Valverde wins stage six of Vuelta a España ahead of Froome and Contador, takes back the lead

by Shane Stokes

Alejandro Valverde, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador showed that they have each got the form to battle for overall victory in the Vuelta a España, with the trio finishing first, second and third on Thursday’s first real summit finish of the race.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 6

Valverde impressed greatly on the final climb of Cumbres Verdes, driving the pace from over two kilometres in an apparent effort to set up Movistar team-mate Nairo Quintana for a push at the stage win. However, it was he rather than Quintana who was able to go with a move by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) with 700 metres to go. Both riders were then caught by the trio of Froome (Sky), Quintana and Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Valverde then jetted forward inside the final 200 metres, opening a gap, but the Briton and the Spaniard were able to draw close to him by the line, avoiding any loss. Rodriguez and Quintana conceded eight and 12 seconds respectively, with the Katusha rider’s sharp effort ultimately costing him time.

Pim Ligthart (Lotto Belisol) and Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) had created the day’s breakaway and got as much as 15 minutes ahead before Garmin-Sharp started to reduce the deficit, the two leaders being caught inside 5km to go. A flurry of attacks soon started with all but the strongest climbers dropped on the uphill run to the finish.

Valverde’s win saw him take back the race lead from dropped Orica-GreenEdge rider Michael Matthews. He is now 15 seconds clear of teammate Quintana, who had been just ahead of him at the start of the stage, while Contador is 18 seconds back.

Stage 6: Benalmádena > La Zubia - Stage Result

Thursday 28th August 2014

1. es
VALVERDE Alejandro
Movistar Team
04:35:27
2. gb
FROOME Christopher
Team Sky
-
3. es
CONTADOR Alberto
Tinkoff-Saxo
-

Click here to read a full stage report at CyclingTips.

Dylan Teuns wins stage 5 of the Tour de l’Avenir, Miguel Lopez retains overall lead

Belgium’s Dylan Teuns has won stage 5 of the Tour de l’Avenir, attacking on the final climb to pass the breakaway and ride away to victory.


The break got away on the Col de Saxel midway through the race with 10 riders holding a lead of 1:05 with 24km remaining. In the peloton it was Colombia leading the chase for overall lead Miguel Angel Lopez. On the final climb the lead group was whittled down to six riders, their day all but done, and inside 10km to go the break was over.

Inside the final 3km a number of riders attacked to try to go clear, but it wasn’t until Dylan Teuns made his move with 1.5km remaining that a move stuck. The Belgian powered away to victory, eight seconds clear of a 16-rider group, led in by Alexander Foliforov (Russia) and Odd Eiking (Norway). Australia’s Robert Power was fourth.

After finishing fifth on the stage, Miguel Lopez remains in the overall lead, ahead of Sam Oomen (Netherlands; 8 seconds) and Robert Power (27 seconds). Two stages remain, including today’s 108km sixth stage which also finishes with a climb.

Stage 5: Bons-en-Chablais > Les Carroz d'Arraches - Stage Result

Thursday 28th August 2014

1. be
TEUNS Dylan
BMC Racing Team
02:21:09
2. ru
FOLIFOROV Alexander
Itera - Katusha
0:08
3. no
EIKING Odd Christian
Team Joker
-

Click here to read more at Espoirs Central.

Contador showing good form with third place on Vuelta’s first mountain stage

by Shane Stokes

On Wednesday he said that his Vuelta a España chances depended on a decent performance on the first real mountain summit finish of the race and now Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has shown he’s probably in better form than many expected he would be.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 6

The Spaniard matched the best and finished third on stage six, crossing the line in the same time as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky). On a day when the general classification chances of many took a knock, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider shrugged off the tibia fracture he suffered in the Tour de France and put in a performance which marks him out as a real overall contender.

“To finish third in the same time as Froome and Valverde is almost a victory for me,” he said after the stage. “Had I just made the top 10, I’d have been happy. My knee still hurts sometimes but fingers crossed, I hope it’ll last like this.”

Contador’s rivals are likely to be much more wary from this point on. He is now third overall, 18 seconds behind Alejandro Valverde and just three behind the latter’s team-mate, Nairo Quintana.

Click here to read more at CyclingTips.

Despite poor form and previous tensions with team, Betancur to remain with Ag2r-La Mondiale

by Shane Stokes

Although Carlos Betancur has struggled with poor form and his weight at various parts of the season, and although he went AWOL prior to the Tour de France and ultimately did not do the race, the Ag2r-La Mondiale team has said that the Colombian will remain with the team in 2015.

Paris-Nice stage-7

According to team manager Vincent Lavenu, frank talks have led to a rebuilding of the Colombian’s relationship with the squad.

“I really struggled to absorb the fact that he did not show up for an appointment that we set it in June,” said Lavenu, referring to the rider’s no-show in Europe prior to the Tour de Suisse, something Betancur blamed on illness.

“He is not an easy guy, a pure talent, but you have to behave like a top athlete. I know he’s homesick regularly, he arrived in Europe at a young age, but he must learn to live with us and it fits our philosophy and not we with his.”

But progress is being made, according to Lavenu.

“During our discussions, Carlos showed goodwill. We must start again on a new basis. I know that sportingly speaking, he has character and he is a tough guy. In fact, he is bigger on every level.”

Click here to read the full story at CyclingTips.

Rider agent Baden Cooke confident of 2015 contract for Chris Horner

Despite being forced out of the Vuelta a Espana due to low cortisol levels and MPCC rules, Chris Horner shouldn’t have any trouble getting a contract for 2015, his agent Baden Cooke has said.

TDFR 2014 - stage -18

“We weren’t really worried about getting a contract all year and Chris was asking me to actually hold off on talks because he was so confident of getting a result at the Vuelta,” Cooke told Cycling Weekly.

“I think he would have been easily in the top five at the Vuelta this month if he had of been there. It’s pretty well documented what happened to him as part of the MPCC. They’ve got more rigorous controls than normal. If he had of been riding for another team he would be riding the Vuelta right now. That’s their choice. I think it’s strange – it should be all or no one – but anyway.”

Cooke told Cycling Weekly that there’s every chance the 42-year-old Horner will remain at Lampre-Merida in 2015.

“Chris is very happy where he is now at Lampre. All year they’ve been giving indications that they want to keep him on board. He doesn’t want to retire and he shouldn’t,” he continued.

Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.

Thomas Löfkvist announces retirement

Swedish cyclist Thomas Löfkvist has announced his retirement from professional cycling after 10 years in the sport.

“When I signed my first contract as a professional cyclist for the 2004 season with Française des Jeux, I thought I’d be happy if I could have such a wonderful job for ten years. Here we are. I’m glad to announce my retirement at the end of this year.”

IAMcycling_Lofkvist_Tirreno_c

“My decision came after I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue this summer,” he said. “I had to pull out of Tirreno-Adriatico because of an infection and I have only felt tired after that. I realised that I was not just having a bad day or a bad week. I was left with no energy. There was no way I could take part in the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España and be useful to the team. My last season has been a roller coaster with more downs than ups. My body is saying stop.”

Löfkvist rode with Team Bianchi Scandinavia in 2003, Française des Jeux (2004-2007), Columbia-HTC (2008-2009), Sky (2010-2012) and IAM Cycling (2013-2014). Among his four professional victories Löfkvist can claim the 2013 Tour Mediterraneen and the 2009 Monte Paschi Eroica (now known as Strade Bianchi).

“I’m not sad to call it a career”, Löfkvist concluded. “It’s just time to move on. I’ve got ideas and projects in and out of cycling, in and out of Sweden. I also want to look after my two kids. I leave the sport with a lot of good memories. It’s been an amazing part of my life.”

Click here to read more at Eurosport Sweden.

Xenon, Argon usage banned by WADA, four year bans move closer

by Shane Stokes

Confirming indications earlier this year that it would likely prohibit the use of xenon gas due to the method of using it to effect changes in blood levels, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has said that both it and the usage of another substance, argon, have been banned.

“WADA has completed its amendment to Section S2.1 of the 2014 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods,” said the agency in a statement. “Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) activators Xenon and Argon have been added to the 2014 Prohibited List, following the required three-month notice period and UNESCO’s communication to all States Parties.”

Meanwhile a mandatory four year ban for serious doping offences and increased liability for athlete support personnel look set to come into practice when the revised WADA Code comes into effect on January 1. Under the new rules, coaches, trainers, doctors, physiotherapists, and National Olympic Committees will be more liable if athletes are implicated in doping violations. Such occurrences will automatically bring about an investigation of athlete support personnel.

Click here to read more at CyclingTips. Click here to read the feature article we wrote about xenon earlier this year.

Klaas Lodewyck to undergo heart surgery to stop arrhythmias

BMC rider Klaas Lodewyck has opted to undergo surgery to fix his heart arrhythmia.

5th stage of the Tour de Suisse

“Apparently surgery is my only chance to head back to level,” Lodewyck told Sporza.

“I want them to operate as soon as possible, preferably this week, so I’ve got this terrible period behind me quickly,” said Lodewyck. “I had hoped that the solution would be something simpler, like the surgery for Nick Nuyens, but apparently the cause of my arrhythmia is a little more complicated. It’s a pity that there is not a 100 per cent success rate.”

Lodewyck hasn’t raced since July when he took part in the Tour de Wallonie.

Click here to read more at Sporza.be.

GP Plouay World Cup tomorrow

The final round of the Women’s World Cup will be held in north west France tomorrow: the Grand Prix de Plouay. The overall winner of the World Cup series has already been decided — Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) — but that doesn’t mean the racing will be any less fierce.

The 121.5km race features four laps of a rolling 27km circuit before heading north then south and back into Plouay. With rolling climbs and a couple of steeper pinches throughout this is a race that suits the punchy climbers.

The race will be shown live on the UCI’s YouTube channel.

Click here to read more at Velofocus. Click here for the provisional startlist.

Ridley Noah SL revealed at Eurobike

Eurobike is currently in full swing and one of the many new bikes to be launched there is Ridley’s new Noah SL. What’s your take: “Yeah!” or “meh!”?

Vuelta a Espana on Strava

If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out Strava’s Vuelta a Espana page, where they’ve collected route maps for each of the stages, links to pros riding the race who use Strava and more. It’s worth a look, if only to get a better feel for the roads and climbs the riders are tackling as they make their way across Spain.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips:

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We’d love to tell you where today’s feature image comes from but the truth is we’re not sure. We do know that it was shot by Jered Gruber though.