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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 14, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. - John Wooden

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Amstel Gold Race team updates

We'll start with the note BMC sent me:

13 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After standing on the podium at Paris-Roubaix with his Monument title to his name, Greg Van Avermaet will be back at the start line for Amstel Gold Race this Sunday, 16 April.

Van Avermaet, who is eyeing his first podium result at Amstel Gold Race, is brimming with confidence after claiming victory at Paris-Roubaix.

"My best result at Amstel Gold Race was in 2015 when I finished in fifth place. A lot has happened since then, a lot of big wins, and with my win at Paris-Roubaix I'm definitely going in confident. I've said it many times; winning breeds confidence and when a leader is confident, the team is also confident," Van Avermaet explained.

"This year the finale has changed, without the final ascent of the Cauberg, and that may change the way the race is won. But, the strongest guys will always be at the finale, no matter what the parcours is. I have the legs and I expect another tough race this Sunday. It's not an easy race to win but I'm really looking forward to lining up at Amstel Gold Race again, especially having missed the race in 2016, and I hope to I'll stand on the podium for the first time in my career."

Greg van Avermaet

Can Van Avermaet repeat his Roubaix victory on Sunday?

Sports Director Valerio Piva said motivation is high ahead of Amstel Gold Race. "We know that we have a champion in Greg Van Avermaet. He is having the best Classics season of his life and we hope to continue this success on Sunday. At Paris-Roubaix we saw how well we could work as a team to protect Greg and position him well in the finale. I hope to see this team spirit again at Amstel Gold Race," Piva said.

"We have a lot of strong climbers who are well-suited to the short, punchy climbs of Amstel Gold Race. There are 35 climbs on the menu and in a race like this anything can happen."

Amstel Gold Race (16 April)

Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Ben Hermans (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS).

This came from Team UAE-Abu Dhabi:

UAE Team Emirates are heading to the first event of the Ardenne Classics, which is the Amstel Gold Race (264,4 km).

The Dutch race will be even more uncertain than usual, because of the change of the final part of the course: Cauberg won't be anymore the key point at the end of the race, because this year it will be covered at 19 km to the arrival. Before the arrival, which will be in Berg en Terblijt, the riders will climb the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg, the two last of a series of 35 "berg".

In the line-up of the Emirati team, which will be directed by Marco Marzano with the support of Simone Pedrazzini, there will be: Matteo Bono, Rui Costa, Marco Marcato, Matej Mohoric, Manuele Mori, Simone Petilli, Ben Swift and Diego Ulissi.

Rui Costa is one of the most awaited riders: "This year I’ll participate in the Amstel Gold Race for the 8th time in career. This is a race I like, it requires that you can manage your energies in a proper way and that you succeed in approaching the hills in the best positions, without crashing or wasting energies in order to recover positions.

"I was 4th in 2015, this means I could aim to be protagonist: the last passage on the Cauberg used to be the most important moment of the race, however this year the course will be modified and the last climb will be Bemelerberg at -7,3 km, so probably the fast riders will have mor chance than in the past."

Rui Faria

Rui Costa racing in last year's Tour

Ben Swift is the fast rider from UAE Team Emirates: "The new final part of the race course could be more suitable for riders with my characteristics, so Amstel Gold Race could be a new interesting challenge for me. This race is always so difficult to predict that it won't be easy to be in the front position in the final part of the course."

And here's the note Cannondale-Drapac sent me:

With the northern cobbled races wrapped, Cannondale-Drapac now trains its gaze on the hillier races in the Ardennes. A new-look Amstel Gold Race is next up on Sunday, and Flèche Wallonne, with its infamous final climb, on Wednesday.

Toms Skujins made his 2017 debut in the low lands at De Brabantse Pijl after doing a number of stage races down south.

Tom Skujins

Tom Skujins winning stage 2 at this year's Coppi-Bartali

“There is a difference between the classics of northern Europe and the south-European stage races. And I’m not talking about the weather. One-day races in northern Europe are definitely more stressful and more exciting. Riders know they have only one shot, so they use every ounce of energy they have to make it count,” Skujins said. “That makes the racing more exciting to watch and more fun to race, too. Positioning is a lot more important, because if you find yourself a bit too far back, your day can be over in a kilometer. I definitely approach it differently.”

AMSTEL GOLD RACE

TV viewers are the main reason for changing the Amstel Gold Race finish again, with not the Cauberg but Bemeleberg as the final ascent of the day. After the top, there is still five kilometers to the finish line. DS Tom Southam doesn’t necessarily believe the change in the route will have the impact organizers intend.

“The race organizers are banking on the removal of the Cauberg making it a more aggressive race,” Southam said. “I think it could still go either way. From the top of the Bemeleberg now you still have several kilometers to ride to the finish, and if a strong team really wants to ride for a sprint, then there is enough road to make that happen.”

The new course won’t significantly alter the plan for Cannondale-Drapac, Southam said: “We don’t have an out-and-out sprinter who will trouble other teams’ sprinters, but the fact that the route has changed does open up the possibility that things are misjudged and something a little bit interesting happens. It’s been a few years since the race has finished on the flat, so an element of the unknown will play into our hands.”

Skujins agrees with Southam that it’s the unknown that will be key at Amstel Gold Race: “The riders make the race, so it’s up to us to make it exciting and maybe spring a surprise. There will be a worthy winner this year too, no doubt. ”

For Skujins, the Amstel Gold Race will be mostly in service of the team. He said: “I’m just hoping to enjoy the day and the fans while making the team proud and doing my role for the team’s best result possible.”

Cannondale-Drapac for Amstel Gold Race:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA)
Brendan Canty (AUS)
Simon Clarke (AUS)
Alex Howes (USA)
Sebastian Langeveld (NED)
Toms Skujins (LAT)
Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED)
Dylan van Baarle (NED)

FLÈCHE WALLONNE

Three days later, the riders move back to Belgium for Flèche Wallonne. Rigeberto Uran hasn’t yet raced in the low lands this year, but is expected to lead the team at Flèche. Southam expects Uran won’t need any time adjusting to racing in the Ardennes.

“Rigo is pretty much the coolest rooster on the planet, I don’t think much phases him,” said Southam. “And he certainly won’t have a problem leading the guys. His condition is good, so he will be in contention.”

For any specific team ambitions in the Flèche Wallonne, Southam wants to await the Amstel Gold Race. “Let’s race first and see what happens on Sunday,” he said.

Skujins already knows his role in the Flèche Wallonne and who he’ll support on the final climb: “We have Woods and Rigo, who can both fly up the Mur and, honestly, leave everyone to dust, so I’m hoping to get those guys to the bottom of the climb in the best position and let them do their magic.”

The team needs to continue to build on the hard work that the cobble guys put in already this year,” Southam added. “We’ve been fourth at Flanders and third at Roubaix. We certainly need to continue at the level we have been performing at as a team throughout the races and in the results.”

Cannondale-Drapac for Flèche Wallonne:

Brendan Canty (AUS)
Simon Clarke (AUS)
Alex Howes (USA)
Tom Scully (AUS)
Toms Skujins (LAT)
Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)
Michael Woods (CAN)

Strong Taiwan Dollar Puts Pressure on Giant’s Sales

Bike Europe sent me this industry update:

TAICHUNG, Taiwan – Giant Manufacturing Co Ltd had a difficult start of the 2017 season. According to a financial statement, the company’s accumulated sales in the first quarter of the year fell 5.4% to TWD 13.5 bn (417 mn euro) from the same period last year.

Also over last March Giant reported a decline of 5.08% year-on-year to TWD 5.27 bn (163 mn euro). Giant attributed the decline to the deprecation of the euro and the yuan against the New Taiwan dollar.

You can read the entire story here.

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