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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 12, 2016

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

I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Current Racing:

WFSGI and UCI talk to replace 6.8 kg weight limitation for road bikes

Ths posted in Bike Europe:

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Public Meeting organized by the World Federation Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) at last week’s Taipei Show included an update on the talks with the UCI on the 6.8 kg weight limitation for road bikes.

The update said that the WFSGI agreed with the UCI that the current weight limitation will be replaced since it does not guarantee safety anymore. The WFSGI Working Group handling the weight limitation issues as well as the aerodynamics of road bikes asked the UCI for one year in order to identify an appropriate replacement of the current UCI weight rules for road bikes.

At the public meeting also an update on the workings of the Wheel Committee with the UCI was presented. Here it was said that the process is started to integrate the wheel test for roads bikes into ISO 4210 in order to get rid of any additional UCI test.

On disc brakes for road bikes the WFSGI said, “The great effort of the WFSGI bicycle members in collaboration with the UCI in order to get disc brakes approved in road racing paid back finally with the first test races taking place in July last year. The positive feedbacks from the first test races leaded to the expected continuation of the trial period with a full introduction season 2016.” This is expected to result in 2017 road bikes that are fitted with disc brakes on a broad scale.

Your can read the entire story here.

Raleigh USA to begin online bike sales

This was in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — Raleigh USA told its dealers Tuesday that it would begin selling bicycles online to consumers who would then pick them up at a participating Raleigh dealer. Raleigh dealers will also be able to sell bikes valued at more than $1,000 at retail on their own websites.

The move mimics in some ways the current programs announced last year by Trek and in February by Giant.

Qualified Raleigh dealers will receive normal margin when their point-of-sale system has been integrated with Raleigh’s and if they have the model in stock and available to sell.

For bikes not held in stock, or if the dealer’s POS system is not integrated with Raleigh’s, the dealer will receive a commission on the sale based on the dealer’s current program with Raleigh minus the costs of sales incurred. Those costs would include marketing, processing of orders and shipping.

Dealers would then be paid monthly through a credit to their account, which would be applied to the balance. A specific digital dealer agreement will be available by the end of the month.

You can read the entire story here.

Tinkoff's Paris-Nice Report:

The disappointment of stage 3 behind the peloton, Paris-Nice had its first taste of the mountains today. With the bigger climbs too far from the finish to make an impact, Rafal Majka and Alberto Contador finished with the peloton after a lone breakaway took the stage win, with no time lost to the GC leaders and ready to take on the big mountains.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey Lutsenko enjoys his well-earned stage win

As the race finally entered the mountains proper, the climbers had the chance to stretch their legs on a stage that over 198km took in the Col de la Madeleine, Mont Ventoux, the Col du Pointu, the Cote de la Roque-d'Antheron and the Col de Seze a little under 30km from the finish in Salon-de-Provence. The more fearsome climbs, however, were far from the finish and ultimately had little impact on the outcome of the stage. This didn’t stop teams from breaking away from the very start of the stage – managing to stay clear of the peloton for much of the day.

“The race went as expected today.” said Sports Director, Sean Yates, of the day’s racing. “We were hoping for a hard fight at the start but a seven man break went early and the bunch seemed quite happy with this so they went up the road.”

As the peloton approached the Cote de la Roque-d’Antheron, it was clear the Tinkoff riders wanted to shake up the other teams to chase. Yates continues. “The gap kept going up and other teams weren't chasing so we started to chase and brought the gap down. The last climb was quite hard and tricky and some of the sprinters got dropped and had to fight back.”

In spite of a long, flat approach to the finish, the solo Lutsenko of Katusha took the win. “When Lutsenko got away you expect these breaks to come back” said Yates “but he was strong today and stayed away, and the sprinters missed out.”

Twenty-one seconds behind, the peloton, with Majka, Contador, Trofimov, Poljanski and Kiserlovski, crossed the line. Majka remains in the top ten of the GC, with Alberto 6 seconds behind in 17th.

Tinkoff’s leader, Alberto Contador, was supported well by his team throughout a tough day. "It was a demanding day in which we spent a lot of energy. Mont Ventoux came a bit early but we climbed with a good rhythm, setting the pace. The stage was very hard, as we also had to pay attention to the wind, but the squad did a good job of protecting me and we finished again safely.”

The day’s result was not a disappointment for the Tinkoff Sport Director. “For us our aim was to stay safe at the finish and not lose time ahead of tomorrow, which we're really looking forward to. It's going to be a hard day with not much in the way of straight or flat roads, but the weather is looking OK. We'll be ready to race tomorrow and are looking for a hard stage as Alberto's happy and up for it tomorrow.”

Alberto echoed his Sport Director’s comments. “Tomorrow will be an important day, with an uphill finish. We will have to see what we can achieve and whether we can climb up in the GC."

At 177km, stage 6 tomorrow is the Race to the Sun’s queen stage. Ending in Nice, the stage takes in no fewer than seven climbs – two of them first category – and is a chance for the GC riders to take some time.

Sergio Paulinho did not take the start due to an injury.

And here's Orica-GreenEdge's Paris-Nice news:

Two-time stage winner Michael Matthews successfully defended the yellow jersey again today in Paris-Nice taking third on a hilly stage five. Matthews gained a four second bonus for the podium finish and retains his lead going into the penultimate stage of the WorldTour race.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews in the race leader's yellow jersey.

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) took a solo victory in Salon-de-Provence, moving him up to second place in the general classification, six seconds behind the world championship silver medallist.

"It was a hard day for everybody but I feel good," Matthews explained after the stage. "Not super but good. I don't think anybody feels super after the first three days we had. I had noted this stage down as I was hoping we could get rid of the sprinters along the way but as we didn't, we sat back and let the other teams do the work. The priority was then the yellow jersey more than the stage win.

"I'm not going to say I can win Paris-Nice but I'm going to give it everything I have. It's already over for the green jersey, I won it, so now it's all for the yellow."

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage is happy with the race so far for the ORICA-GreenEDGE team and the condition of the riders heading into the tough final two stages. "It's another day now we are in the lead and today the team was really great again," Lapage said. "Matthews got over the climbs today in good position so it shows the form he has."

"The next two stages are really the hardest ones. Today we also had Simon Yates who was in really great condition, so I think for the next two stages we have a strong situation with Michael in the lead and Simon ready for the action."

How it happened: A sunny but windy start welcomed the riders in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. Within the first two kilometres of the race, eight riders broke free and rapidly increased their advantage with the peloton seeming happy to let them go.

As the breakaway started the second main climb of the day, Mont Ventoux, the time gap had gone up to seven minutes 30seconds. It wasn't long before three riders Jesús Herrada (Movistar), Arnaud Courteille (Francaise Des Jeux) and Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) dropped their breakaway companions as they crested the top of the climb.

Lars Boom (Astana Pro Team) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-Quickstep) rode across to the front trio, and the riders began to descend with the gap at six minutes heading towards the next climbs.

With 45km to go the gap between the peloton and the five breakaway riders reduced significantly down to two minutes, when Duchesne tried his luck by riding away from the five man breakaway. ORICA-GreenEDGE set the tempo at the front of the peloton as the race rolled towards the important final climbs of the day.

On the Côte de la Roque d'Anthéron, the penultimate climb, the day the pace caused splits in the peloton. Daryl Impey set a hard pace up the climb with Yates and Matthews comfortably riding behind him in the chase group.

Duchesne continued to dangle off the front over the top of the climb and down the descend, hovering around the 50second mark. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) tried to bridge the gap, successfully doing so with only 16km left to race.

The duo headed through the ten kilometres to go mark and Lutsenko attacked the tired Direct Energie rider and held a solo lead of 30seconds. Three kilometres remained and the Astana rider worked hard to maintain his advantage.

The chasing group sensed the danger and rode hard to bring the solo rider back. Unlike yesterday's stage the timing didn't work in favour of the sprinters and Lutsenko stayed away to take the victory on stage five.

Matthews continues to lead the eight-day race with an advantage of six seconds and with two days still to race seems to have wrapped up the green sprint jersey competition with a 20-point lead.

Lampre-Merida sent me this about Paris-Nice:

Davide Cimolai was in the top 5 of the 5th stage of the Paris-Nice which started from Saint Paul Trois Chateaux and had its finish in Salon de Provence, after a total distance of 198 km, during which the riders covered five Kom hills (one of 3rd category, three of 2nd category and one of 1st category): the most important was the Mont Ventoux (not the whole ascent) in the first part of the race.

The cyclists rode in the first hour at a high pace (44.8 km/h) thanks to a strong side wind and in the early kilometers a breakaway with 8 members (Vandenbergh, Courteille, Herrada, Boom, Duchesne, Wippert, Theuns and Brändle) took the leadership of the race, however, despite a maximum advantage of 10'30", the bunch was very close to the attackers after the summit of the climb and the gap to most of the leaders was bridged in the downhill.

Lampre-Merida's riders demonstrated a good attitude in the approach of the Mont Ventoux with the result that Bono, Cimolai, Grmay, Meintjes and Rui Costa succeeded to reach the summit of the Mont Ventoux in the main group.

At 17 km to go, Lutsenko attacked from the peloton and the reached the only one former member of the breakaway who could resist in the head of the race, Duchesne, and he soon overtake him, reaching an advantage of 23" on the bunch.

Despite the efforts of the sprinters' teams for chasing Lutsenko, he could defend an advantage of 21" which granted him a solo victory. The sprinters in the peloton competed for the 2nd place: Cimolai was 4th, behind Kristoff (2nd) and Matthews (3rd).

Rui Costa was 25th and in the overall classification he's 30th at 53" to the leader Matthews.

The worst news for Lampre-Merida is the withdrawal of Marko Kump, who was weak after having suffered the bad weather conditions which characterized the previous stages.

And there was also the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race

Here's Tinkoff's update:

With Peter Sagan starting stage 3 in the top ten of the GC, and on a course that would favour the sprinters, there was no doubt that this was going to be a day of action at Tirreno-Adriatico. In a bunch sprint in Montalto di Castro, Peter’s 4th place put him top of the points classification.

Ferando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins the Tirreno-Adriato's third stage

The 3rd stage of the 51st edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico took place over a 176km route that, in spite of climbs midway through the day, had a long downhill that would give sprinters the chance to bridge any gaps. In a Tirreno-Adriatico parcours that created opportunities for sprinters on only one stage, the final 30km would prove pivotal in who would take the stage win.

So, at 30km out, the Tinkoff riders began pushing for position, eager to close the gap on the breakaway that had been in front from the start of the stage, and slowly took time from the break, finally catching at 2km to go. The pace rising, Tinkoff took to the front, with Adam Blythe finally handing off to Peter Sagan for the sprint, which was narrowly taken by Gaviria of Etixx-Quick Step.

Speaking about the closing moments of the race, Peter praised his teammates. “It was very fast and very narrow for the last 40km. The conditions were good, I did my best and the team worked very well – it was important we didn’t crash”. Sports Director, Lars Michaelsen echoed Peter’s praise. “It was a pretty good, flat out day. We didn't go in the groups and had the team there at the end to set Peter up for the sprint. The guys did a great job to get him into position coming into the final kilometres and at the end he got fourth around some very fast guys.

It's not a stage win but we tried and were right up there which is a positive.”
Adam Blythe gave some insight into the team’s approach at the end of the stage.

“It was pretty good out there today. We were focussing on trying to get Peter into a good position. The plan was to get together in the last 15km around him and to keep him out of trouble and up there. Then it was to go into the downhill before the finish full gas, and carry the speed up into the sprint but it was quite a long one.”

With Peter taking the Maglia Rossa, Lars was looking to build on this and take stages later in the race. “The points jersey is a bonus - we're came here to win stages and this is a nice reward for our work so far, but our focus will remain the same and we'll take it day by day.”

Of the coming stages, Peter already had his eye on tomorrow’s course. “We’ll be focussing on the future. Tomorrow will be a good day for sure – we will see, we will try, and see how it’s going. A race is a race and every day is different. Tirreno-Adriatico is far from over and I think I can aim at a stage win. In addition, the season's main goals still lie ahead and we are working to reach them.”

As the race goes on, the team’s form for the classics is becoming evident, as shown by Adam Blythe’s confidence for the coming classics. ”Me personally, I'm feeling better and better and I'm coming good towards the start of the big classics which is exciting.”

At 222km, stage 4 is the longest at this year’s race. With a parcours that takes in four climbs close to the finish in Foligno, GC riders will be looking to take control of the race, while there’s potential for the all-rounders to push for a stage win.

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