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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. - Mahatma Gandhi

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Tour de France news

Two notable riders announced they would not start the mountainous 17th stage, Mark Cavendish and Rohan Dennis. Wednesday's stage from Berne to Finhaut Emosson is a beast. Here's the profile:

Tour stage 17 profile

Here's Rohan Dennis' BMC team release:

19 July, 2016, Bern (SUI): Rohan Dennis will not line up at stage 17 of the Tour de France, BMC Racing Team announced today.

Dennis will miss the final five stages of racing and return home to Andorra, Sports Director Yvon Ledanois explained. "It has been an incredibly tough two weeks of racing at the Tour de France and Rohan has been an asset to the team, both with his fifth place in the first time trial, and working in support of our leaders throughout the race," Ledanois said.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis earlier this year at the Dauphiné

"BMC Racing Team's performance and management team agree that it is not in his best interest to continue racing beyond stage 16. The next two weeks are crucial for him as he prepares for the Rio Olympics and given the final time trial here at the Tour de France isn't suited to him, his preparation is best done at home in order to avoid further fatigue."

And Cavendish's Dimension Data team posted this:

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka has enjoyed extraordinary success in the Tour de France in 2016. Among the many highlights so far for the Team, the stand out wins on Stage 1, 3, 6 and 14 by Mark Cavendish and the Stage 7 win by Steve Cummings were exceptonal. Our African team was also proud to enjoy time in both the Yellow and Green Jerseys, worn by Cavendish, who extended his Tour de France stage win record to 30 wins taking him to 2nd on the all-time Tour Stage Wins record.

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish wins stage 14 of this year's Tour

After analysing his workload from the previous stages and his current levels of fatigue, the Team has supported Mark leaving the Tour to give him the best opportunity to recover and prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio. He will not take to the start of stage 17.

Mark Cavendish – Rider: "After an extremely enjoyable and successful couple of weeks at The Tour de France with Team Dimension Data, it is with great sadness that I took the decision today to leave the race. After the heat and intensity of the previous stages, we analysed my fatigue levels and decided I’m at a point that would have a detrimental effect on my other big goal for the year, the Olympic Games.

"To leave a race and organisation that I hold so much respect for and a team that I have such a special bond with, has not been an easy decision at all. I want to say thank you to them, along with all the fans for their support and encouragement, today and over the past 16 stages. I wish Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and all the other competitors luck in the final few days into Paris, a special place that I will definitely miss the emotions of this year."

Douglas Ryder – Team Principle: "Mark raced an incredible Tour de France, winning 4 stages and extending his palmarès to 30 stage wins at the Grand Boucle. He managed to put on his first ever Yellow jersey and to carry the Green jersey into the first rest day in Andorra was just exceptional. He has been a great team leader over the past two weeks and a great ambassador for everyone involved in this team and for the greater cause we ride for. Mark is really sad to leave the tour, we are committed to support him in his dream goal of receiving a medal for Britain at the Rio Olympic games."

Adam Foster – Group Executive – Sports Practice, Dimension Data: "Mark has represented the Dimension Data brand and that of the other team partners with tremendous professionalism. The whole of Dimension Data wish Mark a speedy recovery, and every success to both him and his fellow team members for the remainder of the season."

Ag2r La Mondiale sent me this Tour news regarding Romain Bardet:

"I am really satisfied with my second week of competition. It is amazing to be in the GC top 10, especially when you are close to the podium. There is a small gap between me and my opponents therefore everything is possible. I managed quite well the beginning of the Alps. I gained in experience and serenity thanks to my three previous Tour de France. I have a better knowledge of this race now and I am not wasting my energy in key moments.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet climbs in the rain during Tour stage 9

"I have an excellent mindset as well. However, it is all but a closed deal. My goal is to stay among the top leaders in order to improve my previous results. Behind me there are great riders but I am definitely able to follow them.

"To be honest, I do not think they will ride this fast because there will be a real process of elimination in the Alps. Finhaut is a very hard col to climb, may be the most difficult ascent of the Tour.

"This col was made for real climbers. Everyone is tired therefore it will be more difficult to attack. As Paris is approaching everyone wants to be close to their personal ambitions. We are used to ride the roads of Dauphiné, therefore, the Alps will be perfect for us.

"I am aware of it and I will be as attentive as possible."

Plus: AG2R LA MONDIALE announced this morning the extension of its partnership with the professional cycling team until 2020. 

Lars Bak and Thomas de Gendt extend with Lotto-Soudal

Here's the update from the team:

Thomas de Gendt (29) has extended his contract with Lotto Soudal until the end of 2019, while Lars Bak (36) has signed for another two years, until the end of 2018. For the Belgian 2016 is his second season with the team, for the Dane it’s the fifth.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “The extension of the contracts of Thomas and Lars is a logical choice. Both have been living up to the expectations. We already talked with Thomas before the Tour de France. He got integrated really fast. Thomas is always keen to work for his teammates, but he can also have a go of his own on many occasions. He brings spectacle and publicity and he has already set nice results. His performances at this Tour only confirms what he’s capable of and I’m glad he’ll be staying with us for another three years.”

“Lars Bak is one of the most valued riders in the peloton. He showed his resilience in the run-up to this Tour by recovering so fast from the injuries he incurred at a crash in the Giro. He’s the perfect team player, loves to make time for the press and spectators, he contributes to a great atmosphere in the team and he’s ready for every race he starts.

Lars Bak

Lars Bak

Thomas De Gendt: “It was already obvious to me during the spring that I wanted to stay with Lotto Soudal. I can be myself in this team. The sports directors know that I love to ride for my teammates when they have a chance to win and in some stages or races I can join a breakaway. Last year I showed myself in Paris-Nice and also at the Tour, despite a severe crash. This year I could win for the first time in three years, at the Volta a Catalunya. My victory on Mont Ventoux and the six days in the polka dot jersey are a highlight in my career. I hope to continue in the same way this season and in the years to come.”

Lars Bak: “I am really happy that I can stay with Lotto Soudal for the next two years. The past five years I saw the team developing. I hope to continue playing my role in the team. We already set some excellent performances like this year’s Giro and last year’s Tour. It would be wonderful if I could further contribute to that success in the next two years. When the contract ends, I will be 38 years. That doesn’t mean it will be the end of my career. If I still feel good, I might keep cycling. I am really motivated to defend the Lotto Soudal colours for two more years.”

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