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- The 2013 National Track Calendar concluded in suburban Los Angeles last month.
MILAN (VN) — Lampre-Merida wants to break free of its Italian heritage and links to the Mantova doping investigation. This week, the team meets in northern Italy in Darfo Boario Terme with an eye on moving ahead.
South African Brent Copeland, the new team manager, leads the charge. In his ranks is Portugal’s star and new world champion Rui Costa.
“We have to keep stepping it up,” Copeland told VeloNews in response to the neon blue and pink team being considered Italy’s No. 2.
Cannondale, with Peter Sagan, is No. 1 and Lampre, despite 22 years, appears a long way behind.
“I agree, but that’s also because of the budget. If you have a good budget, then you can buy riders that are competitive in the three grand tours and get points,” Copeland said. “Now, with the help of Merida and Lampre, we tried to re-enforce the team to get points.”
General Manager Giuseppe Saronni hired Copeland this summer after he left South African team, MTN-Qhubeka. Copeland, who lives in Como, worked in the team before as a sports director and left to help Moto GP star, Ben Spies. He felt he as though he returned to his family.
“They said that they wanted to make the team more international,” Copeland explained. “They have more international sponsors and the English language is more important for the team.”
Lampre finished the season 14th in the UCI rankings, which was, of course, behind Cannondale. It keeps its classic colors for 2014 but makes several changes. Saronni and Copeland signed Costa, who went on to win the world championship road race in Florence. He joins the team from Movistar and brings his rainbow jersey with him.
Nelson Oliveira, also from Portugal, joins the squad as well. Sacha Modolo steps up from the second division. Having won nine sprints this year, he should help Lampre take valuable UCI points.
Copeland has their schedules already planned for 2014. He wanted to see Lampre move up its scheduling by one month, to mid-November. He also upgraded the team’s computer systems to ease the logistics that come with running a first division team, which sometimes competes in three races simultaneously.
“Cycling is a business, you can’t run it like it used to be 10 or 15 years ago,” Copeland said. “Without losing the Italian team’s roots, which are important, a new aspect and a new way of running things is good. Italians are scared of changes and don’t take them well. That’s the team idea, to bring me in and force the changes.”
The Mantova element
Copeland remains concerned about the team’s image with the continuing Mantova investigation that involves 28 individuals, including current and former Lampre staff. Last month, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a two-year ban for Alessandro Ballan, who now rides for BMC Racing. It requested the pharmacist at the center of the investigation, Guido Nigrelli, be banned for life.
The others will slowly make their way to Rome. Damiano Cunego is due to be heard December 10. Saronni, the boss, will also have his day in front of the committee’s prosecutor.
“It’s not a great image for the team,” Copeland explained. “With the Italian system, you never know how long this can go on for. It’s not great. The people involved and under investigation in this trial, we don’t want to be completely in this team. We are looking at that now.”
How Lampre will change and morph remains to be seen. The team’s concern now at Darfo Boario Terme is plotting the 2014 season. It must utilize Costa’s rainbow power and break some Italian roots.
The post Lampre breaks from its Italian roots as Mantova doping case lingers appeared first on VeloNews.com.
A near-miss with a giant elk
Last week, I went to get a haircut with my dad. It’s something that probably hasn’t happened since 1997, but it was the week of Thanksgiving and I was already at my parents’ house. I was in Belgium for Christmas last year, so I figured I’d go early for Thanksgiving to make up for some lost at-home time. My parents live in rural, northern New Jersey. I’m used to suburban Boston, where I can walk to get a pizza in five minutes. At my parents’ house, I have to drive 20 minutes to pick one up.
Thanksgiving is always a time for me to go see the ‘rents and bask in some nostalgia. Right now, I’m looking out the window at the nearby hay fields where I built my own cyclocross course every fall when I was in high school. I would wait until they had been hayed for the last time of the summer, and then I would mow my own course that would zigzag through the fields and in and out of the nearby woods. It would always make for some good preparation before the Mid-Atlantic Cup series started.
Another piece of nostalgia that pertains more to my current life are the stories of when I started to shoot bike racing in earnest. During the summer of 2003, I was shooting all the downhill NORBA races. All of the races in the second half of the season were out west, so I spent a couple months sleeping in my friend John’s living room at his apartment in Denver. We put a lot of miles on my Dodge Neon that summer.
During one late-night drive back from a race, John was starting to crack despite both of us having plenty of Red Bull in our systems. He started to see faces of demons in the road signs. At that point, it seemed like a smart idea to trade driving duties. We were on our way through a mountain pass so he pulled over at the top and I climbed into the driver’s seat. We were both a little on edge because he had spent the past 15 minutes spooking himself with all the imaginary scary stuff he had been seeing.
Less than five minutes after I started driving down the pass, a giant elk ran in front of our tiny Neon. It was going full speed, diagonally across the road. I slammed on the brakes, trying not to lock up the wheels, but it was inevitable. We narrowly missed hitting the thing as it ran out of our path, and for an instant we both breathed a sigh of relief.
That relief turned to horror when the beast swung a 180 and bolted right back across our path in the other direction. This time we came dangerously close to smashing into it. I had to look up to see the top of his shoulder towering over my car. If we made contact, we would both be dead, or at best, the Neon would be completely totaled. The wheels locked up again and both John and I were screaming. The elk’s back end got out of our path just in time for us not to take out his back legs and have his huge rear end come straight through the windshield. The elk ran away into the darkness and John and I had a pretty long and delirious laugh over the whole thing.
It was the only way we could react.
Director/Producer, Behind The Barriers
The post Behind The Barriers Director’s Cut: Cyclocross Nostalgia appeared first on VeloNews.com.
- Is the course at St. Vincent going to be marked/layed out by Saturday afternoon; would like to get familiarized with the venue and course? Thanks
FSA’s all-new and completely redesigned K-Force Light crankset wants to take on the titans, offering up a low weight and shifting performance that put it in the same sphere as the best cranks on the market.
It has some stiff competition, and FSA’s shifting has not historically stacked up well against the best. Frankly, nothing on the market shifts as well as a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset paired with the company’s latest Di2 front derailleur. The combination is a reference point for the entire industry and with few exceptions nothing comes close.
The new K-Force, featuring a propriety ring design similar to the one debuted on the latest Dura-Ace cranks, is one such exception. The shifting is drastically improved from the K-Force’s previous iteration, and is nearly as good as the reigning king, Dura-Ace.
The deficit is as small as the performance gap between Dura-Ace and Ultegra — both the K-Force and Ultegra cranksets perform perfectly well under normal shifting, but retain a minute yet unmistakable shift lag under high pedaling load. Dura-Ace has done away with that lag.
When we subbed the K-Force Light in for a SRAM Red crankset and paired it with a Red Yaw front derailleur, shifting improved slightly over the stock setup. So the FSA option may appeal to SRAM users most of all. It’s lighter and shifts better (and the latest Red is already very good), but it’s more expensive than the Red crank.
The drastic shifting improvement over the previous K-Force crankset isn’t wholly surprising given the cranks’ wholesale redesign, which placed a focus on both crank arm stiffness and, most importantly, chainring stiffness.
The new CNC aluminum chainrings are now proprietary, utilizing an 110BCD (bolt circle diameter with asymmetrical arms, much like Shimano’s 4-arm design. FSA calls its design Asymmetrical Bolt Spacing. Like SRAM, one bolt is now built into the crank arm itself, while the other four are spaced unevenly. The idea is to use less material while maintaining strength and stiffness, and, just as with Shimano’s design, it seems to have worked.
The downside, of course, is that you’re stuck with FSA rings. The upside is a much stiffer system, which drastically improves shifting. Flexy rings kill shifting performance even with the stiffest front derailleur. While the multitude of patents Shimano holds over its ramp and pin designs have thus far prevented any competitor from matching its front shifting performance, brands like FSA can make up most of the difference by developing ferociously stiff chainrings.
FSA’s use of the versatile BB386 EVO standard is welcome, allowing the K-Force Light crankset to be easily fitted to frames with the EVO, BB30, or PF30 standards. BB30 and PF30 frames will require an adapter (available from FSA). An English BB version is available as well.
Weight of the K-Force Light is excellent. Our 172.5mm, 50/34-tooth set weighs 594 grams. That’s well ahead of the 608 grams for the same SRAM Red setup and 649 grams for Shimano Dura-Ace. Campagnolo’s Super Record Ultra Torque crankset, with a Ti spindle, is about 10 grams lighter but costs a whopping $1,000.
Retail price, $725 for the standard option and $700 for compact, is competitive with the Dura-Ace crank, but doesn’t stack up well against SRAM, which can be had for more than $200 less.
Bottom bracket prices are reasonable. EVO, BB30, PF30 and English are all available, $200 for ceramic versions or $50 for standard steel. Adapters for the BB30 and PF30 bottom brackets are an additional $20.
The K-Force should appeal to SRAM users seeking even better shifting, weight-conscious Shimano users, or Shimano users who want to take advantage of their frames’ oversized BB386 EVO, BB30, or PF30 bottom bracket shells. It certainly won’t appeal to anyone on a budget.