A women’s Tour de France? It could happen.

The 2013 Tour de France was a great race, with tough climbs, long days in the saddle, heroic breakaways and superb teamwork that culminated in a great night spectacle finish on the famed Champs-Elysees’ in the heart of Paris.

But there was one thing missing that many of us take for granted in the progressive  21st Century:  There were no women riders and no women’s race.

It wasn’t always that way.  The Tour Cycliste Feminin was a on-again, off-again event that brought the world’s best female cyclists to France to show that women not only raced bicycles, they could be just as exciting and inspiring as the male riders in Le Tour de France.

But more often than not, the women’s race struggled for financial support and the media attention that brings in both fans and sponsor money to put on a multi-stage race around France.

That may be changing.  The Amaury Sports Organization (A.S.O.) that owns and produces the men’s Tour de France is now exploring the possibility of launching a new women’s multi-stage road cycling tour.

That’s an interesting change of fortune because in 1998 the A.S.O. accused the women’s Tour de France of trademark infringement. The women’s race lost its valuable connection with the world’s most famous cycling race and left France without a major women’s stage race.

If A.S.O. were to build – and financially support — a new women’s Tour, it could reverse years of weak financial and organizational history that saw stages cancelled, extraordinarily long transfers between stages and little prize money for the women riders.  The 2009 race was the last time the race was held.

Jean-Etienne Amaury, chairman of the family-owned unit, told Bloomsbury News that its executives have debated the subject after a petition backed by Olympic road-race gold medalist Marianne Vos gathered more than 65,000 signatures in 11 days.

In the past, when A.S.O supported the women’s race, female riders departed early from towns closer to the finish than on the men’s course, but finished in the same location as the men.  According to UCI (International Cycling Union) rules, elite women are allowed to ride a maximum of 140 km in a day, compared to the maximum distances of 240 to 280 km for the top male cyclists.

   Italy’s Giro Rosa, the longest race for women in 2013, lasts eight days with a distance of 778.5 kilometers and has a $608 top prize. The male winner of the three-week Tour de France pockets a minimum of $595,000 but can earn much more from stage-win bonuses and other awards, not to mention a salary boost in the millions.

The big questions for A.S.O are the level of fan support and television coverage outside of France.  Inside France, there is massive coverage, in part because A.S.O. owns L’Equipe, the country’s largest sports daily newspaper.

Would you follow a Women’s Tour de France?  What should USA Cycling do to prepare American women riders to compete in such an event should the ASO decide to present it?  Let us know!

 

The Bike Lane is hiring!

If you have ever dreamed of working for an exciting and fun bike shop, here is your chance. The Bike Lane in Springfield and Reston, VA have a few job opportunities for good people who are passionate about bikes. The Bike Lane is a family owned and operated bike shop that prides itself on having excellent customer service, quality products, and strong community outreach. We are looking for the following positions.

1. Full Time Professional Bike Mechanic/Service Technician: We are looking for a professional Service Tech who has over 3 years experience working as a mechanic in a fast paced bike shop. This position requires the ability to work on entry level to high end bikes. This person must have the desire to learn and keep up with new technology in the cycling industry and have a drive to be the best. An outgoing personality, excellent communication skills, and patience working with the public is a must. Competitive pay and health benefits provided for full time annual employees.

2. Full Time and part time sales associate position: We are looking for good people who have excellent customer service skills and are knowledgeable about the latest bikes on the market. This person must have an exceptional personality and love working with people. A passion for bikes is a must. This position includes responsibilities such as selling and fitting customers to bikes, possibly opening and closing the shop, follow-up with customers, and everything else associated with selling entry level to high-end bikes. Competitive pay and health benefits provided for full time annual employees.

3. Part Time Bike Builders- This is a part time position, great for those who are in school. This position requires someone who loves bikes and has great mechanic skills. Person must be quick and efficient with a high regard for perfection.

4. Event Mechanic: This is a cool job. If you love being at the races and working on bikes, this is the job for you. We are looking for someone who loves going to cycling events and races! This person would be responsible for setting up and running mechanic support for the many races and events that The Bike Lane sponsors. This person must have great bike mechanical skills, enjoy working with people, and love the cycling community! This position requires someone who can get up early in the morning, has a excellent driving record, and may require some camping and overnight stays- This job is seasonal and on weekends.

If you would like to apply for any of these positions please fill out the application below.

If you would like to apply please fill out our online application.

Team Trek Tour de France Update for July 20, 2013

Going into the 20th stage of the 2013 Tour de France, Team Radioshack-Leopard-Trek was within striking distance of Team Saxo Bank in the Overall Team Classification, but three weeks of long, difficult climbs and horrendous weather conditions took its toll on the RSLT riders, who finished just 32 seconds behind Team Saxo Bank.

The team classification is calculated by adding the times of the three best riders of each team per stage; time bonuses and penalties are ignored. In a team time trial, the team gets the time of the fifth rider of that team to cross the finish, or the last rider if there are fewer than 5 left for the team.

The RSLT team threw everything it had into the last stage before Sunday’s largely ceremonial final night stage into Paris, the first night finale in Tour history.

Fan favorite Jens “Shut Up Legs!” Voigt attempted a bold solo attack Saturday, but he was absorbed by the peloton’s speed over the final high-points climbs.

There are two irrelevant points up for grabs in the best climber category on Sunday.     The sprinters will have points and argy-bargy bragging rights available at the finish on the illuminated Champs-Elysees.  The peloton will get “same-time” as the sprinters.

20th Stage  Team Overall Standings:

1. Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 241 hours, 52 minutes, 5 seconds.

2. AG2R-La Mondiale, 8 minutes, 30 seconds behind.

3. RadioShack — Leopard, 8 minutes, 52 seconds behind.

20th Stage  RSLT Individual Rider Overall standings (Behind leader)

14. Maxime Monfort   +24’ 21”

18.  Jan Bakelants       36’  34”

20.  Andy Schleck        42’  29”

30.  Andreas Kloden     1hr 00  26”

36.  Haiman Zubeldia    1hr 26’ 46”

53.  Didier Laurent        1hr 59’ 12”

58.  Tony Gallopin         2hr 03’ 42”

67.   Jens Voight            2hr 15’ 58”

104.  Markel Irizaq        3hr  00 22”

Trek and 650B: Wheel change is on the way

Trek Remedy and Slash 650b

Trek Remedy and Slash 650b

  Bike models change every year, but the last few years have seen some big changes in mountain bikes, specifically in wheel sizes.

From the early days of the off-road sport, 26-inch wheels have been the default size. Then riders found that a 29-inch wheel had advantages, mostly in speed, over the old standby.

Twenty-niner bikes flourished. Trek even designed and sold a unique “69er” mountain bike with a 29-inch front wheel and a special front shock coupled with a 26-inch rear wheel.  But the “69er” never caught on.

Over the years, the sport began to branch off from its original disciplines of downhill and cross-country racing into Enduro, free-riding, dual-slalom, big air jumping, etc.

The 29ers are now dominating cross-country racing and recreational riding while Enduro and free-ride enthusiasts have flocked to long-form, multi-day trail events and jump-fests.  The 29er just doesn’t work for those Jack-be-nimble riders.

Enter the 650b wheel, a.k.a. the 27.5-inch wheel.  Smack between the 29er and the traditional MTB wheel, the 650b is proving to have performance characteristics that work well for Enduro and other trail events that require both speed and nimbleness.

Wheel Size

The 650b also allows small-to-average size riders of both genders to enjoy the benefits of bigger wheels without having to grapple with a much bigger frame.  What’s not to like?

The 29er has built its army of followers and bike makers have been keen to build dozens of 29er designs.  But many have also been hesitant to go with the 650b/27.5 wheel.  Companies built some limited runs of 650b compatible bikes, but everyone has been waiting for the next shoe to drop or be put back into the history bin.

But now, the next shoe has dropped, and dropped from a very high place. Trek has announced that it is making two new lines of 650b compatible mountain bikes:  A six-bike line of 650b Remedy bikes (three carbon and three aluminum frames) and three aluminum Slash 650bs.

Remedy-9-650b-600x373

Trek influences the bike market and the market will have to respond.  But the market better act fast.

“After a decade of alternative wheel-size development, testing refining and debating, it has become clear that for trail riders wheel size is primarily about riding style,”  Trek global MTB brand manager Travis Ott told BIKE Magazine. “29 will be fastest for XC racing , but as we get into more trail riding, 650b and 29 can both excel on the same trail. Then it really comes down to how different riders tackle the same trail in their own way. So the Remedy now has the confidence-inspiring 29er option and the more playful 650b option.  The Slash gets the new small-wheel treatment with a ground-up 650b chassis.”

The 26-inch wheel isn’t disappearing, but it will be just one of several options for mountain bike riders.

Let The Bike Lane know how you feel about the 26-27.5-29 evolution.

How do you ride?

How do you ride?

TBL Trek Tour de France Update for July 17, 2013

While Team RadioShack-Leopard has struggled in the Tour as individual riders, the team is now neck-and-neck with Alberto Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff squad in the prestigious Overall Team Classification after Wednesday’s 17th individual time trial stage. With just four stages left, the Trek-riders are only 82 seconds behind Saxo-Tinkoff in the team standings. Andy Schleck looks to be gaining strength, finishing 15th in the ITT, just 2.27 minutes behind stage winner and yellow jersey Chris Froome.

But there are still some great challenges ahead, especially todays 175 km mountain stage that climbs the daunting l’Alpe d’Huez twice, followed by a 204 km leg-killing stage on Friday from the village of Bourg-d’Osians (at the foot of l’Alpe de Huez) to the ski resort of Le Grande Bornand.

Introducing the All New Speed Concept: Beyond the Wind Tunnel

Trek Speed Concept

Fastest just got faster.

Speed Concept keeps its position way out in front with a new frame design, insanely clean front end, next-level integration, game changing storage solutions, and kinder, gentler setup and adjustment.

The new Speed Concept rules the wind tunnel, of course, but the biggest innovations were born in the real world. Yaw conditions on real courses, aerodynamics that get better and better as you add a rider and storage, simpler design that radically improves setup and adjustment times… real-world advantages with real-world results.

The Bike Lane Tour Update – Team Radioshack Leopard: Rest Day #2

Despite a few setbacks, Team Radioshack Leopard Trek is still in the mix for the prestigious Best Team Award, in fifth place and only 15 minutes, six seconds behind first place Saxo-Tinkoff.

The Bastille Day attack on the famed Mont Ventoux – “The Giant of Provence” – saw the entire Trek team launch a bold move on the lower slopes of Ventoux.  The nine riders were powered by Markel Irizar, who rode incredibly hard to set up an attack by Jan Bakelants.

“This was my first time on Ventoux,” Irizar said.  “I was in the break for most of the day and I felt like I had good legs.  That’s why I went with Riblon in the beginning of the climb.  The plan was to stay in front as long as possible in case Andy [Schleck] was to come up.  That also kept our car in the front for as long as possible.

“Andy didn’t have his best day, but then Bakie was coming so I waited to pull him a little bit.  I next waited for Max to come and gave him by bidon and then my day was over.”

On the lower slopes Bakelants attacked with Mikel Nieve, showing good early energy but finally having to drop back once Nairo Quintana joined the effort.

“I can never win on this climb against the big engines but am happy with my performance” Bakelants said.  “The last 5k were hell as my sugar reserves were depleted.  I should have eaten earlier.  I’m happy I showed myself.  In the end there was just a small group left with me so my speed must not have been too slow.  This was my first time on Ventoux.  I had no idea what to expect.  The crowds were impressive.”

The best-placed team rider was Maxime Monfort in 20th, 13 minutes, 47 seconds off the yellow jersey.  Andy Schleck had a very disappointing day and was 39th.  In the overall rider standings, Schleck was 18th, 19 minutes, 14 seconds behind Froome.

“I don’t know what went wrong; I just wasn’t good enough to go with the best today,” Schleck said.  “I thought I would be a lot better and actually it’s a stage that suits me well.  I took care all day to conserve energy but in the end clearly I was not on a good day.  When one door closes another opens, so perhaps I will be good on Alpe d’Huez.  I am far enough down now that I should be let go in a breakaway.  Now it is like this.  I am disappointed but I won’t hang my head.  I will keep my head up and fight for victory in another stage.”

Monday’s rest day passed quickly and the riders had to prepare for an even tougher challenge in the Alps with two trips up Alpe d’Huez and an individual time trial before the nighttime ride into Paris next Sunday.  After such a grueling Tour, the Overall Team championship would be a tribute to the RadioShack Leopard team’s ability to work together despite the many changes coming up in 2014.