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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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

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Giro d'Italia team news

Here's the Cannondale update:

Rigoberto Uran will lead the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team into the Giro d’Italia, which begins on Friday in the Netherlands. The race features six very hard days in the mountains and also demands three separate efforts against the clock, meaning that a balanced rider such as Uran has a very good chance at winning the overall.

“We’ve made no bones about the Giro being our target for the season. It’s a major objective for us, and the guys have trained accordingly. They’ve done the laps of the volcano; they’ve raced in rough conditions leading into this,” Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “It’s the Giro, so you’re never completely prepared, but the team is as ready as possible. Rigo’s going good, and he’s got a really good group around him. He’s got a really good shot to win.”

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran at this year's Tour de Romandie

Uran has finished second on two occasions at the Giro, in 2013 and 2014. And the 29-year-old Colombian finished seventh in 2012. "The whole team is totally focused and ready for work," said Uran. "This season, I have worked more in Europe and have made several highly focused efforts to prepare."

Asked if he could win, all Uran said was: "We are going to try and confirm that in 21 days."

“Rigo's our leader going into the Giro because we like his toughness over three weeks. He's a resilient, smart racer. Consistency is key to winning a grand tour, and that's what I see in Rigo,” Vaughters said. “He may lack the raw horsepower of Nibali, but he’s a deeply intelligent rider. And as a person, he’s the guy the rest of the team wants to support. They love the guy.”

The squad that Cannondale Pro Cycling brings is completely dedicated to the GC pursuit. Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Andre Cardoso, Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Moreno Moser, and Ramunas Navardauskas are ready to support the team's ambitions at the Giro. Clarke will serve as road captain — an invaluable element in a race as hectic and difficult as the Giro. 

“He’s our road captain because of his leadership and intelligence. He’s the best out there. And, unlike many of the other road captains, he’s never dropped early in the hills. He’s there to lead until the bitter end,” Vaughters said.

Dombrowski makes his first Giro start and, along with Formolo and Cardoso, is a vital cog in the machinery needed to win the Giro. “I’m looking forward to coming into the race with a clear leader and clear objective, with the experience of having ridden my first grand tour last year," Dombrowski said. "I’m hoping to be a good support rider for Rigo, particularly in the mountain stages later in the race. Additionally, I’m looking forward to the stage over Col de la Bonette. I’ve spent a lot of time training at altitude in that area because it is close to where I am based in Nice. The riding is stunning, and I have friends and family that are going to be out on the road watching.

Formolo, for his part, was just counting the days this week. “It’s Giro time,” he said. “I’m good. It’s unlucky I crashed in Romandie, but I’ll fix everything in the next couple days. I’m ready to fight.”

This Giro has been a long time coming for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and something the group has put complete focus on.

"We are very happy with how the team is functioning. The riders from this group have all come into form at the right time,” head sport director Charly Wegelius said. “We can look towards the Giro with confidence."

The Giro begins on Friday, May 6 with a short, opening time trial in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. It concludes 20 stages later in Torino, Italy on Sunday, May 29.

Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters on each selection to the roster:

Alberto Bettiol, all-rounder: “We’re going to rely on Alberto to shepherd our leaders on the faster stages. Those seconds before the finish never show up in articles, but they’re some of the most crucial pieces of a stage race. When a team rides for GC as we are, it comes down to seconds. Those seconds are accounted for in so many ways at the Giro. Alberto will be asked to keep Rigoberto protected in those moments. At 22, he’s one of the youngest riders in the race.”

Nate Brown, all-rounder: “Nate was a last-minute addition to our Giro roster after the Mike Woods injury at LBL, but we tapped him last minute because we knew he was in shape and able to perform under rough conditions. He’s effective in the last week. He's durable. He’s not always sharp the first week, but has the makings of a grand tour domestique, as he's a diesel, and his engine only warms up by week three. Also, Nate’s selfless; he loves being a good helper, and he relishes in the hard work.”

Andre Cardoso, climber: “Cardoso’s talents as a climber are well known, and that’s exactly what we’re asking of him in Italy; he’ll be one of Rigo’s last men standing in the mountains. We need his grand tour savvy, too: He finished in the top 25 in both the Giro and Vuelta last season. He’s great in the third week no matter what. He crashes, he keeps going. He gets sick, he keeps going.”

Simon Clarke, all-rounder, road captain: “Simon came to us this season with important experience in big races and his all-around ability make him a threat in the stages at the Giro I look at as the in-betweens. Not a sprint, not a summit, just hard bike racing. He’s also our road captain because of his leadership and intelligence. He’s the best road captain out there. And, unlike many of the other road captains, he’s never dropped early in the hills. He’s there to lead until the bitter end.”

Joe Dombrowski, climber: “Joe’s done the hard miles in training with the guys on Tenerife and he’s raced the Vuelta before. He won the “Baby Giro” in 2012, and the Tour of Utah last year. He’s coming along really nicely. Joe will likely suffer early on and on the explosive climbs, but when it gets really tough he’ll be there in a big way. He may be the key guy in Rigo’s run for the win.”

Davide Formolo, climber: “He’s earned the respect of his older teammates and the confidence of his directors. He rode the Giro last year, but I’m expecting a much different Davide this time around. He’s got a shot at the young rider jersey, sure, but that’s a by-product of riding well. He’ll be a super-domestique for Rigo, but I’d look for him to take some chances, too. The Giro’s an exciting race for a young Italian rider like Davide. He’ll ride accordingly.”

Moreno Moser, all-rounder, time trialist : “We selected Moreno for his all-around strength and knowledge of the race. He’s a good time trialist and will target those efforts as well as work to keep the race smooth for Rigoberto in the middle-mountain stages. He can compete on varied terrain for wins, as well. People forget he won Strade Bianche. He’s competitive and it’s a race on home soil — Moreno will be a key piece in the race for us."

Ramunas Navardauskas, all-rounder: "Of all the guys in the peloton, I think Ramunas is one of the most versatile. He finished on the podium at Worlds last season, and that’s indicative of the type of rider he is: strong over varied terrain, and tough. He’s won a stage at both the Giro and Tour, too. He’s the best helper possible on the flat days, unselfish and an absolute horse in the crosswinds."

Rigoberto Uran, climber and time trialist. Leader. "Rigo's our leader going into the Giro because we like his toughness over three weeks. He's a resilient, smart racer. Consistency is key to winning a grand tour, and that's what I see in Rigo right now. He's finished second on GC twice at the Giro, and has two stage wins. Hey may lack the raw horsepower of Nibali, but he’s a deeply intelligent rider. And as a person, he’s the guy the rest of the team wants to support. They love the guy.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling for the 2016 Giro d’Italia: Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Andre Cardoso, Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas, Rigoberto Uran

This Giro news came from Lotto-Soudal:

Now that the Spring Classics have come to an end it’s time to look forward to the first Grand Tour of the season. The 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia starts in Apeldoorn. The peloton will stay three days in the South-East of the Netherlands, then it will travel to Italy. After that, the riders need to compete against each other for another three weeks.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “This year’s Giro starts with a short individual time trial of almost ten kilometres. It will be something for the real specialists. The rider who manages to obtain the pink jersey in the first stage will be able to wear this jersey for about three days without any inconveniences. The next two stages in the Netherlands will most likely end with a bunch sprint. The wind can play an important role but in my opinion, the teams with a decent sprinter will give their all to make sure that these stages end with a sprint. After these three stages the riders will head to Italy. I think that each team will have twice as much staff as usual so the trip will go fluently. A rest day is scheduled on Monday so the trip won’t have a big influence.”

The first week in Italy contains a few interesting stages. Again, there will be some opportunities for the sprinters. But there are also opportunities for a breakaway to survive. Also the GC riders need to be attentive in several stages. The day before the second rest day a long and hard individual time trial is scheduled.

Bart Leysen: “The breakaway specialists will certainly try something during the fourth and eighth stage. These stages have a tough finale so that gives an advantage to the riders who dare to try something. Stage five and seven will offer more opportunities to the sprinters. The sixth stage will be very important for GC, as well as the second individual time trial. The GC riders will have to be attentive at the front of the peloton during the sixth stage, in the time trial they need to limit their loss on their competitors.”

“The second week the course is quite similar, although more mountain stages are scheduled that week. The final three stages certainly will have an influence on the GC positions. Especially the climbing time trial of about ten kilometres will be a very hard day. The time gaps will be big. The other stages are opportunities for the punchers and breakaway riders. Stage twelve will be another sprint stage, the course is entirely flat that day.”

The riders will need to give their all right after the third rest day with a tough stage that ends with an uphill finish. After that, another sprint stage is scheduled. On stage seventeen a breakaway could be successful again. During the nineteenth and twentieth stage, the positions on GC will be finally determined. The final stage offers a last opportunity to the sprinters.

Bart Leysen: “It will depend on how the riders will have recovered from the final rest day. Some riders feel really good after a rest day, others have very bad legs. The next stage will end with a bunch sprint just as the final stage, although last year that wasn’t the case (Iljo Keisse won the final stage in last year’s Giro d’Italia after a sprint against his co-escapee Luke Durbridge, LTS). We’ll see how many sprinters will still be present in the race at that moment and how the sprint teams will deal with the escapees. It’s possible that a break survives, that’s also the case for the eighteenth stage. The next two stages will certainly determine the positions on GC. There will be a lot of attempts during these stages. In my opinion, this year’s Giro d’Italia won't be determined before the final mountain stage. A lot of things can happen during these two days.”

“We participate with a very strong team in the Giro, several types of riders are part of our line-up so we can play a role in almost every stage. Lars Bak is a very experienced rider and he will be in the sprint train of André during the first two weeks. After that he’ll have a free role so he’ll be able to join a break for instance. Sean De Bie rides his first Grand Tour ever. It will be another step forward for him. Together with Tim Wellens he’s the youngest rider of our team and they will certainly make each other stronger. Sean will have to do a lot of work, but he’ll also get the opportunity to join a break if that’s possible. The main goal for Sean is to finish his first Grand Tour. Of course, André Greipel is our leader to win stages. He completed fewer races compared to last year but I’m sure that André is ready to shine. There will be about five sprint opportunities and he’ll certainly show himself.”

Lars Bak

Lars Bak

“Adam Hansen rides his fourteenth consecutive Grand Tour so he knows what such race entails. He will be an important member of Greipel’s sprint train, but just like Lars he’ll also get his opportunities to go for a stage win himself by joining a break. Pim Ligthart is also a rider who will be part of the sprint train. He will be extra motivated because the first three stages are held in his home country. Pim can also join a break or attack in the finale. Maxime Monfort will be our leader for the GC. He’ll need to be attentively at the front of the peloton in the important GC stages and he’ll need to limit the time gaps with his competitors in the time trials. Normally, this discipline suits him well. Last year, Monfort was sixteenth overall, this year we aim for the same result. Jürgen Roelandts will be another important rider for the sprint preparation. His next goal will be the Belgian Championships road race, he needs a long race period so he can improve his shape. Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens will be the riders who can try something in the stages with a hard finale. They’re also able to surround Maxime as long as they can. I really look forward to this interesting and beautiful race.”

Roster Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort, Jürgen Roelandts, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Frederik Willems.

Here's Team Sky's Giro announcement:

Team Sky has confirmed its squad for the 99th edition of the Giro d'Italia, which starts in Apeldoorn, Holland on Friday and concludes in Turin on Sunday 29 May.

Team Sky's bid for the pink jersey will be led by Mikel Landa, with Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Sebastian Henao, Christian Knees, David Lopez, Nicolas Roche, Mikel Nieve and home favourite Elia Viviani joining him in the nine-man squad.

Mikel Landa said: "The Giro d'Italia is my first big goal of the season and I'm proud to go there as leader of Team Sky.  I feel like I'm coming into really good form and I'm confident I can perform well.

"As usual the Giro will be a really tough race but we have a strong team and we're ready for it"

Mikel Landa

Mikel Landa winning stage 2 at this year's Tour of the Basque Country

Reflecting on the season so far ahead of the Giro d'Italia, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford, said: "This has been our best ever start to the year. We have really demonstrated the strength in depth we have at Team Sky.  We've performed well in stage racing and I'm particularly pleased that we showed real progression in the Classics, culminating in our long awaited first Monument win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege".

Brailsford added that the team was going into the first Grand Tour of the year "full of confidence". "Mikel Landa will lead our Giro d'Italia team. He has fitted in to the team brilliantly and is coming into top form just at the right time. He will be supported by a strong, experienced and fully committed group of riders around him. Mikel and the team are in great shape and they are ready for the challenge."

The Team Sky squad for the 2016 Giro d'Italia:

Mikel Landa - age 26 - Spain: Mikel earned his reputation as one of the world's top Grand Tour riders in 2015 when he won two stages and finished third overall at the Giro d'Italia, despite working in support of race winner Fabio Aru. The Spaniard followed that up with another stage triumph at the Vuleta a Espana, and has continued that fine form since joining Team Sky in 2016. Although illness affected much of his early-season programme, Mikel got back to winning ways with a stage victory at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and then took another stage success on his way to the overall victory in last week's Giro del Trentino. 

Ian Boswell - age 25 - USA: Ian has progressed tremendously since turning professional with Team Sky in 2013. Top-10 performances at the Trofeo Andratx, Tour de Langkawi and Tour of California earned him his first Grand Tour ride at the Vuelta a Espana last season, and he completed that race in style after sealing a top-three finish on stage 11. It is in the mountains where Ian feels most at home, and his selfless attitude and unwavering work ethic have helped achieve victories in four of the five races he has entered for Team Sky this season.

Philip Deignan - age 32 - Ireland: Now in his 12th year as a pro, Philip has amassed an enviable stage race record and will be making his ninth Grand Tour appearance at the Giro d'Italia. His career highlight came on the 18th stage of the 2009 Vuelta a Espana when he battled to a hard-fought win, and that result helped him claim a top-10 overall finish in the process. Since then the climbing specialist has achieved further victories at the Tours of the Gila, California, Utah, and the USA Pro Challenge, and his experience will be a key attribute over the three weeks of action.

Sebastian Henao - age 22 - Colombia: Sebastian turned professional with Team Sky in 2014 and marked himself out as a top climbing talent that season with two top-10 stage finishes in his first-ever Giro d'Italia. A string of impressive performances have followed since then, and Sebastian will provide invaluable support to Mikel when the road ramps upwards.

Christian Knees - age 35 - Germany: Christian is rightfully regarded as one of the best domestiques in the sport and the Giro will mark his 15th Grand Tour appearance. The former German champion will work primarily for Mikel during the flatter sections of the race, keeping him well positioned and out of harm's way, whilst also ensuring Elia Viviani is in the right place to contest the sprints.

David Lopez - age 34 - Spain: Another hugely-experienced campaigner, David is in his 12th season as a professional and will assume the role of a key climbing domestique. The Spaniard is a Vuelta a Espana stage winner and has played his part in two previous Grand Tour victories, the most recent of which was Chris Froome's maiden Tour de France triumph in 2013.

Mikel Nieve - age 31 - Spain: Now into his third season with the team, Mikel is no stranger to competing at the sharp end of three-week stage races. With top-10 overall finishes at the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana already achieved, not to mention a stage victory in each, he is one of the best pure climbers around. Nieve will turn 32 during the race's final week, where he will be hoping to play a pivotal role in the mountains for his fellow Basque native Mikel Landa.

Nicolas Roche - age 31 - Ireland: No-one will have ridden more Grand Tours on this roster than Nico when he makes his 16th such appearance in Apeldoorn. A top-five finish at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana proves his all-round credentials, and when he's not helping Mikel in the mountains, Nico might also get the chance to go for a stage win himself and add to an already impressive palmares.

Elia Viviani - age 27 - Italy: Elia lives for the Giro and achieved a life-long ambition last season when he romped to his first stage win in Genoa. That success earned him the red sprinter's jersey, and he would hold it for 11 days before the race was out. Elia will be aiming for more sprint successes this time around and renew his bid to win the maglia rossa outright.

And here's Team Dimension Data's Giro new release:

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka are all set to start this year’s Giro d’Italia, which gets underway on 6 May in Apeldoorn, Holland. It will be the first time our African Team start the Italian Grand Tour, making it a significant moment for our team and for African cycling in general.

The Giro d’Italia is yet another amazing opportunity for our African Team to share our #BicyclesChangeLives message to the world and so we are delighted to announce our 9 rider roster that will represent Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka over the coming 3 weeks. We are also really proud that 5 of our African riders will start, including the South African national champion, Jaco Venter. He will get to show off the national jersey at the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2012.

Riders will be tested to their limits over the 21 stages that make up the 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia and for further details on each of the stages, click here.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka Giro d’Italia 2016 Squad

Kirsitan Sbaragli

Kristian Sbaragli (shown winning 2015 Vuelta stage 10) will be on the start line for the 2016 Giro

Merhawi Kudus (22 years – Eritrea)
Kanstantsin Siutsou (33 years – Belarus)
Igor Anton (33 years – Spain)
Omar Fraile (25 years – Spain)
Kristian Sbaragli (25 years -Italy)
Jaco Venter (29 years – South Africa)
Johann van Zyl (25 years – South Africa)
Jay Thomson (30 years – South Africa)
Songezo Jim (25 years – South Africa)

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: We did a big push to get into the Giro d’Italia in 2014 as our first Grand Tour as Africa’s cycling team and it was not to be, so to be standing on the start line in 2016 is massive for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Starting in Holland to is incredible as we had a great Tour de France last year, when we started in Utrecht. We have selected an amazing team with 7 riders new to the Giro and 2 riders, Igor Anton and Kanstantsin Siutsou, who have 10 Giro’s between them with the latter one riding into the top 10 before and winning a stage. Both riders will play leading roles in this team in support both on and off the bike. To have 5 riders from Africa in this team racing their first Giro is a dream come true for us, as well as for our young Italian Kristian Sbaragli and Basque Omar Fraile. We hope to make an impact that matters.

Rolf Aldag – Head of Performance: We’re extremely happy to celebrate our first appearance at the Giro d’Italia. Our riders are ready, we have an incredibly motivated group of people who are ready to leave their mark in one of the biggest races of the year. Starting a grand tour in Holland is always very special, because it is one of the moments where the tradition and the respect of the Dutch meet the history of more than 100 years of bike racing.

Jaco Venter – Rider: The team has been based in Italy for a number of years and to be able to race the Giro d’Italia now, well it has always been a big goal for me and the team. It will also be my first grand tour wearing the South African champions jersey which is really special. Racing so close to my European base, it feels like it is a home race for me. We have a strong team for the Giro so we are hoping for some good results and some good weather.

E-Bikes sales soar in Netherlands and Germany

Bike Europe posted his news:

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – 2015 electric bike sales in the Netherlands surged with a big 24%. The other main market in Europe for e-bikes – Germany – also showed big double growth last year and which is continuing to grow further with e-MTBs, as Accell Group (e-bike market leader) reported last week in its trading update.

According to Dutch industry-association Rai some 53,000 more e-bikes were sold last year in the Netherlands compared to 2014. In that year total sales stood at 223,000 units; in 2015 the total came in at 276,000 e-bikes; resulting in a 24% growth. The 276,000 e-bikes sold is excluding speed e-bikes. Sales of this category upped with 43% to 3,571 units.

The e-bike sales hike made the average sales price for a new bike sold at the Dutch IBDs to reach record levels of over one thousand euro; € 1,058 to be exact! With the 24% growth e-bikes were the big shining star in a bicycle market that proved depressed for other categories. The total Dutch market saw sales drop by 6.4% to below the one million units level; to 983,000. By the way, this drop was expected. In particular as in the last quarter of 2014 bike sales increased to extraordinary levels caused by the end of a tax-incentive scheme on the purchase of new bicycles used for commuting.

You can read the entire story here.

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