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‘Exceptional deal for an exceptional talent’ – Bernal signs five

Team Sky's Egan Bernal finishes a stage of the 2018 Tour de France

Egan Bernal finished 15th overall at the 2018 Tour de France

Colombian rider Egan Bernal has signed a new five-year deal with Team Sky to extend his contract to 2023.

Bernal, 21, is one of cycling’s most promising young riders and provided key support for Geraint Thomas’ Tour de France win in July.

He won the Tour of California in May but has not raced since suffering head and facial injuries in a crash at the Clasica San Sebastian in August.

“It’s a dream team and I don’t see myself anywhere else,” said Bernal.

“I know five years is a long time and that it’s not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me – they offer me everything I could want and I’m excited about the future.”

Most riders sign one or two-year contracts in professional cycling, although both Thomas and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome are currently on three-year deals with Team Sky.

Bernal joined from Italian outfit Androni-Sidermec in January and came sixth in his debut for the British team at the Tour Down Under, before taking second at the Tour of Romandie and finishing 15th in his first Grand Tour at the Tour de France.

Having recovered from his crash at the Clasica San Sebastian, Bernal is set to return at the Giro dell’Emilia race in Italy on Saturday.

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said Bernal’s deal was a “strong signal of intent from the team about the future.”

“A five-year deal in cycling is exceptional, but Egan is an exceptional talent,” he added.

“Egan is part of the next generation at Team Sky, our next big leader for Grand Tours in the years to come, as we continue to build for a bigger and better future.

Team Sky have won six of the past seven Tours with Thomas, Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins, while Froome also claimed the 2018 Giro d’Italia and 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

“We are proud of what we have achieved together at Team Sky since our formation, but we have even greater ambitions to keep on improving and Egan will be at the very heart of that,” said Brailsford.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/45763776

Armstrong whistleblower Landis to set up own cycling team

Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong

Floyd Landis rode for US Postal Service alongside Lance Armstrong between 2002-2004

The whistleblower at the centre of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal is to make his return to cycling with the launch of his own team.

American Floyd Landis lifted the lid on former US Postal Service team-mate Armstrong’s long-term use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2010.

The Canada-based team will be sponsored by 42-year-old Landis’ cannabis business.

“I have a conflicted relationship with cycling, but I still like it,” he said.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Landis – who won the 2006 Tour de France before being stripped of his title after failing a drugs test – said his team would be geared towards helping young riders.

“I still remember what it was like to be a kid, and race on a domestic team. It was some of the best years of my life,” he said.

Armstrong, 47, was stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 – including his seven Tour de France titles – and banned from the sport for life in 2012 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (Usada) investigation into what it called “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

He agreed to pay $5m (£3.8m) to settle his legal case with the US government, who alleged he had defrauded the US Postal Service during his years of doping.

Landis – who received a two-year ban for doping in 2007 – told the WSJ he had received around $750,000 (£576,150) as part of the Armstrong settlement for his co-operation, money he will use to set up his cycling team.

“I’m contrite about what happened, but you can never go back and change the decisions you made. At the very least, people can see that I’m ready to move on,” he said.

“Maybe it sounds odd, but it’s kind of some closure for me.”

Landis set up his Colorado-based cannabis company, Floyd’s of Leadville, in 2016. It sells legal hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products which help to alleviate soreness in athletes.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/45753716

‘This course is made for the Yates brothers’

Simon Yates in action in the Vuelta a Espana

Britain’s Simon Yates won the Vuelta a Espana earlier this month – his first Grand Tour title

“We have got to go back four decades before you see a course anything like this for a World Championships.”

The Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, culminate this weekend with the men’s and women’s road races on a course Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman has described as “phenomenally difficult”.

At 265km long, the men’s course includes 5,000m of climbing with the final 3km climb dubbed ‘Hell’ by locals because of its section at 30% gradient.

Both the women’s and men’s races will involve laps of the 24km ‘Olympic circuit’ – the women completing three laps on Saturday and the men seven on Sunday.

Britain’s Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates – along with twin brother Adam – is among the favourites to win the men’s world title, while the British women face stiff competition for the rainbow jersey from the Dutch team.

Simon Yates says the course “should suit me” but having not raced since victory in Spain adds “you never really know until you get to the race.”

“The whole circuit is very demanding. We don’t know what my condition is after the Vuelta.”

Brother Adam describes it as “one of the hardest world courses I’ve seen in a long time”, but agrees it is a course that suits the whole British team.

“The last climb is pretty steep, it’s a technical descent, so it’s going to be a tough race,” he added.

Here, BBC Sport summariser Boardman talks through the course and what the riders can expect.

The men’s race

The field is going to be in absolute pieces.

For the men, there is an extra, very short but incredibly steep climb that finishes 8km from the end with a big descent.

It is a bit of a shock when you first see it because it is so consistent in the gradient. There is absolutely no let-up from bottom to top, and at the end of a long road race that is an awful lot to deal with. It is really going to take its toll.

There will not be a bunch sprint. There will be a breakaway that goes from the start. We will eventually be left with a small group contesting it.

They cannot go too early or they won’t make it all the way to the finish. The serious breakaways will happen on the last couple of laps. The title will almost certainly be decided on the last two climbs.

I’ve been to look at the last climb and while it’s certainly not long – perhaps 2km or 3km in length – the climb goes up to 30% in places. It’s the width of a car, so tactically it is going to be very important at the bottom going through the villages to get right near the front because there is no opportunity to move up.

The women’s race

The Dutch are highly likely to dominate. They did so in the time trial with first, second and third, and I don’t see any reason why that is going to change for the road race.

The only intrigue is going to be who in the Dutch team wins the title and how they work together. At the European Championships, they almost lost it by working against each other and trying to take the title as individuals.

A lot of the women are saying that they do not have the strength in depth in the field, and putting in a climb as severe as the one in the men’s race would have just whittled the race down to the Dutch riders immediately.

I don’t think it is a gender thing. It might take time to build up the women’s strength in depth in the peloton to get to the point where the same course can be used for everybody.

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Profile of the road race course from Kufstein to Innsbruck – the women’s elite race will finish on lap three of the Olympic circuit, while the men’s will culminate after ‘Hell’s climb’.

Why don’t men and women ride the same course?

It is a question that needs to be posed to the UCI. We’re moving at a glacial pace towards parity. We will get there, but it is going to take time.

We have got the same events for the men and the women on the track at the Olympic Games at last, but it has taken an embarrassingly long time. On the road, they are still playing catch-up.

At the moment, I do think the strength in depth in women’s road cycling isn’t strong enough to support long races.

There are some very high quality athletes but behind the scenes, financially, there is not a system in place to support people being full-time so the quality drops off very quickly.

The better way to go, in my opinion, is to shorten the men’s race to keep it more exciting. We all believe there should be parity, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be.

With the final climb in Innsbruck, I can’t see any reason why the women couldn’t do it. It’s an exciting final spectacle for the men, so why wouldn’t you include it for the women?

What does the rainbow jersey mean to cyclists?

The rainbow jersey is the top of the sport. Any sport has its own pinnacle and the rainbow jersey is the trophy you then wear for the rest of the year.

It is an honour to wear it. It says you are the best in the world and you can celebrate that for 12 months.

In the world of cycling, it is probably bigger than winning Olympic gold.

The uniqueness of an Olympic gold is that it is a brand known outside of sport. You can go out into the wilderness and say you have won an Olympic gold medal and, no matter how remote, someone is going to know what you are talking about.

If you said the cycling world championships, they probably wouldn’t – but in this world, particularly on the road, it is very valuable both figuratively and literally.

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Slovak Peter Sagan won his third successive World Championship road race title in 2017

‘I can’t see past the Yates brothers’

We’re hoping to see Adam and Simon Yates up there, because they have both had sensational seasons and are both capable on a course like this – it is almost made for them.

They both excel in single day racing as well, so it is a real chance for them and possibly a once-in-a-career opportunity to have the terrain they prefer.

I can’t see past the Yates brothers for the British team. They are the two guys we should be protecting and they have a chance of a medal.

There are often surprise winners at world championships because it comes down to tactical decisions in split seconds.

‘The Dutch are going to dominate the women’s race’

I don’t think Great Britain have got anyone who you would say was up for the title here, because the Dutch are going to dominate the event.

The best opportunity for the British team is to attack from the start and be part of the breakaway. It’s a long shot – but it is an opportunity.

If they go for that breakaway strategy, then we could be looking at Sophie Wright who did the same thing at the European Championships. She went for an early breakaway and made a good fist of it as well.

It’s not just one or two riders though, all of the British team could do the same thing. If and when they get reeled in, they will need to counter-attack straightaway, so they must always be on the offensive.

Chris Boardman was speaking to BBC Sport’s Katie Falkingham.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/45664377

Road World Championships 2018: Spain’s Alejandro Valverde heads sprint finish to win world crown

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/45701078

Valverde sprints to victory to win road world title

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‘Road to hell’ – Valverde world champion after monstrous climb in road race

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde edged a sprint finish to win the men’s race at the Road World Championships.

Valverde finished just ahead of France’s Romain Bardet, Canada’s Michael Woods and Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands in Innsbruck, Austria.

The 38-year-old had previously finished on the podium a record six times.

Peter Kennaugh finished 16th for Great Britain and Adam Yates 37th, but Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates did not finish.

Valverde, Bardet and Woods raced the final few kilometres of the 258-kilometre mountainous route together, before being joined by Dumoulin going into the final kilometre.

Valverde, who served a two-year doping ban earlier in his career over his involvement in the Operation Puerto scandal, led the final sprint for the line and remained unchallenged to beat Bardet by just over a bike length, with Woods third.

“It’s incredible, after missing it for so many years. It’s a victory for the team,” said Valverde, who had twice finished second, with four third place finishes, at the World Championships.

Commenting on a challenging day for the British riders, Kennaugh said: “That was way harder than expected. It was just raced full gas from the start, even the break took long to go for a World Championships, and then the pace was just really hard for every lap on the climb.

“Unfortunately Simon wasn’t feeling great, so we did what we could. It’s hard without radios to know who is where.

“I was following moves with two to go with the plan we had, but I didn’t know Simon had stopped. In hindsight, I would have just waited, but that’s racing.”

Results

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) 6hrs 46mins 41secs

2. Romain Bardet (Fra) Same time

3. Michael Woods (Can)

4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned)

5. Gianni Moscon (Ita) + 13secs

6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) + 43secs

7. Michael Valgren (Den) Same time

8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra)

9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra)

10. Rui Costa (Por)

Selected others:

16. Peter Kennaugh + 1min 21secs

37. Adam Yates + 4mins

DNF. Simon Yates

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/45699992

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