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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 19, 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

I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book. - Groucho Marx

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour of Oman stage three winner Alexey Lutsenko's Team Astana race report

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's Astana's update:

Alexey Lutsenko was again on top of things and profited from his preseason shape, winning another stage at the Tour of Oman today, making it two in a row for the Kazakh champion. After - what in the finale turned out to be a hectic day - Lutsenko is now the new race leader and official wearer of the points jersey as well. His team was able to keep him out of trouble, as the peloton split multiple times because of echelons. In the final, Lutsenko was well placed by his teammates for the uphill finish and he took off from a selected group with 500 meters to go. He finished just in front of Jesus Herrada and Greg van Avermaet with a gap of 1 second, making it the 8th victory in 8 days for Astana Pro Team.

Alexey Lutsenko takes stage three.

"Today I really have to thank my teammates for all their hard work, all the time they kept me out of trouble during the echelons and they put me in the perfect position at the start of the final climb. The final 50 km it turned out to be hard and hectic, but I’m thrilled I managed to win another time. I’m feeling very strong after the training camp on Tenerife with the team, so I want to thank all my trainers that pushed me during this camp. It’s a great period for our team, with so many great results in a short time, I’m proud to ride for this team and want to thank all of our sponsors for making this possible. Of course, I hope I can win the overall race again, but there are still many hard days to come," said Alexey Lutsenko.

"It was a very good day for us. Another victory for Alexey Lutsenko, who has very strong legs at the moment. The team worked really hard during the training camps in the winter, resulting in many outstanding results in a very short period of time. We’re delighted to see Alexey’s still making progress every season, for sure there is still a lot to come for him and the team. Today was a good example of the strength of our team, as everyone kept their heads cool during hectic moments and did the right things. It’s a great victory and, of course, we will try to defend the first position in the GC of Alexey," said sports director Dmitriy Fofonov.

The 192.5-kilometer-long stage from Shati Al Qurum to Qurayyat turned out to be harder than it looked on the profile, caused by strong crosswinds during the day. A group of ten riders made it into the day’s breakaway, and it was the team of race leader Alexander Kristoff who took control over the peloton. With the race heading into the final 50 kilometers, passing the finish line for a first time with 40 km to go, the peloton split for a first time because of crosswinds.

After the first passage of the finish line and the uphill final of the stage, everything came back together but was split again shortly after. In both occasions, Alexey Lutsenko managed to stay out of trouble with the help of his teammates. A group of 30 riders started at the bottom of the final climb to the finish line, and it was Alexey Lutsenko who was able to stay in the first group during this uphill finish. In the final 500 meters, he took off from a selected group of riders, making it two in a row at the Tour of Oman, and the 8th victory in 8 days for Astana Pro Team.

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

Volta ao Algarve: FEB 20-24

Michiel Elijzen - Team Sunweb coach:
"Volta ao Algarve presents a nice five day stage race with two sprint stages, two mountain top finishes and a 20 kilometre ITT. We have a well-balanced team who will look to put into practice the skills that we trained on in the winter. We have Sam as our guy to go for it on the more difficult stages and we'll look for a solid GC result with him. Alongside Sam we also have Søren who has a good TT and fast legs for the flatter stages. Casper and Roy will focus on the lead-out on those days, and Louis, Marc and Martijn will be important to support Sam uphill. It's also Marc and Casper's debut for the team, alongside myself, which will motivate us even more.

Roy Curvers

Roy Curvers will be racing the Volta ao Algarve. Sirotti photo

Line-up
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL)

Setmana Ciclisma Valenciana: FEB 21-24

Hans Timmermans - Team Sunweb coach:
"Our first race of the season, we're looking forward to opening our year on a high note at Valenciana. In this race Floortje will have her first opportunity to explore her GC chances and Coryn will have the sprinters role. Both have a super strong team around them to support these goals. The first day is already an important one for the GC, but it could also come to a reduced sprint so we'll bring both Floortje and Coryn into position for the final climb here. The second stage looks set to be a sprint day and the third will be another important day for the GC. The final stage looks to be a little more open, so we will once again focus on both Floortje and Coryn here. We've just come out of a really good training block in Calpe and were able to do some recons of the race, so we're totally prepared and really motivated for a good race. It's also Susanne and Janneke's first race for the team so that brings more motivation for a good race."

Line-up
Susanne Andersen (DEN)
Janneke Ensing (NED)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Pernille Mathiesen (DEN)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED)

UAE Tour: FEB 21-24

Aike Visbeek - Team Sunweb coach
"The newly named UAE Tour has a few exciting new stages and a couple of the classic stages that we have seen before, with the Hatta Dam and Jebeel Hafeet mountain top finishes. Our main goal is the GC where we have two leaders with Wilco and Tom. We also have a secondary goal with Max for the three sprint stages and bring a new lead-out train with Cees and road captain Nikias. We are looking for a solid result in the opening TTT and with Rob and Cees we have two debutants for this discipline in our team. For Rob it will be his first race and Cees had a really good debut with the team in Australia and really impressed us with some stunning performances."

Line-up
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Cees Bol (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Chad Haga (USA)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Robert Power (AUS)
Max Walscheid (GER)

Lotto-Soudal headed to Tour of the Algarve

The team sent me this:

The Tour of the Algarve (Europe Tour, 2.HC) is a five-day stage race along the southern coastline of Portugal. The 45th edition will take place from Wednesday 20 until Sunday 24 February. It offers the riders two hilly stages, two hard uphill finishes and an individual time trial. Just like previous years, a lot of strong riders will participate. Neo-pro Stan Dewulf looks ahead, while sports director Frederik Willems also makes his analysis.

Stan Dewulf: “A few weeks ago I made my professional debut in the Vuelta a San Juan. I look back on it in a very positive way. I think the team is well on track to start the Belgian Classics. It was superb to get the chance to take part in the bunch sprints, with an eighth and a thirteenth place as a result. That was really relevant for me to know my capabilities. The Tour of the Algarve is now the logical next step in the build-up to the Classics. However, it is also a goal on its own. With Jasper De Buyst, we have a good sprinter on board for the flat stages. In Argentina, Nikolas Maes and I could train on positioning in the final. We now want to demonstrate that in the Algarve, where we will face a slightly higher level.”

“When I took a look at the course, I noticed two fairly difficult stages with quite some altitude metres. I am eager to find out what I am capable of. I guess the two flat stages will result into bunch kicks. My ambition for the rest of the spring is to show my good shape in some smaller races and to contribute to a nice result for Tiesj Benoot or someone else. If that happens, I would be really happy."

Frederik Willems, sports director Lotto Soudal: “It is a very enjoyable race with something for everyone. In fact there are two stages which should end in a sprint, a time trial and two tougher stages with an uphill finish. The function of this race is twofold for us. This is the last preparation for those who ride the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Besides that, this is the run-up to bigger stage races as Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.”

Jasper de Buyst

Jasper de Buyst is being prepared for the Flemish spring.

“The most important for us is to build up towards the Flemish spring with Jasper De Buyst, Nikolas Maes, Frederik Frison and Brian van Goethem. Our aim is to ride a good Belgian opening weekend. With Jasper we want to practise the automatisms for the sprint lead-out train. In both sprint stages we want to position him in the best way possible during the final. With Nikolas we have an experienced lead-out for that. In Argentina, Stan Dewulf has shown that he possesses speed and race insight as well. It is definitely our ambition to go for a sprint victory in Portugal.”

“We give Carl Fredrik Hagen the chance to show us where he can place himself in the classification. This is my first race with him, so I will have to see how he functions in this role. Brian is known as an attacking rider and he demonstrated in Bessèges that he could be an important asset to the team. Lawrence Naesen is also free to join an interesting breakaway. We must consider each day as an opportunity to win, however we mostly focus on stage one, four and five. Our approach will vary depending on the race conditions. In case of a strong headwind, we can make the race attractive with possible echelons.”

Stages

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Nikolas Maes, Lawrence Naesen and Brian van Goethem.

Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.

Corruption case against cycling legend Eddy Merckx dropped

The was in the Brussels Times:

Cycling legend Eddy Merckx yesterday learned he will not be prosecuted in a case involving alleged corruption in the supply of a set of bicycles to police in Brussels, as the case has now passed the limit of the statute of limitations.

Merckx was one of 13 people accused in the case, where it was alleged Merckx supplied a police commissioner and his wife with expensive top of the range Eddy Merckx bicycles in return for winning a contract to supply 46 bikes to the cycle patrols of the police zone Brussels-South, which covers Anderlecht, St-Gilles and Forest. Total contract price: 15,000 euros.

Following his cycling career, Merckx, nicknamed The Cannibal, went into business designing, manufacturing and selling bicycles. The police zone opened up the sale to public tender, as the law requires, and the Merckx company put in a bid.

Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx at the 2018 Tour de France. Sirotti photo.

According to the prosecution, the police commissioner inspected the bids ahead of the deadline, so as to allow Merckx to file a lower bid and win the contract.

The first investigations in the case took place 11 years ago, and the case has been wrapped up for four years, yet lay unopened for the last four years without action being taken. This week, in a closed session, a court ruled that the time-limit for the case to be brought to court has now elapsed.

You can read the entire story here.

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