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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, December 18, 2015

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

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. - Theodore Roosevelt

Tour de France owner ASO pulls races from World Tour

This report is from Reuters:

Tour de France organisers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) are withdrawing their races from the International Cycling Union calendar in 2017 because of a disagreement over the reform of the calendar and the selection of teams, they said on Friday.

The ASO said the reform of the UCI's World Tour means that the 2017 season would be a closed circuit whereas it wants a system based on 'sporting criteria', meaning no team can be guaranteed a spot on the Tour de France and other top events.

Chirstian Prudhomme

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

The reform of the calendar, approved by the UCI, said teams would be handed three-year World Tour licences -- rather than the one-year licences until 2016.

"Amaury Sport Organisation has informed this day Union Cycliste Internationale it has opted for the registration of its events on the Hors Classe calendar for season 2017," ASO said in a statement.

"The UCI has actually recently adopted, from season 2017, a Reform of the World Tour calendar characterised by a closed sport system.

"More than ever, A.S.O. remains committed to the European model and cannot compromise the values it represents: an open system giving first priority to the sporting criterion."

Organisers cannot select more than 70 per cent of World Tour teams in a 'Hors Class' race, or 15 teams in the usual 22-team lineup for the Tour de France, the most prestigious cycling race in the sport.

It means that World Tour teams will be omitted from the 2017 Tour lineup as the elite usually features 18 teams.

There is no risk of the Tour and the ASO's other major races not taking place but they will do so outside the umbrella of cycling's main calendar, which could lead to a potentially damaging split.

ASO own the Tour de France, La Vuelta, the top-tier classics Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the one-week Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine.

In 2008, then defending Tour champion Alberto Contador could not enter the Tour de France because ASO had not invited his Astana team following the doping scandals they were involved in the previous year.

Last year, 11 of the top-tier teams regrouped in a joint venture called VELON, seeking a bigger slice of the pie from organisers and a guaranteed three-year presence in the World Tour, which the UCI has now granted them.

The ASO and UCI were also at odds between 2005 and 2008 when the Tour de France organisers refused, along with their counterparts at the Tour of Spain and Giro d'Italia, to be part of the UCI Pro-Tour that later became the World Tour.

ASO's withdrawal is a massive blow for UCI president Brian Cookson as the governing body could lose its influence in the top races.

BMC team secures future beyond 2016

Here's the BMC release:

BMC Racing Team is set to continue beyond 2016 backed by title sponsor BMC Switzerland, BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced today.

2016 marks the tenth anniversary of BMC Racing Team, growing from a US continental team in 2006 to one of the most competitive teams today, since receiving ProTour status in 2011.

BMC Switzerland owner Andy Rihs said the decision to renew the team’s sponsorship was logical.

“We continue to make our bicycles, so I think it’s the best way to promote cycling, besides all of the fun and excitement and passion we have with the riders and the organization. We will continue to do what we have done every year. We try to win again at the Tour de France, we try to win the classics, and that makes it exciting for everybody,” Rihs stated.

Ochowicz confirmed that the team’s future beyond the 2016 season has been a clear objective.

Jim ochowicz

BMC team president Jim Ochowicz putting in some miles of his own at the 2015 World Championships

“We have always been thinking long term with our program throughout the years as we continue to develop our organization. We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to the future.”

The announcement was delivered in Denia, Spain where BMC Racing Team’s riders and staff have gathered for the 2016 kick off.

“The last two weeks have been very productive in as many ways as I can mention. Up until this point today we have accomplished all of our objectives with the December camp. We’ll all be leaving here this weekend and if everything continues to go as planned, we’ll be on our way to the holidays and then into our first competition in Australia in January,” said Ochowicz.

BMC Racing Team will have four primary objectives for the 2016 season, in no particular order, according to Ochowicz.

“The goals for 2016 are on four fronts. The first is that we want to be in the top three on the WorldTour team rankings at the end of the season because that reflects consistent performances in all of the WorldTour races. We are a team that focuses on the classics so we would like to win a classic. We would also like to, with one of our two GC riders (van Garderen and Porte), win the Tour de France and our fourth goal is to defend our past two years’ Team Time Trial title at the World Championships.”

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy, no other terms or conditions of the sponsorship were released.

Rohan Dennis to defend Tour Down Under title

This also came from BMC:

BMC Racing Team will kick off the 2016 season at the Santos Tour Down Under with a strong roster lead by 2015 winner Rohan Dennis. Dennis will be joined by fellow Australian and 2015 runner up, Richie Porte, who will make his debut with BMC Racing Team.

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz confirmed that the Santos Tour Down Under will be an important race for the team. “We go in with the defending champion, Rohan Dennis, so we are going to be focused on the race from day one. We have two goals for the race. The first is to defend the title and the other is to see how Richie can come in as he was second last year. It’s also the first WorldTour event for the season so a good performance in Adelaide will give us a good start for 2016.”

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis celebrates his 2015 Tour Down Under victory

BMC Racing Team Sporting Manager and Sports Director for the race, Allan Peiper, said that the team is coming into the race motivated. “The expectation from the public and the cycling world will be high. That puts a bit of pressure on us but we’re coming with a good team to support those two riders (Dennis & Porte). The most critical stages for Richie and Rohan will be the two climbing stages, with Corkscrew Hill and Willunga Hill in there.”

Dennis admitted that he is going into the race with realistic goals. “My goals have changed for the season compared to 2015. I think the best way to go into it is thinking about Rio and later on in the season, and see what happens. We’ve got a really strong team and it will be good to have myself there as well as Richie.”
Starting the season with BMC Racing Team in Australia is something Porte is looking forward to.

“To start with the Tour Down Under is the best possible way to start. Having won the past two years on Willunga Hill, why not go for the trifecta? With Rohan and I there I think we’re going to have a great team, so I’m really looking forward to taking on a challenging race.”

Riders: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Floris Gerts (NED), Richie Porte (AUS), Danillo Wyss (SUI), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sports Director: Allan Peiper (AUS)

Merry Christmas from Team Sky

Team Sky would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and give you one of the very first glimpses of our 2015 Christmas film. ‘Oh Watt A Wonderful Christmas!’ sees Ian Stannard and Ben Swift riding hard on their turbo trainers to power over 5,000 fairy lights which have been wrapped around a whole host of painstakingly-positioned bike parts.

Both riders helped with the mammoth task of getting everything ready to roll, and then they generated the watts needed to bring everything to life!

Their efforts saw this year’s Christmas film reach a rousing finale, with all the lights aligning to unveil a festive surprise.

Team Sky rider Ian Stannard said: “It was definitely a change from our usual winter training! Our digital guys kept everything under wraps beforehand which meant we got the wow factor when we walked into the studio. They’d spent a full week in there with the producers getting everything set up and tested, and then Swifty and I helped add the finishing touches before they told us we were the ones who’d actually be powering it!

“It was a pretty hard effort on the bike to get everything lit up and we’d both worked up a sweat by the end of it. It was worth it to see the finished product though and I hope all our fans enjoy it.”

Team Sky Digital Manager Nick Howes said: “We always like to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and this has been months in the making. The guys at doodledo MOTION came up with that brilliant idea about the optical illusion.

“We asked our performance team to make the calculations about how many watts would be needed to illuminate all of the lights, and then arranged for all the equipment shipped over to Manchester from our Team Sky service course in Belgium.

“On the day it was down to Ian and Ben to power it all on their bikes and they did a fantastic job to deliver the goods.”

doodledo MOTION Creative Director James Torry said: "It's been fantastic for us to work with Team Sky on this year's Christmas film. It's one of the most technical shoots we've ever worked on and it wasn't without its challenges along the way! But everyone is delighted with the end result - a real celebration of what has been a fantastic year for Team Sky."

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