Jess McHugh

Chris Froome will ride Vuelta a España after Olympic Games

Chris Froome’s season will continue after the Olympics with the Tour de France winner slated to ride the Vuelta a Espa a in August and September

Chris Froome Will Ride Vuelta A España After Olympic Games

Chris Froome, Tour de France 2016 Credit: Yuzuru Sunada

Chris Froome1 s busy season will not end after the Olympic Games, with the Tour de France2 winner set to start the Vuelta a Espa a3 on August 20. Froome will ride both the road race and time trial in Rio, on August 6 and 10 respectively, before flying back to Europe for his second Grand Tour of the season. No-one has won the Tour de France4 and the Vuelta in the same season since the Spanish race moved to its current slot in the Autumn in the mid 90s.

The season-long plan was Tour, on to the Olympics and on after that to the Vuelta, and that s still the outline at the minute, said Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford in an interview with Sky Sports.

As we go through the next phase with the Olympics, we will assess it as we go along.

All being well, that s what we will be doing. Brailsford also revealed that Mikel Landa should also start his third Grand Tour of the season5 at the Vuelta, but a decision on who will lead the team will be taken at a later date. Froome has ridden the Vuelta on four occasions in his career, finishing second in both 2011 and 2014.

Last season he crashed out on the queen stage in Andorra.

References

  1. ^ Chris Froome (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ Tour de France (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ Vuelta a Espa a (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  4. ^ won the Tour de France (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  5. ^ start his third Grand Tour of the season (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)

Biodynamic food: Team Sky’s new marginal gain (video)

We investigate whether specially cultivated, ethically produced food is really worth the extra cash

It s all very well advocating clean sport, healthy training and fair competition, but what about the food you consume in the process? Has it been cleanly and ethically produced, or is it tainted by dubious chemicals and questionable farming practices? In other words, are we risking double standards by obsessing about competitive pureness while ignoring the content of our plates? For an increasing number of pro cyclists, the answer is yes, as food standards become a new frontier for marginal gains.

Team Sky1 is as usual leading the way and taking this trend to its logical extreme. Planting and harvesting crops by the cycles of the moon? Embedding quartz into cow horns and planting them in the soil? These are some of the earthly practices underpinned by spiritual beliefs that constitute biodynamic agriculture which, believe it or not, has been hailed Sky s latest marginal gain.

>>> Sir Chris Hoy s golden training rules2

As the team s new chef, James Forsyth aims to source the team s food from biodynamic sources. Focusing on meat and animal protein in particular, Forsyth believes that biodynamic food production standards could improve the performance of the riders.

In recognising the need switch to biodynamic or organic food, the team is all about marginal gains. Personally, I think it s potentially a big gain, he says.


Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)


Biodynamic food goes beyond the standards required of organic produce. Adhering to the controls and regulations set by Demeter International the trademark organisation for biodynamic produce food must be made without synthetic fertilisers or pesticides, and artificial additives are banned.

>>> Ketones: Controversial new energy drink could be next big thing in cycling3

What s more, biodynamic farmers must stick to rigorous guidelines for protecting their soil, promoting the natural ecosystem, and farming in an ethical way. Setting aside the pseudoscience and dubious spiritual rationales, biodynamic is about getting as close to nature as possible.

Biodynamic is basically where the mini ecosystem on which the animal would live is completely uncontaminated, explains Forsyth, who worked in various top-end London restaurants before joining Sky.

It means there are no chemicals within the meat, it s 100 per cent natural, he adds. It the animal has just lived on grass its whole life; it s had a stress-free life, and it has been killed in an ethical way. There is a big difference between that sort of meat and the type you would buy in a supermarket.


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Where s the science?

Crucially, though, will filling your plate with biodynamic food make you any faster? Thanks to its spiritual leanings, biodynamic agriculture suffers from a reputational problem: it s regarded, with some justification, as unscientific, cultish, and frankly a bit delusional. So before going any further, let s clarify that most of the principles behind biodynamic food, in terms of its value to health, are unsupported by quality scientific evidence.

>>> How to carb load before an event or race4

Celestial cycles enriching your food production, along with cow horns and the cosmos it s more religion than rationality. In most instances, the food, so far as conventional science is concerned, is no different from organic. However, biodynamic farmers argue that getting bogged down in the mystical aspects misses the point entirely. Jody Scheckter is a former Formula 1 world champion who now runs an organic and biodynamic farm near Basingstoke. Laverstoke Park Farm has even featured recently on the ITV reality show Sugar Free Farm where six famous faces attempted to cut out sugar from their diet.

He argues that biodynamic is a comprehensive philosophy of food as much as it is about practical guidelines.

>>> Jens Voigt: Life lessons from 30+ years of riding5

Organic says you can t do this and that, whereas biodynamic says you should do this and you should do that, Scheckter tells Cycling Weekly6.

We follow nature very strictly, and we have two main things: slow-growing animals and plants are generally healthier and taste better, and biodiversity is a key to a healthy natural environment. That for me is the key to producing good food. Scheckter shuns processed food, with few exceptions. Having previously supplied Sky with fresh meat, he has also run his own abattoir, and still provides dried meat snacks such as jerky and biltong. His involvement with professional sport includes rugby clubs that were relying, he says, on poor diets with nasty white bread .

>>> Why stress can make you fat and what to do about it7

Biodynamic food is what your grandmother would have called food, adds Scheckter. I think that sums it up.

His outlook is shared by journalist and author Michael Pollan, an outspoken critic of the modern farming industry who contends that most of what modern Westerners eat is no longer the sort of stuff that previous generations would have recognised. Pollan s philosophy is offered in one simple, boiled-down creed: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Pure and simple

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

Besides the justifications on grounds of promoting a healthy and sustainable natural environment, cyclists might be drawn to the purity of biodynamic food. There have been many cases of riders falling foul of food and supplements contaminated with banned substances, a risk for anyone adhering to the World Anti-doping8 Code. There is a separate, though related, argument for reducing your use of supplements and focusing on getting the right nutrition purely through food.

Real food, as well as supplements, can be contaminated by chemicals. Whereas in biodynamic agriculture, animals are reared on grass, outdoors, with a focus on welfare from birth to slaughter, modern industrial farming has very different priorities principally, profit.

>>> Should you hire a bike or take your own when you go abroad? 9

Food, in particular fruit and vegetables, can contain a range of artificial pesticides and fertilisers; while regulations limit the residues permissible on food to safe levels, campaign groups still point to the risks of low-level exposure and the cocktail effect of different chemicals, research on which remains limited. And then there are antibiotics, which, for modern factory farms, are wonder drugs. They make animals grow faster although science doesn t yet understand exactly how it happens, animals grow up to 10 per cent quicker when fed food laced with antibiotics without changing the composition of the meat.

>>> How to use strength training to boost your cycling10

In intensive farms, where animals are housed closer together in less healthy conditions, so-called sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics reduce the incidence of animal illness. In less euphemistic terms, when thousands of chickens are housed feather to feather in total darkness, antibiotics allow farmers to meet the demand for cheap meat: more chickens, more quickly, for less money.

My chickens cost me 2.80 just to kill, and they live for 100 days, explains Scheckter. You can go to a supermarket and buy a whole chicken for 2, which has grown from egg to chicken in 36 days.

Maybe 90 per cent of the people won t know the difference, and won t want to know the difference. But from a financial point of view, I don t get a lot of joy from the supposed good value.

>>> Listen to your body: don t ignore the warning signs of injury11

The biggest risk to consumers from these practices is the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a threat so grave that medical professionals warned earlier this year that it could plunge medical science back into the dark ages. When used at sub-therapeutic levels, antibiotics kill off weak bacteria but allow resistant bacteria to thrive. Data is limited, but nearly 45 per cent of the UK s antibiotic consumption goes to farming. Whereas organic and biodynamic farms limit antibiotics to genuine animal illness, conventionally farmed cows, chickens, pigs and sheep continue to be fed antibiotics that are critical to human medicine, potentially leading to strains of resistant superbugs.

Steroid stakes

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

Cyclists these days tend to become quite clued-up amateur pharmacists, almost by accident, and if there s one drug in particular (besides EPO) that we ve become aware of, it s clenbuterol. A steroid that can increase aerobic performance in athletes, clenbuterol is mainly used in farming to promote muscle growth and fat loss in animals. Alberto Contador s tainted steak excuse wasn t believed by his anti-doping tribunal; his team-mate Michael Rogers deployed the same excuse and it worked.

>>> Four pro training drills to get you riding faster (video)12

Both riders tested positive for traces of clenbuterol in competition; Contador during the 2010 Tour de France and Rogers during the 2013 Japan Cup shortly after competing at the Tour of Beijing. The Australian claimed he had eaten contaminated meat in China and, because the drug is indeed used in vast quantities by Chinese farmers, Rogers was let off.

Contador, whose steak allegedly came from a butcher in Spain, was deemed culpable. In fact, in 2012 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) warned athletes competing in Mexico or China to eat only in restaurants approved by the event organisation. In January 2014, the Union Cycliste Internationale warned riders not to eat meat in those countries at all.

>>> Can delayed onset muscle soreness be avoided?13

I d be on a vegetarian diet if I returned to China, Rogers said in 2014. Steroids are banned in British and European farming but allowed in many countries, including the USA. While you shouldn t find clenbuterol in American cows, you may find traces of other steroids, including recombinant bovine growth hormone and testosterone.

Besides the issue of anti-doping, there remain unanswered questions about the impact of steroids on human health and the wider environment.

>>> Detraining: The truth about losing fitness14

That s why many professional teams now ensure their meat is traceable back to its source it wasn t without a touch of irony that Saxo-Tinkoff trumpeted the arrival of an official Italian beef supplier in 2014.

Will I ride faster?

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

These are serious concerns, but is food produced to special standards such as organic or biodynamic really worth the substantial additional outlay?

Although there is evidence that organic and grass-fed produce has fewer pesticides and higher levels of antioxidants and omega-3, we don t know if this truly makes a difference to health, says dietitian Laura Tilt.

>>> How to ride faster up short, steep hills (video)15

Put simply, there aren t any long-term studies showing that organic food reduces the risk of disease or improves performance. For most cyclists, simpler changes to diet such as cutting down on alcohol or eating more vegetables are likely to have more impact than switching to organic or biodynamic. Scheckter acknowledges that performance benefits are difficult to prove: It s very difficult to say that by eating this biodynamic food I ll take a second off my time. Food is so long-term. I can t say if you eat this you re going to sprint better, but I think if you re a top athlete you want to do everything you can to make yourself better. I think great food, good natural healthy food has got to be your fuel.

>>> How to tell whether you are overtraining, and how to avoid it16

In many respects, biodynamic food doesn t differ vastly from organic; it s the Dura-Ace to the Ultegra organic may lack some of the top-end status but in essence it s just as effective. Biodynamic s trump card over organic is welfare and sustainability; next time you see a corn-fed organic chicken in your supermarket, for example, bear in mind that chickens are omnivores and would not naturally eat only corn. In the final analysis, the biggest gain to be had from biodynamic and organic produce may come down to your sense of having made the best possible choices for your body, for animals and for the environment the faith that what s on your plate is as untainted as it possibly could be.


What do food labels say about the food you re buying?

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

Biodynamic

Look for: Demeter label

Produced from biodynamically certified farms managed as self-sustainable ecosystems. Limits on artificial inputs and animal welfare standards are both stricter than organic.

Freedom food

Look for: Blue and white logo

Produce adheres to minimum standards of animal welfare set and regulated by
the RSPCA. It doesn t necessarily mean free-range, and produce is not raised to organic standards.

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

Organic

Look for: Black and white Soil Association logo

The Soil Association certifies over 80 per cent of British organic produce. There are strict limits on synthetic chemicals used in farming and standards of animal welfare are higher than legal requirements.

Red tractor

Look for: Red tractor logo, sometimes with a Union flag

Produce conforms to standards set by Assured Food Standards, which are very similar to the legal minimum standards for conventional production in the UK. The Union flag means produce comes from Britain. The organisation Compassion in World Farming argues this does not always represent high welfare standards.


The changing shape of chicken

Biodynamic Food: Team Sky’s New Marginal Gain (video)

The animals we are eating today are very different beasts to those eaten by our grandparents, and even our parents, a matter of decades ago. The typical modern broiler chicken farmed intensively for meat can now grow from egg to slaughter in just 36 days a third of the time it takes for a chicken raised outdoors on a biodynamically certified farm. Many broiler hens spend those 36 days indoors in total darkness.

Thanks to selective breeding, and without taking into account the liberal use of hormones and antibiotics in some countries, chickens at 56 days old today are more than four times bigger than they were 60 years ago, weighing on average 4kg, according to research from the University of Alberta in Canada.

They end up looking bizarrely top-heavy, like body builders who ve skipped leg workouts such is the demand for cheap breast meat.

References

  1. ^ Team Sky (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ >>> Sir Chris Hoy s golden training rules (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ >>> Ketones: Controversial new energy drink could be next big thing in cycling (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  4. ^ >>> How to carb load before an event or race (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  5. ^ >>> Jens Voigt: Life lessons from 30+ years of riding (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  6. ^ Cycling Weekly (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  7. ^ >>> Why stress can make you fat and what to do about it (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  8. ^ doping (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  9. ^ >>> Should you hire a bike or take your own when you go abroad? (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  10. ^ >>> How to use strength training to boost your cycling (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  11. ^ >>> Listen to your body: don t ignore the warning signs of injury (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  12. ^ >>> Four pro training drills to get you riding faster (video) (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  13. ^ >>> Can delayed onset muscle soreness be avoided? (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  14. ^ >>> Detraining: The truth about losing fitness (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  15. ^ >>> How to ride faster up short, steep hills (video) (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  16. ^ >>> How to tell whether you are overtraining, and how to avoid it (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)

Compare Travel Money: What Causes The Best Exchange Rates On Euros, Dollars For Holidaymakers?

Currency exchange rates can move a great deal, changing daily with potentially dramatic price swings. Here is an example using the pound to euro as a guide

Over the past month the GBP/EUR exchange rate was trending within the range of 1.2680 to 1.3269. At the lowest point, 500 would have got you 634 euros, excluding any delivery fees should you have opted not to collect. The same amount in Sterling would have got you 663.45 euros at the best interbank rate. Please note, we are using inter-bank rates here, which vary from the travel money rates you would be offered.

Here are the latest inter-bank fx exchange rates (NB not travel money) for your reference:

On Friday the Euro to British Pound exchange rate (EUR/GBP) converts at 0.791
1

The GBP to EUR exchange rate converts at 1.264 today. The live inter-bank GBP-USD spot rate is quoted as 1.397 today. The pound conversion rate (against australian dollar) is quoted at 1.934 AUD/GBP.

Today finds the pound to new zealand dollar spot exchange rate priced at 2.067.

NB: the forex rates mentioned above, revised as of 26th Feb 2016, are inter-bank prices that will require a margin from your bank. Foreign exchange brokers can save up to 5% on international payments2 in comparison to the banks.

Since the turn of the year the British Pound has struggled versus all the major currencies including the Euro, US Dollar and Australian Dollar. This is mainly due to political uncertainty regarding the forthcoming EU referendum. With little known as to the impact a British exit from the European Union would have on the domestic economy, any mention of the potential of a Brexit has corresponded with Sterling depreciation. As such, investor confidence has cooled markedly.

An example of this can be seen in the GBP/USD exchange rate which has dropped from a high of 1.4407 to a low of 1.3940 in the past week alone. So how does a weaker Pound affect your travel money? Say you wanted 500 spending money when visiting France. At current levels, 500 converted into Euro s at the current rate, approximately 1.27, would equate to ‘ 635. Just a week ago the GBP/EUR exchange rate was trading at 1.30 which would give you ‘ 650.

The exchange rate value has a greater impact the more travel money you wish to transfer.

Pound Sterling Exchange Rate Outlook Remains Negative: Will GBP Fall Further?

February has been a highly volatile month for exchange rates, with the Pound diving in value following the announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron that the EU referendum will take place on June 23rd. For quite some time Cameron has been negotiating with EU officials to reform the relationship between the UK and Britain. After a long talks, Cameron was successful in so much as EU member states have agreed to some reforms, but he failed to get everything he wanted.

The British Pound initially advanced in response to Cameron s moderate successes, but the appreciation was short-lived. This was because political heavyweight Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and a highly popular figure, announced that he would support those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU. The British Pound plummeted in response with many analysts predicting further losses to come. Until the June 23rd vote, the Pound is very unlikely to sustain any significant gains. This means that you will likely get less Euro s or Dollar s for your Pound if you decide to travel ahead of the vote. There is, of course, the risk that the Pound could fall further following the result.

Pound Sterling to Euro Discount Holidays © Holiday Money Exchange Rate Compared

As of 24th Febraury 2016, it may surprise you that one of the best rates to buy your Euros would be via a high street shop.

500 will get you ‘ 624.73 provided by Debenhams, although this is collection only. Best Foreign Exchange 500 euros costs 396.83 + 4.95 delivery Can collect

ICE 500 euros costs 399.40 + 4.75 delivery Can collect

Travel FX 500 euros costs 401.30 + 4.75 delivery No collection possible

TEG 500 euros costs 399.68 + 4.90 delivery Can collect

Griffin Financial 500 euros costs 400.64 + 5 delivery No collection possible

So When Should You Take a Discount Holidays © Holiday Based on the Best Exchange Rates in 2016?

Given the current Pound Sterling outlook there is no good time to take a holiday. With that said, however, there is every chance that the Pound could fall further so timing a Discount Holidays © holiday around key events is a must. The most important economic event of 2016 will be the UK referendum.

Timing a Discount Holidays © holiday based on the outcome would be a gamble, but it could pay off. If you went on Discount Holidays © holiday a week before the referendum your Pound is unlikely to get you a decent return. However, if you wait until after the referendum there is every chance that the Pound will plunge lower if the UK votes to leave the EU. Major economic events aside, it is always worth consulting an economic calendar before planning a trip abroad. Any Bank of England (BoE) policy meeting usually coincides with GBP volatility. If the BoE opted to hike the benchmark interest rate, for example, the Pound would likely shoot up in value. Any speeches from BoE officials may also cause significant GBP movement.

With that said, however, political uncertainty is dominating market trade and is likely to do so in the build up to the referendum. Therefore, domestic data will be less impactful than usual.

Wanting to Discount Holidays © Holiday in the USA? Pound to US Dollar Exchange Rates have Dropped to a 7-Year Low.

In response to heightened fears that the UK will vote to leave the EU, the Pound Sterling to US Dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate has dropped to a fresh 7-year low. What s more, most analysts predict further losses to come given the long period of political uncertainty ahead of the referendum. Over the past month the Pound Sterling to US Dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate dropped from a high of 1.4650 to 1.3924.

Once again, if you had 500 to spend at the February high of 1.4650 you would get $732.50, but at the February low of 1.3924 you would only get $696.20. Anyone who has holidayed in the tourist hotspots of the USA will know that 500 will not stretch very far, and the greater the amount of money you wish to transfer the greater the losses/gains on your exchange. Pound, Euro and US Dollar Exchange Rates: Key Data/Events to Look Out For

There will be a number of economic events that could cause significant changes to exchange rates.

As mentioned above, the EU referendum and the opinion polls leading up to the vote will have a significant impact on the British Pound. In terms of the Euro and US Dollar, any central bank policy meetings or speeches from central bank officials usually coincides with volatility. March will be key for both the US and Europe with the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) both due to make policy decisions. The ECB is widely expected to ease policy in March which would cause the Euro to decline. This could be an opportune time to exchange travel money if you wish to visit Europe.

Why do interest rates affect my USD, EUR travel money?

You might think that, considering you aren t borrowing your travel money, interest rates won t affect your EUR or USD travel money, but they do. A side effect of rising interest rates is that a currency gets stronger, while an interest rate cut weakens currency; so if the Bank of England were to (some might say miraculously) raise interest rates tomorrow, Pound Sterling would see a sharp increase in value, getting you more travel money.

Why Falling Consumer Prices are a Good Thing

Consumer prices fell last month in the Eurozone and if you re looking for EUR travel money, that s good news for two reasons. Firstly, it means that goods and services were getting cheaper, so your travel money will go further, while secondly the news will weaken the Euro, resulting in you getting more for your money.

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References

  1. ^ 0.791 (www.exchangerates.org.uk)
  2. ^ save up to 5% on international payments (www.exchangerates.org.uk)
  3. ^ international money transfer (www.exchangerates.org.uk)
  4. ^ Request a quote (www.exchangerates.org.uk)