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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, October 22, 2015

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

Philippe Gilbert back to Lotto?

In today's issue of the Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad there is speculation that Philippe Gilbert, the best rider of Wallonia (French-speaking southern Belgium), might return to manager Marc Sergeant's team Lotto-Soudal.

"Nothing is impossible. Philippe has always said that he wants to close his career with the team where he has achieved the most success," said Sergeant. That success came in 2011 when among other victories, Gilbert won Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, San Sebastian, Belgian Road and Time Trial Championships and the Tour of Belgium.

"In Richmond [Virginia, site of the 2015 World Championships] I talked to Philippe," Sergeant said, " 'Of all the people with whom I have worked, you understood me best.' One big problem: BMC pays Gilbert a salary of about three million Euros. That is likely to be a significant stumbling block. I'll have to convince him that he no longer races for money."

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert doing what he does best, winning a race. Here he wins stage 3 of this year's Tour de Wallonie.

Oscar Gatto joins Tinkoff-Saxo

Here's the news release from the team:

The experienced Italian rider [Oscar Gatto] will join the ranks of Tinkoff Team next season. His profile, abilities and his fondness of the cobbled races will make him a candidate for the squads that will support World Champion, Peter Sagan, in the Classics.

Gatto's signing also finalizes the roster for the next season and the complete Tinkoff Team squad will now gather in Poreč, Croatia next week where the first, all-important team meeting will take place, laying the foundations for next year.

Gatto commented on signing for Tinkoff Team in 2016: "It is, undoubtedly, a great satisfaction to join the ranks of one of the world's top teams. Just by itself, this fact will motivate me to give my absolute best and when the opportunity was given to me, I couldn't refuse it. This move will also drive me to become a better rider because when you are in one of the best teams with some of the best riders in the world, you can only improve."

"In such a team, you can develop both physically and mentally and I think that aspect was at times missing from me. In my opinion, I missed some opportunities to win in the past because I wasn't confident and I wasn't feeling sure about myself. Now, being a team mate of Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, among others, I am sure there is ample room to improve", added Gatto.

Oscar Gatto

Oscar Gatto

The accomplished Italian rider considers that one of his strengths is his final sprints in a reduced bunch and thinks the races that put the riders through tough pavé sections are the best. Winner of the 2013 Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gatto convincingly states that "there are no races like Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the calendar".

According to Gatto, all victories are sweet, but if he had to choose one that stood out in his career, it would be his stage victory in the 2011 Giro d'Italia, ahead of Alberto Contador. "Crossing the line ahead of Alberto was for me a push that helped me climb one step up as a rider. It wasn't so much for the victory but for the fact that right behind me was Alberto, one of the world's best riders. He will now be my team leader, so life can have funny twists at times", concluded Gatto.

Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, stated: "I am happy to have Oscar in the Tinkoff Team squad for next season. He will bring a wealth of experience to the team and will be primarily there to support Peter in the Classics. However, I think that in smaller races, Oscar could also take a leading role and try to claim his own wins".

San Francisco may let cyclists yield at stop signs

This by Laura M. Holson in the New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of defiant bicyclists lined up single file here in July to protest, halting car traffic in a one-mile zigzag of streets known as the Wiggle that is popular among riders. Motorists honked and heckled during their stalled evening commute, as cyclists crept along to make their point: that they want the common practice of treating stop signs as yield signs — rolling through them slowly and coming to a stop only if necessary — to be legalized, for practical reasons.

Law enforcement officials had threatened to crack down on cyclists who failed to stop at signs, and the Wiggle “stop-in” protest was in response to their threat. Still, the police made good on their warning, issuing 204 citations over two days in August. Not to be silenced, 100 cyclists showed up at a community meeting to vent, and the crackdown was suspended.

Angry confrontations among bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians are common in many cities, but tensions in San Francisco have been heightened with the introduction of a bill that would permit bike riders to yield instead of stop at stop signs (but not at red lights, which bikers would still have to observe the same way motorists do). The proposed ordinance, backed by a majority on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, is expected to come up for a vote in December. If it passes, Mayor Edwin M. Lee has vowed to veto it, telling The San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience.”

If the supervisors prevail over a veto, San Francisco will become the largest city in the United States to pass a stop-as-yield law. Idaho and a few Colorado counties are the only places in the United States that permit the rolling stop, commonly called the “Idaho stop” because of its legality there since 1982. Paris adopted a similar law this summer.

And if bicyclists in this crowded and hilly city succeed, they are bracing for even more resistance from pedestrians and drivers fighting for space on San Francisco’s increasingly congested streets.

“It feels like the Wild West because there are so many people in the city right now,” said Morgan Fitzgibbons, a community activist who organized the protest at the Wiggle. “People say, ‘You are so entitled.’ But if anyone is entitled, it is the drivers who refuse to give up the privilege of having a parking spot. We have battle after battle, and nothing is ever solved.”

Click here for the entire story

Cult Energy signs Lasse Norman Hansen and re-signs Christian Mager

Here's the note from Cult Energy about Hansen:

Cult Energy-Stölting has signed a two year contract with the Danish talent, Lasse Norman Hansen currently doing the six-day race in London after recently taking silver at the Omnium European Championships. The 23 year-old Olympic champion has spent the last two years with the World Tour team, Cannondale-Garmin gaining loads of experience before deciding signing with Cult Energy-Stölting Group.

DS, André Steensen says: “Lasse is undoubtedly one of the biggest talents in Denmark at the moment. When he was only 20 years old, he won Olympic gold in 2012. In 2013, he claimed both Danish national u23 road race and time trial championship. It was only natural for him stepping up to become a part of the Cannondale-Garmin team in 2014 where he has gained a lot of road race experience. I’m sure Lasse will settle in perfectly and I’m happy that he will continue his promising development with Cult Energy-Stölting Group in 2016,” says DS, André Steensen

Lasse Norman Hansen winning stage 19 of the 2014 Vuelta

Hansen winning stage 19 of the 2014 Vuelta

Lasse Norman Hansen says: “There wasn’t much doubt in my mind. I think going to Cult Energy-Stölting Group is the right choice for me at this point in my career. I get a chance to focus on both road racing as well as pursuing my personal goals on the track and especially the 2016 Olympic Games where I’m looking forward to defending my gold medal from 2012. In addition, I think CULT Energy Pro Cycling has done a great job on the road considering the fact that it’s their first year as a full-time professional team. I like the way they ride as a team and I like the aggressive approach. I’ll surely do what I can to win as many races as possible,” concludes Lasse Norman Hansen.

And here's the team's news about Christian Mager:

Cult Energy-Stölting Group has signed a one-year contract with Christian Mager who has been riding for Cult Energy Pro Cycling in 2015. Mager has been a distinguished and loyal domestique throughout the season and never missed the opportunity to go for the win when given the chance. The 23 year-old German rode for Team Stölting in 2013-14.

“Mager has surprised us several times and very positively this year. He has been demonstrating both physical and mental strength throughout the season and therefore, we’re pleased to have him on board again next year. Christian has shown his potential in the more undulating terrain and he was always ready to get down to business and work hard for his teammates whenever needed. That's the spirit we want on this team and therefore we’re looking forward to working with Christian in 2016. In addition to his loyalty, he also has the potential to reach a level where he can seize his own chance and deliver results on his own,” says Steensen.

Mager states: “I’ve had a good season with Cult Energy where I have learned a lot from the more experienced guys like Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegmann. I believe I’ve become stronger throughout the year and I hope to continue my development in the 2016 season where I’m looking forward to meeting some of my old teammates from Stölting. I’m proud to be a part of this exciting project,” concludes Mager.

Fox to take over Marzocchi MTB business

This from Bike Europe:

SCOTTS VALLEY, USA – Since last July’s announcement by owner Tenneco to stop with Marzocchi speculations on who’s to take-over the renowned suspension brand started. Now it’s clear; Fox Factory Holding Corp. announced yesterday that through certain of its subsidiaries, the listed company, “Has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire certain specified assets of Marzocchi’s mountain bike product lines.”

Fox expects the transaction to close before the end of this year and it is subject to customary closing conditions and is not expected to have a material impact on its anticipated financial results in either fiscal 2015 or 2016.

The Fox statement specifically point to only Marzocchi’s suspension product for Mountainbikes. It leaves out Marzocchi’s business in the design and manufacturing of motorcycle fork suspension parts. The MTB and motorcycle suspension parts will till the end of 2015 be manufactured at the Marzocchi plant in Bologna, Italy.

“We are excited to announce the agreement to acquire certain assets of the Marzocchi mountain bike product lines, which we believe is a significant opportunity for Fox to further expand the penetration of our bike suspension products across more price points,” stated Larry L. Enterline, Fox’s CEO. “The Marzocchi team has a long history of performance suspension experience and we believe that this highly complementary transaction will allow for the increased growth of the Marzocchi brand worldwide. We expect this transaction will bring together and strengthen two highly complementary product lines and allow for Fox to leverage its marketing, engineering, distribution, and supply chain resources to drive increased top-line growth and profitability.”

The take-over of Marzocchi’s MTB business follows on the acquisition by Fox Factory Holding Corp. of Race Face and Easton Cycling businesses last December.

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