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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, April 17, 2015

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

Today's Racing

The short Spanish stage race Vuelta a Castilla y Leon starts today and runs through Sunday, the 19th.

Orbea Increases Production in Portugal, Shuts Down China Manufacturing

I wouldn't have predicted this. According to the bicycle trade site Bike Europe, Spanish bike maker Orbea is going to stop having bikes made in China. Their press release reads, “As part of this systems overhaul, we have decided to stop manufacturing in our plant in Kunshan as from 30 June 2015. This decision has nothing to do with our business activity in the Chinese market, where we are planning to make significant changes for a stronger presence.

"All this restructuring is expected to improve service and make us more competitive as we focus on the traditional pillars of our business: European manufacturing, flexibility, customization and efficient service.”

Meanwhile, Orbea is expanding its bike production in Protugal, buying an 8,000 square-meter building and installing state-of-the-art bicycle manufacturing equipment. Other companies are planning on building manufacturing capability nearby, creating what some are calling "Bike Valley".

Orbea says this change will give them both much better logistics as well as a superior ability to customize its bikes.

Interesting trend...

Orbea China factory

Orbea's current China factory, slated for shutdown.

Greg van Avermaet Meets Belgian Anti-Doping Commission

On Thursday, the 16th, BMC racing ace Greg van Avermaet went before the Belgian Cycling Federation's anti-doping commission because of his ties to suspected doping doctor Chris Mertens.

The racer is accused of taking banned drugs. Van Avermaet denies taking the substances to improve his performance and that one drug, Diprophos, was used therapeutically, to treat a problem with his heel.

The Belgian federation's prosecuter Jaak Fransen isn't buying that explanation and has asked that van Avermaet's 2012 results be erased and that he be fined 262,500 Euros.

Because no decision has been made, van Avermaet is still free to race. He was third in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix and rode last week's Tour of Flanders as well. He says he will be on the line for Amstel Gold on Sunday.

BMC put out this statement about the van Avermaet case:

Statement: Van Avermaet Investigation

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team is aware of today's hearing by the Belgian Cycling Federation, Koninklijke Belgische Wielrijdersbond, in which Greg Van Avermaet appeared in relation to the investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens.

Based on information currently available to the BMC Racing Team, Van Avermaet will not be withheld from competition.

No further statements about the case will be made by team officials prior to a decision being rendered by the Belgian Cycling Federation on May 7.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet on the Patersberg in this years Tour of Flanders.

Speaking of Amstel Gold, it's this Sunday

Here's BMC's roster for the Dutch race:

Roster: Amstel Gold Race

Three-time Amstel Gold Race champion Philippe Gilbert headlines the BMC Racing Team's roster for Sunday's WorldTour race in The Netherlands.

Riders: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)

Sponsor: Andy Rihs (SUI)

President/General Manager: Jim Ochowicz (USA)

Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert racing in the recently completed Brabantse Pijl

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this about the team's Amstel Gold Race plans:

Wilco Kelderman will make his Amstel Gold Race debut on Sunday with a different plan. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo youngster would have liked to fight for a top result, but after catching the flu over the weekend, he understands that will be a difficult task.

“Wilco would like to get in the mix in the classics in the future and had it up to him, he would have done so this year already, but we need to lower our aims after last weekend,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said.

"Wilco isn’t at his best because of his illness. It’s a real bummer as he made the Amstel Gold Race a big goal this season. It’s still an important race for him, but maybe in another way now. Wilco would still love to show himself, but, just as important, he will do so to gain experience. In the classics experience is key.”

Kelderman is disappointed to be held back after the flu, but he looks optimistically towards the next Ardennes Classics. “I’m still suffering from a little cold, so unfortunately, I’m not in a great shape,” Kelderman explained.

“That’s tragic because the level in Amstel is so high that you have to be one-hundred per cent. If you’re a few percentage points less, you just won’t able to compete.

“The last time things went good for me, but the Amstel Gold Race probably comes a bit too early now. You never know, though. Besides that, next week, I’ll be riding La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

Paul Martens proved that he is back on track in Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl after his round with the flu at the beginning of the month. Zeeman is counting on the German with the fast legs on Sunday.

“Paul gained a lot of confidence by his eleventh place in the Brabantse Pijl. Besides that, he has shown that he can do well in Amstel in the past,” said Zeeman, referring to a tenth place in 2011. “We have a lot of confidence in Paul. We will make a team effort to help him achieve a good result. A top ten is an appealing and ambitious goal.”

Above all, Zeeman wants to see his riders getting involved at the front on Sunday. “The Amstel Gold Race is our home race. It’s an important race for our sponsors. We really want to show ourselves. We will work hard to make sure we do so.”

Team line-up: Jos van Emden, Wilco Kelderman, Tom Leezer, Nick van der Lijke, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Timo Roosen & Bram Tankink

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana

Cult Energy's Amstel Gold Plans:

This Sunday, the biggest one-day race ever is coming up for Cult Energy Pro Cycling. The Danish team will be participating in the Dutch 260 kilometer long and hilly Amstel Gold Race. It’s one of the five “monuments” which also count Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This Sunday, the race celebrates its 50th edition anniversary.

The race takes place in the southern part of Holland in the Limburg region where the terrain is fairly undulating and the roads are narrow and winding. The climbs are not long but the large number of them makes the race physically demanding as it tends to slowly but surely empty the fuel tank. The race organizers have moved the finish line several times throughout the years. Before 2013, the finish line was on the top of the steep and 1.2 kilometer long climb of Cauberg. But from the 2013 edition, the organizers moved the finish line two kilometers further away and created a more tactical finale.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be riding for Fabian Wegmann who has been rather consistent in this race in his entire career and in spite of a long-lasting flu in the last few weeks, the multiple German champion still hopes for a top-10 result. Besides Wegmann, Rasmus Guldhammer has been showing promising form this spring and he might pull a surprise result in Amstel.

DS, Michael Skelde states: “It’s with a mix of sheer joy and nail-biting excitement that we look forward to Amstel Gold Race. Naturally and as it should be, with a huge amount of respect as well. This is our first Classic and we’re all looking so much forward to participating. Due to Fabian’s unfortunate illness, we can’t allow ourselves to expect seeing him finish with the first group of riders on Cauberg, which doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try. We are forced to take part in an early break in order to make our way to the front of the race and to flash the colors before the big names open the finale. My hope is that we’ll be able to take on a creative role and that our debutants make their way through this prestigious race.”

Cult Energy Pro Cycling line-up: Fabian Wegmann, Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Alex Kirsch, Russell Downing, Troels Vinther, Christian Mager and Michael Reihs.

Fabian Wegmann

Fabian Wegmann will be at Amstel Gold

Lampre-Merida's plans for the Ardennes Classics:

Lampre-Merida in the Ardennea, where they'll get involved in three World Tour events: the Amstel Gold Race (Holland, Sunday 19th April), the Fleche Wallone (Belgium, Wednesday 22th April) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Belgium, Sunday 26th April).

For the Dutch race, eight riders were selected to wear the blue-fuchsia-green jerseys that are manifactured by Champion System: Niccolò Bonifazio, Valerio Conti, Rui Costa, Kristijan Durasek, Manuele Mori, Jan Polanc, Diego Ulissi and Rafael Valls.

In the following Belgian races, the Colombian climber Josè Serpa will take the place of Durasek.

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls at the 2015 Tour of Oman

The team will be directed by the duo Mauduit and Pedrazzini, who'll receive the support by the masseurs Della Torre, Lima and Redaelli, of the mechanics Baron and Viganò, of the bus driver Bozzolo and of the doctor Ronchi.

Most of the attention of the opponents will be towards Rui Costa, but the Portuguese rider won't be the only one competitive cyclist in the Team Lampre-Merida selection for the Ardenne Classics: Valls lived an outstanding first part of the season (stage and overall classification victory in Tour of Oman, 8th places in Paris-Nice and in Volta a Catalunya), Polanc demonstated in Vuelta al Pais Vasco his amazing condition, Ulissi is full of energy and wants to exploit the experience he got in the past participations in these races.

The dash of Conti is joined by the experience of Mori and Bono (in 2014, Bono was the protagonist in a breakaway that allowed him to realize a solo passage on the summit of the Redoute) and the climbing skills of Serpa and Durasek.

It's not too early to be thinking about the Giro d'Italia

This came from Orica-GreenEdge:

Four-time Grand Tour stage winner Simon Gerrans has been added to the Giro d’Italia roster for Orica-GreenEdge next month, boosting an ambitious line up for the first three-week race of the 2015 season. The announcement comes as the 34-year-old continues his comeback from consecutive injuries at the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday.

“The Giro is perfectly timed for my first peak of the season,” Gerrans said of the decision to add the race into his program. “With my latest racing block, the Classics and then the Tour of Romandie in my legs, I will arrive at the Giro fresh and hopefully in top condition.”

Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 GP Montreal

Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 GP Montreal.

The Italian Grand Tour was one of great success in 2014. The Australian outfit claimed three stage wins, including the opening team time trial, and wore the pink leader’s jersey courtesy of Svein Tuft and Michael Matthews for seven days.

“We’re really excited to name Simon in our Giro d’Italia line-up and it will certainly give our roster even more depth in what is such a demanding race,” sport director Matt White said. “It’s a big priority for us again this season and with Simon in top condition we will have one of the strongest cards to play for the first part of the race.

“He is coming along very well after numerous set-backs which kept him out of action for the first part of the season, but I am confident he will be at his best when we start the race.”

The 2015 Tour again kicks off with a team time trial and is followed by a number of opportunities well suited to Orica-GreenEdge.“With Simon in our roster, we will have one of the most competitive line-ups for what we want to do in the race,” White said. “We’re all looking forward to being back at the Giro and trying to match the great results that we were able to achieve last year.”

For Gerrans, it will be just his second time at the Giro d’Italia. “My only previous start in the Giro was in 2009 with the Cervelo Test Team,” the two-time Australian champion said. “I have great memories from this race, I was fortunate enough to win stage 14 from Campi Bisenzio to San Luca in a breakaway.”

“In my career to date, I have enjoyed four Grand Tour stage wins and I hope I can add to that in the Giro.

“I think there are some great opportunities in the first couple of weeks in particular. There are several stages that we anticipate will either finish in a breakaway or in a reduced bunch. If I am able to get a stage result early enough in the race and the team can perform even close to what the guys did in the opening stages last year, then the pink jersey is not out of the question for us.”

The full Orica-GreenEdge line up will be announced in the week leading up to the Giro d’Italia, which is held from 9-31 May.

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