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SITTARD, Netherlands (VN) — The bumps of Belgium are long gone now, and in their stead come the hills of the Dutch Limburg region. To be more precise, there are 34 climbs over the Amstel Gold Race’s 251 kilometers, amounting to more than 13,000 feet of climbing.
The Amstel Gold Race comes this weekend and with it a different sort of rider and race. Gone are the big and hearty men of the northern cobbles, and out come the climbers, the GC types, the puncheurs.
This Sunday marks the opening of what’s known as Ardennes week, the 10 days of hillier one-day races spanning the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Though Amstel is held in the Limburg region, outside of the forested Ardennes, it’s lumped into the onslaught of steep, paved climbs and teams look at the three races the same way: hard.
The favorites here are punchy climbers and general classification riders — riders like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Rui Costa (Lampre), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Amstel Gold Race’s return to the new finish, and 34 climbs
This marks the second year for the “new” finish of Amstel Gold, nearly two kilometers past the top of the Cauberg climb above Valkenburg, the site (and the same finish, now) as the 2012 UCI Road World Championships. Ahead of last year’s 48th edition, Amstel Gold Race course director Leo van Vliet, a coach for the Dutch worlds team in 2012, elected to go with the worlds finish. On Wednesday, crews put the finishing touches on massive hospitality tents at the flat finish line.
The alteration means a different finish that can suit a different type of rider. If a lithe climber breaks free of the clutches of a group at the base of the Cauberg (1.2km at 5.8 percent), he may not be able to sustain the gap over the 1.8km to the finish. It’s mostly flat, but it will most likely be windy.
The field will climb the Cauberg — Gilbert’s springboard for his 2012 rainbow jersey — twice near the end of the race. The first time, the riders will pass through the finish area and up the Geulhemmerberg (970m at 7.9 percent), then the Bemerlerberg (900m at 7 percent), and then the Cauberg a final time before the finish in Vilt.
Climbs of the 2014 Amstel Gold Race:
1. Slingerberg (1.3km, 4.8%)
2. Adsteeg (700m, 4.5%)
3. Lange Raarberg (1.8km, 3.9%)
4. Bergseweg (2.6km, 3.3%)
5. Sibbergrubbe (1.8km, 3.9%)
6. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
7. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
8. Wolfsberg (800m, 4.4%)
9. Loorberg (1.5km, 5.5%)
10. Schweibergerweg (2.9km, 3.9%)
11. Camerig (4.3km, 3.8%)
12. Drielandenpunt (3.7km, 3.7%)
13. Gemmenich (900m, 6.4%)
14. Vijlenerbos (1.8km, 5.1%)
15. Eperheide (2.3km, 4.1%)
16. Gulpenerberg (700m, 8.1%)
17. Plettenberg (1km, 4.2%)
18. Eijserweg (2.2km, 4.3%)
19. Huls (1km, 7.7%)
20. Vrakelberg (700m, 7.9%)
21. Sibbergrubbe (2.1km, 4.1%)
22. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
23. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
24. Bemelerberg (900m, 5%)
25. Loorberg (1.5km, 5.5%)
26. Gulpenerberg (700m, 8.1%)
27. Kruisberg (800m, 7.5%)
28. Eijserbosweg (1.1km, 8.1%)
29. Fromberg (1.6km, 4%)
30. Keutenberg (700m, 9.4%)
31. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
32. Geulhemmerberg (1km, 6.2%)
33. Bemelerberg (900m, 5%)
34. Cauberg (1.2km, 5.8%)
Kwiatkowski’s coronation, a veteran’s confirmation, or a surprise attack?
All that climbing on those narrow roads and its timing as the kickoff to the Ardennes make Amstel Gold wildly hard to predict, though this much is clear: it will be incredibly difficult and immensely stressful. The roads here are one-car wide, and the amount of traffic furniture — bumps, poles, odd curbs — is incredible. Crashes at Amstel Gold are a near certainty, and large and loud crowds are a guarantee. It’s a race named after a beer, after all.
Amstel Gold could fall to a younger rider like Kwiatkowski or an older one like Valverde (second last year). Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) will have his eyes on the Ardennes races, as will Garmin-Sharp’s Daniel Martin, winner of last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Gilbert has won this race twice, in 2010 and 2011, and demonstrated in Wednesday’s De Brabantse Pijl that he has sharpened his fitness ahead of his home races.
Kwiatkowski is a good bet because he comes into Amstel Gold having shown he’s on great form (second at Vuelta al País Vasco, behind a flying Alberto Contador) and is a year wiser. And he showed his late-race snap when he blew up Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to win Strade Bianche in March. Last year, he finished fourth at Amstel Gold and fifth at La Flèche Wallonne. The Polish champion appears to be on the cusp of an Ardennes victory.
“Kwiatkowski was fourth last year and is in a good moment of his season. With Kwiatkowski the team can also count on a guy like Wout Poels, the queen stage winner of País Vasco. We did really well at País Vasco as a team last week, and therefore it is good for the cohesion of the unit that we also selected Jan Bakelants, and Tony Martin — who is returning to the classics after a few years away — as well as Pieter Serry and Michal Golas,” Omega Pharma director Wilfried Peeters said. The Belgian squad will also bring Zdenek Stybar. “He is the lone rider who participated in the cobblestone classics. He likes this race and the parcours. It’s kind of like a Tour of Flanders with hills, but without the cobbled sections. So, it can fit his skills,” Peeters said in a press release.
Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) won last year’s Amstel Gold Race, and shouldn’t be discounted, either, though he downplayed his chances this week in a team interview.
“I don’t feel at my best yet, but you never know. Even last year at this time, I felt really bad and at the end I won anyway. But I’m confident in terms of doing Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne. Rory (Sutherland), Karsten (Kroon), Nicki (Sørensen), and I are ready, experienced and I’m sure that you’re going to see our Tinkoff jersey there,” he said.
Last year’s third-place finisher, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) has had a quiet start to the classics season, though he won his national championship in the road race — no small feat in Australia nowadays — and also snagged the overall at Santos Tour Down Under in the first month of the season.
In fact, the list of men who could win these races feels longer than that of the northern classics. Though the climbing finales are, in theory, more predictable than flatter finishes, races like Amstel Gold seldom are. Who saw Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) winning in 2012, or, a step further, Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) winning Liège that same year as well? Probably two people: Gasparotto and Iglinsky.
Riders from the home country have won 17 times, the most of any nation by a healthy measure. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) could certainly snag one for the home nation this weekend, but others like Costa and Slagter, twice a stage winner at Paris-Nice earlier this season, appear more suited to the uphill, then flat, finish.
As of Thursday, the Amstel flags were flying above Valkenburg. The massive tents at the finish and small patios lining the base of the Cauberg waited to house their raucous spectators. But what they’ll see? Well, that’s about as predictable as can be expected after a couple hundred kilometers of sinuous, hilly Dutch roads: not at all.
The post Preview: At long last, Amstel Gold Race arrives for climbers appeared first on VeloNews.com.
- It's a chilly night, and you, you're without your hoodie because you left it at Penrose!
Send me an email heather(dot)r(dot)melton(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll get it back to you lickety split.
- Ok, so I have a ride today that was split because I hit "DO COURSE" about 3 miles into it and started a new timer and mileage. So for my ride today there are 2 files, and 2 uploads. Is there a way to splice them together and have it display as only 1 ride? If not, I guess it's not the biggest issue, but if it's possible that would be great.
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake CX402
The flagship shoe from Lake, the CX402, sports a kangaroo leather upper and a fully moldable carbon fiber sole. Of course, that kind of luxurious custom shoe comes at a price and the CX402 carries a price tag of $530. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake CX402 sole
The CX402's sole can be remolded a number of times, so a rider can fine tune his fit from season to season, which can come in handy when transitioning from the thick socks of winter to the warmth of spring. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake MX237
Lake's mid-range MX237 has been a hit as a race-ready shoe under $300. At $280, with a carbon sole and a double-Boa closure, it's a sleeper in the shoe market, even if its orange color says otherwise. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake MX237 sole
The MX237 should get plenty of traction off-road. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake custom insole
Lake is now offering aftermarket custom insoles. The fiberglass insole retails for $60 and carries over many of the features of the carbon fiber insole, but is heavier and not quite as rigid. The carbon insole retails for $80. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Lake insole bottom
The custom insoles are intended to be used with any shoe, but Lake sees them being a big hit with the company's shoes lacking it custom soles, such as the MX237. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Xentis Speed 2.5 SL
Xentis showed off a prototype Speed 2.5 SL front wheel. The company claimed the pair of tubular hoops weighs in at 890 grams. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Xentis hub
Xentis said that a pair of its carbon hubs will weigh just 220 grams. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk
Italian bike brand Scapin displayed its new budget-minded — or at least budget-minded for Scapin — Anouk carbon road bike. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk head tube
The Anouk frameset will retail for $2,200. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Scapin Anouk complete bike
A Scapin Anouk with SRAM Force 22 and Mavic Ksyrium wheels will retail at $3,400. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima Ares 4
Rolf Prima redesigned its Ares 4 carbon wheels at the start of the year. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima Ares 4 cutaway
A cutaway of the Rolf Prima Ares 4 shows its stout shape. Clincher models sport a 27mm rim, and the tubular model has a 26mm rim at the brake track. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima hub
Rolf Prima designs its own hubs and has them manufactured by White Industries. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Rolf Prima hub cutaway
A cutaway of the Rolf Prima hub shows the innards. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Ergon saddles
Ergon covers the full spectrum of rider disciplines with its saddle offerings. From left to right, Ergon showcased its road, cyclocross, and enduro saddles at Sea Otter. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Shanks
U.S. cross-country champion Stephen Ettinger raced the XCO at Sea Otter, which can make for a busy morning for riders and mechanics alike. Here, Ettinger's mechanic Daimeon Shanks makes his way to the start, spare wheels, tools, and a sandwich in tow. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Ettinger pit
You can tell a lot about a mechanic from his tools. Shanks, who hails from Boulder, Colorado, had a neatly organized pit setup, despite being on the side of a car and motorcycle race track in California. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Cannondale pit
The Cannondale-Sho-Air pit was a bit more spread out on the side of the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Cannondale tools
The Cannondale-Sho-Air mechanics had spare parts at the ready for Ryan Trebon and Co. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Specialized pit
This Specialized pit setup was pristine, likely better organized than most shop mechanics' setups. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Abbey Bike Tools Crombie
Abbey Bike Tools' Crombie cassette tool, chain whip, and bottom bracket tools are very popular in the pro mechanics' circle. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 3: Specialized spare wheels
Spare Roval 29er hoops waited roadside, should Specialized riders need them. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com
The post Tech scenes from the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, Round 4 appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Here is the latest update from SRAM President Stan Day regarding SRAM’s Road Hydraulic Recall and the status of the Model Year 2015 SRAM Road Hydraulic Brakes. This update notes the production start, as promised, in the second half of April, 2014. More technical updates and timeline information on when product will become available will be shared in the coming weeks.
“We’ve improved and advanced our road braking technology,” Day explains. “As promised, we’ll be back in production in late April with a new version of both hydraulic disc and rim brake sets. The first shipments of our new brakes will go to our customers who were affected by the recall and who’ve requested to return to hydro, which was 90% of you.”
For good news on SRAM, check out our overview and first ride with the new SRAM CX1.
- Something for Everyone: American Classic Aims to Please with New Tubeless, Tubular, Disc and Rim Brake ’Cross Wheels
American Classic is billing itself as the leader in tubeless technology. Perhaps you’ve seen the Robert Role commercials (where he mentions “even cyclocross” — see bottom of this post) during the Tour de France touting this fact? Or maybe you’ve seen their rim profile in our tubeless rim lineup in Cyclocross Magazine’s Issue 22?
Still, if you think of a tubeless wheel and rim company, you’re likely to think Stan’s NoTubes. For good reason too, as the company has pioneered low-pressure tubeless rims, sealant, tape and rim strips, and revolutionized mountain bike racing with its lightweight tubeless conversions. The company has continued to innovate, with its carbon Valor rims we profiled last week.
But NoTubes has plenty of competition nowadays with companies like Industry Nine and American Classic eyeing the market, and there’s an opportunity because NoTubes, with its mountain bike focus, no longer offers a rim brake tubeless rim that’s ideally suited for cyclocross (although it offers a free rim strip for its Alpha series of wheels designed for road tubeless use and reviewed in Issue 12).
American Classic’s tubeless rims’ claim to fame is its Bead Barb, a lip the lines the center channel of the rim that helps prevent burps. Under hard cornering, a tire’s bead can drop into/over the center channel of a rim, causing a burp, and the Bead Barb helps keep tubeless and non-tubeless tires’ bead in place and stay burp-free at low pressure (don’t attempt to convert non-tubeless tires) or high pressure.
The company offers both disc and rim brake wheelsets, some with the same exact same rim.
American Classic’s sponsored racer, Robert Marion (with his iconic red beard), actually races on American Classic’s tubular offerings, but in training and local races, turns to tubeless, and swears by the 32mm wide (external, 29mm internal) Wide Lightning alloy 29er wheelsets as a lightweight option that turns the average clincher into a higher volume tire. The Wide Lightning weighs 1569g per pair, lighter than most OEM clincher wheels, and a pound lighter than the average wide alloy trail wheelset. At that weight, the Wide Lightning rival a lot of carbon trail/all-mountain options. For dual duty use, you can reconfigure the wheels to take quick releases or thru axles. The rim is 22mm deep. MSRP is $849.
Want to go lighter, and narrower? American Classic’s MTB Race wheel may be a less extreme option with its 28mm wide rim (24mm internal), and sheds another 70g over the White Lightning, at 1459g. Both wheelsets share the same American Classic Disc 130 front hub and Disc 225 rear hub, but the Race wheels feature lighter 14/16 gauge spokes.
Not happy how everything is going disc brake and tubeless nowadays? American Classic emphasizes they still offer and sell plenty of tubular wheels (in both disc and rim brake) and rim brake wheels (in both tubular and tubeless). The American Classic / Xpedo cyclocross team races the Carbon 46 Tubular wheels, which follow the trend of going wide (23mm wide) and aero (44mm deep). The rim brake version weighs 1278g, while the disc version weighs 1435g. At $1799, the Carbon 46 Tubular wheels aren’t the company’s lightest or best value, but may offer superior strength and aerodynamics over the alloy options.
One of the company’s most versatile and best-selling wheelset is the Argent tubeless road wheelsets, and these wheels are intended to meet the needs of both road and cyclocross tubeless use. Our testing (see Issue 22) has found the Bead Barb to work well at low pressure, with both tubeless and conventional tires with sealant, and there are versions for both disc and rim brake bikes, making it an ideal choice for the rim brake cyclocrosser.
The 22mm wide, 21mm deep alloy rim comes in both rim brake version ad disc brake configurations, and can appease the weight weenie at just 1372g per pair for rim brake and 1531g for disc brake. Some of the weight savings on the rim brake version certainly comes from the Micro 58 hub, but at 390g, the rim is relatively light too. The Argent Tubeless wheels retail for $1499 for disc brake, $1449 for rim brake. That may sound like a lot for an alloy rim wheelset, as it’s more than some carbon options, but the weight is competitive to carbon, and the rim braking should be better.
Got some weight weenie tendencies? The wheelset we’re really curious to try is the ultralight Road Tubeless set, at just 1232g, but the company isn’t advertising this product as ideal for cyclocross. But if you’re not a heavy rider…
Tubeless is here to stay, with eight companies at last count offering tubeless cyclocross tires, and companies like NoTubes and American Classic making converting conventional tires to tubeless relatively easy and reliable.
The company also prides itself on other cycling innovations, including its Steel Face freehub body, with steel edges to the cassette splines to protect against cassette cog gouging while still offering the weight-saving benefits of an alloy freehub.
American Classic arguably made a name for itself with its lightweight alloy seatpost that became popular with penny-pinching weight weenies in the ’80s and ’90s. That long-lived design has passed on, but in its place is the AC Seatpost that looks like a candy cane.
If you’ve ever had your seat angle slip on a remount, you might be wary of this design, as it looks like there’s nothing there to prevent the clamp from sliding further back towards the end of the “cane.” But American Classic’s Bill Shook says the post is actually ideal for cyclocross, because impacts actually force the clamp to tighten on the cane, not loosen. It’s worth noting that angle adjustment will impact fore-aft adjustment a bit, so initial setup may be an iterative process. The post is 350mm long and just 200g, and retails for $99.
Stay tuned as we test some of these products on the cyclocross course.
More info: AmClassic.com
View the Photo Gallery of American Classic’s cyclocross wheels and components below:
Missed the past week of Sea Otter action? Check out all of our tech goodies from Sea Otter 2014.