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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 7, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


hansgrohe extends title sponsorship with Bora–hansgrohe

The team sent me this news:

At the teams’ press conference, just one day before the Grand Départ in Noirmoutier, hansgrohe announced the extension of its title sponsorship with BORA - hansgrohe until 2020. This means that both naming sponsors already prolonged their sponsorships with Ralph Denk, after BORA announced its extension until 2021 already in April. For the upcoming Tour de France, the team seems to be ready to go for stage wins and a top spot at the GC with the two leaders Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka.

“It’s always nice and something special, to announce such good news at a press conference. For our team this means a confirmation of all the hard work we put into day by day, to build the best possible environment for our riders, but also for our sponsors. That’s the basis for reaching our common goals. This long-term commitment of our two main sponsors also gives us planning security. We’ll keep on progressing, because we still have ambitous goals in the WorldTour.

For this Tour de France, our goals are clear since the beginning of the season: we want to win a stage and the Green Jersey with Peter and aim for a top five in the GC with Rafal. We saw last year how fast all the hard work, all the efforts over month, can be lost within a second. But we did our homework, again we worked very hard and we are well prepared, there is nothing more that could have been done. All our guys are in shape on time.” – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

“I am very happy that after BORA also hansgrohe has extended its sponsorship early. We all share the same vision and therefore we’ll keep on working side by side to reach our goals. I have great respect for what Ralph Denk established over the last years. And I want to thank hansgorhe and BORA for their trust in us.
Our goals for the Tour are always the same, there is no surprise. But the Tour is a complicated race. Everybody is extremely motivated; all eyes are on this race in July. We need a little bit of luck to achieve our goals; without luck, everything can be lost in one moment. But we have a very strong team going into this Tour de France, and there will be some opportunities for us for sure. My preparations went well, and I feel I am ready. The stage to Roubaix will be special, for me as well, now that I have these good memories about this place and the sectors. However, the race will be different then April, with all the GC guys fighting at the front as well.” – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan after winning the 2016 Tour's Green Jersey

“My preparations went well over the last weeks and I was able to put in some decent work at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada. I crashed at the Tour of Slovenia, that was a little setback, but in the last stages a could feel my legs got better and better day by day. I think I am ready for the Tour now. Now we just need a little bit of luck to get through the first ten stages. The Roubaix stage will be special, but on that day, I’ll have the strongest guys from the whole peloton next to me.” – Rafal Majka

“After almost two seasons working with the BORA-hansgrohe cycling team and its incredible riders, we are delighted to announce the extension of our sponsorship engagement. The results, in terms of brand impact and awareness, we received to date, affirm this decision. Our primary goal has been to increase the global consumer awareness for our premium brand hansgrohe and its products. The successful 2017 advertising campaign “Shower like a pro” enabled us to boost our emotional branding, and to increase our presence in major markets, such as France or Germany. In 1.5 years, we launched a dedicated app, started a hansgrohe employee cycling team, hosted dozens of client events all around the global cycling calendar, and we even designed a Special Edition Peter Sagan hand-held shower. With our 2018 follow-up campaign “Your daily dose of energy” we are bound to continue the success story! Our sponsorship vision for the next season is modern, premium and proactive; we can’t wait to continue sharing our values and common goals”.  Philippe Harinck, Sponsoring Project Manager of the Hansgrohe Group

“I’m pleased that hansgrohe have extended their sponsorship deal and reaffirmed their commitment to our joint project. BORA decided in April to prolong our sponsorship for two more years until 2021. Our aim is to build a solid base to enable the team to plan for the long-term. We wanted to provide a stable environment that allows the team to concentrate on sporting goals and successes. hansgrohe are a perfect partner for us and numerous synergies result from our highly successful cycling sponsorship cooperation. All involved benefit from shared knowledge and experiences in the kitchen environment. At BORA we continue to revolutionise behaviour and interior design in the kitchen with innovative products, driven by our vision of “the end of the extractorhood.”– Willi Bruckbauer, Owner BORA 

Team Sunweb wins Giro Rosa opening stage

The team sent me this report:

Team Sunweb's Women's Program have won the opening stage of the Giro Rosa, a 16-kilometer team time trial in Verbania, Italy. All seven riders crossed the line with a time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds, with the world champions in the discipline winning the stage by one second. With Ellen van Dijk (NED) crossing the line first for the team, she wears the first Maglia Rosa of the race going into stage two tomorrow.

Van Dijk said: "What a great start to this Giro Rosa! We came into this TTT well prepared and everybody did a great job on this fast course. We knew we had to go very fast from the start and we had a clear plan for the race. As always, we used each others strength in the best possible way and we executed the plan almost to perfection. It’s great to win this stage together as a team. The spirit is super high as we couldn’t start this Giro in a better way!"

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED): "Today we saw amazing team work from everyone. Normally a TTT is already teamwork at it's best but today was even more because all seven girls did their job and did it in a excellent way until the finish. Ellen taking the jersey is great, and to have Liane in the young jersey is great too. We're really motivated to continue this momentum into the remainder of the race."

Lotto Soudal will be targeting stage wins in the upcoming Tour de France. Sports director Herman Frison isn’t only thinking about winning one of the sprint stages with André Greipel, but he’s also looking at the riders in the team that have a free role.

Lotto Soudal: TDF preview with sports director Herman Frison

Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We didn’t come to the Tour for a good GC. That’s already important for the focus in the next three weeks. Our main goal is to win a stage. That could be with André Greipel or with another rider who wins from a breakaway. We never questioned the fact that André Greipel would come to the Tour with us. You don’t leave a top sprinter like him home when he’s in shape. This decision wasn’t based on performances of the past, but it’s because we believe that André can win a Tour stage again. The list with sprinters is pretty long. Greipel is high on that list of possible winners. As a team, we will do all what we can to help him win that stage. Jasper De Buyst, Marcel Sieberg and Jens Keukeleire will be part of his sprint train. Also Tomasz Marczyński and Tiesj Benoot have proven in several races that they are capable of playing a helping role in the last kilometres.”

Tiesj Bennot

Tiesj Bennot will be part of Lotto-Soudal's Tour squad.

“Then we could also win a stage with all our riders who have a free role. That are first of all Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczyński and Jelle Vanendert. But also Jens Keukeleire is able to take a victory that way, he proved that last year by becoming third in one of the last stages.”

“In theory we have a chance of winning in almost every stage. For the breakaway riders that does partially depend on how the teams of the GC riders want to race. I hope to see a lot of Lotto Soudal riders at the front both on the sprint stages and in the other types of stages as of the second week. I think we have a good mix of riders. The guys from the sprint train can pursue personal success later in the Tour and some of the riders with a free role can lend a hand in sprint stages. Everybody knows his job and the entire team is motivated.”

US spoke makers adjusting to steel tariff

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update:

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (BRAIN) — Two companies that make stainless steel spokes in the U.S. are having to adjust to a 25 percent tariff on imported steel. Both brands said so far they've been able to avoid price increases.

DT Swiss, which manufactures spokes for the North and South American markets in Western Colorado, so far has been able to absorb cost increases from the tariff, without raising its prices.

Wheelsmith, which manufactures spokes in Wisconsin, so far hasn't seen a material cost increase because it hasn't had to buy more stainless steel wire since the tariff took effect June 1. The company said it is considering strategies once the price increase hits.

The tariff doesn't apply to finished goods, but stainless steel wire is considered a raw material.

DT Swiss brings in stainless wire from Europe to make straight-gauge spokes. For its double-butted spokes, the company brings in spoke "blanks" from Europe that are not subject to the tariff, because they are considered a finished good. DT cuts and threads the blanks and forms the spoke ends in the U.S.

"On the straight gauge, we're going to take a hit," said Chip Barbieri, the CEO & General Manager of DT Swiss, Inc., the company's U.S. operation. "You try to absorb as much as you can and look at where you can be more efficient, where you can absorb things."

Barbieri said DT Swiss sources all its wire — for operations in Europe, Asia and the U.S.— from the same vendor in Western Europe. If the company ever decided to source the wire from the U.S., it would have to move all its worldwide production to that source. That's because of the company's stringent quality control and consistency standards, and also because it would require DT's full worldwide volume to persuade a U.S. vendor to make the wire.

"To get wire from the U.S. is easier said than done. There would be a vetting process that would take a long time. We are certainly looking at it, but we're not going to jump on that quickly. There's no need to panic."

You can read the entire story here.

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