Valverde, Movistar Team and Spain winners of 2015 UCI WorldTour as Nibali triumphs in Il Lombardia

Valverde, Movistar Team and Spain winners of 2015 UCI WorldTour as Nibali triumphs in Il Lombardia

Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali wins Tour of Lombardia

For the second year running and fourth time in his career, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) has been confirmed as the winner of the UCI WorldTour’s individual classification, with Movistar Team repeating their 2013 and 2014 triumph in the teams ranking and Spain, once again, classified as the WorldTour’s top nation.

Mathematically, Valverde’s overall advantage was such he could not be beaten in the WorldTour prior to Sunday’s last round, Il Lombardia, which was taken with a spectacular solo triumph by Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team). But Valverde nonetheless added to his already considerable points total by placing fourth in the Italian Monument Classic behind Dani Moreno (Team Katusha) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), yet another indication of the Spaniard’s considerable consistency throughout the season. In the UCI WorldTour alone, Valverde has taken three stages and second overall in the Volta a Catalunya, won the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, finished second in the Amstel Gold Race, third in the Tour de France, third in the Clasica San Sebastian, seventh and a stage win in La Vuelta and ninth in the Criterium du Dauphine. Now 35 and a professional since 2002, there is clearly no stopping Valverde yet.

Meanwhile the 245 kilometre, very hilly Il Lombardia Monument was captured by Nibali after his Astana Pro Teamdominated the entire race, right down to the Italian’s own courageous, race-winning, solo downhill attack off the second last climb of the Civiglio.

Having shredded the field on the ultra-steep Muro di Sormano climb, Astana’s Diego Rosa and Mikel Landa chased down the final two breakaways from an earlier move, Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) by the foot of the Civiliglio. A fascinating game of cat and mouse ensued in the lead group of seven riders, where Nibali and Rosa traded attacks with the other favourites. But the stalemate was finally broken when Nibali stormed away on the fast, technical descent.

Having garnered 25 seconds on the chase group at the foot of the descent, Nibali then concentrated on further opening up his advantage. A counter-move by Moreno on the San Fermo della Battaglia came within 11 seconds of the Italian, but on the fast, final drop into Como, it was clear that Nibali would stay away for victory. In the process, Nibali has become the first Italian winner of a ‘Monument’ since Damiano Cunego took Il Lombardia in 2008.

“My team worked so hard on the ascents and keeping in the breaks I couldn’t let them down, I had to go for the win” a delighted Nibali said afterwards. “I tried it twice on the Civiglio but the other teams wouldn’t let me go and I realised I’d have to try something different. Then on the descent it worked out.”

“I got this victory, but it wouldn’t have happened without all that hard work by my squad beforehand. It was not easy, but we did not give up, and it all paid off in the end.”

In the UCI WorldTour individual ranking, Valverde ends the season with 675 points, over 200 points clear of Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) in second place with 474 points, whilst Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) in third with 457 points.

Overall there were few significant changes, although Pinot has soared at the last minute into the top ten thanks to his podium finish in Il Lombardia, moving from 17th into tenth place overall with 319 points.

In the WorldTour teams ranking, Movistar Team maintained their slender advantage over Katusha to claim the win for a third straight year. The Spanish squad ended the season with 1619 points, 13 more than Team Katusha’s total of 1606. Team Sky completed the 2015 UCI WorldTour teams classification podium, in third place with 1,378 points. The only change in the entire ranking post Il Lombardia was for Astana, whose first and fifth place in Il Lombardia (the latter with Diego Rosa) puts them into fifth place in the teams ranking, one spot ahead of BMC Racing Team, who drop to sixth.

The biggest changes have come in the UCI WorldTour nations ranking. Spain’s overall domination was clear even before Sunday’s race, with a post Il Lombardia final total of 1945 points. But thanks to their collective performance in “The Race of the Falling Leaves,” as Il Lombardia is knonw, Italy have shot upwards from fourth into second place with 1106 points, with Colombia narrowly beaten into third, with 1099 points and Great Britain settling for fourth with 1041 points. France, too, have made a last-minute gain, moving up a spot into sixth place with 881 points, ahead of The Netherlands with 848 points. As for Australia, the first leaders of the classification back in January, they finally finished eighth, with 777 points.

The 2015 UCI WorldTour thus draws to a close, but the 2016 season is fast approaching, too. Check back next January 19th – a little over three months away – when the curtain goes up on the UCI WorldTour at the Santos Tour Down Under, for another spectacular season of top-level racing.

UCI WorldTour: Aru claims first Grand Tour victory of career

UCI WorldTour: Aru claims first Grand Tour victory of career

Fabio Aru (ITA), winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España
Fabio Aru (ITA), winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España

Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) claimed his first ever Grand Tour victory in the Vuelta a España on Sunday after a dramatic race that was not decided until the final mountain stage, 24 hours before the finish in Madrid.

Second overall was Spanish veteran Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) and back on the podium of the Vuelta a España for the first time since the climber took third overall in 2012. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) captured third, at 26, this is Majka’s first podium finish in a Grand Tour, and the first time a Polish rider has finished on the podium of the Vuelta a España in its 80 years of existence, too.

For Aru, at 25, victory in the Vuelta a España is the Italian’s first triumph in one of cycling’s top three stage races, and his second Grand tour podium finish this season, too, after taking second in the Giro d’Italia this spring. Fifth in last year’s Vuelta a España, with two stage wins to his name last year, the Astana Pro Team rider has now taken another big step forwards – and upwards – in the Spanish race in 2015.

The Vuelta, though, proved to be a cliff-hanger right up until stage 20, when the race tackled its last mountainous stage in the sierras of Madrid. By that point in the game, Aru was trailing race leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) by six seconds, and the Dutchman looked poised to take the outright victory.

However, on the third of four first category climbs, the Alto de La Morcuera, Aru and his Astana Pro Team managed first to distance Dumoulin and then finally to drop him. With a margin of 15 seconds on the race leader at the summit of La Morcuera, Aru’s advantage was slender, but as Dumoulin continued to lose power, Aru’s victory bid steadily gained traction as other Astana riders dropped back from an earlier breakaway to support and open up their leader’s gap.

By the finish, Dumoulin had lost over seven minutes on stage winner Ruben Plaza, nearly four minutes on Aru and slid to sixth overall on overall. 24th Aru moved into the overall lead with a definitive lead that he would hold to Madrid 24 hours later whilst Rodriguez and Majka, meanwhile, fought out their own private battle for the podium positions after the Polish rider broke away on the last climb. Rodriguez though was strong enough to remain in control of second place overall.

“It’s been a very nervous Vuelta, with a lot of climbs, a lot of stress, many crashes. I’ve had to make a huge effort to be fresh for these last few days, but I’ve stayed calm and kept telling myself that the race wasn’t over until Madrid,” Aru said.

“Tom Dumoulin has been a very hard rival to beat, showing that he will be a rider who is sure to fight for Grand Tours in the years to come. He’s a great all-rounder, he’s as great a time triallist as he is a climber. He’s shown right from the start that he’s a very strong racer.”

Dumoulin showed he was in top form as soon as the first uphill finish at El Caminito del Rey on stage two, when he finished close behind another promising young rider, Orica-GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves. Throughout the first week, Dumoulin and Chaves tussled for the leader’s jersey and snapped up stage wins, until Aru’s stunning second place behind team-mate Mikel Landa in the Vuelta’s hardest stage, in Andorra, allowed the Italian to gain the overall lead.
By stage 16, after three more summit finishes in northern Spain the situation seemed to be turning against the Italian, though, as Aru ceded the lead to Joaquim Rodriguez on the ultra-steep slopes of Ermita del Alba. Then following the time trial in Burgos, won in impressive style by Dumoulin, Aru remained in second place and just a handful of seconds behind the Dutchman. Finally, at the last possible moment, the Italian’s attack in the mountain of Madrid saw him regain the lead – this time for good.

“Without my team-mates assistance, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Aru said after he stepped up to claim the last leader’s jersey of the race. “I had to stay concentrated throughout. It’s been a very difficult race though, and I’m proud to have won it.”

Following the last stage of the Vuelta and the GP Cycliste de Montréal this Sunday, the UCI WorldTour continues with Il Lombardia, the final ‘Monument’ of the season on October 4th.

Porte strengthens lead in UCI WorldTour with Volta Ciclista a Catalunya victory

Porte strengthens lead in UCI WorldTour with Volta Ciclista a Catalunya victory

Porte strengthens lead in UCI WorldTour with Volta Ciclista a Catalunya victory

Luca Paolini (ITA) attacks in the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem (BEL)


Luca Paolini (ITA) attacks in the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem (BEL)


Richie Porte (Team Sky) has gained yet more ground on his rivals in the UCI WorldTour after an impressive ride to victory in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, which saw the Australian clinch his second top stage race of the 2015 season.

Following the completion of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in Spain early on Sunday afternoon, a few hours later the UCI WorldTour Classic in Belgium, Gent-Wevelgem, was won in a sole move by veteran Luca Paolini (Team Katusha) ahead of Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step) and Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas.

But despite Paolini’s success Porte, already a winner in the 2015 Paris-Nice race, remains firmly in control of the UCI WorldTour after fending off a late challenge in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), who took second overall in Spain.

Valverde nonetheless captured no less than three stage wins, the last on Sunday in Barcelona, and finished the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya just four seconds behind Porte. In a tightly packed general classification, Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) claimed third, five seconds back. The Italian now moves into third place overall in the UCI WorldTour.

Porte though has amassed 303 points and is well ahead of his team mate Geraint Thomas, second overall with 184 points after his podium finish in Belgium’s Gent-Wevelgem. It is an impressive total this early in the season for the Australian, who pointed out that an unexpectedly successful breakaway of three riders in the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya had made his outright victory an uphill struggle.

“I didn’t expect to win after the catastrophe of the first stage,” Porte said after finally capturing the lead on stage five, “and it’s a dream result to get this.”

“I was very motivated and prepared to defend the lead, but you never know what can happen with Alejandro, he’s such a fighter. All credit to the team, we had the numbers there in the final and that’s what saved the race for me.”

Meanwhile in Gent-Wevelgem, Paolini moves into 13th place in the UCI WorldTour after Italy’s first victory in the Belgian cobbled Classic in 22 years.

After heavy rain and galeforce winds battered the Belgian Classic all day, Paolini broke away six kilometres from the finish from a group of half a dozen riders for an impressive solo win.

“This is a surprise but I’m so happy to have won,Paolini said. I don’t think I was the strongest but I played my cards. I knew they’d be waiting for the sprint and so I tried to get away before.

“It was a very difficult day out there. I crashed twice and changed my bike. But I knew the route and could stay up front. We’re up in the north and this is real cycling. The strongest survived today.”

Overall in the UCI WorldTour nations ranking both Australia and Italy reinforced their top two placings overall, largely thanks to Porte’s victory in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Paolini’s win in Gent-Wevelgem.

Australia now have totalled 578 points, whilst Italy have 359 points, with Spain moving up from fifth to third, close behind with 337 points. The other important advance in the top ten classification comes for Belgium, who gain seven spots and move into seventh overall, pushing Norway down to eighth.

With two of their riders in the top two spots in the UCI WorldTour individual ranking, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, it is hardly surprising that Team Sky are currently heading the teams classification, with 525 points. Etixx-Quick Step remain in second place overall, although what was a gap of 90 points between the British and the Belgian squads has now stretched to 131 points.

On the plus side for Etixx-Quick Step, with total of 394 points, their advantage on third-placed Katusha has now increased, even though the Russian squad’s total has jumped significantly, too, to 301 points. Movistar Team remain in fourth place, too, with BMC Racing Team continuing in fifth.

Full results & rankings

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Trofeo Alfredo Binda and takes the overall UCI Women Road World Cup lead

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Trofeo Alfredo Binda and takes the overall UCI Women Road World Cup lead

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Trofeo Alfredo Binda and takes the overall UCI Women Road World Cup lead

Lizzie Armitstead (GBR) wins the 2015 Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio (ITA)


Lizzie Armitstead (GBR) wins the 2015 Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio (ITA)


138 riders took the start of the second round of the UCI Women Road World Cup in Cittiglio, under the northern Italian sunshine.

It was UCI World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot’s first road race in 2015, and wearing her brand new rainbow jersey meant she was going to be marked from the start.

Simona Frapporti (Ale Cipollini) initiated the first attack of the day. She built up a 42 second gap before being reeled back in by the peloton at the start of the first climb.

The field started lining out on the 4-km Cunardo climb, dropping riders at the back. This was the first real test of the day for the field, with a 6% average gradient. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) was determined to ride the climb at the front, winning the first QOM of the day.

As suspected, the ascent of the Cunardo split the bunch and created a lead group of 20 riders. This was the moment which Katrin Garfoot (Orica AIS) chose to attack on the downhill creating a 1 minute gap on the chasing leaders.
The chasing front group was soon caught up by the next chasing groups on the road to create a big peloton once again.

Although the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team were pushing the pace at the front, Garfoot was able to maintain her gap as the race entered the local 17km circuit. But staying away for the four ascents of the Orino was not going to be easy.

As the peloton started the second ascent of the Orino, the speed picked up. Attack after attack from the bunch meant Garfoot was reeled back in after her fantastic 25-km solo effort.

The Boels Dolmans Cycling Team were clearly dominating today and Lizzie Armitstead was first up the second Orino ascent. Her attack was sufficient to create a 20 rider lead group at the start of the second last 17-km lap.

Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) attempted to escape out of the front group, but Boels Dolmans Cycling Team counter attacked on the third ascent of the Orino.

It was Anna van der Breggen’s turn to lead the group uphill. Her effort created a 6-leader group including all the favourites: Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team), van der Breggen (Rabo Liv), Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda), Lizzie Armitstead, Neff (Swiss National Team) and Amialiusik (Velocio-Sram).

After several attempts, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot was able to distance herself from her 5 breakaway mates. She was caught on the last ascent of the Orino by Armitstead, Longo Borghini and van der Breggen. Amialiusik and Neff soon caught back up.

At this stage, it was clear that today’s winner was going to be decided in a 6-up sprint. It was Ferrand-Prévot who initiated the sprint with teammate van der Breggen in her wheel, but Armitstead was not goingto let her chance go.
Lizzie Armitstead won Trofeo Afredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio and now leads the UCI Women Road World Cup standings.

For highlights of the day including interviews, please log on to the UCI YouTube channel at

Full results & standings

Italian Cycling Federation promoting safety and health among children

Italian Cycling Federation promoting safety and health among children

Italian Cycling Federation promoting safety and health among children



Nibali’s Giro d’Italia win has inspired Italy’s young generation


Vincenzo Nibali’s victory in last year’s Tour de France has inspired a new wave of young cyclists in Italy.

The Youth Sector of Italy’s National Federation, the Federazione Ciclistica Italiana (FCI), reports a 5.3% increase in children’s membership in 2014 compared to 2013. The 7-12 year category alone boasts 14,641 members.

The activity of FCI’s Youth Sector lies at the intersection between growing the sport and promoting bike mobility. In this respect, Italy – one of the traditional powerhouses of cycle-sport – is devoting increasing resources to enlarging the bottom layers of the pyramid, with a true cycling-for-all vision.

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Giving every child the opportunity to ride a bike is one of the three objectives of the UCI Advocacy Commission. In this spirit, FCI developed a number of projects, with a range of collaborations that tells all about the intrinsic cross-sectoral nature of cycling.

Now in its 8th edition, Pinocchio in Bicicletta is an educational programme catering to primary school children aged 6 to 10. It focuses on three areas: nutrition, the environment and bikeability (basic knowledge of the machine and road safety fundamentals).

“By teaching children the essentials of how a bike is made and of how they should behave on the roads, we lay the foundations to nurture a generation of cyclists,” says Youth Sector Director Maurizio Luzzi. “Every year, we manage to connect with 10,000 to 12,000 school kids.

“More and more schools are becoming aware of the importance of cycling in the upbringing of kids. They welcome our efforts, and facilitate the distribution of our informative literature.”

Sulla buona strada…in bici (Riding on the right path) targets intermediate schools. The project leverages on one of the assets of the FCI: its widespread network of affiliated clubs and cycling schools. Workshops are organised with practical sessions, where kids are given the chance to refine their technique under the supervision of licensed cycling coaches. The initiative is run in cooperation with the Ministry for Transport, and while still in its pilot stage reached between 3,000 and 4,000 youngsters in 50 schools across the country.

A number of partners are brought on board in the framework of the Icaro XV road safety campaign. The initiative is led by the Traffic Department of the State Police, with the contribution of the Ministry of Education and other public and private sector organisations. The FCI plays a central role in the coalition, having produced all the tutorials concerning cycling, which is the core theme of this year’s Icaro. Ambassador of the campaign is Paolo Savoldelli, 2002 and 2005 Giro d’Italia winner and arguably the best descender in modern cycling – a guy who can say a thing or two about the importance of bike handling skills.

On the pro cycling side, it should be noted how the National Traffic Police – simply indispensable to any road race – has a long-standing partnership with Giro d’Italia Organiser RCS Sport. Since 2001, thanks to the joint projectBiciscuola, 100,000 children are reached each year – both at school and during the stages of La Corsa Rosa. The focus is on road safety and biking to school.

“Health and safety are our two top priorities in cycling for all, and with bikes we redesign our cities and our life trajectories,” says FCI President Renato di Rocco. “We have the responsibility to teach children about how good cycling is for themselves and for the society. By giving them a correct education, we ensure they can stay as safe as possible on the roads – enjoying cycling all through their lives, staying healthy and preserving the environment.”

The new Teams’ Operational Guide for UCI WorldTeams to be tested in 2015

The new Teams’ Operational Guide for UCI WorldTeams to be tested in 2015

The new Teams’ Operational Guide for UCI WorldTeams to be tested in 2015

2014 UCI WorldTour peloton


2014 UCI WorldTour peloton


In order to obtain a UCI WorldTour licence, and to retain it, the UCI WorldTeams must meet criteria covering sporting, ethical, financial and administrative matters. Within the framework of the reform of professional road cycling, they must satisfy one extra criterion, known as “organisational”, from 2017. The new Teams’ Operational Guide will be tested by several teams from 2015. This introduction falls within the framework of measures taken by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in order to combat factors which may lead to doping.

Optimising the organisational model of UCI WorldTeams

Accompanying the riders within the teams, all year long, is a key factor in reducing the risk of doping. To this end, the professionalization of the teams’ governance and organisation is of fundamental importance. Several teams are making considerable efforts in this regard; many of them have taken steps to reform their structures in order to provide a more professional environment which is better adapted to the wellbeing of their riders.

In order to support the teams in this objective, and to strengthen the on-going process, in 2013 the UCI commissioned the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) to develop and trial a new Operational Guide, to which the teams will eventually have to adhere.

An Operational Guide developed in consultation with the teams

The Teams’ Operational Guide was developed in two phases between 2012 and 2014. The first phase consisted of a review of 10 teams (eight UCI WorldTeams and two UCI Professional Continental Teams) whose organisation was the object of an in-depth study. This review involved nearly 100 interviews.

The second phase was that of deliberation during meetings, presentations and workshops where the professional teams were informed and consulted.

In 2014, specific work was carried out with eight volunteer first division teams (AG2R La Mondiale,, Team Cannondale-Garmin, IAM Cycling, Etixx-Quick Step, Orica GreenEdge, Team Giant-Alpecin and Trek Factory Racing).

Ten rules relating to rider support

The new Teams’ Operational Guide includes ten rules covering the following areas:

• The preparation of riders (planning of the training, competition and recovery phases)
• Their support (the need to have a sufficient number of staff within the team, with respect to the number of riders)
• The medical treatment given to them (notably, the required inclusion of a doctor within the team)
• The workload imposed on them
• The number of riders within the team (to allow the recommended rider-support staff ratio to be respected within sustainable financial limits)
• The monitoring of riders (via an online platform)
• The certifying of the team’s staff (with a view to professionalization)

The implementation of rider monitoring is considered essential. It will chiefly take place through formalised training plans and the implementation of an electronic logbook.

These rules should be viewed as the minimum level of good practice: however this should not curb the capacity for innovation of teams wishing to optimise their organisation.

An Operational Guide to be tested from 2015, and compulsory from 2017

The vast majority of the ten rules will be tested from 2015 by the eight teams mentioned above. Throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the rules will be subject to changes with a view to their definitive adoption in 2017, at all times in collaboration with the teams, ISSUL and the UCI.

Contributing to the professionalization of top-level cycling teams

The Teams’ Operational Guide forms part of a concerted strategy, which aims to improve the quality of the UCI WorldTour. The UCI and the cycling family are delighted with this step forward, which was approved at the end of the 2014 UCI WorldTour Seminar, held on December 4-5 of this year. Qualitatively harmonising the methods of governance and organisation of the first- and second-tier teams sends out a strong signal to cycling fans, broadcasters and commercial partners wishing to invest in cycling.

The Institute of Sports Science at the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), attached to the Faculty of Social Sciences and Politics, is a training and research centre of excellence. ISSUL produces various pieces of work, which are published in reviews and by benchmark publishers, looking at different aspects of sporting performance (sociology, physiology, biomechanics, etc.). The Institute and its researchers are frequently appointed by national organisations (eg Welsh Rugby Union, Fédération Française de Tennis de Table, Swiss Cycling) and international organisations (notably the IOC and UEFA).