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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, March 20, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We're covering one race today, the Belgian Handzame Classic.

Secretary of State Kerry Needs Bike Repair

While in Switzerland for nuclear talks with Iran, John Kerry took his lightweight out for a ride. He likes to exercise, particularly when he is involved with tense, difficult negotiations.

But, when he tried to go for a ride around Lake Geneva, he couldn't get it to shift properly, said Lionel Schumann of the Sam's Bike Shop in the town of La Tour-le-Peilz. "The Swiss police came in and told me they needed an urgent repair on a gear-change mechanism," Schumann told AFP on Wednesday.

"Swiss and US security people came in and inspected the shop, the entrances, the exits. Then Mr. Kerry arrived. Happily for me he speaks very good French and was able to explain the problem," he said.

John Kerry

John Kerry rides along Lake Geneva, accompanied by guards on bikes, motorcycles and follow cars. Brian Snyder/AFP photo

The bike, he said, was a good model even though it was around 10 years old, Schumann told Le Matin newspaper which first reported the story.

Kerry's bike problem, though, was quickly fixed and although Schumann refused to take any money, the fit 71-year-old American insisted. "They gave us $20," Schumann said.

SRAM President Discusses Currency,
Pro Team Sponsorship, Electronic Shifting

SRAM president Stan Day gave an enlightening interview with Bicycle Retailer magazine trade journal. You can read the entire article here.

Since SRAM manufactures a lot of product at its Taichung, Taiwan, factory, the Euro's 25% devaluation against the Dollar is a big deal. When asked how the firm planned to deal with the problem, he said, “I think at the moment we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.”

But, wrote Bicycle Retailer writer Marc Sani: there will be price increases — primarily in Europe — and bicycle suppliers will down-spec some lines to maintain price points. “You can’t increase prices on entry-level bikes 20 or 30 percent,” Day said. However, there could be more flexibility in pricing for higher-end models, he added, since those customers are more willing to pay for high-value products.

Suppliers could also trim forecasts if they expect demand to slacken at retail if price increases become an issue. “Nobody has come to us to cut production plans at this point in time, but it’s something I think they are evaluating,” he said.

As far as top professional team sponsorship, SRAM will equip just one team, AG2R, rather than several like last year. The sponsorship will cost the firm $500,000.

SRAM is road testing its own wireless electronic shifting that uses Bluetooth technology to shift, Day noting that riders have more that 180,000 miles on the system. Bikes may start getting the new system in late 2016.

Milano-San Remo Is This Sunday

The season's first really big race race is close at hand. Milano-San Remo, one of cycling's monuments, will be held Sunday, the 22nd. BikeRaceInfo has complete results for every edition of this important race, starting with its first running in 1907. Plus, jillions of photos. Just click here to get to the index page with links to each edition. Of course, the teams are sending out press releases about their participation.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this:

Milano-San Remo, the first of the big five cycling monuments, is the next great challenge that awaits Tinkoff-Saxo and the professional peloton. For the favorites there’s no denying the Spring Classic that presents the possibility to enter the history books at the end of the 293 km hilly parcours. Tinkoff-Saxo is at the start in Milan with a proven lineup led by former runner-up Peter Sagan.

Sagan’s form is on the ascendency after a week of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico and the team captain does not hide the fact that he has ambitions to do well on the way to San Remo. “I’m heading to Milano-San Remo to deliver a top result just like at any other race. When the team or I start a race, the ultimate goal is to win. But in cycling you never know and you have to be realistic. My competitors have the same goals and sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. But Milano-San Remo is special and I’ll naturally be at the start with big ambitions”, says Peter Sagan before elaborating: “It’s difficult to point out a favorite. In the last three years, we haven't seen the favorites taking the victory and instead it has been outsiders, who crossed the finish line first. It’s a special and unpredictable race due to many factors such as the length of the race and the tactical situations. All I can do is to try my best knowing that I’m backed by a strong and motivated team”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins this year's Tirreno-Adriatico stage 6.

Peter Sagan will be accompanied by Matti Breschel, Daniele Bennati, Roman Kreuziger, Maciej Bodnar, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Manuele Boaro and Matteo Tosatto. When asked about the team ambitions, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Bruno Cenghialta comments, “We could say we are one of the favorite teams, although this doesn't mean at all we will be racing alone. With Peter Sagan as our leader, we clearly are one of the favorite teams. Milano-San Remo is a distinct race to win and there will be many of the big names at the start all hoping to finish first, so it will not be very easy”.

“I believe that we enter the race with a strong and quite versatile squad, which is important if we want to have a saying in the different sections of the race. Overall, It's crucial not to spend too much energy during this very long parcours, but I trust that we have a team in good shape ready for some very hard 293 kilometers”, adds Cenghialta

With its 293 kilometers of undulating and punishing racing, Milano-San Remo demands perseverance combined with a punchy and sustained attack or a fast sprint from the final winner of the race. After leaving Milan and climbing the Passo del Turchino at km 143, the riders continue along the Tyrrhenian cost on the way to San Remo, with the race entering its most crucial section some 27km from the home stretch. Here the riders will tackle the famous Cipressa and Poggio that, according to Cenghialta, serve as a takeoff ramp for any rider not looking to decide the race in a sprint.

“A key point is the Cipressa, where we will have to be in the front and handle the climb attentively – it’s here the first attacks take place. We have to be in control but without the necessity for us to intervene. We then have to be careful on the descent, where at times we see crashes. From there the race becomes quite fast, and then we hit the big finale with the Il Poggio climb, where we’ll also see attacks from any non-sprinters trying to create a selection”, explains Bruno Cenghialta, who adds that Milano-San Remo can be lost in the blink of an eye despite being the longest race of the season.

“Being a big Classic, this race has to be approached with great caution. Despite its length, everything is at stake in a very short period and it's very easy to make mistakes. There is a segment of 7-8km between Il Poggio, the descent and the finish, where the race is nearly always decided. The final stretch is extremely important and it will be crucial to correctly manage every single meter in order to set up Peter Sagan. It’s very easy to enter into tactical deadlocks in the final kilometers, especially if the group gets fragmented, so we will have to be very attentive with a strong team controlling the race”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta, who’ll be leading Milano-San Remo from the team car together with team manager Bjarne Riis.

Simon Gerrans Return to Racing Delayed

This from Orica-GreenEdge:

The return of 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Simon Gerrans has been penciled in for the Vuelta al País Vasco in early April following his elbow injury sustained at the Strade Bianche. Gerrans had ambitious aims to maintain his existing racing program, including next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, but following a specialist consultation today will postpone his return to ensure adequate rehabilitation.

“I had my elbow fracture checked by a specialist today and unfortunately my recovery isn’t to a point where I’m able to ride on the road, so I will need to skip the Volta Catalunya,” Gerrans said. “For the moment I will continue to do a lot of work on the home trainer and will hopefully get back out on the road in the near future. At this stage, my next race is set to be Tour of the Basque Country in a couple of weeks time.”

Simon Gerrans

Simon Gerrans at the 2014 World Road Championships

With the Classics season set to begin this weekend with Milano-Sanremo and the Ardennes amongst identified targets for the 34-year-old this season, Gerrans said he would return to racing before making any further changes to his program. “It’s still too early to rule out the second part of the Classics,” Gerrans said. “We’ll make a decision on my schedule once I am back racing.”

The Strade Bianche was Gerrans’ first race of 2015 following an off-season crash that required surgery. An insipid incident in the bunch saw the 34-year-old fall over the front of his bike and land awkwardly on his arm, causing the elbow fracture.

Sport director Matt White said the two-time Australian champion’s recovery was of highest importance, but that racing condition will also be a vital consideration in re-evaluating his calendar going forward. “The most important thing right now is Simon’s recovery and once he’s able to race, we’ll see how we can best manage his program going onwards,” White said. “The fact that he might already be on the road in a couple of weeks is still very good progress, but it’s not the time of year where you can jump into the biggest races and expect to be in with a winning chance.

“His condition is definitely good, but he needs races to really be competitive at his highest level, so we’ll evaluate and potentially redefine his next goals once he’s back on the road. He’s the type of rider who can target and win most races, so it’s more a question of what to aim at, once he’s back.”

Orica-GreenEdge’s lineup for the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, including Gerrans’ replacement, will be announced in the coming days.

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