Dauphiné Stage 8 Preview

All to play for. In recent years the final stage has been a bit of a let down, a fight for the stage win but a procession for the overall classification. This year it’s different with just eight seconds separating Alberto Contador and Chris Froome and time bonuses on the finish line.

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Training Time

Want to see Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali in action together? You could wait for the Critérium du Dauphiné in June but, as today’s L’Equipe shows, they will all meet up this month in Tenerife for training camps on Mount Teide. Quite probably they will all stay in the same hotel, setting up an intriguing atmosphere with the three great rivals for the Tour de France sitting down for dinner together, albeit at different tables.

It’s easy to spend hours reviewing the tactics in a race but very little time and coverage is given to what a rider’s job really involves: training.

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USADA Ban Bruyneel and Expose Contador

550 days have passed since the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued Lance Armstrong with a lifetime ban. But the case was never just about Armstrong, it was the “US Postal Conspiracy” and involved a range of characters.

Johan Bruyneel’s name appeared 129 times in the USADA reasoned decision and a ban always looked inevitable but the case went to arbitration and was delayed until a hearing last December and today the verdict is out. Bruyneel gets a 10 year ban while former US Postal/Discovery team staff Pedro Celaya and Jose “Pepe” Martí each get an eight year ban.

In a sense this marks the end of the road for the US Postal case although not the end of the story. Plus the USADA report reveals Martí was working for Team Saxo-Tinkoff which could prove awkward for the Danish team and Alberto Contador.

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Volta a Catalunya Stage 3 Preview

Volta Catalunya La Molina

The race enters the Pyrenees for the first mountain stage but the final climb is not fierce. Instead this is a day when the descent could pick the winner because foul weather is forecast and the riders face a long and chilly ride down the top of the Coll de la Creueta in freezing temperatures. A battle between the big guns isn’t certain but they might feel compelled to turn up the heat… if the stage goes ahead.

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Volta a Catalunya Stage 1 Preview

Tour of Catalonia posterI’ll be doing short previews for this races each morning. It’s a great event with a challenging course and, best of all, galactic startlist that seems many big names in action.

Here is the Stage 1 preview along with a quick take on route as a whole, the overall contenders and the Daily Diaz reprised from the Vuelta a Espana.

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Who Will Win The Tour de France?

Chris Froome Dauphiné Time Trial

Having looked at the other jerseys, now it’s time to assess the contenders for cycling’s ultimate prize, the yellow jersey and the overall win in the Tour de France.

Chris Froome is everyone’s pick and it’s easy to see why. But who are his rivals and how can he be beaten? Also the quantity of top-10 contenders stands out, promising a battle in the mountains.

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Critérium du Dauphiné Preview

Dauphiné preview

A miniature de Tour de France concentrated in the Alps, there’s something for everyone in this race with its variety of stages although 2013 is particularly mountainous. The race normally captures France in the summer but the wet spring looks set to continue into June.

We’ll soon discover the relative form of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador but if these two are the prime picks, there’s a big cast of contenders with Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Andrew Talansky, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Tony Martin and many more.

Here’s a preview of the race including with a short take on each stage plus a look at the likely contenders and plenty more including the new TV schedules.

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Vuelta Power Analysis – What the Watts Say

The cheerily-named French website cyclisme-dopage.com has been hosting research by engineer Frédéric Portoleau who estimates the power needed to ride with the leaders over the main mountain passes.

The estimates suggest the Vuelta saw some of the highest power-to-weight numbers of the year. Some will use this to draw conclusions but for me it’s more a tool to analyse the racing.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: La Vuelta

Contador Fuente De

I had an angel on one shoulder, saying “don’t do this, they’re going to roll you over” and a devil in the other saying “go for it”. On this occasion, I didn’t listen to the angel. It was attack or die.

Alberto Contador attacked 55km from the finish on Stage 17 and rode on to win the stage and claimed the overall lead. If three weeks of racing are reduced to one moment, it was this audacious attack that won the 2012 Vuelta.

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The Vuelta, The First Race of the 2013 Season?

Cycling goes big on history. Champions from the past are venerated and today’s races draw prestige from their past and not their past list. At the same time it’s a sport that’s always looking to the future. Make a mistake today and there’s always tomorrow and look at the Vuelta where several riders are there to train for the World Championships, a three week grand tour is a mere training camp for future races.

But there’s a hidden side to this. Namely we have riders wearing the jersey of one team but riding for another. This happens because they have already signed for a new team for 2013 but are racing the Vuelta for their existing team. For now it’s not changed the results but it is easy to envisage a range of scenarios where the results are distorted.

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