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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 22, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

There is little success where there is little laughter. - Andrew Carnegie

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Quick-Step names riders for Team Time Trial World Championships

Here's the team's update:

This Sunday, Austria will host one of the most important races of the season.

For one last time, the trade teams will battle for glory and medals at the World TTT Championships, scheduled in Innsbruck, and Quick-Step Floors – the only squad to have won the event on three occasions (2012, 2013 and 2016) – will field an outfit consisting of three former winners – Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert and Niki Terpstra – who will be joined on the start line by neo-pro Kasper Asgreen, Laurens De Plus and Maximilian Schachmann, all riders who have impressed in this season's races against the clock, be it at the Nationals, in Grand Tours or at the European Championships.

Team Quick Step

Team Quick-Step riding to its 2016 gold medal. Sirotti photo

Sports director Tom Steels, the man who guided the team to an impressive haul of five medals between 2012 and 2016, shared his opinion on the route of the 62.8km race – the longest since the discipline was introduced at the World Championships, six years ago – which will take the teams from the Ötztal valley to Innsbruck.

"It's a challenging course this year, starting with 40 kilometers of flat roads, where you really need to have the big engines that can drive a high speed. After this long section, you tackle 5 kilometers of climbing, which means the guys need to be able to hold on uphill too – and we even need to have a few guys who can set a high tempo. Our roster is therefore a balance between riders who can go fast on the climbs on a TT bike and are quite strong on the flat as well, and heavier guys, who are very good on the flat and will suffer more uphill. It's not a very technical route, but after the hill, especially in the last 5-6 kilometers, we will face sections with traffic islands and roundabouts, which require more focus from the guys to keep a good rhythm in the relay. It will be fast though and we will have to go flat out after the climb until the finish."

Valkenburg, Florence and Doha have an important thing in common: all three have witnessed a Quick-Step Floors victory at the World Team Time Trial Championships, and Tom Steels hopes that Innsbruck – a former center of European politics and culture and two-time host of the Winter Olympics – will be added to the list on Sunday afternoon, although he is well aware that the competition will be a fierce one.

"The Worlds TTT is a discipline that means a lot for Quick-Step Floors, we have won it three times and have always been up there in the top, so of course we hope we can finish with a strong result in what will be the last edition for trade teams, although we know it's not going to be easy", explained Steels. "We have a solid roster comprising riders who rate this appointment as one of the most important races of the season and are ready to give everything out there. It's a pity that the time trial for trade teams is coming to an end, but we are motivated for this final edition and we will go for the best."

Dion Smith signs with Mitchelton-Scott

The team sent me this release: 

Mitchelton-SCOTT are excited to announce the signing of talented 25-year-old Dion Smith for the next two seasons, complimenting the team’s versatility.

The rider from New Zealand has displayed huge potential in his short career, from finishing consistently high in bunch sprints to wearing the polka dot mountain’s jersey at the this year's Tour de France, which leads head sport director Matt White to believe that Smith 'is ready for that next step into the WorldTour'.

Having spent the past two seasons riding for the Pro Continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert, the rider from Taupaki, Auckland joins Kiwi compatriots Jack Bauer, Sam Bewley and Georgia Williams.

Matt White - Head sport director:
"We were looking for a versatile guy and Dion is a pretty versatile character. He can do a bit of everything, he can handle himself in the flemish classics, he’s fast but not a pure sprinter, he can climb good, he is a real racer.

"This will be his first WorldTour team, he has been with Wanty-Groupe Gobert for a couple of years after One Pro Cycling and I think he is ready for that next step into the WorldTour.

“He has obviously done two Tour de France's but to be regularly racing stage races in the WorldTour will be good for him. I think he will fit into our team very well, a lot of the guys already know him."

Dion Smith:
"Reaching the top level in professional cycling is a massive goal of mine and now I am 25 and about to sign for a WorldTour team, but not only that, with the team that I've aspired to be a part of for years being a rider from the Southern Hemisphere. Mitchelton-SCOTT has always been an exciting dream.

"The last two years with Team Wanty Groupe Gobert has provided me with vast amounts of experience and opportunities in the biggest races on the calendar. It's been a great stepping stone and important for my career.

"I'm stoked to be on a team with lots of guys I look up to and that I am mates with too. Daryl Impey is a rider I am looking forward to learning from as he has so many years on me and has progressed in to a world class rider. I think Michelton-SCOTT has helped him become the rider he is now and I see myself becoming a similar rider to Daryl.

"I'm looking forward to using my versatility not only for myself but the rest of the team throughout the next two seasons. I can't wait to get stuck in and pull on some new colours."

Dion Smith:
Date of Birth: 3rd March 1993 (25)
Nationality: New Zealand
Place of Birth: Taupaki
Turned Pro: 2017
Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019

Top results:
- 2018 3rd Baloise Belgium Tour GC
- 2018 2nd Paris-Chauny 2018
- 2017 3rd National Championships New Zealand
- 2017 4th Volta Catalunya stage 1
- 2017 5th Volta Catalunya stage 5
- 2016 1st Beaumont Trophée
- 2016 1st Rev Classic
- 2016 2nd National Championships New Zealand

Laurens ten Dam joins Continuum Sports

Team BMC sent this:

21 September, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA)

Laurens ten Dam is the latest rider to join the growing Continuum Sports roster in 2019, bringing a wealth of experience with 16 years as a professional to his name. The 37-year-old will be the team's sole Dutch rider, adding to the long list of nationalities that contribute to the international composition of the team.

Laurens ten Dam

Laurens ten Dam after stage eight of the 2018 Giro d'Italia

"Laurens ten Dam is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton so he will be an asset to the team when he joins in 2019, particularly as a mentor for the younger riders in the roster. Ten Dam has proved himself to be a valuable domestique at Grand Tours and stage races and it is this selflessness that is crucial to establishing a strong team dynamic. We are looking forward to welcoming Laurens in 2019," General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

"Laurens has raced 17 Grand Tours, finishing in the top ten at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, and has lined up at 15 Monuments throughout this career, so his experience at the biggest races in the WorldTour calendar will be invaluable. As well as supporting the team's leaders, Laurens will also have the chance to take his own opportunities throughout the season."

Ten Dam is excited to add a new chapter to his cycling career after spending the last three seasons with Team Sunweb. "I wasn't necessarily looking to change teams but I'm not afraid to change, I've done it quite a few times in my career, and this was a good opportunity that presented itself. I really welcome the chance for a carte blanche, a clean slate, and to join Continuum Sports with some new goals and opportunities, as well as having some more freedom," ten Dam said.

"Although we haven't yet discussed my program, I really like racing in the United States so I hope to be able to race there next year and of course, line up at some of the Grand Tours. I want to get the best out of myself and help the team, especially with a leader like Greg Van Avermaet as I can help him in some of the hillier races. For now, the team doesn't have a clear General Classification rider but you never know how the team will develop in the coming seasons so I look forward to seeing the team grow and playing a part in this."

Hugh Carthy to return to EF Education First-Drapac

Here's the note the team sent me:

The EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team is proud to announce that Hugh Carthy has re-upped with EF Pro Cycling, extending his contract for another two seasons. Carthy recently finished third overall at Colorado Classic, where he also won the mountains classification, took fifth overall at Tour of Utah and has recorded top 10 finishes on climbing stages at Tour of Britain, Tour of Utah and Volta Catalunya.

“I’m happy here,” said Carthy. “I’m happy that I have been allowed to grow and develop without significant pressure. The development process varies in length between different riders, so it’s important to have belief and trust behind you.”

“We’re proud of the steps forward Hugh has taken within the team,” said EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “We certainly believe we’re still in the foundation-laying stage. Week-long stage races seems to be his sweet spot presently, and we’re looking forward to nurturing his talent further in this area in the seasons to come.”

Carthy attributes his tangible success during the 2018 season to a number of factors, notably changes made in the off-season. “I made great progress last winter,” said Carthy “I made some changes with my training and lifestyle and added that to the experiences I gained last season. Sometimes progress isn’t always visible on TV. I’ve made steps forward all year and grown in confidence as a result.”

The 24-year-old has expressed pride in riding for a team with a sponsor and owner that has shown an uncommon level of investment and commitment to the team. “Exactly a year ago, the future of the team was uncertain,” said Carthy. “EF stepped in and their involvement has changed the team in many ways. The way they activate their sponsorship is like nothing we’ve seen in the sport previously. Their employees and students are a good example of positive spirit, passion and commitment. It’s easy to forget who we’re racing for sometimes, but with EF, their presence and encouragement is a constant reminder.”

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