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    Genetics?

    What do you people think, are genetics important in profesional cyclists?

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    I can't remember which pro said it, but the idea was to become a pro, you had to ride your bike a lot and choose your parents very carefully

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    That and epo
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    Some people are built in a way that lends itself very well to cycling. Large lungs obviously help. Also a big one is people with longer femurs typically make better cyclists because its basically a longer lever pushing down through the pedal stroke.

    Of course...no genetics make any difference if you don't ride your bike a lot. And eat the meat of fast animals

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    Of course genetics play a factor in a cyclist's potential, but whether they reach their full potential is based on training

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    And how to know are someone's genetics good or bad? Or you can just see it trought results?

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    Of course. Body size (height, not weight) and shape are driven heavily by your genetic makeup. Other genetic factor play a huge role as well. For example, there is a great story of a Finish cross country skier who won Olympic gold in the 60's. He would crush people. Everyone said he doped. However, it turns out that he had a genetic mutation that increased his red blood cell volume. In fact, analysis of his family help to identify the erythropoietin receptor and subsequently EPO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    What do you people think, are genetics important in profesional cyclists?
    just as, if not more important than anything else...no amount of training will ever get most of us to the elite level.

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    The "work hard" gene is paramount!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    What do you people think, are genetics important in profesional cyclists?
    Genetics, support system, starting young, and cycling culture are factors as well. Nairo Quintana (who got 2nd in the TDF) was pretty close to not getting discovered at all. His parents were peasants who couldn't even afford race fees.

    Pretty sure this was his 2nd season on a >$30 bike. But he did a 2000 foot climb to 10k elevation every day for 3 years (age 15-18) but for transport, not training. So it's not all nature, there's some nurture, and in his case some unusual circumstances.
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    Are there some tests in clinics which can showe.g. how good is capacity of cyclist's lungs, etc. Maybe that test on running track?

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    It goes something like this: genetics determine your potential, while hard work determines how close you get to your potential.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    Are there some tests in clinics which can showe.g. how good is capacity of cyclist's lungs, etc. Maybe that test on running track?
    Is lung capacity that relevant?.... I read somewhere that since the whole aerobic system from lungs to muscles is "in series", the limiting factor is more likely how much oxygen your blood can transport. Even at max, most people are still breathing out a fair amount of unused oxygen.

    Also, In order for EPO to make a difference, presumably there would have to be more oxygen available from the lungs than you can make use of without it.

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    So genetics are really big factor in endurance sports like mtb or road cycling... Yeah, you have to be lucky

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    So genetics are really big factor in endurance sports like mtb or road cycling... Yeah, you have to be lucky
    yes and no. For the most part, at our level, people use genetics as a reason to give up hard training.

    I'm a coach in our local high school league, so i get to see a large spectrum of kids, and their natural abilities. For the most part I see kids that have the correct profile (light weight, medium height, low body fat, etc.) and some who need to develop it (a lot of kids need to lose fat).

    But all the kids who are at the front of the fields work pretty hard and have A LOT of years of racing/training behind them. Genetics alone will not do it. Not at the front end of the Varsity field at least. Mainly because all those kids have good genes, so hard work and time on the bike (within season and from previous years) becomes the differentiator.

    I know of one kid who went from high school straight to a Cannondale contract and doing U23 World Cups. Genetics? Probably. But you also can't ignore the fact that he's been racing MTBs (and XC skiing) with big hours (at 7000+ elevation) since he was 12.

    I also know another kid who's on the BMC road development squad racing in Europe and doing well. He was in same Cat 4 group with me when he was 14 years old. His progression was slow and steady but it just never stopped. To me he initially didn't have the right body build, but the time he put on the bike just morphed his body into the classic cyclist body (5'11" 130). He also developed into an excellent pack rider due to all his race experience (over 100 race starts by the time he was 18). I've chatted with his parents and they are not athletes by a long shot; but the dad was a race official which probably ignited his son's participation in racing (and vice versa). So here's a kid who's made it to the elite level, with a lot of nuture rather than nature, IMO .
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 07-31-2013 at 08:46 AM.
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    Very good and interesting reply, but, can you tell me is that BMC rider successful? Does he have podiums?

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    It takes both hard training and genetically inherited characteristics that offer advantages in a given sport. What I have always found interesting is how different sports favor different body types. All the great training in the world isn't going to make a short skinny 140 pound kid a great NFL linebacker, or a muscular 6'5" 250 pound kid into a TDF Yellow Jersey winner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    Very good and interesting reply, but, can you tell me is that BMC rider successful? Does he have podiums?
    He just won "best young rider" at Cascade classic.

    2012 Results (from BMC dev team website):

    Tour de l'Abitibi overall and winner of Stages 2 and 3
    1st overall, Tour du Pays de Vaud
    1st, Stages 1 and 2a, Tour du Pays de Vaud
    1st, King of the Mountains classification, Tour du Pays de Vaud
    3rd, prologue, Tour du Pays de Vaud
    2nd, U.S. national junior time trial
    3rd overall, Trofeo Karlsberg (GER)
    10th, GC, Regio Tour
    10th, world championship TT (juniors)

    But like I said in a previous post, unusual cirmcumstances. How many kids are racing at 10 yrs old, rides cat 4s at 14 (just pack fodder then), and has 100+ races in by 18 yrs old??
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    testing for potential

    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    Are there some tests in clinics which can showe.g. how good is capacity of cyclist's lungs, etc. Maybe that test on running track?
    Some, but not all, physiologists believe that VO2max in a reasonably trained cyclist is one testable benchmark that can be used to determine the potential for success in bike racing. VO2max acts as a upper limit to your FTP and is partly determined by genetics. But having a high VO2max does not guarantee success, you still have to work to get your FTP to move up toward the VO2max ceiling. And then there are skills, tactics, desire, nutrition etc that all come in to contribute to success as well as the 'physical' attributes.

    IMO, for the hobby racer, I think the more important genetic factor is how rapidly the racer adapts to training load and how rapidly they recover. I don't know of a test for this...

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    Genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    Are there some tests in clinics which can showe.g. how good is capacity of cyclist's lungs, etc. Maybe that test on running track?
    There are some gene tests that are claimed to show how good at sports you could be. There was a really interesting TV program (BBC Horizon: The Truth About Exercise) about it a while ago. It's well worth watching.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/51836895" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/51836895">The Truth About Exercise</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user14120325">Chef Central</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

    You can pay for these tests but it's unclear how detailed they are.:

    Genetic Testing For Response To Exercise Training

    There are various laboratory tests that you can do for lung capacity, lactate threshold via blood samples, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) etc. It's also possible to carry out muscle biopsies to see your percentage of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres, although that's invasive.

    http://roadcyclinguk.com/riding/a-da...ate-tests.html

    Depending upon where you live there may be somewhere nearby that will offer lab testing where you can assess your performance. Eg:

    http://www.loughborough-sports-scien...g-fitness.html

    Power testing is something that you can do yourself, either on a stationary bike or out on the road using a power meter. From there you can track your improvements in power output and training zones over time. You can also use your power profile to compare against the training peaks power profile chart.

    http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articl...profiling.aspx

    http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articl...ew-coggan.aspx

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    My genetics says I'm only good for sex...but if I always took advantage of that - I'd bonk halfway into every ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accex View Post
    Very good and interesting reply, but, can you tell me is that BMC rider successful? Does he have podiums?
    He is riding for BMC, even without "results" I deem that successful. Not everyone can play NFL ball, but everyone can enjoy a game of football. If you are judging success as winning everything, you have a harsh reality coming

    just getting into that level is quite an accomplishment

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    yes and no. For the most part, at our level, people use genetics as a reason to give up hard training.

    I'm a coach in our local high school league, so i get to see a large spectrum of kids, and their natural abilities. For the most part I see kids that have the correct profile (light weight, medium height, low body fat, etc.) and some who need to develop it (a lot of kids need to lose fat).

    But all the kids who are at the front of the fields work pretty hard and have A LOT of years of racing/training behind them. Genetics alone will not do it. Not at the front end of the Varsity field at least. Mainly because all those kids have good genes, so hard work and time on the bike (within season and from previous years) becomes the differentiator.

    I know of one kid who went from high school straight to a Cannondale contract and doing U23 World Cups. Genetics? Probably. But you also can't ignore the fact that he's been racing MTBs (and XC skiing) with big hours (at 7000+ elevation) since he was 12.

    I also know another kid who's on the BMC road development squad racing in Europe and doing well. He was in same Cat 4 group with me when he was 14 years old. His progression was slow and steady but it just never stopped. To me he initially didn't have the right body build, but the time he put on the bike just morphed his body into the classic cyclist body (5'11" 130). He also developed into an excellent pack rider due to all his race experience (over 100 race starts by the time he was 18). I've chatted with his parents and they are not athletes by a long shot; but the dad was a race official which probably ignited his son's participation in racing (and vice versa). So here's a kid who's made it to the elite level, with a lot of nuture rather than nature, IMO .
    Great answer, BTW

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    Quote Originally Posted by sbsbiker View Post
    He is riding for BMC, even without "results" I deem that successful. Not everyone can play NFL ball, but everyone can enjoy a game of football. If you are judging success as winning everything, you have a harsh reality coming

    just getting into that level is quite an accomplishment
    Yes, I think that too, but, I wanted to know can that rider with worse genetics than others riders, but with (probably) same or approximately same amount of training be better than some rider who has better genetics

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    Genetics?

    This interview on The Verge covers the topic of genetics and sport:

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/1/457...tic-excellence

    It's about this new book: "The Sports Gene" by David Epstein

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Sports-Gen...he+sports+gene

    It looks like an interesting book. I'm going to buy it I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    That and epo
    Correct. Also, don't forget that you get more bang for buck if you ARE NOT genetically gifted and have a natural hematocrit of say....43 instead of 48 BEFORE doping Think...Lance Armstrong.

    In all seriousness...without the dopey dope, yes, genetics + diet + working your arse off = stud on bike

    Someone with a naturally high VO2 such a Greg LeMond will be that much better off before the hard work even begins. He had one of the highest VO2s out of all cyclists and he did fairly well without the dope. (Disclaimer: Tons of top pros rode on opposing teams and still say Greg did it naturally) Believe what you will...

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    I think becoming a "pro" MTB racer, at least on the local level, is definitely achievable for a lot of people.

    However, when people say "I'm 6', 230lbs, not fat", I have to laugh. If that person dedicated themselves to riding 25hrs a week, for a year, they'd lose 70lbs.

    You just have to put in the time, and the effort, to do it. The average, single American male has copious free time. Most people just can't, won't, and don't try.
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    Interview with the author of "The Sports Gene" on Fresh Air on NPR today. Podcast should be here:
    Interview: David Epstein, Author Of 'The Sports Gene' : NPR
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    Genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    This interview on The Verge covers the topic of genetics and sport:

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/1/457...tic-excellence

    It's about this new book: "The Sports Gene" by David Epstein

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Sports-Gen...he+sports+gene

    It looks like an interesting book. I'm going to buy it I think.
    As I finally got through reading it I thought I'd do a quick review.

    First of all, it's not a science reference book, more of an overview of how genetics affects sports performance. It's intended to be readable and is aimed at a more general mainstream audience. You have to really bear that in mind.

    A lot of it consists of anecdotes and stories describing exceptional sports performances. There's a heavy emphasis on the big US sports (basketball, baseball and NFL) along with running, which is probably understandable given the writer's background as a runner and journalist with Sports Illustrated magazine.

    If you've read Lore of Running by Dr Tim Noakes quite a lot of the material on African distance running is reminiscent of that book.

    The parts I found most interesting were Chapters 5 (The Talent of Trainability) and Chapter 15 (The Heartbreak Gene).

    Chapter 5 dealt with trainability, fitness and how much of that is inherited from your parents. It looks at the HERITAGE study, a sample of ninety eight families selected in 1992 for studying how regular exercise would affect previously untrained people and their VO2 MAX. They also took DNA samples to try and identify gene variants that may predict the inherited component of an individual subject's aerobic improvement.

    What they found was that there was a wide range of uneven responses between families, some families responding poorly to exercise and not improving much at all, whilst others had excellent responses, gaining fitness rapidly from the same exercise that the poor responders were doing also. For the same amount of effort the fitness results weren't the same for everyone. They went on to identify combinations of genes that may be predictors of why this occurred.

    Baseline levels of fitness are also uneven. Some people have higher fitness levels even if they don't exercise:

    "In the late nineties Gledhill and Jamnik, along with York researcher Marco Martino, set out to see whether they could identify and study such naturally fit folk. Part of their work was to administer fitness screenings to young men hoping to become Toronto firefighters. Over two years, the team gave VO2 max tests to 1,900 young men.

    Among them were six men with absolutely no history of training whatsoever who nonetheless had aerobic capacities on par with collegiate runners. The ”naturally fit six" as Australian physiologists Damian Farrow and Justin Kemp call them in their sports science book "Why Dick Fosbury Flopped", had VO2 max scores more than 50 percent higher than the average untrained young man, despite being inclined to couch bound activities. When the York researchers examined their "hidden talents", as they call them, they saw that the naturally fit men had a crucial gift, through no discipline or effort of their own: massive helpings of blood. They were endowed with blood volumes that could have been mistaken for those of endurance athletes."
    The Sports Gene by David Epstein Page 91

    Chapter 15 is about genetic issues that may affect health, things such as heart defects causing sudden death in young athletes and the increased likelihood of alzheimers disease related to the ApoE4 gene. Studies of athletes who suffer repeated head trauma (NFL players, hockey players, boxers etc) and who also have an ApoE4 variant were found to be more likely to suffer from mental deterioration later in life.

    "In 2009, the BU researchers made national headlines (and headaches for the NFL) when they reported on dozens of cases of brain damage in boxers and football players. What went entirely unmentioned in media coverage, though, was that five of the nine brain damaged boxers and football players who had genetic data included in the report had an ApoE4 variant. That's 56 percent, between double and triple the proportion in the general population. Brandon Colby, a Los Angeles based physician who treats former players says of those patients: ”Of the ones who have noticeable issues from head trauma, every single one had an ApoE4 copy." Colby now offers ApoE4 testing of children to parents who want to weight the risks of playing football." The Sports Gene by David Epstein Page 254

    There are also genetic tests available to see if an athlete may be predisposed to a particular type of injury, such as achilles tendon injuries or torn ACLs in the knee. That knowledge could potentially be very useful but it then goes on to consider the ethical and moral implications of this (eg: if you were a team owner and via genetic testing you discover a promising young NFL player may be prone to injury beforehand would you still be prepared to hire him for your team? Should this genetic knowledge be publicly available or not? )

    The general theme of the book is that your genes have a large input into potential athletic ability, but it isn't exact and there isn't a huge amount you can do to change what you've got. If your body shape and ability fits your chosen sport, great (big lungs, narrow hips and long legs being the best for running apparently.) For many sports this tends to be self selecting (basketball where you have to be tall being the example he uses). If you don't have those pre-requisites and advantages there isn't much you can do, especially if you want to compete at a high level. Try a different sport perhaps.

    Some genes are identified but there are many different combinations and research is ongoing so it's not cut and dried. This reads a lot like a first edition where big chunks of knowledge aren't available. In 10 or 15 years time the same book is likely to have a lot more exact detail than it does currently.

    In summary, it's got some good sections and is worth a read as an introduction to the subject but also isn't a reference book and could have done with being about 100 pages shorter.

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    I believe that the people that have the genetics to become competitive sports people don't just fall into competitive sport. for example when you where young you enjoyed riding your bike and you could beat all the kids around the block. So as you get older you want a new bike for christmas, then one with gears, then a road/mtb, then you want to race ect ect. But if you are the child with poorer genetics power fine/gross motor skills and low V02 you don't enjoy riding your bike as a kid, because everyone is faster than you and you crash a lot, so you don't follow the above pathway. So once you get to a competitive age as a junior most of the people are genetically equal. I believe the genetics between the ears is more important once you reach this stage, we all know someone who could win a lot of races but seems to crack/fail when they really need to push mentally, even the mental tuffness to train when tired

    I have no real evidence to back any off this up, and there will always be an exception to the rule

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartaus View Post
    So once you get to a competitive age as a junior most of the people are genetically equal.
    You could not possibly be more wrong about this. I have been racing for years and have seen thousands of racers, but only know of a handful that managed to move into the elite ranks. It is definitely not because elites train harder.
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    Genetics?

    This company offers genetic testing. If you're wondering what's on offer it's a good example to look through. It's one of those things that's interesting but at £249 GBP a pop, and it doesn't look like you get everything in one single package either, is a bit on the expensive side.

    They have a few sample reports for different sports and also a list of the genes they test for. It's split into different categories (gym, running, cycle and diet). The individual sample parts are worth a look through (read the text in each sample document, as it's far more informative than the pictures). They give a good idea of what to expect from this type of testing currently.

    http://www.dnafit.com/uk/product/cycle/

    Genes tested for PDF:
    http://issuu.com/dnafit/docs/dnafit-...987637/2272101

    Sample Cycling Gene report:
    http://issuu.com/dnafit/docs/dnafit_...987637/2271757

    Sample Weight Loss Gene Report
    http://issuu.com/dnafit/docs/dnafit-...987637/2446633

    Sample Gym Gene Report
    http://issuu.com/dnafit/docs/dnafit_...987637/2127884

    Sample Running Gene Report
    http://issuu.com/dnafit/docs/dnafit-...987637/2271911

    There's also the personalised training aspect which you appear to have to have as part of the package as well. It could be good but from what's in the sample report it could also turn out overly generic when all you really want is the test by itself.

    The big question is: Would this tell me something that at 37 I don't already know? I'd expect my report to read something like: Excellent long ride endurance, good recovery over consecutive days, decent climber, passable sprinter, horribly accident prone, liable to eat too much chocolate.

    That's the main thing really. Having this information by itself may not add much. It's what you do afterwards that makes the difference. Would this information permanently change your habits, or would you spend £249, read the report, go hmm that's nice, and then go back to what you were doing previously?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Genetics, support system, starting young, and cycling culture are factors as well. Nairo Quintana (who got 2nd in the TDF) was pretty close to not getting discovered at all. His parents were peasants who couldn't even afford race fees.

    Pretty sure this was his 2nd season on a >$30 bike. But he did a 2000 foot climb to 10k elevation every day for 3 years (age 15-18) but for transport, not training. So it's not all nature, there's some nurture, and in his case some unusual circumstances.
    Umm, Quintana is like 5' tall. I'm pretty sure his genetics are a HUGE factor in climbing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by craigebaker View Post
    Umm, Quintana is like 5' tall. I'm pretty sure his genetics are a HUGE factor in climbing!
    5'5", 126 pounds. Much, much smaller than the average GC contender, which puts him in a genetic disadvantage for GC contention (which is his primary goal).

    But the best story for me still is how he broke through socio-economic barriers: Cycling Inquisition: Who is Nairo Quintana?.

    He was poor, even by Colombian standards.
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    Genetics is important, but more so is the DRIVE to succeed! The human mind and body is capable of much as per its design.

  36. #36
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    Genes are super important, then you couple that with drive, work ethic, support and you have a world class athlete. The numbers are well documented, if you can't move the air. You are done.

    People without the right genes, get filtered out slowly, first local level, then regional, state, national, continental and last world.

  37. #37
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    Doping aside...are there any international pros who are not genetically gifted? Doubt it.

    Most cyclists that have the necessary drive/time/support/work ethic etc can make it to a local pro level after years of structured training imo.

    The thing is....is that most people do not possess what I just listed. They think they do, then discover they do not..

    Also, the human body is just not taxed the same when comparing local vs. international. International pro is a whole entirely different ball game. Kinda like college vs pro anything.

    Going beyond the local pro level is where the genetics really start making a difference.

  38. #38
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    I was thinking, genetics probably aren't important on local level, they're more important at some international level, and, to be honest, big number of us is far far away from that level

  39. #39
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    Genetics?

    I'd say that genetics has some influence on which sport you may have an aptitude for. Chris Froome for example probably wouldn't make a great sumo wrestler.



    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/oth...-exchange.html




    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/phot...tama-criterium
    Last edited by WR304; 10-26-2013 at 10:22 AM.

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