Looking back at the Gran Prix of Gloucester - Gallery

The Craft Gran Prix of Gloucester may be the closest thing the US has to an iconic cyclo-cross race. The venue in Gloucester, Massachusetts, along the Atlantic Coast north of Boston is both incredibly scenic and fittingly hard.

The Saturday and Sunday C2 races are part of USA Cycling's Pro Cyclo-cross Calendar, while also serving as the opening rounds of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Cycle-Smart.

Four-time US champion Jeremy Powers summed it up well in a statement on the race website. "Gloucester is a special race for me," Powers said. It's a true New England classic: the big, rowdy crowds always show up, the course is dynamic and challenging, and all the top riders line up. Historic, classic, and epic."

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Westerner Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz Donkey Label Racing) of California swept both Elite men's races in Gloucester this year, while the Elite women's races saw Emma White (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com) of New York take the Saturday win and Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) of Maine win on Sunday.

Check out these Dave McElwaine photos for a look at the action and the spectacle.

 

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Tour of Guangxi: Ewan unsure of form but hungry for wins

With 10 wins in 2017, Caleb Ewan is two victories shy of his best season to date numerically. However, the Orica-Scott fast man has arguably already enjoyed his best year in the WorldTour, with a Giro d'Italia stage win a major highlight.

At the Tour of Guangxi, Ewan is in the top echelon of sprinters and a favourite to add to his four Tour Down Under, three Tour of Britain, Abu Dhabi Tour, Tour of Poland, and Giro stage wins this year. However, Ewan hasn't raced since the Tour of Britain in early September. In the pre-race press conference, the 23-year-old expressed his desire for victory, caveated by his lack of recent race days.

"I think when you have that much time between races it is always hard to know what your form is going to be like. I think we will see tomorrow and how my legs feel," said Ewan. "I want to try and win a stage. In the first few days, there are stages, which are really good for the sprinters so my best opportunities will come soon. We brought a really good team for the sprints, so I think we will have a good lead out. Obviously, I want to win, but it will be hard."

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With Marcel Kittel top of the winning tally in 2017 with 14, Ewan was asked if he could topple the German by the end of the six-stage race.

"It is going to be hard to do it here because there are so many good sprinters who have come here," he said of his rivals. "But I don't even think there is going to be four sprint stages. It depends on how the stages are raced and how good a form the other sprinters are in. I will try to be going as best as I can and I'll see how that goes."

Having ridden the Tour of Beijing in 2014 and finished second to now-teammate Luka Mezgec on stage 1, Ewan has shown he can perform in China and do so late into the season. Stage wins for Ewan would be important and welcome addition to his palmarès, but he said the exploration outside of cycling's European heartland is a benefit to all.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Brown extends with Slipstream Sports through 2019

Slipstream Sports announced a contract extension with Nate Brown on Wednesday that will see the 26-year-old American stick with the team currently known as Cannondale-Drapac through 2019.

After winning the under-23 national time trial as well as taking the overall victory at the Tour de Beauce in 2013, Brown made his WorldTour debut with Garmin-Sharp in 2014. He has been with the squad in its various iterations ever since.

He rode in his first Tour de France this July, spending two days in the polka dot jersey and supporting GC leader Rigoberto Urán to runner-up honours.

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"Nate's performances this season have given him confidence and furthered his ambitions," said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters via a team press release. "Nate has always been talented and hard-working. This year, I think he's come to see what he's truly capable of, which makes him capable of even more. We know what he can do and now so does he."

Brown said he did not hesitate to re-up with the squad when given the opportunity.

"The moment JV came to me with another contract, I knew it was the right choice to stay," he said. "This team is a family to me. They have always had my back and given me great opportunities. I can't wait to keep developing with them for another two years. I feel like I have a lot more I can give the team."

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Petilli undergoes successful surgery - News shorts

UAE Team Emirates said Wednesday that Simone Petilli underwent successful surgery to repair the fractured collarbone he suffered in a crash at Il Lombardia.

Petilli was left with fractures to his neck and D1 vertebra, a broken shoulder blade and collarbone, concussion, and a litany of scratches and bruising after crashing on the same corner as Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) and Daniel Martinez (Wilier Triestina).

"At the medical institute Nuova Poliambulanza in Brescia, Dr. Flavio Terragnoli successfully performed an osteosynthesis surgery on the multiple fragments fracture of the right collarbone," UAE Team Emirates wrote in an email to Cyclingnews. "The team’s medical staff will evaluate the recovery time.”

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Of the three other riders, Martinez escaped with very few injuries and competed in the Tour of Turkey. De Plus was initially cleared of serious injury, but he was eventually diagnosed with a fractured kneecap when he went to hospital at home in Belgium. He is expected to be off the bike for a month as he recovers. Bakelants remains in hospital after the crash. He was transferred from Como to a hospital in Leuven on last week and underwent surgery on Friday to stabilise the fractured vertebrae he suffered.

Kelderman seeking GC result in Guangxi

Team Sunweb will head into the final WorldTour race of the year with Wilco Kelderman seeking a GC result this week at the Tour of Guangxi, while Michael Matthews and Max Walscheid will hunt stage wins in the sprint finishes.

Kelderman, Matthews and Walscheid will be joined in the six-day race that starts Thursday by Lennard Hofstede, Mike Teunissen, Albert Timmer and Max Walscheid.

Rally Cycling signs brother and sister duo

Gibbons leads Dimension Data charge in Guangxi

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Post-Tour surge propels Wanty-Groupe Gobert to Europe Tour win

A late surge of wins in Italy propelled Wanty-Groupe Gobert to the overall win in the 2017 UCI Europe Tour for the second consecutive year, a result the Belgian Pro Continental team hopes will garner another Tour de France invitation next year.

With a Tour de France appearance limiting the team’s UCI points in July, Wanty-Groupe Gobert lagged behind Cofidis in the season-long Continental series. A surge of wins starting in August after the Tour de France made up the difference, however, with the team finishing 31 points ahead of Cofidis and 241 ahead of Androni-Sidermec

"Three weeks ago I told general manager Jean-François Bourlart that we would win the Europe Tour,” said team director Hilaire Van der Schueren. “At that moment we were 500 points behind, but I know how the system works.

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“We changed our way of riding,” Van der Schueren said. “We rode to pick up points and that brings benefits.”

Guillaume Martin started off the post-Tour win streak with a stage win and the overall at the Tour du Limousin in August. Jerome Baugnies added a win at Druivenkoers-Overijse, and Tom Devriendt another at Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde. Martin continued the run of wins with a stage and the overall at Tour du Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon, while track specialist Kenny Dehaes seized victory at Gooikse Pijl.

Martin kept things rolling in Italy with a stage win and the overall at Giro della Toscana, and Andrea Pasqualon finished it off with victory at the one-day Coppa Sabatini.

Positioning for another Tour de France invitation

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Chinese media dub Alaphilippe the Tour of Guangxi favourite

As a first-year neo-pro in 2014, Julian Alaphilippe lined out at the final edition of the Tour of Beijing as a relatively unknown rider. At the inaugural edition of the Tour of Guangxi, as the WorldTour returns to China, the Quick-Step Floors rider starts the six-stage race as the rider to beat in the eyes of the local press.

Alongside sprinter Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) and the sole Chinese rider in the race, Meiyan Wang (Bahrain-Merida), Alaphilippe was selected as one of three riders on stage at the pre-race press conference. Alaphilippe hasn't raced since Il Lombardia, where he finished second to Vincenzo Nibali to continue his strong comeback from the knee injury that saw him miss the Ardnesses Classics and Tour de France.

The Tour of Guangxi is Alaphilippe's first stage race since the Vuelta a España, where he took a debut Grand Tour stage win, and despite his favorite status from the Chinese press corp, the 23-year-old played down his chances for the win.

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"I am really happy to be here to finish my season. For the race, I know there is some opportunity for the sprinters so we have a good chance with Fernando Gaviria," Alaphilippe said, mentioning his Colombian teammate.

With the majority of the stages for the sprinters, Gaviria will have greater opportunity for stage wins, but with stage 4's short, punchy finish suited to his capabilities, Alaphilippe added he is motivated for the best result possible.

"For me, I don’t know. I know there are two hard stages that can be good for me, but it depends on the legs and how I feel. I will try to do my best and do a good result at the end," he added.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Piva: Porte will like the 2018 Tour de France route

BMC Racing’s general classification leader Richie Porte wasn’t at the unveiling of the 2018 Tour de France route, but his directeur sportif Valerio Piva believes that the Australian will be happy with what was laid out before the audience at the Palais des Congres on Tuesday. Tour organiser ASO detailed a race that will test the general classification riders’ ability to adapt to all terrains.

Porte, who came into this year’s race as one of the big favourites but crashed out dramatically on the descent of the Mont du Chat on stage 9, will once again be BMC Racing’s leader at the French Grand Tour.

“I need to speak to him, but I think that he will like it,” Piva told Cyclingnews following the announcement. “He’s a good time triallist and a good climber. If I remember correctly, I think that he was 10th in the Roubaix stage when Froome crashed [Porte actually finished 20th in 2014 - ed.] so I think that it will be a good Tour for him.

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“I’m convinced that this year, if he hadn’t crashed, he would have been one of the contenders, but we need to focus on this year and work to have him in good condition, motivated and avoid these risks of crashing. I think he will be motivated to fight and to try to do the best in this Tour.”

Porte will hope that his 2018 campaign will go better than it did this year, but he will have to navigate an opening week that could prove perilous for the peloton in general. From the first stage, which will pass over the infamous Passage du Gois, there are any number of days that the general classification riders could give away a fatal amount of time.

“For sure it is for climbers, but at the beginning of the Tour it is possible to lose a lot if you’re not prepared,” explained Piva. “It’s a very difficult Tour with a cocktail of everything. From the beginning, we have a flat stage with the wind, a team time trial, a hilly stage with two times up the Mur de Bretagne, and the stage to Roubaix.”

Reduced teams

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Pinot welcomes 65km mountain stage at 2018 Tour de France

The television cameras may have been focused on Romain Bardet’s reaction to the route of the 2018 Tour de France at the Palais des Congrès, but his fellow countryman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was equally enthusiastic about the design of next year’s race.

A better time triallist than Bardet, Pinot will be less preoccupied by the penultimate day time trial in the Basque Country and he was bullish about his prospects of emerging unscathed from the daunting opening week in northern France.

The quantity and variety of mountain stages in weeks two and three, meanwhile, seem likely to ensure Pinot builds his season around the Tour in 2018, after targeting the Giro d’Italia – where he placed fourth overall – this year.

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Pinot has endured a complicated relationship with the Tour during his career. He was best young rider on his Tour debut in 2012 and placed third overall in 2014, but he has abandoned the race on three of his six appearances.

“I like this Tour, it’s a Tour that’s good for me,” Pinot said on Tuesday. “I hope I can finally show my real potential in the Tour.

“It’s a very beautiful route, well designed. The opening days will be complicated, with finishes for puncheurs and a stage on the pavé. It won’t be boring.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Prudhomme calls on Dumoulin to take on Froome at the Tour de France

Tom Dumoulin was absent from the Tour de France presentation on Tuesday, but many in Paris felt he should set the Grand Boucle as his major goal for 2018, including race director Christian Prudhomme.

Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is currently enjoying an end-of-season holiday in the US after winning the Giro d’Italia in May and then taking the world time trial title in Bergen, where he beat Chris Froome by more than a minute. He has so far pushed back on confirming he will target the Tour de France in 2018, insisting that the routes of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia will be the decisive factor when he sits down with Team Sunweb management post-vacation to plan his 2018 season.

"If I go to the Tour I want to fight for victory, but there's a lot of guys and you have to beat them all to win. It's not a clash of the titans between me and Froome,” Dumoulin told Cyclingnews recently in a special podcast interview.

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“I’d rather win the Giro than be on the podium of the Tour. So it pretty much depends on the routes.”

Prudhomme seems keen to have Dumoulin at the 2018 Tour de France. Like many, he sees him as a real rival to Froome and called on him to ride the Tour. The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf asked, “Will this be Tom's Tour?”, while L’Equipe newspaper specifically compared Froome’s and Dumoulin’s chances.

"Come to the Tour, Tom. You’ve got a great chance to compete against a rider with the same qualities as you: Chris Froome," Prudhomme said an interview with Dutch national television channel NOS.

Waiting for Giro d'Italia route 

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Deignan extends with Sky

Philip Deignan will ride on in Team Sky kit again next year after signing a new contract, the team announced on Wednesday. Deignan joined the team in 2014 after a two-year-spell at Pro Continental level with the UnitedHealthcare squad, making 2018 his fifth season with Team Sky.

"It was a very easy decision. I've been part of the team now for four years, I've settled in nicely and I've made so many good friends on the team. I feel almost part of the family now, so it was an easy decision to stay," Deignan said in a press release issued by the team.

"The season in general I was really happy with. But it's so easy on this team when you enter a squad with a big leader like a [Chris] Froomey, Sergio Henao or G [Geraint Thomas] and any of these guys. It makes the job so much easier when you've got a guy who you know can win. Then you're able to give 100 percent and you've got full confidence. We're a bit spoiled on Team Sky that we've got so many great leaders, but for me as one of the domestiques it makes my job a little bit easier."

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A capable all-rounder with a Grand Tour top 10 at the 2009 Vuelta a Espana on his career palmares, Deignan has spent most of his time with Sky as a support rider for stage races, with occasional opportunities of his own. He has ridden the Giro d'Italia in three of the past four seasons and will continue to focus on that race moving forward.

"I think my aims will be similar to this year, and just trying to be consistently good from February onwards," Deignan said. "Being able to do the job I'm asked to do, and hopefully have a solid Giro and work towards that race again as a big objective. But mainly consistency and being able to do my job."

 

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

La Course returns to one-day format with race in the Alps

The La Course by Le Tour women's race will return to a one-day format in 2018 with a 118km stage in the Alps that emulates stage 10 of the Tour de France, from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand.

La Course started out in 2014 as a circuit race on the Champs Elysées ahead of the arrival of the men's peloton in Paris. This year, organisers ASO sought to expand the event, striking upon an unorthodox two-day format that saw a summit finish on the Col d’Izoard followed by a handicapped time trial in Marseille, both borrowing from the corresponding stages in the men’s race.

The 2018 edition of La Course was unveiled in Paris’ Palais des Congres on Tuesday as the route for the Tour de France was officially revealed by race director Christian Prudhomme. Back to a one-day event, though not back on the Champs Elysées, it will start by Lake Annecy and finish in Le Grand Bornand, taking place on July 17 ahead of the men’s stage.

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While the men will cover 159km and four major climbs, the women will cover 118km and the last two of those climbs – the Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière – before the run into Le Grand Bornand.

The route will eschew the Croix de Fry and the much-anticipated Glières – an 11 per cent climb followed by two kilometres of gravel roads – that are found in the first half of the men’s parcours. It will join the men’s route at Bonneville before taking on the Romme (8.8km at 8.9 per cent) and Colombière (7.5km at 8.5 per cent) combination – separated by a short descent – before the 15km downhill run into Le Grand Bornand.

This year’s La Course sparked mixed reaction and debate, with some feeling the multi-day format and move to the mountains and was a step in the right direction, while others bemoaned the short 67km length of the Izoard stage. 

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Vinokourov feigns surprise after Aru signs with UAE Team Emirates

Astana team manager Alexander Vinokourov has feigned surprise and disappointment after UAE Team Emirates announced it had signed Fabio Aru for the next three years.

The Italian Grand Tour rider had been widely expected to quit Astana for UAE Team Emirates but always avoided talking about his future while racing in Astana colours.

On Tuesday, as attention was focused on the 2018 Tour de France presentation, UAE Team Emirates confirmed Aru’s three-year contract in a brief statement. The Italian champion will join fellow new signings Dan Martin and Alexander Kristoff on an overhauled UAE Team Emirates roster next season.

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Astana had hoped to keep Aru due to an extension clause in his contract. Aru was apparently obliged to stay with Astana if the Kazakhstani team matched an offer from a rival team. There were also reports that he was under pressure to pay a get-out clause to end his time at Astana. It is unclear what happened behind the scenes but Aru has signed a three-year contract with UAE Team Emirates.

Vinokourov was in Paris for the Tour de France presentation and claimed he discovered that Aru would ride for UAE Team Emirates via media reports.

"He had another year of an optional contract with us. He never warned us of his desire to leave. He was asked regularly for his news but never answered,” Vinokourov said, according to L'Equipe.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

2018 Tour de France route analysis with Bardet, Yates and Froome - Podcast

This week the Cyclingnews team are in Paris for the presentation of the 2018 Tour de France race route. Joined by Jeremy Whittle from The Times, the Cyclingnews team of Daniel Benson and Sadhbh O’Shea analyse the mouth-watering route from race organisers ASO and dissect the key points of the parcours.

We hear from four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, who will be aiming to join an elite club of five-time winners, along with Simon Yates (Orica Scott), who outlines his team’s goals and hints that he will return in 2018 to challenge for the podium, and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who will lead the French contingent on home soil.

The 2018 Tour de France runs from July 7-29, and kicks off in the Vendée region for the first time since 2011. From there the race takes on several key stages with a team time trial, cross-winds along the coast, cobbles from Paris-Roubaix and tricky uphill finishes all within the opening nine stages. After the first rest day the race hits the Alps for a trio of brutal stages that include a finish on Alpe d’Huez. There’s no let-up in the Pyrenees, with finishes at Bagnères-de-Luchon, atop the dreaded Col de Portet, and then a stage that covers the Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque, before an individual time trial to Espelette on stage 20.

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"It’s tough and I wouldn’t expect anything else from the Tour de France organisers, especially the first eight or nine days,” Froome told Cyclingnews in the podcast.

“It’s going to be very dangerous in the north-west of France, before we hit any of the big mountains. The wind could be a massive factor up there and with the GC being so close, we could see the race torn to pieces up there. There’s the inclusion of quite a substantial cobble stage and we could see a lot happening. Then there’s the stage with a gravel section and there’s a lot to get ready for in that sense."

To hear more from Froome, Yates, Bardet and our analysis of the Tour de France route, listen to the podcast, and click here to subscribe.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Bahrain-Merida close out debut season at Tour of Guangxi

Ten months on from making its debut WorldTour appearance at the Tour Down Under, Bahrain-Merida will close its inaugural season at the first edition of the Tour of Guangxi. Team leader Vincenzo Nibali will ride the Taiwan KOM Challenge on Friday and so Bahrain-Merida has selected squad capable of challenging for stage wins at the Tour of Guangxi.

The team also has the only Chinese rider in the Guangxi peloton with Meiyin Wang selected for the race. On the eve of the race, Bahrain-Merida's sports director Philippe Mauduit explained to Cyclingnews that Wang would be given opportunities to impress via breakaways.

"It is difficult for him to have the ambition to win a stage but he is in his home country," Mauduit said. "He is the only Chinese here in the race and it is important, at least for him, but it would also be good for the team if he can go in some breakaway and show the jersey, show himself and have fun front of his public."

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The 28-year-old, who turned professional with the Trek–Marco Polo team in 2009, has won stages of the Tour of Langkawi and Tour of China I but is yet to taste success at the WorldTour. Starting his season with the Tour of Oman, Wang rode the majority of the spring classics through to the Tour of Romandie. Since April, Wang has had a light schedule but returned to racing in the Italian autumn races.

Wang isn't the team's only card for the race with Italian sprint duo Sonny Colbrelli and Niccolò Bonifazio to be given support in their bid for stage wins. However, with the late date of the race, Mauduit is unsure what level to expect of the sprint field in Guangxi.

"We go with Sonny and Niccolò for stage wins," Mauduit said. "It is a little bit difficult to know exactly what we will be able to do here because when it is the end of the season most of the time the riders have lighter training we would say. We will see how on the road how it goes to be smart and to do something."

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

2018 Tour de France route in 3D - Video

The ASO has unveiled all 21 stages of the 2018 Tour de France, which starts in Noirmoutier-En-L'Ïle on Saturday, July 7, and concludes three weeks later in Paris on July 29. In between, the peloton will tackle a 35km team time trial in Cholet, a 31km individual time trial from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette, and six mountain says with three summit finishes.

The 2018 Tour de France will return to staples such as Alpe d'Huez and Pau, but there will also be an incredibly short 65km mountain stage, a stage that borrows 21.7km of cobbles from Paris-Roubaix, and a stage in the Alps that will take riders over gravel roads.

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It's a lot to take in, but the race organisers have provided this five-minute "3D" video to help bring the route to life. Hang on as the peloton zips through each of the stage routes and literally flies through the transfer days.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com







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