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    La retórica de las carreras

    Este es el lugar. Aquí es donde encontrarás las últimas noticias de las carreras ciclistas de carretera: editoriales, amplia cobertura entre bastidores, videos, etc. Todo el contenido que puedas imaginar sobre nuestros equipos profesionales: Boels-Dolmans, Quick-Step-Floors, Bora-Hansgrohe y Axeon Hagens Berman. Iremos actualizando esta página a lo largo de la temporada 2017, por lo que te recomendamos volver a visitarla pronto. ¡Felices carreras! Happy Racing!

    July 25, 2017

    Tour de France: The Final Countdown

    Twenty-one days. A few rest days scattered here and there to provide that, “Oh well, I’ve come this far. Might as well keep going” state of mind. Those who are injured sometimes refuse to accept it—how can the quest be over—before the injury wins and their Tour de France dream is dashed on the rocks of reality. Those who are left don their Lycra and fasten their helmets, day-after-day-after-day, to roll out and see who’s holding the fireworks. In the final week, the fuse is once again lit. With a rest day in their legs, the peloton twisted the throttle all the way to “drop mode” for Stage 16, setting a blistering pace. Unfortunately, that left Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel in a bit of difficulty as contenders chipped away at his Green Jersey points. In a full-on hard charge to the line (of which he played no part), Kittel lost a few more of those points to his rivals. But it didn’t matter—the coveted sprinter’s jersey remained firmly on his shoulders as at the end of the stage. He, no doubt, dreams of holding it all the way to Paris.

    But the thing about the Tour de France is that it doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t care what you want, really. Kittel may have started the day in Green, but Stage 17 turned out to be a bit of a shit day for the perfectly coiffed German. And while we may have been expecting fireworks on the climbs—this stage was stuffed to the gills with gains, including the mighty Galibier—we didn’t expect a small crash to blow Kittel’s dream to smithereens. Taken down by a fall just 20km into the stage, we watched as he valiantly tried to get back in the groove. His goal was clear: stay and finish with the grupetto. But then came the tweet from Quick-Step that ended it all: “Green jersey @marcelkittel, and winner of five #TDF2017 stages, has stopped at the top of Col de la Croix de Fer.” He abandons and the glory of finishing on the cobbled streets of Paris, of riding over that line with the Green Jersey all his, fades from view. Meanwhile, a former ski-jumper wins the stage, so as one TDF dream ends, another comes true.

    And then we arrive at Stage 18 and the Col d’Izoard. It is, in a word, steep. The dramatic mountaintop finish caps the last day in the mountains for the Tour and provides what might be the last opportunity for GC contenders to snatch that Yellow Jersey away from the man who just can’t seem to let it go. The col is 14km long and averages out at 7%, which guarantees suffering for everyone. There are attacks and fireworks aplenty, and sudden surges as people are gapped. Finally, one man launches off the front for a solo victory. Cresting the summit, he's totally alone and silhouetted against the sky. His face shows no sign of the suffering—just sheer elation at having not just won, but securing the Polka Dot Jersey for the 2017 Tour de France once and for all. He just has to make it to Paris in one piece, a mere three stages away. The countdown continues.

    Stage 19 is the longest of the Tour, with 222km of lumpy-to-flat terrain to contend with. It’s a long, hot stage that sets a searing pace in the French sun. A large break forms, breaks up, and reforms until finally, near the finish, two riders break free. With 2km to go, a sudden attack jerks ahead and is unmatched. Another stage, another solo finish.

    Speaking of solos, Stage 20 sees the ultimate solo event, the Individual Time Trial. Starting and finishing at the velodrome in Marseille, riders head out for a 22.5km loop of the town. With the Yellow all but sewn up, this is a race for glory and a young Polish rider, Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), sets the standard early. As he sweats it out in the hot seat, he is left to watch rider after rider—previous TT world champions included—fail to beat his time. Finally, it's all over and Bodnar wins the TT by one second to get his first ever Tour victory. There's another victory this day—the Yellow is secured. Although there is one final stage to go, it’s pretty much all over, bar the shouting.

    The last day of the Tour is like one long victory parade followed by a sprint to the bar. It started as this day most commonly does, with laughter and celebration and the sight of men on bicycles drinking champagne out of plastic (presumably) flutes as they roll through the French countryside. The pace is moderate and sleepy—well, for them anyway—and it isn’t until they reach the Champs-Elysées that there’s a murmur through the peloton that maybe they should settle down and do some racing. It’s a sprinters stage, and with 5km to go, Quick-Step’s Zdeněk Štybar lights his afterburners and attacks. But he's ignited too soon and is caught with 2.5km to go as all the sprinters mob the front. The race comes down to a neck-straining traditional hard man sprint and then, finally, the Tour de France is done.

    The Tour de France is a long slog for everyone, but hard not to love. With all the drama of this year, it would have been easy to just give up on it altogether. But it’s the fireworks we love. It’s the fireworks we can’t take our eyes of as we oooh and ahhh the festivities. Each stage is decided in a flash of glory. A man surges to the front and claims it, sometimes with an impressive solo with no one around, other times with a well-timed bike throw or sheer brute strength and determination. Fireworks. A rider, bruised and battered, rides because he does not want to give it up because the Tour is the Tour. Another is ejected, causing us to shake fists at the sky and choose a side. Fireworks. A thin and wiry man attacks on a climb so steep other riders seem to go backwards on it. Fireworks. We’re already counting down the days to next year, when the fuse is once again lit and we get to do this all over again. Why? Because Fireworks.

    July 18, 2017

    Tour de France: Prize Fighters

    A fight breaks out. Not one of those roadside funky punch ups with skinny guys in Lycra attempting to land air-knuckle sandwiches while slipping around in cleated carbon shoes. Nope, not one of those. This is one of those majestic fights where blows are landed, not with fists, but with bristling quads and watts burnt like tissue paper in a fire. This fight is for a bit of cloth—the jersey they call Green. With the rest day behind them, the peloton embarks on 178km of racing for Stage 10. It’s a flat and short stage—definitely one for the sprinters—and with the break caught just 6.5km from the finish, the bell is rung. Marcel Kittel slams it home for his 4th win of the tour, and in doing so, the hulking German surpasses Cipo the Lion King's personal record, with 13 stage wins in the Tour de France.

    “I feel like I live in a small little bubble in a small little world that is not really true,” Kittel says. In this alternate facts world we can confidently say this is not fake news, and as he slips on the Green jersey and zips it to his chin we all shout “ja!” to that.

    Kermit the Frog once sang “it’s not easy being green,” but Kittel obviously doesn’t know the tune. He brazenly romps home to claim a deceptively effortless sprint victory in Stage 11, comparing his field leapfrog afterwards to playing Tetris—he just got the right gaps. Five stage wins in 11 days and we are left wondering—is the battle for Green all sewn up? What will the final week bring for those who love the brutal heave of a sprinter?

    But before we get to that final week, the peloton heads into the mountains. Stage 12 promises sexy Cols all day long, and fans are treated to heroic climbs and exuberant breakaways. On a descent, the Maillot Jaune surprises fans in a switchback by rolling into the corner to do a quick spot check on their camper situation. Will this be the slight miscalculation that may prove costly later on? The finish ramps up to a wall that will test all comers. In the final stretch, the leaders grit their way up, and like a spoon hitting the hard shell of a crème brûlée, the Yellow Jersey cracks. A Frenchman, showing no sign of fatigue, wins it and tonight, a new man wears Yellow. There may be life left in this Tour yet.

    The calendar flips over to Bastille Day and it’s out of the Pyrenees for a few Category 1 climbs wrapping up with 25km of downhill to the finish. It’s a day of breaks, with several riders throughout the day picking at the scab of victory, trying to pry it off for the win. In the end, it is a Frenchman who snags it on this most French of holidays and the Maillot Jaune stays where it is for the second night running. After finishing a valiant 6th on the stage, the sight of Quick-Step's Dan Martin being helped off his bike, his back seized tight and face grimacing as he hobbles to the bus, reminds us all that cycling is not golf. There are no caddies here—each man carries his own clubs.

    Stage 14 comes and goes with yet another uphill wall-like finish. At an average of 10% for just over 500 meters of gains, this wall calls the shots. But when it’s all said and done, the Yellow finds itself hoisted, yet again, on the shoulders of a most familiar frame. Is the GC all but over? Will he crack again or ride this all the way to Paris? On paper, it’s not over yet, and as we rolled into Stage 15, fans were calculating times and crossing fingers for a showdown and fireworks. The last thing anyone wants is a script that’s been run year after year. It turns out to be a day of leg sapping climbs, culminating in the kind of victory we all love—a solo flyer with no other rider in sight. There's no change in the GC as we head into another rest day, and as the peloton kicks back with massages and easy spins we fans sleep in, dreaming of what could be. Yellow, Green, Polka, or White—no one gives up on a prized Tour de France jersey without a fight.

    July 10, 2017

    Tour de Francia: Donde las águilas se atreven

    Para que el hombre remonte el vuelo en el Tour de Francia, debe ser como el águila. Debe situarse en el precipicio y estirar bien las alas, sacudir las plumas y mover las garras para soltarse. Su motor debe acelerar, y cuando esté al máximo de revoluciones, debe lanzar su cuerpo dispuesto hacia la meta. Y con su cuerpo vestido de licra centelleando a la luz del sol francés, debe entonces abalanzarse para arrebatar ese ratón de la victoria del campo de batalla. La segunda semana del Tour es el paraíso de los ornitólogos. El primer caso de avistamiento de águilas se produjo en la sexta etapa, con Marcel Kittel afilando sus garras y utilizando sus mejores habilidades para "cabalgar el viento" hasta la victoria. Con su corpulento cuerpo escondido detrás de unas auténticas puertas de granero en la recta de meta, a falta de 75 metros para el final, salió de detrás de su calado seguro para hacer el movimiento ganador.

    La séptima etapa le dio a Kittel el tricampeonato al sprint, pero fue un final de infarto. Una vez más, el viento ayudó, pero esta vez fue de cola, lo que impulsó al pelotón a alcanzar velocidades aún mayores. Volando hacia la línea, parecía que Kittel había dejado su carga demasiado tarde, y cuando dos corredores cruzaron bajo el pórtico de meta uno al lado del otro, se oyeron gritos, las manos se alzaron delante de los alimentadores de la carrera, y los velocistas se desplomaron sobre sus manillares con la respiración agitada. Nadie lo celebró porque nadie sabía quién había ganado; prácticamente se necesitaban los ojos de un águila para ver una brizna de aire entre el primero y el segundo puesto. Afortunadamente, la tecnología se encargó de que nuestra vista fallara y, en cuestión de segundos, la cara de Kittel pasó de la duda a la celebración jubilosa. Con su 12ª victoria en el Tour de Francia, y tercera en esta edición, el Maillot Verde volvía a ser suyo.

    Las águilas hacen lo que las águilas hacen, y en las etapas octava y novena, nuestras águilas de dos ruedas subieron. La octava etapa resultó ser una dura serie de subidas, encadenadas y superadas a rachas. Un francés se impuso, atreviéndose a llegar en solitario a la cima y a luchar contra los calambres en la subida final para asegurarse la victoria. Una nación aplaudió. Pero entonces llegó la novena etapa, la más dura del Tour, y la frase "donde las águilas se atreven" entró en juego, tanto en el buen sentido como en el malo.

    Los ciclistas son audaces y valientes. Buscan y ven oportunidades y se llevan al límite. Pero con 45 km de subida en la Novena Etapa, muchos buscaron simplemente sobrevivir. Los sprinters temen días como éste, y mientras los aspirantes a la general luchaban en la parte más puntiaguda de la carrera, estos corredores simplemente apretaron los dientes, chuparon sus geles y soñaron con cocas heladas en la cima de la subida. Tras sobrevivir al Col de la Biche, fueron azotados por el Grand Colombier hasta que sus carnes se ablandaron. La última subida del día, el Mont du Chat, fue la más empinada del día y del Tour. Todo el mundo la sintió. Hubo ataques mecánicos y oportunistas, heroicidades y fuegos artificiales. La escapada se mantuvo en varias formas durante todo el día, y parecía que aguantaría hasta el final, pero en el descenso, a falta de 23 km, todo cambió. Una caída, un muro, un momento desagradable para todos nosotros con el corazón en la boca mientras esperábamos noticias. Los favoritos abandonaron o siguieron adelante con los cuerpos ensangrentados y los rostros compungidos, antes de que el ganador final, con su propia bicicleta traumatizada por la jornada, diera el salto al vacío.

    Y después de todo el drama de la Novena Etapa, con los favoritos resquebrajándose en las subidas, las caídas que provocan abandonos y el sufrimiento general del que somos testigos los aficionados, es hora de dejar las gafas de águila por un momento. Pero no las pongamos demasiado lejos porque sólo sea un día de descanso. Volveremos a necesitarlas para la Etapa 10, porque cuando las águilas se atreven, somos testigos del vuelo. Y eso es hermoso.

    July 7, 2017

    Tour de France: The Furious Five

    The Tour. It gets your blood up. Simmers it right there beneath your skin in a prickly, warm heat. Your flesh made tingly by the anticipation of a potential win, the excitement of a break, or the adrenaline rush of an attack. And then there are times when your blood just simply boils in unpleasant anger and you shake your fist at the sky. Precious GC time is lost; Bad Luck signs its name with a flourish to any jersey caught out; Fantasy Leagues are blown apart; and all in the span of five furious days. That was the week that was, folks. Now it’s over. Let it go. Plenty of racing left in the Tour tank.But sorry, we can’t let it go just yet, because what a damn week. The first stage, damp as a dishcloth, saw riders doing their best Tom Cruise-Risky Business impressions as they slid across the roads of Düsseldorf. Which was appropriate, because the strategy for the TT was literally risky business. Do you ride hard and chance crashing, or ride conservatively and lose time on the GC? The greasy roads had the final word on the twisty, technical course, turning some riders into human hockey pucks while stamping the word "ABANDONED" on their call sheets. But this is where the pieces are first placed on the board in this Tour de France, and after the stage, the Yellow Jersey first-timer wore his smile as broad and bright as the jersey itself. It’s obvious in this moment that this race can be just as kind as it is cruel.

    A sprinter’s diet is a meaty one, and Stage Two was always going to be a carnivorous feast for whomever got to the table first. Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel, pompadour wrangled deftly beneath his helmet, no doubt felt the weight of his entire nation upon him as he lined up for the start in Dusseldorf, Germany. But it was a comfortable weight for him, as it turned out, and in the finish straight in Liège, Belgium, he jumped from wheel-to-wheel to get to the front and stomp on home as enthusiastically as a tourist stomps grapes. But unlike using feet to make wine, in Kittel’s case, all that stomping had a very tasty result—and the sight of an emotional Kittel at the end of the stage was something we could all drink in. It marked his 10th stage victory at the Tour, and it saw him zipping up the Green Jersey on day two. Fun fact. Kittel hit a top speed of 69.19kph in the sprint, which if he hadn’t been wearing an Evade, would have most certainly blown his blonde locks back as majestically as a session in the Win Tunnel here at HQ.

    Lumpy. It was a good word to sum up the profile of Stage Three, and after the neutral roll out in Verviers, France, it was over the hills we go. Two-hundred kilometers of rollercoaster ups and downs, leading to a short but technical uphill finish. And after all the hills, the thing that really caught everyone’s attention was a dramatic “foot pull” by the current World Champion in the sprint. Just as Sagan began to wind up to launch, he pulled his cleat clear from the pedal and spooled down briefly before—showing that calm agility and ability we all adore—clipping back in and spooling right back up. Using pure Sagan strength, he claimed his eight Tour de France stage win, and the first, and unfortunately (spoiler alert) the last, for this edition.

    Which brings us to the adorable elephant in the room. From this point on, Stage Four of the 2017 Tour de France will only ever be remembered for one thing—not the rider who actually won the sprint, but for the ones who didn’t. People will give it names ending in "GATE" and message boards will light up with judges and juries, but there’s really only one conclusion to be made. It’s not right or wrong. It’s not one vs. the other. It’s simply a kick to the guts for any fan of cycling. We call it "the elephant in the room," because it’s uncomfortable to look at, but remember this: the other thing about elephants is that they’re absolutely fantastic and magnificent beasts. They have tough skins and a trunk load of class. We could all stand to be a bit more like elephants. There’s still a whole lot of racing left in the Tour de France, which we may have forgotten in the moment—which is something an elephant would never do.

    And with that, we were finally in the mountains for the first of only three summit finishes in this year’s Tour. It was a day of breaks, including a valiant one by Quick-Step’s birthday boy, Philippe Gilbert, as he tried to distance himself on the final climb—the La Planche des Belles Filles. And while this may actually translate to "board of the beautiful girls," Gilbert summed the difficulty of this climb less sweetly with what may be the quote of the day: “It looked much easier on TV.” But still, it was beautiful to watch, even as he got caught. There’s just something about the grimace of a face as it tackles a 20% wall, or the twist to-and-fro of a body as it snakes up a grade that makes us pull faces of our own from the comfort of homes. Gilbert may think it looked easier on TV, but we all felt the strain and effort of every rider we saw slaying that final climb and summiting the mountain.

    Five stages down, sixteen to go. Emotions are all over the place. Thrills one minute, disappointment the next. You can call it an emotional roller coaster if you want, but really, it’s just called being a fan of the Tour de France.

    May 29, 2017

    Giro d’Italia: Maglia Madness

    After the shouts and murmurs fade, and after the relentless meme-ification of “the squat heard ‘round the world” has finally died down, it all comes to this—the Giro d’Italia is in league of its own when it comes to good old fashioned dramatics. Each stage in this final week was like some wild gesticulation of an Italian cycling tifoso, containing the emotion of the world and signifying, well, everything. One question dominated all as the week began. Could a guy like Dumoulin, whose hopes looked to live or die with the final stage's time trial, hold off three GC contenders and maintain his slim lead, or would he swirl backwards down the mountains like water draining from an alpine sink? As we woke up for the final stage, only two jerseys hung in the balance—the White and the Pink. Gaviria had practically sewn the Maglia Ciclamino jersey on his back the previous week, so that was done, but White and Pink? That’s two-thirds of a Neapolitan ice cream and you can bet we were all screaming for it. We dream of this: a tight race decided on the last day, and the hope that some hero will rise—from a time deficit, a saddle on a mountainside, or even a roadside ditch (sorry)—to take it all.

    A bad wheel, a bad meal, or a raw deal—that's all it takes. Fortune dictates that you can lose the Giro d’Italia in the blink of an eye, but flip that fortune over and you can just as easily win. And that’s what keeps us going. All those weeks of pink confetti and Italians yelling from their terraces or from the edges of neck-swiveling switchbacks; all those seconds calculated, with GC leapfrogs and nights spent sweating the time differences—it can all evaporate in the final kilometer on the final stage on the final day of the Giro d’Italia, when one rider defies the odds and grabs it all. Honestly, 3,612 kilometers had never seemed so short.

    They’ll say the 2017 Giro was one to remember, and it’ll certainly be hard to forget. We had he first Dutchman to win the GC; the memory of Quick-Step running riot all over the race and claiming the team classification; Fernando Gaviria sprinting like a man possessed in his first Grand Tour; and let’s not forget Bob Jungels sneaking up on that last day to lay claim to the Maglia Bianca, making it two years running as best young rider. And there’s the rub. For as much as it’s the thrill and drama of this year’s hard-fought overall that’s forever branded in our minds, it’s the tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come when our current crop of legends depart. That’s what lifts our spirits, and it’s clear from one Giro to the next, the tifosi will never run short of idols.

    Mayo 24, 2017

    Giro de Italia: Juventud Eléctrica

    La segunda semana del Giro comienza con un cambio de maillot rosa. Cae de los hombros de uno que lo ha mantenido durante días, y sobre los de otro cuyo objetivo es luchar por conservarlo hasta el final. Otros aún lo ansían, por supuesto, y sus estómagos rugen ante la oportunidad de saborear la victoria con él. Pero después de la Novena Etapa, la brecha temporal es significativa, y será todo un reto recuperarla. Aún queda tiempo: es sólo el comienzo de la segunda semana y éste es el siempre impredecible Giro. ¿Quién sabe qué polémica se producirá en los próximos días? Esto es Italia, y las etapas de montaña a menudo vienen con un lado de locura. Mientras que algunos corredores sólo piensan en la clasificación general, otros saben de qué lado está el pan. Lánzalo al aire y, cuando aterrice, siempre estará del lado de la "victoria de etapa". Esta semana, son los jóvenes -y uno en particular- los oportunistas. Descarado y audaz, atrevido y osado, Fernando Gaviria, del Quick-Step, echa estas marcas de juventud en su pozo de fuego y se impulsa hacia una victoria espectacular en la 12ª etapa. Veintidós años y parece que acumula puntos al sprint con la misma facilidad que sellos de correos. ¿Es la nueva esperanza? La fuerza es evidentemente fuerte en este caso, tanto que vuelve a ganar la Etapa 13 al día siguiente, lo que eleva su cuenta de victorias de etapa a la impresionante cifra de cuatro. Se compromete a defender la "Maglia Ciclamino" desde este momento hasta la meta, en Milán, y con las montañas que se avecinan y los bonitos sprints llanos prácticamente descartados a partir de este momento, parece que está decidido.

    Pero la semana no ha terminado para el Quick-Step, y la cerramos con Bob Jungels, de 24 años, que ha decidido que no le bastaba con llevar la maglia rosa durante cinco días, sino que también le gustaría ver lo que se siente al ganar una etapa. En la 15ª etapa, en una carrera de fondo hasta la línea de meta, consigue su primera victoria al sprint y su primera etapa en el Giro, una hazaña que no conseguía un luxemburgués desde 1956. La semana llega a su fin con besos en el podio y lluvias de champán, y con la exuberancia de la juventud retozando por todo el Giro. ¿Y ahora? La montaña llama, y la experiencia podría imponerse.

    May 15, 2017

    Giro d'Italia: Pass the Pink

    Like some impromptu game of Italian hot potato, the Maglia Rosa is punted from rider to rider during the first four days of the Giro d’Italia. This isn't unusual—not really—but with three of those riders being Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe, it was starting to look like sweaty jersey swapsies between Specialized-sponsored teams. Right up until Jungels decided he quite liked the hot potato in his hands, that is. The first week of any Grand Tour is nutso. A slow-burn of riders settling in, tamping down nerves day-by-day, and avoiding those dumb, Giro-ending crashes caused, most often, by unbridled exuberance. One jittery misstep can end it all—but week one is also the chance to snag those early wins and make a name for yourself. Riders are as excited as spectators for the show, with the allure of pink flashing before them like some neon sign in Vegas. “Who wants to wear me?” it taunts. “Do you dare to think you can hold on to me?”

    The first week, it’s anyone’s guess.

    Day one and BOOM! Right out of the Giro gate and young gun, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), surprises everyone by stealing first and sliding on the Pink Jersey. Twenty-five years old with a victory smile so wide it barely fits in the picture frame. This unbridled joy, this moment of unexpected brilliance—this is what the Giro is all about. And while he does lose the jersey the next day, there’s one thing no-one can take away from him—he will always be the first in pink at the 2017 Giro.

    On Stage Three, Quick-Step’s Gaviria pops out at the right time to stomp across the line in a display of pure power, securing not only the victory but also slipping on the Pink Jersey for himself. He'll go on to win another stage two days later, but this will be the only day he dons pink. That's because, here comes Bob Jungels and his five-chapter Jungel Book. And while he may not know a jovial talking or have been raised by wolves, he certainly knows how to run with them, snagging the pink on Stage Four and not letting go until Stage Nine.

    But we move on now to week two. What will it hold—more hot potato hijinks with the jersey, or a long stint in pink for someone ready to crush all comers? We're as excited as anyone to find out.

    May 14, 2017

    Women’s Tour of California

    It starts on a cliché Lake Tahoe day, with the sun blaring from the bluest of skies, the lake glistening in its laid-back Californian “look at me” way, and snow sprawled across mountaintops like a lazy blanket. The riders of the Tour of California’s women’s peloton mill about at rider sign-in, waiting to be called up the stairs to make their mark on the board. Shortly after, they're taking their positions in the start corral, and shortly after that, they’re off. One lap of Lake Tahoe. 72.7 miles. They'll have no time to marvel at the glassy water, take in the snow-capped peaks, or stop for a selfie in front of a scene that looks 100% completely Photoshopped. No, they'll be too busy attacking each other, fighting for wheels and breath in the high mountain air. It is, by all accounts, a hot lap. Attacks come fast and furious but the field holds together. Nearing the finish with the road ramping up, one rider attacks, and then another. Opportunists jump to crack the field like a California walnut, before two Boels-Dolmans riders, Anna van der Breggan and Megan Guarnier, leap off the front to attempt to put an end to the pain. At the last corner, on the climb up to the finish, the three-time US National Champ kicks past the Olympic Champ to take the win. Stage One down. She breathes a sigh of relief, stepping off the podium with a stuffed victory bear and wearing the Yellow Jersey.

    Day Two misses the memo about clichéd summer days in the Sierras and turns the thermostat down and the wind up. It whips across the lake and has spectators reaching for puffy jackets and beanies. They huddle around invisible fires, shielding each other from the wind, and warming their hands on cups of hot coffee. When the riders show up to sign-in, today, many are wrapped like burritos and will only strip down moments before the start. By the time they return to this start line, several hours later, the sun is out in force and Megan gives up the Yellow Jersey. But Olympic champion Anna van de Breggan is hot on the trail of the GC title, a mere three seconds off the leader. That afternoon, the peloton moves their race-hungry caravan downhill thousands of feet to warmer climates, and spectators break out the shorts and sunscreen, ready for Stage Three in Sacramento.

    Three seconds. It’s all that stands between Anna and yellow, and on this, the third day, the Boels-Dolmans power house scramble and drive the train on a mostly tortilla-flat course. In an intermediate sprint, they crank the dial and Anna does the rest. Despite not being known for her sprinting, she nabs second and pulls back within one second of the leader. One thing’s for sure—the final stage is going to cook.

    It takes a second to gain a second. For Stage Four, Anna van der Breggan embraces the California lifestyle and it’s “surfs up” as she grabs the wheels of her teammates. They're working for her and only her right now. Two seconds—it’s all she needs to leapfrog past the leader—and although she doesn’t win the sprint, it's enough. The second place has put her one-second in front. Later, as she pulls on the Yellow Jersey on the top step of the podium, securing the 2017 Women’s Tour of California overall, it’s plain to see that every second—both in time and your position in a bike race—counts.

    23 de abril de 2017

    Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja

    La victoria de Anna van der Breggan terminó siendo un gran postre, un final deliciosamente dulce de la Clásica de las Ardenas. La Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja demostró que para el Boels-Dolmans fue como una coreografía. Podio paso 1-2, paso 1-2, paso 1-2. Parecía que Anna van de Breggan y Lizzie Deignan quisieran bailar una con otra.La Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja empezó como la mayoría de bailes escolares, un grupo de ciclistas que se miraban tímidamente y se preguntaban quién iba a dar el primer paso. Ahora con cada paso se producía un nuevo movimiento. El equipo Boels-Dolmans, junto con Christine Majerus, Megan Guarnier y Karol-Ann Canue pusieron un ritmo que no todas podían seguir.

    Se formó un grupo selecto de 5 corredoras, y Van der Breggan y Deignan se unían a este grupo. Anna, se puso en un momento al frente con un ritmo suave, reservando vatios. A partir de aquí, fue una auténtica danza interpretativa hasta el final de meta cuatro kilómetros más tarde.

    Las victorias de Anna van der Breggan en las Amstel Gold, Flecha Varona y la Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja han sido para quitarse el sombrero. Y más con el hecho de que ningún equipo había tenido antes dos corredores en el podio. Y solo podemos hablar de los equipos masculinos, ya que el pelotón profesional femenino nunca había disputado las tres carreras de la Clásica de las Ardenas.

    21 de abril de 2017

    Semana Clásica de las Ardenas

    Amstel Gold, Flecha Valona, y Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja, es una verdadera comida de tres platos en esta clásica competición que compone el menú de las Clásicas de las Ardenas. Este año, por primera vez, las mujeres del pelotón profesional están sentadas a la mesa, con las servilletas en sus maillots, cenando como reinas en las tres carreras. Y con las dos primeras carreras ya terminadas, solo queda el postre de la Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja, es evidente que Anna van der Breggen del Boels-Dolmans ha trabajado duro para tener algo más que apetito.Primero fue la Amstel Gold. Mientras que el nombre sugiere un aperitivo con algún tipo de cerveza, en realidad es un plato más elaborado, como el caviar: rico, intenso y grumoso, con 17 ascensos que hace estallar todo el "sabor" en la boca. La Campeona Olímpica, Anna van Breggen, tenía solo 12 años la primera vez que compitieron mujeres allá por el 2003 en esta clásica. El domingo, de nuevo, consiguió la victoria, tras una escapada en un grupo de seis, incluyendo a su compañera de equipo Lizzie Deignan que terminó segunda. ¿Una ganadora holandesa, en un equipo holandés, en una carrera holandesa? Mmmmm, como una deliciosa galleta holandesa stroopwafel.

    La segunda carrera, la Flecha Valona Femenina, llegó unos días más tarde. Al igual que tu plato favorito, los sabores eran familiares y reconfortaban a van de Breggen que obtenía la victoria. Atacando de la misma forma que el año anterior, Anna se escapó en las dos últimas subidas, llegando en solitario al Mur de Huy y ganando con más de 16 segundos de ventaja. La segunda victoria en las Ardenas de la campeona Olímpica (y segunda de nuevo Lizzie), pero los más impresionante es que es la tercera vez consecutiva que Anna van de Breggen ha ganado esta carrera. Con el mayor número de victorias conseguidas por una mujer, ella es la "Reina del Mur".

    Ahora lo que queda es el postre, la Lieja-Bastoña-Lieja. ¿A qué sabe esta carrera? Nadie en el pelotón femenino lo sabe, puesto que no figuraba antes en el calendario the World Tour de Mujeres. Y aunque sabemos que la victoria será dulce para quien finalice en el primer escalón del podio, no podemos esperar a ver quién está más hambrienta de triunfo, y quién saboreará la victoria.

    9 de abril de 2017

    Paris-Roubaix

    Las despedidas nunca son fáciles, pero ver el domingo a Tom Boonen perdiendo de vista su sueño de una quinta victoria en la París-Roubaix nos dejó con un particular nudo en la garganta. A medida que pasaron los kilómetros, un pensamiento golpeó a los seguidores del poderoso ciclista belga: ésta es la última vez. Ésta es la última vez que lo veremos aplicando su potencia sobre la Trouée d'Arenberg. Esta es la última vez que vamos a ver a Tommeke deslizándose sobre los adoquines a una velocidad que nos deja sin aliento, con sus piernas moviéndose de forma fluida, con su familiar posición de "siempre hacia delante" en nuestras retinas. Cuando entró en el velódromo por última vez -el sprint por la victoria se decidió menos de 20 segundos antes de que él llegara- nos preguntamos si estaría pensando lo mismo que nosotros: que éste sería el último sprint de su carrera deportiva. En medio de la tristeza –nos negaron nuestro final de cuento de hadas- no podemos evitar sonreír. Vaya carrera. Vaya regalo nos hicieron. Tom Boonen nos ha proporcionado 15 años de carreras inolvidables. Su estilo sin parecer esforzarse sobre la bicicleta, sus numerosas victorias y sus épicas batallas en la carretera, su liderazgo y su clase, no podemos dejar de ponernos de pie ante nuestros escritorios y declarar: "Oh, capitán, mi capitán".

    2 de abril de 2017

    Ronde van Vlaanderen

    Sobre los adoquines de Kwaremont, Philippe Gilbert se libera de los tentáculos del grupo. Es un movimiento arriesgado, a más de cincuenta kilómetros de meta y con muchas posibilidades de ser alcanzado por el hambriento pelotón. Se escapa y la gente le anima, desde los márgenes de la carretera y desde los sofás. Mantenemos la respiración mientras miramos a este hombre, con la cabeza hacia abajo y con el corazón fuera, dándolo todo hasta la meta. Es implacable, está desatado, está volando.Se mantiene. El frenético grupo perseguidor está 29 segundos atrás cuando Gilbert se acerca a la meta, casualmente se baja y levanta su bicicleta en alto como si sacara una espada de los mismos adoquines que acaba de conquistar. Observamos como camina a través de la meta, su amplia sonrisa refleja lo que acaba de hacer. Es increíble. En una de esas apuestas en que "empujas todas tus fichas al centro de la mesa", ha ganado todo el bote acumulado. Philippe Gilbert acaba de convertirse en el nuevo héroe de Flandes.

    18 de marzo de 2017

    Milan-San Remo

    Como un jersey deshilachándose, la Milán-San Remo comienza con algún tirón ocasional mientras el pelotón va saliendo de Milán. El jersey mantiene una forma reconocible durante algún tiempo mientras hileras e hileras de ciclistas lo van abandonando como si los labradores italianos las fueran arrancando metódicamente. A medida que pedalean hacia el túnel de la cima del Passo del Turchino, estas puntadas que desaparecen en las llanuras de Lombardia se consideran tan irrelevantes que rara vez se retransmiten. Pero una vez que el pelotón despacha el Turchino y desciende hacia la costa, todo el mundo sabe que los hilos están a punto de ser apretados firmemente, listos para ser arrancados. Mientras los helicópteros sobrevuelan la costa, los aficionados quedamos cautivados por los kilómetros y kilómetros de hilo azul marino que rodean la carretera, formados por aficionqados animando la carrera. Una escapada de 10 ciclistas arranca y aguanta mientras puede, pero es sólo una cuestión de tiempo, nunca más de cinco minutos. De vuelta al pelotón, los esprínters se preparan para sobrevivir a la Cipressa y Poggio.Con un soplo de aceleración en la Cipressa, los ciclistas –incluidos algunos esperanzados esprínters- son empujados por la espalda por una fuerte brisa mediterránea, como molinillos vestidos de lycra. Comienza el verdadero desenlace. En nuestros sofás, butacas y taburetes, nuestros corazones comienzan a salirse por nuestras gargantas.

    Cuando Sagan ataca en el Poggio, lo hace con tanta violencia que sólo puede entenderse como una declaración de intenciones para los que están detrás. Dice: "Prueba el arco iris". El arco iris sabe como el ácido láctico. Dos hombres sobreviven a este asalto y se unen a él en cabeza. Mientras sus corazones seguramente palpitan a través de sus párpados, los nuestros ahora ya se nos salen por la boca. Después de negociar esas míticas horquillas en el descenso, salen juntos del Poggio. La emoción se puede palpar. No serán alcanzados. Este podio será nuestro.

    El sprint detiene los corazones. Un final como éste -con tres ciclistas élite encerrados en una batalla real por la línea de meta- es todo lo que soñábamos al pensar en el final de ese jersey italiano. Es un hermoso final. A medida que impulsan sus cuerpos y bicicletas hacia la meta en Via Roma, queda claro que nos están dando todo lo que tienen. No hay más jugo que exprimir de estas piernas. No hay más aire en estos pulmones. Aunque nuestras esperanzas estaban con Sagan y Alaphilippe, lo que menos sentimos con este resultado es tristeza. ¿Un final como éste? Eso es de lo que están hechos los sueños del ciclismo.

    6 de marzo de 2017

    Strade Bianche

    En su corta historia de 10 años, la Strade Bianche se ha consolidado como una de las más ilustres y pintorescas carreras de un día del calendario World Tour. De la grava blanca (como su nombre) a su meta en la villa medieval de Siena, declarada Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO, esta marcha ciclo-turista convertida en Clásica de Primavera tiene todo lo que puedas desear de un monumento del ciclismo, servido en un plato dorado italiano. Y este año, los cielos se abrieron para dar a la típicamente soleada y blanca carretera toscana un sabor que recordaba a las carreras del norte que estaban por llegar. Por supuesto, fuimos guiados por nuestros protagonistas, Zdeněk Štybar y Peter Sagan, el primero de los cuales perdió por muy poco una nueva visita al escalón más alto del podio, pero la belleza absoluta de este ondulada Clásica fue suficiente para atizar el fuego de nuestras pasiones. Fue mucho más que un hermoso día de carreras de bicis.

    January 3, 2017

    Calling all Race Fans

    If we were to define 2016 in a word, it would be "transition." We saw old friends go in new directions, crowns get heavier, legacies meet the final page of their stories, and the dawning of new eras. And while it would be easy to stay there in the past, time waits for no one, so neither should we. Walk through the thresholds of Quick-Step–Floors, Boels-Dolmans, and Bora-Hansgrohe's Team Camps with us and witness what 2017 has in store.