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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Today's Racing

Today we've got the HC-ranked USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which runs through the 23rd.

Also, starting today is the Tour du Limousin

UCI World Tour Rankings

Here are the August 16 UCI World Tour rankings

Rider:

Rank Prev. Rider Team (Code) Points
1 1 VALVERDE Alejandro MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 532
2 2 FROOME Christopher TEAM SKY (SKY) 422
3 3 CONTADOR Alberto TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 407
4 4 QUINTANA Nairo Alexander MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 365
5 5 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 322
6 6 PORTE Richie TEAM SKY (SKY) 314
7 17 VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 292
8 7 THOMAS Geraint TEAM SKY (SKY) 283
9 8 FARIA Rui Alberto LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 274
10 9 SPILAK Simon TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 269
11 10 DEGENKOLB John TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 265
12 11 KRISTOFF Alexander TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 263
13 12 ARU Fabio ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 263
14 13 PINOT Thibaut FDJ (FDJ) 249
15 14 SAGAN Peter TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 229
16 15 URAN URAN Rigoberto ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 221
17 16 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 210
18 18 KWIATKOWSKI Michal ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 195
19 19 ZAKARIN Ilnur TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 194
20 20 BARDET Romain AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 192
21 21 MOLLEMA Bauke TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 190
22 22 ALAPHILIPPE Julian ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 180
23 23 IZAGUIRRE Jon MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 173
24 24 STYBAR Zdenek ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 172
25 25 MATTHEWS Michael ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 161
26 37 GILBERT Philippe BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 159
27 26 HENAO Sergio Luis TEAM SKY (SKY) 157
28 27 DUMOULIN Tom TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 157
29 28 LANDA MEANA Mikel ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 148
30 29 YATES Simon ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 148
31 30 TERPSTRA Niki ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 140
32 31 NIBALI Vincenzo ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 138
33 32 DENNIS Rohan BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 135
34 33 GREIPEL André LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 123
35 121 WELLENS Tim LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 115
36 34 GESINK Robert TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 104
37 36 BOOM Lars ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 102
38 35 HESJEDAL Ryder TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 102
39 38 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 96
40 39 AMADOR Andrey MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 91
41 40 YATES Adam ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 90
42 109 KELDERMAN Wilco TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 89
43 41 DE CLERCQ Bart LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 88
44 42 GALLOPIN Tony LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 87
45 43 MORENO Daniel TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 82
46 44 INTXAUSTI Benat MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 81
47 45 PAOLINI Luca TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 80
48 46 KRUIJSWIJK Steven TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 80
49 47 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 76
50 48 MARTIN Daniel TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 75
51 49 FRANK Mathias IAM CYCLING (IAM) 72
52 50 HERMANS Ben BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 71
53 65 BENOOT Tiesj LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 71
54 51 KONIG Leopold TEAM SKY (SKY) 70
55 52 ULISSI Diego LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 68
56 53 KREUZIGER Roman TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 64
57 111 FELLINE Fabio TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 64
58 54 FUGLSANG Jakob ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 64
59 55 ALBASINI Michael ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 62
60 56 CANCELLARA Fabian TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 59
61 57 ELMIGER Martin IAM CYCLING (IAM) 56
62 58 MAJKA Rafal TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 55
63 59 BONIFAZIO Niccolo LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 54
64 60 CARUSO Damiano BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 54
65 61 TALANSKY Andrew TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 54
66 62 VANMARCKE Sep TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 52
67 63 FERNANDEZ Ruben MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 52
68 64 ROELANDTS Jurgen LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 52
69 66 TRENTIN Matteo ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 50
70 67 VUILLERMOZ Alexis AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 49
71 68 DEBUSSCHERE Jens LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 48
72 69 TROFIMOV Yury TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 48
73 70 KEUKELEIRE Jens ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 46
74 71 JUNGELS Bob TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 46
75 72 GENIEZ Alexandre FDJ (FDJ) 44
76 73 MODOLO Sacha LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 43
77 74 VALLS FERRI Rafael LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 41
78 75 VANDENBERGH Stijn ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 40
79 - GRIVKO Andriy ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 40
80 76 SCARPONI Michele ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 40
81 77 ATAPUMA Darwin BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 40
82 78 MARTIN Tony ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 40
83 79 IMPEY Daryl ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 39
84 80 POELS Wouter TEAM SKY (SKY) 36
85 81 IZAGUIRRE Gorka MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 36
86 86 LAMPAERT Yves ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 32
87 82 CIMOLAI Davide LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 32
88 83 MONFORT Maxime LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 32
89 88 GESCHKE Simon TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 32
90 180 ROGERS Michael TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 31
91 84 RIBLON Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 31
92 85 LOPEZ Miguel Angel ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 31
93 87 SANCHEZ Samuel BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 30
94 89 CAVENDISH Mark ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 30
95 90 BARGUIL Warren TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 28
96 91 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 28
97 92 NIZZOLO Giacomo TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 28
98 103 VIVIANI Elia TEAM SKY (SKY) 28
99 93 PANTANO Jarlinson IAM CYCLING (IAM) 27
100 94 FORMOLO Davide TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 26
101 95 KANGERT Tanel ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 24
102 96 TIRALONGO Paolo ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 23
103 97 BRESCHEL Matti TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 22
104 98 KIRYIENKA Vasil TEAM SKY (SKY) 22
105 99 MORABITO Steve FDJ (FDJ) 21
106 100 ROWE Luke TEAM SKY (SKY) 20
107 101 PELUCCHI Matteo IAM CYCLING (IAM) 20
108 102 PLAZA MOLINA Ruben LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 20
109 104 BAKELANTS Jan AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 19
110 105 MOINARD Amaël BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 17
111 106 POLANC Jan LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 16
112 107 KEISSE Iljo ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 16
113 108 OSS Daniel BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 14
114 110 LOBATO Juan Jose MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 14
115 114 MALORI Adriano MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 13
116 112 NIEVE ITURALDE Mikel TEAM SKY (SKY) 12
117 113 CHAVANEL Sylvain IAM CYCLING (IAM) 12
118 130 DEMARE Arnaud FDJ (FDJ) 11
119 115 BAUER Jack TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 10
120 - JUUL JENSEN Christopher TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 10
121 116 BETANCUR Carlos Alberto AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 10
122 117 KITTEL Marcel TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 10
123 118 DURBRIDGE Luke ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 10
124 119 MEZGEC Luka TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 9
125 120 SANCHEZ GIL Luis Leon ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 9
126 122 VISCONTI Giovanni MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 8
127 123 CHEREL Mikael AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 8
128 157 VAN EMDEN Jos TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 8
129 127 HAUSSLER Heinrich IAM CYCLING (IAM) 8
130 - BOONEN Tom ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 8
131 128 HOFLAND Moreno TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 8
132 124 CHERNETSKI Sergei TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 8
133 125 BODNAR Maciej TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 8
134 126 CLARKE Simon ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 8
135 131 SLAGTER Tom Jelte TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 7
136 129 ROJAS GIL Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 7
137 133 LUTSENKO Alexey ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 6
138 - LE BON Johan FDJ (FDJ) 6
139 - QUINZIATO Manuel BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 6
140 132 REICHENBACH Sébastien IAM CYCLING (IAM) 6
141 134 ANACONA GOMEZ Winner MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 6
142 135 DURASEK Kristijan LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 6
143 136 GERRANS Simon ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 6
144 137 KENNAUGH Peter TEAM SKY (SKY) 6
145 138 KUENG Stefan BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 6
146 145 VANGENECHTEN Jonas IAM CYCLING (IAM) 5
147 141 PORSEV Alexander TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 5
148 - VAN POPPEL Danny TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 5
149 139 EWAN Caleb ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 5
150 140 DUMOULIN Samuel AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 5
151 142 BENNETT George TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 4
152 - VAN BAARLE Dylan TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 4
153 184 DRUCKER Jean-Pierre BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 4
154 147 BRANDLE Matthias IAM CYCLING (IAM) 4
155 - GUARNIERI Jacopo TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 4
156 144 WESTRA Lieuwe ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 4
157 143 KLUGE Roger IAM CYCLING (IAM) 4
158 185 NIELSEN Magnus Cort ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 3
159 146 ARREDONDO Julian David TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 3
160 155 MARANGONI Alan TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 2
161 152 GRETSCH Patrick AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 2
162 150 SMUKULIS Gatis TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 2
163 153 FLENS Rick TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 2
164 148 CRADDOCK Lawson TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 2
165 149 LINDEMAN Bertjan TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 2
166 151 VAN ASBROECK Tom TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 2
167 154 LAGUTIN Sergey TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 2
168 156 VALLEE Boris LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 2
169 158 MARTENS Paul TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 2
170 159 BENNATI Daniele TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 2
171 160 DANIELSON Thomas * TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 2
172 161 TCATEVICH Aleksei TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 2
173 175 STUYVEN Jasper TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 1
174 174 BRUTT Pavel TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 1
175 181 POZZATO Filippo LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 1
176 167 TURGOT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 1
177 170 FERRARI Roberto LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 1
178 - GUARDINI Andrea ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 1
179 173 HAAS Nathan TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 1
180 186 RICHEZE Maximiliano Ariel LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 1
181 162 ROSA Diego ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 1
182 163 BOUET Maxime ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 1
183 164 NOCENTINI Rinaldo AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 1
184 165 VAN WINDEN Dennis TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 1
185 166 HOWSON Damien ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 1
186 168 BOECKMANS Kris LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 1
187 169 BELKOV Maxim TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 1
188 171 MEERSMAN Gianni ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 1
189 172 TAARAMAE Rein ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 1
190 176 VAN DER SANDE Tosh LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 1
191 177 REZA Kévin FDJ (FDJ) 1
192 178 HERRADA LOPEZ Jesus MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 1
193 179 CASTROVIEJO Jonathan MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 1
194 182 HALLER Marco TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 1
195 183 CHAVES Jhoan Esteban ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 1
196 187 SOLER Marc MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 1

Teams:

Rank Prev. Team (Code) Points
1 1 TEAM SKY (SKY) 1246
2 2 MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 1242
3 3 TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 1130
4 4 ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 908
5 5 TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 786
6 7 BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 758
7 6 ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 715
8 8 ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 507
9 9 AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 501
10 10 TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 492
11 12 LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 484
12 11 LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 480
13 13 TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 387
14 16 TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 333
15 14 FDJ (FDJ) 331
16 15 TEAM CANNONDALE - GARMIN (TCG) 267
17 17 IAM CYCLING (IAM) 187

Nations:

Rank Prev. Country Points
1 1 SPAIN 1582
2 2 GREAT BRITAIN 973
3 3 COLOMBIA 814
4 4 ITALY 759
5 5 FRANCE 757
6 8 BELGIUM 725
7 6 AUSTRALIA 717
8 7 NETHERLANDS 693
9 9 GERMANY 470
10 10 CZECH REPUBLIC 306
11 11 SLOVENIA 294
12 12 PORTUGAL 274
13 13 SWITZERLAND 270
14 14 NORWAY 263
15 15 POLAND 258
16 16 RUSSIA 257
17 17 SLOVAKIA 229
18 18 UNITED STATES 154
19 19 CANADA 102
20 21 DENMARK 99
21 20 COSTA RICA 91
22 22 IRELAND 75
23 23 LUXEMBOURG 50
24 - UKRAINE 40
25 24 SOUTH AFRICA 39
26 25 ESTONIA 25
27 26 BELARUS 22
28 27 NEW ZEALAND 14
29 28 KAZAKHSTAN 6
30 29 CROATIA 6
31 30 AUSTRIA 5
32 31 LATVIA 2
33 32 ARGENTINA 1

Phinney scores first victory since comeback

It's a pleasure to post this note from BMC:

Steamboat Springs, Colorado - BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney dazzled his home state crowd Monday by sprinting to victory in the opening stage of the USA Pro Challenge.

Racing for only the eighth time since returning from a potentially career-ending crash in May of 2014, Phinney fought back after losing contact with the peloton on the final climb of the 155.5-kilometer race that started and ended in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

"I actually got dropped but made it back," Phinney said. "It was kind of what I like to call 'a Davis Phinney special,' where you get dropped and then come back and win," he said, referring to his father, Davis, the winningest cyclist in U.S. history and multi-time Tour de France stage winner.

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney had a great day of racing

"I knew I don't have the pop to beat some of the best bunch sprinters in the group," Phinney continued. "So I just thought I would 'diesel style it' and go early. I didn't think I was going to be able to win until maybe 100 meters to go and then I had a slight moment of panic because I thought I was going to lose it. But I just put my head down and I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy pushing through those last eight or nine seconds. I have had 15 months to think about putting my hands up in the air. It was everything that I thought it would be."

Teammate Brent Bookwalter finished third, behind Kiel Riejnan (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team), as Phinney notched the BMC Racing Team's fourth win in the past three days and its 26th of the season.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said the results - which included Phinney leading the sprint and "best Colorado rider" classifications and the BMC Racing Team leading the team standings - "totally surprised" him.

"We definitely didn't plan that today," Stewart said. "It was really great teamwork there. We had to control the race and we had to make it hard on the climb and Taylor was a big part of that. All of the guys really contributed today. It is a testament to the depth of our team."

Heading into the final 15 kilometers, it looked like BMC Racing Team's Rohan Dennis would be contesting the stage win. The Tour de France stage winner and past world hour record broke away with Canadian national road champion Guillaume Boivin (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies). The pair led by as much as 25 seconds with five kilometers to go, but Boivin - who had been in the day's breakaway - refused to share the workload and the two were caught with a  kilometer to go.  

Chris Froome begins physiological tests and will share results

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Tour de France winner Chris Froome began a series of physiological tests on Monday designed to prove his achievements should not attract suspicion. The British rider posted a video on his Twitter account, showing him pedalling a bike while linked up to monitors at the GlaxoSmithKline Human Performance Lab in London.

Froome, who followed up his 2013 Tour win with a thrilling victory last month for Team Sky, was forced to endure rumours and abuse during the race -- leading to Sky taking the unusual step of making the 30-year-old's medical data available.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the 2015 Ruta del Sol

His impressive ride up La Pierre St Martin in the first mountain stage raised suspicions like his 2013 ride up the gruelling Mont Ventoux and he had urine thrown at him by a spectator during the 14th stage.

"Plenty more testing and analysis to be done, I will be sharing results later in the year," Froome said.

Froome is also using the London lab to try and replicate the conditions expected at next year's Rio Olympics. He will lead the team at the Vuelta a Espana which starts on Saturday.

LottoNL-Jumbo's Vuelta a España plans

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the Vuelta a España on Saturday in Puerto Banús with a team of adventurers, and plans to show off team colors in an attractive way. The development of rising prospects, whom will see their chances, is also very important within the team during the three weeks in Spain.

“We travel to Spain without overall ambitions because of the absence of Laurens ten Dam, which does not alter the fact that there remain plenty of challenges,” Sport Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Within our qualities, we’ll be looking for opportunities. On the days that the GC men make their mark, it’s going to be difficult, but with Tom Van Asbroeck, for example, we have someone for whom the team can work during the sprint stages. We’ll also attack in our pursuit of success. All nine riders get the chance to make opportunities for themselves.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start with several young riders for whom the Vuelta will be their first Grand Tour. “It is an important moment in the careers of Tom, Timo Roosen, and Mike Teunissen. We see them as hot prospects. And regarding talent development, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to become stronger and better.”

The team time trial, which opens the Vuelta on Saturday in Puerto Banús, is a significant moment for the team. "We approach the TTT very seriously,” said Zeeman, who is encouraged by the recent successes on the Bianchi Aquila CV. “Time trialing receives an important focus within our team.”

Tom Van Asbroeck, 25, expects a few good opportunities for the sprinters in the first week. “I hope to force something on those days with the help of the team. I had a good run-up to the Vuelta. It felt good to get involved again in Poland,” the Belgian said, after finishing third and sixth in stages at the Tour of Poland. “That was a boost to my confidence.”

Timo Roosen, 22, is hoping to come out of his first grand tour a stronger rider. “I want to do my job for the team, and finish the race. I haven’t done a three-week race before, and to improve, it’s important to finish. I think I can learn a lot from experienced men like Martijn Keizer, Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants. If I feel good, I definitely want to attack.”

For Mike Teunissen, 22, it’s been a lovely week. “First. I won the prologue of the Tour de l'Ain, and now I can announce that I'm going to ride the Vuelta. It’s my first three-week race, but I think I can handle it. I look forward to helping Tom in the sprints and to fight for my opportunities. Unfortunately, we miss a man for the overall because of Laurens’ incident, but it gives me the opportunity to focus on my personal development.”

George Bennett, 25, will have a free role in the Vuelta. “It sucks that we have to do it without Laurens, because he’s important in our team, but his absence also opens a few doors for others. I won’t focus on the GC, but the Vuelta always offers opportunities for riders like me. And who knows where it will end if I ride into a nice escape? I’ll take things day by day, and hope to avoid unnecessary time losses.”

George Bennett

George Bennett

Team line-up: Tom van Asbroeck, George Bennett, Martijn Keizer, Bert Jan Lindeman, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Tjallingii, Dennis van Winden and Maarten Wynants.

Sports Directors: Erik Dekker and Merijn Zeeman.

Axeon Cycling announces new sponsors for 2016

The team sent out this press release:

Steamboat Springs, Colorado - Axeon Cycling Team announced Monday it is significantly bolstering its sponsorship for the 2016 season to expand one of the world's leading cycling development programs.

In addition to current sponsors NEON Adventures, SRAM®, and the American Proficiency Institute, Axeon (pronounced "AK'shun") will be joined next year by Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based national class action law firm, Specialized Bicycle Components, California Giant Berry Farms, a long-time sponsor of cycling that is headquartered in Watsonville, California, and Velofix, North America's largest fleet of franchised Mobile Bike Shops.

Axeon Cycling Team General Manager Axel Merckx said the new sponsorship program will allow the re-branded "Axeon Hagens Berman" team to continue its tradition of nurturing and advancing young, talented riders from the amateur ranks to the highest level of the sport. The additional funding will be channeled toward training, personal coaching, conditioning, bike fittings, performance counseling, physiological assessments, and technical training, he said.

"This is a major step forward for us and a groundbreaking one when it comes to our development of young riders," Merckx said. "The past six seasons, we have sent 18 riders to the WorldTour. Getting riders to that level will continue to remain our focus. The new support from these partners will allow us to sign additional riders, provide them with better resources, and participate in more races throughout Europe and the United States."

From its Seattle headquarters, Hagens Berman fights for the rights of consumers, employees and others across the nation against corporate greed, fraud and deception. Outside the courtroom, many members of the firm's legal team enjoy cycling to work and on the weekend.

"This is a natural move for Hagens Berman in our support for promising young talent in their rise to compete at the highest levels of cycling and forge the skills to succeed both on and off the bike," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.

Hagens Berman has sponsored one of the longest-running UCI road racing teams registered in the USA, Jamis-Hagens Berman, and also bolstered the Hagens Berman U-23 Cycling Program. With the new Axeon Hagens Berman team, Berman said the firm looks forward to focusing on the Under 23 level.

"We want to provide young riders with opportunities and experiences that can change their lives forever," he said.

Other new sponsors say they are equally as excited about being involved.

"Specialized has looked at Axel's team in the last few seasons and we have always been very impressed by the great program and the talent that he has developed over the years," said Simone Toccafondi Head of Specialized Racing. "Specialized Racing will provide the team with the best equipment and the technology needed to interpret every race in the best way possible. With the technical partnership with Specialized, riders will have the option of pro tour proven bikes including the new Venge ViAS. Additionally, riders will have access to key time saving equipment like the SWorks 6 road shoe and Evade helmet."   

California Giant Berry Farms says the partnership is a perfect fit. "We are excited about this new partnership with Axeon Cycling," said Anthony Gallino, Vice President of Sales. "This new connection provides our riders the opportunity to have even more support as they strive to achieve the highest level in pro cycling. California Giant has supported a team for 15 years and during that time period we have escalated our program due partnerships and the talented riders we have been honored to sponsor. In turn they have supported our strong commitment to health and fitness. This new partnership with Axeon will allow us to continue our commitment to this sport and the health and fitness message for our berries we grow and ship both domestically and internationally."

VeloFix co-founder and CEO Chris Guillemet said: "We are excited and very proud to partner with Axel and Axeon for the 2016 season. His commitment to youth development and the team's investment in the future of cycling aligns perfectly with our business goals. We look forward to supporting the team and being part of a successful 2016 season."

The Axeon Cycling Team is currently competing in the USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day UCI 2.HC event in Colorado. Earlier this month, Axeon won a stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah with Logan Owen, as well as the "king of the mountains" classification with Gregory Daniel. Among the team's nine victories this year is Ruben Guerreiro winning a stage and overall title at Trofeu Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina in Portugal in March, James Oram's victory in the Under 23 New Zealand national time trial championships, Keegan Swirbul's U23 national title in the USA Cycling Under 23 road race and Daniel Eaton's national title in the USA Cycling Under 23 time trial championships.

The Axeon Cycling Team will continue to be registered in the United States, Merckx said, meaning 60 percent of the 2016 roster will be Americans. This year's roster includes riders from Great Britain, New Zealand, and Portugal. 

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