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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm. - Calvin Coolidge

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Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Flanders roster

The team sent me this update:

Lotto Soudal completed its roster for the Tour of Flanders. Tim Wellens is added to the line-up. The seven riders are: Tiesj Benoot, Frederik Frison, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Lawrence Naesen, Brian van Goethem and Tim Wellens.

Time Wellens

Tim Wellens (shown at the 2019 Ruta del Sol) will ride the Tour of Flanders. Sirotti photo

Tim Wellens: “I will indeed be at the start of the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. It is true that after Tirreno-Adriatico, I said that I would not do so, but after I raced Tirreno, I took four days of physical and mental rest, because I was quite disappointed. We left Volta a Catalunya out of my initial race schedule – last year I had to miss it due to illness – because we experienced that I can perfectly prepare for the Ardennes Classics by doing a solid block of training. But a one-day race is of course a different story.”

“The Ardennes Classics will still be my main goal, but I got a little curious after my two Omloop participations in 2018 and 2019. That is why I will ride my first Tour of Flanders on Sunday. It will mainly be about learning as much as possible in my first participation, so I am realistic. A monument of 250 kilometres is of a completely different order than the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. All of the cobbles specialists are at their best and know the course really well. But of course, I will try to help the team.”

Team Sunweb renews contract with Søren Kragh Andersen

The team sent me this release:

As announced at Team Sunweb’s Cobblestone Classics Press Meeting at Renson’s HQ earlier today, Team Sunweb are delighted to renew their contract with the talented Dane, Søren Kragh Andersen. Already in contract until the end of the 2020 season, the new agreement will see Kragh Andersen wear the team’s colours until the end of 2022.

Having joined the team in 2016, Kragh Andersen has steadily progressed into one of the most promising talents in the peloton, proving to be a versatile rider who is adept on various types of terrain. With stage wins at the Tour of Oman, Tour de Suisse, a solo victory at a brutally tough Paris-Tours in 2018, and a near GC win at the Tour of Algarve earlier this season, Kragh Andersen has already shown just how strong a rider he is.

Soren Andersen

Soren Andersen racing in the 2019 BinckBank Tour. Sirotti photo

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef expanded: “Søren has been with us for three full years with this being his fourth season at Team Sunweb. From the start it turned out to be a great fit with Søren, not only as a rider but as a person as well, as he is a big team player with a range of qualities both on and off the bike. With a balanced program we’re seeing him steadily develop in his career and as a rider that can take the role as leader in the finales of different classics. He’s also capable of riding for strong TT results and aiding in the team discipline too, while managing to ably support our GC leaders and going for a result himself in certain stage races. He’s a real team player and always gives his all for the goal.”
Søren added: “I’m super happy to extend my contract with the team. Team Sunweb and I are a good match – they really believe in me and I think this is a good place for me to develop in the future. There is still lots of space for me to see where my capabilities can take us together. When I got the offer from the team I was really happy to continue working with them for a few more years and become a long-term Team Sunweb member.”

Fabio Aru undergoes successful operation

Aru's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

Fabio Aru underwent surgery today in Nuovo Ospedale-Santo Stefano in Prato, near Florence, Italy – an angioplasty of his iliac artery that included a vascular stent.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru should be back on the road soon. Sirotti photo

The operation, performed by Dr. Andrea Gori, was aimed at solving a constriction of the iliac artery in Aru’s left leg. It prevented an adequate blood supply maximum efforts.

The intervention consisted of placing a special balloon catheter inside the artery, using a minimal invasive technique, in order to restore the lumen (the central cavity of the vessel). It was completed with a stent, or a cylindrical metal piece that keeps the lumen open.

The procedure went ahead without problems and the Sardinian cyclist will be able to leave the hospital in the next days.

Business is booming but underlying issues roil Taiwan’s bicycle industry

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News sent me this:

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — The Trump Administration’s ongoing dance with the Chinese over tariff issues — and with no end point in sight — has Taiwanese manufacturers and suppliers continuing to evaluate supply chain logistics.

That seems to be the consensus among a variety of attendees as the Taipei International Cycle Show gets underway Wednesday morning. And as the global trade pattern for bicycles, parts and accessories continues to shift more companies are also financing new factories and machinery to hasten the adoption of more automation.

For example, Marwi’s James Huang noted in an email to BRAIN that the Taichung company continues to focus on automation at its Taiwan facility as well as its factory in Indonesia. Marwi is one of the largest pedal manufacturers in the industry with facilities in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and the United States.

KindShock, also known as KS, is best known for its high quality dropper posts. The company, founded by Martin Hsu, is building a new and larger factory in Tainan about 85 miles south of Taichung.

“One main focus is the automation of much of the production process to increase capacity, consistency and quality,” said Rick Taylor, KindShock’s director of U.S. operations. “We feel this will give KS a significant advantage going forward,” he added. KS also has a factory in China that makes non-bicycle products.

As for supply chain issues, Taylor and others said there is a clear movement away from China. “Most Chinese (-based) assemblers are looking to move and some have already moved to countries with favorable trade (policies) with the U.S.,” he said. Most of that movement has been to Cambodia and Vietnam, Taylor added.

Steve Gluckman, a consultant, said other factors are also reshaping Taiwan’s bicycle industry. Gluckman spent 28 years at REI as Novara’s general manager and later led development of the cooperative’s Co-op brand of in-house bikes.

Gluckman pointed out that Taiwan’s assemblers and factories are busier than ever because of international trade policy. But it’s a mixed picture. Gluckman, a frequent visitor to Asian factories, said Trump’s tariffs and Europe’s ongoing anti-dumping duties levied against China are taking a toll.

“China’s factories are feeling it. When I was in China in January, the impact of these trade policies was quite clear. Everyone I spoke with had excess capacity. I also heard about layoffs, extended Chinese New Year vacations, and even some closures,” he said.

But Gluckman and others also pointed out that an overall drop in Taiwan exports of traditional bicycles is affecting component makers even as the dollar value of regular bicycles is increasing. Data recently released by Taiwan’s Customs Administration reflects that trend.

According to Customs officials Taiwan exported approximately 200,000 fewer traditional bicycles last year even as e-bike exports picked up. But the increase in e-bike exports failed to improve profits for some component makers.

The formula is simple, Gluckman said. An overall reduction of pedal-only bikes being produced equal fewer components ordered. “In general there is a lot of price sensitivity among product managers when it comes to things like handlebars, stems, seatposts, and pedals, “Gluckman said.

Others point out that as suppliers seek lower pricing for e-bikes, they are further squeezing manufacturers and are spec’ing e-bikes with either in-house brands or unbranded stock parts.

Mark Vandermolen, managing director at FSA, also agrees that Trump’s tariffs are forcing a revamp of supply chains from China back to Taiwan and other countries.

“Trump’s tariffs have been and continue to be unpredictable. With the long production lead-times for complete bikes, we’ve definitely seen bike brands and assembly factories choose to pivot to locales that would help alleviate the tariff burdens,” Vandermolen said.

“Regardless of the eventual tariff outcomes, I expect this pivot will continue as brands and assemblers seek stability in the short to midterm future,” he added.

You can read the entire story here.

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