there


are so many variations in cycling,
and so many races that it is very rare
that one rider simply outperforms
another every single time, on every
single type of terrain.
At a certain stage in the process
there are always more guys that you
want to sign than you can take, and
there are always more guys wanting
a spot than you can take.
Working out who to take becomes
like trying to work out which one
band is better than another. It is an
impossible choice, and the key factors
(along with all of the boring stuff, like
age, UCI points, nationality etc) often
become culture and personality.
Ultimately, all teams are different
they all have their own cultures,
identities and ways of working.
And what with them being humans,
all riders are different, and by their
nature will or wont thrive in certain
environments. The important thing
to do is be honest. Looking at your
own riders and assessing if they are in
the best place for their own careers,
and looking at potential new signings
and trying to judge if they
will be in the best place to
get the best out of them.
These are never easy
decisions, and only time
will tell if they are the right
choices in the long run. One
thing is sure, as the peloton
reshuffles once again, all
teams and team managers
will be hoping they are one
step closer to finally getting
it right. TS

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

37

THE
INTERVIEW

Despite two overall wins in the womens


World Cup and numerous international
victories, Lizzie Armitstead was
developing a reputation for near misses
in the very biggest events. But she
removed what she described as a
monkey from her back when she
dominated the World Championships
road race in Richmond, Virginia, with an
attacking ride and superb sprint for gold.
Armitstead is the fourth British
woman to wear the rainbow jersey.
Procycling went to meet her to find out
what makes Lizzie tick
Writer: Edward Pickering|||
portraits: Chris Auld, Race photography: Tim De Waele
izzie Armitstead, all hectic energy
and busy cheer, shoves an armful of
shopping bags H&M, River Island
and Harvey Nichols containing
clothes, more bags and a leopard-print
shoebox, at me. Here, hold these please, she says,
and then disappears off with the photographer
from The Times.
Life just became a bit busier for new world
champion Armitstead, the sixth British rider, and
fourth British woman, to win a senior road race
rainbow jersey. Theres media (I wont finish until
seven tonight), shopping (I hate shopping), a
holiday (I dont even know where Im going yet
got any ideas?), a family diamond wedding
anniversary which has taken precedence over a
trip to Abu Dhabi for the UCIs end-of-season gala
and a wedding to Team Sky rider Philip Deignan to

* Unless stated otherwise

L
38

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

plan. You might think that fitting all this around


everyday life might be complicated but this is
everyday life for Lizzie Armitstead now.
Not that she was prepared for it. Armitsteads
focus on winning the world title involved detailed
planning over a period of months and a perfect
imposition of tactics and physical presence on
the race itself. That focus and planning went all
the way up to the end of the race in Richmond,
Virginia, but it didnt extend to the other side of
the finishing line.
Tell us about being the world champion,
Procycling asks Armitstead on her return from
being photographed.
Its still quite surreal. Because I wasnt prepared
for it, she says. I didnt think at all about
afterwards. The off-season was an afterthought.
I was just focusing on that day.

*unless stated

THE
INTERVIEW

I suppose the only time I really get to


reflect on things is when Im riding my
bike. Ive not done that yet, so maybe
when I go out for a ride, Ill see my
rainbow stripes and feel better.
Armitstead does have one reference
point: the silver medal she won at the
London Olympics. As Britains first
medallist of the Games, she was briefly
the centre of a huge amount of media
attention but even given the difference
between the scale of the two races,
winning a gold medal is very different
to winning a silver. On reflection,
Armitstead says, she has begun to
understand what she has done. I did
see it written down somewhere, Lizzie
Armitstead, world champion, and that
was a little moment, she says. I feel
confident. I feel proud of myself. I feel
I dont know
Validated? I suggest.
Good word. Exactly, she says.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLE


I HAVE CLICKED WITH MY FIRST
COACH, PHIL WEST, AND DANNY
STAM. THEY HAVE THE ABILITY
TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN ME
Below One wedding,
one World title and
a World Cup. Its been
a good year

FOR MOST OF the


womens World
Championships road
race, all but about 10
metres of it, to be exact,
I thought Lizzie
Armitstead wasnt
going to win.
There were several
good reasons for this,
which seemed
convincing at the time.
I thought the dangerous-

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

LIZZE ARMITSTEAD

THE STORY
SO FAR

40

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

looking mid-race break was going to stay


away with riders from most of the
strong nations represented, I couldnt see
who was going to chase it down. The
television coverage hardly showed any
time gaps, nor much in the way of pictures
of the Dutch and German teams, who
were actually pulling at the front of the
peloton, off-camera. So it was a surprise
when the telephoto lens shot before
the climb of Libby Hill, with only four
kilometres to go, showed the peloton
looming just a few seconds behind the
remains of the break, with two riders
Lauren Kitchen and Valentina Scandolara
dangling precariously off the front. (In
terms of good quality television coverage,
it was terrible. But paradoxically, the
adrenalin shot of suddenly realising that
the race was wide open, instead of the
normal slow reveal of a reducing time gap
and the anti-climax of the catch, made the
race seem incredibly exciting, in much
the same way as happened with Stephen
Roches comeback in the 1987 Tour de
France at La Plagne.)
After that, I still thought Armitstead
wouldnt win, because she accelerated
on 23rd Street, without going away. Last
chance, I thought. Then she attacked again

up Grosvenor Street, and while she


stretched and then broke the peloton, it
wasnt enough to leave her on her own.
Riders often talk about having one bullet
to fire in a race. Armitstead had missed
the target twice, by my reckoning.
Actually, three times shed had a dig
the lap before.
Up the finishing straight, and
Armitstead was sat on the front of the
group, which received wisdom will tell
us is the worst place to be. From the final
bend, at 700m to go, to about 300m, she

2009

2010

2011

Armitstead signs for Lotto-Belisol. Until


this year, shes focused mainly on the
track, although she signs off in style with
a gold medal in the World Championships
team pursuit. She wins three races on the
road in 2009.

Riding for Cervlo, Armitsteads best


performances come in stage races she
wins a stage and comes fourth overall
in the Route de France, then takes out
three stages en route to fourth in the
Tour de lArdche.

Armitstead starts to get strong results in


the one-day races. She wins the Nationals,
and is second in the Chongming Island
World Cup. Seventh at the World
Championships is marred by a low-level
spat with team-mate Nicole Cooke.

Lizzie Armitstead

DANNY AND THE


CHAMPION OF
THE WORLD
Armitsteads coach Danny Stam
explains how they work together.
What is your experience of working
with Armitstead?
Ive been working with her for four years.
Shes easy to work with because she
knows exactly what she wants.
Does she do what you want or what
she wants?
I think its a little bit of both. I know her
stronger points so sometimes I have to
suggest to her that Okay, well go in that
direction because I think its better.
Is she a good communicator?
To me, yes, but you have to win her trust,
then she communicates a lot. She trusts
me because I was a racer before, and a
similar one to her.
What are her key strengths?
Shes a good all-rounder. I think shes the
strongest sprinter of the climbers, and
she has a good feeling for races.

Above Armitstead
made her debut at the
senior Worlds in 2008
in Varese, where she
came 41st

otherwise). But at the 2014 Worlds in


Ponferrada, Armitstead had been the
strongest rider, yet still only come in
seventh. Shed forced a quartet of riders
free over the last climb. But shed also
telegraphed her superior strength, so
co-operation broke down and her group
was caught before she came a dispirited
seventh behind winner Pauline FerrandPrvot. I was worried that she didnt quite
have the tactical tools to turn racewinning strength into actual race wins,
an eternal second, defined in the public

Does she have any weak points?


She focuses on one-day races. I always
tell her that she can be better in stage
races but shes not interested.
The Rio Olympics course is a lot harder
than Richmond. Can she win the gold?
I believe she can. No, Im sure she can.
I always say that in the Worlds you have
120 good riders [whereas] the Olympics
is only 60 riders, so Im sure she can win
the gold medal there.

2012

2013

2014

2015

The British rider announces herself to the


wider sporting public with a hard-fought
second place behind Marianne Vos in the
London Olympic road race. In teeming
rain, Armitstead is the best of the rest
but just loses out to Voss strong sprint.

Injury prevents Armitstead from matching


her achievements of the previous year,
although she still wins the Nationals and
gets top-10s in two stage races in the
second half of the season: the Route de
France and Boels Ladies Tour.

Consistent riding, a win in the Ronde van


Drenthe and second places in Flanders,
Trofeo Binda and La Flche Wallonne give
Armitstead the World Cup. She is
disappointed with seventh in the Worlds
after looking like the strongest rider.

Armitstead is the rider of the year, with


consistent wins through the season. She
takes out the Tour of Qatar, Trofeo Binda,
Philadelphia, National Championships,
Plouay, the World Cup overall and finally
the World Championships.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Images: Getty Images (2008,2009,2011, 2013)

led eight other riders, a tall poppy to be


cut down.
Second places can be contagious just
ask Peter Sagan. Keen cycling fans might
know that Armitstead has won the World
Cup two years running (including three
wins in individual rounds this year) but at
successive World Championships and an
Olympic Games, shed come up short, and
it was starting to become a bit of an issue.
In London 2012, Marianne Vos was pretty
much unbeatable (and Armitstead
probably too inexperienced to imagine

Does that explain her Richmond win?


The course in Richmond was made for
her. Only the strongest girls survived, and
if you are the fastest of them then you
have a good opportunity to win.

41

THE
INTERVIEW

eye by her Olympic silver medal and


destined never to improve it. She had
been beaten by Vos and beaten by
Ferrand-Prvot, and beaten, in some
ways, by herself.
On the finishing straight in Richmond,
I thought shed been beaten again, in a
similar way to Ponferrada. Strong enough
to dictate the race, therefore strong
enough for her rivals to try nothing
more than to follow, sit on and out-sprint
her at the finish.
I tell her it looked like the race had
slipped from her grasp.
She looks back at me, and says, I was
completely in control.

ARMITSTEAD HAS
SAID on more than
one occasion since
Richmond that in
winning the World
Championships,
she had removed a
monkey from her
back. It should be
pointed out that this
monkey is not a
British Cycling-style
Inner Chimp
Armitstead did plan
her assault on the Worlds in every bit
as much detail as BC applied to Mark
Cavendish winning the mens race in
Copenhagen four years ago but it was
mainly with her Boels-Dolmans coach
Danny Stam. While she had success with
the GB track team, she didnt feel like the
methods suited her temperament.
I couldnt have continued in that
environment. I struggled with it,
because Im a perfectionist and a control
freak. As a team pursuiter youre doing
the same training as three other people.

And walking into the


velodrome every day
is exactly the same
feeling as I get when
I walk into a hospital.
I have a physical
reaction to it. It makes
my skin crawl.
During the course of our interview,
I ask about Armitsteads parents. The
combination of an accountant father and
teacher mother is an irresistible one for
a journalist surely the ability to crunch
power numbers comes from her father,
and the study of road racing lore from her
mother. But shes inherited something
more profound from her father, in fact.
One thing that has always inspired me
in cycling is that my dad has never liked
his job. Ive always been aware that hes
hated being stuck in an office, she says.

ONE THING THAT HAS ALWAYS INSPIRED ME


IN CYCLING IS THAT MY DAD HAS NEVER LIKED
HIS JOB. IVE ALWAYS BEEN AWARE THAT HES
HATED BEING STUCK IN AN OFFICE
42

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Above Armitstead
explains how she
took victory in the GP
Plouay and World Cup
Right En route to a
third national road
race title on the
Lincoln cobbles, 2015

An amateur psychologist could be


tempted to draw interesting parallels
between Armitsteads discomfort with the
institutionalised ethos of British Cycling
and her perception that her father hasnt
enjoyed the institutionalisation of a life in
an office. Armitstead herself admits that
shes not easy to work with. Or maybe
I dont find it easy to work with other
people, she corrects herself. Im
confident in who I am. I dont get taken
in and my opinions are often very strong.
There are only two people I have clicked
with my first coach, Phil West, and
Danny Stam [see sidebar]. They have
the ability to bring out the best in me.
I ask her if she enjoys winning races,
or whether not losing them is more
important to her, and she thinks for a
few seconds.
I probably enjoy not losing, she says,
and pauses. Is that bad? she asks.

ARMITSTEADS WORLDS WIN was


a masterpiece of tactics, planning and
control, even if she perceives that her

Images: Getty Images (National Champs)

Lizzie Armitstead

THE
INTERVIEW

Right Armitsteads
World Champs win
was a masterpiece of
tactics and patience

greatest assets are her physical strength


and her work ethic, rather than a mastery
of the dark arts of road racing.
My strength is physical. I just got
it tactically right that once. With my
physical ability I should have won more
than 10 races this year but I suppose
I have more confidence in my physical
ability than my tactical ability, she says.
But the planning behind Richmond
was nonetheless meticulous.
The Championships were in the US,
so it was difficult to recce the course more
than once, she says. I chose to do the
Philadelphia World Cup because I knew
I could go to Richmond and look at the
course at the same time. Had that not been
the case, I might not have gone to Philly.
Though Armitstead won the
Philadelphia race, the priority was always
the World Championships, and after shed
seen the course, she knew what she had to
do to win the race. And the first thing was
to tweak her training.
Generally, going into a World
Championships you want massive base

44

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

condition, and thats what you focus


on, so you are fitter than anybody else.
I readjusted going into Richmond because
physically I knew my fitness was good
but I needed to make sure that those twominute efforts, and my 30-second power,
would be better than anybody elses.
From June onwards, I was doing specific
Richmond climbs in training. I knew
there would be those consecutive efforts
at the end.
During her training rides in her
adopted but temporary home in Monaco,
Armitstead would replicate the Richmond
efforts every other day at the end of
training: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off,
three times, then finishing with a sprint.
There was one other key race in her
build-up: the Grand Prix de Plouay in
Brittany. Observant riders might have
noticed that Plouay and the Richmond
Worlds had some strikingly similar

characteristics. Both are circuit races


and both finish with a flat run-in after a
climb. In winning Plouay a month before
Richmond, Armitstead was giving herself
a dress rehearsal for the Worlds. Up the
two-kilometre drag of the Cte de Ty
Marrec, with only four kilometres to ride,
she attacked and it took a huge effort by
Anna Van Der Breggen, her runner-up in
the Worlds and main rival for the World
Cup, to bring her back. Coincidentally,
both races ended with a nine-woman
group coalescing for the sprint. Not
coincidentally, five of the same women
made up those two nine-strong groups.
At Plouay, I wanted to test my legs and
test what was missing. In previous years,
I did Plouay and didnt stick in an attack,
because being a sprinter, Lizzie, here
she is quoting her team management and
the general perception of her Youve got
to wait for the sprint.

Lizzie Armitstead

IF YOU DO AN ATTACK LIKE THAT AND YOU


TAKE IT TO ONE SIDE OF THE ROAD, YOU SHUT
DOWN ONE SIDE. NOBODY LAUNCHED AN
ATTACK, AND THAT SAID TO ME, NOBODY
HAS THE LEGS TO BEAT ME
Actually, I dont feel that comfortable
waiting for sprints. As a cyclist you get put
in a box early on, and because I was a track
rider, and had a bigger bum than the girl
next to me, I was a sprinter. Its as simple
as that sometimes. At Plouay, I stuck in an
attack and dropped anybody who could
potentially beat me in a sprint. So in
Richmond I knew thats what I wanted
to do. The plan was to put in a move up
Governer Street and then sprint.
Armitsteads main challenge at the
Worlds was actually getting through the

race. Physically, she was on top form, but


mentally the challenge was tougher.
I always get bored in races. I struggle
with that, she says. Im always wanting
to do more. I knew that the Worlds would
be bad Id have to have a huge amount
of patience. My mind wanders I started
thinking about all sorts, like where to go
on holiday, my wedding
I find it frustrating but I was surprised
when I looked behind at one point and
there was hardly anybody left in the
peloton. I was never under pressure.

I knew the group of nine would come


back. Some of those riders were the
second or third-ranked riders in their
teams and it wouldnt have been a sure
win for them, so I dont think their teams
would have taken that risk.
My attack on Governer Street was
about stringing it out. I didnt know where
Jolien dHoore and Giorgia Bronzini were
but I knew they would be struggling. Its
a game you need to look at your rivals,
to look in their faces. My whole game plan
in Richmond was to drop Bronzini and
dHoore. I got it down to nine girls, and
I knew they would leave me on the front,
so I didnt put everything into the attack.
Which brings us back to the sprint on
East Broad Street, Richmond. The lead
riders rounded the final left turn and the
momentum and racing line naturally took
them to the right hand side of the road.
Ahead, on the opposite side, two Flemish
flags fluttered in the wind. They were
pointing back along the road, and away
from it to the left: cross headwind from
the right. Armitstead eased over to the left
hand side of the road.
If you do an attack like that and you
take it to one side of the road, you shut
down one side. Nobody launched an
attack, and that said to me, nobody has
the legs to beat me, because theyve not
beaten me the whole season in a sprint,
so theyre just waiting for the line, says
Armitstead.
She sat on the front, fiddled with her
gears, until she was in her sprinting gear,
and waited. Armitstead knew that her
rivals would blink before she did.
Van Der Breggen sprinted but that was
the right thing for her. She needed a long
sprint. It was a very good sprint, but
Armitstead doesnt finish the sentence.
She doesnt need to. Shed proven the
doubters, me included, wrong.

Left Armitstead edges


out rival Anna Van
Der Breggen in the
Richmond sprint
Above Receiving the
congratulations of her
GB team-mates on the
Worlds podium

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

45

2 0 1 5

FIVE REASONS
PETER SAGAN LOSES RACES, AND

WHY HE WON
THE WORLDS
Did Peter Sagan finally crack the secret of how to win big at the World Road
Race Championships? Procycling looks back over the career of the Slovak,
analysing the reasons he has often come up short when it counts but showing
how he learned from past experiences to win the rainbow jersey
WRITER Edward Pickering PHOTOGRAPHY Tim De Waele*

The Liquigas team went into the


2012 Milano-Sanremo with a very
strong but fatally flawed double team
leadership strategy. Their two main

Images: Bettiniphoto (Strade Bianchi)

Team tactics have


hindered Sagan,
such as at Strade
Bianche in 2013

46

PROCYCLING

HE GETS
TRAPPED
TACTICALLY

DECEMBER 2015

riders, Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali,


didnt quite have the standing and
reputation that they do now (Sagan
was still young, and Nibali two years
away from his biggest triumph at the
Tour de France), so the management
were possibly justified in thinking
that the best plan would be to allow
Nibali to use his climbing and
descending strength to follow the
attacks over the Poggio, and save
Sagan for the sprint. The problem
was that Nibali was so strong on the
Poggio that he launched what turned
out to be the race-winning attack.
Nibali was followed by Simon
Gerrans, then Fabian Cancellara, but
hed sealed his fate, and that of Sagan.
In that company the Italian had no
chance of finishing higher than third
of three in the sprint to the line.
Sagan was indeed strong enough
to win the sprint but it was only for

fourth place, two seconds behind


winner Gerrans. Sagan couldnt chase
into the finish, because Nibali was
ahead. Nibali couldnt work in the
break, because Sagan was behind. In
hindsight, Liquigass best chance of
winning the race would have been for
Nibali to have stayed with the bunch
and helped pace Sagan back.
A similar thing happened to Sagan
in the 2013 Strade Bianche, with
better results for the team, although
similar frustration for Sagan. His
team-mate Moreno Moser attacked
from a lead group which also
contained Sagan. Nobody wanted to
chase, because it would have handed
victory to Sagan, so Moser stayed
away to win. Sagan demonstrated
who the strongest rider in the race
was by attacking up the final climb
to Siena to finish second, not at all
far behind Moser.

Sagans Worlds win


was a dramatic way
to break his major
one-day race duck

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

47

2 0 1 5

Stage 6 of the Tour


was a classic example
of the field racing
against Sagan

ANATOMY OF
A PALMARS
Weve broken down Peter Sagans results
in a slightly different way, to illustrate how
consistent his placings are and also to ask if
they cost him wins. The results are taken
from the last two years. For comparison,
weve shown Alexander Kristoffs results
over the same time frame. Results in GCs
and TTs have been stripped out were
only comparing road racing tactics.
There are a few conclusions we can draw
from these numbers. First, Kristoff wins
more bunch sprints than Sagan. Second,
they contest around the same number of
finishes at the front of races as each other.
Third, Sagan gets considerably more top
placings (2nd-7th, where he has been in the
mix for the win) than Kristoff: 53 placings
against 25). Would Sagan win more races
if only he tried to win less often?

SAGAN

HES OFTEN THE


SECOND-FASTEST
SPRINTER

The biggest misconception about Peter


Sagan, one that might even be shared by
the rider himself, is that he is a sprinter.
Of course hes a fast finisher, and he
has won some bunch kicks, but he gets
a relatively low return from his sprints. In
the last two seasons, hes won five bona fide
bunch sprints and six sprints from small
groups. Against this, on a further 53
occasions, hes sprinted for first, not won,
and finished in the top seven. His 11 sprint
wins against 43 defeats compares
unfavourably with Mark Cavendish who,
even as a less dominant sprinter than he
used to be, has 24 wins against 16 defeats in
sprints in the same period.
Sagan usually finds a way not to win
a sprint, whether hes in a full peloton or
a small group. There just always seems
to be one rider whos faster. In the 2013
Milano-Sanremo, he was one of six riders in
the final breakaway. Hed diligently tracked
his Classics nemesis, Fabian Cancellara, all
the way over the Poggio into San Remo.
And then Gerald Ciolek, hiding at the back
of the group, out-sprinted him. The 2013
Tour de France was a similar story, almost
every day: for four of the first five road
stages he finished second or third each
time, only taking his first stage win of the
race into Albi on stage seven after his
Cannondale team put the bunch sprinters
out of the race over a series of mid-stage

48

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

hills. And then in subsequent Tours, he


simply never got his stage win, despite an
almost unprecedented run of top-five
placings. In the last two Tours, hes been
in the top five 20 times and won no stages.
Over these 20 stages, 13 different riders
have beaten him for the win. Its not as if he
has a particular nemesis who is a bit better
than him its more that Sagans rivals often
gang up on him. Of course, there is a side
benefit to being a consistent sprinter hes
been unassailable in the Tours green jersey
competition for four years.

OR HES THE
SECOND
STRONGEST RIDER

Sometimes theres not much you can do


about coming up against a stronger rider
(although paradoxically, Sagans rivals have
won plenty of races when faced with that
scenario). The 2013 Tour of Flanders was
the best illustration of how Sagans tactical
failings in the past have left him exposed.
In the run-up to the race, Sagan had
looked strong and confident, and he was
a genuine favourite for the win. Hed been
fifth the previous year and a week before
hed broken his Classics duck in GentWevelgem with a solo win, two days after
coming second behind Fabian Cancellara at
E3. But the warning signs were there while
Sagan looked strong, Cancellara had been
imperious at E3, winning by a minute.
At Flanders, Sagan marked Cancellara.
This showed he was the best of the rest, and

vs KRISTOFF

BUNCH SPRINT WINS

23

GROUP WINS <20 RIDERS

SOLO WINS

3 0

PLACING OF 2-7,
WHERE WIN IS CONTESTED

25

53

TOP THREE IN THE SPRINT


BEHIND AN ESCAPE

11

62
34

14

UNCONTESTED

OTHER RESULTS,
TTS, GC ETC

62
30

MISCELLANEOUS
OTHER PLACINGS

16

Why he won the Worlds | Peter Sagan

the pair hit the last climb, the Paterberg,


together. But Cancellara was stronger. All
Sagans tactics (or lack thereof) guaranteed
was that he had an excellent view of
Cancellaras race-winning attack.
Sometimes Sagan has given as good as
he has got, however. At the 2012 Tour of
California, he won four consecutive stages.
Each time, Heinrich Haussler was second.
Its easy to criticise riders for not managing
to crack stronger or better individuals but
sporting logic often wins out.

HIS TIMING
IS OUT

Peter Sagan is one of the best uphill


sprinters in the peloton. And there was
a period, which reached its zenith in the
2012 Tour de France, where he was the
best. A combination of brute strength
and fearlessness gave him two stage wins
in three days at the start of the race.
However, that fearlessness has sometimes
translated into overconfidence. In the 2012
Amstel Gold Race, which had its finishing
line at the top of the Cauberg, not further
along the road as it does now. Sagan led out
the final dash for the line but couldnt hold
his speed, while Enrico Gasparotto and Jelle

Vanendert rushed past. His body language


betrayed him instead of standing and
sprinting, with the aim of holding
maximum speed to the line, he stood
up, then had to sit down again as his
deceleration took hold.

of an escape with Luis Len Snchez,


Philippe Gilbert, Sandy Casar and Gorka
Izagirre. The sprint would have been a
formality but when Snchez attacked, they
all looked at Sagan, just as Snchez had
anticipated, and that was that. It was a sneak
preview of countless subsequent defeats.

OTHERS RIDE
AGAINST HIM

One of the surest ways of winning a bike


race is to have Peter Sagan in the next group
tybar and Rubn
down the road. Zdenek
Plaza both won Tour stages this year by
attacking, while everybody else behind
looked at Sagan.
In the past, Sagan has not done a very
good job of hiding the fact that he is
extremely strong and this knowledge
changes the way his rivals race. Though
a significant number of Sagans high
finishes come when hes beaten in a sprint
(see graphic), hes also vulnerable in small
groups, when chasing attacks is often left
to him. Other riders realised this as early as
the 2012 Tour de France. Sagan had already
won three stages two uphill finishes and
a reduced bunch sprint when he managed
to haul himself over some hard Pyrenean
climbs on stage 14 to Foix, in the company

SO HOW DID SAGAN


WIN THE WORLDS?

Consistent placings
may not be great for his
palmars but mean he
owns four green jerseys

If the Worlds had come down to a bunch


sprint, Sagan would likely have added
another top five to his huge collection.
There are two reasons Sagan wins
less often than he used to. First, theres a
combination of the above reasons hes a
great all-rounder whos not quite the fastest
sprinter. Second, his rivals ride to make him
lose, even when it guarantees defeat for
themselves. And third, his rivals have, to
a certain extent, caught up. In 2012, with
Philippe Gilbert showing less good form
than he had the previous year, Sagan had
a monopoly on uphill finishes and small
group sprints. But now there are others who
can survive as well as Sagan on difficult
terrain and then out-sprint him; in John
Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff and Michael
Matthews, Sagan faces a golden generation
of tough rivals with similar skills.
Sagans solution at the Worlds was to win
solo, something he has occasionally done
in the past but never to such devastating
effect. His sprinting ability means that he is
happy to finish in a group but in Richmond
his only chance was to harness that uphill
explosiveness on the 23rd Street climb.
Add to that his characteristically headlong
descent down the other side and, for once,
Sagan didnt have to worry about which of
his rivals would outsprint him.
Theres one more thing, which we found
when searching for a dynamic image of
Sagan for the cover of our October issue.
During races, he is often invisible difficult
to pick out. He cant hide his strength but he
can save it. According to his coach at
Cannondale, Sebastian Weber, Sagan is very
efficient at hiding away in the bunch. With
a small and underpowered team at the
Worlds, Sagan had to use his resources
efficiently for all that hes developed a
reputation as tactically vulnerable, he has a
strong understanding of peloton dynamics.
Will we see more solo attacks from Sagan
in the future and less contesting of sprints
hes probably going to lose? Perhaps. But in
a demonstration that maybe Peter Sagan
just cant help himself, in his next race, the
Abu Dhabi Tour, he sprinted for the win
twice. Both times, he was second.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

49

50

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

SPIRIT
IN THE
SKY

At the Tour of Britain, Procycling sat down


with Pete Kennaugh and Ian Stannard, two long-time
friends and both members of Chris Froomes Tour de
France-winning team, to discuss what makes the squads
team spirit so special, and problems at the UCI

WRITER
Sam Dansie
PHOTOGRAPHY
Getty Images

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

51

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

You were both part of Chris Froomes


Tour victories in 2013 and 2015. Was
there any discernible difference in the
way the races were ridden?
Pete Kennaugh At the start when you
talk about the difference between the two
Tours, one is for sure how organised every
team is and you just see it on TV like eight
teams in row and then everyone else is just
behind and all the crashes are happening
behind and no one can move, whereas in
2013 it was like that to a certain extent but
for the first half of the race wed chat and
talk to people and be a bit more sociable
and at the last part of the race youd be
getting organised and whatever.
Ian Stannard Both Tours were hard in
their own unique ways. I think this year was
very stressful straight from the first day.
The friendships that bond Team Sky
together are well known but how
much is that down to shared history
or is it because your characters simply
gel well together?
IS I dont know. That core group of British
riders means we all bounce off each other
and we know each other so well. One guy
can have a bad day and the rest of us can
laugh and then it doesnt really matter.
Everyone knows what their job is and can

Stannard has been


absolutely mighty for
Team Sky in the
spring Classics

Celebrating Froomes
second Tour victory as
the team crosses the
line this July
A battle-weary
Kennaugh and Thomas
in Paris after the final
stage of the 2013 Tour

get on with it. I just think on a lot of other


teams people muck about and theres not
that same friendship there and thats the
key to it.
PK I think it depends what group is at the
race, so this year there was quite a core
British group at the Tour, which was
different to the Vuelta last year. Its so
much easier to communicate and stay

Both Tours were hard in their


own unique ways. I think this
year was very stressful
straight from the first day

around your leader and be organised in the


bike race. But, like you say, weve known
each other for a few years and that makes
a difference as well.
Do you think the spirit is unique to the
team or is it replicated elsewhere?
PK I dont think theres the same
commitment [on other teams]. Look at
Landa and Aru at Astana. At the Tour
we all know why were there and its really
businesslike in that way. Youve got to
be totally selfless and not really think
about yourself.
What about Orica-GreenEdge? Its often
seen as a team of good friends.
PK I dont think they have the same bond as
mates. They all still want to win dont they?
Theyre not like mates. We used to go to the
track Nationals and wed all be camping
outside Newport velodrome with all our
families together and there are not many
people who have been there and done
that thats the difference between being
team-mates and actually being mates and
that makes a massive difference.
Ian, a noticeable feature of the Classics
was that the team spent much more
time as a unit at the front. Did it feel
like something had clicked for the
squad this year?
IS Yeah, you know, its all about learning,
experiencing the races and it takes a long
time to really get to grips with them. Youve
got to really know where you are on the
road and whats coming up and it does take
years to come together and all the pieces are
gradually just fitting together.
How difficult was it, Pete, to leave at the
Tour this year? [Kennaugh abandoned

Look at Landa and


Aru at Astana. At the
Tour we all know why
were there and its
really businesslike
in that way. Youve
just got to be totally
selfless and not really
think about yourself

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

53

Everybody just wants to do


something and if youre not
doing something or you cant
do a job then youre not going
to feel part of the team

on stage 16 after suffering with a


respiratory infection for two days.]
PK It was difficult but I couldnt do
anything. I dont dwell on it too much
because you just get down on it. Its life
thats not just bike racing thats how it is.
Ian, was there a low point at the Tour
when team spirit picked you up?
IS Well, there were a few hard days,
especially in the mountains. But, you know,
if youve got G [Geraint Thomas] and guys
like that there, they can look after it as well.
There was that day for you, Pete, when you
spent a long time out the back and anyone

54

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

else would be, like, Ach, I just feel crap and


would go and sit at the back but Pete was
like, I can probably get 10ks in and help
you guys and thatll be 10km less you guys
have to do. I really think thats the
mentality and the commitment.
PK Everybody wants to do something and
if youre not doing something or you cant
do a job then youre not going to feel part of
the team. And there is that incentive of not
wanting to be at the dinner table feeling like
youve let everyone down because you
havent been able to be part of what was
going on that day.
IS I think you probably rode 150km at the

At the Tour, every Sky


rider knows his job so
friction in the team is
reduced to a minimum

arse of the race just to help us for 10km


when you could have just ducked and dived
and maybe made your life a little bit easier.

Dave Brailsfords
management skills are
widely credited for the
team spirit at Sky

David Brailsfords leadership skills are


well known, so how do they come out
on the team bus?
PK Well, he likes his team talks [both
laugh].
IS I think it helps that weve all
grown up together and Daves
been part of that process as well
and its the whole thing added
together and it has built up since
we were 16, 17 years old. And

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

Its nice to be let off the leash a bit


[at the Tour of Britain] because the
way we race the Dauphin and
the Tour is so structured

IMAGES: Tim De Waele (Kennaugh, ToB)

even before that, we were racing around


parks together and, yeah alright, Pete was in
a different age category but youre all aware
of each other and we kind of grew up with
each other.
And after the Tour, how has your
training been going?
PK I feel alright and its been a long time
since I raced after pulling out of the Tour.
Its been quite hard on the head, mentally,
actually. It would have been nice to have a
race before this [Tour of Britain] and been
able to come here with really good form but
I trained well for three weeks and then I just
cracked. But the last two weeks up to here
Ive just been riding my bike and going out
with my mates and being really relaxed on
the Isle of Man. And thats why I feel like Im
going alright. Im really happy to race and
really want to be here. Im happy to race
rather than being over-raced and dreading
every stage when you dont want to be here
because it can go one of two ways at this
time of year.
IS It has been difficult since the Tour.
You put in so much for the Classics since
January and then youre working towards
the Tour
PK And trying to beat Dowsett! [both laugh]

IS Like Pete said, since the Tour Ive just


enjoyed myself and riding my bike and
making people hurt!

Kennaugh made the


most of having freedom
to race aggressively at
the Tour of Britain

You had some solid success through


the middle part of the season, Peter.
Did you feel youd reached a new level
as a rider?
PK I dont know really. I kind of felt
a bit like that last year after Austria
TEAM SKY
[he won]. I mean it was great this
year, just because I was coming
back from injury and all the hard
work Id done. Id been on the road
Sky have now been going for six seasons, and one of the secrets
of their success is the close bond between their British riders
for pretty much seven weeks up to
the Dauphin and away from home
Team Sky have a hard
Chris Froome to two Tour
so it felt almost like a little personal
juggling act to keep up.
wins (there was less of a
How do they compete in a
British flavour to the 2012
reward really, with all the sacrifice.
major international sport,
Tour-winning squad led
At the Dauphin it was one of
as a major international
by Bradley Wiggins).
those races you dont necessarily
team, and retain the
Kennaugh and Stannard
get a chance at that often. We didnt
British identity that is key
are key figures here, as is
really talk about me doing that
to their popularity with
Geraint Thomas. All three
the home fans?
are products of the British
before the start of the race or
Its a significant challenge
Cycling Academy, and the
anything, it just kind of happened
- for a start there are more
bond they have forged
so it was a nice little surprise really.
ambitious and talented
over the years shouldnt

BRITISH BACKBONE

British riders than there is


space on the team for them.
Mark Cavendish tried to
combine his ambitions with
those of Sky, and it didnt quite
work to either partys
satisfaction, despite some
successes. Some other British
riders simply dont click with the
teams famously regimented
ethos. Alex Dowsett and Steve
Cummings rode for Sky before

realising they would operate


more effectively elsewhere. And
the Yates twins, even as they are
talked up as potential Tour
winners, didnt even try to race
with Sky - they went straight to
Orica-GreenEdge when they
turned professional in 2014.
But one of the most important
aspects of Sky is the British
backbone which has supported

be underestimated as a
key advantage for the team.
Recently, Luke Rowe has
developed into an important
rider in this group. Ben Swift
might not be a core member of
the Sky Tour squad, but he is
one more product of the same
cohort as Thomas et al. Sky
might have strong riders, but
more importantly, they have
strong bonds.

Kennuagh won the


opening stage of the
Dauphin and wore
yellow for two days

Youve both been working hard


at the Tour of Britain. Youre
clearly enjoying it.
PK Its nice to be let off the leash a bit
sometimes because the way we race
the Dauphin and the Tour is so
structured. I suppose theres no other
way to race them. Coming here after
that kind of racing is nice.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

55

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

56

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Like stage 2 you were unlucky Ian and you


punctured but with 60 kilometres to go it
was every man for himself. It was great.
Do you enjoy the six-man team format?
IS Yes, absolutely. It really opens it up and
really changes the dynamic about how we
normally race. Like Pete said, its really
structured all the time and even your
smaller races can be like that. But here you
cant really control it with six guys so you
just take your opportunities. Like the other
day, with 60km to go the race goes to hell
and you just have some fun and attack.
PK And its a lot safer as well.
Talking of safety, what did you make of
the Vueltas opening team time trial?
PK I just dont get it. The UCI have such
double standards, theyre just hypocrites.
[IS laughs] Theyre so happy to dish out
fines for absolutely nothing and they just
preach and preach and then they go and do
that? How does that even get allowed? Who
in the UCI went and saw that course and
said Oh yeah, thats great. Ridiculous.
So it makes you angry when youre
forced to ride in those conditions?
PK Yeah, and it makes me angry with the
people youve got to deal with. Who are
those people? You dont see those people or
hear of them. Its not really changing either.
Its supposed to be this new organisation
but there isnt a lot going on. It needs to be
done by a board of people or something
like that rather than by a president I dont

know but everyone over the age of 50


should get to know what theyre doing.
Im pretty angry.
IS Its just a joke. Its a Grand Tour, a big
race, and you start with something like
that. Its just painful really that they could
even think of it. Like Pete says, the UCI
really need to step up their game and look
after us really. There have been a lot of
incidents this year.
PK Exactly. Motorbikes. And the wind in
Gent-Wevelgem...

Kennaugh hails
Stannards Nieuwsblad
win against three E-QS
riders as incredible

Id say hes being quite modest there,


like. I watched it and I was like: how
did you do that? It was incredible

IMAGES: Tim De Waele (This page)

Terpstra and Boonen


force smiles after being
caught out by Stannard
at Het Nieuwsblad

Stannard and
Kennaugh are both
very critical of the UCI
and president Cookson

IS Yeah, guys getting blown off the road and


into water and the UCI are just like Yeah, no
worries. Someone could drown!
PK I was racing down this lane on stage 2.
It was neutralised and Brian Cooksons
there with his flag out the sunroof having
a quick tan. [Stannard grins] Thats the
problem though!
Its a while ago now, Ian, but that was
a great win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Do you look back and wonder how you
pulled that off? [Stannard beat three
Etixx-Quick Step riders in a break]
IS Not really. It was alright. You do the race,
you win and you move to the next one. Next
thing youre at Strade Bianche, falling off.
Its just a medium-sized bike race and there
are other things you want to do.
PK Id say hes being quite modest there,
like. I watched it and I was like: how did
you do that? It was incredible.
IS Its pretty cool and Id love to have been
a fly on the wall in the Quick Step bus
afterwards but compared to races like
Flanders and Roubaix its just like a little
bit of a caper really.
Youve all grown up together and life is
moving on. Ian youve got a baby and
Pete youll be a dad soon. How much
does personal life get intertwined with
work life on this team?
PK Its massive isnt it? Its contagious. One
of us got engaged and next minute were all
engaged. Now were all having kids. Its
quite weird really.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

57

58

PROCYCLING

NOVEMBER 2015

Alex
Howes
If youre only as good as your last race, US rider Alex Howes is very good
indeed. The Coloradan ended a tough season with 12th place in the World
Championships and hes looking forward to bigger things in Olympic year
WRITER: Daniel Benson

You were the top American in the World


Championships road race in Richmond,
Virginia, finishing 12th. Were you satisfied
with that result after whats been a long and
at times difficult season?
I was really happy with my ride at the Worlds.
I was hoping to go top-ten but that was always
going to be a bit of a long shot. Finishing 12th,
I was really proud of that. As a team we rode to
our strengths and it was important to factor in
such an important race on home soil.
This season has been a demanding one for
you with illness and injury disrupting your
progress. What was the most difficult period
for you and how did you bounce back?
The first half of my season, to be honest, was
disappointing. I had a lot of general life stress
going on with moving apartment, a persistent
knee injury and I kept on getting sick. I had a
nasty cyst in my sinuses so every time I felt like
I was getting moving again Id be sick. By the
time that cleared up it was the second half of
the season and from there it went pretty well.
I went to the Vuelta and that started well but
then I crashed and had to limp through. It came
together for me in the end and I was able to
regain some form ahead of the Worlds. I guess
if youre going to have a pretty crappy season
and its going to turn around for just one day,
the Worlds is the day to have that good ride.
What were your aims at the start of the year?
The original plan was to ride the Tour but
personally I had thoughts of using the Vuelta

PORTRAIT: Slipstream Sports

IVE SEEN A LOT OF


MOTIVATION FROM THE
TEAM FOR 2016 AND IM
LOOKING TO THROW
DOWN IN OLYMPIC YEAR
as Worlds preparation, so I wasnt totally
disappointed to miss out on that. I wanted to
have a better Ardennes but I was sick just before
the first race, Amstel Gold. I ended up making
the break but it was embarrassing how bad
I was once I made it into the move. I wanted
better than that from the campaign. Actually,
the toughest point in the season was just after
the Nationals and going into the Dauphin.
I got sick again and had some blood tests,
which led to a week off the bike. I got healthy
and rode Suisse, then got sick again and ended
up missing the last time trial. Physically and
mentally that was tough but I managed to
go home and recharge the batteries.
The 2015 season was somewhat of a
transitional season for the CannondaleGarmin team, with a number of riders
coming and going. As someone who has
been with the team for so long, do you feel
the ethos has changed?
I think the ethos has stayed the same but the
personality of the team has changed. A few
people are quite quick to point the finger at
some of the Italians who came in but I think

they were a great addition to what we had. The


reality was that we threw out a lot of older
guys and we were the youngest team in the
WorldTour by a couple of years. We had a lot
of kids out there who had never seen a pro bike
race. That meant guys like me and Nathan Haas
were the old hands and Ive only been a pro for
four years. That put more strain on guys like
Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal to lead the
team when what they should have been doing
was going out there and getting results. It was
a year of growth for a lot of guys on the team
and well see how things change next year. Well
still be a young team and well have another
transitional year but I think a lot of the guys are
looking to turn the page and theyre excited.
Ive seen a lot of motivation from the team for
2016 and Im looking to throw down in whats
going to be an Olympic year.
What effect did the news of Tom Danielsons
positive test for testosterone, which he
announced on Twitter, have on the team?
I dont know what to say about Tommy D
at this point. We dont really know whats
happened. However, what I can say from an
internal point of view is that Ive seen a real
bump up in clean mentality. One of the main
reasons so many guys sign with us is because
they all believe in clean sport. This forced us
to take a step back, redouble our efforts and
make sure that happens. This wasnt just a
blow to the team but it was a blow to the
sport as a whole. It hurts all of us but like I said
were working double time to make it right.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

59

20TH
p66

p65

CENTURY
p68

p61

There are nine remaining WorldTour


and ProConti riders who turned pro
in the 1990s. Procycling tracked them
all down and asked them what has
changed in the intervening years,
in cycling, and with themselves

BOYS
p69

WORDS
Pete Cossins,
Stephen Farrand
& Sam Dansie
PHOTOGRAPHY
Tim De Waele
unless stated

p64

60

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

p63

IMAGES: Getty Images (Downing) Sirotti Photo (Lastras)

p67

p62

20TH CENTURY BOYS

HAIMAR
ZUBELDIA
TURNED PRO
1998

Haimar Zubeldia is famous


for not being famous. A
Basque rider who specialises
in Grand Tours and stage
races, he has finished in
the top eight of the Tour de
France five times but seldom
shows his face at the front of
a race. His tactic is to finish
consistently highly, rather
than indulge in showy
attacks. However, all that
changed at the 2015 Vuelta,
where he went on the
attack and finished second
to Nicolas Roche from
an escape in Riaza

Main Riding the Tour


de France in his last
year in Euskaltel
colours, 2008

Right Zubeldia
switched tactics
at the 2015 Vuelta,
discovering a new
appetite for attacking

hen I turned pro


with EuskaltelEuskadi in 1998
my head was truly
in the clouds.
I had no idea what was going
on around me. For example, one
of the first races I did as a pro
was the Tour de lAvenir in the
autumn of 1998. Heading over
to France that autumn was quite
something after all the Festina
scandals; there were Spanish
teams refusing to race in France
but to be honest I think I was too
naive to notice any problems. All
I can remember is
coming 10th or
so, so I was pretty
happy with how it
went. The team won
a stage with Txema
del Olmo, Joseba
Beloki came very
close to winning it
outright and we all
ended up dyeing
our hair yellow to

Age: 38
Teams:
1998-2008 Euskaltel
2009 Astana
2010-13 RadioShack
2014-15 Trek Factory Racing
First win as a pro: stage 4b,
Euskal Bizikleta, 2000
Individual wins: 4
Best result: Fifth in the Tour
de France 2003 & 2007

celebrate because wed said if


we won anything thats what
we would do.
My first memories of the team
are that it was very small-scale
and low-key. Euskaltel-Euskadi
still had a very low profile
internationally. At that point
nobody had any idea of us ever
racing the Tour, and we didnt
for another three years. It was
all very homely and inward
looking: Euskatel-Euskadi did
things like be sure to sign two
amateur riders from each of the
three provinces of the Basque
Country [in Spain]: me and

My first memories of the team are that it was very


small-scale and low-key. Euskaltel-Euskadi still had
a very low profile internationally, at that point
nobody had any idea of us ever racing the Tour

Alberto Martinez from one, for


example, Joseba Beloki and Aitor
Quintana from another and
Gorka Gerrikagoitia, and Txema
del Olmo from another.
I was lucky, I signed just when
the team had just got through all
of those really tough times [in the
mid-1990s] when it was on the
point of going under financially,
and wed got a good new sponsor
with Euskaltel. But the calendar
barely changed, wed race almost
the entire year in Spain and I can
remember wed head over to the
Tour of Portugal, too, and a little
in France.
Id be lying if I said that I have
never thought about retiring but
this is my way of life. People ask
me how I have continued for so
long its hard. I have two kids
and they miss me a lot, above all
the eldest. But theyve only ever
known me to have this kind of
lifestyle and I think that makes it
easier for them and me to handle.
So I want to go on for at least
another year. The only difference
between now and when I was
younger is now Im not thinking
in terms of two or three years,
I take it all season by season.

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

61

NGEL
VICIOSO
TURNED PRO
1999

ngel Vicioso, a rider from


the Aragon region in the
north-east of Spain, spent
years doing the rounds of
Spanish and Portugese first
and second division teams
before settling into a role
as a senior domestique at
Katusha. Hes won the GP
Miguel Indurain three times
in a period spanning 14 years
in 2001, 2002 and 2015
as well as a Giro dItalia stage
in 2011. He won at least one
major race every season for
12 years, between 2000
and 2011.

Main At the 2011


Giro, Vicioso took
his biggest-ever
win, riding for
Androni Giocattolli
Right Viciosos been
a key helper for
compatriot and
Katusha team-mate
Joaquim Rodrguez

elme was the first


team I signed for,
in 1999, when
I was 21. Kelme
was a first division
squad at the time, so it was a
big deal. It was partly thanks
to Fernando Escartn, who
was the team leader and who
recommended me. Id got some
good results in my last amateur
season, second in the Memorial
Valenciaga which is a big race in
Spain and Id been in the top 10 in
lots of races but Fernando helped
me out there as well.
I was so pleased
to have turned pro
but I was very shy as
well, and respectful.
I was sure to be very
polite to everyone.
The team were very
impressed on my
first days racing in
the Challenge of
Mallorca. There was
a crash late on and

Cycling has changed since then,


I think theres a lot less respect between
the riders. People dive through gaps
that arent there
62

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Age: 38
Teams:
1999-2002 Kelme-Costa Blanca
2003 ONCE-Eroski
2004-5 Liberty Seguros
2006 Astana-Wrth
2007 Relax-Gam
2008 LA-MSS
2009 Andalucia-CajaSur
2011 Androni Giocattoli
2012-2015 Katusha
First win as a pro: Stage 2,
Vuelta a la Rioja, 2000
Individual wins: 27
Best result: Second overall, Tour
of the Basque Country, 2007

I was the only Kelme rider who


was on the right side of it. I got
a lot of praise from Alvaro Pino
[the team manager] at the time
for doing so well, although both
he and Vicente Belda [the other
director] had pretty sharp
tongues and explosive tempers.
Some things about being a pro
I found strange. In the amateurs
youd go flat out all the time but
with the professionals, I can
remember being puzzled at the
way wed race hard until the days
break went and then youd ease
back. I was also incredibly keen.
Id keep on bringing up bidons
from the car until theyd tell me
to stop. These days youve got to
tell the young riders to go and get

water. Back then wed just do


it automatically.
Cycling has changed. I think
theres a lot less respect between
the riders. People dive through
gaps that arent there, they dont
check that theres the space to do
it. I really didnt understand when
the team told me to get dropped
or abandon races, either. In the
second half of the year I barely
finished any but I wasnt so keen
on doing that early on. It was odd
to be told that I just had to work
hard for the leaders in the first
half and then I could quit if
I wanted.
I had some good teachers:
Francisco Cabello [1994 Tour
stage winner in Brighton] and
Jos Angel Vidal were two of
Spains top domestiques. In
general I came through satisfied.
As a rider, Ive changed a lot. Back
then I was a sprinter, these days
Im thinner and can handle the
shorter, hillier stages a lot better.
I cant see myself stopping yet,
not when Im still winning races
like GP Miguel Indurain this year
that I first won way back in 2001.
How many riders can say that
theyve won the same race after
a 14-year gap?

20TH CENTURY BOYS

MATTEO
TOSATTO
TURNED PRO
1997

Tinkoff-Saxos Matteo Tosatto


is the oldest rider in the
WorldTour, and is respected
as one of the most trusted
domestiques in the peloton.
Hes ridden 31 Grand Tours
in total, finishing 26 of them,
and won two stages, one in
the Giro and one in the Tour.
Hes also been a member of
Italian World Championshipwinning teams four times,
with Mario Cipollini in 2002,
Paolo Bettini in 2006 and
2007 and Alessandro Ballan
in 2009.

Below Given a day


off from domestique
duty, Tosatto took
out a Tour stage win
in 2006 in Mcon

Main Tosatto rode in


support of eventual
GC winner Alberto
Contador at the 2015
Giro dItalia

he best thing that


happened to me
as a cyclist was
that I quickly
realised that
I wasnt a winner when I turned
professional in 1997. Ive only
won five races during my career
[we make it seven Ed]. Thats
not a problem for me and clearly
Im not paid for my results but
for what I can do for my team
and my team leaders. If Alberto
Contador wants me in his team
for the Giro dItalia or Tour de
France like this year, thats a sign
that Im doing something right,
no matter what my age or length
of my career.
Of course,
winning is
satisfying and it
was unforgettable
winning a stage at
the Tour in 2006
and a Giro stage in
2001. But believe
me, it was even
more satisfying
winning the Giro
dItalia with Alberto
this year.
I liked cycling in
the 90s but I also

I liked cycling in the 90s but I also


like modern-day cycling. Now
everything is more scientific and much
less fun but at the end of the day the
fundamental values are the same
like modern-day cycling. Now
everything is more scientific and
much less fun but at the end of
the day the fundamental values
are the same. Youve still got to
make the sacrifices and do the
training so that you can perform
in the race and do what is
expected of you by the team.
I raced for over 80 days again
this year, starting in Dubai and
finishing in Abu Dhabi two new
races I never imagined would
exist when I turned professional
with MG-Technogym in 1997.
But it wasnt a problem racing
Age: 41 Teams:
1997 MG-Technogym
1998-1999 Ballan
2000-2005 Fassa Bortolo
2006-2010 Quick Step
2011-2013 Saxo Bank
2014-2015 Tinkoff-Saxo
First win as a pro:
Giro del Medio Brenta, 1998
Individual wins: 7
Best result: Tour de France
stage win, 2006

from February to October and


doing both the Giro and the
Tour because I was careful about
looking after myself between the
races. In August I didnt head to
the beach with my family but
went to Livigno to train at altitude
where it was cooler. That meant
I was still fit enough and fresh
enough to race deep into the
season and be ready to help the
team when they needed me in
the final races.
Im happy to stay with
Tinkoff-Saxo for 2016. I still feel
good, despite turning 42 next
May and Im not bothered that Im
the oldest rider in the WorldTour.
It takes me longer to recover after
races but I feel Ive still got it and
so Im happy to help Sagan in the
Classics and then Contador at the
Tour de France. Knowing they
expect me to be there to help
them will give me the motivation
to train through the winter all
over again.

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

63

RUSSELL
DOWNING

Russell Downings ability to


sniff out victory is legendary
so is the Indian sign thats
hung over his career. No
other rider has endured such
bad luck: the McCartney and
iTeamNova teams sank with
him on board, and a stagiaire
contract with FDJ fell
through because he had
technically already ridden as
a pro. He has spent a career
pinging between teams,
showing well but struggling
to build momentum. He has
been indomitable, however.
At every turn hes met
misfortune with dogged
persistence. Next year he
joins JLT-Condor.

Main Downing, but


not out: the two
years he spent with
Team Sky were a rare
period of stability
Right Downing was
team-mates with
Bradley Wiggins at
Sky and at Linda
McCartney

hen my birthday
comes up I look at
the number and
think, Sh*t, where
have those years
gone? I just turned 37 but I dont
think I feel it. However, certain
things have got harder over the
years, like training.
You get a bit more diesel-y
as you get older. Its now stage 4
at the Tour of Britain and Im
starting to feel better than I did on
day one. It takes a while to fire up.
Ive always said Id like to still
be a pro at 40 but only if I can still
do the job. I dont want to be the
chopper at the back just getting in
the way. I feel Ive still got it: Ive
had a couple of fourths
this year, so Im always
in the mix.
My brother [Dean,
who retired in 2014,
aged 39] is a good
example. He had some
of his best results in
the last couple of

Ive always said Id like to still be


a professional at 40 but only if I can still
do the job. I dont want to be the chopper
at the back just getting in the way
64

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Age: 37
Teams:
1998 Team Brite Voice
1999 Linda McCartney
2001 Linda McCartney
2002 iTeamNova
2005 Recycling.co.uk-MGXpower-Litespeed
2006 DFL-CyclingnewsLitespeed
2007 HealthNet p/b Maxxis
2008-09 Pinarello / CandiTVMarshalls Pasta
2010-11 Team Sky
2012-13 NetApp-Endura
2015 Cult Energy
First win as a pro: National
championship road race, 2005
Individual wins: 9
Best result: Stage and the GC at
the Tour de Wallonie, 2010

years. He had family, kids and


all that and he had to tweak his
training. He actually went to
power in the last couple of years
and he never even knew what a
bloody power meter was. And
Malcolm Elliott, too. He trained
harder when we were together at
Pinarello than he probably ever
did when he was at the likes of
Fagor hed have been world
champion if he trained as hard
as he did at Pinarello.
Age and experience mean you
come to a race like this and you

get a bit of respect. People know


youve been around the block.
Ive been at the top, been at the
bottom and in the middle.
If I had to give a bit of advice
itd be, dont break so many
mirrors! Its been a pretty bumpy
ride, with things not falling right,
teams collapsing and stuff like
that. Its just one of those things.
I wasnt born at the best time
there was no Academy for me,
just the odd trip abroad.
I chose McCartney and they
knackered me and I went to
France two years later and got
a stagiaire with FDJ that wasnt
allowed to happen because Id
already been pro, they were
interested in a contract for
the year after because I had 15
victories in France but it never
worked out.
The other advice is just to stick
with it. If I wasnt being paid to
ride my bike, Id still ride my bike.
I love the sport. I grew up with it,
my dad was a keen cyclist, my
grandad too. Its in there and
theres no way of getting away
from it really.
The days when I dont ride
a bike are the days when Im
a grumpy man.

IMAGES: Getty Images (Head shot, with Wiggins)

TURNED PRO
1998

20TH CENTURY BOYS

DAVIDE
REBELLIN
TURNED PRO
1992

Davide Rebellin turned


professional in 1992. To
put that into perspective,
there are 65 WorldTour
professionals (not including
stagiaires) who were born
in or after that year. His
longevity is unprecedented
in the modern era and
Rebellin boasts some
impressive stats he won
at least one race a year
between 1995 and 2009,
and took out the Ardennes
triple crown in 2004. But
his career is marred by
the positive drugs test he
gave following silver in the
Beijing Olympics road race.

Below Rebellin
against the years.
The CCC rider takes
victory in the 2015
Coppa Agostoni

Main In 2004,
Rebellin was
invincible in the
Ardennes Classics,
winning all three

n August 9,
I turned 44 years
old but winning
the Coppa
Agostoni in
September showed Im not too
old to deserve my place in the
peloton. I dont have the pure
power and explosiveness in my
legs like I once did or like younger
riders have but I can count on
my experience and endurance
to help me stay competitive. My
experience helps me to be in the
right place at the right moment
of the race, while my endurance
allows me to be up there and have
something left in the final. I was
away with Nibali and Scarponi
for the last 50km at the Coppa
Agostoni but we managed to hold
off the peloton and then I won
the sprint. Not many
40-year-olds can say
theyve beaten the Italian
national champion and
the rider who would go
on to win Il Lombardia
just a few weeks later.
One of the things that
has driven me to keep
racing is the desire to
prove my innocence. It
took seven years for the

Put yourself in my shoes, ride


where Ive ridden, fall where I fell
and see how you feel picking
yourself up time and time again
final sentence to be given but a
court in Padua ruled that I was
innocent of doping and of tax
fraud. I know that my sporting
ban for testing positive for CERA
at the Beijing Olympic Games will
never be cancelled but clearing
my name in an Italian court was
very important. I was at the peak
of my career and then suddenly
the door was closed in my face.
Age: 44
Teams:
1992-1995 GB-MG
1996 Polti
1997 Franaise des Jeux
1998-1999 Polti
2000-2001 Liquigas-Pata
2002-2008 Gerolsteiner
2009 Serramenti PVC-Androni
2011 Miche-Guerciotti
2012 Meridiana-Kamen
2013-2015 CCC Sprandi
Polkowice
First win as a pro:
Hofbru Cup, 1992
Individual wins: 63
Best result: First in Amstel Gold,
Flche Wallone and LigeBastogne-Lige in 2004

Teams, organisers and even other


riders turned their backs on me.
Many still do. I felt rejected and
almost quit but fortunately
I refused to.
I replied by racing and winning.
Ive won races every season since
serving my ban and each one was
symbolic to me. They helped me
overcome all the prejudice that
people held against me and made
all the training and lack of results
in other races worthwhile.
Now I can only ask people not
to judge me without knowing me.
Put yourselves in my shoes, ride
where Ive ridden, fall where I fell
and see how you feel picking
yourself up time and time again.
Youll probably think twice about
making unfounded accusations
and ruining a persons life. My
biggest victory in recent years
has been that I never gave up,
I never weakened and never
folded. Nobody was able to take
away my enthusiasm for riding
my bike every day.

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

65

ALESSANDRO
PETACCHI
TURNED PRO
1996

Its easy to forget that in his


pomp, Alessandro Petacchi
was regularly winning 20
or more races a year, and
winning Grand Tour stages
almost for fun. He once took
out nine stages in a single
Giro, in 2004, and in 2003
he won 15 Grand Tour stages
in total in a single season. He
took over Mario Cipollinis
crown as the dominant
sprinter in the peloton in
the early 2000s, and was
still sprinting well enough
to win the Tours green
jersey in 2010.

Main Petacchi can


look back on many
Giro stage wins
as he heads into
retirement
Right Evergreen
Petacchi won two
stages and the green
jersey at the 2010
Tour de France

onsidering I won
over 120 races
during my career,
it might seem
strange that when
I was an amateur, and even in my
early years with Scrigno under
Roberto Reverberi, I didnt really
think I was a sprinter. I liked to go
on the attack and won my first
race from a break of four at the
Tour of Langkawi. It was only
in 2000, when I moved to Fassa
Bortolo, that my career changed
direction. I was supposed to lead
out Fabio Baldato and Dima
Konychev at the Vuelta but went
on to win two stages
myself. After that,
Ferretti put his trust
in me as his designated
sprinter and I began to
do lots of specific sprint
and speed work. I was
fortunate that Fassa
Bortolo became such
a successful team and
that Ferretti built a lead-

Age: 41
Teams:
1996-1998 Scrigno
1999 Navigare Gaerne
2000-2005 Fassa Bortolo
2006-2008 Milram
2008-2009 LPR Brakes
2010-2013 Lampre-Farnese Vini
2013-2014 Omega Pharma-QS
2015 Southeast
First win as a pro: Stage 6,
Tour of Langkawi, 1998
Individual wins: 155
Best result: Nine stage wins,
2004 Giro dItalia

out train for me, often using his


strong riders from the Classics
squad to help me on flat stages.
He liked to win and he knew that
sprints were in some ways easier
to win than Classics.
People think a sprinter is the
best in the world when they win
four stages in a Grand Tour these
days but I won nine stages in the
2004 Giro. Thats almost 50 per
cent of all the stages. There were
more sprint stages that year and
everyone else was either unable or

People think a sprinter is the best in the world


when they win four stages in a Grand Tour these
days but I won nine stages in the 2004 Giro dItalia.
Thats almost 50 per cent of all the stages
66

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

afraid to take on the Fassa Bortolo


lead-out train but I still had to
win each time and there was
more and more expectation on
my shoulders. I was nicknamed
the Velocista gentiluomo the
Gentleman Sprinter because
I didnt fight for position. I wasnt
afraid of, lets say, imposing
myself but I rarely had to because
I had such a good lead-out and
a clear run at the line, while my
rivals fought for my wheel.
Marcel Kittel and especially
Alexander Kristoff are perhaps
the Petacchi of today even if the
sprints are more chaotic now.
Both have a long, powerful
sprint and perform best with
a high-speed lead out. Kittel
had a terrible 2014 but Im sure
Etixx-Quick Step will get him
back on track. I quit racing this
summer because I was with
a small team and lacked the
motivation for the smaller races.
But if Id still been with a major
WorldTour team I think Id still
be up for racing, perhaps as a
lead-out man of some kind. Id
have loved to work with Kittel
and teach him everything I
learned about sprinting during
my 21 years as a professional.

20TH CENTURY BOYS

PABLO
LASTRAS
TURNED PRO
1998

Pablo Lastras is renowned as


one of the most loyal
domestiques in the
WorldTour though hes
worn the colours of four
different sponsors, hes been
with the same team for all 18
of his years as a professional,
having turned pro in 1998 for
Banesto after spending the
end of 1997 as a stagiaire.
Even rarer than his longevity
and loyalty is the fact he
actually won his first race as
a pro. Lastras suffered a bad
injury in a crash in the Volta a
Catalunya this year, but is
hoping to ride on through
the 2016 season.

IMAGE: Sirotti Photo (Lastras head shot)

Below Movistar is
Lastrass fourth
sponsor, but hes
always been faithful
to the one team

Main Lastras has


been a pro for so
many years, he
remembers racing
without a helmet

turned pro as
a stagiare in
late 1997 with
Banesto. It was
a pretty incredible
start, I won the first race I ever
did, the Memorial Galera,
a one-day race near Granada.
But to tell the truth what most
impressed me was what
happened in the team hotel the
night before over the dinner, the
way the older pros in Banesto
analysed the next days race and
predicted exactly what would
happen. And they were spot on.
There was a break, then a smaller
break and then finally I went for
it about seven kilometres from
the line and won alone.
But it didnt give me a big head
about what I could do as a pro,
particularly as I had
a bad 1998, my first
full year, with injuries.
Rather, I felt it was
a good way of saying
thank you to Jos Luis
Jaimerena [amateur and
professional team sports
director with Banesto
and to the present day]
for believing in me
enough in me to sign

Whats different to when I started


is that the season is a lot longer, but we
race less intensely than we used to,
for fewer days as well
me as a stagiaire. It wasnt an
easy situation, lots of people had
been asking why, after Id failed
to win many races as an amateur,
Banesto had taken me on as a pro.
Well, there was the answer.
It wasnt a hard change over
from amateur to pro in terms of
the team. It was all very familiar.
Id been with Banesto amateurs
and Jos Luis Jaimerena looked
after me well: the methodology,
the schedule, the equipment right
down to the Pinarellos, it was the
same. And we had the same boss,
too, Eusebio Unzu. People ask
me what hes like and I say I dont
Age: 39
Teams:
1998-2003 Banesto
2004-2005 Iles Balears
2006-2010 Caisse dEpargne
2011-2015 Movistar
First win as a pro:
Stage 2, GP Agostinho, 1998
Individual wins: 13
Best result: Tour de France
stage win, 2003

know if hes good or bad, Ive had


the same boss for 21 years so its
hard to tell! But the way hes been
able to adapt to cycling over the
years when it has changed so
much thats been a reference
point for me in my career, too.
Whats different to when
I started is that the season is a lot
longer but we race less intensely
than we used to, for fewer days
as well. What I miss from those
days is the kind of senior rider, the
capos whod take decisions about
the racing itself or whod stand
up for the riders, act as their
representative to try to improve
race conditions. And I miss the
kind of rider who would give the
younger pros advice, like [Banesto
star] Jose Mara Jimnez did for
me, telling me Dont try to be
good at everything. Specialise.
Really try to be good at that one
thing, and youll find your place
in the sport. And it took me
about four years to get it right
but I did.

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

67

IVAN
BASSO
TURNED PRO
1999

For a few years in the


mid-2000s, it looked like Ivan
Basso was Lance Armstrongs
heir apparent at the Tour
de France, a yellow jersey
winner-in-waiting. But we all
know what happened next:
an overwhelming victory
at the Giro was followed by
disgrace in Operacin Puerto
and, eventually, a doping ban.
He found redemption in
winning the Giro in 2010, and
slowly settled into a role as a
senior domestique de luxe
at Cannondale, then Tinkoff.
During the 2015 Tour, Basso
announced he was suffering
from testicular cancer, and
he has retired from cycling.
Main The 2010 Giro
was Bassos last
Grand Tour victory
and it was probably
his best, too
Right Basso was one
of Lance Armstrongs
most dangerous
rivals in the Tours
of 2004 and 2005

fter enjoying a
few months racing
in the rainbow
jersey as U23
world champion,
I turned professional in 1998,
which seems a lifetime ago now.
I had an agreement to join Davide
Boifavas team despite Carrera
Jeans no longer being the title
sponsor but I kept my word and
the team became Riso Scotti in
1999 and then Amica Chips in
2000. It meant that I turned
professional in a small team but
it allowed me to get an early taste
of the Giro dItalia in 1999 and

Age: 37 Teams:
1999 Riso Scotti
2000 Amica Chips
2001-03 Fassa Bortolo
2004-06 CSC
2007 Discovery Channel
2008-12 Liquigas
2013-14 Cannondale
2015 Tinkoff-Saxo
First win as a pro: Stage 1, Regio
Tour,2000
Individual wins: 29
Best result: Winner, Giro dItalia
2006 & 2010

learn how to be a team leader in a


big stage race.
I was almost always a team
leader for the Grand Tours, so
there were a lot of expectations
for me to do well. However, I
never felt under pressure because
I believe it is ultimately always the
rider who puts themselves under
pressure. Your drive and ambition
come from within, not from an
external influence like a sponsor
or team manager.
My career was, I think, unusual.
I went from good to bad and then
back to good in the final years of

Im proud that I came back and won the


2010 Giro dItalia at the age of 33 and then was
able to really enjoy the final years of my career
68

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

my career. Im obviously talking


about my suspension for doping
in 2007 and 2008. It was a difficult
moment but I was lucky to have
the support of my family and
then from Aldo Sassi of the
Mapei Centre, who always
believed I could make an honest
comeback. Im proud that I came
back and won the 2010 Giro
dItalia at the age of 33 and then
was able to really enjoy the final
years of my career.
Ive raced since I was nine years
old and I think my career has
taught me a lot and made me a
better person. Sport is a great
lesson for life. Racing gave me
the tenacity that you often need
in real life. My career has ended
perhaps a year sooner than I had
hoped because of my testicular
cancer but Ive also learned to
look to the future. Im enjoying
my new lifestyle and Im not
going to rush into the next part
of my life. However, Im planning
and studying for the future. Im
going to do the UCI course for
team managers and Ive got
to thank the management at
Tinkoff-Saxo for giving me lots
of support and a chance to have
a special role in the team.

20TH CENTURY BOYS

RINALDO
NOCENTINI
TURNED PRO
1999

One lucky break can often


define a career. In Rinaldo
Nocentinis case, it was the
2009 Tour de France stage
to Arcalis, where he came
fourth and took enough time
from the GC riders to wear
the yellow jersey. With two
tame Pyrenean stages and
a long traverse of central
France to come, he led the
race for eight days and
finished 13th overall. But
theres more to Nocentini
than a week spent in the
yellow jersey. Hes a strong
contender in the hilly Classics
and short stage races, with
a second place in Paris-Nice
and three top-10s in Flche
Wallonne to his name
Below During his
best years, Nocentini
was a real contender
in the hilly Classics
and stage races

Main Nocentinis
career will always be
remembered for the
mid-Tour spell in
yellow in 2009

espite turning 38
in September and
struggling to finish
the Vuelta because
of a knee injury,
I want to carry on racing for at
least a couple of years. Ive been
a pro for 16 years but I want to
keep racing simply because
I enjoy it. Ive still got the passion
and motivation to train and race.
In fact, after a short holiday and
some time to treat my knee, Ill be
back on my bike early this winter
to lay down a good base of fitness.
I was third in the Junior World
Championship in 1995 and then
second to Ivan Basso in the U23
World Championship in 1998.
I rode for the well-known Grassi
Mapei team and the tifosi and the
team treated me like a star. I felt
as if I was in a boy band.
I turned pro in 1999 with
Mapei and immediately
won two stages at the
Tour de Langkawi but
I struggled to emerge
after that because there
were close to 40 riders at
Mapei. We had to work
for the likes of Johan
Museeuw, Andrea Tafi
and Michele Bartoli. In

The absolute high point of my


career was my eight days in the yellow
jersey at the 2009 Tour de France.
Ill never forget the emotions and
enjoyment of that moment
2000 Mapei also signed the group
of young riders such as Fabian
Cancellara and Pippo Pozzato
and that made it even harder to
get a leadership role in races.
After riding for some small
teams I joined AG2R-La Mondiale
in 2007 and spent nine good years
there, eventually becoming a kind
of road captain.
French teams are a little
nationalistic and tend to give
their riders more support than
the others but I suppose thats
natural and I just accepted it and
got on with my racing. Perhaps
Age: 38 Teams:
1999-01 Mapei-Quick Step
2002 Fassa Bortolo
2003 Formaggi Pinzolo Fiav
2004-06 Acqua e Sapone
2007-15 AG2R-La Mondiale
First win as a pro:
Stage 9, Tour of Langkawi, 1999
Individual wins: 14
Best result: First overall, Tour
Mditerranen, 2010

I am getting nostalgic about


the early years of my career but
back then it was all much more
enjoyable and relationships
within a team were much
stronger. These days we only see
team-mates at the races and get
all our information from the team
via email. Its all a little sterile.
Of course, the absolute high
point of my career was my eight
days in the yellow jersey at the
2009 Tour de France. Ill never
forget the emotions and
enjoyment of that moment.
The French riders were a little
envious but the French public
was amazing and cheered for me
all the time. They understand the
emotions of the yellow jersey. Ive
been asked if Id swap those eight
days in yellow for a big Classic
win but Id never do that. Of
course, Ive got a few regrets but
Im happy with my career. Thats
another reason why I dont want
it to end just yet.

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

69

Il
Lombardia
4 October
2015

1
2

High interest
lone shark
Vincenzo Nibalis victory in Il Lombardia gave
Italy a first Monument win since 2008
4

Writer: Sam Dansie Photography: Tim De Waele

1 It took less than an


hour for the days 10-man
break to form in the 109th
edition of the race, formerly
known as the Giro di
Lombardia. One of the
notable escapees alongside
Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida),
Simon Geschke (GiantAlpecin), and Oscar Gatto
(Androni-Sidermec) was
CCC Sprandis Stefan
Schumacher, pictured.
2 Two hours in and a
brief shower sent riders
back through the ragged
tail of the peloton to pick up
rain gear. Two-time winner
Philippe Gilbert was forced
to make a wheel change
during the shower, which
disrupted his race.

5 Here, the leading


group, including Vincenzo
Nibali, climbs the Muro di
Sormano. While spectators
could savour the sight of the
race in full cry in a stunning
landscape, the riders will
have been more focused
on the leg-busting gradients
of the climb, which hit a
maximum 27 per cent.
6

With 50km to go,


as the remnants of the
days breaks were mopped
up, Wellens tagged onto
the coat-tails of Micha
Kwiatkowskis speculative
escape. The pairs lead
stretched out to more than
30 seconds at one point.

Il Lombardia is easily
the most picturesque of the
Monuments. The course
changes annually but always
makes a virtue of the vistas
in the Italian Lakes region.

7 However, Astana
always had the move under
control. Diego Rosa, whod
won Milano-Torino the
Friday before, was a key
force in the last 30km and
ensured Nibali could
maintain a watching brief.

4 Tim Wellens (Lotto


Soudal), who recently won
the GP de Montral, had
form to burn and was a
key agitator when the
race headed towards its
conclusion in Como.

8 As the race hit the


crucial penultimate climb,
the Civiglio, Daniel Moreno
(Katusha), Thibaut Pinot
(FDJ), Alejandro Valverde
(Movistar) and Rosa sortied
off the front.

Podium result
1st: Vincenzo Nibali Astana
2nd: Daniel Moreno Katusha
3rd: Thibaut Pinot FDJ.fr

70

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

9 Team Sky had options


towards the finish: Wout
Poels and Mikel Nieve both
tried to escape and here
Sergio Henao tries his luck
with the irrepressible Rosa
in attendance. Eventually the
firepower in the formidable
group behind reeled the
pair back in.
10 Nibali had recced the
final 50km and he attacked
the Civiglios descent with
such force and courage
that nobody could or dared
to follow on the narrow,
twisting road. By the foot of
the climb the Shark of
Messina had already built
a healthy gap as his rivals
considered their next moves.
11 They waited too long.
Inside 6km, Daniel Moreno,
shadowed initially by Thibaut
Pinot, made a bid to catch
the Italian. Moreno came
within 15 seconds on the
last climb of the Battaglia
but it was too little, too late.
12 Nibalis victory was
his first Monument title
and, incredibly, Italys first
Monument success since
Damiano Cunegos 2008
Lombardy win.

10

11

12

PORTRAIT
OF THE
YOUNG
MAN AS
AN ARTIST
W R I T E R : PETER COSSINS
P H O T O G R A P H Y: TIM D E WAELE*

Expecting to be out for a few weeks after a mid-2014 crash, Taylor Phinney ultimately
spent a year on the sidelines. Instead of letting the enforced break depress him, the BMC
rider describes those months as among the best of my life, enabling him to
reassess his perspective on cycling and reconnect with a forgotten passion

72

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

TAYLOR PHINNEY

Below The scars on


Phinneys legs bear
witness to the horrific
injuries he sustained

74

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

aylor Phinney has been extraordinary ever


since he cruised into cyclings general
consciousness, aged just 17, when he took
victory at the 2007 Junior World Time Trial
Championship. As the cycling prodigy son of
former sprinter Davis Phinney and Olympic
road race champion Connie CarpenterPhinney, his upward trajectory continued into the middle of
2014, when a Tour de France debut beckoned. However, just two
days on from claiming his second national time trial title, he
crashed on a descent in the road race at Chattanooga, sustaining
a bad break to his left leg.
Following initial examination of his injuries, Phinneys BMC
team announced he would be back in the saddle within six to
eight weeks. He pencilled in the Tour of Britain as his return
race. Yet as Procycling sits down with him just prior to the
2015 edition of that same event, 12 months on, the 25-year-old
has only recently retaken his place in the international peloton.
Although hes already bagged an impressive stage win at the
USA Pro Challenge, he insists he is still feeling his way back
into racing. His aim, he says, is to gain form for the World
Time Trial Championships in Richmond [where hed finish
12th] and, much more importantly, set himself up for the 2016
season and a shot at Olympic gold.
But lets leave the future for the moment and turn to
something as extraordinary as his racing achievements.
Just a couple of days earlier, Phinney had told our sister title
Cyclingnews that the last year was honestly one of the best years
of my life. This was a year in which he struggled to recover
from his injuries as quickly as everyone expected, ultimately
ending up on the sidelines for the best
part of 12 months. Athletes dont tend
to cherish such moments but Phinney,
demonstrating his ability for the
extraordinary, made use of the time
off. His explanation of why he thrived
results in an extremely unusual but
fascinating conversation.
I had a lot of time to be able to
experience life without being a
professional athlete, he says. I felt a
totally different animal and it was kind
of an exciting place to be because Ive
basically been a professional since
qualifying for the Olympics in 2008
after coming out of high school.
Normally you have that transition
from being in school to being in the

real world but it came a bit later for me. Ive had time to explore
that and have fun with it as well, while still focusing on all the
things I needed to at the same time.
Phinney affirms that having the support of his BMC team
during his period of recuperation removed pressure on him to
return before he was ready. Having no salary or contract issues
to worry about was important. That meant I was able to focus
totally on my recovery. I was able to minimise any stress, the
American explains.

HE ADMITS THAT he was following the cycling scene quite


closely during the initial weeks of his convalescence. He had
put an X next to the Tour of Britain but now says that this was
premature. It was such a long recovery. You can try to rush it
but theres no way to do that when youre letting bones, tendons
and ligaments heal. That takes time and you simply cant speed
it up. Once I accepted that, I was able to put my mental energy
towards other things, he explains.
The impulse to switch his focus came when the USA Pro
Challenge rolled into his hometown, Boulder. The final stage
started right in front of my apartment. It was surprisingly
difficult for me to look out and see that, he confesses. At that
point I cut off most of my interest in the sport and stopped
following any cycling news, stopped doing Twitter, stopped
updating so much about my recovery and took a step back and

Along with that, she also found this kids book that she used
to read to me. It was a [Jean-Michel] Basquiat book. There were
poems in there by Maya Angelou and there were all of these
Basquiat paintings. There was a correlation between the
drawings I was doing as a kid and the paintings in this book.
That led to me rediscovering Basquiat as an artist. Id get his
books and simply couldnt put them down. I went to MOMA
[the Museum of Modern Art] in New York City where theres
one big piece of his. I sat in front of it for an hour. I liked how
complicated, weird and strange his paintings were, how there
were no real rules to what he did. And I was like, Man, maybe
I should start doing some of that. It looks like fun.

AMONG THE FRIENDS that Phinney began to spend time with


was an old high school friend who shares his love of art. Her
name is Sophia and it was a perfect coincidence that I started
hanging out with her and her family. One day I asked her if we
Above Pole star:
threw myself into some other things.
could maybe paint sometime, and thats what we ended up
Phinney nutmegs
Family and friends were his safety net. I was fortunate that
doing. Ive got this clear memory of taking a paintbrush and
the sprinters on
stage 4 of the 2013
I had a lot of good people around me, people who were not
spreading paint and being this far away from it, he explains,
Tour of Poland
necessarily in the cycling world, and even cycling people who
holds his hand inches from his face. I was laying on the ground,
I could spend time with but not think about or talk about
maybe just four or five inches away and I was spreading the
cycling. That was really important and I certainly had to have
paint, mixing some different colours in. I was thinking to
distance from the sport. I didnt want to focus on where I had to
myself, Man, what am I going to do now? Because this is one
go the whole time. I just had to respect the process and remove
of the best, most fun things Ive ever done.
myself from it and explore different areas, he says.
Phinney says that initially he was just playing with colours,
Phinneys focus on and dedication to cycling before this
making weird things. He goes on to explain that it had a more
period had been absolute, excluding almost any other diversion
fundamental effect than simply enabling him to reconnect
that did not fit in with his racing and training commitments.
with a long-forgotten passion. I made two discoveries, Firstly,
Suddenly freed up, he had the opportunity to investigate
when youre an athlete you tend to think that youre not really a
interests that had long been sidelined, most particularly his
creative type, that youre a more regimented, schedule-oriented
love of art and painting.
person. Then I discovered that I did have that side. The other
That interest came from two different things. Firstly, my
aspect was that I also discovered there were no real rules.
mom found all of these drawings that Id done when I was a kid,
The Tour of Britains team presentation is about to kick off in
before I was 10, the BMC rider explains. There were all these
the late afternoon sunshine in Colwyn Bay. As the introductions
weird drawings, and she kept them because she liked how weird
reverberate around the athletics track hosting the ceremony,
they were, how abstract but artistic they were.
Phinney reveals how his reacquaintance with art has changed
him and his perspective on racing. The
reason art is so important to me is that it
T H E F I N A L STAG E STA RT E D R I G H T I N F R O N T O F is really the only thing in my life that I do
for myself. As an athlete you have to be
M Y A PA RT M E N T. I T WA S S U R P R I S I N G LY D I F F I C U LT
really selfish. Youre trying to win races
F O R M E T O LO O K O U T A N D S E E T H AT. AT T H AT P O I N T
and do well so that you can get paid more
I C U T O F F M O ST O F M Y I N T E R E ST I N T H E S P O RT and take care of people around you.
PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

75

TAYLOR PHINNEY

Youre building your image. You compete for yourself but also
for a lot of other people, he explains.
But art was the thing that I would do solely for myself and
it didnt matter if somebody else liked it. All that mattered was
whether I liked it. In that same vein, when I make something
that Im really proud of, the people around me who really love
me also really like it.
Asked to describe his paintings, the American says that
Basquiat remains his primary influence. I took a lot of his stuff
and tried to duplicate it. Id see what I liked
in his paintings, pick them out and put
them into my paintings, but also try to find
my own way. Ive also discovered some
other artists. The cool thing about art is
AUGUST 2007
that one can take one artist and find out
Wins the Junior World Time Trial
who inspired them and you get this big
Championship and goes on to finish
tree, almost like a family tree, but its like
seventh in the individual pursuit at
a tree of inspiration. Theres Picasso and
the Beijing Olympics.
[Cy] Twombly, you can weave your way
MARCH 2009
backwards. I love the idea in art that you
After signing with the Trek-Livestrong
also get in music of it being this really
development team in September 2008,
classical way to capture someone for a
he wins the World Pursuit title, successfully
defending it a year later.
really long time, of it being really precise.
Usually steady and laid back, Phinney
MAY 2012:
is
becoming
more animated. BMC press
After signing with BMC in September
officer Georges Lchinger taps lightly
2010, Phinney continues to show his
on his watch in the background but the
prowess as an outstanding time triallist,
winning the opening time trial of the Giro
American politely makes it clear he wants
dItalia to take the maglia rosa. He goes on
to continue. I love those times when
to finish fourth in both the road race and
people think, I dont want to make things
time trial at the London Olympics.
that look real any more. I want to make
SEPTEMBER 2012
them look weird, and I like imagining
Finishes second in the World Time Trial
what those people were like, people like
Championship, a mere five seconds
Monet, Matisse and others who deviated
behind winner Tony Martin.
onto other paths, he adds.
AUGUST 2015:
Asked to describe his paintings, Phinney
Wins the opening stage of the USA Pro
says that theyre quite abstract and
Challenge, just his second race after
influenced by the fact that he cant really
returning from a long-term injury lay-off.
draw. If you asked me to draw something
Goes on to take the World Team Time Trial
Championship with BMC just weeks later.
like a man on a bridge or a still life scene

IMAGE: Getty Images (2008)

CAREER
H I G H LI G HTS

76

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PROCYCLING

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77

TAYLOR PHINNEY

Above Taylors father


Davis was also a
successful road
professional
Right Comeback kid:
Phinney takes a
spectacular stage
win at the USA
Pro Challenge

then Im not that good. I think it would


be good to learn that but one thing
my friend Sophia told me is that one
of the issues with learning too much
or turning your art into a skill is that
you can lose that child-like inhibition,
he says.
I feel like Im generally fearless with
the canvas and paint. I respect the
medium that Im using but at the same
time there are lots of occasions when Ill
paint something that I like but Ill end
up painting over it and as a result the
finished product might look completely
different. A lot of artists are afraid to
be like that, to be weird, to be a true
creative. I think sometimes you have
to be strange, to go with what you like.
I have that primary ingredient of being
pretty weird but in a good sense.

a time trial, and was a perfect marriage of instinct and power.


Having accelerated clear seven kilometres from the finish in
Katowice, Phinney kept the speeding bunch at arms length to
win by a matter of metres.
I held off the bunch sprint all by myself. That was so
THE REDISCOVERY OF a forgotten passion has also resulted
meaningful to me because I can still watch it now and feel
in Phinney taking a fresh look at his life on the bike. I thought
how nervous everybody was watching it. That was a real
a lot about myself as a cyclist and as an artist. I looked back
performance, he declares, adding: So I guess I was becoming
to races that I won before my injury, how I would approach
a little more attuned to the fact that I was trying to be a bit of
them. What I really enjoyed were those moments when I could
an artist even before my accident. But the accident allowed me
produce something that was really different, even over the top.
to really dive into it and become in touch with it. Now as I go
I always wanted to be an entertainer when I was on the bike
forwards Im more aware of it, although I dont know how it
because I realised we are kind of in the entertainment business,
will change my racing.
he explains.
Phinney reveals that the enforced break has enabled him to
The American uses his stage win at the Tour of Poland in
consider other parts of his life in cycling as well. He believes
2013 as an example. It was his first road win as a pro that wasnt
this will help him in targeting and
achieving his goals in the sport. One
I H E L D O F F T H E B U N C H S P R I N T A L L BY M Y S E L F.
thing that I got to grips with was the
fact that there has always been a lot
T H AT WA S S O M E A N I N G F U L T O M E B E C AU S E I C A N
of expectation on me throughout my
ST I L L WAT C H I T N OW A N D F E E L H OW N E RV O U S
entire career but at the same time there
E V E RY B O DY WA S WAT C H I N G I T
are only three or four people whose
78

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

It wasnt just Taylor Phinney who was in


unknown territory during his recovery
from injury. The BMC team management
also had to work out how to support him
during the long months of rehabilitation.
The medical staff were involved in the
consultation of the physical therapy, while
the management realised the most
important contribution they could make
was to offer time, patience and support.
With injuries, these are situations we deal
with on a daily basis, explains BMC
general manager Jim Ochowicz. But this
process was unknown because Taylor
had not dealt with an injury of that
magnitude before.
We never second-guessed any of the
surgeries or the physical therapy that
was not our place. We said from the
beginning we were not pushing him to
get back on his bike or back to the races.
He had to deal with that himself and,
frankly, I give him most of the credit for
everything that has happened thus far.
He had a lot of setbacks but Im not privy
to all of those because some are very
personal. The team is somewhat part
of his life but we were not the most
important part until we started to
approach the point of turning back to
racing, and then we started to play a more
active role in the process. Management
had no role in his recovery other than
we offered patience and were there if
he needed us.

opinion of me I really care about,


he explains.
Thats not to say that I dont care how
Im perceived. But the people who are
really important to me dont have any
expectations of what my cycling career is
going to be like. They just want me to be
happy. So Ive been able to separate myself
from any expectation, and I think Ive
reduced any pressure and stress in that
realm. I think thats really important in my
personal life and for my personal
happiness. It is a really hard balance
between making the most of your talent,
to take everything that you were given at
birth and turn it into 100 per cent of what
youre capable of, and at the same time be
able to be a happy and emotionally stable person.
To back this up, he points to some of the stellar athletes he
looked up to as a child and reflects on how glum many of them
were, how they could no longer get the pleasure they once
received from cycling. When I got to know them, I realised

Top right Phinney


and BMC celebrate
Worlds TTT gold

that some of the most successful athletes in the world are


generally pretty miserable and unhappy. I always struggle
with that. When I was 21 or 22 and turned pro, I always
struggled with, How am I going to be the best that I can be
without sacrificing so much that Im no longer happy with
my life? I have one shot at this and Im dedicating all of my
20s and maybe some of my 30s to what Im doing, he says.
I need to make sure that Im getting all that I can out
of it personally and at the same time making sure that Im
not sacrificing too much, so that when I leave I still have a big
foundation of love and support to carry me on to whatever
else I want to do.

As the press officers tapping becomes a little more insistent,


Phinney turns to the more immediate focus of his continuing
campaign to return to full fitness. Ive had a couple of good
races but I still have to stay on top of my therapy and my
recovery. Im still in that process. Due to the severity of the
injury, Ive been told it will be two years minimum until I get
the muscle mass back, the BMC rider says.
He acknowledges that the prospect of representing his
country in a home Worlds spurred him on but is slightly
concerned it may be too soon, even with the good form he
showed in Colorado. It adds a little bit of pressure that I could
maybe do without, he says. At
the same time, its nice
to feel some pressure
because for the last year
and a half Ive just been
doing my own thing
and recovering. During
times like that you
realise that those
pressured moments
are what you live for.
Right Phinney and Farrar
were both late attackers in
the Worlds road race

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

IMAGE: Getty Images (With Davis Phinney)

MANAGING
EXPECTATION S

79

LIEUWE WESTRA IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF VINCENZO NIBALIS


GRAND TOUR LINE-UP, EVEN THOUGH HE DOESNT SPEAK ITALIAN
AND BY HIS OWN ADMISSION, KEEPS HIMSELF TO HIMSELF.
PROCYCLING FINDS OUT WHY THE DUTCHMAN IS SUCH
A VALUABLE FIGURE IN THE ASTANA TEAM

WRITER: SAM DANSIE


PHOTOGRAHY: TIM DE WAELE*

he fifth day of the 2014 Tour, that


treacherous stage over the pav
from Ypres to Arenberg, was the
scene of many heroic rides. We
remember the stage-winning
performance of Lars Boom and the extraordinary
confidence and panache of Vincenzo Nibali in the
yellow jersey. But behind the main headlines, Nibalis
towering performance was built on a foundation
laid by his team-mate Lieuwe Westra.
Up the road in the seven-man break, het Beest
the Beast lurked, waiting for instructions to help
his Astana team-mate, Vincenzo Nibali. Nothing
fazed him, not even the weather, which was
something, because Westra hates riding in bad
weather. Its apt that the race where he announced
himself as a potential big race winner was Paris-Nice
the Race to the Sun. Nevertheless, while many
other riders made a concession to
the conditions by wearing
arm-warmers, he was
conspicuous by his bare arms.
About 30km out, the order
came through: Drop back, wait
for Nibali. But Westra didnt

Images Bettiniphoto (with Nibali), Getty Images (Main),

80

simply drift off as riders normally do, he slowed,


then stopped by the side of the road.
In the 40 or so seconds that elapsed, he saw Lars
Boom and Sep Vanmarcke charge past like snorting
bulls. Then he turned into the verge and, well, he had
a piss. What a guy: right as the race had reached a
critical point probably the moment of the entire
Tour with his team-mate in yellow just behind,
the Dutchman had the sangfroid to relieve himself.
Just over a year later, as Westra tells the story to
Procycling at the Eneco Tour, theres an unmistakable
glint in his pale blue eyes as he shares the unexpected
detail. Perhaps it was Westras way of explaining just
how good he felt that day. Or maybe he was poking
fun at the dramatic narrative that has attached itself
to the stage. But whatever the reason it showed
Westra has a nose for wry detail.
After my victories at Mende [Paris-Nice 2012], at
the Dauphin and Catalunya, that
ride was also a victory, Westra
reflects in his quiet, staccato
English. Ive seen the video
maybe 50 times, I think. I look
back and I know that what I did
that day was special. I can
Left Westra has become
a highly valued ally to Nibali
at Astana despite not
speaking any Italian

* Unless stated otherwise

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

81

Above Westra
celebrates his
Paris-Nice stage win
in 2012 and blows
the GC in the process

Images Bettiniphoto (Boxout)

Below The smiles


one wry, one rueful
say a lot about how
Paris-Nice ended for
Wiggins and Westra

82

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

remember it like yesterday. Perfect a good


strong group in bad weather.
Ive done it with a stopwatch and there
were 15 minutes when I was pulling full
gas, totally alone, he explains. I had such
good legs and I saw the group was not so
big and everyone was having problems.
That gave me energy. Contador was at two
minutes, Froome I dont know what
I heard about him. Cancellara and Sagan
were broken
incredible. I stopped
and I came in a group
with them at the finish
and Fabian just said,
Hey, so strong. It was
an incredible feeling.
Three years ago, in
one great season when
he won a famous stage
of Paris-Nice on the
Cte de la Croix Neuve
and came within a
whisker of the GC win

Bradley Wiggins won every stage race


that year. But I dropped him on Mende,
and in the time trial on the Col dEze I was
only 1.8 seconds slower than him.
against Bradley Wiggins, Westra may have
harboured hopes of team leadership. But
that was back in his Vacansoleil days when
he was a good rider in a shallower pool.
Upon reaching Astana in 2014 he was in
at the deep end and his role was clear.
Westra is a super-domestique within the
Nibali chapter at Astana. Brought in to add
grunt to the stage racing roster in 2014, he
became one of the teams most versatile
riders: strong on the flat twice Dutch TT
champion and in the mountains. His keen
eye for a stage-winning break netted him
two valuable WorldTour victories last year,
too: a stage at the Volta a Catalunya into
Barcelona and a humdinger of a mountain
stage at the Dauphin where he looked

down and out but came back to overhaul


two Katusha riders within 150m of the line
at the summit finish in Finhaut.

AT FIRST GLANCE, Lieuwe Westra looks


like a classic case of a square peg in a round
hole at Astana. When Westra joined the
light-blue team in 2014 he was the only
Dutch rider on the Kazakh squad and he
didnt speak a word of their lingua franca
Italian. His team-mate, Jakob Fuglsang,
used to translate team orders for him. And
in the past 18 months, apart from picking
up enough to get by in the didactic pre-race
briefings, Westra hasnt bothered to learn
much either. He tells Procycling that he

The Beast

Lieuwe westra

SYMPATHY FOR
THE ENEMY
Lieuwe Westra and Astana may have
been frustrated at every turn by a
dominant Team Sky at this years
Tour but the Dutchman had a lot of
sympathy for the British team after
they endured abuse from roadside
fans who believed they were doping
and that was partly because of the
experience of being part of the
Astana squad over the winter. For
a time we were the only ones in the
press, he says.
At the Tour, it was terrible. I rode
with [Sky rider] Wout Poels from the
bottom to the top of one climb and
the only thing we could hear were
boos from the bottom to the top,
he says with heavy emphasis. Poels
said it had been like that for two
weeks. Then I saw on Twitter the
story about the piss [the day a cup
of urine was thrown over the Team
Sky leader]. What were they doing
at a bike race? They should go home.
Last year we were in the same
position and we had the yellow jersey
from day two but we had nothing like
that. I dont know why Sky had to put
up with that. Maybe people dont like
one team being so strong.

Even in the colours of troubled Astana,


Westra was shocked at fans abuse of Sky

doesnt fraternise much inside the team and


that hes quick to his room in the evening
where he passes the hours listening to
music. Not that his limited integration has
curbed his value to the team. Rather, he
believes it may actually have brought him
on as a rider.
This year hasnt been so good, he says
with understatement. Ive crashed too
much but last year I had my best season
ever. Maybe it was the new challenge,
maybe the good training. But I also wonder
if maybe the reason is more rest in the
room. When youre in a Dutch or Belgian
team you just talk and talk but now Im
totally focused on cycling.
His head-down approach has worked
contractually, too. In July this year, with
no results to speak of and just a long list
of DNFs more of that later the team
manager, the notoriously hard-to-please
Alexandre Vinokourov, rewarded Westra
with a second two-year contract on the eve
of the Tour.

That means that despite this seasons


disappointments, Westra is an important
piece of the Astana operation.

SINCE NIBALIS SUCCESS at last years


Tour, Astana have been the subject of
endless controversy: the five doping cases
shared between the elite and feeder teams
late last year; allegations made by Gazzetta
dello Sport aggressively refuted last
December that the team had a relationship
with Michele Ferrari; Fredrik Kessiakoffs
bruising accusations that the team made
him ride when he was sick and injured. The
team were making headlines for all the
wrong reasons over winter. And as part of
their WorldTour licence approval another
tortuous process Astana were subjected
to independent auditing by the Lausanne
University Sports Science Institute through
2015. Come contract time did Westra, we
wonder, ever consider leaving the team for
somewhere less controversial?

Theres been a lot of sh*t in the press, he


says, affably enough, but I can say for sure
were a strict team and we work perfectly.
The press make [the stories] bigger and
thats not good for the team. But no, it is
not dirty. For me there is no reason to go to
another team. I was very happy that Vino
asked me to sign for two more years, he
says. Westra insists Vinokourov runs a
team that is very correct, despite his past
transgressions, and that he has a lot of
respect for the general manager.
Well of course he would say that. Westra
has a great deal to be thankful for and one
gets the feeling that he cant believe his luck.
And the long view of his career is of the
archetypal working class boy done good.

Above Westra did


a huge job for Nibali
on the famous pav
stage of the 2014
Tour de France

WESTRA HAD A famously unorthodox


path to the top of the sport. His time as a
teenage tearaway and his party days are
notorious. As is his previous career as a
road-builder. His father, who dredged

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

83

The Beast

Lieuwe westra

Above Westra won


stage 7 of the 2014
Dauphin, mugging
Katusha in the finale

Images Bettiniphoto (main)

Right Westra enjoys


the support of the
roadside fans at the
Tour de France

canals, introduced him to cycling and the


sport hit a spot that neither football nor
speed-skating could. But at 15, as a
promising junior in the same cohort of
young Dutch riders as Kenny Van Hummel
and Koen De Kort, he gave up racing and
even sold his bike so he could join his
friends who were out partying. The life of
sacrifice as a professional rider was not for
him, he thought. If it was bad for cycling,
I did it, he tells Procycling of the years that
followed. Eventually, he returned to the
sport in his early 20s.
He gradually got himself into condition
and a gig with a minor Dutch Continental
team, Krolstone, led eventually to the top
tier with the cash-strapped and wayward
Vacansoleil team in 2009. Later that year,
his father died just days before Westra made
his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta. He rode
five seasons for Vacansoleil and his accrual
of good results slowly at first and then
more quickly were achieved largely in
spite of the team rather than because of it.
Vacansoleil were light years behind Astana
and other top teams. His experiences in the
upper echelons of the sport have provided
him with reference points on both sides of
the gaping chasm between the top of the
WorldTour and the bottom.
With all due respect to the Vacansoleil
riders, the difference between the two

teams was big, he says. First is the money,


the budget and now we do a lot of altitude
training and we work more with the SRM
and those kind of things. Thats a big, big
step, he says.
He felt the difference most acutely while
at Vacansoleil at the 2012 Paris-Nice where
he blames kit inferiority for his narrow loss
to Bradley Wiggins. After his powerful
jump away from the field on the earlier,
crucial stage to Mende (where his profligate
celebrations cost seconds to Wiggins), the
race came down to the final TT up the Col

dEze. On the stage, Westra rode the TT of


his life, conceding just two seconds to the
Briton and losing the GC by eight seconds.
Im very proud of what I did in that
week, he says, dodging a question about
whether his Mende celebrations cost him
the race. Bradley Wiggins won every stage
race that year. But I dropped him on Mende
and in the Col dEze time trial I was only
1.8 seconds slower than him. It was a
mechanical difference. He had a great bike,
with electric gearing. He looked perfect.
I [had] my mechanical bike

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

84

2009

2012

2013

2014

On stage 2 of the Vuelta a


Espana between Assen
and Emmen in northern
Holland, Westra,
wearing a black
armband a homage to
his father who died the
week before - is the last
man standing in the
days break .

Westras brilliant season begins with a stage


victory in Paris-Nice on top of the Cte de la
Croix Neuve, the steep climb near Mende.
He jumps out of the leading group and solos
to the line. His flamboyant celebrations cost
valuable seconds, which could have been
crucial in the GC. He goes on to finish second
overall by the end of the race, eight seconds
adrift of Bradley Wiggins.

Westra abandons the Tour de France


39km from end of the last stage in Paris
the first time a rider had climbed off
within sight of the Champs-lyses since
1977. He cites a respiratory illness he had
battled for three days through the Alps
as the cause. His season wasnt a blank,
however - he did take out a stage win in
the Tour of California.

Westra is one of the


few Vacansoleil riders
whose career progresses
when the Dutch team sinks at
the end of 2013. He proves a
valuable addition to the Astana
squad and takes two WorldTour
stage victories, at the Volta a
Catalunya and the Dauphin.

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

This year hasnt


been so good,
Ive crashed too
much, but last
year I had my
best season ever
Nevertheless, his second place in France
announced Westra as a high quality stage
racer and ever since, hes held Paris-Nice in
high affection, even referring to it as a kind
of home race for him.
Cycling has made a material difference to
Westras life. Im riding for Astana, living
in Monaco. My mother is very proud. She
knows what I did in the years when I wasnt
cycling how I was always in a bar. She
remembers how I started cycling and how
Ive now gone up, up, up, he says, gesturing
somewhere above his head. And when
I step out and all the cameras and press are
there, then I can see she is very proud that
Ive done that. From Friesland to Monaco
and one of the biggest teams. Wow.
We suggest to Westra that the contrast
between an existence on the windswept
flatlands of northern Holland and the high

life in Monaco must be a culture shock but


he only goes so far as to describe his
residency in the principality as a strange
lifestyle but one where he is content. For
now Im relaxed and very happy, he says.
Happy at home he may be but this year
its been far from an easy ride. Of the nine
stage races he started, he abandoned four
through illness or injury and of the four
international one-day events he rode
Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race and the
two Canadian WorldTour races, he only
finished one Qubec. Factor in a training
crash in Monaco in February and its been
a terrible year for Westra; certainly its been
the worst in terms of personal results since
he signed for Vacansoleil.

CONTRIBUTING TO HIS personal lack


of success, he hasnt had any team victories
to celebrate, apart from the odd stage here
and there. Nibali signally failed to hit the
same heights as 2014 in the races where it
mattered, at least until Lombardia. We

could go to the Tour and only lose, Westra


reflects. That put more pressure on us.
Nibali was not as good as last year; in the
last week, yes, he was on the same level
I think, but by then it was too late. He had
hoped that once Nibali was out of GC
contention it would open up opportunities
to go hunting for stages, which has
traditionally been how he has scavenged
his personal success, but luck and
circumstance were not on his side.
I tried every day, he asserts. With
big groups of good riders 15-20 others
or just four or five and wed get only 40
seconds and no more. Normally six guys
go and its ciao. But I had bad, bad luck
with my groups, he says rather miserably.
And on the one day he believes a soft
break did go stage 16 into Gap, the day of
Peter Sagans excellent descent of the Col de
Manse Westra was galled to be told to stay
in the peloton in the pre-race team briefing.
What happened? he asks rhetorically. A
group of 30 goes with only one rider from
Astana. That rider was the Ukranian
Andriy Grivko.
Hes a very good rider, says Westra,
but we said in the peloton that he would
not win and he was 11th, I think. Or 12th.
The frustration is still raw. I know that
was a chance for me. I know that climb at
Gap and the descent well, Ive done it a few
times. In the condition I was in, I had a
good chance.
Westras season ended predictably
with a DNF at the GP de Montral and its
probably a year that he is now very happy
to draw a line under. However, the lack of
either personal or collective success this
year means hes likely to come out in 2016
with a point to prove both to himself and,
one gets the feeling, his boss, too. And
while his targets will revolve around aims
set by the team, dont bet against him also
pursuing some personal glory if the chance
arises; the will was there
this year, just not the
luck. Plus, he re-signed
with Astana stating, The
next two years of my
career will be important
steps for me. Elaborating
to Procycling, he said the
goal was week-long
stages races. And the
target he unquestionably
has in mind? No prizes
for guessing that would
be the Race to the Sun.

Below Crashes have


hindered Westras
season but he plans
to bounce back

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

85

86

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

IAM

HAVING A BAD DAY


IAM went to stage 2 of the Tour of Britain with a
specific plan. The day did not proceed accordingly,
as Procycling observed from the teams car

pinions on the value of a


plan are notably divided.
On the one hand,
Benjamin Franklin advised
that, If you are failing to plan, you are
planning to fail. Woody Allen provides
the counterpoint: If you want to make
God laugh, tell him about your plans.
IAM had big plans for the Tour of
Britain. The Swiss team made a huge
impact at the race last year Matthias
Brndle took back-to-back stage wins
with no little panache. Now one of
the WorldTour big dogs at a race that
includes Continental UK teams, their
sights are, understandably, set higher.
When we meet the lead directeur
sportif for the race, Kjell Carlstrm, on

the evening before stage 2 at the teams


hotel, he explains the teams objective
at the Tour of Britain: Win!
But theres more to it than that. With
some probing, he divulges that, despite
the races characteristic six-man teams,
IAM have brought a split squad with
aims in both the sprint stages and the
GC, the latter with Stefan Denifl, their
Austrian climber who took the King
of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de
Suisse three months previously.

THE PLANNING FOR a good result in


a stage of any race doesnt just centre
around the riders. It starts with the
mechanics, and making sure

everything is in perfect working order.


The job and routine of a mechanic is
almost the same across every team
but if you havent seen it for yourself,
its still impressive. After the stage,
all the bikes are washed, thoroughly
degreased and then re-lubed. The
chains and cassettes look brand new,
all the time. Once thats done, they
wash all four team cars and the bus
every day and not just a quick wipe
with a cloth; they apply wax, tyre shine
and glass polish.
If anything breaks or goes wrong
on a stage, its fixed that night. Leave
nothing to race day is a mantra that
applies to every sport. Whether or not
you have a plan, be ready.

WRITER:
Jamie Wilkins
IMAGE:
Tim De Waele

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

87

IAM TOUR OF BRITAIN

Clockwise from top


left The riders arrive
to sign on in the start
town of Clitheroe; DS
Carlstrm begins the
stage with a steak
and kidney pie while
steering with his
knees; IAMs
mechanics load
the immaculately
prepared bikes onto
the cars at 7.30am;
the mechanics truck
gets vacuumed out
every morning

Were back at 7.30am to


see the team loading up.
All the tyre pressures are
checked and race bikes are
loaded on two cars for the
drive to the start, spare
bikes on two others.
Before the spare wheels are loaded, each
one is placed in a frame so that the skewer
can be set at exactly the right width that it
can be secured in the bike with the quick
release lever alone in spite of the UCIs
ruling, the team bikes all have the lawyer
tabs filed down for faster wheel changes.
Theres Muc-Off chain lube and PTFE
spray in every car door pocket; if that
doesnt fix the problem, you get a new
bike off the roof.

If the riders enthusiasm has lifted,


its likely because theyre distracted
from, rather than keenly anticipating,
the stage ahead. Its a leg-breaker

ITS COLD AND foggy as the riders


saunter out of the hotel at 9.45am and
straight onto the bus, unenthused by the
weather. However, by the time we pull up
in the start town of Clitheroe, its sunny,
warmer and the place is bustling with
excited crowds. Its infectious: the riders
become palpably keener about the day
ahead and I wish I was getting on a bike
instead of in a team car. Not to try to keep
up, of course, not on this parcours. If the
riders enthusiasm has lifted, its likely

88

PROCYCLING

crowds, including what must be every


schoolchild for miles around. Having
been stationary for 15 minutes, Carlstrm
and the mechanic, Philippe, get on the
food straight away. Using his knees to
steer between the motorbikes, traffic
islands and schoolchildren, Carlstrm
tucks into a hot steak and kidney pie that
had been kindly donated by his former
Liquigas team-mate and now DS with his
rivals at Cannondale-Garmin, Charly
Wegelius, as a taste of British cuisine.
The action kicks off
immediately on the first
climb, to the delight of the
fans who pack the roads as
if we were at Alpe dHuez.
The race radio reports
constant attacks; riders
are shelled out the back
instantly, mercilessly. As we drive up the
climb, 13th car in the convoy, we pass the
last-placed riders, one from Novo Nordisk
who will go on to see more of our car
than the peloton for the rest of the day,
another from UK team One Pro Cycling.
On the descent, the latter streaks past
us, sat on his top tube, bike twitching
alarmingly over the bumps. I glance at
the cars speedometer it reads 80kph.
At the bottom of the hill theres a tight
bend with a bleeding LottoNL-Jumbo
rider lying in it.

DECEMBER 2015

because theyre distracted from, rather


than eagerly anticipating, the stage ahead.
Its a leg-breaker.
Carlstrm briefs the team to be mindful
of the days break and the first cat 1 climb,
which kicks up hard from kilometre zero
on narrow roads. He outlines the finale
no tricky corners but theres a ramp at
the kite and says that the team is riding
for 21-year-old Norwegian sprinter
Sondre Holst Enger today. It sounds like
a big demand of a young rider on such a
hard stage but Carlstrm has faith in his
ability. As we wait in the car for the
roll-out, he tells me how Holst Enger
joined the team last year as a stagiaire
but was signed to a pro contract almost
immediately, so impressed were the team
with his talent. He took bronze in the U23
Worlds Road Race in 2013. The hard
sprint suits him, says Carlstrm, and he
should be able to deal with the climbs
better than most of the other sprinters.
The race rolls out of town just after
11am to rapturous cheers from large

AMBULANCE DRIVERS, husbands of


mothers in labour, bank job wheelmen
these are some of the people who drive
with less urgency than a DS when race
radio announces that his rider needs
service. A few hours into the day, the call
comes, service for IAM. The announcer
has barely uttered the second syllable of
the teams name before Carlstrm has
smashed the accelerator to the floor.

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IAM TOUR OF BRITAIN

is difficult for a DS because he doesnt


always do as you ask. And he isnt strong
or smart enough to race on his own.
With that, Carlstrm turns on the cars
television and tunes to ITV4 for the live
coverage, which is by far the best way of
tracking whats happening at the front of
the race. It hasnt started yet, though, so
for half an hour we have Loose Women on
the screen.

Right Stefan Denifl


gets a new rear wheel
after a puncture early
in the stage
Main The combined
forces of IAM and
Tinkoff-Saxo were
unable to reel in Vakoc

Below Rigoberto Urn


was on IAMs shopping
list but the Colombian
signed for Cannondale

DURING A LULL in the action, Carlstrm


discusses some of the IAM roster changes
for 2016 on a squad that has been
criticised for lacking focus. We want to
be more sprint-focused next year, he
says. We need someone who can win and
a smart rider for the lead-out, someone
our young sprinters can follow blindly.
We also need someone who is good in the
mountains, to help [Mathias] Frank and
go for his own results. [Rigoberto] Urn
would have been perfect.
We ask how much Sylvain Chavanel,
off to Direct Energie (the new sponsor
for Europcar) next season, will be missed.
Many people misunderstood why we
didnt keep Chava, says Carlstrm. He

THE FINALE IS panning out as hoped.


The race has split into several groups but
three IAM riders are at the front, including
Holst Enger who as a neo-pro has
survived a parcours that broke the
peloton into pieces like a dry twig. Then,
with 19km remaining, a lone rider attacks
and attentions are sharpened further. This
isnt part of anyone elses plan. Its Petr
Vakoc, the young Etixx-Quick Step
domestique. Except he isnt just a
domestique, hes a talented time triallist
and one of Patrick Lefeveres apprentice
Classics stars. His gap grows to 20
seconds and edges out to half a minute
even as the chase gets organised behind
him. Heads down and teeth set,
IAM riders work with TinkoffSaxo to pull him back but Vakoc
is storming along.
Then disaster strikes. With
4km to go, and Vakoc almost
within reach, Holst Engers bike
inexplicably throws its chain
and it wont shift back on. The Norwegian
throws his bike, just as we round a corner
and catch sight of him. Mechanic Philippe
is out of the car in a flash and pulls down
a spare bike but has to beckon Holst Enger
to stop swearing and get on it. His clear
frustration shows that he was feeling
good. With nothing left to race for, he
rolls home nearly five minutes down. The
two Stefs, Clement and Denifl, finish at
the back of the group, tired from their
efforts to chase. After four hours of
racing, IAM are left empty-handed.
No one is in the mood to chat after the
stage but Carlstrm later reflected, We
had a more difficult day than the day
before, and thats saying something.
During the morning briefing, we talked
about all [the] possible scenarios to reach
the bottom of the finishing mini-climb
with Sondre in a perfect position.
Unfortunately, things did not unfold
as we had expected.
I tap one more thought into my phone,
a quote from German military strategist
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder:
No battle plan survives contact with
the enemy.

Philippe is out of the car in a flash


and pulls down a spare bike but
has to beckon Holst Enger to
stop swearing and get on it

IMAGE: SweetSpot/Michelle Rudd (main) Tim De Waele (Urn)

The heavily laden, automatic, four-wheeldrive diesel Skoda estate is not a fast car.
But when youve been averaging 22mph
for the last three hours, and when the
roads are narrow, full of race convoy and
lined with fans, it might as well be straight
from the paddock of that other British
B-road-blasting multi-day sporting
institution, Rally GB.
The spectators here might be able to
relate to rally fans long hours of waiting
and fleeting gratification at seeing their
sports stars flash past. But were sure that
they werent also expecting to be pelted
with gravel and have to jump back from
the road lest they lose their toes to the
squealing tyres of a man driving with
improbable commitment.
As we pass the front of the convoy, we
see our rider, Holst Enger, and pull up
alongside him with one final stab of
throttle. He smiles, hands Carlstrm his
gilet and rides off. Emergency over.
Carlstrm is a good driver but he tells
me there was no assessment, no training
for driving a team car, and that the
standard is not universally high across
his colleagues in the convoy. You get to
know which cars to give more space, he
says. Its an aptitude and its likely that, in
their riding careers, those team managers
who are less assured behind the wheel
now were the riders from whom others
kept a few centimetres further away in
the bunch.

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file
* December *
2015

SYLVAIN
CHAVANEL
The Warrior
As the sun begins to set on his career, Frances most experienced rider
is to be reunited with Jean-Ren Bernaudeau, with whom he started his
career. Procycling assesses the life and times of Sylvain Chavanel
WRITER: Herbie Sykes

ean-Ren Bernaudeau, a former Tour


de France yellow jersey, had launched
the Vende U amateur team in 1991.
Through it hed nurtured the most
promising young riders in the Loire
and had launched the pro careers of
a number of foreign kids. The likes of Charly
Wegelius, Roger Hammond and Piotr Wadecki,
talented boys from second-tier cycling nations,
had learned their trade under his stewardship.
Bernaudeau was respected as a coach, wellconnected and, above all, ambitious. Now it was
July 1999, and he had a meeting with the directors
of the Comareg publishing company.
Comareg produced, among others, a popular
small ads weekly named Bonjour. They were
printing 14 million regional copies but, as eBay
expanded its burgeoning empire across Europe,
their business model was under threat. Comareg
needed to solidify their market position and they
saw cycling and particularly the Tour de France
as the ideal promotional vehicle. Like Bonjour, the
race appealed to a traditional, working class
demographic, and just like Bonjour it was extremely
popular in the provinces. The parties settled on a 20
million franc (3m) budget, and Bernaudeau signed
on the dotted line. A three-year contract. He was up
and running.
Bernaudeau figured that with a fair wind the
Bonjour money ought to get him to the Tour. It
wouldnt, however, be enough to secure a marquee
signing, and as such hed be cutting his cloth

* Unless stated otherwise

92

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

PHOTOGRAHY: Getty Images*

judiciously. Among the initial intake were a number


of neo-pros from the Vende U production line.
Walter Bnteau had trialled as a stagiaire for
Castorama five years earlier but missed out. He was
to be given a second bite at the cherry, while Franck
Renier and Sbastien Joly would also make the step
up. Bernaudeaus needs-must approach would see
him reunited him with former Vende U guys
now deemed surplus to requirements elsewhere.
Pascal Deram from US Postal was one such and
completing the roster would be the jewels in the
Vende U crown. The 20-year-olds Fabrice Salanson
and Sylvain Chavanel were to join Bonjour.
Born into a cycling family in Vienne, Chavanel
had distinguished himself from an early age. Hed
won copiously as a junior and had impressed
Bernaudeau with his aggressive racing style. Riding
for Avenir Cycliste Chtelleraudais, his home town

Passport Details
Name: Sylvain Chavanel
Born: 30 June, 1979,
Chtellerault, France
Age: 36
Pro career:
2000-present
2016 team:
Direct Energie
(formerly Europcar)

club, hed generally been outnumbered in the big


events. Hed never failed, though, to carry the fight
to Vende U and Bernaudeau was delighted to
promote him to the pro team. If, he reasoned, he
could harness the boys attacking instincts, his
innate talent ought to take care of the rest.
Bernaudeau pitched him into the Tour and
Chavanel toughed it out. He made it to Paris, and
even animated the odd break. In October he won
his first race, a tough hilly stage at the Circuit
Franco-Belge.
The following week he lined up at Paris-Tours,
Frances second most important Classic, which
constituted the penultimate round of the World
Cup, a last chance for riders to land a really big fish.
Chavanel, 21 now, had already absorbed a huge
workload, and yet he took off alone at the gun.
Hed been away for 215 kilometres when they
caught him; a monumental display of courage, of
belief and, best of all, of the Bonjour brand name.
Interviewed afterwards, Bernaudeau stated: What
I see in him is the same joy of riding that I had at his
age. He was born to be a racer.
Chavanel had announced himself in the grand
manner, and that autumn another of the Vende U
apprentices joined Bonjour as a stagiaire. Born eight
days before Chavanel in Alsace, Thomas Voeckler
was a sensational bike rider. Punchy on the climbs,
tidy in a sprint and brimful of panache, hed been
the standard bearer for Frances U23 scene.
Chavanel landed the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque
in 2002, his first major win. By now, though,

file The Warrior Sylvain Chavanel

IMAGES: Tim De Waele (Main) Offside LEquipe(with Armstrong)

cycling was a sport in crisis, its doping pandemic


a matter of fact. The Tour itself had been rocked
by the 1998 Festina affair, the performances of
French champions like Laurent Jalabert and Richard
Virenque discredited (or at best devalued) in the
eyes of an incredulous French public.
The early 2000s were torrid times for French
riders at the Tour, and their rivals made no secret of
their scorn. In 2002, there was a single home stage
victory, a break from Patrice Halgand, and nobody
in the top 10. In 2003, French riders failed once
more at the race, accounting for just two stages and
a single top-15 finish, from Christophe Moreau.
The following February Marco Pantani overdosed
in a Rimini hotel. Rightly or wrongly, the likes of
Pantani and Virenque had come to personify
cyclings doping culture. With Pantanis death,
cyclings public abasement was complete but across
the Alps the sport was beginning, very slowly, to
see the light.

94

WHILE BELGIAN, SPANISH and Italian riders won


everything, a new realpolitik was emerging within
French cycling. France would become the cradle of
the nascent post-doping movement, the home of a
genuine resolve to change the habits of a century.
Major sponsors such as Cofidis and AG2R were
persuaded to buy in and so too was Brioches
La Boulangre, Bernaudeaus new backer.
Notwithstanding the fact that their charges
were losing bike races, the board saw the value
of promoting a new kind of cycling.
Chavanel somehow prevailed at the Tour of
Belgium but in the high mountains what became
known as two-speed cycling was a reality. The
playing field hopelessly uneven, young French
riders were simply hung out to dry. At the
Dauphin that June a group of 15 or so failed
even to hang on to the gruppetto. And then came
the Tour, and, miraculously, Thomas Voeckler.
His heroics in retaining the yellow jersey for 10
July days captured the imagination of the French
public. Voeckler became a genuine French celebrity,
a cyclist whose fame transcended his profession.
Here was a throwback to the heroic cycling of yore,
a courageous young Frenchman defying impossible
odds to haul himself over the Pyrenees. Julien
Prtot, Reuters cycling correspondent, says: I guess
you could say that theres not so much between
Voeckler and Chavanel as regards pure talent but
Voecklers finest hour was at the Tour. He took on
Armstrong, the all-conquering American, and he
refused to be cowed by him. The symbolic value
of that was absolutely colossal for our cycling.
Voecklers timing was immaculate. The Tour
increased his value to sponsors five-fold and his
earning potential grew exponentially. He became
the factotum of Bernaudeaus project and, more

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Lance Armstrong and


Chavanel represented
two different tendencies
in cycling, one clean, the
other deeply flawed

importantly, a household name. Chavanel,


meanwhile, shipped out to Cofidis for the 2005
season. In April he won the Circuit de la Sarthe
but then pretty much disappeared. For all his early
promise and all the kilometres gunning it on the
front, the results simply never materialised. Prior
to the 2008 season, his last under contract, he failed
to win another bike race.
That all changed in the spring. In a six-week
period he won stages at Paris-Nice and the Tour
Mditeranan, and helped himself to both
Brabantse Pijl and Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
Cofidis finally had some kind of a return on their
considerable investment, and the future looked
bright. As he approached his 29th birthday,
Chavanel appeared to have turned a corner, to
have added a little bike racing intellect to his brute
strength. It had been a long time coming but with

Career Highlights
2000: Rides 215 kilometres alone at the head
of Paris-Tours in his debut season
2008: Wins first Tour de France stage. Adds
overall combativity prize
2010: Wins two stages and combativity prize
at the Tour. Wears yellow for two days
2011: Rides away from Voeckler and Anthony
Roux to win French National Championship
2015: Takes part in his 15th consecutive Tour
de France (13 completed)

his best years ahead of him, Cofidis looked set to


reap the benefits. Then, however, Patrick Lefevere
appeared on the scene.

WITH PAOLO BETTINI retiring and Gert


Steegmans moving on, the boss of Quick Step
was cash-rich. Convinced now that Chavanel had
a Monument win in him, he made overtures in
advance of the Tour de France. He sold him the idea
of riding Paris-Roubaix in the company of Tom
Boonen and Stijn Devolder, with the best team in
the business. Chavanel was duly convinced and
Lefevere had his man. In securing him, Lefevere
guaranteed Quick Step a strong showing at the
Tour but more importantly neutralised a major
threat at the Classics. Chavanels final Tour for
Cofidis simply underscored the fact. He dominated
the combativity award and, on stage 19, outsprinted breakaway companion Jrmy Roy for his
maiden stage win. In so doing he reminded Cofidis
(to wit, French cycling) what they would be missing.
For Prtot, it was a defining moment.
Of course he had every right to go to Quick
Step and realistically there was no French Classics
team good enough to support him, he says.
However, it was a significant moment for all sorts
of reasons. Voeckler is [famous] partly because
hes perceived as having stayed with Bernaudeau.
He stayed loyal to French cycling during a time of
real crisis, while Chavanel left just as it seemed

Chavanel, pictured here


in Brabantse Pijl, was a
talented Classics rider
but he was never able
to win a really big one

file The Warrior Sylvain Chavanel

IMAGES: Tim De Waele

Chavanel takes the


second of two stage
wins at the 2010 Tour,
at Station des Rousses
in the Jura

96

he was going to start delivering really big wins.


It must have made sense to him at the time but
I think that a lot of cycling fans struggled to
understand it.
Quick Step were imperious on the cobbles the
following spring. Chavanel was hugely impressive
but ultimately it was Devolder and Boonen who
made off with Flanders and Roubaix respectively.
Chavanel was always there at the sharp end but
with Boonen at the helm he was always destined
to play a supporting role. As such, the 2010
Classics season came and went as well, and the
big win continued to elude him. Gilles Simon,
the cycling correspondent for Lquipe, says,
Fundamentally he made a mistake in staying with
Cofidis so long, and another in signing for Quick
Step. He could have gone to just about anywhere
else and been the leader for the Classics, so why
sign for a Belgian team with Boonen as its leader?
Two stage wins, the second a belter in the Jura,
saw him wear yellow for two days that July. Once
more he made off with the combativity award, as
the resurgent French accounted for no fewer than
six stages. Smart move, Lefevere.
He ought to have won the 2011 Tour of Flanders
but his choice of employer found him out once
more. He was the best man in the race that day,
stronger than Boonen and stronger even than
Fabian Cancellara. It was Chavanel who spent all
day closing gaps, Chavanel who bridged across
when Cancellara launched his big attack. In so

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

doing, however, he dragged the


Belgian Nick Nuyens across.
Boonen simply didnt have the
legs that day but he was Quick
Steps talisman and Chavanel
was effectively riding as his domestique. Boonen
failed to bridge across, despite a desperate late
attempt, while Nuyens sat on and then pilfered
the sprint. A shame for Quick Step but Chavanel
was, when all was said and done, not Boonen. He
was, when alls said and done, French.
It had been his big chance but it had gone
up in smoke. He remedied it to some degree by
galloping away from Voeckler to win the National
Road Championship but that was pretty much his
last hurrah. There have been sporadic victories
since but nothing significant and nothing at all
this year, his last season with IAM Cycling.
Nobody disputes for one minute that hes been
a joy to watch, nor that his engine is exceptional.
However, in the final analysis his palmars is
pretty ordinary for a rider of his gifts. Hes failed
to land a Monument and has just three Tour de

HE WAS NEVER ABLE TO


READ A RACE THAT WELL
AND HE NEVER HAD THE
KILLER INSTINCT. HES
TOO NICE A GUY

France stages to his name. Gilles Simon


thinks he should have been more ruthless.
Hes a classic case of someone who
could have done better. In reality he was
never able to read a race particularly well,
and he never had the killer instinct. Hes
just too nice a guy, says Simon.
And so he goes back to Bernaudeau for
one final season. Hes reported to have
taken a significant pay cut and to have
turned down much bigger offers. Hes
going back not because he expects to start
winning again aged 37 but because he
gave Bernaudeau his word. On a human
level its the right thing to do, and nobody
ever doubted Sylvain Chavanels human
qualities. That said, hes going to have to
try to coexist with Voeckler, and Simon
says thats going to be challenging: Both
of them have a very good relationship
with Bernadeau but theres no point in
pretending they like one another because
they just dont. Theyre totally different
characters, just as theyve been totally
different racers. Theres quite a
bit of speculation that Voeckler
will take over from Bernaudeau
as team principle in a couple of
years, so where that will leave
Chavanel is anybodys guess.
What we do know is that it will
be fascinating to see how the
whole thing plays out.

WHEN SYLVAIN CHAVANEL started out, there


were essentially two types of professional cycling.
One was chemically enhanced, the other not. Its
quite difficult, therefore, to assess his career in
terms of matter-of-fact results. Hes won some
races and lost a great many more but its to his
eternal credit that hes ridden through the storm.
He and Voeckler dont necessarily like one
another but its undeniable that they are two sides
of the same coin, and that they each animated the
Tour. They were easily the best, most charismatic
Frenchmen of their generation, and they always
rode with real lan. In truth Chavanel never quite
reached the promised land but the journey was
never less than spectacular. Ultimately, his value
to cycling and specifically to French cycling
cant be deduced from his palmars. Rather its
the fact that he was always aggressive, and that
he played a leading role in sustaining his sport
through arguably its most difficult period.
The young guns Thibaut Pinot, Romain Bardet et
al wont perhaps appreciate it just yet but they owe
Sylvain Chavanel quite a debt of gratitude. And so,
given that France remains one of the great cycling
nations, do the rest of us.

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Retro
Bahamontes

END OF AN ERA
This summer Spains first Tour de France
winner, Federico Bahamontes, finally called time
on half a century of organising the Vuelta a Toledo,
his regions top stage race. Procycling went along to
watch the Eagle of Toledo take flight one last time

idnight is
approaching
on a thundery,
showery midweek
August night in
Spain. In Toledos
old quarter, the
tourists have long since gone to bed,
the low street lighting makes for a
rather gloomy, murky atmosphere
and the cobbled streets lined with
stately, neo-Classical buildings are
all but deserted. Everywhere, that
is, apart from one central park.
Watched by perhaps four dozen
people, on a gaudily decorated
open-air stage two singers, a man
wearing a dinner suit and a woman
in a tight flamenco dress, are belting
out a series of tacky Spanish popular
songs, karaoke-style and at truly
ear-splitting volume. Behind them
hang huge yellow posters for of
all things a nearby vehicle MOT
test centre. On either side of the
stage are half a dozen neatly parked
and gleaming four-wheel-drive cars,
all of them with the same sticker

across their windshield: 2015


Vuelta a Toledo.
These are in fact, the closing
moments of the Vuelta a Toledo
teams presentation, and while the
squads themselves have long retired
to their hotels, the spectacle has, like
so many summer celebrations in
Spain, continued well into the night.
Warm summer rain begins to
teem down again but the two
singers, braving both the rapidly
dropping temperatures and the risk
of electrocution, not to mention the
fact that their shrinking audience is
more interested in seeking shelter
under trees than listening to their

Writer: Alasdair Fotheringham


Photography: Getty Images

98

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

warbling, battle gamely onwards


with their deafeningly loud, cheesy
love ballads.
In the near pitch-dark of the park
beyond the stage, one elderly figure
clad in a yellow race-issue shirt
seems to be ignoring the sudden
downpour, too. Its the Eagle of
Toledo, Federico Bahamontes, the
director of the Vuelta a Toledo since
1966. The 2015 race will be his last
in charge.
Such a long spell keeping a race
like the Vuelta a Toledo on the
calendar is easier said than done.
Particularly in the last 10 years, there
has been little to write on a positive
note about Spains racing scene.
Spaniards may have won four Tour
de France yellow jerseys since 2006
but its common knowledge that
back home at amateur and
professional level, owing largely
to the economic recession, event
after event has folded. Even races as
important as the Volta a Catalunya
and Vuelta al Pas Vasco have been,
at times, in dire financial straits.

Place of birth: Val de Santo Domingo,


Toledo, Spain, July 9, 1928
Turned professional: 1953
Retired: 1965

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

99

Lord of all he surveys: A


younger Bahamontes looks
out over his city of Toledo,
where he is practically royalty

The Vuelta a Toledo, however, has been the


exception that proves the rule. In 1966, the year
after his retirement, Bahamontes created the
amateur stage race named after his home city
and province. But although the Vuelta a Toledo
has lost one day of racing in recent years, it has
remained the only amateur race in Spain to have
survived so long without at least one year of
complete cancellation.
In Toledo, which has no cycling club running
races for the region, the race has always been a
lifeline for local riders. The Vuelta a Toledo has
always been important for me, not just because
its my home race but because its one of those
amateur events that professional teams will use
to scout out possible new signings, says former
ONCE pro Rafael Daz Justo, manager of the
Specialized-Fundacin Alberto Contador team
and who was born in nearby Torrijos.
That was my case, in fact. I won a stage of the
Vuelta a Toledo and I was leader for two days. Even
if the squad finally decided a team-mate would go
for the overall win, not me, it was thanks to what
Id done there in Toledo that I turned pro the
following year.
The race takes place in August, with
exceptionally early start and finish times to avoid
the worst of the summer heat. Other races round
here take place in the middle of the afternoon and

100

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Now 87, Bahamontes says


its time to step down from
running the Vuelta a Toledo,
though hes still very healthy

the heat is horrible, continues


Daz Justo.
Back in the day, it used to
be more of a build-up event for
what was once the top amateur
event in Spain, the Circuito
Montaes. However now that race has folded,
the Vuelta a Toledo has become a target in itself.
Its unusual, too, because its one of the few
top amateur events which regularly has an
international field, and this year, as its the fiftieth
anniversary, it is even more special. Everybody has
brought their top teams.
Daz Justo is talking at the start of the 2015
Vuelta a Toledos opening stage, located in the
unlikely setting of an MOT test centre some 50
kilometres outside the capital. But as the MOT

THE LIST OF FORMER


WINNERS INCLUDES DANI
MORENO AND RETIRED
CLASSICS SPECIALIST
JUAN ANTONIO FLECHA

test centre is the races main


sponsor, financially it makes
sense, even if it means riders
heading to the signing-on
table have to weave their way
between cars revving into line
in front of a vast hangar for
their MOTs.
Yet as uninviting as the
location might be on the far
side of a gigantic car park, miles from any town,
and with vehicles spilling into the MOT centre
from the main motorway south from Madrid to
Andalusia the Vuelta a Toledo itself is clearly in
excellent shape. There are 13 teams here from as
far afield as Holland and France, as well as Galicia,
Spains most north-westerly region, and the
Basque Country, for a peloton of 112 riders.
There are sponsors galore on the chunky
100-page route book, too, which even contains
a full-page photo and message of support from
Spains King Felipe. As for the list of former
winners at the back, it includes Dani Moreno
of Katusha, retired Classics specialist Juan Antonio
Flecha and, from further back in time, Jos Viejo,
who still holds the record for the greatest time
gap between a solo breakaway and the peloton
in a post-war Tour de France (22 minutes and 50
seconds). In 1967, the Vuelta a Toledos second

The Vuelta a Toledo is Spains


most important amateur race
and boasts a strong field with
teams from all over Europe

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

101

Bahamontes leads his team and runs


his race from the front, directing from the
car and controlling traffic with the energy
of a man half his age

BAHAMONTES DOES EVERYTHING FROM RUNNING


TAPE ACROSS JUNCTIONS AND WAVING DOWN CARS
TO CLEARING GRAVEL ON CORNERS WITH A BROOM
edition was won by Agustn Tamames who would
go on to take victory in the 1975 Vuelta a Espaa.
Yet there can be no doubt which famous
Spanish rider dominates the event. In fact, it
would be an understatement to say the Vuelta a
Toledo is imbued with Bahamontess personality:
there is simply no escaping the man. The race
headquarters is as it has always been the
Bahamontes Fan Club building. An enormous
garage houses all of the race material. Next door
to that is his office, with wall-to-wall photos of
him racing and its metre-high statue of an eagle.
At 7am on the morning of each of the four
stages, a small army of Vuelta a Toledo staff begin
for the day. Working quietly and efficiently in
semi-darkness as the city around them gradually
awakens and rush-hour traffic builds, all the race
vehicles, trophies and so forth are first brought
out of the garage, then each staff member is
allotted a vehicle to take material and guests to
the start. These VIPs range from none other than
Miguel Indurain, present on the two last stages, to
a young Dutch doctor and his partner, a Spanish
scientist. The couple are normally based in Gabon
but made friends with Bahamontes a few years ago
and have travelled to Toledo each year since to
help out on the event.
As race director, Bahamontes is a monument
to micro-management, barking orders as soon as
he rolls up around half an hour after his troops
have started the days work. Then at the start, he
sprints around, whistle constantly blowing as he
organises vehicles in the car park, shifts barriers,
directs bike riders and finally dons a sponsors hat
for years he would wear a sailors cap for this
part of the days proceedings but that must have
been lost as he waves a big red flag to signal that
the days racing has begun.
The 1959 Tour de France winner is not averse
to ensuring what he believes to be greater equality
between the riders. On one stage, when a group of
riders attempt to head out of the start at a hotel car
park to warm up a little (the stage starts with a

102

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

climb), Bahamontes stands alone at the exit and


tells them that, under pain of expulsion, none of
them can do so because it would constitute an
unfair advantage. The riders tell their respective
sports directors but the squads back down.
The directors know they cant do anything
against him, says one staff member, so they
just go along with it.
Its a one-man show in some ways but its one
of the best races on the circuit, adds Marcos
Serrano, like Daz Justo a former pro and now
a sports director with the Rias Baixas team. For
example, its the only amateur event in Spain that
has enough money to have a publicity caravan.

Bahamontes was arguably the


Tours first climbing specialist
and his tally of five KOM titles
has only been surpassed once

What makes that publicity caravan even more


unusual is that it appears after the peloton on the
stage route, rather than as is the case on every
other race we have seen before it.
Yet the cracks in the organisation are visible,
too. Barring the Dutchman and his girlfriend,
most of the volunteers are in their 50s or 60s, and
Bahamontes is what binds them all together.
Nearly all are linked to Bahamontes through
friendship or membership of his Toledo Fan Cub
which pretty much amounts to the same thing.
Even one of the seven UCI commissaires present
has a close connection to Bahamontes: his father,
Faustino Suarez, was Bahamontess business
partner in his bike shop for nearly five decades,
and Suarez senior remains a key part of the Vuelta
a Toledo organisation. However, he, too, like
Bahamontes, is quitting after this years race.
At the head of it all is Bahamontes himself:
theoretically ensconced in the races lead vehicle as
director, during the stages he can be found on the
roadside almost as much as he is in the vehicle. He
does everything from running tape across
roadway junctions and waving down cars with his
red flag to clearing excess gravel on some corners
with a long broom. Then he jumps back in the car,
where he sits popping almonds in his mouth from
a large bag in the glove compartment, his only
sustenance for stages up to four hours long, or
shouting out yet more orders into the race radio.

Winners at the Vuelta a Toledo are given


swords made by the local steel industry;
Bahamontes buzzes around the stage

The fans come out to greet the Vuelta a Toledo in


large numbers. As ever in Spain, a country over
twice the area of Great Britain and with two-thirds
of the population, there are large segments where
the peloton grinds through empty, dusty plains
of the countrys central meseta with nobody in
sight. But whenever the bunch reaches a village,
no matter how small, the streets are lined with
locals, applauding the peloton and, you suspect,
reserving most of their cheers for Toledos greatest
ever cycling star.
The most amusing moments of Bahamontess
hands-on, omnipresent and omnipotent approach
occur during the interminably long prize-giving
ceremonies. Bahamontes is always present on
stage as everybody steps up for their awards,
darting around the stage, manhandling them
where needed, Bernard Hinault-style, to ensure
that everybody stands in the correct position for
the photos. He hands over prizes when no local
dignitary is available and shoos people off the
stage the second they have their prize and are
no longer needed by the press. He is Master of
Ceremonies and the star act, all rolled into one.
The only moment when Bahamontes briefly
has to take a back seat comes when an even bigger
Spanish star makes his way onto the stage. Miguel
Indurain has shown up for the last edition, as the
five-times Tour winner puts it with his unfailing
gift for stating the obvious, because Bahamontes
is organising the race and I want to support him.
By way of thanks, Indurain and the rest of each
days winners is presented with a metre-long
sword, a nod towards Toledos world-famous
metal-working industry.
One thing not even Bahamontes, the rider rated
as the Tours best ever climber, can provide Toledo
with, however, is high mountains. And with no
tradition of time trial or summit finishes, overall

Next year a statue of


Bahamontes will be added
to Toledos famous ancient
city walls

THE RACE GUIDE IS


CRAMMED WITH THANKS
TO BAHAMONTES FROM
EVERYONE WHO IS
ANYONE IN TOLEDO
PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

103

The chequered flag is a


Bahamontes touch and he
insists on standing in the
road and waving it himself

victory in the Vuelta a Toledo almost


invariably comes down to crosswinds
on the exposed first stages, which can
shatter the peloton, and the set-piece
of each final stage of the race, an ascent into
Toledos Plaza de Zocodover, at the top of a
draggy, cobbled, climb into the old quarter.
Anybody got any complaints about how Ive
been running this for the last 50 years? Theyve
still got time, Bahamontes says with a grin as he
stands at the finish line. That is, theyve still got
time before I say goodbye.
Yet another Bahamontes touch is in his hand:
the huge black and white chequered flag at the
finish, ready to wave, Formula One style, when
the first rider arrives. Even if its a bunch sprint,
Bahamontes stands his ground on the line, waving
the riders in as they hurtle past a few inches away.
A few minutes later, the shattered bunch
appears at the summit of the Zocodover climb,
with two Euskadi riders, Mikel Iturria and Mikel
Aristi, at the head of affairs. Aristi gets the stage
win while Iturria, crossing the line close behind
him, gets the overall victory.
Perhaps surprisingly, given how strongly linked
the race is to Bahamontes, there are no special
tributes on the last day. The race guide is crammed
with thanks to him from everyone who is anyone
in Toledo the mayor, the head of the regional
government, and so on but, the only direct
homage Bahamontes gets this year comes during

104

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Bahamontes celebrates
his Tour de France victory
in 1959; as Spains first winner
it made him a national hero

the prize-giving ceremony in one of the mid-race


finishing towns. In a touching gesture which
recalls the most famous incident of Bahamontess
career, the mayor gets on the stage and gives
him an ice cream. Sixty-one years before in the
1954 Tour on the Col de la Romeyere in the Alps,
Bahamontes had attacked the peloton and then
stopped at the top to eat an ice cream.

RACING CAREER
MAJOR WINS
Tour de France: 1958 two stage wins,
1959 Winner (one stage win), 1962 stage win,
1963 stage win, 1964 two stage wins
Giro dItalia: 1958 stage win Vuelta a Espaa:
1957 stage win, 1958 stage win, 1960 stage win

MAJOR PLACINGS
Vuelta a Espaa: 1957 2nd
Tour de France: 1963 2nd, 1964 3rd

OTHER AWARDS
Tour de France: King of the Mountains,
1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964
Vuelta a Espaa: KOM, 1957, 1958
Giro dItalia: KOM, 1956

One long overdue tribute will shortly become


reality, however. Next year Bahamontes will
finally have a statue erected in his honour in
Toledo. Id say its not after time, was his
typically blunt reaction on hearing the news.
Better late than never. Never backward at
coming forward, he suggested the statue be
located at the Puerta del Bisagra, one of Toledos
most famous walled gateways, because after Id
won the Tour in 1959, the open-top car which
took me into Toledo for the celebrations went
through there.
Essentially, in fact, for the last half century the
Vuelta a Toledo has been the regions monument
to Bahamontes and in some ways its hard to think
of a better one. But that in turn makes us ask, if
the Vuelta a Toledo is working so well, why does
he want to quit? The answer is that Bahamontes is
now 87 and Old Father Time is finally beginning
to take its toll, he says, although its hard to believe
given his abundant energy.
This race is going to suffer a major drop in
popularity, without him directing it, says Daz
Justo. Bahamontes has such a lot of influence and
fame that itll be hard, if not impossible for it to
continue, at least at such a high level.
After 50 years of benefiting from one single
figure, in fact, the Vuelta a Toledo has lost its key
reference point and this could well be the last ever
edition. But like Bahamontes himself, it has had a
heck of a good run.

Wishlist
The worlds best cycling kit

Photography: David Caudery, Philip Sowels, Adam Gasson

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106

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

107

Wishlist

108

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

DT Swiss RC28 Spline C


Mon Chasseral
2,249.98 ||| $3,600
These superlight clinchers are the latest
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PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

109

Wishlist

Specialized S-Works 6
280 ||| $400
The new version of Specializeds massively
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www.specialized.com

110

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Wishlist

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Wishlist

Selle San Marco


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114

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115

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Roadtested

The Procycling Race & Test Team


is powered by

harp

Pro kit in the real world

Merckx EMX-525
Price 4,449 | $6,999 Weight 8.02kg www.eddymerckx.com

THIS BIKE IS named after


the number of victories taken
by the rider held to be the
greatest of all time. We guess
calling it the GOAT might
have sent out the wrong image. Either way,
its a bold statement of intent for a rangetopping bike.
Merckx describe the 525 as the worlds
best-balanced bike and claim that it rates
very highly for stiffness, weight, aero,
compliance and fitting. The unusually
angular dog-leg seatstays are said to deliver
a smooth ride, while the integrated fork,
prow-like headtube and profiled seat-tube
and post all add some marginal aero gains.
There are seven sizes but the fit is very
racy long and low. My gangly legs meant
I needed all the spacers under the stem even
with a 13cm drop to the bars.
We cant ignore the elephant in the
room any longer. This is not a light bike.
A four-and-a-half-grand build of a rangetopping frame should not weigh the wrong
side of 8kg. Merckx claim that the frame
weighs 1,100g and the fork 390g: not low
numbers by todays standards. Still, theres a
lot more to a bike than its weight and its

clear from the large downtube and headtube


that stiffness was a major design goal.
The build isnt especially light either; the
Fulcrum Racing Quattros are weighty and
while the Deda Zero 100 alloy cockpit and
Prologo Scratch Pro Tirox saddle are quality
items, they do little to offset the wheels. This
bike runs a complete Shimano Ultegra Di2
groupset, with semi-compact 52-36 rings.
Our first impressions werent great. The
heavy Fulcrums dont just dull the ride, they
hobble the bike and sadly they are the OE
spec on most versions of the 525. Worse
still, theyre shod with 25mm Vittoria
Rubino Pro tyres which roll like theyre
made of freshly spat chewing gum and are
cheap for a bike of this spec. At least theyre
grippy in corners and provide some give.
The ride would be firm on 23s as that kinked
back end doesnt perform any miracles.
The steering is also far from hyperactive.
The 525 has a slightly longer-than-average
wheelbase and a slack head angle. It isnt

Below The downtube


is vast but its whats
written on it that
defines this bike,
along with its price

necessarily a bad thing and, once you


understand that you have to be firm with it,
theres the neutrality to use big lean angles.
Of course, the bike is stable as well
unflinching at 80kph sat on the top tube.
While the 525 feels uninspiring in stock
trim, it still delivers brisk speeds. Maybe it is
a bit aero.
As with the Orbea tested last issue,
I wanted to see what the 525 would be like
on pukka wheels so I fitted the same Enve
4.5s (tested over the page), dialed in some
big effort, and enjoyed a really fast ride
(40kph for 60km, see it on Strava at tinyurl.
com/Merckx525ride). The frames immense
stiffness shone through much more brightly
but in spite of the speed it didnt come alive
in the same way as the Orbea. It didnt feel
special. Thats disappointing because with
this build and weight, the EMX-525 looks
expensive. There are better riding frames
with higher-spec builds for a lot less money.
Sorry, Eddy. Jamie Wilkins

PROS

CONS

VERDICT

Incredible
stiffness

Incredible weight
and price

A below-par pricey
frame with modest
kit; performance and
value both lacking

Above The kinked


seatstays are said
to aid compliance;
the seat-tube is
slightly aero
Right The bladed
fork also kinks for
comfort; the crown
integrates neatly
with the headtube

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

117

Enve 4.5 tubular and clincher


Price 2,300, 3,500 | $2850, $3050 Weight 1300g, 1556g www.enve.com

THERE ARE TWO tests here: first, were


testing Enves new wheels; second, were
attempting to answer the increasingly tricky
question of tubular versus clincher. It used
to be train on clincher, race on tubular for
the simple reasons that tubs roll better and
weigh less. Now, though, clincher tyres have
caught up and manufacturers such as Enve
tell us that clinchers are more aero in their
tests because of the smoother integration
between the tyre and rim.
We put in some hard miles on both sets
and then conducted back-to-back field tests
by riding to power on a 16km (10 miles) TT
course and then a steep 2km climb. We used
a road bike for the climb and a TT bike to
help control the riding position in the aero
test. This isnt as precise as a wind tunnel
but thats the point this is about what you
will feel on the road.
The new Enve 4.5s are designed to be the
Goldilocks wheel in the range if the 3.4
is too shallow and the 6.7 too deep, these
should be just right. Their development
was prompted by Enves sponsorship of
MTN-Qhubeka as most teams use 50mm
wheels as their default. As with Enves other
SES wheels, the rims are staggered at
48/56mm depths and
27/25.5mm widths, front
and rear. The extra width is
a response to the broader
downtubes of the latest
aero bikes and is claimed
to improve the speed of the
bike and wheels as a system.

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PROCYCLING

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Enve say the 4.5 is very nearly as aero as the


deeper 6.7. Six hubs are offered, including
two with ceramic bearings and Enves new
carbon hub. Our test wheelsets are both
built on Chris King R45 hubs.
For a fairer test, we roped in Continental
who supplied Competition 25 tubs and
GP4000S II 25mm clinchers with Race Light
tubes. Crucially, these tyres share the same
compound and the tubes are as close as
possible to whats in the tubs, taking those
factors out of the equation.
The tubular wheels weigh 1,300g (550/
750g) and the clinchers 1,552g (696/856g).
The tubs are 532g for the pair, the clincher
tyres 436g and the tubes 160g. That gives
total system weights of 1,832g for the tubs
and 2,148g for the clinchers. Is that 316g
difference surmountable? Before the testing,
we had no idea.
Riding 25mm tyres on wide rims takes
some getting used to its hard to look
down at that big tyre (27mm inflated) and
believe its faster. But it is. Both versions
boosted whatever bike we put them in,
carrying speed like a deeper wheel and
remaining stable in side gusts. At the lower
pressures that 25s need (100/105psi for road,
105/110psi for TT) there is a
bit more squidge from the
tyres when out of the saddle
but the pay-off is loads of
cornering grip, especially
on these excellent tyres.
The tubs feel slightly more
supple and their weight

Above Clincher tyres


meet rims more
smoothly, improving
aero performance

Left Chris King R45


hubs look a little old
school but roll smoothly
and are easy to service

advantage can be felt but only when youre


out of the saddle on a double-digit gradient.
Both wheelsets are stiff and deliver crisp
responses to steering and power input. Dry
braking is good and Enve claim improved
brake track heat management for mountain
descents but there are no miracles with
the wet braking. Theres still a delay before
anything happens and outright power is
modest. Now, here comes the science bit.
The aero test was done on my long-term
test Canyon Speedmax on my local clubs
10 TT course. Its very quiet so traffic wasnt
a factor and the wind was low. In road kit,
I averaged a smooth 305W for each run,
keeping as consistent a position as possible.
The tubs did 23:48; the clinchers did 23:36, a
significant 12s faster and with a peak speed
2kph higher.
The climbing test was ridden on my
Ridley Noah SL on a tough local Strava
segment called the Bath Tri climb, which
ramps up to 14 per cent in the middle.
I averaged 424W on the tubs for a time of
5:00 (21kph av, 32.5kph max, 616W max).
The clinchers got up in 4:56 at 426W
(21.6kph av, 33.6kph max, 526W max).
The extra 2W is worth under a second so
this is a remarkable and surprising result.
We thought the lighter tubs would take it.
We also did some max effort sprints,
using the power meter to confirm wed
kicked as hard and GPS data (which we
realise isnt pinpoint accurate for such short
bursts) to show the acceleration. In two
sprints on each wheelset, with average
powers of 900-1,000W for nine seconds,
the tubs were slightly more accelerative.
Subjectively, the difference can be felt most
from low speed, which makes sense as thats
when you can apply the most torque, create
the strongest acceleration and therefore do
the greater battle against inertia. The peak
powers were 1,246W and 1,205W (hey, Im
only 71kg, gimme a break) and at these
points in the sprints there was no tangible
difference in either the responsiveness or
the stiffness of the two wheelsets.
The conclusions, then, are easy. First,
these are fantastic wheels and ideal if you
want to invest in one special wheelset to
do it all. Second, the clinchers are faster.
By the time the terrain is hilly enough to
go for the lighter wheel, youd want a pure
climbing set. Jamie Wilkins

PROS

CONS

Speed; stability;
design symbiosis
with latest frames

The wet braking


performance is
behind the best

x VERDICT
Outstanding allround aero wheels.
Clinchers win

The Procycling Race & Test Team


is powered by

Roadtested

harp

Left The Speedshell


has pre-curved arms
to ensure they dont
wrinkle when riding

Santini Speedshell and Dirtshell

IMAGE: SnapShot Riccione (fotomoto.it)

Price 149.99, 129.99 | $tbc, $190 www.santinisms.it

ONE-PIECE AERO gear for the


road has really taken off, led by
the pros and Castellis Sanremo
Speedsuit. These are Santinis take
on the concept, the Speedshell
road skinsuit and Dirtshell for
cyclo-cross and winter.
The Dirtshell is made from
Thermofleece which has a soft,
brushed, insulating inner and a
windproof outer. It has Santinis
Aqua Zero water repellent
treatment (also claimed to help
prevent mud from sticking) and
two pockets on the back.
Because of its thickness, it
doesnt lie quite as wrinkle-free
as a road skinsuit such as the
Speedshell but for its warmth
the absence of bulk and of any
movement between layers is
brilliant. The fit is very close and,
of course, there is no flapping at

speed. It certainly felt fast on our


test rides. Its warm, too. Riding
very hard and with a thin base
layer, I found it ideal at 10C and
okay down to 6C. Below that, or
at more moderate efforts, youd
need a winter base layer. From
new, water simply beads off but

remember that these treatments


require careful care: never use
softener, tumble dry on low.
The cut is aimed more at
cyclo-cross than the road its
tight behind the neck when youre
low in the drops. The hems on the
legs and sleeves are a bit bulky but
they stay in place. The GIT pad
isnt made for CX but has a Twist
Gel core for shock absorption so it
suits the purpose. Its fine on the
road for a couple of hours but less
universal than some others.
The sharp-looking Speedshell
is, for better and for worse, simply
a TT skinsuit with pockets. That

means its fast and it sits


completely smooth, even inside
the elbows thanks to the angled
sleeves, when youve got your
head down and back flat. The
flipside is that its tricky to get in
and out of it, the huge leg grippers
require thoughtful placement and
nature breaks are a little awkward.
The Castelli Sanremo is much
easier to live with in these
respects. That said, the three
pockets are generously sized and
the NAT pad is excellent. I did
over four hours in the Speedshell
and found it really comfortable.
Unlike some other brands aero
road gear, both of these suits are
available in Santinis custom range
so you can apply the advantage
where its most relevant, in
competition. Jamie Wilkins

PROS

CONS

Fast; smart;
Dirtshells weather
resistance;
Speedshells comfort

Speedshell no more
practical than a
TT suit; Dirtshells
pad is average

Above The Dirtshell is


made for cyclo-cross
but is also suited to
winter use on the road
Left Pockets on both
suits are the only nods
to practicality but hold
enough for long rides

x VERDICT
Very high
performance
onesies with a
few quirks

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

119

Lapierre Aircode 700


LONG-TERM TEST

FAREWELL

Price 3,549 | $5,499


Distance to date 5,070km

WHAT YOU WANT


FROM AN INDOOR
TRAINER
Jon Sharples, TrainSharp

The humble turbo trainer


needs no introduction. Most
keen cyclists will have used a
turbo at least once (perhaps
before chucking it under the
stairs to gather dust!). These
days, however, the humble
trainer isnt necessarily so
humble any more.
Smart trainers, dedicated
indoor bikes and internetbased connected racing now
mean that we have many more

120

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

options each time we jump on


the bike in the comfort of our
own home. Some of the new
features are designed to make
riding the turbo less boring (or
even fun, in some cases) and
others help you train more
precisely. The new challenge,
then, is to make sure that you
use that precious hour to train
effectively and not just play
computer games! No one has
time for junk miles on a turbo.

harp

The Procycling Race & Test Team


is powered by

THE LAPIERRE ARRIVED in April,


and with Tour de France podiumwinning credentials, already has
quite a pedigree. Developed in
conjunction with the FDJ team, the
Aircode is Lapierres (slightly late)
response to the aero bike arms race.
After spending the previous
season on the undoubtedly fast but
compromised BMC TMR01, the
Aircode instantly felt more like
a regular non-aero road bike. It
seems that all that feedback and
development from pro riders has
worked. The Lapierre handles
confidently, with positive cornering
and great braking thanks to the
direct mount Shimano Ultegra
calipers. It inspires great confidence
when descending fast.
As an aero bike, I think it looks
slightly awkward on its standard
shallow Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels.
Theyre good for training and
commuting but dont suit the
Aircode. However, on deep-section
Mavic CXR60s the appearance is
transformed its a speed machine.
The Aircode has spent a lot of
its competitive outings on fast, flat,
closed circuit courses, where its aero
credentials come to the fore when
bridging gaps or attempting to break
away. However, as every peloton
now seems to be full of aero bikes
the advantage is largely negated and
its the Aircodes handling that sets it

Ask yourself if the session you


are about to do is applicable to
your goals. Its very tempting
to select a workout based on
enjoyment factor alone so that
the time passes quicker. Is a
high intensity interval set wise
in the depths of winter with
your target event in July?
And where should you
invest your money? In a trainer
with entertaining online racing,
a dedicated and scientific
indoor rig such as the Wattbike
or a new set of race wheels? It
all depends on your
circumstances but we see real
value and benefits in advanced
indoor training systems.

apart. As expected from a pro level


bike, its pretty stiff and Lapierres
Powerbox construction means its
still decently comfortable.
At 7.25kg, its no featherweight
but its light for an aero bike at this
price and felt good in hillier races.
The smooth, easy and faultless
shifting of Di2 is perfect for constant
gradient changes, whether they
came in race situations or riding
during a family holiday in Brittany.
The Aircode 700 is well equipped
so I didnt change much. The first
swap was the Fizik Aliante saddle,
which I swapped for my preferred
Arione from the same brand. I also
replaced the chainset with an SRM
power meter and Rotor Q-Rings,
neither of which Id be without.
Throughout its stay with me, the
Aircode has been entirely reliable.
Nothing has failed and I cant really
fault it. Because it isnt compromised
like some aero bikes, it can be used
everyday and for any terrain. Its a
hard act to follow. Simon Barnes

TrainSharp coach Dean


Downing used to be a
traditionalist with his training
but has been won over by the
functionality and usability of
a dedicated indoor trainer and
is now a strong advocate of
them. The latest smart trainers
allow you to ride virtually, at
least in places all over the
world. Its far more enjoyable
than staring at your heart rate
or power output on your bike
computer for an hour. You can
even carry out an effective
recce of routes thousands of
miles away. Whats more, if
you work with a coach, these
trainers allow you to do very

specific training sessions and


give more detailed feedback,
ideal if your situation means
you have to train indoors a lot.
At TrainSharp, were working
closely with Zwift and Todays
Plan to develop new features
to help our coached riders
make the most of the time they
spend on the indoor trainer
and to make that time
enjoyable as well.
Get in touch with TrainSharp
for more training advice:
trainsharpcyclecoaching.co.uk

IMAGE: Joe Branston (main)

Roadtested

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All orders are subject to availability. Please allow 28 days for delivery.

NEXT
ISSUE

REVIEW OF
THE YEAR 2015
ALL THE STARS, ALL THE KEY RACES

INCLUDING JOHN DEGENKOLBS STELLAR


CLASSICS CAMPAIGN AND CHRIS FR0OMES
MAGNIFICENT TOUR DE FRANCE
ON SALE

Photography: Getty Images

04.12.15

14.07.2015

Lone rider Chris Froome nears the line at La Pierre Saint-Martin, the first mountain of the 2015 Tour. Hed taken his rivals apart, but instead of earning
universal plaudits, the ride was interpreted by some as evidence of doping. He endured the sniping all the way to Paris, but he didnt buckle - only
Nairo Quintanas Alpe dHuez attack threatened to make him do that. On the final podium he stated simply: I will always respect the yellow jersey.

122

PROCYCLING

DECEMBER 2015

Pedals of the 2015 UCI Hour Record of 54.526 km

Zero Aero Pedals include Zero Aero Walkable Cleats.

Hand assembled at Speedplay in San Diego, California