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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 18, 2016

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

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. - Mother Teresa

Today's racing:

Taylor Phinney to start season in France

BMC sent me this news:

17, February 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Taylor Phinney will kick his season off in France at the Tour du Haut Var-Matin (20-21 Feb) and Tour La Provence (23-25 Feb) this week.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the French races will provide an opportunity for all riders to achieve a result. "Our objective is to continue the success that the team has already experienced this season. All of the riders are in good shape after solid training camps in December and January, so we expect to be up there at the front of these races."

After a long off-season Phinney is keen to return to racing. "I'm excited about racing in Provence and the two races are historically good for the team. The French teams always come out strong so I'm expecting some hard and aggressive racing."

Taylor phinney

Taylor Phinney having a good day at the 2015 USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Tour du Haut Var-Matin (20-21 Feb)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Floris Gerts (NED), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Peter Velits (SVK), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

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Tour La Provence (23-25 Feb)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Peter Velits (SVK), Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

And BMC also sent me this team report from the Oman race:

17 February, Muscat: It was another third place finish for Greg Van Avermaet on today's testing second stage of the Tour of Oman, with Edvald Boasson Hagen taking the stage win and the leader's jersey.

In a repeat of yesterday's opening stage, a six rider breakaway stayed away for most of the stage before being caught just prior to the final 2,8 kilometer climb.

The steep ascent cracked all but a small group of riders who were left to battle it out in an uphill sprint finish, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) just edging Van Avermaet out for second place.

Van Avermaet now sits third in the General Classification, six seconds behind Boasson Hagen. "It was a hard stage. The team did a really good job to make it harder in the flat part as we've got some strong guys going into the wind so we tried to split the peloton up," Van Avermaet explained.

"For me it was about trying to go as far as possible and hoping that the others cracked in the sprint. Boasson Hagen was still there and just flew past. With 200m to go we started sprinting and Boasson Hagen was faster."

Richie Porte lost further time on the climb today. "We will see on the Green Mountain stage and try to test him there," BMC Racing Team Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

"He came here from Australia only two days before the race so for him it's best to go day by day, step by step, to prepare for the next race which will be Paris-Nice. He still has two weeks until then."

Stage 3 tomorrow, 176.5 kilometers from Al Sawadi Beach to Naseem Park, looks set for a showdown between the sprinters.

Lampre-Merida's Tour of Oman report:

Another stimulating stage in the Tour de Oman. In the second day of the race, the riders covered 162 km from Omantel Head Office to Quiryat, with finish line on the summit of a 2.5 km light hill which selected the bunch.

Nine riders were leading the race in the approach of the final straight, Rui Costa was with them and he obtained the 9th place in the long sprint which was won by Boasson Hagen on Nibali and Van Avermaet. The first group of 9 cyclists had 6" of advantage on the following riders.

Philippe Mauduit, Lampre-Merida's sport director, explained: "We planned to race as an united group, to be alert to avoid the imperilment of the wind and to support Rui in the approach of the final climb. Our riders fulfill these requests, they protected Rui from the head wind which blowed during the whole stage.

At 15 km to go, BMC made a bordure and some of the big names of the group lost the contact with the head group, in which we could rely on Rui, Pibernik, Kump, Bono and Zurlo.In the final kilometer, Rui avoided losing seconds.

Dr Pollastri communicated us very interesting updates about Arashiro's conditions after the surgery to the fractured thigh-bone: Yukiya has left the hospital in Doha and on Friday he'll fly to Japan. Meanwhile, he has taken some little steps, as suggested by the doctor who performed the surgery".

Contador finishes safely at Volta ao Algarve

Contador's Tinkoff team sent me this release:

In a flat and tense stage that was marked by two late crashes, which luckily left Tinkoff unscathed, Contador was safely brought into the finish in the front group. Tomorrow's hillier stage with a tough finish to Alto da Foia could set the stage for the GC battle. 

The Volta ao Algarve, a race that has become an early-season form indicator, got underway with a nervous stage and the 163 kilometers from Lagos in Albufeira were not to be taken for granted, with several ups and downs that the 189 riders had to tackle.

A breakaway formed early on and its three riders managed to open a gap that rose to maximum of 7:45 minutes on the peloton. It was brought down to less than a minute with 25 km to go and was definitely caught with 7 km to go. The pace was quite steady overall, with an average speed of just over 40km/h. The sprinters had to sweat a lot for the final sprint due to constant series of ups and downs in the last few kilometers before the finish line.

“Today, for us, it was a stage where the goal was not to lose time in the general classification. It was obvious that the sprinter teams would take control of the stage and that we would have a bunch sprint. Luckily the wind was not very strong," stated Sport Director Steven de Jongh “The team worked hard to keep Alberto in front and the guys did a very good job again. There were a lot of crashes but we were able to stay out of trouble.

"It was a good day but this being one of the first races of the season”, commented team leader Alberto Contador,  “there is always some tension. With a peloton of nearly 200 riders the race can be tense. I understand there were some crashes but, fortunately, the Tinkoff squad wasn't affected. Last year, the start at the Ruta del Sol was quite similar, again with crashes and falls. It was windy but that didn't cause much trouble. The field in the Volta ao Algarve is strong, with excellent sprinters and very good time-trialists, and the race level is similar to that of the WorldTour."

"Yesterday, we carried out the recon of tomorrow's stage and I expect it to be tough, although, in my opinion, the main GC contenders will reach the finish together. We will have to wait for the time-trail and the final stage to see how the GC shapes up", concluded Contador.

“For tomorrow it will be exciting to see the final with an uphill finish and the riders fighting again for the first split in the GC", concluded de Jongh.

The second stage is a different scenario with an uphill finish to Alto da Foia, at the end of a demanding  7.4km long climb. In addition, there will be some other tough challenges to take on in the finale, just like a solid big mountain stage which will bring some changes in the GC.

Shimano’s 2015 European Sales Growth Centered On E-Bikes

Bike-Europe put out this report:

OSAKA, Japan – In its summary of the company’s 2015 financial results Shimano reports on brisk demand for high-end, e-bike related products in Europe. Despite lower sales volumes, Shimano still managed to continue its double digit growth in 2015. Net sales in bicycle components increased by 14.6% to JPY 314,010 million (€2,463mn) while operating as well as net income increased with even bigger numbers.

Shimano’s operating income increased 28.7% to JPY 79,816 million (€ 626mn). The group’s ordinary income increased by 42.4% to JPY 101,110 million (€ 793mn), and net income increased even bigger with 48.7% to JPY 76,190 million (€ 598mn). Shimano notes that its products remained relatively affordable because of the continuing depreciation of the yen and this factor contributed to brisk order-taking.

“In Europe distributor inventory levels remained virtually at the appropriate level, while those in North America were somewhat high,” says Shimano in its 2015 financial statement. “In North America demand was only little affected by the weather and retail sales were robust. Japan saw an increasing sales of sports bicycles, while sales volumes of community bikes remained low thanks to the impact of price increasing resulting from the depreciation of the yen.”

Click here for Bike Europe's complete report

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