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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 21, 2016

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

Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat. - Jean-Paul Sartre

Recently completed racing:

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Vuelta a España team reports

We have to start with Team Sky's report:

Team Sky got their 2016 Vuelta a Espana campaign off to the best possible start with a thrilling victory in the opening team time trial. Powering around the 27.8-kilometre course in a winning time of 30 minutes and 37 seconds, the team pushed hard over the line in Castrelo de Mino to take the win by a margin of less than a second.

Pete Kennaugh was first across the stripe, and as a result the Brit becomes the first man to pull on the red leader's jersey in this year's race.
Movistar were pushed down to second place by mere fractions, with Orica-BikeExchange rounding out the podium places, six seconds back, amidst a close battle for victory.

Chris Froome dug deep to keep the team's five-man group together in the final metres, coming in alongside Kennaugh, Salvatore Puccio, Michal Kwiatkowski and Leopold Konig. David Lopez arrived moments later after pulling off inside the final kilometre, while Christian Knees and Ian Boswell emptied the tank out on course to lay the foundations for a winning effort.

The win puts Froome into a strong GC position from the outset, taking time out of all his major rivals in Ourense.

After pulling on a multitude of classification jerseys on the podium Kennaugh admitted: "I'm over the moon to be in the jersey but it was definitely not planned! Yesterday I was just another rider at the Vuelta and now I've just been thrown into the red jersey. It's pretty surreal at the minute. Going into the stage I'd have been happy if we'd finished within touching distance of first place. In the team everyone is coming from different races and objectives in the season - guys coming from Rio for instance and me coming back from injury.

Peter Kennaugh

Peter Kennaugh gets the first Red Jersey of 2016

"I think starting off hard (was key). Sometimes we're a bit cautious and riders want to start off easier - but at the end of the day a team time trial is not supposed to be easy. You can't just give away 10 seconds in the first 5km as you'll never get it back. You can't be scared to fail and you can't be scared to hurt yourself - which is exactly what we did.

"I didn't have the best April and then I was getting back in form into May. So I was obviously a bit gutted to break my collarbone when I did. But it's a funny old sport and funny old life with its swings and roundabouts, peaks and troughs. I've trained really really hard and I've done everything for the bike the last two months. At Burgos I felt really good and I knew I was coming into form again. I've tried to come into this race a bit more confident and take it on a bit."

Movistar came oh, so close! Here's their news:

By the shortest of margins. Even shorter than the blink of an eye. The Movistar Team came shorter than ever to repeat their previous success from Pamplona (2012) and Jerez (2014) and claim a victory which would have put Alejandro Valverde, the bib number 1 in the 2016 Vuelta a España, into the first place of the overall classification following the opening, 27.8km TTT from Laias to Castrelo do Miño. Only nineteen hundredths of a second against Sky avoided the Eusebio Unzué-led squad's win, the Blues offering a display of experience and consistency over the roads of Galicia.

The lads directed by Chente García Acosta and José Luis Arrieta were trailing by 11" against BMC and Orica-BikeExchange after the first intermediate check (9km), a stretch of long, fast turns preceeded by a small uphill from the start ramp. The Blues were even losing more terrain, 13" against the US-registered team, into the second split (18km). However, the Movistar Team saved more energy and numbers for the late part of the TTT, with six riders against many squads' five. Their 30'37"6 across the finish... was only beaten by Sky's 30'37"4, which took Peter Kennaugh into the lead of the race.

As no ITTs have been ridden so far in the race, and shouldn't neither the day's only intermediate sprint -19km from the end in Vigo, 3-2-1 seconds up for grabs- nor the finish (10-6-4) affect the GC, the first rider, either Sky or Movistar Team member, crossing the line tomorrow in Baiona after the 160.8km stage two, will be the GC leader, heading into Monday's first hilltop arrival to the Mirador de Ézaro.

Movistar

Movistar putting in a terrific ride

Nairo Quintana: "I'm happy with the overall performance by the team, yet a bit sad as we couldn't win despite finishing with the same time as Sky. We took advantage of the big squad we brought here; it was a compact group, not only consisting of specialists, rather than a well-bonded, all-around team, which put on a good effort on the road today. My legs were feeling great today; I just hope they remain the same for the rest of the race."

Alejandro Valverde: "We rode really strong and did things right. My feelings were of pure struggle, because that's how you've got to feel into a team time trial - it all builds on agony in such courses. It's awful to be losing by such a short margin and not being able to wear the leader's jersey, but when you leave all on the road, you can't ask yourself for anything else. We're overall happy about how things went for us today."

Here's Alberto Contador's Tinkoff team report:

Kicking off the final Grand Tour of the season with a Team Time Trial, the Tinkoff riders worked well over the rolling course, keeping team leader and three-time GC winner, Alberto Contador, safe. As the final team out of the gate, the riders held together well, crossing the line in a time of 31:29 and taking a top ten position.

In the beautiful evening sun of Galicia, the Vuelta a España got off to a flying start with the Team Time Trial to find out who would lead the race on the first road stage. The 27.8km route, which skirted the Miño river and stayed fairly flat over its length, would be an early indicator of not only the riders, but also the teams, who were on form for the coming three weeks.

With Tinkoff the last team out of the start, riders were fighting to break the half hour mark on the course. The wide open circuit and the fast road surface meant it was possible to hold a fast pace for much of the distance, with only a few twists and turns with the potential to catch riders out.

While other teams had struggled to keep their full complement of riders together over the parcours, the guys held it together well and covered two-thirds of the course with the whole team in one piece. Supporting their leader, Alberto Contador, well, the harsh shadows falling on the course made the last 5km difficult with the constant switch from light to dark. After a hard push in the final few corners, the time on the line was 31:29.

Taking ninth spot from a field of 22 teams, the team goes into the second day without the pressure of protecting the maillot rojo. Sport Director, Steven De Jongh found the time trial straightforward and was looking ahead to the rest of the race. “It was a difficult one, but there were no surprises from the course. The start was good, but after 10km some riders weren't going to well so they had to sit on. Michael Gogl, Manuele Boaro, Daniele Bennati and Alberto had to do more and I think we lost some time there, but the race is long still and we can look ahead now.“

Alberto gave his thoughts after the stage: "It is always hard to start with a team time trial after a week of slow training but I feel very well. The team gave its best today. We all raced at 100% of our potential and I don't think we could have done something differently. Starting the Vuelta with a 50 second deficit on your main rivals is difficult but I'm satisfied with how we raced. It will be a long Vuelta, we have 20 stages ahead of us and we will seize all the opportunities we get."

"We will take it day-by-day and see where we can make a difference.he key factor, De Jongh continued, was that the team’s leader completed the stage without any trouble, and was ready to face the days to come. “Alberto was feeling good which is the most important thing for us and we now look to tomorrow's stage and focus on the race ahead.”

The first road stage gently introduces riders to the Spanish roads with a parcours that takes in one categorised climb on a gently undulating route. At 160.8km, this is one of the shorter road stages but features the third category Alto de Fontefria, cresting exactly halfway through the stage. With a late intermediate sprint and a flat final kilometre, a bunch sprint seems likely.

Here's BMC's Vuelta stage 1 report:

It was a nail-biting start to the Vuelta a Espana with a 27.8km team time trial testing the legs on the opening day of racing. BMC Racing Team rolled down the start ramp as the fifth-to-last team, chasing the provisional best time set by Etixx QuickStep.

Orica BikeExchange clocked the best time at the first intermediate point, which BMC Racing Team matched before going on to set the best time at the second check point by six seconds, with four teams left to come through.

BMC Racing Team lost four riders to the technical final part of the course and crossed the line with the required number of five riders to set the second-best provisional time of 30’44”, one second behind Orica BikeExchange.

Movistar came home in 30’37” to knock BMC Racing Team to third place provisionally before Team Sky crossed the line just 0.4 seconds ahead of Movistar to take the win and confirm fourth place for BMC Racing Team.

Tejay van Garderen: “I think we did really great as a team. Tactically I think we rode it perfectly and rode really hard. I don’t think anyone had anything left at the end so that’s how you know that you rode a good one. To be beaten by one second [Orica BikeExchange at the time of the interview] and then there’s still some other teams to come in so we’ll see where we end up, but in the end I still think we can be proud of what we did today.”

BMC

BMC digging deep

“We started uphill so the pacing was really important. Through the technical sections you have to be technically very good on the bike altogether as a team which I think we were. It’s a tricky finish with some bumps and corners and some straight power sections so there was never one second where you could really let up and relax. rode it perfectly so we don’t have any regrets, we were just some seconds behind.”

Valerio Piva, Sports Director: “Of course when we start the team time trial we have ambition as the reigning UCI World Champion team. We had the ambition to win today. We had the best time at the first and second intermediate checkpoints. Unfortunately, in the 5km we lost Silvan Dillier and Ben Hermans so then with only five riders we lost these six or seven seconds that lost us the victory. We are fighting with the favorite teams and to have four teams within seven seconds shows the level of competition here. We lost today but there have been other team time trials that we have won by only one second. For me today’s result is ok, the team did everything possible and that is racing.”

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this Vuelta update:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo began the Vuelta a Espana with a sixth place in the team time trial today in Ourense. The Dutch team lost 28 seconds on stage winner team Sky, with its rider Pete Kennaugh in the red leader’s jersey. Team leader Steven Kruijswijk finished safely among the first five riders of his team.

“We delivered quite a good time trial,” trainer Mathieu Heijboer said. “It was our target to bring Steven Kruijswijk to the finish line safely without losing to much time. This sixth place isn’t bad at all. We only lost a little bit too much time in the final part of the race because we ended up with just five riders quite early. That means you have to play it safe afterwards. We’re relieved because a team time trial is always stressful.

“Victor Campenaerts and Jos van Emden were the team’s motors today and Koen Bouwman, who makes his debut in a grand tour, did a terrific job as well. I’m proud of the team.”

Jos van Emden was very positive about Campenaerts and Bouwman, as well. “They’re riding their first grand tour,” he added. “They stayed with us until the end and really were a value in this team time trial. They deserve a big compliment. The start of our time trial was a little bit messy, but it started to run smoothly quickly afterwards. I’m satisfied with my own performance, as well. With this team, full of climbers, we did a really good job.”

LottoNL-Jumbo

LottoNL-Jumbo

“This was awesome,” Bouwman said. “This is my first grand tour, and to start with a team time trial is special. This is all new for me, but I had a great day and was able to stay with the team until the end. This was fun, I would like to do this more often.”

“This was immediately a very important day for me as a time trial specialist,” Campenaerts added. “I wanted to deliver a good job for the team and I felt strong. It was the first time that I did a team time trial on such a high level. The difference is that you do quite short turns, but it’s at a speed of 60 kilometres an hour all the time.”

“We did a good job with the team,” Kruijswijk explained. “I’m satisfied about this. We started this Vuelta strongly. I want to take it a little bit easy in the first week to stay safe. It’s my target to save as much energy as possible before the hardest part of this Vuelta starts.”

“I’m really happy about today,” George Bennett, who finished with the first five riders of Team LottoNL-Jumbo, as well, added. “I’m never nervous about cycling races, but I was today. It went well, though, and I’m happy that I got it done.”

Consumer on-line ordering grows at the big bike brands

Bike-eu.com had posted this insightful story:

DOETINCHEM, the Netherlands – Next to Accell Group (for all its brands, Nishiki, Diamonback, Raleigh, Redline, etc.) also Trek is starting to facilitate online ordering by consumers. The US based brand is currently conducting a pilot project in the United States and UK on how Trek can generate direct sales to consumers.

Accell Group announced its omnichannel strategy at the presentation of its first half of 2016 results last July. Trek revealed it at its Trek World Benelux show that is taking place now.

Trek’s pilot project in the United States and UK is to clarify what online ordering by consumers brings in extra sales. It also is to make clear how the position of Trek dealers is guaranteed. Trek Benelux GM Petra De Fluiter stressed at the company’s show that Trek’s consumers approach focuses on ominchannel. Online pricing is equal to that at Trek dealers.

“Our aim is to support dealer sales. When a consumer at the dealer does not want to decide in the store, but wants to go for it the same evening, then he should be able to buy it immediately.” The Trek Benelux GM stressed that the Trek dealer gets his regular margin on the bike, minus the costs Trek makes on handling its online platform. How much these costs are is not clear yet.

By the way, in the Benelux countries Trek is not facilitating online ordering by consumers yet or in 2017.

Accell said about its omnichannel strategy. “To enable the company to compete more effectively in the fight to win the favour of consumers in the future, Accell Group is currently tightening its strategy on the marketing and distribution fronts. To make sure Accell Group can continue to serve consumers effectively, omnichannel strategies will be necessary in many counties. Part of this plan is to make it easier for consumers to order bikes directly (online), often in cooperation with specialist retailers.”

You can read the entire story here.

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