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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, August 24, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal. - E. O. Wilson

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Judge orders Johan Bruyneel pay $1.2M in Lance Armstrong fraud case

Here's the story in USA Today:

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a $1.2 million judgment against Lance Armstrong’s former cycling team manager after the U.S. Justice Department sought payback from him for his part in Armstrong’s doping scheme more than 14 years ago.

The federal government had accused the former manager, Johan Bruyneel, of unjust enrichment at the expense of the U.S. Postal Service, which paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004.

The judge granted the government’s $1.2 million request for restitution and also put Bruyneel on the hook for an additional $369,000 in civil penalties.

Johan Bruyneel & Lance Armstrong

Johan Bruyneel (white shirt) and Lance Armstrong at the 2010 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

After more than eight years of legal drama, the rulings effectively end a civil fraud lawsuit that originated when Armstrong’s former cycling teammate, Floyd Landis, filed a complaint against Armstrong, Bruyneel and others on behalf of the federal government.

“This ruling marks the finish line of a lawsuit brought by Floyd Landis and the federal government to recover money paid by the U.S. Postal Service to sponsor a professional cycling team featuring Lance Armstrong,” Judge Christopher Cooper wrote Wednesday.

The Postal Service paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004 but said in its lawsuit that it never would have paid that if it known the team was using banned drugs and blood transfusions to cheat in races. The Postal Service sought that money back in triple under the False Claims Act — nearly $100 million — but ultimately reached a settlement with Armstrong, who agreed to pay nearly $7 million to end the case in April.

The judge on Wednesday ordered the default judgment be entered against Bruyneel after he failed to put up a defense in the case.

You can read the entire story here.

Alvaro Hodeg wins first stage of Deutschland Tour

Here's the report from second-place Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The opening stage of the Deutschland Tour, which is back on the race calendar after a ten-years pause, was dominated by a six-man breakaway, which was gone for most of the day. Shortly before the finish, the peloton closed the gap and the expected bunch sprint was set up. The BORA – hansgrohe train brought their sprinter Pascal Ackermann into a good position, but it was A. Hodeg who took the win ahead of the German Champion.

Alvaro Hodeg

Alvaro Hodeg winning stage three of this year's Tour of Poland.

The Stage
After a ten-year pause, the “Deutschland Tour” is back on the cycling calendar. Today’s opening stage took the riders from Koblenz to Bonn over 157 flat kilometres, and promised to end in a bunch sprint on the final long straight. Before the peloton fought for the victory, two intermediate sprints, one in Naussau and one in Neustadt awaited the fast men.

The Team Tactics
Team BORA – hansgrohe brought their fast men to their home race, among their leader and German Champion Pascal Ackermann, who achieved already five WorldTour victories in this season. He was joined by his lead-out men Rudi Selig, Andreas Schillinger and Christoph Pfingsten. For the GC, BORA – hansgrohe focused on the Austrian rider Patrick Konrad. Pete Kennaugh should help Patrick during the demanding stages in the upcoming days.

The Race
After some kilometres of racing a group of six riders formed the breakaway of the day with a maximum gap of three minutes. The BORA – hansgrohe squad stayed in the main field, took the control over the pace and tried to keep the breakaway’s advantage low, and with the gap dropping steadily, it was all back together with 13km remaining. Especially, BORA – hansgrohe pulled hard and set the pace for their sprinter Pascal Ackermann. Peter Kennaugh showed a great performance and closed the gap. The race headed into the finale with Rudi Selig driving the pace. Pascal Ackermann was in a good position but in a thrilling finale A. Hodeg took the win only some centimetres ahead of the German Champion.  

From the Finish Line
“Of course, I wanted to take the win today and the team did a great job to bring me into position. But on the final metres Hodeg was just too strong. Tomorrow will be another day and I am motivated to try it again.” – Pascal Ackermann

“We started to pull early in the race and took control over the race. With six riders a lead-out is different than to a lead-out with eight riders, but our team did a good race. Maybe the finish came some metres too late for Pascal, therefore Hodeg, who won already a lot of races in this season, took the win.” – Jens Zemke, sports director 

Results:

  1. Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step) 3hr 35min 8sec
  2. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) @ s.t.
  3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) @ s.t.

Lotto-Soudal previews Bretagne Classic Ouest-France

The team sent me this:

On Sunday, 26th August Lotto Soudal is at the starting line of the World Tour race Bretagne Classic Ouest-France, previous the GP Plouay. Between start and finish at Plouay there are 242 hilly kilometres after which there is a local loop of 14.7 kilometres. Previous editions have proved that sprinters as well as Classics riders can aim for the victory. With a short hill, Ty Marrec, within four kilometres from the finish several scenarios are possible. Lotto Soudal has several assets with Tim Wellens and Jens Debusschere. Frederik Willems, sports director at Lotto Soudal, expects, partly due to the renewed track, an unpredictable race.

Elia viviani

Elia Viviani winning the 2017 edition

Frederik Willems: “The riders themselves consider the 257 kilometres long Bretagne Classic Ouest-France as a real Classic. The track underwent a lot of changes over the years. The race used to be ridden on a local circuit such as the World Championships in 2000. Last year there was a big loop with at the end a local lap. This year the complete race is in line and compared to last year the course is completely new. We’ll have to wait and see where the decision will be made. This year the riders must face the smaller roads of the region and the double climb of the Mûr-de-Bretagne has also been removed from the course.  However, it keeps constantly twisting and turning. It is not a very tough track, but it goes constantly up and down.”

“Due to the smaller roads it will be important to be attentively in the front during the last 80 kilometres and to counter possible attacks, for which we count on Tim Wellens. If it does end with a sprint, of a reduced peloton though, we still have Jasper De Buyst and Jens Debusschere. However, we must wait how they have recovered from a previous illness. There are a lot of sprinters whose teams will want to control the race. I think we must especially focus on the teams who attack. Last year the race was completely controlled by the sprint teams and it was almost impossible to launch a breakaway. This year, it will depend on how much the sprint teams will take control of the race.”

“Riders such as Lars Bak, Frederik Frison and Rémy Mertz are riding at the service of the team. When a large leading group is composed, they must protect the team at that moment. We will not break open the race, but we will rather be watching attentively what happens. In any case Tim Wellens will get his chance on the last climb but due to the smaller roads in the finale I expect that there will be earlier attacks.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Moreno Hofland, Rémy Mertz and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Frederik Willems.

Estonian time trial champion Tanel Kangert signs with EF Education First-Drapac for 2019 

Here's the team's news release:

Estonian Tanel Kangert will join the #PinkArgyle family in 2019. The 31-year-old has spent the last eight years riding for Astana and previously spent two seasons with AG2R La Mondiale. The move to EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale offers him a new opportunity on a diverse squad.

“I have wondered if there is more in professional cycling for me to see and try,” said Kangert. “I have had a good time with my current team, but after eight years, I felt that the time to move on was now. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I have raced for a French team and a Kazakh team with Italian influence, so I was looking for a completely different environment.

Tanel Kangert

Tanel Kangert riding the 19th stage of the 2018 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“I’m looking forward to new training methods, different race programs and new equipment,” Kangert added. “I also aim to push myself a little bit further physically. EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale ticked all the boxes for me when I started to look for a team.”

“Tanel is a proven and stable asset at the largest races in the world,” said EF Pro Cycling CEO and founder Jonathan Vaughters. “He adds value as a teammate and as a winner on his own right. We hope to help him reach his full potential and are happy he chose our team.”

Kangert has achieved nine professional victories, including stage wins at Tour de Suisse, Giro del Trentino and Abu Dhabi, where he also won the general classification. He finished 16th overall at the 2018 Tour de France and animated the 67-kilometer three-mountain stage with what Vaughters has called “his swashbuckling breakaway.” Yet Kangert, the reigning Estonian time trial champion looks toward his contribution in collective performances rather than individual results to define himself as a rider.

“I have always known that if in a team there is a leader who has a better chance for a result than I do, I should help him as much as possible, and most often, there is someone who has a better chance than me,” said Kangert. “I enjoy my role as an important helper who can sometimes go for a personal result."
Kangert has humble ambitions that fit with his down-to-earth nature for his first season in his new team.

“I would like to be physically good already in the beginning of the season,” he said. “This is something I’ve been able to achieve so far. I’d like to find my time trial legs, and, of course, I hope to secure some great results with the team.” 

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