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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 7, 2016

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Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common. - Satchel Paige, baseball's greatest pitcher

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Team Katusha's Paris-Bourges race report

The one-day Paris-Bourges took place on Thursday in France and proved to be a good late-season race for Team Katusha’s Aleksandr Porsev, who sprinted in for second place on the 190.3 km course from Gien to Bourges in the 66th edition of the race.

Paris-Bourges pnhoto finish

Paris-Bourges photo finish

- Of course, I am a bit disappointed, because the victory was so close. I saw the picture of photo finish and it looks like it was just 1 millimeter between us. Nothing to do. It was a good race for me, I felt pretty well and the team was really strong. My teammates provided me a great support, especially in the end. I thank the team for this. In the final Marco and Jacopo did a great lead-out, we entered the last corner in first position, so I started my sprint when I wanted to do it. I did my best and missed just 1 mm. Anyway, I am looking forward to my next race Paris – Tours and the Worlds, - said Aleksandr Porsev.

- I am very happy with the team and the way our guys did this race. Katusha looked strong today. We decided to work for Aleksandr Porsev - he is in a good shape and has proved it today, - said a pleased sports director Gennady Mikhaylov.

With the results having to come from a finish line camera, Porsev was second to Sam Bennett of Bora-Argon 18. Third place was Rudy Barbier of Roubaix Lille Métropole.

- Marco Haller did a strong lead-out with 1 km to go while Jacopo Guarnieri provided Alexander the last wheel. Porsev did a good sprint and in the first moments we though he had won – everything was so close in the final. But the photo finish showed it was Bennett who won the race. We can be happy with this race and this should bring more confidence to Aleksandr before the World Championships, - said sports director Gennady Mikhaylov.

In the last half of the race the peloton split into two parts with a selection of some 50 riders in the front group. Team Katusha had five riders represented, making it a good situation for the race final. A break of two riders was finally brought back with 13 km to go, with the teams of the sprinters then preparing for a group sprint. Maxim Belkov and Sergey Lagutin worked hard to protect the position of Porsev before Haller and then Guarnieri took over their sprint-train duties for the finish. Guarnieri’s good work gave him a fifth place finish on the day.

Four riders extend their contracts with Lotto-Soudal

The team sent me this update:

Several riders have already announced the agreement of a longer stay at the Lotto Soudal formation and now it’s up to Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Sander Armée and Thomas Marczynski to do the same. Vanendert, Armée and Marczynski have signed an one-year agreement, Van der Sande extended his contract with two more years.

This year, Tosh Van der Sande  won his first professional race.

Tosh Van der Sande: “I preferred Lotto Soudal. It’s always fine to stay with a team where you are for a long time; you know everyone and we are all like a family. I want to thank the team for the confidence they give me and for the opportunity to sign for two more years. I have to share my sprint chances with Greipel, Debusschere and Roelandts, but I really don’t mind. They are faster than me and we each have our own races. Usually I get my chance in the difficult stage races like during the Vuelta this year.”

Tosh Van der Sande

Tosh Van der Sande

“It’s a pity that I didn’t get more out of the Vuelta this year. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with my season. I won my first race with the pro’s and that gave me a boost. Also at the end of the season I feel good. In the races after the Vuelta, I either obtained good results or I played a role in the final. Paris-Tours is also an opportunity that I cannot let pass.”

Jelle Vanendert will start his ninth season with the team.

Jelle Vanendert: “When I arrived eight years ago, I was injured. The team believed in me and they kept on doing so. Lotto Soudal has given me all the opportunities in my career and that created a bond and mutual respect. Last season, I worked a lot for the team and besides that I also obtained some good results. Each year it’s getting more difficult to win a race, but I keep on believing.”

“Next season, I will continue working for my teammates. It makes me feel good and it takes the pressure off my shoulders. I don't have to perform necessarily well in certain races, but off course I would like to win a classic or a stage in a Grand Tour next year. I remain ambitious and I believe that I can grab an opportunity when it’s there.”

After a good season with a victory in the mountains classification at the Tour de Romandie, the team rewards Sander Armée with a contract extension.

Sander Armée: “Lotto Soudal was definitely my first choice for next year and I’m glad the team felt the same. I enjoy working with the team and apparently they are happy with my results and the efforts I do for them. I know the riders and the staff pretty well by now. In stage races you spend a lot of time together and you get pretty close. Everyone gets along well and that gives an extra boost while racing together.”

“It will be my fourth season with Lotto Soudal and they know me. The team knows what I’m capable of and gives me the opportunity to have a go of my own now and then. In the start of the season we always talk about a possible programme. That way I know what Grand Tours I’ll race and when I have to be in shape. Of course sometimes there are unexpected situations. That was what happened in the Tour de Romandie. At one point I was able to take the lead in the mountains classification. I really appreciate the fact that that the team gave me this chance and trusted me so much.”

For Tomasz Marczynski, 2016 was the first year with Lotto Soudal, unfortunately a virus caused some health struggles for him but he could help the leaders in the one-week stage races.

Tomasz Marczynski: “I’ve enjoyed this year so much. The team is amazing! I love the team spirit, the way everybody treats each other. Everyone is so nice. Of all the teams I have been part of, this one is definitely the best match for me. We all understand each other, the riders and staff. It’s nice that one of the biggest teams in the world has such a nice atmosphere.”

“Personally, this year hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve struggled a lot with my health and in the end they’ve discovered a virus. However I always gave 100% for the team and I’ve tried to be the best possible teammate. That’s probably why they give me another chance and signed me again for next year. I see it as another opportunity. The team understood the health problems I had and that I couldn’t perform as well as I wanted to. My season finished early and now I’ll just focus on getting better. I hope that I can start my preparation for next season in December. Once I’ve beaten the virus, I’ll be able to perform much better.”

“For next season I only have one goal: become healthy and come back on my top level. I like working for my teammates and if I feel good enough I might aim for a personal result. This year I wasn’t in an optimal shape because of the virus. So next year I just hope to enjoy cycling and do my job as good as possible. I just want to be a part of the team and do what I love.”

Elvin & Spratt to continue with ORICA-AIS

Here's the team's news:

ORICA-AIS are pleased to announce the re-signing of two crucial leaders for the 2017 season. Current Australian champion Amanda Spratt and two-time former champion Gracie Elvin will continue to lead the Australian outfit for another year having both stepped up into consistent performers whilst setting a great example for younger riders within the squad.

“We are very excited to have Spratt and Elvin back with us for the 2017 season,” explained sport director Gene Bates. “This season both riders have really stepped up and had some great victories. Gracie continued her progression in becoming a serious classics contender. She is a very versatile rider within the team, achieving victories in both Australia and Europe whilst showing her commitment to her teammates.

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt winning the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

“In 2017 we expect great things from Gracie, and believe she will really fulfil all the potential she has showed thus far.”

Elvin, who claimed the Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik this year, has set similarly high goals for 2017. "I'm very happy to be continuing on with ORICA-AIS for 2017,” explained Elvin. “I have been consistently building on each season since I started with the team and 2016 was a great year for me. I have been given many opportunities to go for results and also to work on my leadership skills. I set some very high goals for myself this year such as making the Olympic team and I was able to reach these with the help of ORICA-AIS.

“We have a very close knit group and this is what I find most valuable because we are all so far away from home. This is a very unique team and I feel like I can reach my potential here. I am confident that I can step up again next season and I'm excited to be part of the other rider's success as well, because all of us have improved so much this year. My heart lies in the Spring so I will be targeting those races for 2017.”

Spratt has spent five years with the Australian outfit and is the only remaining inaugural member of the team. After a successful 2016 season, the 28-year-old is excited to see what she can achieve next season as one of the main foundations of the team.

“Next year will be Spratt’s sixth season with the ORICA-AIS family,” Bates continued. “This year was a breakthrough year for Spratt, she had great consistency and achieved victories in Australia at the national championships, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and in Europe at Thuringen Rundfahrt.”

“2016 was Spratt’s most successful season to date. She brings incredible professionalism and great leadership with her to the team and after such a strong 2016, we are all excited to see her back with us and chasing big results in 2017.”

Establishing herself an important leader within the Australian outfit, Spratt is looking forward to another year with the team with new challenges and new races on the calendar to look forward to. I am happy to be able to call ORICA-AIS my home for another year,” said Spratt. “I feel like I am still improving every year and still challenging myself in new ways which is really important for me. I have really enjoyed the leadership role and that is something I want to really work on more heading into next season."

“The team has become like family and I enjoy the fun we have off the bike as much as the fun we have together on the bike. The riders and staff are all great and it’s such a good environment to work in.”

Spratt excelled throughout the 2016 season making a lot of progress throughout May and July with solid performances in the Aviva Women’s Tour and Thruingen Rundfahrt, placing highly on the general classifications. “2016 was definitely my best year to date,” Spratt continued. “Winning the Australian Championships in January was a big highlight for me and a big reward for all the hard work I had done over the offseason with Gene to prepare for the season.”

“The Olympic Games was another big highlight for me, but probably more importantly I was just really satisfied with the way I could prepare for this race with the help of ORICA-AIS. The newly announced Amstel Gold race is a race that really appeals to me along with the rumours of a Liege-Bastogne-Liege for women. These tough and hilly one-day races over the Spring are the ones that I will really target next season. I think as a team these are the races where we can really excel as well.”

Gracie Elvin
Date of Birth: 31 October 1988 (27)
Nationality: Australian
Place of birth: Canberra, Australia

2016 results:
- 1st Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik
- 1st Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - General Classification
- 1st Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - Stage 1
- 2nd Ronde van Drenthe - Women’s WorldTour
- 2nd Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - Stage 2
- 2nd Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - Stage 3

Other results:
- 1st Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik 2015
- 1st Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen - Stage 3b 2015
- 1st Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - Stage 2 2015
- 1st - Australian National road race 2013 and 2014
- 1st Oceania Cycling Championships – Road Race 2012

Amanda Spratt
Date of Birth: 17th September 1987 (28)
Nationality: Australian
Place of birth: New South Wales, Australia

2016 results:
- 1st National Championship Australia - Road Race
- 1st Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
- 1st Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen - Stage 6
- 2nd Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen - General Classification
Other results:
- 1st Giro del Trentino Alto Adige - Sudtirol 2015
- 1st National Championship Australia - Road Race 2012

Giant-Alpecin's 2017 plans

The team sent me this release:

While Team Giant-Alpecin has been bringing the current road season to a successful close with top-10 finishes in the Eneco Tour GC, Milano-Torino and Giro di Lombardia, and a victory at the Münsterland Giro, from an organizational point of view the focus is also already on the 2017 season. 

The German team will strengthen its 2017 men’s and women’s programs – adding both strong leaders and worlds best-in-class talents from the younger generation – and launch a revolutionary development institute.

High-profile riders such as Michael Matthews (AUS) and Wilco Kelderman (NED) will contribute to bring the men’s roster for 2017 and beyond to the next level, while the recently announced addition of former world junior and European U23 time trial champion Lennard Kämna (GER) and Australian U23 champion Chris Hamilton indicates that the team continues to attract the world’s most promising young riders. The women’s roster has also been significantly bolstered for 2017 with the signing of the Dutch duo European TT champion Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand, European junior road champion from Germany, Liane Lippert, and promising French rider Juliette Labous.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews winning 2016 Tour de France Stage 10

As announced during the second rest day of this year’s Tour de France, the engagement of the team's new main partner, the Switzerland-based company Sunweb, not only allows the team to strengthen the men’s and the women’s rosters and to grow and expand its organization, it also allows for the realization of a long-cherished dream... to invest in the future:

The start of the 2017 season, the first year under the new name Team Sunweb, will mark the launch of the “2000 Tage zur Spitze” project. A major component of this project is the team’s new development program. The vision for this program is not merely to develop riders into the pro ranks; rather, the aim is to develop and deliver the next generation of stars. This revolutionary program aims to be the world’s most prestigious development institute, and only the very best German and international talents will qualify to join.

The team’s twofold strategy is to run and grow a top-performing team in the WorldTour today as well as developing tomorrow's champions. This strategy is illustrated by the high-profile riders who have signed for the men’s and women’s programs, parallel to the No. 1 and 2 finishers at the world junior championships, Felix Gall (AUT) and Clément Betouigt-Suire (FRA), joining the new development program. This development program, operating from the team base in Germany, will be fully integrated into the team. Forming the next generations of talents will be both on and off the bike via educational programs. This structural investment in the future of German cycling is designed to lead to a continuous stream of talented German riders into the UCI WorldTour and to function as a catalyst for the future of cycling in Germany.

The men’s, women’s and development programs will operate according to the team’s well-established “Keep Challenging” elite sports approach – optimizing cooperation and accessing the same science, technologies and resources.

The team’s long-term ambitions correspond nicely with the ambitions of its main partner, Sunweb, part of the Sundio group, a leading tour operator in Europe, whose commitment to cycling is part of its long-term European growth strategy with Germany as its key growth-market. The team’s long-term partnership with Giant – on an exclusive basis in the UCI WorldTour – will ensure that the both men and women will race on state-of-the-art Giant and Liv machines, respectively, in the years to come. Giant is pursuing several innovation and R&D projects together with the team’s experts and engineers, and both parties will benefit technologically from the cooperation in a broad range of areas.

While Team Giant-Alpecin is aiming high for the remaining races of the current 2016 road season, behind the scenes the foundation is being laid for the 2017 season and beyond.

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