Endurance: Bradley Wiggins

Froome, Wiggins apart before Tour

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
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.”

(Read full post)

Cavendish takes first stage in California

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Mark Cavendish, John DegenkolbHector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/MCT/Getty ImagesMark Cavendish, left, used a furious charge to overtake John Degenkolb in a photo finish.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) narrowly won the first stage of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California on Sunday in Sacramento.

Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) was the sole survivor of a late break, but he too was swept up in the last of three laps on a downtown circuit as Cannondale and Omega Pharma took charge of the chase.

With one kilometer to race Giant-Shimano had taken the point, but with 300 meters to go Omega’s Tom Boonen was battling to slingshot Cavendish to the line. John Degenkolb (Giant) was driving for the win alongside, and it was a near thing indeed, with no time for a finish-line celebration.

“I knew Mark was straight behind me,” Degenkolb said. “My strength is to do a long sprint, and I think I timed it well, I didn’t go too early, and not too late. In the end I saw him on my right side, coming not really quickly, but slowly and surely. I was trying to avoid him overtaking me, but I couldn’t succeed. I knew at the line he had the victory.”

A few minutes passed, and then Cavendish broke into a big grin and the hugs began -- the photo finish showed he’d edged Degenkolb by a tire’s width. Moreno Hofland (Belkin) rounded out the podium in third.

“To be fair, I won Milano-Sanremo by 10 centimeters before,” Cavendish said. “I’ve lost a sprint in the Giro d’Italia by three centimeters. Both of those, I knew the outcome. This is the first time in my career I really had no idea. I had to wait a little bit until they confirmed.”

The kickoff was the longest stage of the 2014 tour at 123 miles, starting and ending at the State Capitol building in downtown Sacramento.

(Read full post)

Froome eager to fill Wiggins' void in France

June, 28, 2013
Wiggins-Froome Bernard Prevost/Presse Sports/US PresswireChris Froome, right, is settling into the Team Sky captain's chair vacated by Bradley Wiggins.
PORTO VECCHIO -- Chris Froome stood in front of a phalanx of photographers and TV cameras Thursday a little bit in awe of all the fuss.

"Good thing I am not camera shy," Froome later joked.

Froome was sitting in the hot seat, the exact same place where Sir Bradley Wiggins sat one year ago, just weeks before becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.

The Kenyan-born Froome inherits the weight of expectation that comes with being the pre-ordained favorite from Wiggins, who is not even back to defend his yellow jersey.

With it comes the pressure, expectations, and stress as the Tour favorite, but Froome seems to be taking it all in stride.

"There's not much you can do to be ready for this type of hype," Froome said. "It's very different to the other races on our calendar. This is a bit of a surprise to see all this."

Unlike Wiggins, who gritted his teeth under the media pressure that came with Tour success, Froome seems unfazed by the crush of cameras and nosy questions

(Read full post)

Bradley WigginsAP Photo/Laurent ReboursAt 33, Bradley Wiggins says his days riding in cycling's most famous race could be finished for good.
Defending Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), sidelined from this year's race because of an injury, may not try to win the race again, he indicated in comments published on Friday.

"For me it was always about winning the Tour," Wiggins was quoted as saying on the website for The Guardian.

"I've done that. If I'm honest, I don't think I'm prepared to make those sacrifices again that I made last year, with my family and so on. I've achieved what I've achieved. I'm incredibly happy with that."

Wiggins, who was Britain's first-ever winner of the famous race, followed up with a gold medal in the Olympic time trial and played a starring role by ringing a bell to signal the start of the Games' opening ceremony.

He also won the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to cycling, but he has endured mixed fortunes on the bike since then.

First he was involved in a training ride crash with a car near his home in northwest England, and then he had to pull out of last month’s Giro d'Italia -- which he was hoping to win -- because of an illness.

(Read full post)

Christopher FroomeFabrice Coffrini/Getty ImagesChris Froome looks to better his runner-up finish in the 2012 Tour de France when he leads Team Sky.
MANCHESTER, England -- Bradley Wiggins' chances of retaining his Tour de France title receded on Monday when teammate Chris Froome was chosen Team Sky's leader for cycling's biggest race.

Team principal Dave Brailsford ended months of speculation by saying the British-based team would stick to the plan to go with Froome.

"As always, the team selection is a management decision and it will be evidence-based," Brailsford said. "However it is crucial there is clarity of purpose and for that reason we will go to the Tour with one leader."

Wiggins, the Olympic time-trial champion, left Team Sky in an awkward position last week when he said he was hoping to pull off a rare Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double this year. That statement came despite Froome lined up as the team's No. 1 at the Tour after finishing runner-up in 2012.

Froome reacted the same day by saying he had been "reassured by the management ... that I have their full backing" as Team Sky's leader for the Tour.

Froome is widely considered a better climber and has powered to overall victories at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International and Tour de Romandie this season.

(Read full post)

Cancellara, Boonen still tops in classics

April, 8, 2013
Fabian CancelllaraBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesFabian Cancellara now owns three Paris-Roubaix trophies and six overall victories in the monuments.
LEON, Spain -- Fabian Cancellara's victory Sunday in Paris-Roubaix proved yet again he is not going to give up his throne as king of the cobbles without a fight.

After his injury-plagued 2012 season, Cancellara's win last week at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) reconfirmed his place at the top of the peloton's pecking order. His third Roubaix trophy Sunday came against another upstart rival looking to usurp his crown, this time Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), a week after Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) took on Peter Sagan (Cannondale) at the Tour of Flanders.

Sunday's action was tighter than a piano string and the only element missing was Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who was at home licking his wounds after crashing out of Flanders.

While the buzz is centered on the arrival of the likes of Sagan and Vanmarcke, it's Boonen and Cancellara who remain the center of gravity each spring. Both have endured their share of hiccups the past few years, but Cancellara and Boonen still stand head and shoulders above the pack.

On Sunday, Cancellara completed the Flanders-Roubaix double for the second time in his career. Cancellara and Boonen are the only two riders who have accomplished the Flanders-Roubaix double twice in their careers, a stat that pushes them into elite company.

(Read full post)

2014 Giro to start in Northern Ireland

February, 21, 2013
Another of cycling's biggest races will start in Great Britain next year after organizers announced Thursday that the Giro d'Italia will begin in Northern Ireland.

The 2014 edition of one of the sport's three grand tours will begin in Belfast on May 10, kicking off three days of action that will also include a stage finish in Dublin.

The news comes after it was announced in December that the first three stages of the 2014 Tour de France will be in England, with two in the northern county of Yorkshire and the third finishing in London.

Traditionally, Italy's Giro -- in common with the Tour de France -- never strayed beyond its national borders.

But recently both races have opted for starts abroad, with the 104-year-old Giro launched from outside Italy every two years -- including Denmark in 2012.

Bradley Wiggins, who last year became the first British winner of the Tour de France and who also won the time trial at the London Olympics, confirmed the Giro's prestige by declaring that he wants to win this year's edition above defending his Tour title.

(Read full post)

Ambition meets reality for Joe Dombrowski

January, 30, 2013
Joe DombrowskiDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesJoe Dombrowski, wearing the best young rider's jersey in a 2012 USA Pro Challenge race in Colorado.

Just one year ago, Joe Dombrowski was racing the SRAM Tour of the Gila and attacking from under the radar at the Amgen Tour of California. The precocious young American was sitting in lawn chairs in the shade after races with his Bontrager-Livestrong amigos. Two years ago, the 6-foot-1, 141-pounder was a Cat. 4.

This year, he'll be on the startline of the Giro d'Italia, pulling for Bradley Wiggins. He'll be racing in Oman and France as well.

RELATED: Sky 'likely' for Pro Challenge

In addition to the Giro, Dombrowski is tentatively slated to ride the Tour of Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, Criterium International, Route du Sud and the Giro del Trentino. He may get to race stateside, as Sky is weighing racing in Colorado come August at the USA Pro Challenge, according to the team.

"I don't really have any particular goals going into any of these early races. If I can just do my job in helping the team and learn as much as I can while doing it, then that's all I'm looking for," Dombrowski said. "In talking with the team, they understand that the transition to the professional level is a big step, but perhaps even more so for American who is moving abroad. They stressed that this early, I wouldn't have any pressure for results, and that the pressure would likely come from me anyway. They just want to help facilitate a smooth transition."

Dombrowski, 21, signed a two-year deal with British outfit Sky over the offseason, making good on a marketable skill: climbing ability. He rose to the occasion in Colorado last August, finishing 10th overall in the USA Pro Challenge and seventh on Flagstaff Mountain, a jam-packed ascent above Boulder. See the results sheet from the 2012 Amgen Tour's queen stage for further validation of his mountain-goat reputation -- Dombrowski finished fourth on the day to Mount Baldy.

(Read full post)

MILAN -- Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins has confirmed he will make the Giro d'Italia his main priority this year and support Sky teammate Chris Froome at the Tour.

Wiggins tells race organizer Gazzetta dello Sport that the Giro "is my new challenge, my inspiration, the new fire burning inside me. I think winning it, for certain aspects, will be more difficult than winning the Tour."

Wiggins also won the time trial at last year's London Olympics, and the Giro route should favor Wiggins' ability at racing against the clock.

Beginning in Naples on May 4 and ending in Brescia on May 26, the Giro features three time trials for a total of 57 miles.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

Tour door opens for Alberto Contador

December, 12, 2012
Alberto ContadorJaime Reina/Getty ImagesHis team granted a WorldTour license, Alberto Contador can begin his Tour preparations in earnest.
Like him or not, Alberto Contador is all but sure to be back at the Tour de France next season.

Saxo-Tinkoff Bank's final-hour ProTeam license awarded this week assures that Contador will return to the Tour for the first time since 2011 -- and will be able to prepare fully for the first time since 2010.

Barring injury or another major setback, the Spanish superstar will be the centerpiece in the battle for the yellow jersey after being sidelined this season due to his backdated clenbuterol ban.

And his rivals know that when Contador is in the race, things get electric very quickly.

"Contador will be back in the Tour next year," said Sky's Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour winner. "Alberto changes any races he's in."

Contador's aggression in the mountains dramatically alters the dynamics of any race when he's at the start line. Unlike many pros who target only certain events, the Spaniard typically races for the win in just about every race he starts.

Riders inside the peloton admit that this year's Tour -- and even 2011 when he was not in top shape -- simply wasn't the same without the Contador factor.

"Alberto will be back next year and you know he will be extra motivated to win," 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) said at the Tour presentation in October. "He is always a hard competitor. He always races to win."

(Read full post)