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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 24, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Forever is composed of nows. - Emily Dickinson

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Marcel Kittel retires from pro racing

Marcel Kittel, who has won 89 races, 14 of which were Tour de France stages, annouced his retirement from professional cycling. He had been riding for Katusha-Alpecin, but by mutual consent the contract was cancelled in May.

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel winning the second stage of the 2017 Tour de France. He won five Tour stages in 2017, but none since that year.

Kittel posted this letter on his site:

Dear friends, fans and companions,

2019-08-23

I would like to tell you all today that I am ending my career as a pro cyclist.

I have thought long and hard about this decision and discussed it with my closest friends and my family.

This decision process has not been a quick one, but has taken place over a longer time: During my nearly 20 year sports career there have been not only incredible successes but also difficult times. I have always been one to openly question and reflect when such things happen, so that I can learn and become better. That, together with the people around me, has made me the successful athlete that I now am, but this method has also taught to leave my old ways and learn new ones. I know that there is much more than just sport, for example my own future family.

Recently the thought on this future without cycling has grown, as has the awareness of the sacrifices that such a beautiful but also very difficult sport like cycling brings with it. The biggest question of the last few months was: Can I and do I want to continue to make the sacrifices needed to be a world-class athlete? And my answer is: No, I do not want that any more, because I have always found the limitations on a top athlete as an increasing loss of quality of life. That is why I have a very happy and proud that at this point in my life I can make the decision to follow my heart in a new direction.

At this point I would like to thank all the people who have supported me in my career: my former teammates, my trainers, my friends, and my family, but above all my fans for the incredible support in the last few years.

I look forward to the future with much anticipation.

Yours,
Marcel

Rafal Majka, Davide Formolo and Sam Bennett to lead BORA-hansgrohe at La Vuelta a España

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

Rafal Majka, sixth at this year’s Giro d‘Italia & Volta a Catalunya stage winner Davide Formolo will lead BORA - hansgrohe at the 76th edition of La Vuelta a España together with three-time Binck Bank Tour stage winner Sam Bennett. The trio will be supported by Tour of Turkey overall winner Felix Großschartner, Czech Tour stage winner Shane Archbold, Gregor Mühlberger, who showed his strength at this year's Tour de France and Criterium du Dauphine, and breakaway specialists Pawel Poljanski and Jempy Drucker with the team from Raubling motivated for the third Grand Tour of the year.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett won three stages at the BinckBank Tour earlier this year. Sirotti photo

Sam Bennett:
"Binck Bank was, especially with the three stage wins in a row, a great training race ahead of La Vuelta. It will be my first participation here in Spain, and I think with 6 flat and 4 hilly stages, there are a lot of opportunities for me to achieve one or more wins. I feel in good shape and I also think that we have a strong team here, therefore, I will try my best in the upcoming weeks."

Rafal Majka:
"Tour de Pologne was a good preparation and with Davide and me in the top ten, I think, it’s a good sign. La Vuelta is a nice race with some mountain stages, which should fit me. But a Grand Tour always has its own rules, a lot can happen in three weeks. However, we have a strong team here and we will do our best."

Davide Formolo:
"I am motivated for the next three weeks. Rafal and I had a good preparation during Tour de Pologne and already worked well together at the Giro. Therefore, I am looking forward to lining up for another Grand Tour with him and seeing what we can do."

Felix Großschartner:
"This will be my first La Vuelta and I am really looking forward to it. My preparation for this race went well and I am happy to help Rafal in the tough mountain stages. Of course, if I get chances to try something I will take them."

Jempy Drucker:
"My first season together with BORA - hansgrohe has not started in the way that we both hoped. After my crash and a long comeback, I am more than happy to be able to take part in the Vuelta, a race where I celebrated one of the biggest victories in my career. I am looking forward to racing with these strong riders over the upcoming three weeks and I hope I can help them to achieve some great results."

Ralph Denk, Team Manager:
"After a successful Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, our expectations for La Vuelta are high. I think we have a strong group at the Vuelta and our goals are, just like the previous Grand Tours, to win at least one stage and to have a Top Ten overall result. I wish our riders and staff all the best and overall, I think it will be an exciting Vuelta."

Lotto-Soudal riders preview La Vuelta

The team sent me this:

The 74th edition of the Vuelta a España kicks off with a team time trial in Torrevieja this Saturday. After three weeks of racing at the highest level, the final Grand Tour of the season will be drawn to a close with a traditional stage in Madrid. Lotto Soudal’s eight riders for La Vuelta preview the race.

Thomas De Gendt (7th Vuelta): “I think I am ready for my third Grand Tour of the year. If that will be sufficient to play a role in several stages still remains to be seen of course, but I hope to show myself a couple of times. The mountains jersey? The distribution of points is certainly a little more advantageous for the escapees, but like always, it is not a goal in itself. First of all, you have to be strong enough to be part of the breakaway, you need to take most of the points, and besides, do so during several stages. I rode a couple of criteriums the past weeks and early last week, I already traveled to Spain to do some endurance rides and some specific efforts.”

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt winning stage 8 of this year's Tour. And now he's going to start the Vuelta.

Sander Armée (5th Vuelta): “There have rarely been times when I was more aware to leave for the race. After what happened in the Tour de Pologne, it was good to spend time with my family, but it also felt strange to again say goodbye for over three weeks. My shape is definitely okay. Last year, I crashed just before La Vuelta, which I carried with me for a while, but now it seems I again have those good sensations of two years ago. And with my victory and the four stage wins of the team, it was a fantastic 2017 edition. It is true that I am not the kind of rider that rapidly cracks during a Grand Tour. It would be amazing to relive such a fantastic moment.”

Jelle Wallays (4th Vuelta): “After the bad luck in the first part of the season, I am very satisfied with my shape. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be at my current level this soon. Prior to the Vuelta, I always mark several stages that offer a possible chance for success, this year there are around seven opportunities. The stages that are mostly too difficult for the sprinters but don’t include too much climbing, do suit me perfectly. I am the type of rider who focuses on specific stages and who tries to use as little energy as possible during the other days, by the way a golden tip I can pass on to the riders who make their Grand Tour debut. I want to finetune my shape during this Vuelta towards the autumn Classics and a possible selection for the World Championships, the course suits me perfectly. Either as a domestique or to open up the race.”

Tomasz Marczyński (4th Vuelta): “My role within the team will be to guide the other guys. We aim for stage victories with the team, which is a goal we can accomplish with different riders within the team. That will also be my personal ambition during La Vuelta. I feel that my condition is peaking towards the best level. As an ultimate preparation, I spent six days at altitude together with Jelle Wallays. I really like the Vuelta. In 2012, I finished just outside the top ten of the general classification and two years ago, I took two stage wins. Also this year, there will be enough chances for the escapees. I will take it easy in the first week and then I will try to join the right breakaway. I would already be more than happy with one stage win, it won’t be easy but I believe in it.”

Tosh Van der Sande (5th Vuelta): “In the Tour de Wallonie, where I won a stage, the shape was already good but I certainly wasn’t at my best yet. I hope to have reached that top shape for the Vuelta, in which I finished five times in the top ten during the 2015 edition, of which three times top five. I hope to match those performances this year and to battle for the stage win a couple of times. I probably won’t be able to compete for the win during the flat finishes, but a sprint after a tough day suits me perfectly. The second stage - which will pass close to where I live - is immediately a nice opportunity. Furthermore, there are around three stages with an uphill finish that are really made for me. It is nice that there are some guys within the team who make their Grand Tour debut, I look forward to giving them some tips on how to best take on a Grand Tour.”

Carl Fredrik Hagen (first Vuelta): “After the Tour de Pologne, I went back home to Norway, where my girlfriend, friends and family have been a fantastic support during the difficult couple of weeks. I have also done a lot of hours on the bike, which was good to take my mind off things. Starting a Grand Tour is really a dream come true. I didn’t expect this in my first year as a pro and I am really grateful to the team for this opportunity. In the first place, we have to see how my body reacts to three weeks of racing, which will be a completely new experience. Of course, I also want to show myself and get some nice results. I will race hard to see how far I can go in the general classification. Contrary to the Giro or Tour, the climbs in Spain are a little shorter and steeper, something which suits me better.”

Harm Vanhoucke (first Vuelta): “For sure, it is exciting to be at the start of my first Grand Tour. What does the cliché say? That you need to do a Grand Tour to become a rider and to take a step forward? Well, let’s make that my first ambition, although I don’t want to ride anonymously during the three weeks. It will be one big learning process; how I deal with the succession of race days, how my body reacts to rest days, things like that. If I want to survive until Madrid, I will need to be smart about it. Choosing the grupetto to not go beyond the limit and picking certain stages to try to join the breakaway.”

Brian van Goethem (first Vuelta): “I have frequently been going on a training camp in the area where the Vuelta start takes place, but that is how far my knowledge of the course goes. As a 28-year-old, I can make my Grand Tour debut on Saturday. I don’t have a lot of experience on mountainous terrain, so this will immediately be a first serious test. So I realize all too well that it will be about surviving. But I hope to show myself during the flatter stages. The goal is to get stronger with next year’s spring Classics in mind. And until now, I don’t have a lot of race days, so I should be at the start relatively fresh.” 

CCC Team Heading to Germany for EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg and Deutschland Tour

The team sent me this:

23 August 2019: CCC Team will head to Germany on Sunday (25 August) for the UCI WorldTour one-day race, EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg, before lining up at Deutschland Tour next week (29 August - 1 September).

CCC Team will be lining up ready to race aggressively at both German races Sports Directors Fabio Baldato and Piotr Wadecki explained.

Jakob Mareczko

Jakob Mareczko will be at the Hamburg race. Here he's winning the first stage of the 2018 Tour of Hainan.

"We are lining up at EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg with a few cards to play. The race almost always comes down to a bunch sprint and in this scenario we will be backing Jakub Mareczko. However, we also have riders who we will try to send in the breakaway in the case that a good move sticks and a bunch sprint can be avoided. Riders are aways motivated when racing on home soil and we have Simon Geschke there, who is coming out of the Tour de France and Tour de Pologne block with good form. We are not lining up with one of the big race favorites so we will try and race aggressively and get the best result possible," Baldato said.

"As always, we are motivated to race for a stage win at Deutschland Tour and we will also aim to finish with a rider in the top ten on the General Classification. I think Geschke will be motivated to do something at home but, overall, we have a good group of riders lining up and so, instead of going in with a specific leader, we will give everyone the chance to seize any opportunities that help us try to achieve our goals. We will also have one of our stagiaires, Fred Wright joining us for the first time here so, it will be good to see him start his experience with us," Wadecki added.

Geschke is looking forward to racing on home soil as part of both CCC Team rosters.

"I'm feeling good ahead of EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg and Deutschland Tour. I took a short break after Tour de Pologne and now I am feeling fresh again. As a German rider, it is a rare opportunity to get to race on home soil but, when you do, it is always a little special. I am definitely highly motivated for both of these races. Hamburg normally comes down to a sprint from a bigger bunch so, I'll be there as more of a helper and I want to use this race as preparation and bit of a test of the legs. I think the stage profiles really suit me at Deutschland Tour, so I want to perform at my best there and do what I like to do the most, race offensively," Geschke said.

EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg (25 August)
Rider Roster: Josef Černý (CZE), Simon Geschke (GER), Kamil Gradek (POL), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)

Sports Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA)

Deutschland Tour (29 August - 1 September)
Rider Roster: Simon Geschke (GER), Kamil Gradek (POL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Fred Wright (GBR), Riccardo Zoidl (AUT)

Sports Directors: Piotr Wadecki (POL), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

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