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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 29, 2016

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"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." - Ernest Hemingway

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2016 Tour de France video

Here's our video summarizing Chris Froome's dominating Tour win. Hope you like it.

Tour of Denmark news:

Tinkoff's Daniele Bennati is leading after two stages. Here's the Tinkoff release:

Starting the stage in defence of the race lead, Daniele Bennati nearly pulled off the double on today’s second stage of the race as first Michael Valgren tried his luck in the final kilometre, before Daniele was just edged into third in a thrilling sprint finish. With Michael caught in the final few hundred metres, Daniele appeared in the leader’s jersey in an elbow to elbow sprint to the line, being passed just before the finish.

The sprint unfolded after a furious and frantic finish on the day's finish circuits, on a day where the race speeds were high and crashes were plenty. All of the Tinkoff guys made it through to the finish to continue pushing hard for stage results and the overall classification.

After the stage, Sport Director Lars Michaelsen gave a bit more insight into the race. "Our strategy today was to let a break to go up the road and control behind, but it took a while before the right break went. Pavel Brutt did another good job of controlling behind before the teams who wanted to fight for the stage took over. From there we stayed at the front and out of trouble."

After a flurry of early attacks, a break of three eventually established itself at the front of the race, none of which were threat's to the overall GC. Having built a lead of over four minutes, their advantage was pegged back gradually as the 180km stage ticked by.

The stage went according to plan for Tinkoff until the feedzone where Nikolay Trusov crashed. After a bike change and a fight to get back on he made it through the rest of the stage without any problems.

After the first two hours, the average speed was nearly 48km/h, with the breakaway pushing hard, but heading into the final 30km their advantage was down to just over one minute. A large crash in the peloton with around 25km to race disturbed the chase slightly - all Tinkoff jerseys were up the from and out of trouble - but with 15km to go the race was all back together.

One rider made a big solo push in the final kilometres before Michael Valgren jumped clear behind to give chase. Catching and passing the rider, Michael looked like he might hold on but he was eventually caught and passed as the line approach before the sprint unfolded.

Magnus Cort nieleon

Tour of Denmark stage 2 finish. Magnus Cort Nielson (right, in red) won the stage.

Conserving his race lead, Daniele Bennati said after the stage: "It was a very tough and fast-paced stage and I performed better than I had expected. My goal was to keep the leader's jersey and thanks to today's third place, I achieved it. I'd like to thank my teammates for the excellent work they did in controlling the race. I'm sure they finished the stage exhausted but they deserve the credit.

"Tomorrow, I'll also try to hold on to the overall but I'm not sure about my form. It's only the second race after my hard crash at the Milano-Sanremo, so I have to approach the Tour of Denmark day-by-day."

"We can again be happy with today's performance, with Benna up there and Michael again looking strong, and overall we're still in a good position, continued Michaelsen. "Nikolay came down but otherwise we managed to avoid the crashes which was good.

"Tomorrow is the queen stage - we have the leader's jersey and have to continue to take responsibility. But we have a good plan for tomorrow and the guys are riding well so we're ready."

Heading north, and skirting the coastline, tomorrow's stage features the same finish as last season, which saw Tinkoff place three riders in the top ten. With two difficult climbs on the finishing circuit, one with ramps of up to 21%, the fight for the stage should unfold in this exciting finale.

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this update:

Moreno Hofland finished second in the second stage of the Tour of Denmark today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter had to start his final sprint early in Snderborg. He held off Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) perfectly, but saw Magnus Cort Nielsen (Postnord Danmark) pass just before the finish line.

“You don’t always have control on who crosses the line first,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. In an exciting final part of the stage in which Lars Boom (Astana) and Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) tried to escape ahead of the bunch sprint, Hofland had to start his final sprint early to catch Valgren. “He didn’t have a choice. We had to make every possible effort and Moreno did it very well. It just was a little bit too long to the finish line to win.”

Hofland’s second place was a team effort according to Boven. “It’s great to see that the men are riding together like a team and giving it their all,” he continued. “Mike Teunissen and Dennis van Winden set the pace in the peloton for a long time. Jos van Emden took control in the final part of the race and Tom Leezer delivered a great job afterwards. Tom Van Asbroeck was able to hold the pace for Moreno.”

The finish went slightly uphill, as well, so it wasn’t a sprint at high speed. I delivered a good final kick. I saw that Bennati was right behind me, but he wasn’t able to pass me. That was a good sign, but suddenly Cort Nielsen appeared to win it. I can’t be disappointed about this one because we did the best we could. We really delivered a strong final part of the race with the team.”“I still had to start my sprint a little bit too early in the end,” Hofland added. “

Clasica San Sebastian & RideLondon team previews

Here's Lotto-Soudal's:

Almost a week after the Tour de France a one-day WorldTour race is scheduled: the Clásica San Sebastián. Saturday it will be the 36th edition of this Basque race. The Klasikoa is 220.2 kilometres long and contains six hills, twice the duo Jaizkibel and Arkale. The Murgil Tontorra, with top eight kilometres from the finish, is likely to be decisive.

Frederik Willems, sports director: “Tim Wellens and Tony Gallopin are our leaders. Jelle Vanendert and Tiesj Benoot are also able to set a good result on that course. Tiesj didn’t ride Tour de Wallonie because he was ill, but he could train sufficiently to get ready for Saturday. Sean De Bie, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande and Louis Vervaeke need to support the others. We really have a strong team.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin in this stage 17 of this year's Tour de France

“We don’t intend to join an early breakaway. No doubt Movistar will control the escape. Other teams to keep an eye on are BMC, with Gilbert and Van Avermaet, and Orica that has last year’s winner lined up: Adam Yates. Alejandro Valverde already rode Giro and Tour, but with all his experience I still expect him to be good at San Sebastián. For Adam Yates the Klasikoa was his first big victory ever. He’s still young so we have to wait and see if he is not too tired after the Tour, where he was a GC contender.”

“The last climb will be the crucial one. The other climbs will already split the bunch, but the final selection will occur on the last climb. It’s a climb of 2.5 kilometres with an average gradient of 9%. The first five hundred metres gradually go uphill and then there’s a peak of 20%. In total there is a 20% gradient for 500 to 600 metres. Apart from the fact that the climb is steep, it’s also a very narrow one. The most important part of the race will be turning up the climb. The others have to make sure Tim and Tony are well positioned. All eight should be able to remain in the first group until the bottom of the climb. I expect we can play along for the podium in San Sebastián.”

Line-up: Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.

A day after the Clásica San Sebastián the RideLondon Classic is scheduled. It’s only the fifth edition of this race. This Europe Tour race of 202.3 kilometres starts and finishes in the centre of London. In the meantime the riders get to cover a few laps in Surrey, on a hilly course. Before the riders get back to the British capital Box Hill awaits. This climb is known from the Olympics 2012. The finish line lies on The Mall, right across Buckingham Palace.

Marc Wauters, sports director Lotto Soudal: “There are two riders in our selection who have completed the Tour: Lars Bak and Jürgen Roelandts. They should be in a good shape. Maybe they have to get back in the rhythm in the beginning of the race, but on the climbs their Tour shape should make the difference. Unfortunately Jens Debusschere had to pull out of the Tour after a crash. He has just restarted training and told us the condition is still fine.”

“We aren’t aiming for a bunch sprint, but we plan to race aggressively. The course is perfect for that. Jelle Wallays is doing really well. Last week he won GP Cerami. Kris Boeckmans is making progress every week, like we saw at Tour de Wallonie. He has a chance when it comes down to a sprint at the finish. Frederik Frison was also climbing well at Tour de Wallonie, so he can show something on Sunday as well. We will certainly choose to attack and if the race does end with a bunch sprint we will see which rider sprints: Kris, Jens or Jürgen.”

“The British riders will definitely be motivated to perform well in their own country. We can also expect guys who rode the Tour to be good. It will definitely be a nice race. It’s a very good organisation. There are always thousands of spectators and there is a great atmosphere. And winning in the centre of London is of course incredible.”

Line-up: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Jürgen Roelandts and Jelle Wallays.

Ag2r La Mondiale sent me this:

Pierre Latour: "I will be up to the task. I have not ridden since French National Road Race Championships in Vesoul (June 26th). I started training again just after one week of holiday without a bike.

Pierre Latour

Latour at this year's Tour of Switzerland

"I am about to discover the Basque race and I do not know what to expect. It will be only my third UCI World Tour Classic race since Il Lombardia 2015 and last spring Flèche Wallone. There will be a lot of Tour de France riders, therefore, it will represent an interesting test before Tour de l’Ain (August 10th to 13th) and before my first Grand Tour the Vuelta a España (August 20th to September 11th).

"I am quite sure I will suffer but I will quickly know if I will be up to the task or not." 

BMC is headed to the Tour of Utah

Here's the team's update:

29 July 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will race stateside next week as an eight-rider squad line up on Monday for the first of seven stages at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Sports Director Jackson Stewart said racing on home soil always gives the riders extra motivation. "We are heading to Utah with a young and ambitious team. Many of our riders have raced here before and with a solid week's recon, we will be lining up with a strong and well-prepared team. We are not heading to the race with a clear leader as we have multiple options available to us so we will see how the race evolves day by day."

Darwin Atampuma

Darwin Atampuma (shown winning Tour of Switzerland stage 5) will be racing in Utah.

"It is also great to have BMC Racing Team stagiaires, [Taylor] Eisenhart and [Fabian] Lienhard here with us. They've progressed well as part of the BMC Development Team program and this is a perfect race for them to enter the professional world of cycling and demonstrate their abilities. It is particularly exciting to see Eisenhart starting here in his home state and on his home roads."

For Taylor Eisenhart and Fabian Lienhard, racing in Utah is an exciting opportunity. "For me, being able to start my first pro race in my home state is pretty incredible. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah should be a fantastic start for me as I know a lot of the guys there really well and many are my former teammates who have moved up the ranks," said Eisenhart.

"I think this is going to be a really good race to line up alongside the BMC Racing Team pro riders for the first time. It's definitely not going to be easy but I am looking forward to stepping up to the challenge," added Lienhard.

Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (1 - 7 August)

Rider roster: Darwin Atapuma (COL), Tom Bohli (SUI), Taylor Eisenhart (USA), Fabian Lienhard (SUI), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER)

Sports Director: Jackson Stewart (USA)

Owner of Sport 2000 takes over Look Cycle

This is from Bike-Eu.com:

NEVERS, France – Activa Capital, the private equity firm that, among others also owns the Sport 2000 retail chain in France has taken a majority stake in Look Cycle. Former Look owners, Dominique Bergin and Thierry Fournier, will keep a stake in the French carbon specialist.

In May 2013 Look Cycle issued a statement that it needed extra capital for the execution of an ambitious growth plan. That included a doubling of its annual sales to around € 100 million by widening its existing bicycle product range as well as through acquisitions and by diversifying into other sectors like tennis and/or golf equipment.

In January 2016 Look announced to have taken over Corima; the French specialist in carbon wheels. Corima has 20 employees and realizes a turnover of € 4 million euro in 2015 on which 85% was made by export. In order to accelerate its French and international expansion further Look Cycle is now owned by Activa Capital.

Currently Look Cycle has an annual turnover of €45 million which is realized with some 400 employees. The company is the world leader in clipless pedal and is a specialist in carbon (frame) technology.

You can read the entire story about the Look takeover here.

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