Abbey D'Agostino ready for pro challenges

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
Abbey D'AgostinoTim O'Dowd/Dartmouth AthleticsAbbey D'Agostino is taking her NCAA championship experience to the professional ranks.
Seven-time NCAA track champion Abbey D’Agostino signed a professional contract with New Balance on June 18. She will continue her professional career with coach Mark Coogan, who oversaw her success at Dartmouth.

D'Agostino's contract supports her through the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she will look to make her first Olympic team. She spoke with recently to discuss her transition from NCAA star to the professional ranks.

Christopher Chavez: How easy of a decision was it for you to feel comfortable with New Balance

D’Agostino: It was pretty seamless. I knew I was looking for a company that wasn’t just there to give me free gear. It was more of a holistic commitment to the company’s values. That jumped out to me instantly with New Balance. They support the individual and not just the runner. It’s a close-knit community and they really embrace the spirit of running. I’m so thrilled to have found what I was looking for.

Chavez: The original plan was to run the 5K at the Monaco Diamond League. Why have you decided to take the summer off?

D’Agostino: In the past month, I haven’t really been in one place for an extended period of time. I think that’s something I’m going to have to adjust to, but there was definitely a bunch of emotional input in those few weeks. Once that starts to affect you mentally, it starts to become physical. I was started to feel that.

I’m privileged to have a coach and support from New Balance that will support the decisions that are best for me. This is a year where I can afford to take a nice long break and that’s what I decided.

Chavez: What’s the plan for the fall?

D’Agostino: If I do any road race this fall, it would be to get my feet wet as a professional. My focus is going to be the U.S. Cross-Country championships in February.

Chavez: What’s the best thing about your chemistry with coach Mark Coogan?

D’Agostino: It’s more than just a coach-athlete relationship and I think it’s also become a friendship. There’s respect there as coach vs. athlete as well, but I’ve come to trust Mark because of his experience racing at this level. He’s also spent a lot of time fine-tuning the mental aspects for him as a runner. That’s what he’s translated to his athletes. That was a very critical element to my success at Dartmouth. I’m really looking forward to what our relationship has in store just building off what we’ve already established.

Chavez: When you first started off with running was it mainly for fun. You weren’t a running junkie that constantly looked up the rest of the competition before meets. When did you flip the switch into really thinking this could be a full-time profession?

D’Agostino: Towards the end of my junior year I started to become more comfortable racing at this caliber. Before it was like ‘Get in there with them and hang on’. I did a lot more leading and racing more consistently against tougher competition. It just felt more comfortable and I started to trust myself however the race played out.

To me, running goes best when I’m very well balanced with other areas of my life and I need to translate that to my professional career. I’m excited to put more energy into running now and also apply myself to things that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I had a nine to five job. At Dartmouth, I was a student and an athlete and worked to keep those priorities balanced.

Chavez: Outside of running, what are some of your big hobbies and passions?

D’Agostino: I’m a psychology major and there’s much that I can do in terms of internships. I’m more interested in counseling. I really enjoy working with kids. I’ve spent a couple summers as a camp counselor. I did Girls on the Run at Dartmouth, so I’d love to do some volunteer coaching. I was involved with a couple Christian organizations at Dartmouth, so I’m looking forward to finding a new church in Boston and making new friends there.

Chavez: What is a little known fact about Abbey D’Agostino that the track world doesn’t know?

D’Agostino: Playing the violin in middle school was a traumatic experience for me. I always say that when people ask me if I’m musical at all. That turned me off from playing any instrument. I would cry every lesson, because I was so sensitive. I hated practicing. None of that would follow me to high school.

Chavez: You just joined Twitter (@abbey_dags). Why did it take so long?

D’Agostino: Oh my gosh! I had people nagging me to get that for years. It’s funny because I’m pretty much a 60-year-old woman with technology. It’s not my first interest. Even when I’m handling an iPhone, my mom will ask me if I have the flashlight app and I’ll say ‘I don’t even know what that is’.

Now my perspective has definitely changed, people think I had to get one. It was very much a choice. It’s a way to stay connected and I thought it would distract me. Now I do have the time to keep up with pop culture and what’s trending. It’s fun to see high school students and everyone being really enthusiastic about running.

Allen nets rare double at U.S. outdoors

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
Devon AllenAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesDevon Allen adds a national title in the 110-meter hurdles to his previous NCAA championship.
The USATF Outdoor Championships concluded Sunday with a handful of noteworthy performances. Here's the best of the best.

Performer of the day: Devon Allen of the University of Oregon became the first man to double as the NCAA Champion and U.S. champion in the 110-meter hurdles since Renaldo Nehemiah in 1979. Allen won with a time of 13.155, edging out defending champion Ryan Wilson by .005 seconds.

Allen’s 13.16 at the NCAA Championship in Eugene on June 16 was the second fastest time by a collegiate athlete and scored points that led to a team title for the Ducks. Allen is also a wide receiver on the Oregon football team.

Comeback watch: Wallace Spearmon may have finished in second place in the 200-meter dash, but his 20.19 matched his season’s best from the 2014 adidas Grand Prix. In his post-race interview, Spearmon said he will stick around through the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, which would be his third olympic team. The 29-year-old is currently unsponsored.

Donn Cabral had a dream 2012 season, capturing the NCAA steeplechase title to cap off an undefeated season over the water barriers, and he led the 3,000-meter steeplechase final for a few laps at the 2012 Olympics.

Cabral struggled in 2013, though, and finishing sixth at the U.S. Championships and being diagnosed with Lyme disease. He showed signs over the weekened of being back at full health with a late surge to challenge American record holder Evan Jager and Dan Huling in the last 400-meters of Sunday’s steeplechase final. Cabral would finish third in 8:20.04. Jager won in 8:18.83.

Heartbreak of the meet: Nike’s Bershawn Jackson went down after the first hurdle of the men’s 400-meter hurdle race with a pulled groin. Jackson finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic Trials, missing a place on the team by just one spot.

After qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Jackson’s bad luck caught up to him in the semifinals and he suffered a hamstring injury. Jackson has said his goal is to return to the form that had him ranked in the top five in the world for most of his career.

Johnny Dutch won the 400 hurdles in 48.93 to capture his first national title after six previous appearances in the finals. Last year, Dutch missed a place on the national team for the IAAF World Championships by one spot.

Wire-to-wire wins: Duane Solomon took the men’s 800-meter title, running from the front at the start of the race. Solomon set a new stadium record with the 1:44.30 victory, thanks in part to an outstanding 1:15.8 split at 600 meters. Casimir Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts Track Club fought for second place and finished in 1:45.97 over Erik Sowinski.

New Balance’s Jenny Simpson won the women’s 1,500-meter run in 4:04.96, beating out teenage sensation Mary Cain. Simpson led from the start and took the field through the first 400 meters in 68.76 seconds.

Morgan Uceny fell 800 meters into the race, which brought back memories of her fall in the 1,500-meter final at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. She finished last in 4:24.01.

National depth: The United States has six of the top 20 fastest women in the world for the 800-meter run in 2014. Ajee Wilson captured the U.S. national title with her season-best 1:58.70. NCAA champion Laura Roesler broke the two-minute barrier for the first time in her career as she finished second in 1:59.04. Brenda Martinez, the 2013 world bronze medalist, finished fifth in 2:00.18.

Coburn beats the heat at U.S. outdoors

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
Emma CoburnAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesEmma Coburn's steeplechase title was won with a meet-record time.
The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships continued on Saturday with more national titles awarded. Here's the best of the best from the day.

Performer of the day: New Balance’s Emma Coburn was not fazed by the 86-degree California heat. The 2012 Olympic finalist pulled away from the rest of the field to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:19.72, breaking the U.S. Championship meet record and coming within two seconds of her personal best. Coburn also has the third fastest time in the world with her 9:17.84 set at the Prefontaine Classic.

Ashley Higginson (2nd, 9:27.59) and Aisha Praught (4th, 9:34.69) set personal bests in the race, cutting seven and five seconds, respectively, off their previous marks.

Race of the day: 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson captured her third national title in the 100-meter hurdles, upsetting defending world champion Brianna Rollins in the final.

Rollins finished fifth in 12.81, but still owns the year's world-best time with her 12.53 from the Golden Gala in Rome on June 5.

Lolo Jones continued her return to track and field after competing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a third place finish in 12.65.

Comeback of the day: Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano kicked down Patrick Casey of the Nike Oregon Track Club in the final 100 meters to claim the 1,500-meter national title in 3:38.63. Manzano is in his first season under contract with Hoka One One.

American record threatened: Erik Kynard attempted three high jumps at 2.41 meters. Charles Austin's American record of 2.40 meters has stood since 1991. Currently 5th in the World, Kynard has spoken only about his desire to attack the world record of 2.45 meters set by Javier Sotomayor in 1993.

Lagat continues dominance at U.S. outdoors

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
Bernard Lagat Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Bernard Lagat now has seven national titles at 5,000 meters.
The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships continued at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State on Friday, with several national titles awarded and plenty of noteworthy accomplishments.

Best male performance: Bernard Lagat captured his seventh U.S. title at 5,000 meters. The 39-year-old closed in 54.76 seconds for his final 400 meters and took the title with an overall time of 13:31.41.

Lagat, who passed Andrew Bumbalough of the Bowerman Track Club with 100 remaining, is coming off an indoor season in which he captured a silver medal at 3,000 meters distance at the IAAF World Championships. He will turn 40 in December.

Best female performance: American record holder Molly Huddle out-kicked Shannon Rowbury to win her second U.S. national title at the 5,000 meters in 15:01.56. Huddle led the majority of the race, but had to hold off several attempts by Rowbury to pass her in the final 50 meters.

Most surprising moment: Camas (Wash.) High School junior Alexa Efraimson knew only the top four finishers in her section of the women’s 1,500-meter semifinal would advance to the next round. Halfway through the race Efraimson ran on the heels of world championship finalists Jenny Simpson and Mary Cain. The teenager would finish seventh in her section and fail to advance, but her race tactics will serve her well as she competes at the U.S. Junior Championships for a chance to represent America in the IAAF World Junior Championships.

Comeback stories
Trey Hardee won the decathlon with a world-leading total of 8,599 points. Hardee scored 8,518 earlier in the year at the Hypomeeting in Götzis, Austria.

Sanya Richard-Ross continues her comeback season after a toe injury sidelined her for a majority of 2013. Her 50.03 in the 400-meter semifinals matches a world-leading time. It is her fastest race since the Stockholm Diamond League Meeting after the Olympics, where she ran 49.89 seconds for the one-lap race.

Scratches yield new champions
Michael Rodgers has yet to run under 10-seconds in the the 100-meter dash in 2014, but his time of 10.09 was enough to claim the title in Sacramento. Justin Gatlin and Baylor freshman Trayvon Brommell are the two fastest 100-meter runners this year, but they opted not to compete this weekend, and Dentarius Locke pulled up with an injury in the semifinals.

Olympian Ryan Bailey took second behind Rodgers in 10.23. Rodgers will face stiffer competition as he takes on Gatlin and Tyson Gay, returning from a doping suspension, at the Lausanne Diamond League meet next week.

On the women's side, defending national champion English Gardner did not react well out of the starting blocks in the 100 meters, but Tianna Bartoletta took off quickly and captured the title in 11.15.

Bartoletta was fourth at the 2012 Olympics and dabbled in bobsled before refocusing on track. She capitalized Friday on the withdrawal of Olympic champion Allyson Felix and Tori Bowe, the fastest American woman in 2014

Triathlete Verzbicas back after injuries

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
Lukas VerzbicasAP ImagesLukas Verzbicas is back from a harrowing accident and aiming for success near his hometown.
Lukas Verzbicas’ road to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro is making a stop in his backyard, with the graduate of Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois, taking part in the ITU World Triathlon Series in Chicago on June 29.

“The Olympics are two years away and there’s still a lot of work and improvement to be done,” said Verzbicas, who was a track star at Sandburg High before becoming a professional triathlete. “The Olympic qualification points period already started, but there’s still time to focus on the big picture and continue being healthy in training.”

For Verzbicas, a successful summer would be defined by a return to the podium that puts recent struggles behind him.

Verzbicas is less than two years removed from a bicycle crash while training in Colorado Springs that left him with broken collarbone, two fractured vertebra and a collapsed lung. The sub-four minute high school miler needed to learn to walk again after suffering post-operation paralysis in his right leg.

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Pregnant runner has U.S. outdoors buzzing

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
The 2014 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships got underway Thursday in Sacramento, Calif., with preliminary heats in the sprints and middle distance races, and there were plenty of notable performances.

Most inspiring moment: Defending U.S. 800-meter champion Alysia Montano is six weeks away from delivering her first baby, but that did not stop her from racing on Thursday.

The five-time U.S. champion finished in last place with a time of 2:32.13 and will not advance to the semi-finals, but her run garnered plenty of attention and created plenty of buzz.

This was her first race of the 2014 season following a 2013 campaign in which Montano finished fourth at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

Performance of the night: Kim Conley trains in Sacramento and graduated from University of California-Davis, and she used the the home field to her advantage Thursday night while to capturing her first 10,000-meter outdoor title. Going into the bell lap, Conley out-kicked a surging Jordan Hasay of the Nike Oregon Project for a 65 second final 400-meters. She threw her arms up in the air as she crossed the finish line in 32:02 for the victory.

Last year’s U.S. Champion, Shalane Flanagan, announced her withdrawal from the race earlier in the week as she continues to train for a fall marathon.

Least surprising moment: 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp captured his sixth consecutive national title at 10,000 meters. Chris Derrick of the Bowerman Track Club pulled ahead at the 5,000-meter mark, hoping to wear down Rupp’s kick, but with 500 meters to go Rupp unleashed his signature kick to win in 28:12.07.

Rupp broke his own 10,000-meter American record earlier this season at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic, finishing in 26:44.36. He is also entered in the 5,000-meter run at the championships, which is scheduled for Friday night. Coach Alberto Salazar has pointed out the Meeting Areva in Paris on July 5 as a possible target for Rupp's next fast 5,000-meter race.

Most surprising moment: Nike’s David Torrence failed to advance to the 1,500-meter final after an indoor season in which he set the American record at 1,000 meters. Torrence also split 3:36.6 running a courageous second leg for the United States against Kenya at the IAAF World Relays on May 25. Torrence told reporters afterwards that his legs could not respond to the fast pace in the second half of the race. He recently switched coaches and is now training under coach Jama Aden.

Elsewhere, Ford Palmer of the New Jersey-New York track club spends time as a lifeguard and bartender when he is not running in circles. Palmer ran for Monmouth University but never broke the four-minute barrier for the mile, yet going into the final 200 meters in Sacramento he managed to pass Torrence and other former NCAA stars to clinch a spot in the semifinals.

The 23-year-old ran a personal best of 3:41.68 for 1,500 meters to beat two-time Olympian Nate Brannen at the Halifax Aileen Meagher International Meet. With no plans to travel to Europe for the summer, Palmer aims to peak in the final.

Ulissi has Italy's support after failed test

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
Diego UlissiBryn Lennon-Velo/Getty ImagesDiego Ulissi's stage wins at the Giro d'Italia came before his failed doping test.
MILAN (VN) -- Italy’s head cycling coach Davide Cassani spoke in support of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) after news Wednesday that Ulissi tested positive for asthma drug Salbutamol during the Giro d’Italia.

“I am concerned that people understand one thing, that Salbutamol doesn’t make you go stronger, it’s an accepted product,” Cassani told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper Thursday.

“Cyclists know that if you take five puffs then you won’t go any faster. You need to understand that this isn’t doping, that it doesn’t better your performance and is not a masking agent.”

Lampre announced its Giro star exceeded the accepted limit of Salbutamol in his urine in an anti-doping control after Stage 11 of the Giro last month. The 24-year-old from Tuscany had already won the fifth and eighth stages, and he placed second in the time trial in Barolo the day after the failed test. He abandoned the race after Stage 17 while on antibiotics to fight a sore throat and temperature.

Ulissi was using an inhaler with Salbutamol spray for bronchospasm and, according to Lampre, took two puffs ahead of Stage 11. He was also given paracetamol by the race doctor after a mid-stage crash. The team reported that his urine showed 1900 nanograms per milliliter of Salbutamol, nearly double the accepted limit of 1000ng/ml.

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American Horner in line for Tour spot

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
Chris Horner AP Photo/Paulo DuarteDefending Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Horner appears set to ride the 2014 Tour de France.
Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) is all but certain to race the Tour de France next month despite a harrowing crash that knocked him out of the Giro d'Italia.

Lampre general manager Brent Copeland confirmed to VeloNews that Horner, 42, is among 11 riders on the team’s long list to make the Tour Nine, but suggested the team is already planning on making Horner one of its protected GC riders.

“For the Tour, I personally think he’ll be in good condition, and he’s certainly convinced he’ll be in good condition, so that’s why he’s on the list,” Copeland told VeloNews by telephone. “We have 11 riders, so that means we have to take two riders off, but the idea now is go to the Tour with Rui Costa and Chris as the GC leaders, and Sacha Modolo for the sprints.”

Horner returned to racing last week in the opening prologue at the four-day Tour of Slovenia. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) won the 8.8-kilometer test against the clock, while Horner didn’t take any risks and came in 43 seconds behind to finish 68th.

Copeland said Horner’s quick return from a potentially devastating training crash in April is a testament to his tremendous recovery skills and determination to race.

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Jamaicans ready for Gay, Powell to return

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
Nesta CarterAl Bello/Getty ImagesNesta Carter and his competitors welcome the returns of Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.
NEW YORK -– Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake, Warren Weir and Nesta Carter met with the media ahead of last weekend’s adidas Grand Prix meet in New York City, offering their opinions on the impending returns of fellow sprinters Tyson Gay (USA) and Asafa Powell (Jamaica) from shortened doping suspensions.

A dark cloud loomed over track and field last July when Gay and Powell tested positive for banned substances prior to the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

The news of Powell’s positive test was released just days after Carter ran 9.87 in Madrid on July 13. Initial reports named Carter as one of five Jamaicans busted for doping, but there was no connection and his name was cleared.

Carter is excited for the return of Powell, his former training partner.

“Well, I’m happy that he’s coming back soon. It was a problem that should have been dealt with a long time ago,” Carter told ESPN. “I’m just happy for him to be back, because the situation was more than some people made of it. I’m grateful that he gets another chance.”

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Impressive mile record for 10-year-old

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
Tailwind Track Club coach Carl Curran was worried when he saw Jonah Gorevic cross the 400-meter split of the Youth Boys Mile at last weekend's 2014 adidas Grand Prix in 1:11.07. It matched Gorevic's personal best in the 400-meter dash, but the 10-year-old continued his fast pace to a new world record of 5:01.55 for the 10 year old mile.

“In the first Icahn Stadium meet that I went to on April 13, I got 5:09. I was told the world record was 5:05,” Gorevic said. “So for two months and one day, I’ve been chasing it.”

Gorevic just wrapped up fifth grade at F.E. Bellows school in Rye Neck, New York. He will not be able to join his middle school track team until eighth grade, but will continue to train with Curran.

“He’s stuck with me,” Gorevic joked of his coach.

Breaking the five-minute barrier is already on Gorevic’s mind, and his coach was quick to add that the world record for a runner under 11 years old is 4:55.

“We had trained for a sub-five,” Curran said. “I think if it wasn’t so hot and a little windy on the backstretch, he probably would have given that a good run.”

Gorevic runs 10 to 12 miles per week and only trains with Curran two or three times per week. He also plays soccer.

“I just point him in a direction and he just goes,” Curran said.

The next direction could be towards 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, where Gorevic will only be 16 years old.

American Olympian Duane Solomon first broke five minutes for the mile in eighth grade and now has high expectations for Gorevic.

“He’ll probably be one of the one’s the watch,” Solomon said. “He could be the next Alan Webb or Jordan Hasay in the class of high school phenoms.”

Armstrong testifies in SCA bonus case

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
Lance ArmstrongAP Images/Harpo StudiosMillions of dollars are at stake in the ongoing lawsuit against Lance Armstrong.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Lance Armstrong gave sworn testimony Thursday as part of a Texas firm’s effort to recoup millions of dollars it paid the disgraced American for what he later admitted were drug-fueled Tour de France victories.

Jeffrey Dorough, general counsel for Dallas-based SCA Promotions, told AFP that Armstrong had given a sworn deposition in the case in Austin, Texas, although he said a protective order had been issued that prevented him from discussing what the testimony was.

Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, also declined when asked for comment by USA Today.

Armstrong has fought to block SCA’s bid to recover $12 million in costs and bonuses it paid him before his spectacular fall from grace.

He had no choice but to give the testimony, though, after the Texas State Supreme Court denied his motion for temporary relief in the case last month. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and handed a lifetime ban from the sport, eventually admitting last year that all seven triumphs were fueled by banned performance-enhancing drugs.

SCA withheld a $5 million bonus it was scheduled to pay after Armstrong’s sixth Tour de France win in 2004 because of doping allegations then circulating in Europe. Armstrong took SCA to court and won the case in arbitration.

But since his ban and admission of doping SCA has sought to recoup the money from Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service cycling team’s parent company, Tailwind Sports, along with legal fees and interest.

Tillotson has said that Armstrong’s false testimony was too long ago for him to face perjury charges under the statute of limitations, but he said SCA Promotions wants Armstrong sanctioned for his lies by the same arbitration panel that handled the previous case.

“Our position is simple,” Tillotson told USA Today on May 30. “No one should be able to relentlessly perjure themselves and get away with it.”

In a separate fraud lawsuit filed by the federal government, Armstrong was scheduled for another deposition on June 23, USA Today reported. But the government recently said it would postpone that deposition and others it had scheduled for this month, including Armstrong's friend John Korioth, Armstrong publicist Mark Higgins, Armstrong's friend and former Oakley employee Stephanie McIlvain, and cycling coach Chris Carmichael.

Froome, Wiggins apart before Tour

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImagesChris Froome, right, has had a contentious relationship with Bradley Wiggins since 2012.
LONDON (AFP) -- Team Sky said star riders Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins have been selected in separate Tour de France warm-up races this month.

Wiggins became the Tour’s first British winner in 2012 and was succeeded a year later by Froome, who will lead Team Sky in the 101st Tour, which begins in Leeds on July 5.

With the Tour just over a month away, Froome will defend his title in the Critérium du Dauphiné, a prestigious Tour warm-up Wiggins won in 2011 and 2012, from June 8-15. Wiggins will be at at the Tour of Switzerland from June 14 to 22.

Froome is joined by Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio in the eight-man Dauphine squad, with all seven likely to accompany him at the Tour, leaving space for one more rider.

“Both the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse are WorldTour events and we are looking to perform in both races,” Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said. ”Bradley heads to Switzerland with a strong team after a great win in California and we've got the right group for the Dauphine, especially considering the nature of the course.”

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Quintana pads Giro lead with time trial win

May, 30, 2014
May 30
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the uphill Stage 19 time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Friday.

The Colombian padded his overall lead in the race with two days remaining after finishing the 26.8-kilometer route with the top time. Fabio Aru (Astana) was 17 seconds behind Quintana in second, while Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took third at 1:26 back.

Quintana now leads Uran by 3:07 and Aru by 3:48 in the overall GC standings.

“I couldn’t let this stage go past without winning it; my family came here from Colombia to watch me, gave me an extra gear,” Quintana said. “The team and preparation, this TT went very well.”

Friday’s stage began in Bassano del Grappa and featured 7.5K of flat road before the course pitched toward the sky at the base of the Category 1 Monte Grappa climb and its 28 hairpin turns. The 19.2K climb had an average gradient of 8 percent but featured several sections, particularly in the final 3K, above 10 percent.

Riders chose a mix of gear for the course -- some began on road bikes, others started on time trial setups and switched to a road bike when the climb began. Other riders used a road bike with clip-on aero bars to take advantage of the flat beginning.

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Arredondo climbs to Giro Stage 18 win

May, 29, 2014
May 29
Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) won stage 18 at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, a 171-kilometer route that ended with the Cat. 1 climb of Rifugo Panarotta.

The Colombian, who was first atop the opening two climbs of the day, crested the final ascent by himself to claim victory.

Fabio Duarte (Colombia) was second at 17 seconds back, while Philip Deignan (Sky) was 37 ticks behind in third.

“After San Luis, where I won two stages, the Giro became my principal objective for the season,” Arredondo said of the Tour de San Luis, which Quintana won. “It’s going better than I could have dreamed. I have a stage, and I have the climber’s jersey. I am so happy. I still cannot believe it.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who finished 10th at 2:46 back, stayed in the pink jersey and will ride in Friday’s 26.8K mountain time trial as the race leader. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is 1:41 behind Quintana in second. Pierre Rolland (Europcar), who attacked the maglia rosa group late on the finishing climb, moved into third place at 3:29 back.

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) struggled on the day and dropped from third to ninth in the GC standings and now sits 4:59 behind Quintana.

Final climb fireworks
The ascent of Rifugo Panarotta saw some of the best bike racing of this Giro. With a large escape group riding off the front, the maglia rosa group containing the GC contenders and some of their teammates seemed content to let the breakaway stay right where it was.

At the base of the climb with 16K remaining, Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma) attacked the break and started a solo effort up the steep slope that featured gradients averaging 8.5 percent and as high as 14 percent.

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Pirazzi emerges to win Giro Stage 17

May, 28, 2014
May 28
Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) won stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday.

The Italian was part of a large breakaway group of 26 riders that formed nearly two hours into the 204-kilometer stage from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto. Pirazzi and four others eventually made their way to the front of the race, and with a kilometer left he attacked and held on to win.

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) took second and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) retained the pink leader’s jersey, holding a 1:41 advantage over Rigoberto Uran and a 3:21 gap over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

With the peloton well back at 10 minutes, it was clear in the final 25K that someone in the breakaway would most likely win the stage. Just before the summit of the final climb of the day, the Category 4 Muro di Ca’ del Poggio, Pirazzi nearly caught Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who had attacked the break with 30K left.

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