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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 6, 2016

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Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much. - John Wayne

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Lots of racing today. The big one is the Olympic men's road race. But there are three others, the final stage of the Vuelta a Burgos and the penultimate stges of the Tours of Utah and Portugal. I'll get all the data posted as quickly as I can.

Giant Alpecin announces its Vuelta a España long list

The team sent me this news:

The third Grand Tour of the season is fast approaching and Team Giant-Alpecin will head to this year’s Vuelta a España following successful campaigns at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, winning two stages each. The team returns to Spain after being close to the overall podium with Tom Dumoulin (NED) last year and after having won three stages. For this year Team Giant-Alpecin has once again the objective of stage success during three weeks of racing, which covers more than 3,000 km.

The Vuelta a España will take place from Saturday, August 20th, to Sunday, September 11th. Like last year, the race gets underway with a team time trial of 29.4km, in the province of Ourense. The first mountain stage comes on stage three with a summit finish in Mirador de Ézaro. The rest of the race presents a plethora of different opportunities.

“We head to the Vuelta with the aim of winning a stage and our long-list will offer us the opportunity to compose a team to attain this goal,” said coach Luke Roberts (AUS). “In the Vuelta, there are usually some intermediate stages that are unsuitable for a sprint finish but not difficult enough for the GC riders, and we will target those stages aiming for a good result.

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt will be at the Vuelta

“In the build-up to the race, we will fine-tune our preparations and complete recons of the key stages. The last important races for the riders ahead of La Vuelta will be Vuelta a Burgos, Tour de l’Ain and Arctic Race of Norway.”

HERE IS OUR LONG-LIST: Nikias Arndt (GER), Warren Barguil (FRA), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

Sep Vanmarcke signs with Cannondale-Drapac

Here's the team's press release:

Cobbled-classic specialist Sep Vanmarcke will join the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team at the start of the 2017 season, instantly bolstering the team’s presence in the northern classics.

The move is a homecoming of sorts for the 28-year-old Belgian. Vanmarcke’s start on the WorldTour level came with Garmin-Cervélo in 2011, and he rode for the Garmin-Sharp and Garmin-Barracuda teams through 2012. He then spent two seasons with the Belkin franchise followed by two seasons with LottoNL-Jumbo.

Vanmarcke has been a model of consistency in the spring classics. He won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in argyle in 2012, finished second at Paris-Roubaix in 2013, was second on two occasions at Gent-Wevelgem, twice third at Flanders and twice fourth at Paris-Roubaix.

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke at this year's Paris-Roubaix

“I’ve always kept a special feeling for the team, because I started my career in the WorldTour as part of the Slipstream organization,” said Vanmarcke. “My contact with the team over the past years has always been warm and with respect for each other. Knowing my contract was expiring, I was not surprised that Jonathan Vaughters and Cannondale-Drapac showed interest in me. But what surprised me was their idea for the future.

“Cannondale-Drapac gives me the opportunity to help create a very strong classics team for the next two years and to implement my own ideas,” Vanmarcke continued. “I’m 28 years old, my strongest years are ahead of me and I want all the details to be in place in order to reach my goals. The potential in this team is huge, the shareholders and sponsors have the same goals as I have, there is already a good and experienced classics group, including riders as Sebastian Langeveld and youngster Dylan van Baarle.

“Then there is also the coaching staff, with Andreas Klier – who was my teammate on Garmin some years ago – and the fact that my brother Ken Vanmarcke will join the team as sport director and member of the performance staff," Vanmarcke added. “I just have to say Jonathan [Vaughters] and the board came up with an impressive plan for the future and I’m excited to be part of that.”

Since he left the Slipstream Sports team at the end of the 2012 season, Vanmarcke has gotten stronger and gained leadership ability. He now brings that complete package back to the Cannondale-Drapac family.

“I became stronger and managed to get on the podium in Monuments like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. I learned how to lead a team, to put the eyes in the same direction so we can reach the maximum in a race,” he said. “In the past few years I've been close to the victory in the monuments. I would really like to win Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. After the spring, I want to work towards the Tour de France and fight for a stage win,” Vanmarcke said.

Director Andreas Klier rode with Vanmarcke and will now serve as one of his directors in the cobbled races. “Sep is very hungry to get his Tour of Flanders victory,” Klier said. “And you can see that from afar, with all the races he is doing as a build up towards that race. He lives that whole Belgian three-week classic campaign through the entire year. And that is what I respect and like a lot, when I think about Sep as a rider. You can't force that last step [to victory]. You have to work hard, together with him, hand in hand, step by step. If we keep calm and work hard, this last step up is very realistic.”

For Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters, it’s a chance to welcome back a rider he’s always liked and admired. “I was always drawn to Sep. This goes back to me seeing him for the first time Ghent-Wevelgem in 2010, and it was so impressive. I’ve always thought he’s an incredible cobbles rider,” Vaughters said. “And I love those races. Flanders and Roubaix, those are the greatest races in bike racing. When Sep left us, I understood it. He needed to go to a bigger budget team. I always thought, though, ‘if we ever get another opportunity with this guy, I’m going to put everything I have into it.’ I believe he can win Roubaix, I believe he can win Flanders. He’s a hard, Flandrian rider who knows how to get the job done.”

Once the classics roll around, the team will head into the cobbles with a deep squad, not only capable of factoring into the race, but capable of winning as well.

“The key element is Sebastian Langeveld, who’s finished top 10 in all the big ones as well. And then Dylan Van Baarle. So you’ve got an old, cold head who understands the lay of the land, and you’ve got Dylan, who’s a ball of horsepower,” Vaughters said. “At the end of those big classics, no team has more than three, four guys. What I feel like we have, with Dylan and Sebastian, is a very deep classics squad that will be able to get Sep in a good position to win.”

BMC's Vuelta a Burgos stage 4 report

5 August, 2016, Lerma (ESP): Jempy Drucker showed his sprinting consistency on stage 4 of Vuelta a Burgos to cross the line in second place, for the third time in the four stages. The short 145km stage featured a tricky uphill cobbled run into the finish, before which the peloton had split slightly, leaving a small group to battle for the stage win.

Drucker came up the incline on stage winner Nathan Haas' wheel but was unable to overtake him in the final meters of the race.

Drucker

Jempy Drucker managed to fit almost exactly behind Burgos stage 4 winner Nathan Haas

Loïc Vliegen claimed his first top ten result of the race, crossing the line in 7th place, with Samuel Sánchez following behind in 12th.

Drucker's three podium finishes see him retain his second place in the Sprint Classification going into the final stage, which sees the first summit finish and will likely shake up the General Classification.

Jempy Drucker: "It was the same like the last days. The guys did again a great job and it's pretty cool to have their belief and support for me. Again, Daniel Oss did a good lead out and put me into first position for the final section, the final 400 meters. I knew it was a bit long so I started at 80 or 90 percent just to have a little bit of reserve. Nathan Haas flew next to me, he had much more speed so I couldn't react directly. I hoped that he would maybe crack a bit on the final kick with 100 meters to go, but he just kept going and I couldn't accelerate anymore. My legs were running empty so it was again second place."

"There was a little path where you could ride without cobblestones, it's not the real cobbles like in Belgium. But it was still bumpy and pretty rough roads. I haven't seen the results yet but there are for sure a few gaps and that also explains how hard the final was."

Max Sciandri, Sports Director: "We're trying everyday. The plan again today was to go all in for Jempy Drucker with Loïc Vliegen as a back up but we wanted to concentrate on one rider. It's a shame Jempy didn't get the win because he's been trying so hard everyday and you can see with his three second places that he has the form and the consistency. Daniel Oss hasn't raced since the Giro d'Italia and his condition is getting better everyday and he's been doing great lead outs for Jempy."

"The team has been working well and now we are at the final day tomorrow which will be one for the GC guys. Samuel Sanchez and Ben Hermans will be our guys for the stage, and we'll hopefully have someone in the breakaway. It all comes down to stage 5."

Dwars door het Hageland news

Lotto-Soudal sent me this report:

Today, Dwars door het Hageland was scheduled. The course was rather special, the riders had to cover about twenty cobbled sections and unpaved roads in a race with a hilly profile. Two Lotto Soudal trainees participated in today’s race: James Callum Shaw and Michael Goolaerts.  The spectators saw a very attractive race, Jelle Wallays was one of the protagonists but was unable to take the victory.

The race exploded on the first cobbled section of the day as the peloton split in two and a front group of eighteen riders was formed. Jelle Wallays was part of it and he really showed himself in the break. Several moments later, the leaders got reeled in by the first part of the peloton. After that, a few other attempts were made. Wallays was again one of the escapees. At about twenty kilometres from the finish, a chasing group with among others Sean De Bie bridged the gap to the front so more than twenty riders entered the hard finale of this race. Again it was Jelle Wallays who distinguished himself as he attacked at about twelve kilometres from the finish. The Belgian rider rode really strong and he managed to obtain a twenty-second gap. Unfortunately, he was caught inside the final uphill kilometre. Niki Terpstra won the race just ahead of Wout Van Aert, Wallays finished at the fourth place. The impressive attempt of the 27-year old Wallays didn’t pay off but he was very close to the victory. Nevertheless, it was a great performance as he rode in the front of the race almost the whole day. Lotto Soudal rode an aggressive race and finished with two riders in the top ten. Sean De Bie finished ninth. Kris Boeckmans crashed and abandoned the race as a precaution. 

Jelle Wallays: “It’s a pity of course that I was reeled in inside the finale kilometre but I’m very happy about the way I raced today. I tried to ride an aggressive race right from the beginning and these efforts paid off. I was part of the first break, after that I tried to go clear several other times. Eventually, we entered the finale with about twenty riders and a few moments later I decided to attack. I finished fourth, that’s very close to the podium. But it isn’t a shame to finish behind a rider such as Niki Terpstra.”

“I didn’t aim for a good result in this race beforehand. I have just been a few days to the Ardennes to train, so it was a bit unclear whether the legs would be good or not. It was a very hard race, but I like that. It was an aggressive race right from the beginning and that suits me. At GP Cerami, the scenario was a bit the same but I managed to win the race. Today, I was very close to the victory but that’s racing. I know that I gave my all and I was beaten by a better rider. I felt good and I’m clearly in a good shape, that’s very positive with the coming races in mind: Tour de l’Ain and Vuelta a España. It will be my first Grand Tour and I’m really looking forward to it.”

PricePoint.com shuts down

Here's the report from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News

RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif. (BRAIN) — PricePoint.com, one of the largest e-commerce sites in the bike world, has shut down. Founder and owner Donovan Ivan told BRAIN on Friday that he has been planning the closure for almost a year after deciding he'd rather pursue other business ventures.

Ivan said he realized about three years ago that his enthusiasm was waning for the business that he started about 22 years ago. He said he spent several years trying to find the right management team to take over the business. Ivan also said he received poor advice repeatedly which went against all his instincts that made PricePoint one of the largest bike sites in the world.

Ivan saw that he was spending 90 percent of his time trying to explain the basics of running a business to his team instead of talking about building and expanding the business.  He said it was then apparent to him that to continue he would have to go back to running the day-to-day operation himself, something that was no longer an interest to him.

About 10 months ago he concluded that selling off the business's assets individually — including its PricePoint.com domain and its 12 house brands and associated products — would be worth more than selling the company intact.

The website stopped accepting orders on Thursday, about five months after beginning the inventory sell-off. Ivan declined to disclose the value of the inventory sold.

"The first phase (of the shutdown) is over: selling the inventory. Now I'll be selling the domain and 12 private-label companies," he said.

Ivan started working in a bike shop — Circle Cycle in Torrance, California — when he was in college. After graduating with a finance degree, he briefly worked in the financial industry before returning to the bike world. Although he said he has never been a passionate bike rider, he saw opportunity in the industry.

"I looked at the industry and I saw a void where there were a lot of people who couldn't afford the nice high-end products. So I said it's going to be my philosophy to sell 'the hottest products at the lowest prices, guaranteed,' which became our slogan. To me, I felt like I was a pioneer in bringing the best prices and having it in stock and offering the best customer service," Ivan said.

You can read the entire story here.

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