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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, October 1, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. - Aesop

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Men's Elite World Championship road race team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Winner Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team posted this report:

15 months after a compound leg and ankle fracture in a brutal crash against a barrier on stage one of the 2017 Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) wrote the most beautiful page of his legendary career as a pro cyclist in another German-speaking city, Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tirol. ‘Bala’, the ‘Bullet’, is finally the champion of the world.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde wins the big one. Sirotti photo

The leader of the Spanish national team, brilliantly protected by his seven team-mates, rode with immense composure, and only took a leading role in the race at the exact moment it was required: the 2.8km, 11% average-gradient, 28% maximum Gramartboden, also known as Höll (‘Hell’). As Michal Kwiatkowski, Primoz Roglic or Simon Yates were already out of contention before that last climb, only seven riders were able to contest the victory on its slopes: Michael Valgren (DEN), who escaped from the bunch at the final ascent to Igls; Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot (FRA), Gianni Moscon (ITA), Michael Woods (CAN) and Alejandro, who got through the ‘wall’ with big patience while Alaphilippe and Moscon struggled to keep the group’s pace.

A big, late effort from Tom Dumoulin (NED) to join the Woods, Bardet, Valverde trio, those leading the race through the top of the Höll, did not make for further moves in the run-in to the finish. Valverde was forced to take on a very long sprint, always leading the group, yet one that was fully worth it. Alejandro claimed his 122nd pro victory, undoubtedly the most relevant, and sees his efforts being made justice as one of the sport’s biggest legends, claiming a rainbow jersey after fifteen years, and six medals, in the Worlds’ road race.

REACTION:
Alejandro Valverde: “I can’t believe it. I just can’t. It’s been so many years fighting for it, and we finally made it. It’s my biggest pro victory. One that I’ve fought hard to achieve for all these years. Something I’ve been chasing for during my entire career. I’ve been so close, so many times, six medals yet no golds. I even thought I would never become world champion. I didn’t get obsessed about it anymore. I always went to the World Championships with an aim to do well, but knowing it was too hard to win, even more so when you’re one of the top favourites. I had almost surrendered to that fact, but it all turned out well today. I had a superb day, we reaced really well, the weather conditions helped much – and I could make that dream finally become true. I think about my family, and all those who love what I do and always support me – this goes to them, to everybody who is happy, even many rivals who came to congratulate me after the finish. This goes to all of you.

“Above them all, I want to thank my Spanish national team-mates, for their outstanding job. They made me remain so calm, all of them working hard for this success. I think the training camp we held in Sierra Nevada last week helped us much. We were able to build strong bonds, become a real family, and that had an impact on the race’s events. Everyone remained really focused at all points of the race. My job was ‘just’ to be there at the right moment, seeking for the distance where I had to launch my moves, go for the sprint and win. The rest, they did it for me. I knew I couldn’t disappoint them, I had to give my all for the team.

“It was a really long sprint, where I had to take on full responsibility. I kept checking my rivals’s reactions and the finishing banners until, with 350 meters to go, I thought: ‘Now! I attack and don’t wait for anyone else.’ I was looking at them from below my saddle, seeing they remained closed but not able to overtake me. After that, the emotions, the feelings, were something I won’t ever forget.

“I’m so proud of wearing this jersey for the next twelve months. I’ve been at other World Championships where a team-mate won and I enjoyed it, but taking it yourself is just special. Sagan told me he was really happy about my victory – that if it wasn’t him who stayed in the rainbow jersey, he’d like me to take the baton as World Champion. There’s some time left for me before retiring, but with such a victory, I can already leave this sport happy (smiles). Everything which comes after this is a plus. Everything after the crash was already a plus. I had through my career was over at Düsseldorf. Coming back, winning 14 races, becoming World Champion – it’s a big joy.”

Silver medalist Romain Bardet's Ag2r team posted this:

“I have invested a lot in this championship race. I had a lot of fun during those weeks of training. I knew that I would be in at the finish. There was a great energy within the French team. I am not disappointed. It would have been difficult to go faster in the sprint.
Alejandro Valverde is one of the fastest riders in the world. I made a small error at the top of the final climb, but luckily that didn’t really matter in the end. The entire French team did a great race. And there are still some races to look forward to like the Tour of Lombardy to close the season.” - Romain Bardet

Roman Bardet

The World's podium: Romain Bardet (left) with Alejandro Valverde and Michael Woods. Sirotti photo

THE NUMBER: 10
By winning the silver medal at the World Championships, Romain Bardet took his 10th podium of the season. He has one victory (Faun Environment -Classic de l’Ardèche), 4 second places (Stade Bianche, Tour du Finistere, Tour of Tuscany, world championships), five third places (Liège-Bastogne-Liège, general classification Critérium du Dauphiné and the 7th stage, as well as the 12th and 19th stage of the Tour de France).

FIRST PODIUM AT THE ELITE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR THE AG2R LA MONDIALE TEAM
Romain Bardet’s second place at the World Championships is the first time that the AG2R LA MONDIALE team has medaled at the Elites World Championships. Last year, Benoit Cosnefroy won the Under 23 title. “This silver medal rewards the work Romain has done, as well as his commitment and that of the entire team throughout the season. I am very proud of this podium”, Vincent Lavenu, said.

Here's the report from fourth-place Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb:

An 11 rider breakaway animated the opening stages of the world championships road race, with the remnants of the group brought back as Sam Oomen upped the tempo at the front of the peloton. As the group were brought back, numerous riders went clear but it was the final climb where the race exploded. Heading into the ascent one rider led the race solo and it became a battle of attrition between the chasing group in their quest for the rainbow jersey.

Initially missing the group, Tom Dumoulin picked his way up the climb, riding his own tempo to make up ground on the leaders. He made contact with 1.5 kilometres to go and went on to contest the rainbow jersey with a sprint between four. After taking silver at the team time trial and individual time trial earlier this week, he crossed the line to take a strong fourth place in the road race.

Tom said: “The best three riders were away at the front and I caught them too late to be able to make the difference. I tried to make a move in the final kilometre but Valverde was sharp and reacted straight away so I waited for the sprint. I left a bit of a gap in the sprint but I was completely empty and couldn’t do anything anymore. It’s too bad to just miss the podium but I gave it everything I had. I was 4th on the climb and 4th on the line, so the results reflect the race situation well.”

Kevin De Weert to become performance manager at Lotto-Soudal

Lotto-Soudal sent me this release:

Lotto Soudal confirms the rumours about Kevin De Weert becoming performance manager at Lotto Soudal. For three years, the 36-year-old former pro cyclist has been Belgium’s national team coach, a role in which he achieved some very nice results. He will now continue his career within the WorldTour. For De Weert, who retired from pro cycling in 2015, this will mark a new challenge.

Kevin de Weert

Kevin de Weert racing at the 2014 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

Sports manager Marc Sergeant: “Of course, Kevin De Weert coming to Lotto Soudal means a strengthening to our team. A while ago, we informed the Royal Belgium Cycling League, in all openness, of our interest. Everybody who worked with him the previous years, has been praising the way in which he approaches matters. That positive feedback did also reach us, amongst others, through our riders who were part of the Belgian national team. There will always be different opinions about selections and tactics, but his communication and his results were very positive. Kevin and I had a very comprehensive conversation, we also exchanged some ideas. Afterwards, it became clear to me that he could be the right man for us.”

“The role of performance manager at Lotto Soudal - contrary to some other WorldTour teams - hadn’t been filled out, which is in 2019 inevitable. The function includes a range of tasks within the sports department where Kevin will be involved in the development and the search for the perfect equipment, in the support and guidance during altitude camps and in helping our riders in attaining their goals. During the races, he will fulfil a more supportive role, but not quite like a sports director. We haven’t been going through the best period, but now we obviously want to change things. And I think Kevin will be more than able to help us in achieving that.”

Kevin De Weert: “The function which we have discussed, is a more operational role within the sports department. I don’t go to Lotto Soudal with the ambition of replacing somebody, but to fulfil a role that hasn’t been fulfilled in the past. When I will be present at the races, this will be more at the background of the action. I very much look forward to get started and to help the team in trying to exploit every percent to get the best out of both the team and riders. This can be in the more technical area, through the follow-up of certain projects as well as through guiding certain riders (altitude camps, recons,...). I am eager to tackle, together with the other members of the sports staff, the 2019 season.”

“I have learnt a lot during the past few years at the Royal Belgium Cycling League. I was given the chance to manage the national team within the framework of the Union, and I would like to thank them for that. It is with great satisfaction that I look back to what I have achieved, but I just had to grab the opportunity to work at a WorldTour level, within the role I described above. I see this as a new step, but I absolutely wanted to prepare for the World Championships in Innsbruck with the same focus and drive, without thinking about my new adventure at Lotto Soudal.”

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