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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, May 7, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Two races today, the second stage of both the "HC" ranked Four Days of Dunkirk (4 Jours de Dunkerque), and the 2.1 Tour de Azerbaidjan.

Van Avermaet Aquitted in Doping Case

Belgian racer Greg van Avermaet has been found by the Disciplinary Commission of the Belgian Cycling Federation to have committed no violation of doping regulations. He had been accused of using cortisone and the children's medicine Vaminolact.

He was given approval to use cortisone in 2012 to help treat a heel injury and was given a prescription for the Vaminolact, but he proved he never picked up the drug.

Prosecution had asked for a two-year suspension and a 265,000 Euro fine. Van Avermaet was also at risk of having his results since 2012 erased.

Van Avermaet had always said he was innocent and had been allowed to race while the hearing and decision was pending.

The BMC rider was quite emotional after the acquittal announcement, "I've always said that I was not to blame, that I was innocent...I am glad also the Disciplinary Commission has made its decision and I can close this bad period." Further, he said, "This is the victory of my spring. I can cycle again starting today without these worries. I want to...show that I am a strong, honest and correct rider."

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet racing in the 2015 Tour of Flanders

Here is the statement from his team, BMC:

The BMC Racing Team and Greg Van Avermaet announced Thursday that they are pleased with the decision of the Belgian Cycling Federation, Koninklijke Belgische Wielrijdersbond, to absolve Van Avermaet of any wrongdoing in connection with its investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens.

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the acquittal confirmed the team's decision to allow Van Avermaet to compete while an outcome in the case was reached. "We never doubted Greg's innocence," Ochowicz said. "We are pleased with the decision."

Van Avermaet said he was relieved to hear the decision. "I am happy this nightmare is over," he said. "This has been a hard period for me. Finally, I can focus only on cycling. I want to thank my friends, family and the BMC Racing Team, who supported me."

CST Now Makes Racing Tires

Back when I owned my bike shop (1970s and '80s), the Cheng Shin brand of tires had little respect except from BMX kids. They were cheap, decent tires, but nothing a serious cyclist would put on his bike.

Go forward a few decades and everything has changed. Cheng Shin, now sold under the CST and Maxxis brands, is now a maker of highly respected, well-made tires.

Things have changed so dramatically from the days when I had hair that the tire maker currently equips the CSF-Bardiani Pro Continental team with Sonny Colbrelli, Enrico Battaglin and Nicola Ruffoni, among others. And now, they are going to a step further. The firm is going to make 25mm wide tubular tires under the name CST Stradale. The CSF-Bardiani riders are currently testing the tires on the pro circuit.

Everything I knew is wrong. The only constant is change.

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli rides tires made by Cheng Shin now.

Jobst Brandt Dies

Since I wrote of my earlier life as a bike shop owner, the passing of Jobst Brandt cannot go unnoticed. A brilliant man, he gave bicycle wheels a serious, careful analysis that was deeply appreciated by nearly all of us grease-covered wrench monkeys. Back then, bike knowledge was the result of time spent around bikes and people who had spent their lives around them. It was all half-magic and guessing. People like Brandt brought a systematized analysis that helped transform the bike business. As far as I was concerned, once I got my hands on a copy of his book The Bicycle Wheel, Brandt walked with seven-league boots. Decades later, that opinion has not changed.

Brandt worked for Porsche, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator, as well as the bike parts maker Avocet. He took cycling seriously and rode all over the world. But he suffered a terrible crash in dense fog on his 76th birthday. That ended his cycling.

Brandt died May 5, at the age of 80 after a long struggle with various illnesses.

Click here for a lovely remembrance of Brandt by Ray Hosler.

And here's a link to his book, The Bicycle Wheel.

Sky's Tour of California Roster

Here's the Sky team for California:

Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for the Tour of California [10-17 May]:

Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Nathan Earle, Sergio Henao, Pete Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio.

Philip Deignan

Philip Deignan will be at the 2015 Tour of California.

Cult Energy's Tour du Dunkerque report

This from the feisty small team:

Today’s 178 kilometer long first stage of Four days at Dunkerque between Dunkerque and Orchies was dominated by harsh wind conditions and the several cobblestone sections didn’t make the first stage any easier. Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s youngest finished 10th.

A breakaway trio stole the attention at the beginning of the day but already 60 kilometers from the finish town of Orchies, the escapees were swept up and a new trio managed to create a 30 second gap to the field where Europcar took control.

However, the chase was so intense that the peloton shattered and a chase group soon made the junction to the front trio. In the meanwhile, FDJ took over the pace-making in the pack, which was now reduced to a rather small group where Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen was preserving as much energy as possible.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen at the 2015 Three Days of de Panne.

On the final cobblestone section, the front group exploded as the chasers were just about to make contact but three riders made it to the finish line where Bryan Coquard (Europcar) took the stage win and the overall lead. A few seconds later, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen sprinted across the finish line in 10th place.

DS, Michael Skelde was happy about the effort from his 19 year-old rider: “It was very encouraging to see our youngest rider do such an intelligently strong and powerful effort in a very tough race like this. The peloton completely blew apart in the crosswind and on the cobbles but Mads managed to be at the right place at the right time throughout the stage. We’re doing the race one stage at a time so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Maybe a new Cult rider will emerge on the front of the race,” says Skelde.

Mads Pedersen adds: “It was a demanding stage from start to finish. However, when I was in the chase group during the finale I was only concerned about saving as much energy as possible in the crosswind but I felt good on the cobbles but remained seated behind the train of FDJ riders. We had eye contact with the front all the time and in the end, it was only a matter of a few seconds. I’m happy about the result and especially about being in the finale,” concludes Pedersen.

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