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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. --Winston Churchill

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Lotto-Soudal previews La Flèche Wallonne

The team sent me this:

When one says Flèche Wallonne, you immediately think about the Mur de Huy.  Also this year, the riders have to conquer the steep climb three times, where the victory will be at stake during the ultimate ascent. Lotto Soudal has with Bjorg Lambrecht, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens multiple cards to play.

Last year, Lotto Soudal had two riders in the top ten of the Flèche Wallonne. Finishing third, Jelle Vanendert could step on the podium alongside Alaphilippe and Valverde. Teammate Tim Wellens took seventh place. Moreover, Lotto Soudal has with Bjorg Lambrecht - who finished sixth in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race – another trump card. Mario Aerts, sports director at Lotto Soudal, talks about the race he won himself in 2002.

podium

The 2018 Flèche Wallonne podium, from left: Jelle Vanendert (3rd), Julian Alaphilippe (1st) & Alejandro Valverde (2nd)

Mario Aerts: “Of course, there is a big chance that the typical reduced bunch sprint on the Mur de Huy will once again take place, but a scenario in which some escapees battle for the victory can certainly not be ruled out. Last year for example, Schachmann could just not stay ahead, due to Jelle Vanendert leading the chase at the head of the peloton. The local laps during the finale have not been changed. However, the first part of the race was slightly altered but that’s not where the danger lies. Anticipating the final climb of the Mur de Huy will especially be possible during the two local laps, in which three climbs are included, so it can happen on every ascent. In the run-up to the Mur de Huy, positioning is of crucial importance, moving up on the steep slopes is a waste of energy.”

“It is a luxury that three riders (Bjorg Lambrecht, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens) will spearhead Lotto Soudal on Wednesday. We have our plan ready, but how much that will be converted into reality always depends on how the race unfolds. Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens have already proven that such kinds of finishes suits them very well. Moreover, Bjorg Lambrecht is also fast on tough finishes, but he hasn’t done something like the Mur de Huy before. It’s all new for him. We also had to wait and see if he would survive the 250-kilometre mark in the Amstel Gold Race. It is one big journey of discovery for Bjorg and that won’t be different coming Wednesday and Sunday.”

“Sander Armée, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort and Tosh Van der Sande will serve the team, something they all are very good at. In an ideal scenario, some Lotto Soudal riders will still be able to help the leaders in the very finale. I won Flèche Wallonne myself in 2002 and I already gave my tips and tricks to riders such as Jelle Vanendert in the past. Now, I can pass on my experience to Bjorg Lambrecht and also Jelle shares his knowledge with the teammates.”

“I expect most of the guys that were up there during the Amstel Gold Race to be at front in the Flèche Wallonne as well. Valverde had a bad day Sunday but you should never write him off. There are also Alaphilippe, Kwiatkowski and Daniel Martin to keep an eye on. I also expect riders such as Matthews and Schachmann to play their role.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Herman Frison.

Adam Yates looking for his first podium in the Ardennes Classics

Here's the update from Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team:

Mon 22 Apr 2019: Recent Pais Vasco stage winner Adam Yates will return to the La Flèche Wallonne this week looking for a good result up the Mur de Huy, having missed the race the last two-years.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates winning his stage at the Tour of the Basque Country.

With a strong team stacked with experience and climbing talent, with the likes of Michael Albasini who has featured in the top ten on five occasions, two of them podium placing, Mitchelton-SCOTT are feeling confident to deliver a good result on Wednesday in the challenging mid-week Classic.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
Michael Albasini - (SUI, 38)
Tsgabu Grmay - (ETH 27)
Damien Howson - (AUS, 26)
Daryl Impey - (RSA, 34)
Dion Smith (NZ 26)
Nick Schultz - (AUS 23)
Adam Yates - (GB, 26)

The Course:
Within the 195km race there’s 11 climbs to tackle including three brutal ascents of the famous Mur de Huy, a 1.3kilometre climb with an average gradient of 9.3% and a brutal maximum gradient of 26%.

The race begins in Ans and heads to Huy where the riders complete 137km before their first time up the much anticipated Mur de Huy. Two laps of a 29km circuit follow and feature three climbs each lap, the Cote d’Ereffe, the Cote de Cherave and the leg breaking Mur de Huy again, with the finish line at the very top of the climb, which quickly displays who has the legs on the day.

The Past:
The team has never yet clinched a victory in the race but has been close before with a second place finish in 2012 and a third place finish in 2015 from Albasini, plus six top-ten finishes throughout the team’s seven-year existence.

Adam Yates:
"I’m in good condition but I’ve never quite mastered the Ardennes races. The terrain suits me generally and Flèche is a bit harder than usual which should suit me more.

"I am nearing the end of a big block of racing which I am pleased about, with a few wins along the way, so my confidence is quite high but we will have to see how things go on Wednesday."

Nick Schultz:
“I am really looking forward to Flèche. I’ve heard it’s a super taxing race and I’m excited to discover it for myself. I expect it to be super hard but I hope I’m capable of doing a job for the leaders.

“I’m confident that those experienced guys can deliver a result. They have before, and they all seem to be on very fine form. It’s very motivating to start such a big race with guys like that knowing they can deliver a great ride.”

Matt White - Head Sport Director:
“We have some fresh riders coming in for Flèche Wallonne, notably Adam Yates. The race has one extra lap this year, so one more time up the Mur de Huy which makes it even harder.

"It is a really important race for us and I think we have a great chance with the riders we have.”

Tour of the Alps stage two team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner Pavel Sivakov's Team Sky psoted this report:

Pavel Sivakov continued Team Sky’s perfect start to the Tour of the Alps after claiming victory on stage two - his first success as a professional.

The young Russian was active throughout the queen stage and was strong enough to force his way into a late move as the group of general classification contenders split apart on the run-in.

As the road ramped up into Schenna Sivakov timed his final attack, driving clear of the group on the steep slopes. Despite being joined by Jan Hirt (Astana) ahead of the final kilometre he was able to regroup, before riding the Czech off his wheel on the way to an eight-second race lead and the young rider jersey.

Pavel Sivakov

Pavel Sivakov wins stage two.

Overnight leader Tao Geoghegan Hart was on the other side of the split and occupied a number of pre-race favourites as Sivakov made his escape. The young Brit, who 24 hours earlier also took his first pro win, eventually came home 43 seconds back and now sits seventh overall.

Chris Froome continued to build form as he climbed with the lead group on the tough Jaufenpass climb. Eventually easing back on a tricky, wet and misty descent, the Brit eventually finished safely around a minute and 30 seconds back on the stage winner.

Pavel Sivakov:
“We couldn’t wish for a better start to the race, with two stages and two stage wins. It’s unbelievable. Yesterday Tao had his first pro win and today I had my first pro win. It’s amazing!

“We’ve got a really really good young group. We work together really well, with another example of that today. The big favourites looked at Tao and I had the opportunity to go in the break. Big thanks to him and all the team for the job today.”

Here's the Bora-hansgrohe update:

Today saw the riders take on the longest and most demanding stage of this year’s Tour of the Alps. Following the start in Reith im Alpbachtal, the next 50 km consisted of flat terrain in the leadup to the first climb. Afterwards, the route yet again went upwards towards Italy, and the steepest climb of the day, the Jaufenpass (1st cat). A long descent then followed and took the peloton to Meran before a 5 km stretch of uphill road to the finish in Schenna. Approximately 30 km after the start gun went off, a group of 6 riders managed to escape and build up a lead of just over 5 minutes during the course of the day.

The race situation remained quite uneventful for some time, until the peloton took on the climb to Jaufenpass, where the leading group split in the first few difficult uphill kilometres. Only two riders from the original break were able to stay ahead of the race. Several kilometres later, Pawel Poljanski and Rafal Majka also made it into a group of around 30 riders, which took up the chase of the remaining escapees. The last 20 km saw a constant flurry of attacks from the group of favourites, but Pawel and Rafal continuously kept up the effort to follow these.

With 3 km remaining, V. Nibali put in an attack, but Rafal was able to counter this move. However, in the end, P. Sivakov and J. Hirt were the ones who were able to put themselves at the head of the field, and the Russian rider emerged victorious in the sprint duel on the finish line. Rafal put in another strong performance today, taking out 6th place on the queen stage of the race. With that, he now lies in 4th position in the general classification, 39 seconds behind the current overall leader.

From the finish line:
“It isn’t easy to win a stage at this race. But we put in our best efforts today, and Pawel supported me very well. We’re using the Tour of the Alps as preparation for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, however, I’m feeling good and so I now want to try to net a good result in the general classification. This week there are a few more hard stages coming up, and we’ll of course keep trying to put in good performances.” - Rafal Majka

“Today it was our goal to support Rafal as well as possible. Over the first 120 km ahead of the long climb, we had several riders available to fulfil this duty. However, afterwards only Pawel and Rafal were able to keep up with the pace. Pawel did an excellent job in the finale, and even rode back down the road in support of his teammate. With there being a number of attacks in the final kilometres, it would have of course been better if we would have had more riders present. However, in the end, Rafal was able to take out sixth place, which is quite a good performance.” - Christian Poemer, Sports Director

Hubs and sprockets included in Trump's threatened EU tariffs

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Some hubs and sprockets would be among the $11.5 billion in goods subject to retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% proposed by the Trump administration.

Alloy hubs, three-speed hubs, and freewheel sprockets for bikes, as well as other non-defined hubs for bicycle and motorcycle use, are included in the tariffs proposed Section 301 action related to dispute over aid to private aviation companies.

The U.S. imported $3.74 million of products under those headings from the EU last year. Because the list includes an import code that applies to hubs for bicycle and motorcycles, it's impossible to say exactly how many of the imports were for bicycles. A list of 2018 imports under those codes, from EU countries, is attached.

The list of proposed tariffs was published in the Federal Register on Friday. It includes a wide range of consumer and industrial products, including wine, olive oil, tools, ski suits, and some complete motorcycles.

Trump threatened the tariffs in a tweet last Tuesday, referring to a World Trade Organization ruling made last May, which found that Airbus had received illegal subsidies from European countries, and gave the U.S. the right to impose retaliatory tariffs.

You can read the entire story here.

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