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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday we had the Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen won by Nacer Bouhanni.

Next up: Two important races on Sunday, the 18th. In France there is the Chrono des Nations time trial and in Japan, the Japan Cup.

Nibali for the Giro, Aru to make Tour debut

Astana team boss Alexandre Vinokourov gave La Gazzetta dello Sport the inside dope on his team's plans for 2016. Fabio Aru will make his Tour de France debut next year.

Nibali at 2016 Giro presentation

Top riders at the 2016 Giro d'Italia presentation. From left: Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan

Also in 2016, Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the Tour de France in 2014 and fourth in 2015, will return to the Giro d'Italia in 2016 after a two year absence. Nibali won his home race 2013. Nibali may also ride the Tour to aid Fabio Aru as preparation for the Rio Olympic Games.

"They are two great captains and have won a lot. It is their right, that each of them has his own goal," Vinokourov said.

California law truly makes eBikes legal

This was on bike-eu.com:

SACRAMENTO, USA – California Governor Jerry Brown signed a first-of-its-kind bill that legalizes e-bikes in the sunshine state. According to bicycle associations such as the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), PeopleForBikes and the California Bicycle Coalition it, “Creates a model for future statewide efforts to increase e-bike access.”

In almost 30 US states, riding an e-bike is technically illegal. The e-bike law signed by Governor Brown on October 7 is seen as a big step forward to change this situation. The new law, “Allows people to ride e-bikes on bikeways in California and set the stage for increased access in other states,” is noted by BPSA. For the first time in the US e-bikes are now seen by law as a traditional bicycle instead of a moped.

The legislation was introduced by Assembly Member David Chiu and played an instrumental role in the bill’s success. Legislation A.B. 1096 was supported unanimously in both chambers and takes effect on January 1, 2016.

The legislation update in California reflects the progression in technology around electric bicycles. The bill designates three classes of e-bikes and distinguishes lower speed electric bicycles that reach motor-assisted speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, from higher “speed pedelecs” which have motors that provide assistance up to 28 miles per hour. This class system allows the use of lower-speed e-bikes on bicycle paths, and also provides local authorities with the flexibility to regulate different types of e-bikes in road regulation.

In addition to modernizing e-bike law e-bikes are no longer regulated like mopeds and the same rules will apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles. E-bikes are also no longer subject to the registration, licensing, or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.

“The US bicycle industry is very pleased that Governor Brown signed ‘AB 1096’ into law,” said Larri Pizzi, chairman of the BPSA’s Electric Bicycle Committee. “We believe that these new regulations will serve as a model for many other states to follow and provide safe and appropriate access to bicycling infrastructure for the wide variety of low-speed e-bikes that are being marketed today.”

“From the onset of our involvement in drafting the concept for the bill, safety has been our primary concern. With a multi-class structure established, states, municipalities and land management agencies can regulate effectively and clear a path for the proliferation of e-bikes, which we believe will provide access to bicycling for many more Americans.”

LottoNL-Jumbo's Sluitingsprijs report

Tom Van Asbroek concluded the season with a podium finish. The Belgian Team LottoNL-Jumbo cyclist sprinted to second in the Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen on Tuesday, just like last year. He finished right behind Cofidis’ Nacer Bouhanni, who was declared winner after the jury took a look at the photo finish.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Mike Teunissen was part of the break of the day. The first-year pro formed part of a six-man group. Maarten Tjallingii managed to bridge to the group in the final part of the race, but could not prevent the peloton from reeling in the attack with two kilometres two go.

“Maybe it looked like a close call, but I immediately felt that I was second,” Van Asbroeck said. Exactly one week ago, he already finished third in Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke.

Sluitingprijs photo finish

Photo finish at Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kaellen

“Again I was not far away, but I got a bit hampered in the sprint. That might have cost me the victory. All in all, it was a bit of an unlucky season for me. I crashed a lot and wasn’t always fully fit, but in recent weeks, after the Vuelta, things went better and better. Next year, if I manage to stay upright and we continue to work hard with the sprint train, I’m confident that that first victory will come.”

The eight riders of the team were aggressive and motivated for the final race of the season from what Sports Director Nico Verhoeven saw. “We wanted to start aggressively and get in the early break. You know that at this stage of the season a good group can sometimes easily make it until the line. Mike and Maarten managed to get in the break, but a few riders kept the pace low and so you felt the race was heading towards a bunch sprint. In the kick, the team did everything they could for Tom. We missed out on the win, but we concluded the season positively.”

BMC's Japan Cup Roster

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team has revealed its roster for the Japan Cup, its final competition of the 2015 season.

Two days of racing open with a criterium on Saturday, followed by a road race on Sunday. The BMC Racing Team's five-rider roster includes past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär and past Slovakian national time trial champion Peter Velits, who led the Vuelta a España for one day.

The BMC Racing Team has racked up a team-record 33 victories this year while reaching the 30-win mark for the third consecutive season.

Peter Stetina

Peter Stetina will be racing the Japan Cup

Riders: Floris Gerts (NED), Michael Schär (SUI), Manuel Senni (ITA), Peter Stetina (USA), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sport Director: Jackson Stewart (USA)

Orica-GreenEdge's season wrap-up:

ORICA-GreenEDGE closed the door on the 2015 season, its fourth as Australia’s first ever professional cycling team, in the best possible fashion on Sunday, taking out the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour with Esteban Chaves. The win, which was the 25-year-old Colombian’s first multi-stage Tour title, marked the 28th professional victory for the Australian outfit on a 2015 race calendar that featured 228 race days for 52 races.

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves

Amongst the victories were five Grand Tour stages, 11 WorldTour victories and four wins on Australian soil. Eight separate riders contributed to the team’s individual successes, with a further six involved in the team time trial victory at the Giro d’Italia.

And in one of the most promising signs for ORICA-GreenEDGE, 22 of the 28 victories came from riders aged 25 years or younger.

“To be able to sit back after another successful season and note that so many of our victories came from our younger bunch of riders is extremely satisfying,” general manager Shayne Bannan said. “Not only does it say something about our recruitment and direction, but also about how we are developing these young athletes on the world’s biggest stage. We have Caleb Ewan, at just 21-year’s old, who has recorded an incredible 11 professional victories, including a Grand Tour stage on debut. And people also forget that Michael Matthews, who has been a winner for us for a number of years now, has only just turned 25.”

2015 also saw ORICA-GreenEDGE branch out to general classification objectives. After positive results, for the first time in the team’s history it will start the 2016 season as a serious contender for overall victories – in stage races and at Grand Tour level.

“This season has been a changing of the guard in a number of ways,” Bannan continued. “As the statistics suggest, our young riders are getting results on the board but we have also extended our focus to consider general classification opportunities with our young climbers too. Just as important as the recorded victories were results such as fifth place overall to Esteban Chaves at the Vuelta a Espana, Simon Yates winning the best young rider at the Criterium du Dauphine and he and twin brother Adam Yates showing they can climb with the best at the Tour de France.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates

“These young climbers are developing probably faster than even we imagined, but it is a great sign for the team going forward and it really adds another string to our bow. We are excited that our fans now have riders to cheer for well into the third week of racing at Grand Tours.”

The team will now take a well-earned short break before preparing for an even bigger 2016, beginning with a jammed packed summer of cycling in Australia. Groups will reunite in Australia and Europe in November for the first training camps.

Some (of the many) highlights of ORICA-GreenEDGE’s 2015 season:

Arrival on the General Classification Stage. Victory of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour and performances such as fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana and the white best young rider’s jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine, a key Tour de France lead-up event, announce the arrival of ORICA-GreenEDGE and its young band of climbers on the international general classification stage.

With talents such as Esteban Chaves (25) and Adam and Simon Yates (23), the team’s direction and focus for the future extends beyond the previous stage result targets to full week-long Tours and three-week Grand Tours.

11 Professional Neo-Pro Victories. Spending much of the season as a 20-year-old, Caleb Ewan’s neo-pro year will be one not easily forgotten. The pint-sized sprinter recorded 11 professional victories at the Herald Sun Tour, Tour de Langkawi, Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja, Tour de Korea and Vuelta a Espana. Ewan’s stage five victory at the Vuelta a Espana, his most significant win to date, came on Grand Tour debut and ahead of the likes of John Degenkolb and since-crowned world champion Peter Sagan.

Italian Delight. After success in 2014, ORICA-GreenEDGE again hit the first Grand Tour of the season – the Giro d’Italia – with high ambitions. For the second consecutive season the Australian outfit claimed first honours in the pink Maglia Rosa courtesy of a team time trial victory. They would go on to hold it for four days on the shoulders of three Australian riders – Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews and Simon Clarke – whilst also claiming a second stage win during Matthews’ reign as race leader.

Spanish Spectacular. When ORICA-GreenEDGE went into the final Grand Tour of the season with an ambitious top ten overall aim, 38th (Pieter Weening, 2013 Giro d’Italia) was their previous best effort. In another dream opening week for the team, they wrapped up three stage wins (Chaves – stage 2 & 6, Ewan – stage 5) and spent six days in the red leader’s jersey. This time, the focus continued for the entire three-week Tour, eventually leading Chaves and ORICA-GreenEDGE to a breakthrough top five overall.

The Rise of the British Twins. British twins Adam and Simon Yates began to make their mark in 2014, but have well and truly arrived this season. Adam took his first WorldTour win at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian whilst Simon had a standout performance to win the white best young rider’s jersey at Tour de France lead-in race – Criterium du Dauphine. The pair also continued to build their strength and battle with some of the world’s best climbers across multiple mountain stages at the Tour de France.

Classic Case. It wasn’t quite a victory, but a strong Classics campaign gave ORICA-GreenEDGE some top results early in the season. The outfit finished with three podiums – third places to Michael Matthews at Milan-SanRemo and Amstel Gold Race and Michael Albasini at La Fleche Wallonne – and their best ever result at a cobbled Classic – sixth at Paris-Roubaix to Jens Keukeleire.

Silver Lining. Michael Matthews capped off 2015 claiming the silver medal at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Richmond. The 25-year-old won the bunch sprint for second behind world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) who proved too good for the rest, escaping in the final kilometres.

Team Force. What started as a hopeful and promising Tour de France quickly turned to a disaster, as ORICA-GreenEDGE was the worst hit by a mass high-speed crash on stage three. Injuries resulted in three experienced, high-quality withdrawals and left a depleted, damaged and relatively young group of riders. Riding through pain and disappointment but with the admiration of those around them, the six remaining carried on to show the true ORICA-GreenEDGE family spirit by forming together and bravely fighting for results in the remainder of the year’s biggest race.

Team-Rider signings

Here's the news from Lotto-Soudal:

Also next season Greg Henderson and Jelle Vanendert will ride in the colours of Lotto Soudal. Both riders signed a new agreement for one year. For the 39-year-old New-Zealander, it will be his fifth year in the team. Jelle Vanendert (30) is part of this team since 2009.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “With Greg Henderson and Jelle Vanendert, we choose for WorldTour experience and their specific qualities in the team. Since 2012 Greg is the regulator and last man of André Greipel’s sprint train; together they were already successful. Despite his age, Henderson is someone you can count on. Furthermore, he helps the younger riders by giving them advice and loves playing his lead-out role for Jens Debusschere and other sprinters. He reads the race, redirects when necessary and is a team player. Recently, at the World Championships team time trial, Henderson was one of the key riders.”

“Jelle Vanendert had a rather unlucky season. He had a lot of bad luck in the period Amstel/Flèche Wallonne/Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so he couldn’t repeat his performances of 2011, 2012 and 2014. Jelle is somebody who can focus on a specific race or period and then can get the maximum out of his capacities. If the shape is just not enough, or the luck isn’t there, it’s a disadvantage, because these periods of top shape pass by quickly. Nevertheless, we see him as a valuable member of the team. Which role that shall be, will depend on his shape. In the past, he showed that he could also ride for someone else, like he did for Phillipe Gilbert.”

Jelle Vanendert

Jelle Vanendert at this year's Vuelta

Greg Henderson: “For me, it isn’t a surprise that I am still in the peloton on my fortieth birthday, even if I will be an exception in the team. The main factor is motivation, I’m still very motivated to be ready when I need to be in top shape. Due to my crash in the third stage during the recent Tour de France, I couldn’t play the role I wanted. After Hamburg, I went on an altitude training camp in Colorado together with my family to prepare myself for the World Championships team time trial. We really focussed on it, with a seventh place as result. I will try to be in the best possible shape when I’m in competition to share my experience with the other riders. 2015 was a nice season, but I hope that we can do the same next year.”

Greg Henderson

Greg Henderson at the 2013 Tour Down Under

Jelle Vanendert: “Of course I’m happy to stay with Lotto Soudal. I feel comfortable in this team, otherwise I wouldn’t stay. It’s true that the contract extension lasted a bit longer than usual, but nowadays teams wait longer and longer before extending the current contracts. It’s a trend from the past years because some teams stopped and there was an oversupply of riders. Then it becomes a problem when you don’t perform as well as expected. I think I already proved what I’m capable of in the past seven years with this team; on the other hand, some years were defined with bad luck. And 2015 was such a year. But I’m not ready yet with cycling and will be motivated to be at my best again in 2016.”

LottoNL-Jumbo signs American Alexey Vermeulen

Alexey Vermeulen signed a two-year deal with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. The team is happy to give the 20-year old youngster from the United States the opportunity to develop himself as a GC rider. He fits perfectly into the philosophy of Team LottoNL-Jumbo, which is based on helping young talents to the top of pro cycling.

“We want to help Alexey to become a good stage race cyclist,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “He is a young rider, who has developed steadily in recent years. Because of a broken wrist he missed the World Championships, but otherwise he definitely would have been racing the U23 road race in Richmond. We want to guide him towards the top.”

Alexey Vermeulen

Young hope Alexey Vermeulen

Trainer Mathieu Heijboer explained, “We’re going to help Alexey develop his climbing and TT skills. He has had proper training at BMC, now he gets to discover his specialities. Is he best suited for tours with steep climbs or is he better on the longer climbs? It will be an exciting to discover, but it is evident that Alexey is a real GC rider. We’ll also see if he can come and live in Girona, so he can train with riders like Robert Gesink and Steven Kruijswijk, from whom he can learn a lot.”

Vermeulen is looking forward to his adventure. “This is unbelievable. From the moment I first got on a bike, I dreamed of becoming a pro cyclist. This move is special for my father, his father was Dutch and my grandfather, who inspired me to start cycling. It makes me excited to learn the language. I like that I get to work with somebody like Robert Gesink. He’s very experienced and recorded big successes. He can help me to become a better rider. Each step is important at this level.”

Cult Energy re-signs Alex Kirsch:

Cult Energy-Stölting Group has signed a one year contract with 23 year-old Alex Kirsch who rides for the Cult Energy Pro Cycling team this season. Kirsch started his career at the Leopard Trek Continental Team and after proving his worth as stagiaire with the World Tour team, Trek Factory, he signed with Cult Energy Pro Cycling. Alex has been a loyal teammate and constantly been flashing the jersey in the early breaks throughout the season.

Alex Kirsch

Alex Kirsch

DS, André Steensen comments on the signing: "Alex impressed me a lot in the spring campaign. He took on this season with great motivation and from the start, he demonstrated a high standard, which he brought on to the cobblestone races in the spring. He is still a young rider but I think that if he takes another step up next year, he will be crucial in the spring races for us because he understands how to position himself and he is usually on the spot at the right time while he possesses the punch needed to climb the Flemish hilltops. As a person, Alex is a very relaxed and a social type who takes on challenges unimpressed and I think this is also one of his strengths during the the big races on the calendar.”

Alex Kirsch says: "Before this season I didn't know which type of rider I could be at the professional level, but I really enjoyed the spring campaign where I was in good shape and I was able to participate in a few promising breakaways. Also being in the line-up supporting Linus to win the Tour of Luxembourg was a great experience. I learned so much this year, so I'm already very focused on the spring races which I think suit me best."

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