Endurance: Tour de France

Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is launching his own cycling team as he prepares for the 2016 Olympics.

The British rider announced on Thursday that the team to be launched this spring will be named Wiggins and sponsored by his current outfit Sky. The team will also be supported by the British cycling federation.

The 34-year-old rider is aiming for an eighth career medal at the 2016 Rio Games to become the most decorated British Olympian, and said he will also try to beat the Hour Record in the summer. The record involves riding as far as possible in an hour in a velodrome.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist became the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012. He will continue to ride for Sky until the end of April.

Germany to see Tour live again
German broadcaster ARD says it will resume live coverage of the Tour de France after skipping the event three times because of various doping scandals in the sport.

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Bradley Wiggins to race Paris-Roubaix with Sky, then focus on Olympics

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
Bradley WigginsDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesBradley Wiggins is committed to one more road race before eyeing more Olympic gold in 2016.
MILAN (VN) -- Olympic gold medalist and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins will end his road cycling career with Sky at Paris-Roubaix on April 12 and switch to track racing ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Everyone knows what this team means to me so I’m really pleased to extend my contract until the end of April 2015,” the 34-year-old Englishman said in a Sky press release Monday morning.

“I’ve been with Team Sky from the start. I’ve had some amazing experiences during that time and I hope there are a few more to come.”

Wiggins brought Sky 23 wins since he joined the team for its debut in 2010. In 2012, he reached a new high by winning stage races Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné en route to his Tour de France title. He went on to claim gold in the London Olympics time trial a week after winning the Tour.

In 2014, Wiggins won the Amgen Tour of California and focused on the Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic instead of the grand tours’ high mountain passes. He placed ninth and said afterwards he would return in 2015 to try to win again.

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Tejay van Garderen named cycling's 2014 North American Man of the Year

December, 30, 2014
Tejay van GarderenChris Graythen/Getty ImagesA win at the USA Pro Challenge was part of a successful 2014 season for Tejay van Garderen and the BMC team.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.

Ask Tejay van Garderen about the best single moment of his 2014 season, and he may give you a different answer depending on the day.

Over a one-week span in late October, van Garderen (BMC Racing) provided two VeloNews editors with two different answers, first citing his mountaintop stage win at Vallter during the Volta a Catalunya, and later citing his mountaintop stage win at Monarch Mountain in Colorado during the USA Pro Challenge.

At Catalunya, in March, van Garderen beat the best GC riders in the sport -- Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador -- on a day marked by rain, snow and 20K of climbing.

“I think a lot of guys saw me as a good climber who can ride tempo, but to win like that, that was important,” van Garderen said. “Okay, it wasn’t the Tour de France, and maybe everyone wasn’t on their best form, but to win like that, on a real summit finale, that was a big confidence boost, to show that I could climb like that against those guys.”

At the Pro Challenge, in August, van Garderen responded to several attacks from Tour of Utah winner Tom Danielson, and then held off Tour de France King of the Mountains winner Rafal Majka to take victory and the race lead, which he would not relinquish.

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Five key stages in 2015 Tour de France

October, 24, 2014
Lars BoomAP Photo/Bernard PaponCobbled sections played a big role in this year's Tour de France and will do the same in 2015.
PARIS (AFP) -- Following the announcement of the 2015 Tour de France route in Paris earlier this week, a look at five key stages where the race will be won or lost next summer.

Stage 2: Utrecht to Zeeland, 166km
This is one of two stages where the weather could play a crucial and decisive role in determining the outcome not just of the stage but the whole Tour. Along with the sixth stage from Abbeville to Le Havre, in which there will be 100km of racing along the cliffs of Normandy, this stage, which takes in the Zeeland Delta in the Netherlands, is at severe risk of high winds.

High winds create the possibility for splits in the peloton that can quickly grow into gaps that count minutes rather than seconds. The favorites will be on high alert.

Stage 4: Seraing to Cambrai, 221km
Tour director Christian Prudhomme likes early stages that animate the course rather than simply ending in a bunch sprint, and this is one such stage with its seven cobbled sections totaling 13.3km.

Back in July, we saw what cobbles can do on a stage as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) laid down a dominant marker, taking more than two minutes out of all his major overall rivals after a brilliant ride on the cobbles.

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Evelyn Stevens Harry How/Getty ImagesEvelyn Stevens is proving how much women riders can handle, and her team is innovating financially.
Evelyn Stevens can’t enter a three-week-long bike race like the celebrated Tour de France, which finishes up in Paris on Sunday. That choice has been made for her by cycling’s international governing body, the UCI, which limits women’s multiday or stage races to less than half that duration.

This is not something that sits well with many top women around the world, including Stevens, who gave up an investment banking career on Wall Street seven years ago to become a professional cyclist. Her own stock gained value quickly. Stevens has won two national time trial titles, a world silver medal in the time trial, several stage races and the Fleche-Wallonne one-day classic.

She didn’t know how her body and mind would react to a longer event, but she heard it might help her endurance in the long run -- that’s what the guys say -- and she chafed at the idea that she couldn’t test her limits.

So Stevens organized her own Grand Tour, the longest, hardest stretch she could string together on the calendar: Back-to-back races in Europe that totaled 17 straight days and 959 miles of racing.

She wobbled in the first one, by her own high standards. She won the second. She feels different, more impervious to mental and physical exhaustion. And she thinks she made a statement more emphatic than any written manifesto.

"The point of it is, the female body, we can race Grand Tour lengths," Stevens said from her home base in the Bay Area. "We’re not going to get weaker throughout it.

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American Horner in line for Tour spot

June, 23, 2014
Chris Horner AP Photo/Paulo DuarteDefending Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Horner appears set to ride the 2014 Tour de France.
Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) is all but certain to race the Tour de France next month despite a harrowing crash that knocked him out of the Giro d'Italia.

Lampre general manager Brent Copeland confirmed to VeloNews that Horner, 42, is among 11 riders on the team’s long list to make the Tour Nine, but suggested the team is already planning on making Horner one of its protected GC riders.

“For the Tour, I personally think he’ll be in good condition, and he’s certainly convinced he’ll be in good condition, so that’s why he’s on the list,” Copeland told VeloNews by telephone. “We have 11 riders, so that means we have to take two riders off, but the idea now is go to the Tour with Rui Costa and Chris as the GC leaders, and Sacha Modolo for the sprints.”

Horner returned to racing last week in the opening prologue at the four-day Tour of Slovenia. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) won the 8.8-kilometer test against the clock, while Horner didn’t take any risks and came in 43 seconds behind to finish 68th.

Copeland said Horner’s quick return from a potentially devastating training crash in April is a testament to his tremendous recovery skills and determination to race.

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Armstrong testifies in SCA bonus case

June, 13, 2014
Lance ArmstrongAP Images/Harpo StudiosMillions of dollars are at stake in the ongoing lawsuit against Lance Armstrong.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Lance Armstrong gave sworn testimony Thursday as part of a Texas firm’s effort to recoup millions of dollars it paid the disgraced American for what he later admitted were drug-fueled Tour de France victories.

Jeffrey Dorough, general counsel for Dallas-based SCA Promotions, told AFP that Armstrong had given a sworn deposition in the case in Austin, Texas, although he said a protective order had been issued that prevented him from discussing what the testimony was.

Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, also declined when asked for comment by USA Today.

Armstrong has fought to block SCA’s bid to recover $12 million in costs and bonuses it paid him before his spectacular fall from grace.

He had no choice but to give the testimony, though, after the Texas State Supreme Court denied his motion for temporary relief in the case last month. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and handed a lifetime ban from the sport, eventually admitting last year that all seven triumphs were fueled by banned performance-enhancing drugs.

SCA withheld a $5 million bonus it was scheduled to pay after Armstrong’s sixth Tour de France win in 2004 because of doping allegations then circulating in Europe. Armstrong took SCA to court and won the case in arbitration.

But since his ban and admission of doping SCA has sought to recoup the money from Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service cycling team’s parent company, Tailwind Sports, along with legal fees and interest.

Tillotson has said that Armstrong’s false testimony was too long ago for him to face perjury charges under the statute of limitations, but he said SCA Promotions wants Armstrong sanctioned for his lies by the same arbitration panel that handled the previous case.

“Our position is simple,” Tillotson told USA Today on May 30. “No one should be able to relentlessly perjure themselves and get away with it.”

In a separate fraud lawsuit filed by the federal government, Armstrong was scheduled for another deposition on June 23, USA Today reported. But the government recently said it would postpone that deposition and others it had scheduled for this month, including Armstrong's friend John Korioth, Armstrong publicist Mark Higgins, Armstrong's friend and former Oakley employee Stephanie McIlvain, and cycling coach Chris Carmichael.

Froome, Wiggins apart before Tour

June, 4, 2014
Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImagesChris Froome, right, has had a contentious relationship with Bradley Wiggins since 2012.
LONDON (AFP) -- Team Sky said star riders Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins have been selected in separate Tour de France warm-up races this month.

Wiggins became the Tour’s first British winner in 2012 and was succeeded a year later by Froome, who will lead Team Sky in the 101st Tour, which begins in Leeds on July 5.

With the Tour just over a month away, Froome will defend his title in the Critérium du Dauphiné, a prestigious Tour warm-up Wiggins won in 2011 and 2012, from June 8-15. Wiggins will be at at the Tour of Switzerland from June 14 to 22.

Froome is joined by Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio in the eight-man Dauphine squad, with all seven likely to accompany him at the Tour, leaving space for one more rider.

“Both the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse are WorldTour events and we are looking to perform in both races,” Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said. ”Bradley heads to Switzerland with a strong team after a great win in California and we've got the right group for the Dauphine, especially considering the nature of the course.”

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PARIS -- World and Olympic champion Marianne Vos says women cyclists got a "big boost" when Tour de France organizers agreed to host a one-day race for them in Paris this year -- but she's not stopping there.

The first "La Course by Le Tour de France" -- a women's race -- takes place on July 27, just hours before men riders end their three-week jaunt through Britain and France to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Vos and Britain's Emma Pooley were among four women riders who launched a petition last year seeking a women's version of the Tour. Tour director Christian Prudhomme first dismissed the idea, then grumbled about the petition's timing, and relented to pressure.

Vos called the race an important step, "and let's see what other opportunities we can get," the Dutchwoman told The Associated Press on Tuesday, at the same time race organizers announced details.

She calls herself a "marraine," French for godmother, of La Course, and will ride in the inaugural race.

La Course will cover 55 miles and include 13 laps on the Champs-Elysees, with a likely sprint finish. The winner will receive about $31,000, the same sum awarded to men for a Tour stage win.

"In addition to the 100 cyclists in the pack, policewomen from the Paris Police Prefecture will be responsible for watching over La Course, which will have a 100 percent female jury," Tour organizers said in a statement, adding that "those who make it onto the podium can look forward to kisses from podium boys!"

Until now, the 110-year-old Tour has been almost exclusively a male preserve, with women sometimes employed on team staff, or on the winners' podium handing out flowers and dispensing kisses on riders' cheeks.

Tour organizers said the race will be broadcast live in 104 countries.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas appeals court has temporarily blocked an arbitration panel from reviewing $12 million in bonuses paid to Lance Armstrong by a company that wants its money back, stopping efforts to force him to give new sworn testimony about his doping past.

SCA Promotions has sought to reopen a 2006 settlement paid to Armstrong since his 2013 admission to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career to win the Tour de France.

The arbitration panel that first approved the settlement agreed to reconsider the case, and a Dallas judge last week rejected Armstrong's attempts to stop it. The panel set a March 17 hearing and SCA's attorneys wanted to question Armstrong under oath on Thursday.

Armstrong's attorneys appealed to the Dallas-based Fifth Court of Appeals. Judge Kerry Fitzgerald ordered all proceedings stopped on Tuesday pending further review by the court later this month.

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Wiggins getting busy chasing world title

February, 11, 2014
Bradley Wiggins, Dario CataldoBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesBradley Wiggins hopes a busier 2014 schedule will pay off with a world title.

Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins opened his season Monday, and his 2014 calendar includes Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. He started with Spain’s Trofeo Ses Salines on Monday and wants to end the year with a world time trial title.

The 2012 Tour champion indicated that he would race the Vuelta to be ready for the worlds in Ponferrada, Spain.

Wiggins told The Guardian, “I felt last year that I was short of racing when it came down to the worlds.”

The British newspaper reported that Wiggins was likely to include the Vuelta in order to have enough racing days ahead of the worlds. Last year in Florence, Italy, he finished second in the time trial championships, 46 seconds behind German Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Because Wiggins abandoned last season's Giro d’Italia and skipped the Tour de France, he raced fewer days compared to Martin. Martin raced the Tour and two weeks of the Vueltaprior to his gold medal ride through the streets of Florence.

Wiggins returned from his Giro disappointment with a series of weeklong stage races. He competed in the Tour of Poland, where he won the time trial, the Eneco Tour, and the Tour of Britain. He took the British tour’s time trial stage and overall, his first GC title since the 2012 Tour de France.

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Verbruggen denies Armstrong coverup

December, 18, 2013
Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen ended his silence and shot back at claims leveled by banned cyclist Lance Armstrong that Verbruggen was part of a coverup.

Speaking to London daily The Telegraph, Verbruggen denied he helped cover up a positive test for cortisone by Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France.

“I see it as if I’m part of a kind of industry now. It’s called the Lance Armstrong industry. People are making films now. It’s all part of the industry," Verbruggen said. "You have a lot of people in it with a vested interest, and this interest is clearly not to know the truth."

“Lance Armstrong has his own agenda and that is certainly his own personal interest, whether it is that he wants his sanctions to be reduced or whether he wants money. Usually, with Lance, there is always an interest also in money. My interest is the truth.”

Verbruggen, who left his position as UCI president in 2005, defended his record at the helm of the cycling federation. He denied corruption charges, but admitted his reputation is tainted.

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Lance ArmstrongGeorge Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network/Getty ImagesLance Armstrong is facing questions about all aspects of his doping activities.
AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas judge is pushing Lance Armstrong closer to his first sworn testimony on details of his performance-enhancing drug use, ordering the cyclist to answer questions about who knew what and when about his doping, including possibly his ex-wife and his attorneys.

Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance Holding is seeking the information in its lawsuit to recover $3 million in bonuses it paid Armstrong from 1999 to 2001. A judge previously refused to dismiss the case.

Acceptance is trying to prove a yearslong conspiracy and cover-up by Armstrong to commit fraud. It wants to know when several of Armstrong's personal and business associates -- including ex-wife Kristin Armstrong, team officials, the cyclist's lawyers and International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid -- first learned of his doping.

Lance Armstrong's attorneys objected to those demands in court documents, arguing the former cyclist already has acknowledged cheating and that Acceptance is engaged in a "harassing, malicious ... fishing expedition" intended to "make a spectacle of Armstrong's doping."

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Mark CavendishBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesMark Cavendish wasn't shy in celebrating his win in Stage 5 last week. (Enough with the Brits, already!)
Random thoughts after the first rest day of the Tour de France while hoping that I’m never behind the Orica-Greenedge team bus heading into a tunnel ...

Sigh. Maybe It’s Time For 7-Eleven To Sponsor A Team Again: The Tour’s individual stage winners, in order, have been Germany’s Marcel Kittel, Belgium’s Jan Bakelants, Australia’s Simon Gerrans, England’s Mark Cavendish, Germany’s Andre Greipel, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, Britain’s Chris Froome (who was born in Kenya and grew up in Africa), Ireland’s Dan Martin and Kittel again. The yellow jersey has been worn by Kittel, Bakelants, Gerrans, South Africa’s Daryl Impey and Froome. That’s a pretty impressive United Nations of riders, representing eight countries (and two from Africa), if you count Kenya for Froome.

Two countries conspicuously absent? The United States and France.

A French rider, of course, hasn’t won the Tour since 1985, though France did win five stages last year and Thomas Voeckler was in yellow for 10 stages in 2011. American riders, however, have won only one stage in the past six Tours (sprinter Tyler Farrar, Stage 3 in 2011) and haven’t had anyone in yellow since Floyd Landis in 2006 -- a jersey he was quickly stripped of because of doping. Technically, the last American in yellow was Greg LeMond in 1991.

The U.S. won’t have anyone in yellow this year either, though Andrew Talansky, the current top American in the standings (25th and 11:15 behind Froome), could wear white as the top young rider.

Meanwhile, Christian Vande Velde crashed out and Ted King was eliminated by falling seven seconds outside the limit in the team time trial. Tejay van Garderen, perhaps the most promising American rider heading into the Tour, suffered from the heat in a terrible Stage 8 and is 50th, 35 minutes behind. Tom Danielson and Brent Bookwalter are the only other Americans still in the race.

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Keep your eyes on Rui Costa in Tour

June, 17, 2013
Rui CostaFabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesThe emergence of Rui Costa gives Movistar a three-pronged attack heading into the Tour de France.
Rui Costa’s second consecutive victory at the Tour de Suisse confirms what everyone within the Movistar organization already knows: The 26-year-old Portuguese rider is nowhere close to reaching his potential, and Movistar brass is poised to give him more freedom in this year’s Tour de France.

“Now it’s time to think about the Tour,” Costa said Sunday. “My only goal for the moment is getting through the first week, always so dangerous -- we’ll see how we do when it’s over. We’ll be one of the strongest teams in the race and we’re really excited.”

Officially, the Spanish-backed team is lining up behind Alejandro Valverde and his all-out push for the Tour podium. The 33-year-old “green bullet” believes this will be his best shot -- and perhaps his last one -- at reaching the Tour podium.

On paper, however, Costa’s impressive win at the nine-day Swiss tour proves the team is much deeper. While most teams rally around one or perhaps two GC options for the Tour, Movistar will bring a three-pronged attack that could prove the most explosive in the race.

Riding alongside Valverde as super-domestiques will be Costa and Nairo Quintana, winner of the Tour of the Basque Country. Though Valverde is ostensibly the captain, all three have potential to turn the race upside down.

Both Costa and Quintana say they are dedicated to helping Valverde, but each will bring strong personal ambitions that could prove complicated to control for pre-race favorite Team Sky.

Movistar could well be the Tour’s dark horse, with three riders capable of going on the attack in the mountains. The opening days in particular favor Movistar’s frenetic racing style. Hilly, classics-style courses on Corsica and the stage-4 team time trial in Nice could well see a Movistar rider in the yellow jersey.

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