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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Next race will be Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke. This 1.1-ranked Belgian race will be run on Tuesday, the 6th.

2016 Giro d'Italia officially unveiled

This was a rather late posting yesterday, so I've left it up for today.

Yesterday RCS sport unveiled the route of the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Many details had been accidentally leaked a few days ago, which turned out to be correct. The race will have three individual time trials but not have a team time trial.

The 2016 edition will begin May 6 in the Netherlands, and conclude May 26 in Torino (Turin) after racing 3,383 kilometers.

Results for every edition of the Giro d'Italia

Ivan Basso ends competitive bicycle racing career

Here's the release from Tinkoff-Saxo:

The famous Italian rider announced today, during the Giro d'Italia 2016 presentation, the end of his illustrious racing career.  Tinkoff-Saxo will use Basso's expertise and skills in a new role within the team that will combine managerial and technical aspects and whose details will be defined in the coming weeks.

One of cycling's most prolific careers came to a close today as Ivan Basso took to the stage of the Giro 2016 presentation at the Milan EXPO, to officially announce his retirement from competitive racing.

"Every athlete knows that his light will not shine bright throughout his career. Inevitably, at some stage it will start dimming and it's the sign of a wise athlete to know when the moment has come to turn it off", stated Basso.

Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso

Basso is considered a cycling legend and one of the best climbers of his generation, with a professional career that spans nearly two decades. The double Giro winner joined Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015 and was one of the key contributors to Alberto Contador's victory at the Giro.

While being a member of the squad that supported Contador in his historic Giro-Tour attempt, Basso was diagnosed with testicular cancer, following a crash suffered on the fifth stage of the Tour de France. He was successfully operated on July 15th, he was back on his bike on August 17 and was declared cancer free on September 24.

Although his diagnosis and subsequent recovery weighed in his decision to retire from competitive racing, Basso admitted that even prior to his crash at the Tour he felt he wasn't performing at the level he would like and would be expected from him.

"When I joined Tinkoff-Saxo, one of the world's best teams, my goal was to add value to the top squad they already had, otherwise it wouldn't have made any sense. Even if my role is to be a super domestique, I have to perform at the highest level and when we take part in the most important race of the year, I have to be an asset to the team not a liability", commented Basso.

"I have no reason to betray my fans and all the people that believed in me all these years. I could have continued racing but I wouldn't be competitive. I could take part in a race but then struggle to finish. There is no point in letting my fans down and when adrenaline is replaced by fear then it's time to change".

Basso's retirement from competitive racing doesn't end his involvement with Tinkoff-Saxo. His deep knowledge, wealth of experience and skills built during nearly two decades at the top of the sport of cycling will be put in use after the end of this season. Basso will hold a newly-created position in the team that will combine managerial and technical aspects and will work in close collaboration with Managing Director, Stefano Feltrin, and Head Sport Director, Steven de Jongh.

"I don't regret putting an end to my racing career. Cycling is a passion that runs in my family and I feel extremely lucky I have a team that believes in me and gives me this opportunity to start this new endeavor without practically stopping", commented Basso.

"I look forward to working closely with the team management, its sport directors and all the riders. I'd like to also thank the owner of the team, Oleg Tinkov, who makes all this possible driven by his profound passion for the sport of cycling".

The details of Basso's new position within the team will be finalized in the coming weeks.

New USA Cycling President is interviewed in New York Times

Here are the opening paragraphs:

RICHMOND, Va. — Imagine Derek Bouchard-Hall walking into U.S.A. Cycling in June, on his first day in charge, all pumped up to salvage an organization that had been muddied by Lance Armstrong and one of the biggest, ugliest doping scandals in sports history.

As the new president and chief executive, he swings open the front doors of the headquarters in Colorado Springs and takes an initial stroll. The décor makes him cringe.

Some of the photos on the wall are of past champions, including Levi Leipheimer, an Armstrong teammate who admitted doping, and Bobby Julich, another Armstrong teammate who admitted doping. There’s even at least one photo of Armstrong, who in 2012 was barred from Olympic sports for life, for doping.

Bouchard-Hall knew those photos had to go.

Lance Armstrong

Time to take down Lance's photo? If not now, when?

“Those are symbols of an appalling past and appalling behavior, and even though I can understand it and sympathize with it, those pictures don’t inspire me,” he said. “In fact, it’s the opposite.”

So, weeks later, down those pictures came. And into the hall closet they went. (You know a sport has a doping problem when that closet was already called the Hall of Shame, home to a photo collection of past dopers.)

Bouchard-Hall, 45, said some of his friends and colleagues warned him that removing the photos from the walls might look as if he were trying to bury cycling’s dirty past. But from my perspective, there’s no chance of that, as Bouchard-Hall appears to be the exact opposite of his predecessor, Steve Johnson, who finally retired from U.S.A. Cycling after nearly a decade as the leader of the sport in the United States.

Johnson didn’t like to talk about doping. Blinders on, he pushed forward past the scandals year after year, never speaking out — as a good leader should have — against the drug use that was corroding his sport, damaging his organization and embarrassing clean athletes who were often lumped in with the dopers.

For a sport trying to win back the public, it should be a relief that Johnson is gone. Good riddance: His final official duty for U.S.A. Cycling was working at last month’s World Road Cycling Championships here.

It was there I met Bouchard-Hall. Tall and wispy and dressed in a spiffy suit, he looked so businesslike that he could have just walked off Wall Street and into the hotel lobby where we spoke for nearly two hours.

Here's the entire story.

BMC for Abu Dhabi

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team has announced its roster for the inaugural edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour, its final stage race of the 2015 season.

The four-day race in the United Arab Emirates begins Thursday. The BMC Racing Team will be recognized for its victory in the world team time trial at the first UCI Cycling Gala on Sunday.

Marcus Burghardt

Marcus Burghardt will be at Abu Dhabi

Riders: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sport Director: Fabio Baldato

Upcoming races for Giant-Alpecin

ABU DHABI TOUR (2.1)

The first edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour stage race gets underway Thursday. The race organization represents a unique cooperation between RCS, the organizer of the Giro d’Italia, and Velon, the joint venture of 11 UCI WorldTour cycling teams. The race features four stages, of which three are pan flat and one is a medium mountain stage with the finish at 1,000m. The race concludes on Sunday with a circuit race on the Yas Marina F1 circuit.

Coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: “There are three mainly flat stages in Abu Dhabi and we will focus on the sprints there. For the GC we need to wait and see how Tom has recovered from a busy schedule. Our main focus will be to win a stage.”

RACE: Abu Dhabi Tour (2.1)

DATE: 08-11/10/2015

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP: Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Cheng Ji (CHN), Marcel Kittel (GER), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Albert Timmer (NED) 

Luka Mexgec

Luka Mezgec at the 2014 Tour of Poland

PARIS TOURS (1.HC)

The 109th edition of the French one-day race Paris-Tours will take place Sunday on a 231km course from Chartres to Tours. On paper the race seems ideal for the sprinters, but the past has shown that the opportunists may also have a chance on the mainly flat parcours with space for crosswinds to play a role and the short, explosive hills in the finale.

Coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA) explained: “We have a team that will be active at the front on Sunday. Paris-Tours is traditionally a tactical race, where you have to time your effort well.

“We will race aggressively with the strong team we have there. In a possible sprint we have strong guys and various options. We will prepare several potential scenarios for this unpredictable finale.”

RACE: Paris-Tours (1.HC)

DATE: 11/10/2015

COACH: Christian Guiberteau (FRA) 

LINE-UP: Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Max Walscheid (GER)

Tinkoff-Saxo for Binche-Chimay-Binche

Tinkoff-Saxo is set for the Belgian autumn race of Binche-Chimay-Binche starting Tuesday. Matti Breschel leads the team, while DS Lars Michaelsen underlines that all riders will be free to make a charge if the opportunity arises.

Tinkoff-Saxo starts the race with seven riders; Matti Breschel, Maciej Bodnar, Michael Kolar, Nikolay Trusov, Pavel Brutt and stagiaires Michael Gogl and Antwan Tolhoek.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel having a good day at this year's Tour of Denmark

According to Lars Michaelsen, team sports director, Tinkoff-Saxo will keep Matti Breschel protected for the finale, while the squad’s approach allows for attempts from the distance.

“Matti is the captain, but all of our riders are free to take the chance, if an opportunity arises or to prepare the grounds for Matti in the finale. In these late season races, motivation is essential and if one of our guys have great legs on the day, it’s possible to shape the race. We will save Matti for the finale, while the likes of Brutt can play their part earlier on. It’s difficult to predict anything this late in the season but Binche-Chimay-Binche is a good race to win and it’s considered an accomplishment to take the victory here”, comments Lars Michaelsen.

The Belgium race was first raced in 1911 and was reintroduced in the eighties after a longer hiatus. A total of 194.5km has to be covered in traditionally hilly Walloon terrain, while four laps of 16km will conclude the race.

“We have four laps in the finale on a challenging parcours. We’ve just been on a reconnaissance of the lap and there’re two cobblestone sections on the final kilometer - first a 400m uphill section followed by a downhill stretch towards the final 200 meters, also on cobbles and uphill. The roads are fairly narrow and it will be a matter of staying cool and put in the decisive move at the right time or waiting for the final burst for the line”, says Michaelsen and adds:

“The race is normally decided with a sprint among a select group of riders. But there will be a lot of movement and it’s all about playing one’s cards in the right fashion to ensure that you’re there in the end. The leading group is usually stretched out after the cobble sections and many riders are exhausted. It’s up to the team to make sure that Matti is in a good position on the approach to the final kilometer”.

Rider signing news from LottoNL-Jumbo

Here's the scoop on Dylan Groenewegen:

Dylan Groenewegen will join Team LottoNL-Jumbo next 2016 season. The quick Dutchman signed a three-year contract to give the Dutch WorldTour team’s bunch sprint a boost.

“To sign this contract, at the end of the season, is great for me,” said the 22-year-old sprinter, who comes from Team Roompot Oranje Peloton.

“We were talking about this move for a while. When I grabbed my second victory everything went a little faster.”  As a neo-professional, Groenewegen won the Arnhem-Veenendaal Classic and the Brussels Cycling Classic this year.   

Dylan Goenewegen

Dylan Groenewegan winning 2015 Brussels Cycling Classic

“It was a bit tough to get used to the high level of racing in the beginning, but I improved a lot after the Dutch national championships. I’ve been waiting for my first victory, and the successes came eventually.”

“I want to develop in bunch sprints now,” Groenewegen continued. “I want to become a stronger and faster rider. I’ll join a team with men who can teach me a lot. It will be very instructive to have Dennis van Winden around me, for example. He has a lot of experience and he can use that to support me. For now, I’m aiming for the spring classics. Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne suits me, so I want to show myself immediately in that race.”

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven endorsed Groenewegen to be a good classic rider. “I’ve known him for a few years now and he is a solid rider in the spring classics. His arrival fits our innovative and creative policy to bind young riders to our team. He won the Tour of Flanders for riders under 23. He is an all-rounder. He also proved to be able to win bunch sprints in the last months. He will need some time to adjust to the WorldTour level, but he will be will be able to win bunch kicks at that level, as well.”

Maarten Tjallingii extends with the team:

Maarten Tjallingii extended his contract with Team LottoNL-Jumbo for half a year. The strong Dutchman will quit cycling after the Dutch national championships and focus on a coaching career. He is looking into some educations to reach that post cycling goal.

“I’m glad that I can finish my cycling career with Team LottoNL-Jumbo,” Tjallingii said. “I’ll become a coach afterwards. To help people reaching their goals is a beautiful job. I’m creating a method for it, with a system that worked out for me in my sports career. I think that I can bring that to the business life and to the world of sports. Everyone can use a coach.”

Maarten Tjallingii

Maarten Tjallingii

But first, Tjallingii wants to finish his career in style. “I think that it’s important that I show how good I am yet another time. I’m looking forward to my last races with a lot of enthusiasm. I’m aiming for good results in the spring classics and the Giro d’Italia.”

“Maarten came to us with the proposal of extending his contract for half a year,” sports director Nico Verhoeven added. “We had to think about that for a while, but everything was said and done quite quickly. If this is his wish and he still can be useful for us in the most important races in the first half of the year, it’s a good scenario for us, as well. Plus, he will get enough space to start studies he’s looking forward to.”

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