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  1. Basque, Omar Fraile (pictured below), will lead the team into his home Grand Tour and will once again be eyeing the King of the Mountains competition. He won this classification 12 months ago and is taking to the start as one of the favourites for the blue-dotted white jersey. Fraile, who also wore the KOM jersey at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, underlined his strong form at the Vuelta a Burgos a couple of days ago by winning the KOM competition. Another strong climber who showed that he is coming into shape is fellow Basque, Igor Anton. He finished the Vuelta a Burgos in 9th place overall as the team’s best finisher. Anton is a former Vuelta a Espana stage winner and also managed to finish the race inside the top 10 on two occasions. He’ll add plenty of experience to the team in the coming weeks. Two riders who will try to feed off that experience are our African talents Jacques Janse van Rensburg (pictured below) and Merhawi Kudus. The 2015 South African road race champion, Janse van Rensburg, played a key role in the team’s recent success in the build-up races to the Vuelta and will be an important rider once the road gradient kicks up. Eritrean, Kudus, will start the 4th Grand Tour of his career and try to leave his mark on the tougher stages. Our African team’s philosophy is to try and shine on every kind of terrain to give our #BicycleChangeLives campaign, the Qhubeka charity and our sponsors as much recognition as possible. It is only logical that Australian Nathan Haas, who won stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos, will spearhead the team on the hilly stages that suit his profile. He’ll be joined by another all-rounder in his quest for glory, current South African road race champion Jaco Venter (pictured below). Venter will share the role of being Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s road captain in Spain with Tyler Farrar. The experienced American, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours, will be the team’s conductor when it counts on the flat stages and he’ll try to pilot Kristian Sbaragli to another Vuelta a Espana stage win. The Italian’s lead-out will be rounded out by young South African Nic Dougall, who will ride his first Grand Tour. This year’s Vuelta route will offer 7 flat stages, 7 hilly stages, 5 mountain stages and 2 challenges against the clock, of which one is the opening team time trial. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka - Vuelta a Espana Omar Fraile [ESP] Igor Anton [ESP] Jacques Janse van Rensburg [RSA] Merhawi Kudus [ERI] Nathan Haas [AUS] Jaco Venter [RSA] Tyler Farrar [uSA] Kristian Sbaragli [iTA] Nic Dougall [RSA] The Vuelta a Espana is a really special race for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, it was the first Grand Tour we participated in back in 2014 just a short 2 years ago. So much has happened to the team, the global awareness of the team and the purpose we race for every day since then and it is largely thanks to the great organisation behind the event who gave us the chance. We are looking forward to the event this year with a special team focused on clear objectives and with a new rider to Grand Tours in Nic Dougall. Dreams continue to come true for this team, its riders and staff and the many people we race for every day and we look forward to the challenge of the 2016 event and the impact we can make. Douglas Ryder - Team Principal We arrived at the The Tour de France with a strong tactical focus that was centered around possible stage wins and days in a leader’s jersey for only a few guys. As such the Grand Boucle was a similar race to the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Looking at the Vuelta a Espana we will take to the start with a strong squad to look for our chances at any given terrain. We’d like to win a stage and go for a leader’s jersey. The team did well in the built-up races to the Vuelta, we rode aggressively and successful. We’re not going to hide ourselves as this race is another chance for us to promote our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign on a big stage. Rolf Aldag - Head of Performance I'm looking forward to be riding my third Vuelta. This year’s edition runs mostly through the Northern part of Spain, so I guess it's going to be cooler than in the last two years and the racing will be very fast. We have a strong team, we worked well together at the Vuelta a Burgos where we got a win. It'd be great to get the same at Vuelta. I will be supporting the team and will try go in some moves and try and stay away after getting really close last year. It’s my first time doing two Grand Tours in a season, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. Jaco Venter - Rider
  2. Stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana presented an interesting course with a pan flat run of 178km into a savage 3km climb that had an average gradient of 13%. The day was one which suited the breakaway, just as it did in 2014 when we raced to the same finish line during our African Team's debut grand tour. Jacques Janse van Rensburg was motivated to make the break of the day and our South African did just that. Janse van Rensburg joined 10 other riders in the escape and on sweltering hot day, they continually opened up the gap over the peloton. As the finishing climb approached, the gap peaked at 10 minutes for Janse van Rensburg's breakaway and it was certain they would decide the stage. The attacks started from the break with 9km to go and as Katusha had two riders in the break, they had the upper hand when Jhonatan Restrepo got a gap on the rest of the break. Lagutin was able to sit in and save his legs while Janse van Rensburg had to take responsibility to ensure the attackers were brought back before the climb. Restrepo reached the climb first but the fresher legs behind soon caught and passed him. Janse van Rensburg was digging as deep as he could but the climb was savage and unrelenting. Lugutin waited until the final 200m to launch his decisive attack and won the stage. Janse van Resnburg came home in an impressive 6th place after a very difficult climb. The rest our African Team riders all made it home safely and the good news is that Igor Anton is starting to feel a fair bit better after three days of suffering with stomach pain. I was focused on getting into the break today as we knew there was going to be two races on today. The race for the stage and the race for the GC guys. It was already a good job getting into the move. I felt good all day and was really focusing on doing everything right to give myself and the team the best chance at a stage win. In the end I missed a lot of power and ended 6th after giving my best. I am happy with the end result and am happy knowing that I can be even better. Jacques Janse van Rensburg - Rider
  3. The first big summit finish of this year’s Vuelta a Espana turned out to be an exciting race and a terrific day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. After a big battle to find the break of the day, Omar Fraile, our Basque climber was able to infiltrate the 16 rider lead group that went clear after 70km's of racing. Movistar and Etixx-Quickstep kept close tabs on the breakaway, but the gap was still able to reach the 5’30” mark. While the 12.2km Lavos da Covadonga was the big finishing climb of the day, riders would also have to deal with the 6km category 1 Alto de Fito at 42km to go. When the big lead group began the first climb, the peloton was just 3’20” back but Fraile had one immediate target, and that was to take maximum King of the Mountain points at the summit. Fraile attacked the group just inside of a kilometre from the top and Luis Angel Mate followed our Basque climber. A 2nd effort just before the line saw Fraile secure the 10 points on offer at the top. Fraile and Mate began the descent together as the chasers started to pull back the 25” gap the leading duo had opened up at the top of the climb. It was only in the valley between the two big climbs where Fraile and Mate were brought back into the fold. Once the break was all back together though, the cohesion ended as a number of riders started to skip turns. This resulted in the peloton bringing the gap down to just 2’30” by the time Fraile and co. reached the foot of the Covadonga. A few early accelerations from the break saw Fraile dropped and it was thought, this was the end of his day. Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Gesink were the two riders who then led the way up the climb from the break but the peloton, being led by Movistar, was closing in fast. With 6km to go the attacks from the favourites group came as Quintana and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) surged ahead of the rest. Their acceleration brought them up to the wheel of Fraile who then latched on to the wheels of the two favourites as Gesink now led the race alone, 45” up the road. Incredibly, Fraile was able to hold the wheel of Quintana and Contador as they went on to catch and pass the majority of the breakaway that had left Fraile behind at the start of the climb. Quintana then attacked Contador and Fraile with 3km to go and this was just as Froome came back into contention from behind. There was no catching Quintana though, he went past Gesink who was snapped up by Froome & Fraile in the final kilometres as well. Fraile crossed the line in 4th place, a great result in its own right but his efforts today also saw him take the lead in King of the Mountains competition. The break took a really long time to go away today. For 70km it was just attack after attack, it was very fast and a difficult start. When we finally went away it was easier and then in the final I had a good feeling. I knew my form was good so I was just being patient and riding a good rhythm. When the favourites came, it was possible to hold their wheel. I am really happy with this ride as I could move into the climber’s jersey which was the goal I had for the day. The jersey gives me good motivation which I will take into the next stages. Omar Fraile – Rider
  4. I got it on very good authority that there is no formal bikehub fantasy planned for La Vuelta 2017. Luckily superbru does a semi decent competition that requires almost zero input from the organiser - we had 15 people on it during the TdF, they have been reinvited. As I'm lank lazy, this suits me fine. I will do my best to ensure any admin stuff gets done before it kicks off by 12 noon on saturday. You do need to check in every 2/3 days as the picks are quite fluid (ie, you select from who is still in the race - none of this valverde out on first corner rubbish stuffing up your roster!) I can't either confirm or deny that any of the BikeHub long term test bikes are up for the winner. Come play Vuelta a España with me on Superbru! It's free and loads of fun. Just click here: https://www.superbru.com/vuelta/pool.php?p=11740289 Pool name: El Gordo -BikeHub La Vuelta... Pool code: laosraid vaya vaya
  5. Today’s stage was a big day in the mountains and the 200km stage included four category climbs, including the special category climb, to the summit finish of La Covatilla. A break was established very early into racing and Ben King was part of the select group of 11, for Team Dimension Data. Our American rider was in the mix through all the climbs today, picking up valuable King of the Mountain point, which saw him moving up to 2nd spot in the KOM standings with 36 points. Through the day, the lead for the break stretched to over 9 minutes, and that put Ben King in the virtual leader’s jersey. Groupama – FDJ worked at the front of the peloton to protect the jersey, but only when Team Sky joined the chase did the lead start to drop. Ben King attacked and went off the front of the race with Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros) on the steep section at Candelario. King dropped him and started the ascent up to La Covatilla. Mollema put in a strong ride to try and bridge across to King on the taxing climb, bringing the gap down to 18 seconds. Ben King dug deep to make sure that he was first to cross the line, taking his second win in this year’s La Vuelta. With his win, King moved up in the general classification and is now 18th overall. Louis Meintjes finished 21st on the stage and showed positive signs to stick with the GC group until deep into the final kilometers of the stage. It was a performance that bodes well for our South Africa climber with the tough two weeks still to come. I think the second win hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t think I have suffered that much in my career. Being chased by a guy like Mollema is a lot of pressure and it took a lot to keep believing and keep suffering that much. But I know what it means to me, what it means to the team and to the people who support and believe in me. I think it was a mental battle between us in the last bit and 20 seconds is not a big gap. We were just separated by meters on the climb and it just stayed the same and we completely fired, dying a thousand deaths. I’m really proud and happy to be out front again and fly the flag for the team and Qhubeka. It was a special day, and a special La Vuelta so far and it’s not even over. Ben King- Rider
  6. Today's stage of La Vuelta was 161,4km, running from Vélez-Málaga to the summit finish atop Alfacar, Sierra de la Alfaguara. An early attack saw King make the break of the day with eight other riders. The first climb of the day was a category one climb up Alto de la Cabra Montés and the break was allowed to extend their lead to over 9 minutes. King was the best placed on GC of all the riders in the break and therefore was the virtual leader of the race for the majority of the stage. With 20km to go, it became apparent that the break would decide the stage as they had kept their 9-minute lead in tact up to that point. With 15km to go, King countered an acceleration that was made for the intermediate sprint point and went into the lead with Stalnov and Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal). The trio started the final 12km climb with a 30" lead over their chasers. Wallays soon lost contact as the road ramped upwards with King pushing the pace early on in the climb. Rolland broke from the chasing group in a bid to catch King and Stalnov and came within sight of the leading duo, inside of 1km to go. King had raced a smart final climb though, and measured his effort well to still have more than enough left in the tank to launch his sprint with 200m to go, and take an incredible grand tour stage victory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v6_p5NKqWs I'm still in shock. It's a dream come true. It's been my goal for the last couple of years to win a grand tour stage. But even just to be here and have the opportunity to go in the breakaway today is an honour, for the faith that the team put in me. We have been working really well together as a team and I've also been working really hard for this at home, so it's really affirming that it all worked out like this.I didn't think that the break had a chance to stay away, until 40km to go, and even then, there were really strong riders in the break with me. I just did not know how to expect to stack up with those guys. I just put myself in the right position to have the best chance possible and I hit them early at the bottom of the climb and then time-trialled to the top. I was able to out-kick Stalnov at the finish. It's no secret it has been a difficult season for the team this year but the atmosphere on the team is great. We believe in what we are doing and the potential of the team. We are motivated everyday by what the team is doing for Qhubeka, raising awareness and so to get a victory like this, I know that winning races contributes to more bikes being donated to Qhubeka so it's an honour to be racing for such a noble cause and certainly extra motivation for us. Ben King - Rider
  7. The 2018 La Vuelta a Espana gets underway on Saturday 25 August with an 8km prologue in Malaga, riders will then have to complete a total distance of 3254km over 21 stages before reaching the finish in Madrid, on 16 September. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will rally around South African, Louis Meintjes, as he targets a top general classification result at La Vuelta a Espana. The tough final week of La Vuelta will certainly suit Meintjes, as his tendency to get stronger as a 3-week tour progresses will be further buoyed by the fact that the queen stage, stage 20, takes place in his home European base of Andorra. Igor Anton and Merhawi Kudus will be alongside Meintjes in the high mountains, but as the trio proved at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, they are all able to challenge for stage victories on the most difficult of days too. South African sprinter, Ryan Gibbons will start his second grand tour of the season, and will have free reign on the sprint stages of this years La Vuelta. While the sprinters stage options are limited, Gibbons inclusion ensures our African Team will be in regular contention for top stage results throughout La Vuelta. Steve Cummings, Ben King and Johann van Zyl will form the backbone of our strong climbing line-up. With 46 summits spread across the 21 stages, the trio will be tasked with laying down the foundation to our overall race ambitions. Completing our line-up will be Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier. The young Eritrean has been mightily impressive in his first season as a neo pro and starts his debut grand tour, primarily to gain valuable experience, while supporting our protected riders. Lineup Louis Meintjes (RSA) Igor Anton (ESP) Merhawi Kudus (ERI) Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Steve Cummings (GBR) Ben King (USA) Johann van Zyl (RSA) Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (ERI) I am looking forward to this year's Vuelta a Espana with Team Dimension Data. It's been a challenging year for the team and for me personally too, but we have worked hard to prepare well and build up nicely ahead of La Vuelta. At Vuelta a Burgos I think we definitely showed that we were on the right track as the entire team was riding really well. With the same team as in Burgos, now heading to La Vuelta, we have some positive momentum going into the race. Certainly, three weeks of racing is a different kind of beast but the goal for me is to be consistent throughout, take advantage when I am feeling good and try to achieve the best GC result possible. Louis Meintjes - Rider We have three very difficult weeks ahead of us but this is exactly what we have prepared for. We know La Vuelta always produces some of the most difficult grand tour stages, but that also makes it one of the most exciting races of the year. The team is really motivated to be part of the action and there is the feeling that we definitely have unfinished business with the 2018 season. Louis has been getting better and better, he is a world class rider and grand tours are what he specializes at. We will back him 100% at La Vuelta and we have a strong team to do so. Alex Sans Vega - Sport Director Image Explained In 1957 a large black silhouette of a bull appeared on the Spanish horizon, changing the countries landscape forever. Artist Manolo Prieto was commissioned a year earlier by the Osborne sherry company to create an icon for the Veterano brand. What he unwittingly designed was later going to become a part of Spanish modern heritage. In 1994 the EU passed a law prohibiting all outdoor advertising for alcohol. By then the large black bulls with “Veterano” emblazed on them were nationally renowned and a public appeal to the courts resulted in the hoardings being blacked out. The court’s ruling that the bulls had become part of the landscape and have “Aesthetic or cultural significance”, making them public domain. Keep an eye out as the Vuelta route is sure to pass some of the 91 Bulls scattered across Spain on the way to Madrid
  8. On Thursday, the 12th of January, Unipublic announced the itinerary of the 2017 Vuelta that will commence on the 19th of August with a team time trial in the French city of Nîmes . . . . . http://www.lavuelta.com/
  9. Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is to retire from professional cycling after the Vuelta a Espana, which starts on 19 August. http://www.bbc.com/sport/cycling/40848355
  10. After a strong showing at the Tour de France this year, Serge Pauwels will lead our African Team come Saturday together with our Basque climbing duo of Omar Fraile and Igor Anton. Pauwels and Anton will be able to target the most difficult of climbing stages while Fraile will adopt a similar attacking strategy to that which has won him the King of the Mountains jersey at the last two editions of this race. With no less than 15 of the 21 stages considered either hilly or mountainous this year, our African Team is littered with climbing talent. Merhawi Kudus, Ben King, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Lachlan Morton provide us with numerous options for each stage, be that in a support role or in going for personal stage glory. It will also be Morton's debut grand tour appearance. Youcef Reguigui, also capable of climbing his way into smaller groups, showed his turn of speed at the recent Tour of Poland and will be our go to man for the limited sprint stage options. Nic Dougall, our South African all-rounder, will complete our 9-man team. We are on our way to the last grand tour of the year. For some of our guys this is going to be the second grand tour of the season and for some the first grand tour ever. They are ready to take it on, motivated to work hard and strive for a victory. We are looking forward to being part of the right moves and coming back home with some good results. A stage win will be the ultimate prize for our team. Bingen Fernandez - Sport Director The Vuelta is traditionally a hard race with lots of climbing, that is why we are bringing a lot of climbers to the race. We have a strong group that can race aggressively and try to hunt for stage wins. I am really looking forward to my second grand tour this year. I have taken a short break after the Tour then put in a good training block last week. I hope to take my opportunity as well by picking a stage and trying to get the victory. Serge Pauwels - Rider
  11. Stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana was an incredibly difficult 175km from Benicassim to Alcossebre. The riders had to contend with 5 categorised climbs on another scorcher of day, where the centigrade averaged in the mid to high 30's. From the start, there was a number of attacks and Merhawi Kudus found the right move for Team Dimension Data and made the all-important break of the day. Kudus was joined by 16 other riders to form a strong group, one which Team Sky kept close tabs on initially as the gap was held between 2 and 3 minutes for most the day. Kudus and his breakaway mates pushed on and eventually the gap grew. The decisive moment in the stage came just as the penultimate climb of the day was completed with 50km to go. Marco Haller (Katusha) attacked the break as the descent started and Lutesenko and Matej Mohric (UAE Emirates) bridged across on the downhill. Kudus' chasing group was not working well together and the gap started to grow to the leaders. Eventually they began attacking one another, trying to get rid of the passengers. 4 riders went clear on the long valley road that led to the final climb of the day, Kudus included. Mohric dropped from the leading group and was soon caught by the Kudus chase group. With 11km to go, Kudus and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) rode away from their chasing counterparts, in hot pursuit of Haller and Lutsenko. At this stage the peloton was well out of contention at over 6 minutes back. Our slight Eritrean climber and Gougeard started the final 3km climb 40 seconds behind the leading duo and almost immediately, Lutesenko dropped Haller and Kudus dropped Gougeard as the road pointed upwards. Kudus flew into 2nd place on the road but Lutsenko was riding well to keep his advantage. In the end, the climb was not long enough for Kudus to claw back Lutsenko, but a courageous ride nonetheless from our 23-year-old Eritrean saw him finish 2nd on the stage. It was quite hard to be in the breakaway today, spending over 4 hours in the wind and then having to finish on a very steep climb like that. There was a headwind most of the day but luckily, we were a lot of guys in the break so we could keep the gap over the peloton. On the 2nd last climb the attacking started, it wasn't very steep so it didn't suit me but I just followed as best I could. Having to chase those 2 guys on a flat road before the last steep climb was really difficult. I am very happy with 2nd position though, I am motivated to take another opportunity now. Merhawi Kudus - Rider
  12. In the recording, the leader of Trek-Segafredo Team explains that he has meditated very well this decision and believes that the Tour of Spain is the best possible scenario to say goodbye to cycling and to all of his fans in the way they deserve. Luca Guercilena, General Manager Trek-Segafredo: "It has been an honor to work with such a great champion. Alberto Contador has been showing his fighting spirit and his professionalism all year long. To give you one example, in this year's Tour de France he demonstrated his personal motto in a way we only could admire: 'Where there's a will, there's a way.' Even after the crashes that took him out of the fight for the first places in GC, he kept fighting and battling for a stage win and to move up some places in GC. That showed how strong he is, both mentally and physically." "It was great to have him in the team, even it was only for one season, and we will keep giving it our all to help him to achieve a big result in his last Vuelta a España and it goes without saying we wish him the very best for his future afterwards!" Until the start of the Vuelta a España, on August 19 in Nîmes (France), Alberto Contador will keep his focus on training to face in full form his last challenge. He will be at the disposal of the media during the usual press conference that will be held on Friday, August 18, at the Trek-Segafredo Team Hotel, for which the invite will follow shortly.
  13. Vuelta a España that will take place from the 20th of August to the 11th of September. Vuelta a España 2016 - Team Start List: Ag2r La Mondiale (FRA) Astana Pro Team (KAZ) BMC Racing Team (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA) Etixx - Quick Step (BEL) FDJ (FRA) IAM Cycling (SUI) Lampre – Merida (ITA) Lotto – Soudal (BEL) Movistar Team (SPA) Orica GreenEDGE (AUS) Team Dimension Data (RSA) Team Giant – Alpecin (GER) Team Katusha (RUS) Team LottoNL – Jumbo (NED) Team Sky (GBR) Tinkoff (RUS) Trek – Segafredo (USA) Caja Rural – Seguros RGA (SPA) Bora – Argon 18 (GER) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
  14. Switzerland's Mathias Frank conquered a gruelling summit finish to win Wednesday's 17th stage of the Vuelta a Espana as overall leader Nairo Quintana remained comfortably ahead of Chris Froome. Click here to view the article
  15. With the Spring Classics, and soon the Monuments, in full swing – I thought I’d squeeze in the proposed Fantasy Giro | Tour | Vuelta scoring format for 2016. The 2015 competition worked well, but rewarded riders that had a mix of riders across all the scoring categories rather than matching the real-life performance of each rider. 2016 will return to the classic format rewarding pot-luck, with a bit of insider knowledge. Points are heavily weighted in favour of the daily stages, and possible breakaways. The only other significant change will be the unlimited use of your substitutes, with the changes limited to the two rest days. A handful of Hubbers played a simplified version of the Vuelta last year, which worked well, but with riders pulling out before the World Champs (or fatigue), pot-luck played a big roll in the overall scoring. The Giro 2016 will be the test-run using the new scoring format, so you can get your picks fine-tuned before July. I’m open to suggestions, as long as it’s simple to implement, and easy to understand. The new proposal is as follows: Pick 12 riders (9 active + 3 subs)The 9 active riders will score points every day.Substitutions can only be made on the rest days.A rider previously substituted can be brought back in on the second rest day, if needed.The only time you lose a rider from your team is when he withdraws from the Tour. Points are awarded to the riders based on the following: Frequency – Category (places) – Points available Daily - Daily stage placings (top 20) - 50-40-32-24-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Daily - Yellow jersey (top 10) - 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Daily - Green Jersey (top 10) Daily - 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Daily - Polka Dot jersey (top 10) - 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Daily - Jersey wearer (Yellow) - 10 Daily - Jersey wearer (Green) Daily - 10 Daily - Jersey wearer (Polka Dot) - 10 Daily - Jersey wearer (White) Daily - 10 Daily - Most Aggressive Rider - 10 Daily - Rider in Break - 10 Daily - Rider in Break (at finish) - 200 divided by No. riders finishing ahead of peloton End of Tour - Final Podium, Yellow (top 10) - 20-16-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 End of Tour - Final Podium Green (top 10) - 20-16-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 End of Tour - Final Podium Polka dot (top 10) - 20-16-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 End of Tour - Final Podium White (top 10) - 20-16-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 End of Tour - Most Aggressive (Overall) - 50
  16. Banned cyclist to collect huge damages payout by Agency Staff, February 02 2016, 06:00 Agency Staff February 02 2016, 06:00MADRID — The Spanish government has been ordered to pay more than €720,000 in damages to former cyclist Roberto Heras for his reversed suspension for doping in 2006-08. Spain’s national court in Madrid said in its decision that the amount of €724,904.86 corresponded to what Heras could have earned during his two-year suspension. After testing positive for the banned hormone EPO in September 2005 after the Vuelta a Espana, Heras had his victory in the race stripped and was banned for two years by the Spanish cycling federation, causing him to retire. The ban was subsequently overturned in the Spanish courts in 2012 due to irregularities in the screening of his urine test. Judge Berta Santillan Pedrosa ruled the Spanish government was responsible for the error and liable to compensate Herras. Lawyers for the state have until next Monday to lodge an appeal. The cyclist and his company, which manages his image rights, lodged their case against the state in January last year, claiming more than €1m in compensation to offset losses caused by the sanction. The decision is another legal setback in the fight against doping in Spain, which has often been accused of being soft on drugs in sport. AFP http://www.bdlive.co.za/sport/othersport/2016/02/02/banned-cyclist-to-collect-huge-damages-payout
  17. The final stage of the Vuelta a Espana ran its course yesterday evening with John Degenkolb (Team-Alpecin) winning the final sprint in Madrid. Kristian Sbaragli, our stage 10 winner was again in the fold and took 8th position on the line. Click here to view the article
  18. As expected the local circuit in Madrid was a true spectacle as spectators got to see the riders who have been racing their way around Spain for the last 3 weeks up close and at high speed. After a number of really tough mountainous stages, the final stage of the Vuelta saw the sprinters teams allowed back into the limelight. Giant-Alpecin was keen on snuffing out any late breaks for glory for their man John Degenkolb. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were all too keen to give Kristian another shot at the stage win too. So after a gentle start to the final stage that included some champagne sipping and memory sharing, the racing got underway with just on 50km to go. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung rode in support of Kristian for the stage while also ensuring Louis Meintjes was also safe and sound in the bunch right through the inevitable bunch sprint. The sprint was one that Degenkolb was not going to lose after an excellent leadout by his team. In the overall Fabio Aru (Astana) took home the red jersey ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Louis would finish safely in the pack to claim a historic 10th place overall, becoming the first African rider to finish in the top 10 of a grand tour. A truly remarkable achievement for both Louis and our team. Together with Kristian's stage 10 victory our team was able to achieve a total of 9 top 10 stage finishes. We were also only 1 of 6 teams that got all 9 riders to the finish in Madrid. The fact the 7 of our riders were from Africa and 3 were grand tour debutantes, makes the feat all that much sweeter for our African team. Our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign also reached the home stretch during the Vuelta and we are now less than 900 bicycles away from reaching our 5000 goal. This top 10 result belongs to all Africa. I couldn't have achieved this result without the team. To have 7 of the riders coming from Africa and achieving the results we did, it really is something special. I am really happy with my result, it was a bit more than I expected to achieve at this Vuelta. Louis Meintjes - Rider Once again this is a pretty historical moment for us. This was our 3rd grand tour after 3 years in professional cycling with MTN-Qhubeka. To achieve a top 10 in a grand tour is like another dream come true on what has been a very fast track. In our goal setting we hoped to achieve a stage win. With Kristian we got our win but in addition we had numerous top 10's, we were part of the racing every day, in the breakaway's, chasing on the front and on top of it all 10th on GC. It was a fantastic Vuelta for us. Also the team came here with 7 African riders, to be a part of the race as we were, it is just spectacular for African cycling and we can be proud of our team. Without all our partners and support staff, who worked extremely hard these 3 weeks, buying into our team’s philosophy of #BicyclesChangeLives, these results would not be possible. Jens Zemke - Head of Performance
  19. When I first started the Vuelta I thought I’d just be there trying to finish but I was also happy with my performance. I was there to help the team when needed, getting bottles and with Louis doing so well on the GC it was important that we all did our part. I also made it into two breakaway’s, on stage 9 and stage 18. The first breakaway was good for me because I was still feeling relatively fresh so I enjoyed that day. A grand tour race is different to any other professional race though. Firstly it is a World Tour level event so the standard is really, really high. Then there is the duration, for three weeks you racing at that level so it really takes a lot out of your body. I got sick before stage 16, which was a really difficult stage so I was stressing a bit since then because I never really got 100% healthy again but I am happy I made it through. It was going to take a broken bone to stop me from getting to Madrid, I think that was the only thing that could have stopped me from finishing this race. This was only my first grand tour but I already know I want to do more grand tours. The longer the stage race is, the better I get. Normally I only do 7 to 9 days but a grand tour is 3 weeks. I hope to get used to this type of racing because I want to win a stage in a grand tour in the near future. From what I could I see, I just need to up my level a bit more because you could see the breakaway’s making it in the final in the 3rd week. I was there in the break on stage 18 which was good, but I just couldn’t stay with Nicolas Roche and them at the end so I need that extra depth still. It has been a memorable 3 weeks for me and I want to thank all my teammates and our staff. The staff have always been there for us, helping us to perform our best every day. Our Chef, Soren, he was fantastic in preparing our food every day. The food is one of the most important things as it keeps you going. If you don’t eat well you won’t recover well and then you also not going to ride well. So he was great but everyone on our team was as well. A lot of people have said that finishing your first grand tour boosts your engine a bit, so I am confident in my progression as bike rider. Right now, I’m not 100% healthy after the race but I’m going home now and I’ll relax for a couple of days and get healthy again. Then I have 3 Italian races and the Abu Dhabi Tour, hopefully I can have a good race in Abu Dhabi as it will be my last race of the season before I go back home to South Africa for some proper rest. To end off, I really want to thank my girlfriend Khusela Ngubelanga for all the support, she’s been there for me every day during the Vuelta supporting me. She doesn’t understand too much about cycling but she was always there, asking questions and my aunt also, Nomfundo Nonjojo so I want to thank them especially. Then to all the fans and people back home who have been sending messages, thank you for the support. I don’t know if I could have finished the Vuelta without your support.
  20. Getting to my first grand tour was something I really worked hard for so to finish it now, it is a pretty amazing achievement. I am really happy to have made it to Madrid. Click here to view the article
  21. The 20th stage of the Vuelta a Espana would be won by Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) after a 110km solo breakaway. Jose Goncalves (Caja-Rural) was 2nd and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) was 3rd. Click here to view the article
  22. The stage saw a big breakaway of 38 riders go clear on the slopes of the first climb of the day. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had Jaco Venter represented in the move while also in the group was David Arroyo (Caja-Rural). The Spaniard was around 7 minutes behind our Louis Meintjes and so we had to keep the break in check. This promoted Plaza to attack the leaders with 110km to go, a brave move that proved successful. The race behind though was thrilling to say the least as Fabio Aru (Astana) went all in to win the Vuelta overall, attacking race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on the penultimate climb. This put all the GC contenders on high alert as Dumoulin was put in real trouble for the first time. Louis only needed to be concerned with the riders nearest to him on GC and so he followed the wheel of the 11th placed Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale). Aru managed to open up a substantial gap on Dumoulin who indecently was in Louis group. There was nothing Dumoulin could do as Aru had teammates drop back from the big early break to help the Italian ride into the leaders jersey. 13 of the original breakaway riders managed to stay clear of the GC contenders but Louis 36th place on the stage means he is poised to finish 10th overall in Madrid tomorrow. After 3 weeks a very tough Vuelta comes to an end with only the final stage in Madrid left. It's very seldom that the GC contenders are so close to one another at this point of a grand tour, so it made today very interesting and fascinating to watch. From our side we were part of the big break with Jaco in the initial move of 11 riders that was later joined by another big breakaway group. Unfortunately a Caja-Rural rider who was only 7 minutes behind Louis was in this move so we had to keep the break under control from the peloton. We had to pace for about 40km before the real action started and Louis was on top of his game and made sure he didn't lose anytime to his closest adversaries. He stays 10th on the GC which is an incredible result for our team. Jens Zemke - Head of Performance
  23. The 19th stage of the Vuelta a Espana saw the break of the day decide the stage win once again. Today it was Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) who tasted victory. Click here to view the article
  24. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had Natnael Berhane in the 24 rider move that went clear inside the first 10km of the stage. With no breakaway riders of danger to any of the riders in the top 10 on GC, they were allowed to get as much as a 16 minute lead during today’s 185km stage. With it obvious that the break were going to survive, the escapees then started to look at each other as the race approached the cat 2 La Paramera climb, which topped out with 19km to go. The attacks came thick and fast and Natnael launched a move of his own on the lower slopes but a tailwind made it a fast paced climb and difficult to get any sort of a lead. Gougeard, who went just before the climb even started, would reap the rewards of throwing caution to the wind by arriving at the finish alone with 40 seconds to spare. The rest of the chasers followed in ones and twos with our Eritrean champion coming home in 13th place. Back in the peloton there wasn’t all that much action as Movistar tried to up the pace on the climb but it just wasn’t hard enough to make much of a difference. It was only on the short cobbled section coming into the finish that saw a few seconds gained here and there but nothing substantial. Louis Meintjes remains 10th on GC with just 2 stages to go. Today we had to be aware when the break went, making sure the 6 riders behind Louis weren’t trying to get away. Natnael did a good job to get into the big break that did go away. In the final it became quite tactical in the front and with only 1 rider there it was not easy to gain the upper hand. Louis lost a few seconds on the final cobbled climb but it was minimal so we can be happy with our stage. It’s just two stages to go now, 1 hard stage and the final in Madrid. Jean Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
  25. Roche and Zubeldia were initially part of a 25 rider breakaway that also included our Songezo Jim. One of the riders also in the move was Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) who sat in 14th place on the GC. Once the break got a 6 minute lead, de Clercq became a threat to Louis Meintjes top 10 GC placing. With Giant-Alpecin only really committing a single rider to the chase, our African team then took control of the race to protect Louis position. Johann van Zyl and Natnael Berhane did some sterling early work, supported by the rest of the team too. As the race neared the final climb of the day, Astana and Katusha also made their presence felt which ensured de Clercq would not leap frog Louis. All but 3 riders from the original break were caught on the slopes of the cat 1 Puerto de la Quesera. The fast 13km descent also ensured they would not be caught by the GC favourites group before the finish either, which arrived just 38 seconds adrift of Roche. Louis would cross the line 17th on the stage. It took some time for the break to form today but when it did, I was happy to be up there representing my team. I didn’t really have a great day in the office though, the legs just weren’t there. I hope I can feel better than I felt today in the next few days as we continue to support Louis for the general classification. Songezo Jim - Rider
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