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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 11, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. – Douglas Adams

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Geraint Thomas: Tour de France winner confident of new Sky deal

BBC posted this update:

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas says he is confident of agreeing a new deal with Team Sky. His contract is due to expire at the end of the year, with other teams expressing interest in signing the 32-year-old Welshman.

Speaking at his Tour homecoming parade, Thomas told the BBC: "I know they [Team Sky] had a big meeting today, I'm obviously really happy there. I'm confident we'll get something sorted in the next few days.

Thomas added: "We're incredibly close and I'm happy where I am. It seems to be working well at the moment. So I think in the very near future we'll have it all done."

The new Polish-sponsored CCC WorldTour team has already made Thomas an offer, with sports director Piotr Wadecki saying he wants to build his Tour de France team around Thomas. "We have made an offer to him and we are waiting for a reply," he said. CCC Sprandi Polkowice will merge with BMC Racing in 2019 to create CCC WorldTour.

Speaking to the website Przeglad Sportowy, Wadecki said they have already signed one of the best classic race riders in the world in Greg van Avermaet, but want to compete in the general classification at Grand Tours.

Thomas' Team Sky contract expires at the end of 2018 but, although his position as team leader is not certain, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he was "pretty positive" it was the best place for him to stay.

Geraint Thomas

Will Geraint Thomas be riding for Sky in 2019?

Wadecki added: "He won the Tour de France, but will he be number one? There's [four-time Tour champion] Chris Froome who will want to win. With us, Geraint would already know in January that his goal is the Tour de France and we would definitely focus on him."

Thomas has acknowledged he has had offers but says he is comfortable in the Team Sky environment.

You can read the entire story here.

Tour of Poland final team reports

We posted the report from GC winner Michal Kwiatkowski's Team Sky with the race results.

Stage winner Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this release:

After coming close on the yesterday's stage six Simon Yates made no mistake on the final stage of the Tour of Poland, timing his late attack to perfection to take a memorable stage win in the summer rain for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Holding ninth place on the general classification going into the last stage, the victory saw Yates jump onto the podium in second place overall behind race winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).

The week started well for the Australian outfit, with third place in the bunch sprint for Matteo Trentin, fourth for Luka Mezgec on stage two and top ten finishes on all but one occasion for the rest of a race that couldn’t have ended on a higher note.

Former Czech champion Roman Kreuziger and Spanish climber Carlos Verona played their tactical cards well for the team and infiltrated today's large early breakaway, leaving Yates protected and positioned in the bunch, biding his time until his moment came with ten kilometres to go.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates wins the final Tour of poland stage.

Decisive moments:
A large group of around 18riders broke free over the opening kilometres to form the breakaway, gaining close to three minutes on the peloton after 40kilometres of racing.

Both Kreuziger and Verona made it into the lead group and for Verona it marked the second successive day in the breakaway.

Today’s stage covered a short gravel section and the leaders came through holding two minutes over the bunch as ominous clouds started to roll into the final 65kilometres.

The Mitchelton-SCOTT duo were lively over the climbs as the rain started to fall and as the conditions worsened the bunch drew closer, moving to within one minute with 25kilometres to go and eventually making the catch a few kilometres later.

Yates was up there within the reduced yellow jersey group as tentative attacks started to spring into the closing kilometres, with the last two climbs looking to be pivotal.

The 26-year-old Briton wasn’t going to wait around and attacked on the penultimate climb, pushing on to gain 30seconds advantage. The group chased hard behind Yates as the rain fell, but the three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner was on song and held onto enough of an advantage to seal the stage win and second overall.

Simon Yates:
“I am really happy to pull off the win today. We’ve been working hard every day, and the whole team have tried to get a stage win all week and today our efforts have finally paid off.”

“It was a tough stage and I chose my moment well to get away over the penultimate climb. Once I had the gap I went full gas into the final and didn’t look back.  It’s great to see my from is bubbling slowly in the right direction, I feel good and now it’s onwards towards the Vuelta a Espana.”

Serge Pauwels to ride for Continuum Sports in 2019

Team BMC sent me this release:

10 August, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Continuum Sports, currently operating as BMC Racing Team, is excited to welcome Serge Pauwels in 2019 with the Belgian set to bring a wealth of experience to the team.

General Manager Jim Ochowicz highlighted Pauwels' professionalism and aggressive racing style as key factors behind his signing. "Serge Pauwels is an excellent addition to the Continuum Sports roster in 2019. The classics will continue to be a big focus for us and Serge's experience at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia will be invaluable. Throughout his career, Serge has also demonstrated his versatility in stage races, including victory at the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire and third place this year behind Greg Van Avermaet, as well as Grand Tours, where he is often racing aggressively in breakaways as we saw at the Tour de France," Ochowicz said.

Serge pwuwels

Serge Pauwels racing in the 2016 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

"We are excited to see what Serge can do when he joins us in 2019 and believe we can offer him a lot of opportunities to race for personal results, as well as playing a key teammate role alongside Van Avermaet."

The 34-year-old, who was teammates with Greg Van Avermaet when Van Avermaet won Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, has 12 Grand Tour and 17 Monument participations to his name, a testament to his experience since turning professional in 2006.

Pauwels couldn't pass up the opportunity to join Van Avermaet at Continuum Sports next season when Polish company CCC become title sponsor. "I was not really looking to change teams. I had four great years with MTN Quebeka and Team Dimension Data and the Qhubeka charity will always have a place in my heart, but then this opportunity came along and I felt like I had to grab it. I have only been teammates with Greg twice with the Belgian national team and of course, the most important one was the Rio Olympics where we were roommates so we both carry a really nice souvenir from that. Even though we have never raced on the same team we are good friends, so I'm excited to finally race together. Greg is not only a great rider because of his palmarès but also the way he races," Pauwels explained.

"Of course, it's early to talk about my objectives for 2019 but from my discussions with the team I think we will stick to a similar race program. I hope to line up at the races that have been part of my program in the last few years, like the Tour de France, and remain the kind of rider that I am. I want to continue racing aggressively, the way I have been racing already with Team Dimension Data, and I'm looking forward to doing that with Continuum Sports."

Lotto-Soudal headed to BinckBank Tour

The team sent me this update:

From Monday 13 August till Sunday 19 August the BinckBank Tour [formerly Eneco Tour] will take place: the only WorldTour stage race of the Low Countries This seven-day race will start in the Dutch town of Heerenveen and will finish, to the BinckBank Tour’s tradition, near the mythical Muur van Geraardsbergen. Lotto Soudal has - besides two-time GC winner Tim Wellens - multiple trump cards to play.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens enjoying his win of the 2015 Eneco Tour, now the BinckBanck Tour.

In the first part of the race, the riders will contest the stage victory on flat roads, before heading to hillier grounds in the concluding weekend. The course doesn’t include, in contrast to previous editions, a stage in the Belgian Ardennes, implying that also typical classics riders will compete for the overall victory. This way, The BinckBank Tour will probably be defined by its time trial and the many bonus seconds that can be earned along the way and at the finish line. The concept of the ‘Golden Kilometre’ will also become more important as riders can win 9 bonus seconds in the closing kilometres. 

Tim Wellens: “I’m feeling good. I gained confidence by securing the overall victory in the Tour de Wallonie, and it’s always nice to know you’re in good shape. I’ve just completed some intensive training days, so I hope to be totally ready by Monday to start the BinckBank Tour in the best way possible. I’m certainly looking forward to this Tour!”

“My goal is to claim the overall victory once more, though it will not be easy this time. The stage I usually win, has not been included in the course, so it will be more difficult to make a difference. This year, you don’t have to be a strong climber to win the Tour. My biggest opponent is the type of rider that is a good sprinter and time trialist. The time trial and bonus seconds along the way play an important role in determining the general classification. The first small differences will appear in the time trial on Tuesday and will partly decide the overall standings at the end.”

“The two final stages are a bit more difficult, but not tough enough to make any big time differences. Yet, they will play their part and riders who don’t own the best time trial or sprinting skills, but aspire the overall victory will probably try to make their move in these stages. I’m certainly going to try as well, but much will depend on how the race unfolds itself.”

Frederik Willems, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Thanks to Tim Wellens, we were able to take the overall win twice. It won’t be an easy edition as this year’s Tour will – even more – come down to details. Since there’s no stage in the Ardennes anymore, the overall victory will be determined by bonus seconds, especially in the first part of the race. Though, the final stage to Geraardsbergen, this year almost 220 kilometres in length may not be underestimated. And of course, we also have to take into account the typical Belgian weather that is predicted.”

“We have a strong and versatile team, which consists of riders for the overall victory, but also of strong sprinters to take a stage win in the several flat stages at the beginning. Regarding the GC, we have Tim Wellens, but also reigning European time trial champion, Victor Campenaerts, who I believe is capable of moving into the leader’s jersey after the time trial on Tuesday. He’s in really good shape as he prepared himself well for the European Championships by training hard and staying at altitude. If he manages to win the time trial, I consider him to defend the leader’s jersey for a long time. As for the bunch sprints, we can count on Jasper De Buyst and Jens Debusschere, who recently showed his fast legs again by sprinting to a stage victory in Tour de Wallonie."

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Victor Campenaerts, Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz and Tim Wellens. 

 

Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Bart Leysen.

Stages

United States imposes 25% e-bike tariff, will take effect August 23

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The U.S. Trade Representative has approved the inclusion of e-bikes and e-bike motors on the list of $16 billion worth of Chinese products that will be hit with a 25 percent tariff starting Aug. 23.

The USTR announced Tuesday that it had finalized the list, which it had first released June 15. After review and a public comment period, the USTR removed just five product categories from the list of 284 categories that was proposed.

The bike industry and consumers had submitted hundreds of comments opposed to the tariff and two industry members spoke at a public hearing in Washington last month. The industry argued that the tariffs would harm suppliers, retailers and consumers, stunt the sales growth of a blossoming environmentally beneficial product, and would do little to protect U.S. e-bike manufacturers, because there are almost none.

Chinese e-bikes previously had no tariff, while e-bike motors have a 4 percent tariff.

The USTR said its "exhaustive" investigation "found China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory and burden U.S. commerce."

You can read the entire article here.

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