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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, December 5, 2015

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

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self. - Aldous Huxley

Cyclo-Cross immortal Erik de Vlaeminck dead at 70

The greatest cyclo-crosser ever, Erik de Vlaeminck, died on December 4 at the age of 70. He was world cyclo-cross champion seven times: 1966, '68, '69, '70, '71, '72 and '73. He missed 1967 because his bike was damaged during the race. He was the brother of racing legend Roger de Vlaeminck.

Silent video of de Vlaeminck winning the 1968 world cyclo-cross championship

He was also a superb road rider, having won the 1969 Tour of Belgium as well as a stage in the 1968 Tour de France.

As a pro, his behavior after races was erratic, which some blamed on drugs. De Vlaeminck never tested positive for drugs, but he was treated for amphetamine addiction. Later in life, he seemed to have brought his demons under control and became Belgian cyclo-cross coach and ushered in a golden age of Belgian cross racing.

As de Vlaeminck grew older he suffered from both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Etixx-Quick Step reveals 2016 jersey

Here's the news from the team:

Etixx – Quick-Step has revealed its new jersey for the 2016 season, designed once again by Vermarc, who made sure of creating a jersey which will stand out in the peloton. The light blue of last year is replaced by a darker shade of blue which is predominant on the jersey, except for a white horizontal line, framed by two black ones. Black will be noticeable also on the sleeves and in the lower half, thanks to the addition of some vertical stripes. The shorts will undergo a major change from last year, becoming blue as well, which will be the main colour of next season, thus making sure the outfit will be easier to get recognized in the races.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel in the 2016 Etixx-Quick Step jersey

Once again, the sponsors of the team will have top visibility, with Etixx resting on the center chest of the jersey, right above Quick-Step, just as in the past season, which proved to be a very successful one for the team, with 54 victories. Latexco, Etixx – Quick-Step's most loyal sponsor, moves to the upper chest, on the neckband and on the back, while Lidl – who is new to the sponsors present on the 2016 kit – will have its place on the sleeves and on the rear of the pants. Also on the sleeves, below Lidl, on a white background, there's Janom, while on the upper back there's the car company Peugeot, with Specialized, the major bicycle brand, making its way on the lower half.

"It's an elegant and modern jersey, which will be easy to spot in the pack. I like it a lot, because it's very classy and it makes me proud to wear it. Vermarc did a great job designing this jersey and for my part I hope to honor it during the races and take it to the top spot of the podium", said Marcel Kittel, one of the eight new riders who signed with Etixx – Quick-Step ahead of the new season.

Marcel Kittel

The complete kit

Team CEO Patrick Lefevere also had words of praise for the new kit, which will make its debut in a race on the 17th of January 2016, at the People's Choice Classic, in Adelaide: "The launch of the new jersey is a kind of ritual that we renew with huge delight every year. For us, as a cycling team, it's a great moment, because this is our uniform, the jersey that will accompany us throughout the season. In cycling we say that a winning jersey is the most beautiful jersey you can have, but I must say that I already like it a lot, even before seeing it in a race. I hope that our fans will appreciate it as much as we do."

The team's video:

Lotto-Soudal's info on newcomer Tomasz Marczynski

This came from the team today:

Last week we introduced Jelle Wallays, the first new arrival for 2016. Today, it’s up to the 31-year-old Tomasz Marczynski. It’s been a while since Lotto Soudal could welcome a Polish rider; with Marczynski, a four-time national champion will join the team. Last season, Tomasz was part of the Turkish team Torku Sekerspor. Apart from the national championships, he won the Tour of Morocco and the Tour of the Black Sea. How Marczynski made it through the youth categories, what his connection with Italy is and why a Polish rider joins a Belgian team; you can read below.

Travelling youth champion: “When I was twelve years old, I started to mountain bike during my free time. There aren’t any athletes in our family, so it took a while before I came in contact with competition sports. After my thirteenth birthday, I switched to road cycling and began to ride local races. In my first year, I already won two races; when I was fifteen, I became Polish champion for the first time. You can say that I could stand up for myself right from the beginning. After the U19 category, I had to search a good team. Given that there weren’t any Polish U23 teams, you had to go abroad. If you stayed in Poland, you could better stop racing because the level of racing in Poland was very low back then. I moved to Italy when I was nineteen and stayed there from February till October. Only for the Polish national championships I went home for a couple of weeks. Luckily, I’m someone who likes to travel. For example, I don’t have any problems living abroad; I think that’s because I adjust myself quickly, I like to meet new people, learn new languages and I’m open to new experiences.”

Italy: “During the first two years as an U23 rider, I rode for Italian teams. In my first year, I won a big pro race: Firenze-Modena. That day, I beat Grivko and Ricco; that was a strong start and a very important victory for my further career. The second year as U23 rider went pretty good, but I couldn’t win. During that year, I rode 32 races; of which I finished 28 times on the podium and only four time outside the top ten. That regularity made sure that I could sign my first professional contract as a 21-year-old with the Italian team Ceramica Flaminia; my first experience with the pro circuit. It was a big difference, but after a couple of weeks it went better. In my first professional year, I finished a few times in the top ten and became second at the national championships. The Italian races helped me grow as a rider and made me better during the hilly races.”

Polish championships: “When I attended the Polish championships in the pro category for the second time, I won. Also in 2011 I became national champion; both in the road race and time trial. I’m up to a total of four Polish titles with the pros; three times in the road race, one time in time trial. Every year I try to be in a top shape when the championships approach. The type of course doesn’t matter; one time I won solo, the other time I was the best in a sprint of forty riders and the last time I won a sprint of five. It’s always a hard race with guys like Kwiatkowski and Golas. Last season, I won the title so I can start my first year with Lotto Soudal in the Polish national jersey; that makes it extra special.”

Stage races: “In 2012, I already was part of a WorldTour team; Vacansoleil-DCM. I look back on that period with mixed feelings; it was a very nice and enjoyable time with a good team, but due to injuries I couldn’t prove myself. In my first Grand Tour, the Vuelta, I became thirteenth. I love the heat, I rather ride in 40 degrees than in the rain and the cold. For some people it’s hard to understand because I’m Polish and in our country it can be really cold during wintertime. Because of this, I live in the South of Spain; the weather is perfect and I can train in the mountains whenever I like. My second year with Vacansoleil was a bummer due to two surgeries. That year, I only rode four races and they weren’t good enough. Hopefully the bad luck stays away next year so I can fully concentrate on performing. With my 69 kilogram, I’m a bit too heavy to climb with the best; but when I’m in good shape I can follow them. Also my time trial isn’t bad and when the race ends with a sprint with a smaller group, I’m pretty fast. For next year, I’m really motivated to work with this top team and nice people. Marc Sergeant gave me the opportunity to join the team and showed his confidence, I’m very thankful for that. This is my second chance on the WorldTour level and I will do everything I can to do my job and help the team as good as possible.”

The Sprint Quiz:

Rossignol in talks to buy Time Sport

This piece was in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

PARIS (BRAIN) — Global ski powerhouse Rossignol is in exclusive talks to buy Time Sport International, it announced Wednesday. Rossignol is looking to diversify to insulate itself from the effects of climate change, which is making the ski market more uncertain.

Rossignol produces more than a fifth of all skis sold worldwide. It owns the Look ski bindings brand, but the Look bicycle brand is operated separately. According to Rossignol, Time employs 120 people and posted sales of nearly 12 million euros ($12.7 million) last year. Time's founder, Roland Cattin, died last year. His daughter, Julia Cattin, now leads the company.

"The objective is to complement skiing with an outdoor activity that isn't tied to winter sports, to add a second pillar to the group so it doesn't depend only on snow," the company's chief executive, Bruno Cercley, said in a press release.

"Cycling is a sector with strong potential and is very dynamic, which would be very complementary between winter and summer," he added.

Rossignol pointed out that the two French companies have a lot in common. Rossignol has its headquarters and a production facility in the Isère region, where Time has its headquarters and its production facility at Vaulx Milieu, just a few miles from Rossignol's headquarters in Saint-Jean-de-Moirans. Both companies also have production facilities in the Nièvre region, specifically in Varennes Vauzelles for Time and in Nevers for the Look bindings brand.

The companes also have similar client bases, regionally and demographically, and each has "a tradition of innovation and high-tech products, as well as a common expertise in composite materials," Rossignol said. Both brands have been involved in high-level professional sports.

Here's the complete Bicycle Retailer story

Here's the Rossignol press release

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