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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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

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Geraint Thomas extends with Team Sky

Team Sky sent me this news:

Geraint Thomas has signed a contract extension to remain with Team Sky. The Welshman, 29, has been an integral member of Team Sky since its inception in 2010 and has played a crucial role in the team's continued success.

Thomas switched his focus to stage races this season, winning the Volta ao Algarve in February before claiming his first Paris-Nice title in March. He is expected to be a crucial part of Team Sky’s bid to win a fourth Tour de France in July.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas at the 2016 Tour of Romandie

Speaking from Team Sky's training camp in Tenerife, he said: "Signing again was an easy decision. Team Sky feels like home. From the other riders to the staff, I love it here.

"I’ve only really just started when it comes to trying to win stage races. I’m learning all the time about how to get in the best shape for them and how to lead a team.

"For me, this year started with winning Paris-Nice and is now about going to the Tour in the best shape possible to support Froomey. After the Tour we can start looking to next year and keep setting bigger and better goals. It’s about keeping that progression going, and Team Sky is the best place to do that. I’m just super happy being part of the team."

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford has welcomed Thomas' decision to extend his stay with the team. He said: "We’re all delighted that Geraint has renewed his contract with Team Sky. He epitomises what the team is all about both on and off the bike.

"He’s a great ambassador for Team Sky, cycling and, let's not forget, Wales!"

Looking ahead, Brailsford is excited about what the Welshman can achieve in the next chapter of his career. He added: “Geraint is one of the most versatile bike racers in the world. He has demonstrated this by winning on the track, in the Classics and now in stage races.

"He has gone from strength to strength and winning Paris-Nice this year was another step up. I think it gave him real confidence and now he can set his sights on developing his performances in the Grand Tours.

"I still believe the best is yet to come from Geraint and we will enjoy supporting him to see just how far he can go."

André Greipel and Marcel Sieberg extend with Lotto-Soudal

This must be contract time. Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

Lotto Soudal is proud to announce that the contract of André Greipel and Marcel Sieberg has been extended until the end of 2018. Together the two dear friends have 24 years of experience in the pro peloton and they have been part of this team since 2011. The past years they helped the team to achieve numerous beautiful victories, Greipel as a sprinter and Sieberg as a reliable lieutenant.

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “When you look at what André has performed for our team over the past years, also the past twelve months and recently in the Giro, then you can only conclude that he is still an absolute top rider. After a difficult time he always fights his way back, he’s a classy person both after winning and losing and the respect he gets from teammates and staff is amazing. Everyone is always prepared to give his all to take André to the sprint in the best possible position. Greipel always shows his appreciation and is also prepared to help out other teammates when the course suits them better. I haven’t seen much top riders doing that.”

“I am convinced that the story of André at Lotto Soudal hasn’t come to an end yet. He has the potential to keep riding at this level and get even more victories. Obviously, with the support of Marcel Sieberg. Benoot, Wellens, Greipel or Gallopin, all top riders in the team beg to have him in the selection when they race. Sieberg is a perfect pilot, a pillar in the team and especially a very strong rider who performs well in every race he starts.”

André Greipel: “I am really happy the team puts its trust in me for the upcoming two years. The contract extension was something both parties really wanted. I feel good in this team and get the necessary support, also from the young riders. The team offers opportunities to young talent and those riders can perform even in the big races. Frederik Frison for example does such a great job in chasing down breakaways and Sean De Bie was a great support in the Giro. They help me and I can give them tips. At this moment I can’t imagine riding for another team. Sibi and I are inseparable, we want to keep riding together. He’s in general an important member for the entire team. The next years I want to stay one of the best sprinters in the world and keep conquering victories for Lotto Soudal.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel winning Giro stage 12

Marcel Sieberg: “As I said many times before, this team is a real family. As a rider you spend many days away from home, together with the team and then it’s really important to feel good within that team. It’s my job to support other riders in the team and when you get along really well that only makes you perform even better. These are all important reasons for staying with Lotto Soudal. On top of that, the main sponsors have an engagement until 2020 and that has its influence on the team. There is a solid base, the sports directors can plan for the long term. That the partners have engaged themselves to this team for such a long time also gives us confidence. This can also have a positive influence on Belgian young cyclists. When I was at the beginning of my career, the German teams T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner were riding in the peloton and it was an extra motivation to become pro and ride for one of those teams. That can now be the case for Belgian young cyclists and Lotto Soudal, the team really focuses on young Belgian talent. I love to share my experience with those riders.”

Giant-Alpecin & Liv-Plantur racing plans

The squads sent this schedule:

BALOISE BELGIUM TOUR (2.HC)

The 86th edition of the Baloise Belgium Tour starts this Wednesday with a course providing opportunities for every type of rider to shine. The five-stage race gets underway with a prologue of 6km in Bornem, followed by the traditional sprint stage from Buggenhout to Knokke-Heist on Thursday. On Friday, the riders head into the Flemish Ardennes featuring three hills on the course: the Valkenberg, the Leberg, and the Berendries, as well as the cobblestone sections of the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat to tackle in the last 10km. The queen stage on Saturday will be decisive for the overall victory with the day’s course including the climb of the Côte de la Redoute. On the last day, the peloton rides to Tongeren and will finish with a local lap to be completed three times with some steep hills.

The Baloise Belgium Tour will be the first race for Max Walscheid (GER) since the training accident earlier this year and the team is delighted to see him racing again. 

Coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "The overall objective is to go for stage results instead of having general classification ambitions in Belgium. For the fast finishes we will prepare the sprint for Zico. On the hillier stages, we have Simon who is able to compete on the tougher sections of the course."

RACE: Baloise Belgium Tour (2.HC)

DATE: 25-29/05/2016

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP: Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Lars van der Haar (NED), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Sam Oomen (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER) 

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke will be at the Tour of Belgium

BOELS RENTAL HILLS CLASSIC (1.1)

Team Liv-Plantur returns to action on Friday with the Boels Hills Classic, recognized as the toughest one-day race in the Netherlands. The parcours is a total distance of 131.4km and features fifteen climbs, making it a very selective course.

"Usually, this race is decided during two key climbs; the Camerig and the Cauberg," explained coach Hans Timmermans (NED). "Within our line-up we have a few riders who are just behind the top climbers, so we will have to adapt our approach to that. We will try to be ahead of the big attacks or come back strongly with a second group.

"When the group is still together in the finale, Floortje will be our sprinter. Last year she did a good job to survive the Camerig with the group of favourites and we are aiming for a good result on Friday."

RACE: Boels Rental Hills Classic (1.1)

DATE: 27/05/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Floortje Mackaij (NED), Riejanne Markus (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED), Carlee Taylor (AUS), Molly Weaver (GBR) 

GOOIK-GERAARDSBERGEN-GOOIK (1.1)

The women's team continues with the 6th edition of Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. The Belgian one-day race consists of an initial round of 23km, followed by one large loop of 73km, featuring some tough hills such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the Bosberg and the Congoberg. In the finale, the riders take on four local laps of 10km, each time climbing the Bergstraat.

Looking ahead to the race, coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "The course has changed slightly in comparison to last year, but I am expecting a similar race to previous editions. The result will be decided on the Muur and we have to be in a good position ahead of the climb. In the finale, there should be around 20-30 riders fighting out for the victory and we will be supporting Floortje as our leader and aiming for a top 10 result."

RACE: Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik (1.1)

DATE: 29/05/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

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