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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 20, 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

You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Philippe Gilbert signs with Lotto-Soudal for three years

Lotto-Soudal sent me this release:

Lotto Soudal is pleased to announce that Philippe Gilbert will strengthen the team from next season. The 37-year-old Belgian, currently riding for Deceuninck - Quick Step, signed a three-year agreement. That way, Gilbert returns to the team in which he celebrated his first big successes, such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Lombardy, the Amstel Gold Race and the Tour de France opening stage (2011). The world champion of 2012 discusses the choice for Lotto Soudal and is looking forward to starting a second chapter with the team.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert wins the World Championship in 2012. Sirotti photo

Philippe Gilbert: “I still wanted to race, without any doubt. When I learned that I could prolong at my current team for only one year, it was clear to me that I wanted to change. The clearest interest and project was the one of Lotto Soudal. Of course, I know the team, a lot of riders and staff are no strangers to me, I know the spirit and I will again be part of a Belgian project.”

“I am very happy that we reached an agreement quite quickly. I know John Lelangue from my period at BMC as a person who highly values organisation and discipline. I achieved my first big successes together with sports manager Marc Sergeant. Primarily, my goals are to be found in the one-day races and the big Classics. Lotto Soudal gets stronger and stronger, we need to fight against the absolute top teams, not by expressing big ambitions beforehand, but by getting results.”

“The past few years, I watched the team from outside and I think they maybe lacked a real leader in those races. I want to try to lift the team to a higher level, by performing myself but also by making other riders better. It gives me just as much pleasure if they would show themselves important or if they would be able to win. I know a couple of guys from the national team, others like Wellens and Ewan live nearby. Maxime Monfort and I almost have the same age and I have been racing against some others for several years.”

“Discipline and joy are the key factors to stay a pro cyclist for so long. I still leave for training at the same hour, I do what I have to do, I don’t skip training rides,... That and a strong body help to stay competitive at a high level. At the BinckBank Tour, the Vuelta, the World Championships and the Tour of Lombardy, I want to conclude my time at Deceuninck - Quick Step as good as possible, preferably with a victory.”

Sports manager Marc Sergeant is of course happy with Philippe Gilbert joining the team. According to Sergeant, Gilbert his role within Lotto Soudal will be twofold. On the one hand, sharing his wide experience with the teammates, on the other hand, to get nice results himself, for the team.

Sports manager Marc Sergeant: “Of course, we know Philippe from his first period at the team. At that time, I was urging for a transfer to the Lotto team, almost on a yearly basis. He laid the foundations for the rider he did become with us, an achievement that, mainly, only he needs to be credited for. Afterwards, he further built his impressive career and palmares. In the first part of his career, he mainly targeted the Walloon Classics, but when you see that he also added the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to his palmares… Chapeau! That is important as an example towards others and without any doubt, a lot of people will admire him.”

“Meanwhile, he has so much experience, he won all Monuments, except for one, and he can pass on his experience to the current team, which is hungry for new success. His age is a relative term, you are as old or fit as you feel. He still has that big urge to prove himself and he is go-getter, that is his secret. In terms of race schedule, it has always been a rider who is active from February till October. Certain Flemish and Walloon Classics are perfectly compatible, to play a decisive role himself or to pass on his experience and strengthen the team.”

John Lelangue, general manager at Lotto Soudal, mentions several reasons why Philippe Gilbert means an important addition to the team.

General manager John Lelangue: “There are several reasons why Philippe Gilbert is an important transfer for us. Firstly, he is a complete leader, with his palmares, with the evolution he made throughout his career and with his personality. That is why we really wanted him with us, to highlight the DNA of the team more clearly in the one-day races. Of all the active riders, he has the biggest one-day races palmares; he knows what it takes to win.”

“I worked with Philippe at BMC and I got to know him as a charismatic but human leader of the group and a motivator for the young guys. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to pass on his extensive experience to Bjorg, but other riders can learn a lot from Philippe. He gives his teammates a lot of advice and tries to lead the way for them. And his offensive way of racing is of course also an important factor.”

“Everybody knows that we want to keep on taking a prominent role in the one-day races and during the stages of the longer races, and Philippe has already proven countless times to be successful there. After his crash in the Tour last year, he worked really hard to again reach the highest level, with the victory in Roubaix as the reward. We want to strive for podium places and victories, that’s what it’s all about, nothing else matters. That is why we have to build a team that can do so. And Philippe can be an important factor towards meeting those ambitions.”

Philippe Gilbert"

Nationality: Belgian
Date of birth: 05/07/1982 - Verviers
Living in Monaco
Turned pro in 2003 with La Française des Jeux
1m79 - 69kg

75 pro victories

World champion road cycling - Valkenburg 2012

Paris-Roubaix (2019)
Tour of Flanders (2017)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2011)
2x Tour of Lombardy (2009, 2010)
4x Amstel Gold Race (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017)
3x stage victory Giro d’Italia
1x stage victory Tour de France
5x stage victory Vuelta a España

2x Belgian road cycling champion
1x Belgian time trial champion

Flèche Wallonne (2011), Flèche Brabançonne (2011, 2014), Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (2006, 2008), Clásica San Sebastián (2011), Paris-Tours (2008, 2009), etc, etc...

Tom Dumoulin moves from Team Sunweb to Jumbo Visma

First, the release I got from Team Sunweb:

After an incredible eight-year journey filled with countless successes, Team Sunweb and Tom Dumoulin are set to go their separate ways at the end of the 2019 season.

Joining the team as it was then Team Argos-Shimano back in 2012, a 21-year-old Dumoulin set off on his path of development as a GC rider. 2014 was his breakthrough year as a time trial specialist, with four wins that included his first national title and a bronze medal at the world championships. In 2015 Dumoulin went on to shine in red at the Vuelta a España, eventually finishing the race in a very respectable 6th place after a relentless fight. Success continued for the Dutchman into 2016 with a TT Olympic silver at the Rio games, but the focal point of his career thus far would come just one year later, as he and the team secured the overall win at the 2017 Giro d’Italia. The successes for Dumoulin continued throughout the season with a double world championship title in Bergen, as he secured the individual time trial win and was a part of the team’s TTT gold medal squad. 2018 would be the first year he and the team tackled the Giro-Tour combination, doing so to near-perfection as they secured two second places.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin after winning the 2017 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

After a continual upward path of development over the years, the extraordinary journey will come to an end after 2019.

Dumoulin explained: “As a rider you always search for the highest achievable and you constantly ask yourself whether you are still in the right place, what is the best team for you and where the best options and opportunities are. There has always been interest from other teams, that’s normal, but the facilities here have always made me not to speak with other teams. After the disappointment of missing the Tour and finding myself sitting at home, I started to consider that a new environment could be refreshing. That’s why I decided to focus on the interest of some teams. There were great offers and this phase of my career felt like the right time to take it.

“It really does hurt to leave. My heart is here and together we have achieved great things that I’m very proud of. I’ve proven with Team Sunweb that winning a Grand Tour is possible with this team and I have no doubt that I could do it again with them. I know that the grass will not always be greener than at Team Sunweb and I want to emphasise that without them, I could never have got to where I am today. I will always remain grateful for the opportunities that I have had, and the opportunity that the team now grants me to allow me to explore my options within a new team.”

Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spekenbrink added: “We’re really proud of everything we’ve achieved together with Tom over the years. He’s grown alongside the team into one of the world’s best riders and he is a true champion. Having enabled that development within the environment we offer our riders is something we are really proud of and will always hold on to. Our vision is to bring riders as far as possible and make the most out of them – this is what we believe we have done here.

“It’s been a difficult year for Tom with the setbacks he has experienced and it’s normal for any person at this age to take a step back and reassess their situation. Tom opened up to thoughts that a new environment could be refreshing and we decided to respect his request and cooperate to make a move possible. Tom means a lot to the organisation, and the organisation means a lot to him; we achieved a lot together. We’re of course sad to see him leave, but in the end that’s top sports, athletes go and next generation promising athletes come. However, we are choosing to look back positively and with enormous pride on our amazing years with a truly fantastic athlete, Tom Dumoulin. We are thankful for the years with Tom and wish him all the best for the future.”

And here's the report about Dumoulin's move Jumbo-Visma sent me:

Team Jumbo-Visma has strengthened itself for the next three seasons with Tom Dumoulin. The coveted rider completes the classification core, which should be able to win a grand tour.

"I'm looking forward to contributing to that goal, winning a grand tour", says Dumoulin, who was on the highest step of the podium in the Giro before. "I was looking for a new sporting challenge and Team Jumbo-Visma is the right team for this. I'm looking forward to it. I started my cycling career with the Rabobank Continental team, a predecessor of the current Team Jumbo-Visma. That's why this step feels a bit like coming home. It's nice to represent the colours of the Dutch team."

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin riding the stage one time trial in the 2019 Giro. Sirotti photo

Team Jumbo-Visma has the ambition to structurally compete for the final victory in grand tours. CEO Richard Plugge sees the realisation of that ambition coming closer with this spectacular reinforcement. "You'd better race with each other than against each other", he refers to the fights that Dumoulin fought with Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk, for example. "We can now put together the strongest possible team in the fight against a team like Ineos. Making our dreams and ambitions come true is getting closer and closer."

Since 2013, Plugge has been working steadily to achieve his goals and considers signing the 28-year-old Dutch GC contender and time trialist a striking next step. "We have grown step by step and always want to improve. Taking part in the final victory in grand tours has always been a goal and a plan. This is warmly supported by Jumbo and Visma and our other partners. We will continue to work together on this. In this case by making the arrival of Tom possible."

In sports director Merijn Zeeman, Dumoulin meets an old acquaintance at Team Jumbo-Visma. "As a neo professional, we worked together. That was very pleasant and I liked it very much. After that we always kept in touch", the rider from the Dutch province of Limburg concludes.

CCC Team brings mix of youth and experience to Vuelta a España

CCC Team sent me this:

19 August 2019: The third Grand Tour of the year, Vuelta a España, gets underway this Saturday (24 August) with CCC Team lining up at the start in Salinas de Torrevieja with a motivated roster aiming for stage wins.

CCC Team will bring a mix of youth and experience to Spain, with more than half of the team making their debut in a three-week race Sports Director, Jackson Stewart explained.

“We will go to the Vuelta a España with less of a General Classification focus but, we will rally behind Víctor de la Parte and support him in his home tour. We will start motivated to perform well in the team time trial and take every opportunity we can in the breakaways throughout the race,” Stewart said.

“Patrick Bevin and Will Barta are very motivated for the time trial events and both have proven that are capable of delivering a good result on those stages. Jonas Koch, together with Szymon Sajnok, and guided by Fran Ventoso, will look for some success in the few sprint stages, while Paweł Bernas and Nathan Van Hooydonck will have opportunities throughout the race to ride aggressively in the breakaways. It looks like a dynamic Vuelta route and we have several riders excited to ride their first Grand Tour."

Nathan van Hooydonck

Nathan van Hooydinck will be at the Vuelta. Sirotti photo

Vuelta a España (24 August - 15 September)

Rider Roster:

Will Barta (USA): First time racing
I am absolutely thrilled to be starting in my first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España and I would like to thank CCC Team for giving me this opportunity. I’m hoping to gain a lot of experience and see how I can carry myself over a three-week race. In the race, I would like to help others and take any opportunities that present themselves for me. I am also looking forward to Stage 10, which is an individual time trial. I think my form is good at the moment, as I have been putting in some good training in Nice, and hopefully, the time riding in the hot weather here will pay off in Spain.

Paweł Bernas (POL): First time racing:
It’s my first Grand Tour and one of the goals is to finish the race. I also want to showcase myself in the breakaways and ride aggressively. This is the plan and we will see how the race will go. In the Grand Tours, some of the breakaways make it to the line and some don’t, so you need to have some luck as well. I will definitely look for any opportunity and hopefully, that will turn into some nice result. After the Tour de Pologne, I’m getting back to my top form. I was racing quite a lot lately at a high level and at the end of the Tour de Pologne, I felt that my legs were tired. I’ve had a chance to get some rest and start the proper preparation for the Vuelta in Mallorca by doing longer training rides and some speed sessions. I believe that my form is exactly where I need it to be and I should line up at the start of this three-week race in optimal shape.

Patrick Bevin (NZL): 2016
I’m very excited to be back for the Vuelta a España. My motivation is super high after recovering from broken ribs and I’m really looking forward to pinning a number on again. My major goal is the time trial, although I feel like it’s going to be a Vuelta with a number of opportunities to really have a go at stage results as the race develops. I have done my final preparation in Andorra so, I’m really looking forward to the stage which is held there, where I know what lies ahead when they drop the flag.

Víctor de la Parte (ESP): First time racing:
I am really happy to make my debut in my home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. It’s been a long time since my last race but, I have been working very hard at the altitude training camp in Andorra in the past month. Due to lack of racing, the first week may not be easy for me but, I’m very motivated to start the race off on a good note. There are some hard stages ahead of us, which should suit me and for sure I will try to enjoy the mountains where I feel at my best.

Jonas Koch (GER): First time racing:
I'm really looking forward to the race. The high altitude training camp in Livigno was very important, as I was able to cover hundreds of kilometers in the mountains there. I also had some good weeks of training at home so, my form should be optimal. It's my first Grand Tour and of course, you want to finish it on your first attempt and I also want to give it a go in the breakaways on stages which suit me. In the sprint, I'm ready to both support the team or go for a result myself.

Szymon Sajnok (POL): First time racing:
I’m trying to approach the Vuelta a España without too much stress and expectations. It’s going to be my first long race, but I’m optimistic and ready to fight. My goal is to get a nice result on the flat stages. Even though I had a few crashes and had to miss the Tour de Pologne, I feel that my form is still good and I’m very motivated to showcase myself. I’ve been preparing for the race in sunny Mallorca, where I’m with my coach and will try to get used to the Spanish weather which we will have to deal with in the upcoming weeks.

Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL): First time racing:
I don't really know what to expect from my first Grand Tour. Obviously, I want to perform well in the opening team time trial, as I have worked hard on this with my personal coach and team’s Head of Performance, Marco Pinotti. As for the rest of the race, I would like to represent the team in the breakaways and see how far I can get. I believe that my form is good. I spent some time at an altitude and I feel like I am climbing pretty well for a classics guy. I also went on a mini-training camp to Luxembourg to do some intense and specific work on both the road bike and the TT bike and I look forward to testing myself across the upcoming three weeks.”

Francisco Ventoso (ESP): 2018, 2017, 2015, 2006 (winner: stage 3), 2005:
My goal for the Vuelta a España is to try to win a stage and it doesn’t matter if it’s me or somebody else from our team. Winning a stage is the most important objective for us and we will do everything we can to accomplish that. I believe that my form is good. After the Giro d’Italia, I haven’t raced much but, I did a long block of altitude training in Andorra, where I spent one month. After that, I did two races in Belgium and one in London and I feel strong. I’m confident in myself and in our team and I believe we can win a stage in Spain. Another important goal is to take the leader’s jersey and to do that we need to do really well on the first day of racing, in the team time trial.

Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Gabriele Missaglia (ITA)

UAE Team Emirates announces Vuelta squad

The team sent me this:

The third and final Grand Tour of the season will start Saturday, August 24th from Salinas de Torrevieja with a team time trial and will end in Madrid on September 15th.

Team manager Joxean Matxin (Esp), along with the the support of Andrej Hauptman (Slo), Bruno Vicino (Ita) and Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), will guide the following riders:

– Fabio Aru (Ita)
– Valerio Conti (Ita)
– Fernando Gaviria (Col)
– Sergio Henao (Col)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Sebastian Molano (Col)
– Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
– Oliviero Troia (Ita)

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru will be the team's GC man. Sirotti photo

Fernando Gaviria commented on his Vuelta participation: “I am happy to make my debut in an important race like the Vuelta, the only Grand Tour I have never participated in.

There aren’t many stages for the sprinters, and we’ll have to take our chances when we can – this is what makes the Vuelta even more challenging and stimulating“.

These are the words of Fabio Aru: “As always, the Vuelta a España represents an important and stimulating challenge, both in terms of the route and the quality of the startlist. I’m excited and ready to race, especially since the operation I had four months ago. The goal is to compete at high level but also to be consistent“.

Debutant Tadej Pogačar: “I am really excited to be able to participate in my first Grand Tour, I can’t wait to be on the starting ramp of the team time trial and start this new challenge.

"I will be in Spain with the aim of learning as much as possible, understanding how to move in the bunch in such an important race and how to manage it over the three weeks. It’s the only way I can start building something good for the next few years“.

The manager Joxean Matxin summarised the prospects of the Emirati team: “At the Vuelta we will be able to count on a very strong team, which offers us many possibilities depending on how the race unfolds. We will be able to aim for the sprint stages with Fernando Gaviria who we know can do well there.

For the general classification there will be Fabio Aru, whose condition has grown a lot and approaches the Vuelta with great concentration and determination.

The choice was made also that the talented Tadej Pogačar will make his debut after proving this year that he is not only a contender for the future but for the present also.

Along with Conti, Henao, Marcato, Molano and Troia, we believe we have a complete and balanced team to give the necessary support to achieve our goals“.

Helmets and lights remain on list to receive new 10% tariff Sept. 1

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — While President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that his administration will delay some tariffs on Chinese imports until Dec. 15, most bicycle products remain on a list subject to increased tariffs Sept. 1.
The items subject to the new 10% tariff in about two weeks include helmets and lights, products previously exempted on safety grounds. Balance bikes, however, will not be subject to the new tariff until Dec. 15.

In the last 15 months, the administration has imposed tariffs on three lists of products from China. There are currently new 25% tariffs in effect on Lists 1, 2, and 3, and there are bike products on each of those lists. List 4 originally contained just about every bike product that wasn't included on the previous three.

But this week, the administration effectively divided up List 4 into three smaller lists: List 4a includes products that will be subject to a new 10% tariff on Sept. 1; List 4b items will receive the tariff Dec. 15; a third list includes items that have been removed from consideration — that list has yet to be published.

Besides helmets and lights, List 4a includes products imported under the catch-all HTS code of 8714.99.8000. Products that come in under that code include baby carriers, kickstands, wire baskets, carriers and racks, chain tensioners, toe clips, fenders, most handlebars and stems, seatposts, reflectors, headsets, horns, and shocks. Items under this code were previously subject to a 10% tariffs, so they will be subject to a 20% tariff starting Sept. 1.

Most lights previously had no tariff, so the total tariff will be 10% after Sept. 1. Lights that mount to the arm, leg, or helmet had an existing 3.5% tariff, so the total tariff on those will now be 13.5%.

Helmets had no previous tariff.

Protective sunglasses and goggles also will receive the 10% tariff next month.

You can read the entire story here.

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