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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 4, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. - John Adams

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Lotto-Soudal previews Clásica San Sebastián

The team sent me this update:

On Saturday 4 August, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of the 38th Clásica San Sebastián, a one-day WorldTour race in the Spanish Basque Country. Last year, the Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski proved to be the fastest of a four-rider breakaway which included Tom Dumoulin, Tony Gallopin and Bauke Mollema.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski wins the 2017 edition.

The start will be given in Donostia, which is the Basque name for San Sebastián. After 228.7 tough kilometres, the riders will finish in that very same town. With eight official climbs including a double ascent of the Alto de Jaizkibel and the Alto de Arkale, the race in northern Spain will certainly be a hard one. The riders will cross the finish line for a first time at 17 kilometres from the end. During the local lap, the riders have to tackle the steep Murgil: 1.8 kilometres of climbing at an average above eleven percent. At the top of that climb, only seven kilometres remain till the finish. 

Last year, Lotto Soudal delivered a strong collective performance during the Clásica San Sebastián. Then, the former Lotto Soudal rider Tony Gallopin came very close to the victory as he finished in second place. Tiesj Benoot and Jelle Vanendert both finished within the top fifteen. This year as well, the team has a strong line-up with Tim Wellens, Maxime Monfort and Jelle Vanendert. Frederik Willems, sports director at Lotto Soudal, previews the race in the Basque Country.

Frederik Willems: “In my opinion, the steep final climb will be decisive, but the whole race is tough as well. It depends of course on the breakaway or a possible attack, but I expect that a relatively big group will arrive at the foot of the last climb. It will be important to have several riders of the team in that group to support Tim Wellens on the way to the final climb. Tim is our leader and if Jelle Vanendert recovered well from the Tour, he will also be a real asset. Van der Sande and Marczyński will mainly support them during the finale.”

“In principle, riders who have done the Tour, have a slight advantage over the others as they have climbed a lot. A hard race should definitely favour those riders. On the other hand, it has been a hard Tour due to the high temperatures. The riders have to be recovered well because there’s only one week between the end of the Tour and the Clásica San Sebastián.”

“I expect seven to eight riders, at the most, who will be able to battle for the victory. A five-rider breakaway or a rider like Mollema who finishes solo is a possible scenario. Together with the Dutchman, Landa and Adam Yates will be the guys to keep an eye on. I think that we have to deliver Tim Wellens in the best position possible at the foot of the final climb. If he is able to attack, he will certainly be allowed to. That way, he can go to the finish with a group that is as small as possible.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Frederik Frison, Tomasz Marczyński, Remy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Frederik Willems.

Team Quick-Step headed to Tour of Poland

Here's the team's release:

The 75th Tour de Pologne will kick off on Saturday from Krakow, one of the country's oldest cities, which will play host to the first of the three consecutive flat stages, where the sprinters will fight not only for victory, but also for the honor of wearing the race's first yellow jersey. Katowice and Zabrze will then await the bunch on the next two days, giving the fast men the opportunity to seal the points standings before the event makes a U-turn and heads into the mountains.

Tuesday will be the day that the landscape will change dramatically, when four climbs crammed into the second part of the 179km-long Szczryk stage will bring to the fore the general classification contenders and create the first gaps in the overall rankings.

The fifth leg of the race could be one for the baroudeurs, before the showdown on the roads between Zakopane and Bukovina, a stage that is set to feature a string of short climbs culminating with a 10km-long ascent that will seriously test the peloton. The traditional Bukowina Tatrzanska stage is different than in the past years, but this doesn't mean it's going to be any easier, with several short hills sprinkled along the way giving attackers the chance to open some decisive gaps.

Quick-Step Floors will look to enhance its already impressive 2018 palmares, and for that very reason will come to the start with a team that can be a protagonist regardless of the terrain. Alvaro Hodeg – who didn't waste any time this season in showing his potential in the sprints – will get the chance to go for other strong results, backed by a strong lead-out train that includes 2016 Tour de Pologne stage winner Davide Martinelli, Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini. Together with Eros Capecchi and Dries Devenyns, Tour of California top 10 overall Laurens De Plus will hope to be up there once the road will rise.

Davide Martinelli

Davide Martinelli wins the first stage of the 2016 Tour of Poland.

"Always a well-organised race, the Tour de Pologne is the first big and important appointment for many of the riders after the summer break, so motivation won't be a problem", said sports director Rik van Slycke. "The rolling parcours, with many steep climbs, is a selective one and the weather could also be a factor during the week, like it was the case on many of the previous editions, but we are prepared to play a role there, be it in sprints, breakaways or uphill finishes."

Shimano first half bike-related sales up 7 percent

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

OSAKA, Japan (BRAIN) — Robust European e-bike sales and an average year for bike sales in North America led to a 6.8 percent sales increase in Shimano's bike division in the first half of 2018, the company said Monday.

Bike-related sales were 137.9 billion yen ($1.24 billion) in the half. Operating income in the half year was up 9.0 percent to 29,506 million yen.

"In Europe, driven by the stable weather after April and retail sales of completed bicycles of e-bike that have been robust, distributor inventories of bicycles remained at an appropriate level," the company said. "In North America, retail sales of completed bicycles were on par with an average year, and distributor inventories remained at an appropriate level."

The company said sales of completed bicycles showed no signs of recovery in China, where retail sales of low-end and middle-range bicycles continued to be sluggish. "On the other hand, bike sharing that spread widely in urban areas (of China) last year is facing a period of realignment," the company said.

Shimano also said Southeast Asia "lacked vigor," and South American consumption showed signs of slowdown due to the effects of currency depreciation in Brazil and Argentina. Distributor inventories were at an appropriate level both in Southeast Asia and South America.

It said Japanese bike sales have remained sluggish but showed signs of improvement after April.

Net sales across all divisions was up 7.1 percent, to 175 billion yen. Operating incomes across all divisions was up 11.9 percent.

You can read the entire story here.

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