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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, November 28, 2015

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

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten." - Bill Gates

Contador undecided about 2016 Vuelta

Alberto Contador does not yet know if he will attempt the Vuelta a España in 2016. His main objectives for the coming year remain the Tour de France and the Olympics.

"I'm fine, I have already started training and I'm really motivated. I'm thinking about next year and especially in the Tour de France. So far, so good, smooth and hoping to build a good base," said the Spaniard. "I do not know if I will race the Vuelta"

Alberto Contador

Contador finished 5th in the 2015 Tour de France

Jelle Wallays has joined Lotto-Soudal

This info came from the team:

Jelle Wallays is one of the three newcomers at Lotto Soudal in 2016. The inhabitant of Staden makes the switch to the WorldTour after being part of Topsport Vlaanderen for the last five years. In those years he has won Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Paris-Tours, Omloop van het Houtland and the World Ports Classic, which proves he is ready for the next step in his career. How did he start riding? How does he look back upon his first years as a pro? What does he expect of next season? You can find all the answers below.

Lacking willpower: “At the age of twelve my parents bought my first road bike. I could not ride any races yet, so I trained just for fun. My uncle, former professional rider Luc Wallays, was my coach and prepared me for my first race. In the beginning my parents did not believe I could pull it off. They were convinced that I would not have enough willpower to become a rider, luckily they have changed their opinion in the meantime. After training for two years I made my debut at the age of fourteen. I could not finish and neither could I in the next races. I persevered and kept on training to become better. I was not able to compete for the prizes until I was a few years older. My first victory was when I was a junior. As a first year junior I won in Desselgem ahead of Jens Debusschere. This was a decisive victory because since then I have been getting better and better.”

Jelle Wallays

Jelle Wallays

Mentor Walter Planckaert: “During my period as a U23 rider I raced for Beveren 2000. In the three years as a U23 rider I was able to win six races per season. The highlight was my victory in the U23 edition of Paris-Tours. In 2010 I became trainee at Topsport Vlaanderen, which was the basis for my first professional contract. My transition to the elite was no problem. Early 2011 I suffered a knee injury which ruined the beginning of the season. A few weeks after my comeback, I experienced the climax of my first professional year. At the Belgian Championship in Hooglede I finished third after Gilbert and Meersman. A great moment also due to the fact that Hooglede is close to my hometown. I will always cherish the years at Topsport Vlaanderen. The main part of the team were riders from East and West Flanders, this strengthened the team spirit. I learned a lot and am most grateful for the chances that I have been given by the team. Thanks to them I was able to become a better rider.”

“Walter Planckaert was the ideal mentor. I am by nature a silent person who listens to what is told. I take every advice into account and apply it to myself. Walter has taught me a lot, both the sporting aspect and the tactical aspect. The best example is Dwars Door Vlaanderen, edition 2014. Over half race I was in the attack with Niki Terpstra. I felt really good and wanted to stay in the front no matter what. So I took the lead with much dedication. In the finale it killed me and my race was over. Terpstra won and I finished 54th. After this race I had the most valuable conversation of my career. Walter and I discussed the race during a long time. It came down to the fact that I am much too eager and that I waste my forces. Other riders take advantage of it and that’s why I run short in the end. Keeping this in mind, I won that same year Paris-Tours and the year after Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The victory of Dwars Door Vlaanderen was the most beautiful in my career. There were many fans and the start and finish are not far from Staden; which all makes it so special.”

Early season, sprint train and Grand Tour: “Next year, apart from the beginning of the season, I mostly look forward to the races where I help the sprinters. At Lotto Soudal I will have a specific role in the sprint train. Last year I was of no importance during the sprint, this will fortunately not be the case next year. My first Grand Tour is also something I am really looking forward to; I am convinced it will make me stronger. After the first meeting with the team I immediately felt welcome; it felt really good and gives me confidence for next season. Most of my teammates at Lotto Soudal were my competitors in my youth years, so I already know them but not as teammates. With what I have seen so far, I am confident that my transfer to Lotto Soudal has been the right decision.”

The Sprint Quiz:

Favourite colour: red

Favourite music: pop

Favourite movie: Rush Hour

Favourite food: all kinds of dessert

Early bird or night owl: night owl

Movie or book: movie

Brunette or blond: blond

Pizza or French fries: French fries

City trip in Barcelona or relaxing at the Caribbean Islands: citytrip

Winning the sprint of a small group or finishing solo: “That’s a tough one…  I choose the victory by sprint, it’s always a bigger kick than finishing solo”

Uphill or downhill: downhill of course

Cold or warm: cold

Time trial or a race of 280 km: the longer, the better

Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix: I prefer Roubaix. It is hard to explain but that race suits me better and I have always loved riding it. Even more than the Tour of Flanders.

Greatest victory: Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2015

With which ex-professional would you like to go for a ride: Eddy Merckx

You can make 1 wish for next season. What would you wish for: Winning Paris-Roubaix

Tom Bohli joins BMC

BMC sent me this release:

Santa Rosa, California - BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced Friday that Tom Bohli will be part of the team for 2016. The 21-year-old Swiss becomes the latest BMC Development Team rider to graduate to the U.S.-registered WorldTour squad. He rode as a stagiaire along with another fellow BMC Development Team rider, Floris Gerts, who has also signed for next season.

"I have been racing three years for the BMC Development Team and have always felt like part of the BMC family," Bohli said. "I feel good in this team and, beyond that, it is no secret that it is one of the most professional and best teams in the pro peloton. That makes it to me a big honor and pleasure to become a part of all of this."

This season, Bohli won the prologue at the Tour de Normandie in March and led the race for two days on the way to a sixth place overall finish. In May, he won Berner Rundfahrt (Tour de Berne) and was runner-up in the Under 23 national time trial in June. He was also runner-up in the Stage 5 individual time trial at Olympia's 3M Tour and led the Tour de l'Avenir for two days. At the UCI world championships in Richmond, he finished 12th in the Under 23 road race.

Ochowicz said Bohli's time trial performances have not gone unnoticed. "We are excited that Tom will be graduating from the BMC Development Team to the BMC Racing Team in 2016," Ochowicz said. "He has shown a high degree of performance in 2015, especially in the time trials events. We look forward to working with him and finding rewarding challenges for him throughout his rookie season."

Bohli said he expects a significant change in his step up to the pro peloton. "It is a higher level and everything is going to be more professional," he said. "I want to take things step-by-step and hope to adapt soon to all of it. I want to do a good job for the team and, maybe if my shape and the circumstances allow, I am very eager to make some good results maybe even some podiums."

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy, specific terms of Bohli's contract were not released.

Federico Zurlo moves to Lampre-Merida

Lampre-Merida sent me this news about the Italian's transfer from United Healthcare:

A strong Italian talent has been chosed by Lampre-Merida to add fresh skills to the roster for the next two years: Federico Zurlo signed a contract with the blue-fuchsia-green team for the 2016 and 2017.

Dynamism, energy, initiative, speed and driving skills are the additional qualities of this strong flat road rider who was born in Cittadella on 25/02/1994 and who turned pro in 2015, after half season as trainee in 2014. 179 cm of height and 69 kg of weight, Zurlo will debut in the World Tour.

"After the exciting approach to the pro world I had in the past two seasons, now I have the opportunity to be member of a World Tour team, sizing my skills in the top level of the cycling: it's something amazing for me, I thank who had supported me in these years and the new team and the new sponsors who chose to give me this opportunity - Zurlo (photo Bettini) said - I'm joining the only one Italian team in the World Tour, for an Italian rider is such a good thing. I'll meet soon in the team training camp the technical staff in order to set a draft of the races calendar, I'd like to participate in the Belgian classics".

Brent Copeland welcomed Zurlo: "We're very happy for having signed Zurlo: he's one of the most talented Italian young gun, we always try to give opportunity to the Italian young riders and we think that Federico's skills will allow him to be competitive in the World Tour level".

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