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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. - James A. Baldwin

Latest completed racing:


BMC's Patrick Bevin to skip national championships following training crash

Bevin's BMC team sent me this bad news:

New recruit Patrick Bevin will miss this week's New Zealand National Road Championships due to injuries sustained in a training crash.

Bevin crashed on Saturday, 30 December, in New Zealand but was fortunate to escape relatively unharmed, BMC Racing Team's Chief Medical Officer Max Testa said.

"Patrick crashed on a descent in training and was taken to hospital for examination which revealed a deep contusion on his right elbow and some road rash. Luckily, he did not suffer a concussion and the injuries were quite isolated. Although a skin graft was initially considered, the elbow only required stitches," Dr. Testa explained.

"Patrick will need to stay off the bike for five to seven days before resuming his normal training load. Unfortunately, this rules him out of the New Zealand National Time Trial and Road Race Championships but at this stage, he should be fine to race at the Santos Tour Down Under the week after.  We will continue to monitor his recovery in the next week but we expect Patrick to recover quickly."

Bevin said his injuries could have been much worse considering the circumstances of the crash. "I hit a melted piece of tar on the road which sent me flying over my handlebars without any warning and I landed on my right elbow. I'm not feeling too bad but I'm a bit gutted about it because you never want to crash in training. I was going fairly quickly so I'm a bit banged up but I'm pretty lucky considering it was a big, wide, and fast piece of road," Bevin said.

Bevin make his racing debut with BMC Racing Team at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Mitchelton-Scott to begin racing Wednesday, January Third

The team sent me this extensive news relase:

Mitchelton-SCOTT will make its debut at the Cycling Australia National Championships in Ballarat from Wednesday, chasing coveted green and gold jerseys to take back to the European circuit.

With the ‘Bay Crits’ off the program, the championships will be the first hit out of the 2018 season for the now black and yellow outfit.

Racing commences with the national criterium championships on Wednesday, 3 January before moving to Buninyong for the time trials on Friday and road races on Sunday.

We preview the three events with riders and directors below:

Wednesday, 3 January – Criteriums

Men:
• Luke Durbridge
• Alex Edmondson
• Caleb Ewan
• Lucas Hamilton
• Cameron Meyer

The criterium championships return to the centre of Ballarat with Mitchelton-SCOTT’s gun sprinter Caleb Ewan on the hunt for his third successive title – a feat never achieved before.

Should the 40-lap race not result in a sprint, Australia’s only WorldTour team also has previous winner Cameron Meyer (2013), who is making his return debut for the outfit, and others as options.

Caleb Ewan:
“I’m definitely going into the criterium to try to defend my title. We should have a really good team there so I think we have a pretty good chance.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan after winning stage 7 of the 2017 giro

Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“We have five guys and a really good team to support Caleb. Anything less than a win would be a disappointment and by all reports everyone is going well so we are hoping for a good race.”

Women:
• Jessica Allen
• Janelle Crooks
• Gracie Elvin
• Sarah Roy
• Amanda Spratt

Strength in numbers is the name of the game for Mitchelton-SCOTT women in the criterium championship on Wednesday night. Whilst they have the defending champion Jessica Allen and the pure speed of Sarah Roy, the real power comes in the level of threat all five starters pose for their rivals. It’s a game of cards and Mitchelton-SCOTT aren’t afraid to play them.

Jessica Allen:
“I’m really excited to be racing the national criterium on Wednesday as the defending champion. There are a lot of strong riders who can win, but I also think any of my teammates can win it too. I am motivated to defend the titles and keep the jersey in the team, whether it’s on my shoulders or one of my teammates.”

Gene Bates – Sport Director:
“It’s no surprise we have one of the strongest teams in the race and we definitely have multiple riders who the win the race in different scenarios. The level of the field in getting higher and we need to be wary of like Holden Racing and Specialized so we have to race aggressively and tactically smart if we want to win.

Friday, 5 January – Time Trials

Men:
• Luke Durbridge

Mitchelton-SCOTT will line up with just one representative in the time trial, but as a previous winner Luke Durbridge knows what it takes.

The up-and-back 40.9km undulating course often subjected to tough winds, with Durbridge also up against some world-class competition.

Luke Durbridge:
“The national time trial has always been a special race for me, winning it on two previous occasions. The course has been similar for a few years now so you understand what it entails – it’s a hard course on a rolling terrain, you have to save some energy for the way back as it’s more difficult.

“It’s rare to do a one-day time trial. The only other time is at the world championships. I would like my time trial to become more of a strength again so it’s important to do as many as you can. I’m looking forward to the challenge of racing some of the best time trial riders in the world with Rohan (Dennis) and Richie (Porte) setting the bar at the moment.”

Matt Wilson: Sport Director:
“The time trial isn’t a specific target for Luke, but like always he is training himself into good condition for this time of year so anything can happen on the day of a time trial. Defending champion Rohan Dennis and teammate Richie Porte will be tough to beat.”

Women:
• Alex Manly
• Lucy Kennedy

With world championship bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot no longer in the team colours, the time trial championship will be tough to defend. Alex Manly and new signing Lucy Kennedy will race for valuable experience with the under-23 title a big aim for Manly.

Alex Manly:
“I’m looking forward to having another go in the individual time trial. It will be a good guide to see where I am at and an opportunity to practice my position and pacing and I don’t get the chance to race many time trials throughout the year. Having the under-23 category gives me some more motivation to have a good ride.”

Gene Bates – Sport Director:
“Alex has had a different preparation this year, focussing on the track with Commonwealth Games coming up, so there is no great pressure on her for this race but we are keen for her to focus on the discipline in the future.

“Similarly, Lucy has shown time trial ability in the past and we think she can do well in the future so it’s a good opportunity to race a high-level time trial because there aren’t many on the program now.”

Sunday, 7 January – Road Races

Men:
• Luke Durbridge
• Alex Edmondson
• Caleb Ewan
• Lucas Hamilton
• Mathew Hayman
• Michael Hepburn
• Damien Howson
• Cameron Meyer
• Robert Power

Back up to nine representatives from six in 2017, Mitchelton-SCOTT have cards to play in Sunday’s road race, including previous winner Luke Durbridge, but they won’t be the only ones.

The race returns to the traditional Buninyong area but with a slightly altered circuit that removes one lap and adds a technical section through Federation University. Weather conditions and strategy play key roles.

Mat Hayman:
“I’m really looking forward to returning to nationals this year. Anything can happen at that race, the best guy never wins there, but an unfamiliar 900m might see me finally on the top step this year.”

Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“This year will offer a different dynamic for the road race given BMC Racing’s numbers and quality. I still think the race will play around what we do, but they have massive cards to play.

“As always if an early break went with the right composition it could win, but with two strong teams to control it adds a different element.  It’s one of those races that is always a bit of a gamble, but one we’d always love to win.”

Women:
• Jessica Allen
• Janelle Crooks
• Gracie Elvin
• Lucy Kennedy
• Alex Manly
• Sarah Roy
• Amanda Spratt

Having won five of the past six national road titles, Mitchelton-SCOTT women will be on the hunt for another opportunity to take the green and gold jersey back to Europe.

The team isn’t expecting too much change from the course but will have some tough new challenges, in the for of former teammates, in 2018.

Amanda Spratt:
“January is always a special time to be racing in Australia and I’m always really motivated for this block. I’m going into the races pretty relaxed but knowing I have done the hard work and the shape is good so I just can’t wait to get racing. A lot of girls are trying to making the Commonwealth Games team so the nationals will be important for anyone with that goal. I anticipate a very hard race but I think we have a really strong team ready to do everything we can to get that jersey again.

“I’m happy with the changes made to the course. Whilst it’s not a huge difference, I think the short technical part through the university and the drag up the main road with make the overall course slightly harder. I love racing around Buninyong and I’m definitely happy we still have the climb.”

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt at the 2016 Australian road championhips.

Gene Bates – Sports Director:
“I don’t think the course will make too much of a difference, we have one less lap which means the action will start a little earlier and the shorter distance than our overseas also plays a part in that.

“We have good riders in good shape who are used to racing as a team and that will be our advantage against other strong riders in Shara Gillow, Katrin Garfoot and Rachel Neylan for example. We don’t have a one rider plan, everyone will have an opportunity.”

Team Sky announces 2018 Squad

Here's the announcement the team sent me:

The full Team Sky 2018 squad:

The new riders:

LEONARDO BASSO (Italy, age 24)

23-year-old Italian Leonardo Basso turns pro with Team Sky in 2018.

“It’s a dream come true to be joining Team Sky. My main objective is to help the team wherever I can. I want to learn about the job and what it means to be a pro bike rider. I want to learn as much as I can from my team-mates and increase my level day by day.

“From watching the team you can see they have a clear focus, they pay attention to equipment and the details that go into cycling. It’s impressive to see the innovation and to now be a part of that.”

EGAN BERNAL (Colombia, age 20)

One of the brightest young talents in the sport. Bernal was the winner of the 2017 Tour de l’Avenir, the most prestigious race in the under 23 calendar.

Xabi Artexte (Team Sky coach): “We’re really looking forward to having Egan as part of our group. It’s exciting for us to have another Colombian rider joining us. The support they get from the Colombian fans is fantastic and is really good for the sport.

“He’s a young rider and his progress will continue as he gets physically stronger. He’ll have time to continue his development with the team and learn everything about how to be the best he can be at the top level. Egan is a very exciting rider."

Egan Bernal: “I always dreamed of being with this team and I never thought the opportunity to join would come this fast. My first goal with Team Sky is to learn. I want to learn from my teammates and take advantage of the experience that there is in the team. I’m excited to be joining Team Sky and I want to contribute as much as I can."

JONATHAN CASTROVIEJO (Spain, age 30)

Castroviejo, who has spent the past six seasons as a key part of Movistar’s line up, joins Team Sky having carved out a reputation as a Grand Tour rider and world class time trialist.

“Everybody knows the strength in the team, and how important the spirit between the riders is to the team’s success. I’m really looking forward to being part of that, bringing my own experience and learning new things.

“I have been part of Grand Tour winning teams in the past and I want to do that again in the future. I’m really happy to be taking this next step with Team Sky.

Joanthan Castroviejo

Castroviejo shows a wonderfully flat aero position as he time trials at the 2017 Algarve tour.

DAVID DE LA CRUZ (Spain, age 28)

David de la Cruz joins Team Sky after three years at Quick-Step, where he put in a series of increasingly eye catching performances.

David de la Cruz: “I’m excited to be joining the team. I definitely feel that, at this point in my career, Team Sky is the best place for me to progress and to be the best rider I can be.

“I think the team understand my skills as a rider and what I can offer to the team, so I’m really happy to be joining Team Sky and I am looking forward to this new challenge.”

Xabi Artexte (Team Sky coach): “He is a really versatile rider who can perform a lot of roles, but he climbs very well and he has had some excellent results on really tough mountain stages, like at the Vuelta a Espana and at Paris Nice. I’m sure he will fit straight in at Team Sky.

“He has an interesting story in that he didn’t start in bike riding until quite late. His progression has been fast and his talent has always been obvious. He is an excellent signing for us.

“His performances and results have been improving every year and there is definitely room for him to keep progressing with Team Sky.”

KRISTOFFER HALVORSEN (Norway, age 21)

Former Under 23 Road Race World Champion Kristoffer Halvorsen turns pro with Team Sky in 2018. The young Norwegian won stage three of the Tour de l’Avenir on his way to claiming overall victory in the points competition.

Kristoffer Halvorsen: “I was lucky enough to be invited to the training camp in December last year (2016). It was an opportunity to get to know the team a lot better and learn how things work inside the team.

“It’s one of the best teams in the world. During the next few years I want to keep developing as a sprinter and take it step by step from there.

Gabriel Rasch (Team Sky DS): “He’s a really promising sprinter and I think in the future he could be a good Classics rider as well. He already has some wins to his name and he’s a super fast young guy.”

“He’s very calm outside of cycling, but when he sees a sprint he turns into an animal!”

CHRIS LAWLESS (Great Britain, age 22)

The British under 23 Road Race champion turns pro with Team Sky and is another one of our roster of 2017 Tour de l’Avenir stage winners.

“One of my main reasons for joining Team Sky is that I feel it’s going to be the best place for me to develop as a rider.

“The overall win at the ZLM Tour and the stage win at Tour de l’Avenir were both really big wins for me. I was happy with the way I won them. It’s not how I usually win races. I attacked instead of waiting for the sprint which I think showed I can do more than just finish quickly. The other highlight was obviously the British Nationals and winning the under-23 jersey. I was happy to be able to compete with the other WorldTour guys there and I was still able to attack and show my pace at the end.

“I want to improve in every area. I’m hoping to become a more all-round bike rider and Team Sky is going to be the best place for me to do that”.

PAVEL SIVAKOV (Russia, age 20)

Another of the brightest young riders in the sport, Sivakov won the 2017 GiroBio (the under-23 version of the Giro d’Italia) and picked up the final stage of the Tour de l’Avenir on his way to clinching the mountains competition.

Pavel Sivakov: “I’ve ridden well in stage races and, to me, Team Sky are the best stage racing team in the world. I feel that Team Sky is where I can make the most progress and become the best rider I can be.

“I’m sure that I am going to learn so much and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s definitely a big step up. The team have told me there is no pressure and that I can focus on developing and learning, but I’m excited to be involved and to play my part in the team."

Nico Portal (Team Sky DS): “I’ve known Pavel for a few years. He has a good pedigree as both his parents were cyclists. He grew up at the foot of the Pyrenees, which might help to explain why he’s such a good climber!

“He’s also a really strong time triallist. He was a very good junior rider and he has progressed to become one of the very best under-23 riders in the world.

“Pavel is a really nice guy. He’s passionate about our sport, he’s committed and he’s motivated to succeed. He has all the qualities needed to become one of the best in the world.”

DYLAN VAN BAARLE (Holland, age 25)

The young Dutchman is a rising star of the Classics races, having finished fourth at the Tour of Flanders last year, improving on his sixth place finish in 2016. Van Baarle took overall victory at the Tour of Britain in 2014.

“I’ve raced against Team Sky for the last four years and you can see it’s maybe the best team in the peloton. Now I’m joining the team and I think I will suit the team well. I’m really looking forward to getting started.”

“I hope to get some good results next year in the Classics, but I think in small stage races I can also do a good GC performance. I have a good TT so that’s also one of my goals for the next few years, to show that I’m not only a Classics rider, but I also want to develop myself in the one-week stage races. I think Team Sky is a great place to help me do that.

“Finishing in fourth place at Flanders has given me a lot of motivation. Not just being so close to the podium, but also because I finished sixth the year before I could see the improvement in myself, and that’s what I want to keep up.

“I want to do even better in the next few years and target a podium in a big Classic like Flanders or Roubaix. That is my main goal.”

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