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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 11, 2016

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

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. - Theodore Roosevelt

Current Racing:

Diabetes is now a terrible epidemic

Before we go on to racing news, new numbers say Type-2 diabetes is becoming the new normal. This is terrible. Diabetes carries with with it terrible consequences that include heart disease, strokes, diabetic retinopathy which can result in blindness, kidney failure, and poor blood flow in the limbs which may lead to amputations.

The current news story that I cite below is about California, but it is a problem throughout the western world.

If you know someone who is leaning towards Type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, please, please, please try to get them to seek professional help. Often one has only to make small life-style changes to avoid this terrible disease. A little riding, a little walking, a better diet can make a huge difference.

Here's the news story in the LA Times:

For decades, more and more Californians have put on weight and fallen sick with diabetes, prompting warnings that the disease was spiraling out of control.

Now experts have data showing just how bleak the situation is. Researchers from UCLA determined that 55% of California adults have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic, according to a study published Thursday.

Experts already knew that about 9% of people in the state have diabetes. But previous estimates had put the rate of pre-diabetes at about 33%, lower than the 46% calculated by UCLA researchers.

What's wrong with the American diet? More than half our calories come from 'ultra-processed' foods. "Our genes and our environment are kind of on a collision course," said Dr. Francine Kaufman, the former head of the American Diabetes Assn., who was not involved with the research. "It's not stopping."

Rates of diabetes have increased more than 175% nationally since 1980, according to federal data. It's now the seventh-leading cause of death in California.

The UCLA researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to create a model that predicts pre-diabetes, based on factors such as race, height and weight. That model was then applied to data from the California Health Interview Survey, determining that 13 million adults in the state have either pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes.

Up to 70% of those with pre-diabetes develop diabetes in their lifetime. "This study is a barometer that's telling us that the storm is coming," said Harold Goldstein, head of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a nonprofit that supports public health initiatives and funded the study.

Already, 2.5 million Californians have been diagnosed with diabetes, which can cause kidney failure, amputation and premature death. More than 100 diabetic Californians lose a leg, foot or toe every week because of the disease, according to state data.

But experts say there's hope of curbing the disease's spread. The vast majority of diabetes cases in California — upward of 90% — are Type 2, which is preventable. People can stave off developing diabetes by adopting a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, experts say.

"One of the biggest problems with pre-diabetes is that most people don't know they have it," said Dr. Susan Babey, the paper's lead researcher and a co-director of the Chronic Disease Program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

About 90% of people with pre-diabetes are unaware of their condition, so most don't get any treatment, said Matt Petersen, managing director of medical information for the American Diabetes Assn. There are no symptoms of pre-diabetes, which can be detected only through blood tests.

"If you do intervene, you have a successful outcome," he said. "We just have to have people know they're at risk and get screened."

An often-cited clinical research study found that people with pre-diabetes who were overweight and improved their diet and worked out reduced their diabetes risk 58%. Those who instead took a medicine to treat diabetes reduced their risk only 31%.

The UCLA researchers found that pre-diabetes in California increases with age, from 33% of adults ages 18 to 39 having the condition to 60% in those 55 to 69.

You can read the entire story here.

Matthews takes 5th in Paris-Nice stage four, maintaining his lead in the general classification

This came from Orica-GreenEdge:

Two-time Paris-Nice stage winner Michael Matthews placed fifth on stage four of the WorldTour race today, successfully retaining his lead of 14seconds in the general classification.

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Credits) took the stage honours in a fast bunch sprint after the 195.5km lumpy stage from Juliénas to Romans-sur-Isère.

Nacer Bouhanni

Nacer Bouhanni winning the stage. Michael Matthews is in yellow, on the left.

"Today was about saving energy," Matthews said. "I was really tired after yesterday. It was only 100km but it was really tiring. So today was about saving strength and keeping out of trouble as there were several crashes in the bunch."

"Tomorrow is another hard day but I think I can get over Mont Ventoux. If that's the case and there's a few sprinters left, I'll be among those who stand a good chance. I'm really going to take it day by day."

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage explained how today's stage was one of the last chances for the 'real' sprinters. "After yesterday didn't change anything with the overall, the gaps were really small between riders going into today," Lapage explained. "So for a lot of sprinter teams it was the last chance to go for the win with the real sprinters."

"It was a hard stage, always up and down but through the stage the sprinter teams came to us to help and control it into the final."

Matthews will head into tomorrow's stage five in the yellow leader's jersey on a tough, hilly 198km stage. "Tomorrow the riders go up Mont Ventoux, of course it's a big name but it's still a long way to go to the finish," continued Lapage. "I don't think that climb will make a difference for a rider like Matthews at the end. In fact the Mout Ventoux can actually be and advantage for us against the other sprinters."

"We will see how the race goes tomorrow. When it's not as easy to control anymore then we have Simon Yates, a good alternative for us. Then of course we have the other stages still to come on Saturday and Sunday."

How it happened: In an almost identical repeat of the previous stages, four riders went clear of the peloton in the early kilometres.

Matthew Brammeier (Dimension Data), Elvaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Vital) worked together to force a gap of one minute within the first 12km of racing.

As the riders progressed through two category three climbs, their advantage moved up to over four minutes 30seconds. Teams came to the front to start the chase, gradually reeling in the escapees on a warmer, sunnier day in France.

Inside the final 50km of the race the breakaway's advantage dropped down to one minute 30seconds when Voeckler decided to take his chances and rode away solo from his three other breakaway companions.

At 163km into the race the riders made their way over a harder category two climb Côte de Saint-Uze, causing splits within the main group. Voeckler maintained a 30second gap as he crested the top of the climb with 35km left to race.

After the twisty decent the peloton regrouped and almost immediately two riders tried their chances to bridge across to Voeckler. Making contact with 20km to go the trio hovered around 15seconds as Team Katusha led the chase into the closing kilometres.

It was touch and go for the breakaway, still holding a lead of 15seconds in the final three kilometres. However the charge from the peloton proved too much for the trio and they were overcome with 300metres remaining. Nacer Bouhanni (COF) took the stage victory with Matthews placing in fifth position to maintain his lead in the general classification and the green jersey sprint classification for yet another day.

Tomorrow's stage is a tough one including a third category climb, three second category climbs and the first category climb Mont Ventoux early on at kilometre 71.

Paris-Nice Stage four results:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Credits) 4:42:29
2. Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) ST
3. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) ST
5. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST

General Classification after stage four:

1. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 9:41:46
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin)  +0:14
3. Patrick Bevin (Cannondale Pro Cycling) +0:19

Contador keeps eye on the mountains after coming in safely at stage 4 of Paris-Nice 

Tinkoff sent me this update:

With weather conditions improved, Paris-Nice was back on the road for stage 4. After a strong breakaway led the stage, the sprinters took over with seconds left. Alberto Contador finished with the peloton with no time lost and was ready to take on the mountain stages.

After the cancellation of stage 3 due to extreme weather conditions, riders were keen to begin racing again. Stage 4 took place under blue, cloudy skies, over an undulating course stretching 195.5km, with a breakaway forming after 5km that managed to stay away for most of the stage.

With the breakaway reeled in just under the Flamme Rouge at 1km to go, the stage was set for a bunch sprint. Alberto Contador came over the line with the peloton, taking the same time as the sprinters.

After the events of yesterday’s cancelled stage, Alberto talked about the feeling in the peloton during today’s stage. “It was quite a tense stage after the one cancelled yesterday. We all are a few seconds from each other and everybody wants to be in the front, in order to launch the sprint. It was a very tense day and the wind produced a split. However, we were well positioned and crossed the finish line out of trouble.”

There was a lot of racing still to come however. “Before coming here I had said there were two summit finishes – one for climbers and another for heavier riders. The first was the one that was cancelled yesterday and probably favoured me. There is still another one ahead, and we have to adapt our strategy and take advantage of it. It's a long climb, 15km, where it will be difficult to build differences. Nevertheless, we will have to try. Sunday is another difficult day and we will see what we can do.”

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, was pleased to have the riders come home in one piece. “The team was all safe today. It was a long day, with a strong break finally brought back late on.”

“We wanted to just make sure we didn't lose time, and we did this well. It was quite nervous with twists and turns and there was a hard chase to catch the break. Today we focused on riding as a team.”

The climbers will be relishing stage 5’s climbs, taking in the Col de la Madeleine and the fearsome Mont Ventoux. Friday could be the day the GC standings really change shape.

And here's Lampre-Merida's Paris-Nice report:

After the suspension of the 3rd stage, today the sun was a good companion of the riders who are racing in France in the Paris-Nice. The fourth stage started in Julians and ended in Romans sur Isere after 195.5 km with two 3rd category KOM hills and one 2nd category KOM hill.

The stage was suitable for the sprinters, but the attackers were very active and they played a role as protagonists.

After 8 km in the stage, four riders (Vachon, Voeckler, Siskevicius, Brammeier) succeeded in escaping from the bunch despite the very high pace of the peloton, obtaining a top advantage of 4'40".

The situation did not change until the climb of the Col de Saint-Uze, when some attacks attempts made the speed of the group raise and, consequently, the advantage of the four leader decreased.

The peloton split in many parts and Lampre-Merida had three riders, who were Rui Costa, Grmay and Meintjes, in the front part of the group which joined the attackers.

In the final kilometers, another escape came very close to success: Chavanel, Fernandez and Vanmarcke surrendered only at 500 meters to go, when the sprinters were launched for a sprint which was won by Bouhanni on Edwards and Kristoff. Rui Costa was 22nd, in the overall classification he's 34th at 49".

"Our performance was not completely positive - sports director Mauduit commented - The good feedbacks are the presence of Rui, Louis and Tsgabu in the head group, while we missed to have a sprinter among the riders who fighted for the victory.

"We had studied the course, we were aware of the fact that there was a crucial point where it was important to be in the head part of the peloton, however we were not united and we were suprised in that precise moment".

Sagan takes second in thrilling end to first Tirreno-Adriatico road stage 

This report came to me from Tinkoff:

As Tirreno-Adriatico hit the roads, a thrilling finale saw Peter Sagan take a podium position in Pomarance. In a final 3km that more closely resembled a rollercoaster, Peter Sagan held on to the front, crossing the line a second after the stage winner.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan gets ready to start the stage

A flat stage punctuated by a climb 60km from the finish, the first road stage of the 51st Tirreno Adriatico was a long day in the saddle for riders, taking in a total of 207km. A short climb 3km from the end of the stage made it one for the all-rounders rather than the sprinters, with the last few kilometres suiting the more technical riders.

In a stage that began with a breakaway of six riders that held for most of the race, teams concentrated on protecting their leaders for the final push for the line. As the last few kilometres approached, the attacks came thick and fast Tinkoff took their place at the front with Oscar Gatto joining the push to chase the final breakaway and support Tinkoff’s leader, Peter Sagan, to the finish.

“Peter showed he's a champ today but it didn't come off.” said Sport Director, Lars Michaelsen, after today’s stage. “Everything went to plan, to wait for the final. The guys were well-positioned and briefed well before the stage. Gatto pushed hard at the end, with the two steep climbs and then the technical section. The guys from us who had the power were there in the finale but we missed Boaro who had to change bike. Stybar surprised everybody with this super strong attack.”

Peter was disappointed with his finish however. “It's a shame to come in second again. We did well yesterday and tried hard today. The team was working well and Oscar pushed hard in the last kilometres to close the gap but it was a difficult finish. I did my sprint well and the feeling is good so I can be happy with that.”

Lars Michaelsen was supportive of his team leader and was looking forward to the coming stages. “We really wanted this win for Oleg and for the team. Peter showed he had the legs and there will be more opportunities.”

Tomorrow’s stage presents more chances for the team. While dotted with some punchy climbs, stage 3 is a stage for the sprinters. A long downhill towards the end of the 176km stage will give sprinters and their teams the chance to catch any breakaways and contest the stage win.

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