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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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

You just can't beat the person who never gives up. - Babe Ruth

Current Racing:

Illness Forces Gilbert Out of Paris-Nice

BMC sent me this unhappy news:

09 March, 2016, Vichy (FRA): BMC Racing Team today announced that Philippe Gilbert will not be lining up at stage 3 of Paris-Nice due to a lingering illness.  

Gilbert has been suffering from an upper respiratory infection since the eve of Paris-Nice and although his condition appeared to be improving, the weather conditions seen in stages one and two have caused him to deteriorate, BMC Racing Team Doctor, Dr. Dario Spinelli said.

"Phil's condition is nothing to be overly concerned about, however the cold weather and snow that we saw in the opening prologue and first two stages of the race have done nothing but aggravate his condition," Dr. Spinelli said.

Although Gilbert is disappointed not to make it to Nice, he has bigger goals this season. "I really love this race so it is disappointing to have to stop racing. But I have one of my biggest goals for the season, Milan-San Remo, around the corner and in order to perform well there I need to fully recover from this illness and be in the best shape possible," Gilbert explained.

BMC Racing Team's rider selection for Milan-San Remo will be made at the end of Paris-Nice and Tirreno Adriatico and those riders selected will need to be in the best of health and physical condition.

Velonews relaunched

The good guys at Velonews are going back to their old name, Velonews (from Velo) as they re-launch the venerable cycling magazine. I've been reading it since it was sent to members of the old ABLA - Amateur Bicycle League of Amaerica (any of you remember those days?), which then became the USCF in 1975 and then USA Cycling in 1995. Good luck, and keep up the great work. Here's their own news story about the change.

Matthews takes second Paris-Nice stage win after sprint relegation

Orica-GreenEdge sent me this news:

Yellow jersey wearer Michael Matthews has taken another victory today at Paris-Nice in a stage two sprint that saw commissaires intervene on line honours.

Matthews was awarded the win in a tight finish that saw Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Credits) relegated for interfering with the 25-year-old’s sprint during the finish into Commentry.

Paris-Nice finish

A bumpy finish to the stage

"He (Bouhanni) changed his line a little bit in the sprint," explained Matthews, who was promoted from second to first place. "When you've opened up your sprint after a hard stage like that it's hard to sprint in a straight line.”

"I think I probably would have come past him in the sprint, but it's racing. It's unfortunate it needs to be like that but it is what it is. As you could see I had a lot of speed when I was coming past, so it would have been a win either way.

"It's definitely amazing to get another stage win - that's two out of three now. It was an uphill sprint so it suited me a lot better than yesterday."

After a close finish the commissaries took the decision to drop Bouhanni down from first to third place, consequently giving Matthews the victory and ten bonus seconds, which now increases his lead in the general classification to 14seconds.

Sport director Laureno Lapage was again thrilled with the team’s efforts today and expressed how taking the victory and retaining the lead in the race was an added bonus.

"We saw again a great team and everyone did their job,” Lapage said. “Winning the stage was good, we didn't know with all the sprinters here on a stage like this, but that shows again Matthews’ condition against the other WorldTour riders."

Tomorrow the riders face another tough 168km stage with five category three climbs and a steep climb to the finish line.

"We will keep the same race plan as we had at the start coming into this tour," continued Lapage. "That's with Matthews going for the stage wins and possibly overall and Simon Yates for the overall. Of course with Michael now in the yellow jersey we have to work hard in tomorrow's stage and also with the last hard climb up to the finish."

How it happened: Similar to yesterday's stage, four riders rode away from the peloton in the early stages working together to create an advantage of over ten minutes.

The quadruplet of Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo Vital Concept), Tsgabus Gebremaryam Grmay (Lampre Merida) and Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille Provence) had a long day out front on another cold stage.

ORICA-GreenEDGE once again sent riders to the front of the peloton, with New Zealader Sam Bewley and Australian Mitch Docker working hard for the majority of the stage controlling the breakaway's advantage.

As the race progressed and the breakaway's time gap continued to grow, Etixx-Quickstep came forward and joined the duo. The two teams rode for endless kilometres gradually reeling in the four riders.

Despite the cooler temperatures, the riders were pleased with the absence of rain or snow during the 213.5km stage. It was down to the final 50 kilometres when Team Katusha also placed riders at the fore, as it appeared the peloton were determined for a bunch sprint.

As the riders headed through the finish line with only one short loop to complete, the breakaway continued to dangle ahead of the peloton but saw their advantage reduced to 25 seconds.

The pace rapidly picked up as the riders were prepared for a fast, ferocious bunch sprint and the remains of the break were finally swallowed up.

With help of his two teammates Daryl Impey and Magnus Cort in the final one and a half kilometres, Matthews placed himself perfectly for the uphill sprint.

In the final metres, interference from Bouhanni caused him to be relegated down to third place with Matthews taking the victory and ten bonus seconds. The victory helped Matthews to extend his lead in the general classification also retain the green sprint jersey going into stage three.

Paris-Nice stage two results:
1. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 5:04:26
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) ST
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Credits) ST

General Classification after stage two:
1. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 9:41:46
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin)  +0:14
3. Patrick Bevin (Cannondale Pro Cycling) +0:19

Tour of Germany returning

ASO, the owners of the Tour de France, among other races and properties, announced that it would revive the Deutschland Tour, or Tour of Germany, with the first edition planned for 2017. The first stage will leave Düsseldorf.

The race has a venerable history, dating back to 1911. The race was discontinued after the 2008 edition because of widespread German disgust with cycling never-ending doping scandals.

Lotto-Soudal, with super-sprinter André Greipel, sent out this release:

Today, was announced that there will appear a renewed Tour of Germany on the cycling calendar. Tour de France organizer ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation) and BDR (the German cycling union) have set up a cooperation. The last edition of the Tour of Germany took place in 2008, since then the race was cancelled due to some sponsorship issues. Cycling regains its popularity in Germany, a good example is the start of the Tour de France of 2017 in Düsseldorf. The first edition of the renewed Deutschland Tour will take place in 2017 or 2018. Lotto Soudal has two German riders in the team, André Greipel and Marcel Sieberg. They’re both very happy with this announcement.

Abdre Greipel

André Greipel winning a race on Mallorca earlier this year

André Greipel: “As a German rider I’m very happy that a renewed Tour of Germany will take place of course, it was an important race in the past. For the moment it’s not clear whether the first edition will be held in 2017 or 2018 and where and when the race will be organized. Germany offers a varied landscape, several types of stages are possible. The hotels are good accommodated as well.”

“Germany has a strong economy, this new organization is good for cycling. It gives a chance to the smaller teams to race against the bigger teams and riders, this can only be an advantage for the quality and interest of the sport. Big steps are being set at this moment in what I call the 'comeback' of cycling in Germany. The German riders are performing well, the media shows a lot of interest, with Bora there’s a team with a long-term perspective, several sponsors with interests in Germany – like Soudal – engaged themselves and next year the Tour de France starts in Düsseldorf. I’m looking forward to be a representative for German cycling the next few years.” 

Lampre-Merida's news about Tirreno-Adriatico

The team sent me this release:

On Wednesday 9th March Lampre-Merida will be in Lido di Camaiore at the start of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2016.

The blue-fuchsia-green line-up for the Two Seas Race will include Mattia Cattaneo, Valerio Conti, Roberto Ferrari, Sacha Modolo, Manuele Mori, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Diego Ulissi and Federico Zurlo.

Sacha Modolo

Sacha Modolo racing last year

The team will directed by Orlando Maini and Marco Marzano, who'll be supported by the physician Dr De Grandi, by the masseurs Della Torre, Gallivanone, Napolitano and Redaelli and by the mechanics Chiodini, Pengo and Romanò.

This is the program of the race:

The sports director Maini introduced the team's selection: "Three riders will will try be protagonists in the stages suitable for the sprinters: Modolo will be supported by Ferrari and Zurlo. Ulissi's goal is a stage victory, Mori and Conti could give him a good help.

Cattaneo will be free to go in search of breakaway, Niemiec will aim to compete on the climb with the top riders".  

Taiwan bike maker opening factory in Europe

This surprising news is in Bike Europe:

AGUEDA, Portugal – Taiwan’s Fritz Jou Manufacturing is opening a bicycle factory at Bike Valley Portugal. The company announced this at the Taipei Cycle Show last week. It’s a major step forward in the ‘bringing production back to Europe’ initiatives and the reshoring project of the European bicycle industry.

“We are joining Bike Valley Portugal as this is the ultimate project where the industry can take control over the supply chain again,” says President Fritz Jou of Fritz Jou Manufacturing. “In the past decades I have seen many production shifts based on GSP+, anti-dumping duties, and other tax incentives. These aspects are difficult to control by the industry. In the Bike Valley project we can finally produce where the market is, reduce the time to market and improve our flexibility. That is our ultimate goal.”

“We are confident about the future of the Bike Valley in Portugal even when the European Commission decides in March 2019 to discontinue the anti-dumping duty on bicycles made in China that are exported to Europe. It will certainly change the industry landscape,” says Fritz Jou.

Ypu can read the complete story here.

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