Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Early bird entries open for Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020

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Image Credit: Charles Whitton Photography

The organisers of Shrewsbury Half Marathon have confirmed that the 2020 event will take place on Sunday 11th October and early bird entries are now open.

Following the success of the 2019 event – which had moved from its June date to October- the UKA accredited Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 promises to deliver another first-class race experience with incredible runner and community support.

Powered by UKRunChat, Shrewsbury Half Marathon starts and finishes at Shropshire County Showground, home to a fully equipped race village. The route then takes runners through Shrewsbury town centre and out into the beautiful Shropshire countryside before returning to the Showground to be cheered over the finish line.

The course incorporates some Shropshire hills and features scenery and support are second-to-none, making the race a firm favourite among local club runners as well as athletes travelling from further afield.

The 2020 event will welcome an increased number of local and national charity partners, giving runners plenty of opportunity to run for charity and make a difference to others.

The day will also be an important meet-up for leading online running community Run Mummy Run, with members from all over the UK expected to get together and run.

The atmosphere at the 2019 event was fantastic, with superb support from all the volunteers, marshals, pacers, medical crew, sponsors, spectators and local residents who lined the route to cheer on the runners. Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with many runners complementing the efficient organisation, friendly atmosphere, wonderful support, stunning views, impressive medal and environmentally-friendly goody bag and carton of water.

Participants at Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 can once more look forward to a professional and friendly race, with a team of SRG pacers to help them hit their targets and more big-name sponsors which will be announced soon. The race represents excellent value for money, with a bespoke medal, technical race souvenir t-shirt, free pre and post-race massage, free photos, as well as a carton of water and race treats at the finish all included in the entry fee.

There will also be a shopping village, easy parking on site, and prizes for the top three male and female and age category winners.

The winners of On Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2019 were Tom Roberts with a time of 01:09:54 and Jackie Skinner with a time of 01:21:27.

Organisers Joe Williams and Rebecca Richardson commented, “We are delighted to confirm that Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 will take place on Sunday 11th October. Our new autumn date proved extremely popular and we celebrated a brilliant day for everyone at the 2019 event. The support and camaraderie were amazing with everyone out in force to cheer on the runners, a friendly atmosphere, many PBs, and all round celebrations of the day’s achievements. We can’t wait to put on another incredible day and look forward to welcoming runners of all levels to the 2020 event. Early bird entries are available until midnight on 31st December, offering the lowest price for runners to secure their place for Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020.”

Shrewsbury Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 11th October 2020. A total of 3,000 places are available. Early bird entry is open and costs £27 (affiliated) / £29 (unaffiliated).

Go to www.shrewsburyhalf.com to register and for further event details. You can also like the Facebook page, and follow @Shrewsburyhalf on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest news at #ShrewsburyHalf #UKRunChat.

The UCI publishes its 2020 UCI Annual Report

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The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has published its Annual Report and Financial Report for 2020. These can be consulted in full on the Federation’s website.

Approved by the UCI Management Committee, the document highlights the accomplishments achieved and progress made throughout the year, while setting out the measures implemented to ensure the Federation’s activities could continue in a context marked by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UCI invested much energy in managing the effects of the health crisis on cycling and all involved in our sport. It worked on implementing innovative and effective health protocols to enable a large proportion of the major events on its International Calendar to take place safely, and to quickly draw up an alternative calendar with a view to the season resuming after its abrupt interruption in March 2020. The UCI also took measures of a financial nature to get through the unprecedented period of uncertainty as well as possible.

Thanks to the efforts made, numerous important competitions were able to take place when it could have been feared that all events would be cancelled.

The document shows that the UCI continued to move forward with the realisation of the objectives in its “Agenda 2022”. In particular, the UCI made progress in the development of its disciplines with the reforms of women’s professional road cycling, of track cycling – notably the launch of the UCI Track Champions League – and of cyclo-cross, and the integration of cycling esports, which saw its first UCI World Championships take place in December. The UCI also made progress in the domain of ethics and good governance, in particular via initiatives concerning the representation of women in management bodies, the fight against abuse and the promotion of well-being.

The UCI’s development and solidarity activities, under the auspices of the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), are also detailed in the 2020 UCI Annual Report.

Other central themes are also addressed, such as the optimisation of the UCI’s fight against doping thanks to the transfer of its operational activities from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) to the International Testing Agency (ITA), the improvement of its programme in the fight against technological fraud with the adoption of new hand-held X-ray camera technology, and the continuation of activities to promote cycling for all with the explosion of bicycle use during the pandemic.

In the interests of transparency, the UCI’s 2020 Annual Report presents not only a full record of the last year, but also the audited consolidated financial statements of the UCI and the UCI WCC, and the UCI’s financial statements for 2020, prepared and verified in line with international financial reporting standards (IFRS). The efforts of the UCI and its stakeholders to stage the 2020 UCI World Championships for both road and mountain bike as well as a major part of the UCI WorldTour calendar, and the quick and decisive cost-cutting measures adopted along with support from the Swiss Confederation enabled the UCI to post a consolidated operating result of -1.8M Swiss Francs and a net result of -1.0M Swiss Francs – far beyond our expectations at the beginning of the crisis. Thanks to a 5M US Dollar advance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the UCI’s year end cash and investments increased to 47.2M Swiss Francs, and with the Olympic Games revenues due to be received in 2021 and 2022, the UCI’s audited financial statements confirm its very solid financial base.

In addition, and as is the case every year, the 2020 UCI Annual Report includes extensive useful information about the Federation and its activities, including a general introduction to the institution and the disciplines it governs, the lists and compositions of its bodies and commissions, the list of the 197 member National Federations, and the results and rankings of all the UCI events throughout the season.

The UCI President David Lappartient declared: “2020 was a very difficult year for world sport. Nevertheless, the UCI and all the cycling family’s stakeholders united their efforts so that our sport could continue to develop and make fans dream. I would again like to thank everyone, notably within our 197 National Federations and five Confederations, involved in these efforts on the five continents.

“The UCI continued its work in a complicated context, and I am proud that we managed to further our progress in the realisation of our Agenda 2022, not only in the development of our disciplines but also in fundamental domains such as the reinforcement of rider safety in road races, gender parity and sustainability. Today we are in a very good position to ensure the growth of our sport and its increasing contribution to a healthy evolution of our society.”

The UCI Director General Amina Lanaya declared: “The coronavirus pandemic was – and continues to be – a major challenge for our Federation. In this delicate context, we took all possible measures to ensure our activities could continue as best as possible, notably thanks to the implementation of health protocols at competitions on our International Calendar, the establishment of revised calendars, the adoption of a cost cutting plan and adjustments to the work of the UCI Administrative Service’s staff. Today, the future looks brighter, but we are prepared to react should the current situation last longer than expected.”

Link: 2020 UCI Annual Report

La Vuelta 21 first Grand Tour in which single-use plastic bottles will not be used

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Fernando García-Guzmán Blanco (Director of Marketing, Commerce and Logistics for Aquaservice) and Javier Guillén (General Manager of La Vuelta)

Aquaservice, Spain’s leading company in the distribution of natural mineral water and refreshments through the use of dispensers has announced today that it will be an official sponsor of La Vuelta 21 and of the next three editions of the Spanish Grand Tour. This means that the company will be the official water supplier for La Vuelta until 2024 and will distribute over 90,000 litres of water during this edition’s 21 stages.

Aquaservice’s participation in La Vuelta will allow us to prevent the use of over 180,000 disposable single-use plastic bottles that are usually consumed throughout the 3-week competition, thanks to its circular service water dispenser model.

La Vuelta, thus, becomes the first Grand Tour in which disposable single-use plastic bottles will not be used, by implementing a solution that reduces the plastic waste derived from water consumption. This will be achieved thanks to Aquaservice’s distribution system, reusable bottles and dispensers where users will be able to refill. All of this will make La Vuelta 21 the most sustainable and circular edition in its history.

Fernando García-Guzmán Blanco, Director of Marketing, Commerce and Logistics at Aquaservice stated: “Aquaservice is a zero environmental impact company, so our collaboration with La Vuelta is a natural alliance. This agreement will allow us to drastically reduce the use of plastic that is normally generated by a massive sporting event such as La Vuelta, and to contribute towards making it the world’s most sustainable professional cycling competition.”

On his part, Javier Guillén, General Manager of La Vuelta, highlighted ‘the importance and the impact’ of this agreement: “When it comes to making La Vuelta more sustainable, there can be no half measures. This agreement has an incalculable value in terms of the work that goes into reducing the race’s environmental impact. Aquaservice shares La Vuelta’s principles and objectives in continuing to evolve as a responsible and committed event. We are thrilled and excited to work together towards this common goal,” he explained.

Aquaservice accompanies the peloton

As the official water supplier for La Vuelta, Aquaservice will accompany the peloton in every stage of the competition, and the company’s dispensers will be present at the departure and finish-line areas. Furthermore, Aquaservice will install a tent in the Parque Vuelta’s fan zone with several activities for those in attendance.

During the three weeks of racing, Aquaservice will provide its water dispenser services to the 23 cycling teams, to the organisation, to the Spanish Civil Guards and National Police Forces who will provide security, to the visiting public and to the accredited media. This travelling caravan moves between 2500 and 3000 people across the Spanish geography every day.

A circular model with zero impact

Aquaservice is the only brand that offers a grand scale 100% innate circular solution for bottled water in Spain. It has been this way since its creation in 1997, when they developed a business model based on recycling and reusing the bottle materials, as well as the dispensers. Aquaservice is also the first company in the water sector that is 100% carbon neutral in all of its operations – from the spring right up to the consumer. It has achieved this by compensating the entirety of its carbon footprint by planting 8000 trees in Spain and by helping to preserve the Amazon.

The agreement ties in with the goal of being the most sustainable edition of La Vuelta. All the parties involved (organisation, sponsors, collaborating commercial brands, athletes and security forces) commit to making a joint effort in order to launch actions that will guarantee the minimum environmental impact along the territories and natural spaces visited by the race. Unipublic has worked hard to reinforce this in recent years, with numerous actions and initiatives. In 2020, La Vuelta received the Erronka Garbia certification, approved by the Basque Government, which recognises events that integrate environmental measures into its design and organisation in order to minimise potentially negative environmental impacts upon the natural areas associated with its celebration.

www.lavuelta.com

Runderwear’s summer launches are here!

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Are you ready to level up your summer running wardrobe? Runderwear’s chafe free, summer launches are here! The performance underwear specialists welcome the Women’s Seamless Running Vest, Original V5 Running Bra and Men’s and Women’s Short-sleeved Base Layer to their collection.

Three new PB-worthy products set to revolutionise your run. First up, the Women’s Seamless Running Vest, available now. The racer-back style vest, available in S-XL and with two colour choices, black or pink, is super soft to provide the ultimate experience in running comfort (RRP £35.00).

Designed by runners, for runners, the seamless design means no side seams nor labels for complete comfort; it’s lightweight with a slightly longer, relaxed fit for maximum comfort and minimum distraction through every mile. Breathable and moisture-wicking fabric with a 4-way stretch allows for complete body movement and zero irritation.

Next up and available from August, is the Original V5 Running Bra, an enhanced version of the ever-popular Original V4 Bra. Retaining the racer-back design and technical fabric, the bra now features a wider, super-soft under-band for greater support and comfort. Available in cup sizes A-D, this running-specific bra comes in a choice of three colours, black, pink or blue (RRP £50.00) and co-ordinates perfectly with the vest. Cup size C-H can also create the perfect vest-bra combo with Runderwear’s game changing Easy-On Running Bra (RRP £55.00). Catering for all sizes, shapes and wardrobe style needs, runners can colour match their chosen bra and vest or stand out from the crowd with a bold colour contrast.

The Seamless Short-sleeved Base Layer, for men and women, makes up the hattrick of launches for Runderwear. Also available from August, this ergonomically designed short-sleeved base layer boasts the finest qualities of the award-winning long-sleeved version – seamless, breathable and moisture-wicking, available in black in sizes S-L for women an S-XL for men (RRP £45.00).

Credited as ‘a favourite among runners’, Runderwear’s collection caters for all men and women, regardless of shape, size or age. From S-XXL, the men’s collection briefs, boxers and long boxers, in black, blue and navy plus seamless Merino, for added antibacterial and temperature regulating qualities.

The women’s range offers the pink, blue and black brief, hipster, G-string, long shorts and hot pants in sizes S-XL plus XXL in best sellers. Two styles of running-specific bras cater for over 50 sizes, the Original Running Bra (A-D cup) and Easy-On Running Bra (C-H cup), along with anti-blister socks, compression socks and long sleeved base layers to complete the range. Prices start at £18.00.

Looking after your every step with unrivalled comfort, Runderwear guarantees super soft ‘barely there’ performance apparel. With further announcements and product launches to come, the company’s ethos is deep rooted in everything the Runderwear team design and create – to ensure that we can all run in complete comfort, no matter our ability, size or shape.

Find out more at www.runderwear.co.uk

Olympic Champion: Kristian Blummenfelt triumphant in Tokyo

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Kristian Blummenfelt crosses the line
Kristian Blummenfelt

After more than a decade of meticulous planning with his team, it was Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt who was crowned the men’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Triathlon Champion on Monday morning on Odaiba Bay, delivering one of the most gutsy runs possible to take the tape with a roar, at the end of a truly epic battle of wills.

For much of the run, Great Britain’s Alex Yee looked like he might just continue his remarkable rise all the way to the top of the triathlon tree, only for the inimitable Norwegian to put in one final and ultimately decisive charge, New Zealand’s 23-year-old Hayden Wilde hanging tough for a hard-earned bronze.

“It is a moment that I have been dreaming about for so many years,” said a thrilled Blummenfelt. “To be able to put it together on the day is something I am really proud of. It is a strange feeling coming into the last 100 metres and knowing that I had victory. It was quite a similar tactic as in Yokohama eight-weeks ago and also in Lisbon. I don’t really have the leg speed if we came down to the blue-carpet with Alex and Hayden so I knew I had to try and go really hard for five minutes all out and hopefully that would be enough to break them. It was such a good feeling when I got a little gap and I just had to make sure it was big enough, even for the last few hundred metres.”

With the air and water temperatures in the high 20s and the pre-race tension on the pontoon cranked up even before an invalid start called the athletes back, the race got underway with Chile’s Diego Moya spearheading the opening strokes alongside Jonas Schomburg (GER).

By the end of lap one, though, the familiar sight of current World Champion Vincent Luis (FRA) was enjoying the clear water out front, Tayler Reid (NZL), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) along with the youngest man in the field Oscar Coggins (HKG) in 10th place as the athletes came back up onto the pontoon and dived back in for the shorter 550m second lap.

USA’s Morgan Pearson was 20 seconds back at that point but would miss his kit box with the swim cap in transitioning to the bike and have to serve a 15-second penalty at the end of the run. Yee was 22 seconds back after a great swim, Hayden Wilde (NZL) 38 seconds with Javier Gomez Noya and Mario Mola (ESP), but just a minute separated the entire field.

Out front on the first bike lap, though, it was Luis, Schomburg, Schoeman along with Casper Stornes (NOR) and Dmitry Polyanskiy (ROC) right onto the power and pushing the pace.

First Marten Van Riel (BEL) bridged up and a group of nine formed with Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), Kenji Nener (JPN) and Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk well set in there, too.

Blummenfelt was already pushing to bridge 15 seconds back after the first of the eight laps, Hayden Wilde in a group with Gomez, Mola, Max Studer (SUI) and Syria’s Mohamad Maso a further 25 seconds off.

After three laps, the packs started coming together, Bence Bicsak (HUN), Leo Bergere (FRA) and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) working to close in on the leaders and, by the halfway mark as they merged, Luxembourg’s Stefan Zachaus was the first man to roll the dice.

It didn’t last long and once Zachaus was reeled in there was only 10 seconds between the top 39 once Schomburg dropped back. In that group were the imposing figures of the full Spanish trio Mola, Gomez and Fernando Alarza, Norway’s Stornes, Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, Canadians Tyler Mislawchuk and Matthew Sharpe and Australia’s Matthew Hauser, Aaron Royle and Birtwhistle.

The pace slowed and Switzerland’s Andrea Salvisberg took the race on so, at the bell, he had put in 20 seconds over the pack. That was down to 14 seconds out of T2, though, and soon in close pursuit were Stornes and Reid, Brownlee and Yee, USA’s Kevin McDowell and Japan’s Nener.

Salvisberg was quickly caught by Yee, himself with Wilde and Blummenfelt on his shoulder and another Swiss, Max Studer right with them. The Brit took the first lap out front with Wilde on his shoulder just as he was for WTCS Leeds, before Dorian Coninx (FRA) moved into pole position briefly, Blummenfelt and Brownlee, van Riel and McDowell there as Mislawchuk dropped a few yards back to join Luis and Nener off the pace.

Coninx was next to be dropped as they came back through transition at the halfway point, Mislawchuk now adrift of a podium chance 13 seconds off, Mola going well but 27 seconds back with Birtwhistle and Iden.

At the bell it was Wilde looking the smoothest of the six in contention as Stornes fell off the pace, then Blummenfelt made his first move, leaving the New Zealander next to be shaved out of gold contention. Yee responded immediately and resumed the lead in a bid to break the Norwegian, but this was the moment that the last 12 years had all been leading up to for Blummenfelt.

With 1km still to go, the hammer was put down for the decisive last time. Yee battled but couldn’t respond in kind, and it was to be Norway’s mighty Kristian Blummenfelt who powered down the blue carpet for the last time and roared as he took the Olympic tape.

““For me, I just wanted to run the best 10-km I could,” said Yee. “Leaving the bike, I didn’t feel amazing honestly, I kind of had my poker face on. I knew my strength lied in my leg speed, and I just tried to pick that up where I could and played to my strengths. So yes, I was really pleased to come away with second, honestly. Kristian was the better man on the day and I am really pleased.”

“Coming into the third lap there was still probably eight of us so there were some absolute animals in that group and it could have been anyone’s game,” said Hayden Wilde. “After a few attacks, it was left to the last three of us. We all looked at each other and we had our poker faces on behind our glasses and I actually remembered when I raced Alex, a couple of months ago in WTCS Leeds, he was really aggressive around the corners, so I thought I am not letting him go round those corners as fast as last time. With Kristian, I remembered watching him race when I was in New Zealand in lockdown, doing that exact move in Yokohama and I was waiting and then thinking ‘there it is’. The man definitely deserves that gold medal, he was storming it on the bike as well. No feet out of the front of the pack, didn’t hide, just did everything on the front and kudos to him.”

Full results available here.

The North Face: celebrate adventure and discover what you’re capable of

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The North Face has launched its latest brand campaign, ‘Have You Ever’. Created to celebrate the moments in life that adventure was made for, the new campaign aims to inspire explorers everywhere to go out and discover these moments for themselves.

Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest serving National Park Ranger in the United States, and a woman who knows a little bit about adventure, narrates a new brand anthem to help launch the campaign.

Betty’s words act as an ode not only to exploration but to the courage and boldness of those who are willing to embrace uncertainty, challenge themselves and move beyond their comfort zone in search of something more.

Whether it’s seeing sunrise above a mountain, climbing so hard your arms scream at you to stop, or even stepping away from the concrete and onto the trail for the very first time, these moments matter.

To help more people find their own ‘Have You Ever’ moment, The North Face will be offering opportunities for consumers to connect with the brand, through our Athletes, Never Stop Communities and Explorers this summer.

XPLR pass members in the UK, Germany and France can enter a competition to join Explorer Team member Emma Svensson’s women’s mountain academy. The academy will offer women the opportunity to follow a virtual training programme with Emma, before learning the alpine ropes in the mountains next spring.

Across Europe, The North Face Never Stop communities will be offering weekly opportunities for anyone to take on trail running, climbing, hiking and more for free, with qualified instructors.

Amanda Calder-McLaren, Senior Brand Communication Director, The North Face commented: “As a brand, we recognize how important these moments can be. Whether it’s a first time at the climbing wall or taking first place in a 100-mile race, we want everyone to be able to experience these moments and connect with others, so that they can do the same. We’re incredibly excited to bring this campaign to life and look forward to seeing so many new adventures take place.”

The campaign will run for the remainder of the summer, with new collections dropping from now until September, across Run, Train and Hike categories. Including the new VECTIV™ footwear models and the latest Mountain Athletics range.

To learn more about the campaign and the upcoming collections or to sign up for your own ‘Have You Ever’ moment visit thenorthface.co.uk.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Triathlon: Women’s preview

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The wait is nearly over. On Tuesday 27 July, 6.30am local time, 55 women will dive into Odaiba Bay, each having navigated their own unique path to reaching the Tokyo 2020 Olympic start line over the past five years. Among them are experienced favourites, talented Games debutants and compelling stories of battling the odds to achieve their dreams. Now, all that is left is to string together the best swim-bike-run of their lives in a bid to achieve the result they crave.

The Tokyo 2020 course poses some sizeable challenges. The water temperature is likely to be in the high 20Cs for the two-lap, 1.5km swim. The humidity could be pushing 100% as they head out onto a flat, technical 40km bike with 8 laps in total, where the wind could whip through the high rises without warning. The air temperature is likely to be hovering around 30C as they rack their bikes and head out on to the 10km run.

Throw in all the pressures of an Olympic competition delayed by 12 months and one of the most competitive women’s fields in the sport’s 21-year Games history and the unpredictability, as well as the entertainment, will be off the charts. With just five races making up the Olympic Qualification Period leading in to Tokyo, where do some of the pre-race favourites sit in terms of readiness to meet the challenge?

Even with just a single World Triathlon race so far in 2021, Flora Duffy will undoubtedly be one to watch. Finishing out of the medals in 8th at Rio 2016, the same year she won the first of her two world titles, will be all the motivation she needs to deliver this time around. Duffy has already said that Paris 2024 is not in her plans and Tokyo 2020 will be a final shot at that elusive Olympic gold. After coming through a gruelling WTCS Leeds in 4th place and knowing how well she can perform in the heat, her confidence, like her ability to deliver across all three segments and finish strongly, will be sky high.

Duffy’s bike prowess will be matched by Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, the Swiss star heading to an unprecedented fifth Olympic Triathlon start line. Champion in 2012 after that sprint finish with Lisa Norden, silver medalist in 2016 after that battle with Gwen Jorgensen, Spirig is still in incredible shape, has peerless experience and all the skills to push for a history-making third Olympic medal in the sport if she can save some legs and be in the front pack off the bike.

A strong trio of American women on the start all make compelling, varied cases for becoming Olympic medalists. Summer Rappaport simply loves to race in Japan, scooping two Series silvers and two World Cup golds as well as Olympic qualification on these shores. Her biking has come a long way, her swim and run have always been her greatest assets, and after confirming her spot back in 2019, she has been able to focus on Olympic readiness, delivering the fastest 10km split so far this year: 33m24s in Yokohama.

Taylor Knibb is a former Junior and U23 World Champion and this year showed she can cut it at the very highest level, too, with victory in the season opener in Yokohama. A powerhouse on the bike, if she has the run speed over the closing stages, she will be a threat. Finally, Katie Zaferes was crowned 2019 World Champion after a brilliant run of results and, following the disruptive ups and downs of a difficult Qualification Period, has finally been able to zoom in on exactly what is needed to fulfil her Olympic potential.

The British team have similar firepower across all three squad members, Georgia Taylor-Brown perhaps the biggest name as well as biggest unknown in terms of form having had to wait for her opportunity to hit the start line in 2021 through illness and injury. The 2020 World Champion has an ability to keep calm in the most demanding circumstances but will need to focus on the small details after so long away from the blue carpet.

Taylor-Brown’s training partner Jessica Learmonth has also had some injury niggles over the past six months but came back to show why she is still a contender with a superb silver at WTCS Leeds. Always a pace-setter in the water and on the bike, Learmonth is as tough as they come and likely to be pressing for a podium just like teammate and 2018 World Champion Vicky Holland, as long as she can still be in striking distance out of T2 to use her signature run.

Australia will have three women on the start, with Ashleigh Gentle heading to her second Games eager to build on a 26th place finish at Rio 2016. Travel restrictions have meant Gentle has been in Australia for the best part of two years, but will have wasted no time working on exactly what she needs to challenge in Tokyo.

Cassandre Beaugrand and Leonie Periault lead the line for France, the former having landed a World Series gold in Hamburg in 2018 and finished in the top 10 this year in Leeds and undoubtedly capable of a rapid and potentially decisive run split.

Japan’s Niina Kishimoto and Yuko Takahashi will be hoping to use home advantage to their favour despite the lack of crowds to lift them. Takahashi has great depth of experience to call upon, while Kishimoto has a good track record in the heat but may struggle to keep in touch with the likes of Spirig and Duffy on the 40km bike.

Maya Kingma will be another pushing the pace across those 40km on the bike. A superb swimmer, too, Netherlands’ latest hotshot was the surprise star of Leeds last month and heads into the Games as the 2021 Series Leader. The 25-year-old is full of quiet confidence that this could be a huge year for her, while teammate Rachel Klamer heads to her third Games hoping to build on 10th place in Rio

Brazil’s 2019 Pan-American Games silver medalist Vittoria Lopes is also likely to be among the fastest through the water, while Italy’s Alice Betto has already delivered a brilliant race on the Odaiba Bay course, with silver at the Test Event two years ago.

Rarely to be found far from a Series top 10, Canada’s Joanna Brown has bronze-winning experience from the Commonwealth Games three years ago and more recently a brilliant third in Bermuda in 2019, finishing one place ahead of Austria’s Lisa Perterer who could thrive on racing in the heat of Tokyo and brings London 2012 experience with her to Japan.

The ASICS World Triathlon development team will be represented by Egypt’s first Olympic triathlete Basmla Elsalamoney, Argentina’s Romina Biagioli and Estonia’s Kaidi Kivioja, while Chilean legend Barbara Riveros is one of the greats to have come through the programme and finds herself on the fourth Olympic start line of an illustrious career.

See the full women’s start list here.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Triathlon: Men’s preview

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triathlete in start area for Tokyo triathlon

Take a look across the men’s start list for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Triathlon and it is impossible not to get excited by what lies ahead once the athletes have dived into Odaiba Bay after the horn sounds at 6.30am local time on 26 July. The talent is deep, the podium potential vast, the absence of a past Olympic Champion notable. Yes, there will be a first-time Olympic Champion this year but only at the end of a race with just one certainty: whoever comes out on top couldn’t be more deserving of the biggest prize in sport.

The course and conditions that they will face are far from typical. The 1.5km swim comprises two laps but, at 950m, the first is considerably longer and the water could be nudging 30C. The 40km bike is fast, flat and technical, between skyscrapers and along the water’s edge, the eight laps including a long, fast, purpose-built ramp into transition. Then, there’s the 10km run in the heat and humidity of Tokyo summer, an added challenge even with the extra measures in place to keep the athletes as cool as possible, for as long as possible.

Throw in a dozen World Series gold medallists, many more World Cup winners, young guns and big names, measured experience and youthful exuberance and you have all the ingredients for fireworks in the Tokyo 2020 men’s Olympic Triathlon.

France’s Vincent Luis was crowned World Champion in 2019 at the end of a see-saw season, but it was in a curtailed 2020 that he showed absolute power, smashing all four races at the end of the year. Invariably leading out of the water and never relinquishing his grip, he dominated from the relocated sprint-distance of Hamburg to the tough cobbles and climbs of Karlovy Vary. Luis had started to look unstoppable, every bit the Olympic Champion in waiting.

At the first race back of 2021, he didn’t have it all his own way, though. This time it was one of the men who had chased the Frenchman so hard in the heat and hills of Arzachena – Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt – who threw it down and began to set out his own bid for Olympic gold. If victory in WTCS Yokohama was a statement, a second gold in Lisbon a week later saw the 2019 Grand Final winner lay his credentials right out for all to see. Arzachena and Leeds may not have been medal-winning displays, but he was never out of the hunt.

The silver in Yokohama went to Belgium’s Jelle Geens, and he will have taken a lot away from the final stages of that race. As one of the strongest runners in the field, he won’t fear a deficit off the bike, depending on how much daylight someone like teammate and WTCS Leeds bronze medalist Marten van Riel tries to open up as one of the toughest cyclists in the mix.

The big story in Leeds was Great Britain’s Alex Yee finally putting to bed any doubt that he was ready for a shot at an Olympic Games. The swim wasn’t the fastest, the bike pack was large and out of T2, the 23-year-old was well-placed to deliver one of his potent run segments. It was the swagger with which he did it, on a tough course but in front of a roaring home crowd, that really stood out, and with teammate Alistair Brownlee injured and unable to defend his crown, Yee has become his natural successor, hitting form at just the right time.

Of course there is GB’s second male, Jonathan Brownlee, ready and waiting to prove he can become the first man to medal in three successive Olympic Triathlons. Finishing with bronze in London and silver in Rio, Jonny may miss his brother’s driving presence on course, but after victory in Arzachena ahead of the likes of Mario Mola and Blummenfelt, it would be unwise to write the younger Brownlee off.

Mola himself has been approaching these Games differently, cherry picking specific events in new locations to test his race readiness rather than grinding from one to the next. Three world titles in a row are all the proof required of his abilities on the big stage, how he has been able to translate the extended training blocks into Olympic performances will be the next big test.

Fellow Spaniard Javier Gomez would also love nothing more than adding Olympic gold to his considerable medal tally. After finishing 4th in Beijing and 2nd in London, the five-time World Champion has unfinished business at the Games, and though preparation hasn’t been ideal and a crash ended his WTCS Leeds challenge early, there is little that could be added to the 38-year-old’s armoury of that potentially crucial experience at the top level.

Looking across the Atlantic, USA’s Morgan Pearson has burst onto the triathlon top table with back-to-back Series medals in 2021, guaranteeing his place on the team in Yokohama after carving his way through the field with a 29m30s 10km. Like Yee, position and legs out of T2 will be crucial, like Yee, an Olympic medal at the first time of asking is a big possibility.

Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk took the tape in the Test Event back in 2019 and will relish the heat, just as he did en route to Huatulco gold in June. Like Mislawchuk, New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde is a smaller athletes for whom the temperature seems to barely make a dent in his all-out approach and he too has already delivered a medal on this very course back in 2019. A career-best 5th in Leeds after nearly two years away from the blue carpet was also an impressive statement.

Hosts Japan will count on two men that have shown in recent months that they can mix it with the best; Kenji Nener and Makato Odakura. Nener was crowned Asia Triathlon Champion in April, while Odakura secured his place on the squad with 12th at WTCS Leeds.

Elsewhere on the start line, European potential is strong. From Germany’s Jonas Schomburg and Justus Nieschlag to Leo Bergere and Dorian Coninx of France, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes of Norway and Hungary’s Bence Bicsak, the podium is right in their sights.

Southern hemisphere strength in the form of Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle and South Africa’s Rio 2016 bronze medalist Henri Schoeman offer plenty of one-day brilliance, both having shown to be hugely capable of putting themselves in winning positions on some of the biggest stages in the sport.

Two pairs of brothers take to the start line, Shachar Sagiv and Ran Sagiv representing Israel, both skilful on the bike and Ran the winner of a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships in 2019. Dmitry Polyanskiy and Igor Polyanskiy representing the the ROC are hugely experienced, with a host of World Triathlon podiums and four Olympic appearances between them.

The ASICS World Triathlon development squad will be represented by Chile’s Diego Moya, Syria’s Mohamad Maso and Mehdi Essadiq, the first Moroccan triathlete to compete at an Olympic Games. At the age of 21, Hong Kong’s Oscar Coggins will be the youngest man on the Tokyo 2020 start line.

Full start list available here.

Review: Flow Apparel Pro Riding Pants – £78.99

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our reviewer wearing trousers on a bike

2020 was a strange year for all of us but the guys at Flow Apparel took the opportunity to ‘set about making MTB specific apparel that we knew we wanted to wear. Something technical enough to spend all day out on the trails, yet casual enough to wear to the pub after the ride!’

Fast forward a year and Flow now have a wide range of pants, trousers, riding jerseys and their newly launched merino t-shirt!

Writing about a pair of trousers when it’s 27 degrees outside seems bonkers, but we all know it won’t last …

First impressions

Riding pants (or trousers) have come a long way in recent years and no matter what the weather you’ll see them out on the trails. Long gone are the heavy duty, crazy patterns of MX racers and a new breed of lightweight, technical trousers have been born.

Out of the 100% recycled packaging you instantly notice how light the Flow Pro Pants are and how stretchy the water-resistant ripstop material is. Looking round the trousers you get everything you’d look for: ratchet waist closure, strong YKK zipped pockets, zipless fly and elasticated ankles to keep flapping at bay.

paper packaging

Trying the trousers on I was impressed at the cut and length. There is enough room around the knees for pads, the thighs and calves are fitted but not ‘I’m out in my PJ’s’ fitted and the length allows you to show a little sock, if that’s your vibe!

My only slight negative is the waist sizing. I’m 6ft 1 and around 88kg and generally sit somewhere around a 34-inch waist. On Flows size guide I’m a large but still find the waist a little big even with the ratchet pulled as tight as it goes.

On the bike

I’ve been riding in the Pro Pants for the last 2 months both on the trails and round the town. They fit nicely around the legs, crotch and bum and as expected there was decent space for my fox enduro pads. The pants have a raised back and low front making them comfy when pedalling and when riding there wasn’t any negative effects of the slightly loose waist.

As Flow say their Pro Pants are suitable for all year wear, I’ve been wearing them instead of shorts up to about 14 or 15 degrees which I found was about my limit. As the material is stretchy and breathable, they weren’t sweaty or uncomfortable, just a bit warm for my preference.

We had some mega wet weather back in May and I’ve always found as riding trousers become wet, they start to get heavy and flap about. This is both annoying and maked you cold! Flow’s water-resistant material along with the stretch ankle openings helps keep this at bay and they dry out quickly when the rain stops, which is nice.

Final thoughts

I’ve been nothing but impressed with the Flow Pro Pants and really can’t speak highly enough of them. I’d maybe try a medium for a smaller waist but otherwise I can’t fault them! They fit well, are a relaxed yet tailored cut, stretch well where they need to and are holding up well in the high wear areas.

In a market where you’d expect to pay in advance of £100 for a decent pair of riding trousers the Flow Pro Pants are well worth a look. They also do matching shorts at a very tempting £48.99!

www.flowappareluk.co.uk

INEOS Grenadiers and Castelli part ways after five successful seasons. New clothing partnership with BioRacer to commence from 2022

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Cycling peloton

After five successful seasons, 2021 will be the final year of the partnership between INEOS Grenadiers and Castelli. Racing, collaborating and developing performance apparel alongside Castelli has been a key part of the team since 2017.

A spokesperson for the INEOS Grenadiers said: “Together we drove countless innovations, enhancing the team’s performances in all conditions and we thank Castelli for all the support. From 2022 the team will race in Bioracer kit as part of a new exciting Performance Apparel partnership. We’re extremely excited about Bioracer’s expertise in both speedwear and custom fit, and are looking forward to welcoming the Bioracer family into the team.”

More details will follow later in the year.

The Epic Series® brings MTB stage racing to the UK on 17-19 June 2022

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The Cymru MTB Classic, set in Wales, will be the UK’s first qualifier race to the Absa Cape Epic®, the pinnacle of the Epic Series.

Set in a region famed for its myths and legends, defended by strikingly rugged landscapes, and proud of its longstanding culture, the Cymru MTB Classic, in Wales, is a race for riders with a pure love of mountain biking.

From 17 to 19 June 2022, this Epic Series race held in Southern Snowdonia, is set to change the UK’s mountain biking scene for good, thanks to its multiple stages and 2-person team format; combined with the Welsh welcome and world-renowned hospitality.

The Cymru MTB Classic presents a 150km cloverleaf route across Gwynedd County’s countryside; much of which has been previously inaccessible for a timed race format. In 2022, for the first time, teams will get to explore the region’s extensive network of trails, both natural and man-made, bridle paths boasting outstanding beauty, and spectacular descents off craggy peaks before returning to Dolgellau at the end of each stage to celebrate the day’s achievements.

Steve Beech, Route Designer and Course Director of the Cymru MTB Classic offered his thoughts on the race’s route: “Dolgellau and Snowdonia have long been the Mecca for UK mountain biking, offering an outstanding variety of terrain and trail, from wild and remote mountain paths, ancient bridleways, old drover roads and farm tracks, to purpose built, hand crafted single track in the UK’s original trail centre. In choosing trails for the Cymru MTB Classic I have kept a focus on highlighting this variety of terrain and trail against the spectacular scenery of this quieter corner of Snowdonia in Gwynedd County.”

The route includes a visit to the spiritual home of mountain biking in the UK, the Coed-y-Brenin forest. Coed-y-Brenin was the first forest developed for mountain biking and, to this day, retains its reputation as the sport’s premier location.

“While mountain biking has been hugely popular across the UK for years, and particularly in Wales, riders have never had the chance to take on the challenges and enjoyments that an Epic Series event presents: a fully-timed, multi-day stage race in a two-person team format on home soil,” explained Dean Smith, Cymru MTB Classic Race Director. “We have some of the best MTB trails in the world, so the next logical step is to bring the most prestigious international mountain biking series to Snowdonia, in Wales, to showcase them.”

As part of the Epic Series’ global portfolio of best-in-class mountain bike stage races, riders can expect a mountain biking experience that is second to none. On the bike, the Cymru MTB Classic is a celebration of mountain biking and teams can expect to explore the region’s most incredible trails, conquering and achieving together; while off the bike, these same teams will be treated to Wales’ unique and welcoming culture in the race villages.

Cllr Gareth Thomas Cabinet member for the Economy and Community said: “We as a Council are very pleased to have been working closely with Welsh Government and the Epic Series on this ground breaking mountain biking event. This is the first event of its kind in the UK and will be based in Dolgellau and the surrounding areas, initially over the next three years but we hope for much longer. We are extremely pleased how the event organisers have engaged with the local community to gain community support and their emphasis on the Welsh language and culture of the area.”

While the focus of the Cymru MTB Classic is mountain biking amongst like-minded people in one of the most magical places on the planet, qualification spots are also awarded to participate in the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa, either via performance or draw.

“The Absa Cape Epic, the pinnacle event in the Epic Series, has been described as the Tour de France of mountain biking and attracts the world’s best racers as well as ambitious amateurs from across the world,” explained Kati Csak, Global Director of the Epic Series. “With the United Kingdom accounting for a large percentage of applicants to ride the Absa Cape Epic each year, the opportunity to now qualify on UK soil is sure to entice the region’s most passionate riders to race. Like all Epic Series races, it’s not just about the racing at the sharp end; all participants can expect a world-class full service event, in an iconic travel destination, with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the social atmosphere off the bike.”

Registration for the inaugural Cymru MTB Classic opens on 4 August 2021 at 15:00 CEST; teams wishing to learn more about the event and secure a spot on the start line can visit cymrumtbclassic.com.

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