Archive for the ‘Canyon Online Team’ Category

The Strive Diaries: Entry 1 – EWS Round 1 in Chile

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Fabien Barel // Foto: Jérémie Reuiller

With the Strive Diaries we hope to capture the wide range of experiences, events and emotions that the Canyon Factory Enduro Team goes through. Just focussing on the good times doesn’t cut it, you’ve also got to reflect on when stuff doesn’t go right, and in some cases, badly wrong. The lives of high-level athletes are full of ups and downs, which is exactly what we want to expose. In this entry, we could bang on about how amazing it was to race in Chile with its incredible terrain and the support we experienced, but to do that would ignore the setbacks, and near disaster we had along the way.

Travelling to Chile was a complete step into the unknown on a number of levels. Despite being a bit of a logistical nightmare, nothing could prepare us for how how diverse and dynamic the riding scene is over there. People in Chile are absolutely mad for Enduro – some European countries could really take note. It was immediately clear to us that with a fan base like this, the country had truly earned the right to host the first round of the 2014 Enduro World Series (EWS).

The Canyon Crew was rolling deeper than usual to get the most of our time on the other side of the world. We spent build-up to racing doing film and photo shoots with the Andes as a backdrop, as well as training. Having got the shots we were after, it was time to really get to grips with the terrain at the warm-up race, “Montenbaik Enduro 2014” in La Parva. Just like us, it was clear that our competitors had also been putting in the hard hours over the winter months. Fabien finished up in fifth place, while Ines got onto the podium with a fantastic effort by taking third.

Ludo May // Foto: Jérémie Reuiller

Our Swiss newbie, Ludo May, couldn’t wait to get his first ever race in CFET colours underway: “Coming here to Chile was the first real trip I’ve done with the team and it feels great having a mechanic and manager at my side. I really felt this support, it’s like being part of a big family. Unfortunately a small mechanical held me back, but I’m still happy because I had good stages, which makes me confident for the EWS.”

After a solid performance by the guys drifting their way through “Antigrip Country”, we felt good on the five hour drive south to Nevados de Chillan, with everyone super keen to get EWS 2014 underway. Thursday and Friday were spent trying to get as much practise in on the course as possible, while the real action kicked off at the weekend, with six stages spread over Saturday and Sunday. Time was tight for everyone.

Ines Thoma // Foto: Jérémie Reuiller

Like all of us, Ines was feeling it before the race: “I was a bit nervous to be honest, but I think everyone else felt the same. You never know what’s going to happen, even if you’ve done thousands of races before. Being here is something else though, the trails are super fun to ride and we’ve got great weather so I’m happy!”

Even after the very first stage, it was clear that racing will be super close this season, with the rookies mixing it up with the big guns. Then Fabien came across the line. It was clear something was up and everyone looked on with concern etched on their faces. What the hell happened?

Fabien Barel // Foto: Jérémie Reuiller

Despite that crash and unaware of the damage he’d done, Fab still fought to the finish of day one: “I am not sure I should start it this way, but what a day. I did not expect the first day, the first stage happening this way. I started the first corner like a 15 year old kid, ripping the sand full speed, drifting, bunny-hopping the ruts of the others. A feeling where confidence makes you believe nothing can happen. An excitement that even after 20 years of racing, I cannot control… Half way down the track at 40km/h flat out, I go over the bar, face plant my head in the sand, bend my back like it shouldn’t and fall 5 meters below the trail. It took me 10 minutes to get climb back up my back hurt so much. I could barely move. I managed to go back on the bike and cross the finish line and go direct to the medical staff. After a long check, I decided to start the liaison to go to the second stage anyway… Should I have pushed today for a couple points? Are the risks worth it? Should I ride tomorrow? Did I plan the first round this way? All questions without answers but the only thing I know, is that I am here to ride my bike and give my best to compete. One knee on the floor does not mean that you are out… I would say, don’t ever give up!”

Canyon Pro Sports

It was an incredibly difficult and emotional decision to make on Sunday morning, but Fabien could go no further. As it turned out, it was absolutely the right decision. A proper check-up and scans in hospital that afternoon revealed that he’d broken his back at the 8th dorsal vertebra, coming within a hair’s breadth of being paralysed below the waist. It’s definitely at times like these that any thoughts about riding and racing take a backseat. We all realise just how close we came to absolute disaster.

Back on course, Ludo made a big impact in his first ever EWS race by finishing 13th. Meanwhile, Joe had great pace but was struck down by a flat tyre, which dropped him down to 25th.

Joe Barnes // Foto: Jérémie Reuiller

The Top Chief had a blast nonetheless: “My first race of the year was an amazing one to start with bringing us all the way to Chile. All through practice we would ride a stage and think it was the best thing ever and then move on to the next and think the same thing again. So much fun to be had in them Chilean hills.

I took it easy in the first stage as I knew the year was long and felt comfortable on my bike. After this I was ready to attack in the longer more physical stage 2. This stage came good for me with an 11th place finish. Day one was good but with my casual start I still felt that I had more to give and so was excited for the bigger, and possibly better second day of racing.

Stage 4 was a really flowy, fast and definitely loose trail. I pushed a bit harder where I could and came away with a 5th place finish and a personal best stage finish that helped me climb in the overall positions. Stage 5 became tight and technical and what I love riding at home in Scotland so excitement levels were at an all-time high. Unfortunately after galloping through a rock garden a bit too keen my front tyre started to lose air and was soon completely flat with half the stage still to go. I rode as fast as I could but lost a good amount of time to my competitors.

This was a huge disappointment for me for the first race of the year and first of the EWS series. I finished 25th in the end so still got some points but not where I really want to be. The fun I had over the whole weekend has made me keen for more and can’t wait for the second round coming up. Just going to take it easy in them rocks…”

It’s with mixed emotions that we look back on our time in Chile. Feelings range from being “totally stoked” after riding such incredible terrain and seeing the enthusiasm of the Chilean fans, to disappointment with our results, to complete shock following Fab’s crash. Heading back to Europe, we’ll regroup and be ready to go again at the Riva BIKE Festival in Italy.

Thank you very much for all the “get well” wishes we have already received for Fabien. We have to be patient and wait for further examinations, but like all of you, we hope to see Fab back on the bike as soon as possible!

Canyon Factory Enduro Team

Made for the Mur: Valverde takes historic Flèche Wallonne for Canyon

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Alejandro Valverde takes Flèche Wallone 2014 /(c) TDWsport.com

On the final brutal ascent of the Mur de Huy, it was Movistar Team’s Alejandro Valverde who proved the strongest to take a historic victory for Canyon at Flèche Wallonne. Following wins in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Canyon bikes have now triumphed four times on the trot at the Ardennes Classic, in an unprecedented run of success.

With gradients well in excess of 20%, watching the legendary finish up the Mur de Huy resembles a super-slow-motion bunch sprint – few other races in the world provide such a vivid impression of the riders’ effort. To succeed, the winner has to time their effort to perfection – go too early and you’ll fade away, wait too long and it’s too late.

Valverde, who also triumphed in the race back in 2006, proved to have the legs and the experience as he built a gap over a select group of uphill specialists on his Ultimate CF SLX just after the steepest section of the climb.

Having notched up his eighth victory, the Spaniard becomes the most successful rider so far in 2014 and will go into Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège as the man to watch. The race marks the climax of the Ardennes Week and could be the perfect birthday present for Valverde, who turns 34 on Friday.

Canyon Pro Sports

Ardennes Classics Preview: Katusha and Movistar Team Prepare for Climbing Showdown

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2013:  Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez fights for the win / (c) TDWsport.com

The 2014 cobbled classics are behind us and therefore the cycling world’s attention now turns away from the big powerhouses of the peloton and back to the featherweight climbers. The Ardennes Classics are up next with three exciting races in store and barely a metre of flat road on the parcours.

Starting this Sunday (April 20th) with the Amstel Gold Race in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, the peloton will then tackle La Flèche Wallonne midweek on Wednesday 23rd before the climax of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 27th.

The Ardennes Classics have been a happy hunting ground for Canyon riders in the past, and this year will be no different. With the likes of Joaquim Rodríguez and Alejandro Valverde headlining Katusha and Movistar Team respectively, both squads possess the races’ big favourites and former winners. To deliver their captain in the ideal position, Katusha will rely on riders like Dani Moreno and Giampaolo Caruso, both of whom could also have a shot at victory. Meanwhile, Movistar Team will find strong climbing backup in Igor Anton and JJ Rojas. Alongside the Grand Tours, the Ardennes Classics stand out as the biggest objectives in many riders’ seasons, especially for climbing specialists. Competition is therefore guaranteed to be fierce.

Peloton tackles the Dutch Alps in Amstel Gold

Contrary to the beliefs of many, the Netherlands are not entirely flat, as will be proven this Sunday as the WorldTour takes on the 250 km route of Amstel Gold that will force them up and down all day long. The centrepiece of the race is the Cauberg. With an 11% gradient at its steepest point it will feature three times in the race pm Sunday, the last of which comes with just over 1 km to go to the finish, providing a tempting launchpad for anyone with a bit of zip left in the legs to take off solo towards the line.

Alejandro Valverde aims for the win at Amstel Gold Race / (c) TDWsport.com

Valverde was second here last year in addition to winning silver at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships on a similar course. With this in mind he has to be considered the most dangerous rider in the line-up having shown outstanding form so far this season, with seven victories and counting. The Spaniard not only climbs with the very best in the world, he is also capable of out-sprinting his rivals at the end of hours of tough racing.

Fourth triumph in a row for Canyon on the Mur de Huy?

Following in the tyre tracks of Philippe Gilbert in 2011 and Joaquim Rodríguez in 2012, Dani Moreno was the third rider in a row to skip away from the competition on the fierce gradients of the Mur de Huy and take Fléche Wallonne aboard the Aeroad CF. Could it be someone from Katusha or Movistar Team to make it four in a row next Wednesday? That depends on how they deal with the final challenge of the race. The Mur de Huy features three times on the 198 km route and hits a jaw-dropping 26% at its steepest point. The race usually comes down to an agonising slow motion bunch sprint as the riders gasp for breath and fight the lactic acid in their legs as they approach the summit of the wall.

Katushas Dani Moreno winning La Flèche Wallonne 2013 / (c) TDWsport.com

Dani Moreno favours these kind of brutal uphill finishes and will be particularly motivated to make it two wins in a row as he tackles the race on a custom painted Aeroad CF in honour of his victory last year. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Rodríguez eyes historic 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the five Monuments of cycling and takes pride of place as the headline event of the Ardennes racing week. Nicknamed La Doyenne, or the “old lady”, it is the longest running bike race in the world with the first edition taking place way back in 1892. This year will mark the 100th edition, providing even further incentive to the riders. Between them and victory stand 260 km and 10 famous categorised ascents, including La Redoute, a name that is known throughout the sport.

Joaquim Rodríguez has made it perfectly clear that alongside the Giro d’Italia, this is the race he wants to win the most in 2014. The Catalan came agonisingly close last year after attacking in the finale and dropping all the favourites, only to get counter-attacked by young Irish rider, Dan Martin.

A rider with a track record at La Doyenne is Alejandro Valverde, who won the race back in 2006 and 2008, and rounded out the podium in 2013. With his form so far in 2014, the Spaniard stands a great chance of becoming a member of the exclusive club of three-time winners.

Three races and three huge opportunities for Canyon ProTeams to go for glory – it’s going to be a great week!

Katusha leading the peloton / (c) TDWsport.com

Road to Kona: Nils Frommhold wins Ironman South Africa

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Nils Frommhold

Canyon triathletes raced their way to success during a big weekend of competition around the world.

Nils Frommhold could not have dreamed for a better start to his season at Ironman South Africa. The 27 year-old German came away victorious from Sunday’s race and in doing so, collected enough qualification points to make the start line at the 2014 World Championships in Hawaii later this year. Fellow Canyon rider, Bas Diederen of Dutch outfit Team4Talent also put in a commendable performance and collected valuable points by finishing fourth in Port Elisabeth. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe in New Zealand, Germany’s Olympic distance specialist, Anne Haug, kicked off her season in fantastic fashion by taking the silver medal at the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland.

Speedmax CF delivers Ironman Frommhold to victory 

Racking up victory number two in only his third ever start, Nils currently possesses an outstanding success rate in Ironman competition. Following Sunday’s commanding performance he will no doubt be one of the favourites for the world title this year. Nils posted the fastest splits for each leg, landing the hammer blow on his rivals during the 180 km ride aboard his custom Speedmax CF. Rolling into T2 with a five minute advantage over his nearest rivals, he maintained his strength throughout the run to further build his lead and post arguably the biggest win of his career-to-date.

Nils Frommhold's Speedmax CF

“I just did my own thing out there, even when I was out front I never really looked back”, Nils reflected after crossing the line. “After about 15 or 20 km on the bike I was wondering why no one had come past, but then I did look back and realised I was on my own. Then I just thought to myself, ‘You have to go for it!’”

Even if he made it look easy, Nils had to battle on the run: “The first 10 km were great, I felt like I was flying, but from kilometre 20 to 35 it was really tough”. With a time of 8 hours, 26 minutes and 7 seconds, Nils secured the maximum available 2000 points in the Kona Pro Rankings to cement his starting position at the World Championships.

Bas Diederen was also in the running for the podium under the African sun. Coming out of the water in the leading trio and holding his position on the bike leg, the Dutchman fell back on the run but can still be content with a solid performance: “Today wasn’t my best day as I haven’t quite recovered fully after the Abu Dhabi Triathlon, but I can only congratulate the top three.”

Bas Diederen on his Speedmax

One of the greatest aspects of Ironman competition is having amateur racers go head-to-head with the full-time pros. Congratulations therefore go to Canyon rider Sam Baxter of the UK, who ranked as the top amateur in the race by finishing in 12th overall, beating a number of professionals in the process.

Haug off to a flying start in the ITU World Triathlon Series

Earlier in the day Germany’s top female triathlete, Anne Haug, celebrated a successful season-opening race by taking the silver medal in Auckland. Despite being caught towards the back of the pack coming out of the water, Anne fought her way back to the front during an incident-filled bike leg riding her new Aeroad CF and put in a storming run to elevate her into second place.

Anne Haug and her DTU coach Dan Lorang // Foto: DTU/Jo Kleindl

Her coach, Dan Lorang, was overjoyed by the display: “Considering she hasn’t had much time to prepare, Anne put in a sensational performance”. Anne herself was also pleasantly surprised: “I didn’t think I’d be capable of this with the way my training has gone, but there’s something about racing here in New Zealand that always brings the best out of me.”

Canyon Triathletes

Swim. Canyon. Run. Canyon Triathletes Take to the Start Line Around the World

Friday, April 4th, 2014

With a plane ticket in one hand and a bike bag full of Canyon in the other, our European based triathletes take to all corners of the globe this weekend to line up for the biggest triathlon races around as the season picks up the pace. Germany’s number one, Anne Haug, will be down in New Zealand for the first round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland, while Neils Frommhold (Germany) and Bas Diederen (Holland) take on Ironman South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

Anne Haugs Aeroad CF

Anne Haug (31) is a new-recruit to the Canyon triathlon setup and round one of the ITU World Series in Auckland marks the first competitive outing for her and her striking new custom Aeroad CF (pictured above), which should give her the upper hand over her rivals following T1. Anne has been busy preparing for the season opener in Australia over the winter, having set her sights nice and early on one long-term goal: Olympic gold at Rio 2016.

Nils Frommhold

Some 11,500 KM away in South Africa, Nils Frommhold and Bas Diederen will be diving into Nelson Mandela Bay for the start of Ironman South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Nils (27) has only recently made the transfer to long distance events having won the first Ironman he ever took part in back at Arizona in 2012. This weekend will be his third: “Before my first Ironman I had massive respect for the discipline but at my second perhaps I didn’t show enough. I see it as all as one big puzzle; you have to put it together piece by piece to get it right.”

Bas Diederen

Another rider taking on the 180 km bike leg with the Speedmax CF will be Team4Talent’s Bas Diederen. Having achieved podium results at Ironman races twice in the past, Bas is definitely one to watch out for this weekend and comes fresh from a strong performance in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks back, where he came second overall with the fastest bike split.

Canyon wishes Anne, Nils and Bas the best of luck for the weekend ahead!

Canyon Triathletes

Topeak-Ergon Racing Team and Canyon win the Cape Epic

Monday, March 31st, 2014

The Absa Cape Epic in South Africa could hardly have gone any better for Canyon and the Topeak-Racing Team. Considered the hardest mountain bike stage race in the world, Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek won the men’s overall while the women Sally Bigham and Esther Süss rode to a fine second place, all adding to the success of the Lux CF.

Robert Mennen und Kristian Hynek gewinnen das Cape Epic auf dem Canyon Lux CF / Photo: RTI Sports

With 8 stages totalling 718 KM and over 14850 metres of climbing through the heat, dust, rain and mud of the South African back country, the Cape Epic sits at the pinnacle of international marathon mountain bike racing. To win it once is enough to define a rider’s entire career.

Robert Mennen auf dem Canyon Lux CF beim Cape Epic / Photo: RTI Sports

In order to take on such an extreme race, having the right equipment is paramount. It’s all about the bike. With the Cape Epic now in the bag, the moniker of the Lux CF holds as true as ever – 100% Luxury Racing!

The Strive Diaries: Entry 0 – Training Camp South France

Friday, March 28th, 2014
ines_thoma_dropping_in

“Last season couldn’t have started any better for the Canyon Factory Enduro Team when we won the first round of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala. But beyond this, we made it clear to everyone throughout the season that we belong right at the very top of the sport. Competing on the pro scene is not a walk in the park, which was something we learnt at every event. All kinds of emotions, from joy to suffering come thick and fast alongside countless unforgettable moments.

To give our fans and anyone interested in Enduro a chance to look behind the scenes and get involved in what we do, we’ve created the “Strive Diaries”. You’ll get instalments from the team after every round of the Enduro World Series as well as other events. Get ready to take on the season with us!” Flo Goral, CFET Team Manager

The Canyon Factory Enduro Team often feels more like a family than a team, so when we all got back together it felt a lot like a Christmas family reunion, even though we were there for some serious pre-season training and testing. Of course we also had a whole load of new team bikes and other cool stuff to dole out as well, so in that sense it was a bit like Christmas…

time_for_cereals

“Well on my side it’s really important getting together at the beginning of the season just to create synergy and team spirit for the season being able to support each other. Racing and competition is always tough but good moments and I think the general spirit of the team is a key point. That’s the first parameter. The second one is clearly to be able to share our experience and learn about our preparation, the bike setting to be able to pull the team towards the top and to create real teambuilding through that moment. That’s what a training camp all together is for – to get motivated all together.” Fabien Barel

cfet_team_set_up

We wanted to hold the camp a little later this year so we could put the final touches on our preparation for the first Enduro World Series (EWS) round in Chile. Everyone on the team is a little different, which is a great, and means they all turned up having prepared in all kinds of ways. Last year was a step into the unknown as no one really knew what a whole season of Enduro would be like but this year we’re more prepared as we now know what to expect.

one_team_one_family

Joe Barnes spent the winter building trails back home and was a pretty good shape following hours of sprint training on the rollers as well as soaking up the sun on a training camp in Madeira. Ines Thoma found a new love in “functional fitness”, spent plenty of time cross-country skiing, which is practically the law when you come from the Bavarian Alps, and she also took her campervan on a road trip to do some training on the roads down in Tuscany. Nobody understands perfect preparation quite like Master Fabien with all his years of experience and accumulated knowledge; he chose to do most of his winter training riding XC. And last but not least, our Swiss newbie, Ludo May, was down enjoying the trails in Spain, preparing for his new challenge with the team.

fab_barel_gym_training

We didn’t need to search long for a location to hold the training camp this year. Although CFET is officially based in Germany at Canyon.Home in Koblenz, Nice feels more like our spiritual home as this is where the team was born at the beginning of last year. It also happens to be Fabien Barel’s hometown, but most importantly it provides everything we need for riding Enduro: perfect trails, year-round sunshine, great food as well as comfortable accommodation.

ludovic_may_whip

“Nice is a great place for the training camp as we got pretty much all facilities around to train properly for mountain biking. Having the mountains, nice landscape towards the end of the Alps to ride and train Enduro is a perfect location, because we have a high amount of trails, which are providing us all type of terrain. We also normally get really good weather and temperatures over the winter and the fact that I live here and know all the facilities as well as gym, massage, hotel fairly easily, which makes everything really simple and familiar for the team. So I would say coming to Nice gives us generally the opportunity to get in shape in a short amount of time.” Fabien Barel

The main aim of the week was to get to know our way around the new team bikes. This is not just important for the guys who have to ride the things flat out, but also for our mechanics who get the chance to work on the bikes out in the open and away from the comforts of the workshop, just like they’ll be at races throughout the season.

ludovic_may_massive_drift

In the middle of the camp we had a two day test session with our sponsors, FOX, in nearby Finale Ligure. The focus of this was to really dial the suspension setups the guys want to ride with. This is essential as they need to feel comfortable and be able to place every last ounce of trust in their machines to ride as fast as possible.

Luckily, we only got washed out by the rain on one of the ten days we were riding, but we were able to spend the time wisely by doing some work in the gym and fine-tuning the bikes. Congratulations at this point go to Joe who earned bragging rights after a spontaneous pull-up competition, and to Ludo, who triumphed in the plank-off. Competition runs in the blood for these guys!

joe_barens_drift

Anyone spending a whole season riding the same bike looks forward to a change every now and then, which is why we had an epic XC ride pencilled in for the camp. It was clear at this point that the definition of “XC” varies substantially depending on where you come from. For Fabien, XC means taking on the stages of last year’s Blausasc Enduro. Only riding cross country bikes. And doing the whole thing in reverse… Needless to say the climbs could be classed as “challenging”, but that didn’t make the whole thing any less fun.

“It’s really great to start the year with the team with an intense XC ride and having a big laugh and a great time on the bike – but these guys are insane. They pedal hard every time!” Fabien Barel

team_play

Even on a training camp, time management plays a decisive role, just like on a race weekend. With hardly any contingencies, we had to try and get the best out of the time we had to train while keeping the stress down and allowing sufficient time for recovery. With a group like this, however, things quickly descended into a bit of a riot. We had some good times shooting the breeze and learning more about one other, and taking the mick out of each other only serves to strengthen the team’s bonds!

“Generally we had a really good laugh and our new team mate Ludo is a great fun person and really good to have fun with. We also have the opportunity to have a new mechanic called Dougie that is on the side of Joe and I would say we had a lot of good moments and I believe that the team building during this week achieved a great atmosphere and relationship which will be profitable in terms of performance all year long.” Fabien Barel

fab_barel_jumping_in

The challenges of racing Enduro are enormous, which is something we definitely learnt throughout 2013. Enduro truly does blend together the very best parts from all disciplines of mountain biking. This year, we feel we’ve done as much as we can to be ready.

”My expectation for the 2014 season is clearly to be able to compete at the top in Enduro. I do believe that with the team synergy, the teammates, the mechanics, the quality of the bike and where we are standing at the moment in terms of R&D we have all parameters to be competitive, so I think it´s definitely gonna be a great season and our goal is clearly to be on top of the game . It’s for sure that it will be a fantastic season!” Fabien Barel

start_in_den_tag

It won’t be long before we’re back on the road after the training camp. In less than two weeks we jet off to Chile for round one of the EWS. A season packed with action and great experiences is right on our doorstep – it’s all about to kick off big time!

Kristoff Wins Monumental Milan-Sanremo

Monday, March 24th, 2014
Alexander Kristoff wins Milan - Sanremo 2014 / Photo: Tim De Waele

Norwegian sprints to career-defining victory  

Alexander Kristoff of Team Katusha took the biggest win of his career yesterday at the 2014 edition of Milan-San Remo. The Norwegian triumphed in the cold and the rain by unleashing a powerful sprint on his Ultimate CF SLX at the end of 300 km and just under seven hours of tough racing. His success in Italy’s biggest one-day race marks the third victory in a Monument for Katusha following Joaquim Rodríguez’s successive wins at Il Lombardia in 2012 and 2013.

Katusha to the fore in the wind and rain

With the blizzards and freezing conditions of the 2013 edition still fresh in the memories of many, nobody could blame the riders for longing after more pleasant conditions this year. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t to be as they rode through rain and hail for the entirety of the race, providing a spectacle of endurance and suffering for spectators at home.

Katusha leading the Peloton at Milan - Sanremo 2014 / Photo: Tim De Waele

Katusha proved to be among those most hardened to the extreme conditions with many riders still present in the finale to work for Kristoff and all riders finishing the race. The Russian duo of Pavel Brutt and Aleksandr Kuchynski were highly visible through the gloomy conditions, upping the pace in a depleted peloton prior to the penultimate climb of the day, up the Cipressa, to reel in the day’s break.

Heading up the race’s final climb of the Poggio, which topped out just 6 km from the finish line, Kristoff was able to stay in touch with the front group as several riders attempted to break away and put the sprinters in difficulty. Fortunately for Kristoff he still had Italian Classics specialist Luca Paolini at his side. Paolini put in an enormous effort to shepherd Kristoff back to the front of the pack down the dangerous descent into Sanremo and then kept the pace high to within the last 600 metres, putting off any late attacks.

Luca Paolini at Milan - Sanremo 2014 / Photo: Tim De Waele

Sprint Royale

An elite group of around 25 riders made it to the line to fight for the win with many of the pre-race favourites and previous winners still present, including Fabian Cancellara, Gerald Ciolek, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan. Nevertheless, with some 300 km in the legs Kristoff proved to be the strongest, surging ahead in the final 150 metres to win by a couple of bike lengths over Cancellara and Team Sky’s Ben Swift.

Alexander Kristoff on the podium at Milan - Sanremo 2014 / Photo: Tim De Waele

“It was the best moment of my life”, claimed a delighted Kristoff after the finish, who was keen to highlight the work by his teammate Paolini: “I just said, ‘I’m here Luca,’ and he brought me to the front. He could stay in the group, follow the attacks and he did a great job. I’m very thankful to him. […] A sprint after 300 km is different from one after 200 km. Normally I don’t lose much power even on a long stage”. The Norwegian is well aware of the significance of yesterday’s win and the impact it will have, “Milan-Sanremo really puts you on the map and it’ll always stay in my career. It’s important. It’s almost unbelievable.”

Lobato takes 4th for Movistar Team

Perhaps one of the most standout performances yesterday came from Spain’s Juanjo Lobato, who in his debut Milan-Sanremo just missed out on the podium by finishing 4th. It was a hugely encouraging display by the young sprinter who is in his first season for Movistar Team and rounded off a perfect day for Canyon.

Canyon bikes have now triumphed six times in cycling’s Monuments since 2009.

Canyon Pro Sports

Tirreno-Adriatico Roundup: TT & GC Success for Movistar Team

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It’s a busy time in the UCI WorldTour right now with the recent conclusion of stage races in France and Italy, and cycling’s one-day “monuments” looming just around the corner. Tirreno-Adriatico came to a close yesterday bringing an end to yet another successful week for Canyon riders: Movistar Team claimed 2nd in the GC and a stage victory through Nairo Quintana and Adriano Malori respectively, while Dani Moreno of Katusha put in strong performances throughout the week to finish 8th overall.

Magnificent Malori takes closing time trial

Adriano Malori / Photo: Graham Watson

A flat 9.5 km out-and-back time trial along the Adriatic coastline stood between the peloton and the end of a gruelling week of racing through the heart of Italy, which included riding up the country’s steepest road with gradients in excess of 30%. What better place then, for an Italian to triumph? Adriano Malori stunned the rest of the field aboard the Speedmax CF, powering to victory and taking some major scalps in the process.

Malori described his performance yesterday as “the most beautiful victory” of his entire life and after one glance at the results, who could disagree? The Italian overcame the elite of world time-trialling by not only beating Fabian Cancellara into 2nd place by six seconds, but also reigning Olympic Champion, Bradley Wiggins, and World Champion, Tony Martin. In his own words, “it almost feels like a dream to win in front of the best specialists in the world.”

Quintana defends 2nd place in GC    

Nairo Quintana & Dani Moreno / Photo: Graham Watson

Malori’s was not the only standout performance in yesterday’s ITT as Nairo Quintana consolidated his 2nd place in the GC, backing up his climbing performances from earlier in the race. With riders perceived as more adept time-trialists breathing down his neck, the Columbian proved yesterday he is not just exceptional in the hills by putting time into all his rivals including eventual race winner, Alberto Contador. As a key build up event ahead of the Giro d’Italia, things are heading in the right directions for Quintana’s big season goal: “I’m getting used to the way of racing in Italy, the roads, how everything works here”.

Tirreno-Adriatico: Nairo Quintana on the podium / Photo: Tim De Waele

A recent spate of time-trial equipment testing, training and wind tunnel time has paid dividends for Movistar Team. In the race’s opening TTT they surprised the rest of the field with an impressive display to finish 3rd, and in addition to Malori’s victory yesterday British national champion Alex Dowsett also finished 6th.  In a discipline where equipment plays such a vital role, the gains provided by the Speedmax CF have been backed up by three victories already in 2014.

Alex Dowsett / Photo: Graham Watson

Milan-Sanremo Preview: La Primavera kicks off 2014 monuments

In a sport with such a rich history as cycling, there are some races that transcend all others: Milan-Sanremo is one such race. Considered one of cycling’s five monuments, at a shade under 300km it is the longest race of the season, with the distance alone presenting a major obstacle to the riders in addition to the short coastal climbs that feature in its finale. As such, past winners include a wide mix of classics specialists, sprinters and GC riders.

Luca Paolini / Photo: Graham Watson

Katusha animated last year’s snow-disrupted race with an attacking display and Alexander Kristoff eventually took the sprint behind the break in brutal conditions. So far this year the Norwegian has shown good form, taking a stage win at the Tour of Oman last month, and is a good bet as a sprinter who also climbs well. Another contender from the Russian outfit is Italian classics specialist Luca Paolini, who thrives in tough conditions and will no doubt be especially motivated for his country’s biggest one day race.

Movistar Team will be backing Jose Joaquín Rojas who stood out at last week’s Paris-Nice as the most consistent rider in the whole race. Other options for the Spanish squad should the race come down to a sprint finish include Fran Ventoso and Juanjo Lobato, who already has a number of podium finishes to his name in 2014.

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Valverde Continues to Reign in Spain

Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Alejandro Valverde winning the 2014 Vuelta a Murcia / Photo: Graham Watson

One week after a commanding performance at the Vuelta a Andalucía, Alejandro Valverde clocked up his fifth win of the season and the eighth for Movistar Team on Saturday at the Vuelta a Murcia. The race marked the first occasion in the 2014 season that Nairo Quinatna and Valverde, the two leaders of Movistar Team, have lined up in the same squad together.

Aggressive tactics pay off

Right from the gun the Spanish ProTeam was in an attacking mood and was active in moves throughout the race over what was a particularly challenging and mountainous parcours. In the end it was Valverde who proved the strongest, once again making fine use of his trademark uphill finishing kick to cross the line 3 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Tiago Machado. Jose Joaquin Rojas rounded off another strong team performance and provided a strong signal that he is back to his best following injury by taking 5th, just 7 seconds down on his teammate.

Lobato on the podium in Almería

Movistar Team continued its run of success at the following day’s Clásica de Almería, where Juanjo Lobato sprinted to 2nd place and two other riders in blue, Fran Ventoso and José Joaquín Rojas, also featuring inside the top-10.

Take a closer look at the Movistar Team bikes here.

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