Tour of Oman: Stage 6 highlights - Video
Mon, 19 Feb 2018 03:40:00 +0000

After five top-ten results to start his 2018 season, Alexander Kristoff broke through on the final stage of the Tour of Oman for his first win in UAE Team Emirates colours. The Norwegian timed his run to the line to perfection, holding off Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).

Alexey Lutsenko finished 18th in the bunch to secure his overall win while Astana teammate Miguel Angel Lopez also placed safely in the finale to hold onto second place. The final place on the podium going to Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida). There was on change in the classifications with Nathan Haas stealing in to place fifth and with it, the points jersey from the shoulders of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

Earlier in the stage, Adam Blythe of Aqua Blue Sports had stopped for a bike change but it was deemed 'irregular' and he was disqualified from the race as a result.


Racing in the Persian Gulf moves across to UAE for the Abu Dhabi Tour (21-25 February).

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Kwiatkowski rips up the script on way to Volta ao Algarve victory
Mon, 19 Feb 2018 02:00:00 +0000

With Sky teammate Geraint Thomas in yellow and looking safe for overall Volta ao Algarve victory, getting into the final stage breakaway at the Volta ao Algarve was a gamble for Michal Kwiatkowski. A gamble that ultimately paid off though as the Pole won the stage and swapped second for first place with Thomas.

A second final day general classification win for Sky following Egan Bernal's Oro y Paz win at the start of February.

Speaking after his second stage win of the race in southern Portugal and second career GC win after his 2014 triumph, Kwiatkowski explained the day did not play out as planned.


"It wasn't the strategy, it was just how the race went," he said.

In the early stages of the stage, a large breakaway which included the likes of Tony Martin (Katusha), Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Štybar of Quick-Step Floors broke clear with Kwiatkowski and teammate Michal Golas quick to cover and infiltrate the move. Given a long lead by the peloton, the breakaway would eventually splinter and shatter on approach to the final Malhão finale with Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) then Štybar doing the major damage

While the peloton appeared content to let the stage go to the breakaway, Kwiatkowski wasn't letting the likes of Stybar take the win and potentially the overall win.

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Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie have some fun in the desert
Mon, 19 Feb 2018 00:50:00 +0000

The unofficial start to the US MTB season rolled out of the desert this weekend with a couple of special guests as Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie took part in the 19th annual '24 Hours in the Old Pueblo' relay race outside of Tuscon, Arizona.

Epic Rides' 24-hour event began the mountain biking season with over 4,000 people camping at the race north of Tucson. This year the 2,000 spots for racers sold out in just seven hours. It remains the largest 24-hour mountain biking event in the US and certainly one of the largest in the world.

Former pros Armstrong and Hincapie planned to join Christian Vande Velde and Dylan Casey in the four-person Men’s Open, but Vande Velde fell ill before the event and was replaced by triathlete Julia Polloreno.


"It's a killer vibe, really, not like anything else I've done before," Armstrong said when asked about the event. "We rode yesterday and the weather was pouring rain, cold and miserable. Now because of the rain the course is perfect."

Armstrong is banned from officially sanctioned events, so the relaxed atmosphere and community at the Epic Rides 24-hour mountain bike race was a perfect fit for him and his crew.

When asked about the Wedo Team strategy this year, Armstrong didn't hesitate: "We're going slow, having fun, and drinking." Having said that, Hincapie, who is expected to race at Cape Epic again this year, consistently recorded some of the fastest laps on the course, finishing two of his three laps in less than an hour each. The team eventually finished in the bottom half of the category.

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Haas caps off Tour of Oman with sprint jersey
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 22:20:00 +0000

Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) came just a few metres away from taking a spot on the Tour of Oman's overall podium. Haas finished fifth on the final stage, but had he taken third, the bonus seconds would have been enough to catapult him onto the rostrum.

It was always going to be a difficult task for the Australian, considering the sprinting talent that finished ahead of him, and he could comfortably console himself with the points jersey and his stage 2 victory in Al Bustan.

"It's a shame I didn't sprint two places better because then I would have moved to third, but I took the green jersey so that's also a super nice thing to move into on the last day," Haas said. "We raced to win and today we had no pressure, we only had something to gain. We kind of wanted to get dirty and down to it. It was sweet."


The grin on Haas' face was hard to suppress as rolled back towards the podium on the Matrah Corniche after stage 6. It was a far cry from how he'd felt just under a month ago when he finished the Tour Down Under well down the classification after setting out to make the podium. He had suffered in the blistering heat of Adelaide, which left him feeling down and struggling with training.

"I was pretty down after Australia. It wasn't from the result and it was more from the way that it went down," Haas explained. "I just felt that it didn't go well for me. That's totally in the past now, I've put it to bed. The team was really in contact with me the whole time, even when I was training half an hour one day and asking mum to come and pick me up from a coffee shop or whatever. My body totally broke down, but the cool thing was that the coaches, and my own coach as well, were super positive and staying calm. As soon as I rested for enough days, and stayed calm for enough days, it just came around."

With his early disappointments firmly put away, Haas can now focus on the next part of his race programme, which builds up to Amstel Gold in April. Haas had made no bones about his desires to win the Dutch one-day race and finished fourth in the event last year, 10 seconds behind the winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors). After a strong week in the Middle East, Haas says that his focus on bike-handling skills and time trialling has helped him to make a step forward in his ability. He added that that the coming weeks are all about keeping healthy.

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UnitedHealthcare women's team train in Arizona - Gallery
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:50:00 +0000

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling women’s team united for an opening training camp in Tuscon, Arizona, this week. Newcomers Lizzy Banks and Leah Thomas joined the team for warm-weather training rides that included climbing the notorious Mt. Lemmon.

The team camp gave riders the opportunity to train and bond ahead of the new season, which started for UnitedHealthcare's women in Tuscon at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race.

"From cooking together and sharing meals, to spending hard days in the saddle, the team was excited to be together," the team said in a press release about the camp. "The new additions of Lizzy Banks and Leah Thomas fit right in with the close-knit team."


Also in attendance for the camp were Janelle Cole, Katie Hall, Lauren Hall, Lauretta Hanson and Diana Peñuela. A few riders from the men's team also joined in on some of the rides.

Rushlee Buchanan was not at camp as she is training for UCI Track World Championships with the New Zealand national team. Shawn Morelli was also unable to attend camp as she was competing at the US Paralympics Track Cycling Open, where she earned a selection for the 2018 Para-cycling Track World Championships with team USA.

Part of being at camp meant riders had time to dial in their new equipment: Orbea Orca road bikes and Orbea Ordu TT bikes.

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Stybar goes down fighting at Volta ao Algarve
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:15:00 +0000

Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) delivered a gutsy performance on the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, coming within just a couple of kilometres of winning the stage to Malhao after a break of 31 riders threatened to turn the race on its head.

Stybar slipped clear in a group that contained eventual stage and overall winner Michal Kwiatkowski, with the group enjoying a near four-minute advantage over the main field at one point.

By the first ascent of the Malhao climb, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hamsgrohe) had jumped from the leading group with 40 kilometres remaining. The Austrian's move sparked a wave of activity, with Stybar joining the lone leader with 20 kilometres to go.


With 11 to go Stybar's superior experience and strength was evident, and the Quick-Step rider pushed clear and towards what would have been his first win of the season. Behind him, the remnants of the break kept the gap to under 45 seconds and on the initial slopes of the Malhao, the race for the stage was in the balance.

"I knew that the last climb would be really hard against Kwiatkowski, so yeah it was great to just go very aggressive in the race actually, already from the beginning," Stybar told Cyclingnews at the finish.

"The team just said, 'Okay let's race, let's have fun on the stage' and that's what we did."

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Geraint Thomas downed by friendly fire at Volta ao Algarve
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:55:00 +0000

Heading into the final stage at the Volta ao Algarve, the consensus within the peloton was that Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) held a substantial enough lead to win his third crown.

The script, however, was well and truly ripped up when a dangerous 31-man move went clear in the opening kilometres. Luckily for Team Sky, second placed rider Michal Kwiatkowski had made it into the move along with Michal Golas. The pair formed part of a group that held on until the finish, with Kwiatkowski winning the stage and bumping Thomas down into second place overall.

It may not have been the initial plan Team Sky had drawn up, but such has been their dominance in Algarve that they conceivably could have claimed up the GC no matter what tactics played out on the final stage to Malhao.


At the finish, Kwiatkowski topped the podium with Thomas second at 1:31 and American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) third at 2:16. The break's success ensured that the showdown between the WorldTour climbers at the race never materialised, with Team Sky picking up three stages out of five throughout the week.

"It was a big break and obviously Kwiatkowski was there. All the other teams were happy, they had guys there and that was it," Thomas said at the finish.

"We kept it around three or four minutes, but nobody wanted to chase for the stage. That was it," he repeated.

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Wellens takes breakthrough win at Ruta del Sol
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:45:00 +0000

After an unexpected but well-deserved victory in the Ruta del Sol, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) is aiming higher than ever this season.

Wellens has taken wins in the Tour de Pologne, the Guangxi Tour and the Eneco Tour (twice) in the past, as well as the GP Montreal, and last year he netted victory in the Ruta del Sol's rainsoaked final stage from a breakaway.

However, he recognised that mastering the Ruta del Sol's tougher mountain climbs, as he proved at Allanadas on stage 2, where Wellens attacked but did not crack when caught by the other favourites, represented a big step forward.


"I didn't think I could compete with the others on a climb like that," Wellens said. "But when they caught me, I rested for a moment and that's why I could end the stage well.

"I really learned that I've taken a big step forward this winter. I can compete uphill with the best in the world and it's really a nice surprise for me."

On top of that, Wellens proved more than a match for Mikel Landa (Movistar) in the Ruta's second summit finish at Alcala de los Gazules, gaining the overall lead on a much shorter, punchier climb.

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Mullen on Giro d'Italia path with Jerusalem TT in focus
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:50:00 +0000

Ryan Mullen looks on course to make his Grand Tour debut later this year at the Giro d'Italia. The Irishman, who signed for Trek-Segafredo in the winter, has one eye on the opening time trial in Jerusalem.

"I'm hopeful to start the Giro with its TT start. It's 10km in Jerusalem and it's partly the reason I'd be going," Mullen told Cyclingnews at the Volta ao Alagarve.

"I prefer longer time trials, to be honest, but I'll take a TT start over a mountain start."


A start in the Giro this spring would represent Mullen's first Grand Tour appearance. Illness scuppered his chances in 2016, and last year – his final season with Cannondale – he narrowly missed the cut for the Tour de France.

"In 2016 I was a really shit bike rider because of my health problems," he said. "I was anaemic and had all that stuff. Then last year I was on the long-list for the Tour, and it came down to me and Taylor Phinney for the last spot. Honestly, it would have been nice to ride, but I wasn't 'this sucks I'm not at the Tour de France'. I felt like Taylor did a better job than I would have done, so the team picked correctly."

Mullen won his first time trial of the year at the Vuelta a San Juan in January to kick start his career at Trek. He came into the Volta ao Algarve with high hopes of a competitive performance in the race's 20.3km test, but his dreams unravelled due to a puncture. The 24-year-old still managed 24th place on a course that wasn't ideal for him, but with Tirreno-Adriatico on his calendar he will have another chance to impress against the clock in March.

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De La Cruz claims Team Sky's second stage win in Ruta del Sol
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:10:00 +0000

Spain's David De La Cruz has hit the ground running with his new squad in 2018, netting the first time trial victory of his eight-year career at the first possible opportunity with Team Sky. De la cruz won Sunday's final stage at the Ruta del Sol, taking out the time trial by six seconds over Andrey Amador (Movistar) and seven seconds over LottoNL-Jumbo's Stef Clement.

A former athlete who switched to cycling as part of his recovery from a series of injuries, De La Cruz's career did not really hit top gear until 2016, when, as a rider with Quick-Step Floors, he led the Vuelta a España for a day and won a stage to Naranco. He then finished seventh overall, having made it into the break with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Alberto Contador to Formigal in the Pyrenees that effectively poleaxed Chris Froome's chances of victory that year.

After another season with the Belgian squad and a stage win in Pais Vasco last April, De La Cruz is now racing alongside Froome in Team Sky. Although the 28-year-old Catalan said after Sunday's win that he had had his eye on a possible triumph in the final time trial, "going from knowing that you can win to actually doing it is not always so straightforward."


"I saw that the GC riders were coming through and none of them were managing to beat my time, so I got more and more optimistic," De La Cruz said afterwards.

He was not wholly surprised at his victory, saying, "It's not something exceptional. I've been up there in races like Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco, but either way I'm very happy. The team has been great to me, we've done a lot of work with the time trial bike over the winter, and winning against rivals like these is very important."

As for the course itself, with its six kilometres of steadily rising gravel pathway, De La Cruz recognised that it was "a very difficult time trial course, one where you couldn't really keep a constant pace. So it was more a question of going flat out and seeing where that got you."

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