Thursday, June 22, 2017

Andy Schleck Announces Retirement

After nine years at the top of the sport, Trek Factory Racing standout Andy Schleck announced this morning that he will retire from professional cycling. The young Luxembourger’s career was forced to an untimely end by the knee injury he sustained in a Tour de France crash earlier this year.

“I’m obviously disappointed to end my career like this,” said Schleck. “I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn’t allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress. While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story. I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee but came to the hard realization that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action.”

In his storied career, Schleck rode to victory on some of cycling’s biggest stages, stepping four times onto Grand Tour podiums. Among his many notable accomplishments, Schleck won the 2010 Tour de France and triumphed in the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège after a courageous solo breakaway. Schleck highlights his win on the Galibier stage of the 2011 Tour de France as one of his most memorable achievements.

Though only 29 years old, Schleck has made a lasting impact on the sport, and his presence in the pro peloton will surely be missed. Well-loved by fans and teammates alike, Schleck’s legacy will be his good nature, strength of character, and sportsmanship. In his years at the highest level of the sport, Schleck distinguished himself as a humble, hard-working and earnest competitor.

“Andy was an instant and natural fit for the Trek family when we first met him with LEOPARD-TREK," said Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur. "It has always been more about family than anything else at Trek, and so it is with Andy. On top of that, Andy is one of the most talented cyclists of all time. Many of my best days as a cycling fan have been while watching Andy race. We have celebrated the great days and endured the difficult ones alongside him. I know great things are ahead for Andy. He will always have friends and a family at Trek.”

At the unfortunate end of a career of limitless potential, Schleck is quick to keep things in perspective. “Cycling has been my life for many years and I will need time to figure out what I’d like to do. Luckily I can count on my family, friends, and Trek who have always supported me,” he said. "I am very happy to have trained and raced alongside my brother and to have made some of the best friends that I have. I have always said that cycling is not the beginning and the end of my life. I have a wonderful girlfriend and a wonderful son. I’m excited to find out what lies ahead.”

Alberto Contador: “I withdraw from Beijing to focus on 2015”

Alberto Contador had to make the decision to end the 2014 season a bit earlier than expected because of a new injury to the right knee, which he suffered during Sunday’s Giro di Lombardia. The leader of Tinkoff-Saxo is not happy to see the final part of the season come to an abrupt end but he sees it as a necessary decision in order to recover as fast as possible.

“Ending the year like this is something I don’t like, because I had a schedule and now I have to interrupt it again," commented Contador.

“The Tour of Beijing is not among the most important races on the calendar, but I have to focus on my knee. As a result, I want to stop and make sure that it’s in good condition before I begin preparing for 2015," added Alberto Contador.

 

Despite this new setback, Alberto Contador explains that he’s ending the season with a good feeling about his overall performance.

“The assessment of the season has been really good, except for the Tour de France, which didn’t finish as I would have preferred. The rest of the season has been very satisfying with good results throughout the year, so I'm happy, and I have to say that it has been possible because of a lot of hard work. This has been one of the toughest seasons of my career, but it paid off with some great results”. 


In the coming days, Alberto Contador will undergo various medical tests to study in detail the condition of his right knee. He will wait for the test results before he begins to plan the 2015 season, where the Giro d’Italia remains the first major goal.

Renshaw Wins Tour of Britain Stage 2

Mark Renshaw sprinted to victory along Llandudno's seafront Mostyn Crescent, heading Ben Swift and Sam Bennett in a thrilling finale to Stage Two.

Renshaw, so often the creator of wins for others, grabbed a much deserved slice of the glory himself in Llandudno with a memorable victory that saw the general classification riders and sprinters mixing it up during a thrilling descent off the Great Orme.

As the race swooped along the North Wales coast and down off the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb of the Great Orme, it developed into an entertaining free for all with no sprint trains as such, and for a moment it looked like Swift was heading for line honours. Renshaw, however, sensed from years of experience that the Team Sky man might have gone a bit early and fought for his wheel before unleashing his own devastating finish.

The win, Renshaw's first in Omega Pharma Quick-Step colours, is his second in the Tour of Britain, his first coming in Exmouth, which the race visits this year on Stage Five, in 2011, while consolation for Swift was the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, and second spot overall, just four seconds away from Renshaw's Friends Life Yellow Jersey. 

With Mark Cavendish having to take a back seat nursing a huge haematoma on his left thigh after his Stage One crash, Renshaw, along with Niki Terpstra and Michael Kwiatkowski were given a free rein to do whatever felt right hurtling down from the Orme into Llandudno itself. 

Kwiatkowski, one of the leading GC contenders for the week set the cat among the pigeons by pulling out a lead on the descent but Sire Bradley Wiggins, looking in ominously good form and descending like he did in his Tour de France pomp, effortlessly pulled that back and then did everything possible to keep Ben Swift in contention for the stage.

The impressive Kwiatkowski, still going strong, did a good turn by riding in his wheel for as long as possible to ensure that any rider trying to overtake Renshaw would have to go around the long way.

Behind Swift came Team NetApp Endura's Sam Bennett, and Garmin Sharp's Tyler Farrar, who had also showed his hand on the ascent of the Great Orme.  

"That was pretty exciting especially that last 5-kilometres, I would imagine it would make pretty good TV,"said a breathless Renshaw afterwards. "Nobody in our team knew the finish so we were going by word of mouth and the road book but it certainly suited me. I've got good legs after the Tour de France and was going very well.

"It was a shame that Cav crashed yesterday, it would have been the perfect sprint for him in my wheel but he is still trying to recover a bit. It's pretty amazing he is still in the race really. He had extreme pain today.

"It's great to reward the team with a victory, it's the first time I've been able to do that. It's a fantastic feeling. Over the years I have learned to get that feeling from helping other riders. I've dedicated a big proportion of my career to helping other guys. Not only Cav but Boasson Hagen, Henderson, Griepel, Hushovd - great riders - but it's always nice to win a race personally.

"We were a bit down this morning to be honest. Once again our leader had taken a big hit. Mark is our leader, we are right behind him, we ride the whole season for him. He is one of the biggest champions of the sport. I came to the team to help him 100%. Even when he is not feeling good I will dedicate my efforts to him. Even on a day when he is just at 80% he can win a bike race, he is that kind of rider.”

Having once again been at the front of the action, Liverpool's Mark McNally retained the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, and also picked up the day's Rouleur Combativity Award.
The An Post Chain Reaction rider had featured in the day's final breakaway group, also including Ian Bibby, Chris Lawless, Lasse Hansen, Pablo Lastras and Rob Partridge, the latter of whom was in the break through his home town of Wrexham.

Once into Conwy county the peloton, led by Sky's Bernhard Eisel, set about decimating the group's three minute plus lead, with just Hansen, Lastras and McNally remaining as the race hit the Great Orme, and those trio were soon swallowed up as a succession of riders chose to attack.

In the YodelDirect Sprints classification Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani CSF retains the jersey, while Omega Pharma Quick-Step's successful trip to North Wales was rounded out by taking the lead in the Friends Life Team Classification.

Stage Three sees the Friends Life Tour of Britain remain in Wales, with Monmouthshire's Tumble mountain above Abergavenny set to play host to the first summit finish in the Principality, at the end of a 180-kilometre leg south from Newtown, through Powys.

Highlights of Stage Two are on ITV4 at 2000 on Monday 8 September, with live coverage resuming from 1300 on Tuesday on ITV4, for Stage Three from Newtown to the Tumble.  Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport's live coverage, can be foundhere.

For full Stage Two results, click here.

USCR Book Review

Fat Tire Flyer

Book Review and photos by Tom Baker

Fat Tire Flyer is the definitive work on the birth of mountain biking by the man who was there and knows best, Charlie Kelly. The book takes its name from the very first newsletter, which Charlie started, on mountain biking.  Charlie says, "The Fat Tire Flyer started in 1980, almost accidentally . . . and until 1985 it was the only publication for mountain bikers. I loved my magazine, and it was by far the most creative and artistic accomplishment I have had."

Fat Tire Flyer book jacket

Well until now, that is. With this book we now have the most complete, first-hand, documentation available of the mountain biking culture that resulted in a movement and industry that, even today, sees more mountain bikes being sold than any other type of bike.

Read more: USCR Book Review

BMC's Vuelta a España, Stage 2: Out Of Danger

The BMC Racing Team worked hard to keep its leaders out of danger Sunday on a hot and windy opening road stage of the Vuelta a España.

Protected From The Wind
Sport Director Valerio Piva said without a pure sprinter to contest the expected bunch sprint, the BMC Racing Team concentrated on protecting team leaders Cadel Evans and Samuel Sánchez. "From the beginning, the sidewind was strong," Piva said. "But the team was very attentive. The final was also dangerous with the wind in the last 10 kilometers . But everyone was helping our leaders and bringing them into good position." Sánchez called it "a very stressful final." "But the team protected me well in the final kilometers, especially Manuel Quinziato and Larry Warbasse," he said. "Tomorrow is a very special final with a small climb. I know the team will have to work to keep me in good position." Sánchez was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher, in 22nd place, as Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) took the win ahead of John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano) and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida). Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) assumed the overall lead from his teammate, Jonathan Castroviejo.

Listen to complete comments from Piva and Sánchez on the BMC Racing Team's special Vuelta a España Audio Line:
http://bit.ly/1wnZu1l

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