UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

The Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio on Sunday 30 March is the second round of the UCI Women’s World Cup. The 123.7 kilometre race in the province of Varese, in the north of Italy, presents a hilly profile which suits the climbers and the so-called puncheurs.

 Marianne Vos is record holder of the six World Cup editions (since 2008) with three victories. However the World Champion will sit out this year’s race, starting her World Cup campaign at the Flèche Wallonne Féminine on April 23rd.

 Vos’ favourites for the Trofeo Binda are the numbers one and two of the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe two weeks ago. Lizzie Armitstead and Anna van der Breggen are both good climbers, which was demonstrated by their attacks on the VAM-berg in Drenthe.

 “Both Anna as Lizzie have very strong teams surrounding them. Rabobank-Liv and Boels-Dolmans also have the possibility to play other aces and different scenarios,” Vos said. “I expect a great race this weekend.”

 Emma Pooley, who won in 2008 and 2011, will not take the start in Laveno Mombello, on the shores of the Lago Maggiore. The Lotto-Belisol rider will start her World Cup campaign at the Flèche Wallonne Féminine on April 23rd.

 In 2013, Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini wowed the home crowd by winning the Trofeo Binda, aged only 21, and she starts as one of the favourites this year. The Hitec Products rider is on great form –  she came in third last weekend in the GP Cholet Pays de Loire – and appears ready to defend her title. South African champion Ashleigh Moolman is not only a powerful ally to Longo Borghini but also strong enough to ride for victory herself.

 Runner-up in 2013, Orica-AIS rider Emma Johansson is another strong contender for the victory in Cittiglio.  The GP Cholet was the Swedish rider’s second victory of the season, after Le Samyn, and already meant her fifth podium place of 2014.

Two winners of the new World Cup jerseys in Drenthe, Iris Slappendel (sprint) and Thalita de Jong (young rider) will race the Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields on Sunday so will not be defending their jerseys in Italy. With two sprints early in the race, their Rabobank-Liv teammate Anna van der Breggen, second in the sprint ranking, could seize power in the sprint classification. The mountains classification also promises to be interesting, as Van der Breggen is only two points behind Amy Pieters, the best climber in Drenthe.

 The Trofeo Binda starts with a 17.6km scenic stretch towards Cittiglio where the peleton will cross the finish line for the first time. A large loop of 37.7km follows which includes two sprints for the UCI Women Road World Cup sprint jersey and one climb with points for the climber’s jersey.

 Just over 55km into the race, the peloton crosses the finish for the second time and lines up for the four 17.1km local loops around Cittiglio.

 The 3km long, 6% average Orino climb will be tackled five times, the last time just 7.6km from the finish. It may become the ideal platform to launch an attack for the overall crown in the 2014 Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio.

Sagan accelerates to top five in UCI WorldTour after E3 Harelbeke win

Sagan accelerates to top five in UCI WorldTour after E3 Harelbeke win

Sagan accelerates to top five in UCI WorldTour after E3 Harelbeke win

Sagan accelerates to top five in UCI WorldTour after E3 Harelbeke win

An impressive win for Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in a very tactical finale of the E3 Harelbeke has netted the Slovak his first big Classic win of 2014 – and a fifth place in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings.

 Although the top four places of the UCI WorldTour individual ranking remain unchanged, with Carlos Alberto Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) as the overall leader with 114 points, Sagan has  jumped from 33rd to fifth, with 93 points. And Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem Classic, which he won last year, could see the Cannondale pro climb even higher in the classification.

 In the E3 Harelbeke Sagan certainly showed he knows how to keep a cool head under pressure, when he managed to defeat two Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh, as well as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) after the four broke away in the final hour of racing.

 Two attacks by Vandenbergh in the last three kilometres were brought back by Thomas and Sagan, and the Slovak then won the four-way sprint ahead of Terpstra and Thomas. It was an impressive solo effort, but Sagan nonetheless paid tribute to how his team-mates had helped him win.

 “I want to thank the team today, particularly my team-mate who has the same size bike as me and who swapped bikes with me after about 100km,” he said.

 “I didn’t think the race would go well but I felt better and better. The finale was tough and there was a lot of crashes. On the Oude Kwaremont [climb] when we caught the break, I attacked to create a small group and we managed to go all the way to the finish.”

 Australia remain in command of the UCI WorldTour nations ranking with the same points total  – 336 – and margin ahead of closest pursuers Spain – 266 – with the only major change a move by Great Britain up one place into fifth with 205 points. However, the teams classification has witnessed some important alterations.

 Movistar Team remain leaders with 218 points, but Team Sky have made a dramatic advance in the game, drawing equal to the Spaniards with an identical total of 218  and overhauling AG2R La Mondiale, who drop to third with 216 points.

 Omega Pharma-Quick Step are the other team to profit from the first Belgian cobbled Classic, gaining five places to advance to fourth overall with 193 points. Sagan’s Cannondale squad, meanwhile, move up from the last place in the ranking, 18th, to 11th.

 Next up on the UCI WorldTour’s series of one-day Classics is Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday, run over a slightly longer distance to the E3 Harelbeke: 233 kilometres. Nine cobbled climbs, the most difficult a double ascent of the Kemmelberg and Monteberg, could shatter the bunch. But with nearly 35 kilometres from the foot of the Monteberg to the finish, it will be difficult to predict whether a bunch sprint will materialise or a small break manages to stay away on the narrow, exposed roads on the long ride towards Wevelgem.

 Peter Sagan (Cannondale), the 2013 winner and clearly in form at Harelbeke will be taking part, as will be Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who won Ghent-Wevelgem in 2004, 2011 and 2012.

 Boonen’s team-mate Mark Cavendish, who has long had Ghent-Wevelgem in his sights, is another top name, whilst sprinter John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), former winner and all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) will also be taking part.

 Coinciding with the end of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Sunday is bound to see some major changes in the UCI WorldTour classification. Whether a clear leader of the UCI WorldTour individual rankings will finally emerge, though, remains to be seen.

2014 UK WTB Enduro Team

2014 UK WTB Enduro Team

Hotlines are pleased to announce an elite Enduro Team for 2014 supported by Wildness Trail Bikes. The team, comprising of two truly talented riders, will be racing on custom build Lapierre Spicy Team bikes adorned in the latest goods for WTB including the brand new, incredibly light and stiff tubeless ready KOM rims, Team Issue Vigilante tyres and Volt saddles. The elite riders in question are none other than Gary Forrest and Robert Williams.

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Gary Forest has been on the DH Race circuit for over 12 years and at the end of 2012 made the switch to full time Enduro racing.  2013 was a great year for Gary, winning the annual Tweedlove King of the hill Enduro and ranking 32nd overall in the Enduro World Series.  Gary comments;

“I’m really happy to be part of the WTB Enduro Team for 2014.  I am looking forward to some fun riding  and racing on the Lapierre Spicy in the moist Scottish weather as well as the dust on the Continent.  Fingers crossed for an awesome year ahead”

Robert Williams has been a common figure on the UK Downhill circuit and like Gary, turned his hand to Enduro racing at the end of 2012 with respectable top 10 places in the UK Gravity Enduro series.  Rob had this to say;

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“I am hugely excited to be joining the WTB Enduro team for 2014; it’s a great opportunity to be able to compete using quality products and equipment. Winter training is going well so far with lots of hours on and off road, and the British and world Enduro series cannot come soon enough. I am really looking forward to getting time on the bike and I’m sure 2014 will be a great experience and I’m hoping to produce some good results”

Chris Wright, Sponsored Athlete Support for Hotlines, had this to say;

“I cannot be anymore excited about this team! Two amazing riders on board undoubtedly some of the finest machines on the circuit. WTB have invested a huge amount in the development of the enduro specific tyre and rim range for 2014, and both Gary and Rob will be at the forefront of this technology.  They will also be involved in testing and developing new tyres in the WTB range which will be released later in 2014.  Along with the first UK Enduro World Series venue on Gary’s home turf, the team are set to take the 2014 Enduro season by storm!”

Both Gary and Rob will be racing the full UK Gravity Enduro Series and a selection of the World Series.

2014 TEAM SC-INTENSE LAUNCH

2014 TEAM SC-INTENSE LAUNCH

PICTURE #1 - TEAM

After ending 2013 season with some very good results in the UCI World Cup and the iXS European Cup, TEAM SC-INTENSE had a very intensive winter brake and is now ready to challenge the upcoming season. With a new team-lineup and some new sponsors everybody on the team is pumped to go racing and improve on last year’s performance. TEAM SC-INTENSE welcomes new addition Jack Reading (GBR) to the team and together with his team mates Joe Connell (GBR), Lars Peyer (SUI) and Joel Andrey (SUI) he will be working hard for a successful 2014.

The focus of the 2014 season will be mainly on UCI World Cup’s and iXS European Downhill Cup’s. With new venues and tracks the calendar is packet with some of the best racing action. Starting with the last year’s World Championships track in South Africa followed by the legendary race in Fort William. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook or www.scintense.com

The 2014 Team

PICTURE #2 - JACKREADING

Jack Reading:

Jack is our new addition to the team. He had a very strong season last year and showed that he is ready for a professional team. At the first races in Portugal he already proved that he is in perfect shape for some top results this year. We are very happy to have him on the team are looking forward to a great 2014 season.

“I am extremely excited to be racing for SC Intense throughout 2014. I have been working hard at my racing for the past few years aiming to be signed by a professional team. Now I have this amazing opportunity I am even more determined to keep improving and continue to climb up the world rankings. After a strong start to the season in Portugal with the team I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.”

PICTURE #3- JOECONNELL

Joe Connell:

Joe will be racing the second year for TEAM SC-INTESE. He improved a lot over the last year and is now going for some top results in the World Cup series. He trained very hard over the wintertime and we are stoked to have him on board again this year. He is always up for a good laugh and fits perfectly in to the team.

“I’m really looking forward to racing for the SC-Intense Team again this year. The support from the Team and all of the companies that are behind us is top notch and I’m very grateful to have it! Last year I had a lot of fun at the races with the Team and I’m sure this year with Jack, Joel and Lars will be awesome!”

PICTURE #4 - LARSPEYER

Lars Peyer:

For the 2014 season we have a small change in the management of the team at the races. Lars will take over the management and coordination of the team at the events. His main focus will be on the iXS European Downhill Cup’s since he will not be entering any of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup’s. A podium spot in the overall European Cup Ranking is his goal for the upcoming season.

“I am very happy to run the show this year and I am looking forward to some great racing with my team mates. We have a new team rider and a great team with the best sponsors. It will be very hard to keep up with Joe and Jack but this motivates me more than ever to go fast at all of the iXS European Downhill Cups to get an overall podium spot at the end of the year”

PICTURE #5 - JOELANDREY

Joel Andrey:

Joel injured himself at last year’s World Cup in Hafjell (NOR). He broke his left elbow and was out for the rest of the season and half of the winter preparation. His main focus will be to get up to speed again and challenge the junior category at the World Cup’s and World Champs in Hfajell (NOR).

“I am very happy to continue with Team SC-INTENSE again this year. I improved a lot last season although it was a bit hard to end the season with such a big crash in Hafjell. I broke my elbow three times and had to get surgery on it. I am very happy to be back on the bike again after 5 month not riding. I feel great and I am ready to challenge the upcoming races.”

SPONSORS

PICTURE #6 - SPONSORS

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Betancur nets Colombia’s first ever Paris-Nice – and top spot of UCI WorldTour

Betancur nets Colombia’s first ever Paris-Nice – and top spot of UCI WorldTour

Betancur nets Colombia’s first ever Paris-Nice - and top spot of UCI WorldTour

Betancur nets Colombia’s first ever Paris-Nice – and top spot of UCI WorldTour

Carlos Alberto Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) has secured much more than Colombia’s first ever win in Paris-Nice’s 81 year history on Sunday. He is also the new leader of the UCI WorldTour.

As is traditional in the fast, fraught racing that has characterized Paris-Nice in recent years, Betancur’s overall win was by measured by seconds, not minutes. The young Colombian finished just 14 seconds ahead of reigning World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), whilst French national champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) took third at the last moment possible, moving onto the podium 21 seconds back after claiming victory in a tricky small group sprint into Nice on stage eight.

By far the biggest victory of his career, Betancur first made his intentions clear when he captured the win from a late break of three on stage five’s short, punchy trek from Creches-sur-Saone to Rives-de-Gier.

The next day’s only summit finish of the race, at Fayence, proved decisive overall. After 221 kilometres – by far the longest stage of the 2014 Paris-Nice and running through the foothills of the French Alps – Betancur both claimed his second stage win of the race and simultaneously ousted Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) from the lead.

Although Simon Spilak (Team Katusha) proved a very dangerous rival on the last stage with an all-out attack over the Col d’Eze climb above Nice, Betancur’s team reeled the Slovenian all-rounder back into the pack within sight of the finish line. The Colombian finished eighth, with his overall win safely in his possession.

For AG2R La Mondiale, Betancur’s victory means they are the first French team to win Paris-Nice in 23 years, since Tony Rominger’s victory for Toshiba back in 1991 – the year after Betancur, 24, was born.

As for his UCI WorldTour lead, Betancur is currently tied on 114 points with Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE). Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) now lies in third with 88 points but again equal on points – with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team). Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) is fifth with 83 points, yet another indication that as yet it has been tricky for a clear UCI WorldTour leader to emerge.

That is far from the case in the UCI WorldTour nations classification, however, where Australia’s imperious start to the season in the Tour Down Under, with 334 points, allows them to remain in the top spot overall. Post Paris-Nice Colombia have now moved into second spot, but with 114 points, the Australia’s overall margin of advantage is still more than comfortable.

The teams classification is far more unsettled: Lampre-Merida, with 171 points, are the new leaders, 21 points ahead of the squad which was formerly in the top spot, Orica-GreenEDGE. Betancur’s team, AG2R La Mondiale are the other squad to make a major gain, shooting up from 11th to third overall with 115 points.

The main Classics of the first half of the season are fast looming, but Tirreno-Adriatico, due to finish on March 16th , could well see yet more major changes in the UCI WorldTour rankings before the main one-day races of the spring. Could we see another new UCI WorldTour leader in the individual rankings, and perhaps the teams classification, this week? Don’t rule it out.