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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 2, 2016

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It always seems impossible until it's done. - Nelson Mandela

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Giant-Alpecin Tour de France preview

The team sent me these rider quotes:

This Saturday the second Grand Tour of the 2016 season, the Tour de France gets underway. The 103rd edition of the Tour returns home for the start in the city of Mont Saint-Michel, the first-ever Grand Départ in the region of Normandy.

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s race once again with the goal of stage success in the sprint stages with a difficult finale, the intermediate stages and the mountain stages. In addition, the team aims to further develop its riders and enhance the quality of the entire team, with an increasing focus on the overall classification.

Warren Barguil (FRA): "It will be my second participation at the Tour de France and I am looking forward to race on home soil again. My goal is to focus more on my development as a general classification rider and to keep improving within the team.

"I am feeling really good and have prepared well for this year's edition. I have had a good period of training at the high-altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada and racing at the Tour de Suisse to get me into a better shape. So hopefully I haven't forgotten my good legs in Switzerland. I will aim to finish within the top 15 and I think we have got a balanced team for the whole race to achieve this target."

John Degenkolb (GER): "I am really excited to start the Tour. The first stage win is that I'm here after such a tough start of the season. Over the last weeks of racing my condition has improved day by day and I am satisfied with my shape.

"The goal is to go for a stage win in the sprint stages with a difficult finale where some of the fast guys don't make it to the finish in the front group. We have a strong team here with a good lead-out and the atmosphere is great at the moment. Hopefully we will have many successes during the three weeks." 

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb wins 2015 Vuelta stage 21

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "I'm feeling good and can't wait to get going at the Tour de France. The training at the high-altitude camp was good and I will start the Tour after my victory at the Dutch national time trial championships, which was the perfect last step to get me ready for the second part of the season.

"It will be a tough race but I like the challenge and it has several opportunities for us as a team. Personally I will aim for a stage win in the time trial and will have the free role to try it in a breakaway during the intermediate stages. On top of that, I will have a supporting role towards the team helping John in the flat stages and Warren in the mountains."

Aike Visbeek (NED): "The first goal for the team is to go for a stage win. Next to that we aim that Warren will develop into a general classification rider and we target a top 15 place. This might end up being the best young rider in Paris and that we consider as a bonus.

"We have a very balanced team, so we will be able to challenge on all types of stages. We have different options to go for a win compared to the previous years but it's going to be hard." 

Iwan Spekenbrink (NED): "We have set our goals for the Tour de France. It will not be easy, last year we were many times very close to achieving a stage win and in the end we took it with Simon Geschke on stage 17.

"We have a really strong team for this year's edition. The team is built on an experienced and stable foundation with staff and riders already with us for a long time. Guys such as Roy Curvers, Albert Timmer and Simon Geschke who have been with the team from the start. Next to that it's great the see the young talents develop with Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil potentially grow into top riders.

"We will need two things to fulfil our targets. First we need to have perfect teamwork. Second the right mindset with sometimes a bit of luck to grab that victory. Finally, if you look at the long-term ambition it is nice to see how we can use this Tour de France in a general classification perspective in function with the years to come."

Cannondale boss Jonathan Vaughters assesses team's TDF riders

The team sent me this:

SEBASTIAN LANGEVELD: "Sebas is the road captain. Highly intelligent and always aware of the race situation, wind direction, roads coming up, and clairvoyant as to what will come. Crucial part of the team for the first part of the race."

MATTI BRESCHEL: "Along with Langeveld, Matti Breschel forms the brain of the team. A handy sprinter on his own right, Matti also knows how to handle the intense and dangerous first week of the TDF." 

LAWSON CRADDOCK: "Pierre needs a sidekick in the mountains and we all know Texans love Frenchmen. Lawson proved he's up for that role in the Vuelta last year. He's also as durable as the Texas sun is hot. I have no doubt we'll be hearing a few hoots of "remember the Alamo!!" as Lawson makes Sam Houston proud from his grave."

KRISTIJAN KOREN: "Koko can do a bit of everything. He can climb quite well when needed, he knows how to keep a leader up front and in good position on the flat, and is an all-around very nice guy. Koko knows his work and gets on with getting it done. He speaks with his legs, not his tongue." 

ALEX HOWES: “Loyalty and dedication. There has never been a bike rider willing to do more for his team and his team leader than Alex Howes. Loyalty deserves loyalty in return.” 

TOM-JELTE SLAGTER: "While Tom- Jelte isn't a pure climber, he handles smaller pitches with the best. Winning TDU and two stages of Paris-Nice proves this. Tom will be crucial for middle mountain days and for shepherding Pierre early on in bigger mountain days."

RAMUNAS NAVARDAUSKAS: "Ramunas has won stages in both the Tour and the Giro. He has a knack for finding the right breakaway at the right time. A bronze medalist at last years world championships, Navardauskas is not only a selfless worker, but an outright champion on his own two feet."

DYLAN VAN BAARLE: "Dylan can serve as a body guard and wind shield for Pierre in week one. But Dylan is more than that. Come week three, he'll start to climb with the leaders, like last year. When others get tired, Dylan starts to roll. Also, he's got a neat little sprint and a good tactical nose. Pair that with tired bodies in week three, and the boy can win from a breakaway."

Pierre Rolland

Pierre Roland at the 2016 Tour team presentation ceremony

PIERRE ROLLAND: "I truly believe Pierre has untapped potential as a grand-tour rider. He's never been able to start a Tour de France without a sizable deficit after the first week. If we, as a team, can give him a good first week, I have no doubt he will repay in treble during the tour’s final week." 

Leah Kirchmann wins Giro Rosa prologue

Liv-Plantur was surely happy to send out ths news:

Leah Kirchmann (CAN) won the prologue which opened the Giro Rosa in Gaiarine, Italy, and became the first to wear the pink jersey of the race leader.

Leah Kirchmann (CAN): "This is an incredible feeling. This victory is even extra special because it is Canada day and it is also only a few days after my birthday. "I had high expectations going into this race, but I am quite surprised to take this win in the prologue. Beforehand, we did a recon of the course a few times. Once I was racing I had the corners in my head and I was able to take them really fast. I just gave everything I had and that was enough to take the win, which is fantastic.

"This is a big success for me and the team. For the upcoming stages, we will try and defend the pink jersey for as long as possible. Of course, I will enjoy my day in the pink jersey tomorrow."

Leah Kirchmann

Kirchmann riding to her prologue win

Hans Timmermans (NED): “This is an unbelievable victory for Leah and the whole team. We worked so hard for it and she really deserves it. Before the start, we studied the course and every technical section many times to be fully prepared.

"It is impressive what we showed here today. We made a good plan and she was able to execute it. I am quite emotional at the moment, it is our first victory at the Giro Rosa and it is just an amazing feeling. Leah is showing a really high level and is one of the best riders in the world at this time.

"For the stages to come, we will try and defend the jersey, but our focus is still on stage wins and we will take it day by day."

Salsa bikes to be sold through REI

This very important story was posted on Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (BRAIN) — Salsa Cycles told its dealers Friday that it plans to begin selling through select REI stores in July. The QBP-owned brand said it will sell model-year 2017 at 11 stores, and will be “starting small.”

According to the letter, obtained by Bicycle Retailer, Salsa bikes and components will be sold in REI stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska; Arcadia and Tustin, California; Denver, Colorado; Washington, DC; Schaumburg, Illinois; Bend, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; Houston, Texas; and Seattle, Washington.

“I’m well aware that some dealers will have concerns over this new sales channel, but I believe this will benefit our current and future IBDs,” said Justin Julian, brand manager of Salsa Cycles, in the letter. “This move will dramatically boost awareness of the Salsa brand and create real opportunities for our dealers to demonstrate what bike shops do best: share culture, in-depth knowledge, and passion.

“REI sells the best outdoor brands on the market. This is a tremendous opportunity for Salsa to raise our brand equity and reach a very large, new market of passionate outdoors people,” the letter read.

You can read the entire story here. Be sure to read the dealer comment posted at the bottom of the story. They tell a lot about the current condition of the bicycle trade.

Allen & Crooks to join ORICA-AIS for remainder of 2016 season

This news came from the team:

Friday, 1st July 2016: Up-and-coming Australian talents, Jessica Allen and Jenelle Crooks will join ORICA-AIS for the remainder of the 2016 season. The two riders have been given the opportunity to race with the Australian outfit in Europe having shown promising signs whist racing with the Australian High5 National Team earlier this year.

Allen, a 23-year-old rider from Perth, has displayed high potential over the years, notably winning the time trial at the junior world championships in 2011 and the Oceania Road Race Championship in 2014.

"I’m really excited and so grateful for the opportunity to join ORICA-AIS," said Allen. "I can’t wait to learn from some of the best riders in the world and have them help me develop and grow into a better bike racer."

"Signing a professional contract with ORICA-AIS is something I’ve been wanting for a long time and I can’t wait to get the most out of the remainder of 2016 with the team.

"It's thanks to my family and my coach Donna Rae-Szalinski along with other support back home, including my previous teams, for giving me the opportunity to race with them earlier this year which has opened up the opportunity for me to sign with ORICA-AIS."

Like Allen, Crooks has been racing overseas with the High5 National team, giving her valuable experience ahead of joining ORICA-AIS. At just 21 years of age the youngster is eager to make the most of the opportunity and to learn from riders she has looked up to over the years.

"I can't express how excited I really am about joining ORICA-AIS for the rest of the season," explained Crooks. "I am so thankful for this huge opportunity, knowing I'll be racing alongside and learning from girls that I have always looked up to, and aspired to be like."

"I'm going to make sure I make the absolute most of this experience, to learn and develop as a bike rider as much as I can.”

Crooks adds to the already growing list of palmares for the young pair, claiming the best young rider classification at the 2015 edition of both the Thuringen Rundfahrt and La Route de France. With this in mind, sport director Gene Bates is looking forward to having two fresh riders onboard and is excited to see what they can achieve with the support of ORICA-AIS.

"They are two young riders who have had some good experiences in Europe," explained Bates. "We've been watching them develop racing with the Australian High5 National Team and we were really pleased with the way they have been progressing."

"Everyone is really excited about having new riders join us and we are excited to see how they can progress over the next three months."

Allen and Crooks will make their debut for ORICA-AIS next week in the Tour de Feminin, taking place from the 7-10th of July.

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