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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, September 25, 2015

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Racing schedule:

This is World Road Championships week. Yesterday we had the Elite Men's (professional) time trial championship. The pros rode 53 kilometers (32.9 miles).

Friday the 25th will be the Junior Women and Men Under 23 Road Championships. Saturday the 26th the Junior Men and Elite Women will race and the Elite Men's World Championships will be Sunday, the 27th.

MTN-Qhubeka gets Cavendish, new sponsor

Big things are happening at MTN-Qhubeka, the only African Professional Continental cycling team. Nieuwsblad.be reports that sprinter Mark Cavendish will leave Etixx-Quick Step and sign with MTN-Qhubeka for the 2016 season.

And...MTN-Qhubeka won't be called that next year. Dimension Data, a big provider of IT services will become the team's new title sponsor. Dimension Data is the official technology partner of ASO, the owner of the Tour de France, among other races.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish will have a new team and the team will have a new sponsor.

Kris Boeckmans leaves hospital

Lotto-Soudal rider Kris Boeckmans, who suffered a terrible crash in the 8th stage of the Vuelta a España, has finally been able to leave the hospital. He was so badly hurt that for a while he was put into an induced coma. He has recently been in a Belgian hospital getting his various facial injuries repaired. Today on Twitter he posted a picture of himself leaving the hospital.

https://twitter.com/krisboeckmans/status/647015470143533056

Kis Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans

UCI working on other equipment regulations

Bike Europe had this update on the UCI's work:

BERN, Switzerland – Next to weight limitation & aerodynamics and disc brakes for road bikes there’s more going on with regards to UCI approved components. Like with wheels as well as saddles.

To get to UCI approved components five separate committees are focused on specific projects which are all part of the Bicycle Committee of the World Federation Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). These committees are to advise the UCI on approval procedures.

The new wheel approval procedure has been finalized and will be presented to the UCI Equipment Commission in October this year. If the UCI Commission will agree on the new test procedure, a self-certification test will be put in place as of January 2016, saving the industry the enormous costs of shipping and testing in Belgium.

The saddle committee is further discussing the modification of the saddle regulations and will prepare a first proposal for the UCI’s Equipment Commission meeting in October.

At last month’s Eurobike five WFSGI bicycle committee meetings took place that attracted a record number of attendees. More than 100 representatives of the WFSGI bicycle members attended the meetings and underlined the growing importance and success of the WFSGI as representative body of the bicycle industry.

In addition to the bicycle members, Mark Barfield, Technical Manager from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), partly participated in the meetings in order to discuss the latest developments and projects. He stated, “It is the UCI’s intention to further develop the rules in order to allow new and reasonable industry innovations.”

Simon Clarke to join Cannondale-Garmin

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced Simon Clarke will join the Green Argyle squad in 2016.  The 29-year-old Australian burst onto the pro cycling scene when he won a stage and the Overall Mountains Classifications at Vuelta a Espana, his first-ever Grand Tour.

Clarke, known as “Clarkey,” has won stages at all three Grand Tours (including Team Time Trial wins at the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia) and is a previous winner of the Herald Sun Tour (2014). In 2015, he was second overall at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and wore the Maglia Rosa after helping his team win the TTT on Stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia.

Simon Clarke

Simon Clarke having a good day at the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Clarke cited the feel of the team as a top reason he chose Cannondale-Garmin: “There is a really balanced feel about the team with a nice blend of super talented emerging riders complementing those with greater experience, and I’m very excited to have an opportunity to play my role in the development and future successes of Cannondale-Garmin. I like its vision and feel riding for Cannondale-Garmin will give me fresh opportunities not only for myself, but to help the team achieve its goals.”

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling added: “Simon has excellent experience and is a very good road captain. He has the ability to help guide some of our younger riders and is capable of great achievements himself. He will be a fantastic addition to the team.”

Jesus Hernandez re-signs with Tinkoff-Saxo

Tinkoff-Saxo is happy to count Jesús Hernández among its core squad for the sixth consecutive year. The Spanish rider will provide his support to the team in 2016 and will work to help its race leaders with the same dedication that has marked his 11 years as a professional rider.

The long-time, faithful lieutenant of Tinkoff-Saxo's team leader Alberto Contador will again be at the service of the team, with the same dedication he has shown since he joined in 2011. As Hernández stated, he considers this to be his main strength as a rider. "I commit myself 100% to the squad and its leader and place the team goals above any personal ambitions", stated Hernández who in fact considers as highlights of his professional career the Grand Tours he won with Contador.

Jesus Hernandez

Jesus Hernandez

"I'm, obviously, delighted to be one more year with what I consider to be the best professional cycling team in the world, led by the best rider in the world, Alberto Contador. It would be my dream to help Alberto win the Tour de France, especially since it will also be the final year of his career", commented Hernández.

"Since there is such a big pool of excellent talent in this team, I might not be able to race in the Tour next year. Nevertheless, I will show the same commitment and put on the same effort regardless of what race my team needs me in", concluded Hernández.

Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, commented on the extension of Hernández's contract to 2016: "Jesús is a skillful domestique who has a good and long-lasting relation with Alberto and we are happy to have him in the team for one more year. We are sure that he will provide key support to our leaders in all his races next season".

Rafael Valls and Tomasz Marczynski join Lotto-Soudal

Today, Lotto Soudal confirms two new arrivals. Rafael Valls (28) and Tomasz Marczynski (31) joined the team. Spaniard Valls comes from Lampre-Merida and signs an agreement for two seasons. The Pole Marczynski gets a contract for one year and leaves Torku Sekerspor.

Rafael Valls: “Lotto Soudal offers me, with this two-year deal, a nice chance to take a step forward in my career. They give me the opportunity to prove myself in stage races of one week.  It is this type of races that I prefer and so far I’ve also had my best results in such races. Next year as well, I will focus on this type of stage races. My strongest point is my climbing capacity. I am still trying to improve my time trial skills as the races against the clock are often very important in stage races of one week. I really love riding in Vuelta al País Vasco, the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Parijs-Nice. On the very top of my to-do list with favorite races there is the Tour de France, like most cyclists.”

“For the first time in my career I will ride for a Belgian team. I know Belgium a bit thanks to the Arden Classics and also from back in the day when I rode for Vacansoleil. I still know some Lotto Soudal riders (Kris Boeckmans, Thomas De Gendt and Pim Ligthart) from my period with Vacansoleil so it will be nice to ride for the same team again it will be nice to ride for the same team again. The Lotto Soudal team forms a strong unity, which really appeals to me. The riders support each other. When you see that, you want to be part of that team. This mentality will definitely stimulate me to pursue my goals and to focus on the stage races of one week.”

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls in this year's Tour de France

Tomasz Marczynski: “Of course I’m very happy that I can sign a contract with Lotto Soudal. The last two years were not easy; during the season 2013 at Vacansoleil-DCM I underwent two surgeries and didn’t race a lot. The team ceased to exist and I had to take a step back. But I never gave up and always showed the ambition to come back to the WorldTour. And I succeeded after a good season at Torku Sekerspor. I think I have what it takes to play a role at this level. I’m very grateful that Lotto Soudal is giving me that chance and I hope we’ll both enjoy the collaboration in 2016.”

“What my role within the team will be, is still to be determined by the sports staff but the idea is to focus on stage races. But most important is that I can fulfill the expectations of the team and confirm the confidence they have in me. In the past I had the pleasure to work together with some riders and staff members of Lotto Soudal and I do have good memories about that. It try to be open and friendly and would like to meet new people, so I look forward to being a part of my new team!”

Marc Sergeant: “With Rafael Valls and Tomasz Marczynski we have riders who are specialists in that type of races where we didn’t perform in the past, stage races of one week. Both rode with Vacansoleil in 2012 and 2013, so they know a few riders and staff from our current team., Rafael, with his 28 years is someone who is coming into his best years as a cyclist and will get the opportunity to go for an overall classification in this kind of races. In 2015, he was eleventh in the Dauphiné and eighth in Paris-Nice, both times in function of Rui Costa.  He also achieved an eighth place in Catalonia and won the Tour of Oman. So during this year he proved more than capable to take WorldTour-points. Next to our riders like Bart De Clercq, Maxime Monfort, Louis Vervaeke and Thomas De Gendt I am very confident that we will achieve better results and can race even more attractive.”

“In June, Tomasz Marczynski became Polish national champion for the third time. He’s a strong rider, the type that WorldTour teams need to assist the team leaders. Due to bad luck he had to take a step back, but this year he has re-entered the scene. Yes, we reinforce our team with two foreign riders but in Belgium there aren’t that many riders who have the potential to succeed in this type of races, and the riders who do are already on our team. But we want to do even better. And next to the Belgian Lotto we also have Soudal, Ridley Bikes and Vasco Data Security partners who are active abroad. For them, a foreign contribution is an added value.”

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