Lizzie Armitstead loses lead as Borghini wins Tour of Flanders

 

Briton Lizzie Armitstead lost her lead in the UCI Women’s World Cup as Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini won the women’s Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

Borghini, 23, made up for finishing fourth in the last two years, with her Belgian Wiggle-Honda team-mate Jolien D’hoore taking second place.

Armitstead finished eighth after an early puncture and suffering a snapped pedal cleat in the closing sprint.

The 26-year-old slips behind D’hoore after three rounds of the World Cup.

Armitstead, with the Boels Dolmans team, had gone top of the 2015 standings following last month’s victory in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy.

Longo Borghini attacked 20km from the finish of Sunday’s 145km race that took in cobblestone sections and 10 climbs, building a lead of around a minute that she held until the end.

Rabo-Liv rider Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands finished third.

Women’s Tour of Flanders result:

1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita/Wiggle Honda) 3hrs 50mins 43secs

2. Jolien D’hoore (Bel/Wiggle Honda) +43secs

3. Anna van der Breggen (Ned/Rabo-Liv) Same time

4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned/Bigla Pro Cycling) Same time

5. Elena Cecchini (Ita/Lotto Soudal) Same time

6. Alena Amialiusik (BlrVelocio-Sram) Same time

7. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra/Rabo-Liv) Same time

8. Elizabeth Armitstead (GB/Boels Dolmans) +45secs

Teams route announced for inaugural women’s Tour of California

By:
Cycling News
February 20, 2015

 

Alison Terick-Starnes finds herself on the front during the last lap of the women's race.Alison Terick-Starnes finds herself on the front during the last lap of the women’s race.

Three-stage race added to separate individual time trial

Organisers of the Tour of California announced the route and teams for the inaugural edition of the women’s Amgen Tour of California. The race, which takes place in the days leading up to men’s stage race, will include two stages near Lake Tahoe before the women join the men for a race in Sacramento.

14 teams were invited to the UCI 2.1-ranked stage race. The three stages combine for 158 miles of arduous racing

Fourteen of the top women’s cycling teams from around the world are confirmed to lead off the 10th edition of the Amgen Tour of California with three days and 158 miles of stage racing May 8-10 and an invitational Time Trial on May 15. The four days of women’s competition will be staged in conjunction with the men’s eight-day race.

The Velocio-SRAM of world time trial champion Lisa Brennauer will take part, as will UnitedHealthcare, Team Tibco-SVB, Twenty16-Sho-Air, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies and and Alé-Cipollini.

Stage 1 will use the course that was part of the 2011 Tour of California race route, on a stage that was cancelled by a late-season snow storm. The 74-mile route will circle Lake Tahoe counter-clockwise and tackle two mountain sprints before heading back to the starting point at the Heavenly Mountain Resort. Stage 2 starts from the same location, but rather than head to the lake, racers will face two laps of a 25-mile route including a mountain sprint on Apache Avenue. On the final day, the women’s race joins up with the men’s in Sacramento. The women will 34 miles of the men’s finishing circuit, completing their three-day race an hour before the men enter the circuit.

A select group of women will then join up with the men’s Tour of California for the Women’s Invitational Time Trial at Big Bear Lake. The 15-mile course may be relatively flat, but it takes place at 6,752ft above sea level. The women start at 11 am, and will finish up roughly an hour before the first man takes to the start ramp.

Women’s teams for the Tour of California:
Alé-Cipollini
BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental
Canada National Team
Colavita|Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking
Grassi Pro Cycling Team Mexico
Itau Shimano Ladies Power Team
Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth
Team TIBCO-SVB
Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Velocio-SRAM
Xirayas de San Luis

Mountain Bike the White Rim Trail

Photograph by Chris Noble, Getty Images

The Experience: The White Rim Trail is the quintessential mountain biking tour in Moab, Utah—that’s a “tour,” not a “mountain biking ride,” mind you, in a town famous for its single-day, single-track rides. In the spring and fall, when thousands of cyclists descend on Moab for technical classics like the Slickrock Trail, Porcupine Rim, and Poison Spider, only a few small groups ride the White Rim Trail, which tracks along the 103-mile sandstone bench encircling Canyonlands National Park’s more than thousand-foot-high Island in the Sky mesa. It’s actually a 4WD road, meaning a mountain bike is the most comfortable bike for it, but you don’t have to have mountain biking skills in order to ride it. Its major climbs total only 4,000 vertical feet, and the short technical sections are easily walkable.

Most groups plan a three- or four-day, vehicle-supported trip—keeping daily mileage reasonable and the camping comfort level fairly high and allowing time to explore the terrain off the trail. At the beginning of the ride, the trail immediately descends 1,200 feet from the top of the mesa to the White Rim, overlooking a 500-foot cliff drop at riders’ left to the Colorado River below. The trail rolls over brief ups and downs, circling the mesa through some of the best remote desert terrain in the Southwest—prepare for soaring red-rock landscapes during the day and sleeping under dark, star-filled skies at night.

Thousand-year-old Anasazi ruins; the six-foot-wide, 187-foot-long Musselman Arch; and 500-foot tall sandstone pinnacles dot the map along the route as it circles the rim, eventually dropping down to the tempting waters of the Green River before beginning the climb back up to the top of the mesa.

Expert Opinion: It’s become popular to ride the entire trail in one long day (the fastest known time is somewhere around six and a half hours), but taking it slow is rewarded on the White Rim, says Anne Clare Erickson of Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, a Moab-based outfitter that runs more than two dozen trips each year. “The White Rim Trail is not about the riding,” says Erickson. “It’s about being deep in Canyonlands and having only one thing to worry about—getting to the next camp by a certain time.

“Canyonlands excels at vastness,” Erickson says. “You see both the Colorado and Green Rivers from above or below, and off in the distance you can see the confluence of the two rivers, plus amazing views looking off into the Maze and Needles districts of Canyonlands. There are huge sandstone towers, wildflowers in the spring, and lovely sunsets in the fall.”

Time: Three to four days (although it’s popular to complete it in one day, unsupported)

Season: Spring and fall (March through May; September through October)

Gear:

– Mountain bike (full-suspension is nice but not required)

– A 4WD support vehicle

– Coolers to keep food cold for four potentially hot days in the desert (and don’t underestimate the amount of beer you’ll want—remember, it’s being carried in a Jeep)

– Water

– Sunscreen

– Lots of chain lube

Training: Over four days, Erickson says, the mileage on the White Rim Trail is manageable for people who are fit, whether they’re regular cyclists or not. However, she says, “We suggest d

Post-Crash Checklist

After you pick yourself up, complete this 10-minute inspection before your next ride
ByJennifer Sherry

EVEN IF EVERYTHING LOOKS INTACT AFTER A WRECK, you might still be a catastrophe waiting to happen. A hairline crack can grow, a dent can buckle, a bend can break. Though it’s hard to accept that your $100 helmet may be headed for the dump, remember that the only way to ride safely again is to do a thorough post-crash inspection.

 

HELMET Assuming you’re not wearing a multi-impact lid, one hit and your helmet is toast. Even if there is no visible damage to the shell, the foam layer’s ability to protect your noggin from future hits has been compromised, but it may not be a total loss. Check with the manufacturer to see if it has a replacement policy.

 

FRAME Clean it, then check for cracks, dents and bulges. Examine around the head tube, chainstay, seatstay bridge, bottom bracket, dropouts and welds. If you notice anything amiss, have a professional assess it. Warning: Do not disregard a scratch in the paint. It could eventually result in rust or corrosion.

 

WHEELS AND BRAKES Spin both wheels to make sure they are true and round. Wiggle them side to side to feel for play in the hubs. Check spokes to be sure that none has de-tensioned. Squeeze both brake levers to ensure that the pads are centered on and still contacting the rim.

 

STEERING AREA Check that you didn’t bend your handlebar. Then squeeze the front brake and rock the bike fore and aft to feel for play in the headset. On a mountain bike, check for looseness where the fork sliders enter the lowers. If anything is amiss, steering and balance will be out of line.

 

COMPONENTS Rear derailleur and cranks: If they’re bent, do not ride. Saddle, seatpost and pedals: If they’re damaged, replace them.

 

Stay Safe In Traffic

Bike Skills: How to Ride Safe in Traffic
Stay Safe In Traffic
These tips and techniques will help you thrive on any road.
ByAlex Stieda

Most of us invariably need to ride close to vehicles on the road. It’s a trite analogy, but I always keep it in mind: two tons of metal versus about 200 pounds of bike, bone and muscle–who’s going to win? Here are key survival skills.
Look and listen
First of all, pay 100 percent attention, just as you would while driving. Use your senses–often you can hear an engine in advance of the car, and see or hear a dog before it chases. Problem sounds include tires squealing, hard engine acceleration and loud music from an open window. If I hear these I pull over to let the vehicle pass.
Pick smart routes
The best roads have few cars, low speed limits and no blind corners. Often, a slightly longer route with fewer cars will be faster than a shorter, busier one. Also, try to find roads with a shoulder you can ride on. Yes, we are vehicles with the right to be on the roadway, but with two tons versus 200 pounds, I prefer to stay clear when I can do so safely.
Don’t keep secrets
When you drive, you use turn signals, and your car has brake lights. As you ride, try to think of what drivers will see as they drive up behind you. Use hand signals to indicate where you intend to go. At intersections, make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you. Also, for future goodwill, wave a thank-you when you’re given the right of way.
Stay steady
Looking behind you without swerving is an essential skill. For new riders, simply glancing back with your hands on the brake hoods may work, but this method often causes the bar to turn in the direction you’re looking. This way is better:
To look left, move your right hand toward the center of the handlebar near the stem, then drop your left hand off the bar as you turn your head to look back. Track racers use this technique when doing a Madison relay change. Watch the Madison at the Olympics this year–magic bike handling. Keep your upper body relaxed the entire time and practice, ideally in an empty parking lot with lines you can follow.
Hook your thumbs
Always wrap your thumbs around the handlebar, instead of laying them across the top. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a rider go down after his hands were jarred off the bar when he hit a bump. Also, please, no aero riding on busy streets. Save it for when you’re on a smooth road with few cars.
Alex Stieda, the first North American to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, with 7-Eleven in 1986, leads tours and skills camps (stiedacycling.com).

Legend of the Fall

Legend of the Fall
How to crash right, as demonstrated by a pro.
ByJoe Lindsey

If you were watching Stage 12 of the 2011 Tour, you saw Team Sky racer Geraint Thomas go down while descending on a wet, oily mountain road in the Pyrenees. But he crashed about as smoothly and softly as was possible in that case, winding up rolling in the grass instead of post-holing the pavement. Here’s a breakdown of what he did, and what you can learn from it.

 

1. Assume the Right Position
Thomas had his elbows bent and head up, looking through the corner. The inside knee was pointed into the turn and he pressed down on the inside of the handlebar and put his weight on the outside pedal, which he kept down. The bike leaned underneath him, but his body remained straight. It’s a common misconception that you lean with the bike, but in fact it’s important to keep your weight over the tires, so that if they start to slide, they’re still underneath you–the bike doesn’t skip away and leave you cantilevered over nothing.

 

2. Correct a Slide
Under braking, the rear tire slipped on the slick road. Because of his body position, Thomas had some time to react because the bike was still underneath him as it slid. There are two side forces on the tire: the actual force of the turn, and the force of braking, which makes the bike want to push to the outside and also will, as soon as braking force exceeds grip, stop the wheel from turning and make it slide. So as soon as the wheel started sliding, Thomas removed one of those forces by letting off the brakes. The sliding wheel could then resume turning and regain grip, which brought the bike underneath him again. He also countersteered, pointing the front wheel to the outside of the turn. That helped the bike straighten out and right itself faster.

 

3. Find the Exit
Riding in a straight line helped him stay upright because it limits all the forces on the bike. You can brake harder in a straight line than on a turn. But because of that line, even with his quick reaction, Thomas could no longer make the switchback. The easiest thing to do was make a controlled exit from the road. As the bike stood up underneath him, Thomas pointed it straight and aimed at a gap between cars and onto the grassy surface along the side of the road.

 

4. Pick a Soft Landing
At this point, he had scrubbed a lot of speed. But he didn’t have the benefit of a long runout; the hillside dropped away dramatically after he shot the gap between two cars. So the safest thing to do was to dump the bike in as controlled a fashion as possible.

 

5. Drop and Roll
He had already clipped out on the right pedal, so he put his leg out and his arms. (You might put only your arms out.) As he landed, his arms bent at the elbows to absorb the first part of the impact, and then he immediately rolled to his left shoulder and hip.

Core

Here’s how to train the most important muscles for cycling.
ByDimity McDowell

YOUR BULGING QUADS AND RAZOR-CUT CALVES are the envy of your pack, and you start every ride strong. As the ride progresses, though, your hips seesaw in the saddle, your lower back aches, and you slow in corners. The problem? Your core cries uncle long before your legs wear out. Although a cyclist’s legs provide the most tangible source of power, the abs and lower back are the vital foundation from which all movement, including the pedal stroke, stems.

“You can have all the leg strength in the world, but without a stable core you won’t be able to use it efficiently,” says Graeme Street, founder of Cyclo-CORE, a DVD-based training program, and a personal trainer in Essex, Connecticut. “It’s like having the body of a Ferrari with a Fiat chassis underneath.”

What’s more, a solid core will help eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement, so that all the energy you produce is delivered into a smooth pedal stroke.

Sadly, cycling’s tripod position, in which the saddle, pedals and handlebar support your weight, relies on core strength but doesn’t build it. To develop your high-performance chassis, try this intense routine, designed by Street. It takes only about 10 minutes to complete and focuses on the transverse abdominus, the innermost abdominal muscle, which acts as a stabilizing girdle around your torso, and also on your lower back, obliques, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, so your entire core—and then some—becomes strong and works as a unit. You’ll notice that it skips the rectus abdominus, or six-pack muscle, because, says Street, “it’s the least-functional muscle for cycling.”

Do this intense routine, in this order, three times a week to create a core that lets you ride faster, longer, more powerfully–and finish stronger than ever.


©Don Foley

1. Boxer Ball Crunch
What It Works: Transverseabdominus, obliques, lowerbackA. Lie with the middle of your back on a stability ball, your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head, but don’t pull on your neck.B. Squeezing your belly button toward your spine, lift your upper back off the ball. Keeping your shoulders off the ball, trace a clockwise oval with your torso. Apply pressure with your lower back to keep the ball still through the entire motion. After 15 clockwise ovals, trace 15 counterclockwise.

Why It Works: Despite the straightforward motion of the bike, your body moves in three directions: forward as you head down the road, vertically as your legs pedal up and down, and laterally as your hips and upper body rock side to side. “This fluid, circular exercise builds control,” says Street, and that helps you minimize lateral torsion and wasted motion.


©Don Foley

2. Power Bridge
What It Works: Hip flexors, glutes, lower back

A. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your heels near your glutes. Arms are at your sides, palms down.

B. In one smooth motion, squeeze your glutes, raise your hips off the floor and push up from your heels to form a straight line from shoulders to knees; toes come off the floor slightly. Hold for two seconds. Keeping your toes raised, lower yourself three-quarters of the way to complete one rep. Do 20 repetitions.

Why It Works: In addition to stretching the hip flexors, often extremely stiff in cyclists, the bridge strengthens the link between your lower back and glutes.


©Don Foley

3. Hip Extension
What It Works: Lower back, hamstrings, glutes

A. Lying with your hips and stomach on the stability ball, put your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, and extend your legs with toes resting on the floor.

B. With a straight spine and shoulder blades back, as if you’re trying to make them touch, lift both legs off the floor, keeping them straight. If possible, raise them slightly higher than parallel to the floor. Hold for two seconds and lower. Do 20 reps.
Why It Works: This movement builds backside strength, for added efficiency on the second half of the pedal stroke.


©Don Foley

4. Plank
What It Works: Transverse abdominus, upper and lower back

A. Lying on your stomach, place your elbows under your shoulders with forearms and hands on the floor.

B. Lift your hips off the floor, keeping your back straight and abs tight, and rest on your toes. Aim for 60 seconds.

Why It Works: The plank builds the strength and muscular endurance you need to ride powerfully in the drops or in an aero position long after others have surrendered to the top of the handlebar.


©Don Foley

5. Transverse Plank

What It Works: Transverse abdominus and obliques

A. Lie on your right side, with your right elbow under your shoulder, forearm in front for stability, and stack your left foot on your right. Raise your left arm over your head.

B. In one motion, lift your hips to create a straight line down your left side. Lower your hips a few inches off the floor; do 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.

Why It Works: Strong obliques improve your stability in the saddle, letting you take on hairpin corners with more control and speed.


©Don Foley

6. Scissors Kick
What It Works: Transverse abdominus, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs

A. Lying on your back with legs straight, place both hands palms down under your lower back.

B. Pushing your elbows down into the floor and pulling your belly button toward your spine, raise your shoulders off the floor and look toward the ceiling. Raise your legs 4 inches off the ground and scissor them: left leg over right, then right over left. That’s one rep. Work up to 100.

Why It Works: A comprehensive movement that connects key cycling muscles, the kick also builds inner-thigh muscles, which help you achieve hip, knee and forefoot alignment for a proper and efficient pedal stroke.


©Don Foley

7. Catapult
What It Works: Entire core

A. Sitting with a slight bend in your knees, press your heels against the floor. Extend arms to the front at shoulder height, palms facing each other.

B. With a straight spine and upward gaze, inhale deeply, then exhale and slowly lower your torso to the floor over five counts as you inhale. Arms are overhead.

C. In one smooth movement, leading with the arms, exhale and explode back to the starting position. Do 20 reps.

Why It Works:
Contrary to its name, the catapult encourages supreme body control.


©Don Foley

8. Boat Pose
What It Works: Transverse abdominus, lower back

A. Sit, resting both hands lightly behind you, and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle.

B. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you extend arms forward at shoulder height. Abs are tight, as thighs and torso form a 90-degree angle. If your hamstrings are tight, you’ll need to bend your knees a little. Work up to holding for 60 seconds.

Why It Works: As with the plank, this pose builds the lower-back stability and core strength needed to remain bent over the handlebar for hours, or to blast up hills without compromising power or speed.


Lower-back pain is related to core strength, or lack thereof. “In a leg press at the gym, you can press into the back pad to stabilize yourself,” says Andy Pruitt, Ed.D., director of Colorado’s Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, “but when you push on the pedal, there’s nothing to stabilize you except your core.” If it’s weak, your back fatigues quickly. The pain could also stem from other sources, Pruitt notes, from your cycling shoes to bike fit. A good rule of thumb: Your handlebar shouldn’t be more than one fist-width lower than your saddle, says Pruitt, who suggests a bike fitting for those with chronic back pain. “If a fitter can’t solve your problem in two tries, see a doctor or physical therapist,” he says.
Why do I STILL have a gut?You log thousands of miles a year, but your jersey fits like a sausage casing. The problem isn’t a lack of fitness; it’s consuming too many calories. Slouching could be exacerbating it. Good posture builds a strongcore, but these days we hunch over a steering wheel to get to work, where we hunch over a computer. For a break, we hunch over a handlebar. To shrink your gut, add interval training to your rides to boost calorie burn, lay off the Dunkin’ Donuts at rest stops and start training your core.Can I strengthen my core while on the bike?

These geeky yet effective exercises by Marc Evans, a former USA Triathlon head coach and owner of EvansCoaching.com, in Menlo Park, California, work your core on the roll. The key is the Draw In position: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your belly button toward your spine; your pelvis should tilt slightly upward, causing your lower back to be flush with the floor. Try to replicate this on the bike. Evans recommends mastering these moves on a trainer first. For each, do three sets of three 15-second holds; rest 15 seconds between reps.

AERO POSITION: Rest on your aerobar, if you have one, or place your forearms on the top of the handlebar. As you draw in, your back flattens and your pelvis rotates.

SINGLE LEG: Seated with your hands on the hoods, unclip your left foot. As your right foot pedals, extend your left leg back and draw in. Continue to draw in as you clip back into the pedal. Repeat with right leg.

OVERHEAD:
Raise your arms overhead and draw in; squeeze the top tube with your knees. (Don’t attempt on the road unless you have the handling skills of Tom Boonen.)

STANDING DRAW IN: With hands on the hoods, stand and bend at the hips. Draw in until your back is flat and pelvis tilts.