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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 27, 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 do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei

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UAE Tour stage three reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

The wait is over. After several races showing his unparalelled consistency, yet not being able to raise his arms victorious, the first mountain-top finish of the 2019 UAE Tour witnessed the maiden victory as World Champion for Alejandro Valverde on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet, the same climb where he sealed his overall success in the final edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour back in 2018. The #BalaArcoíris thus claimed his 123rd victory as a professional rider since 2002 -it’s the 16th year in which he takes at least one win- and the fifth success so far this year for the Movistar Team, which now has one rider, Alejandro, with a hundred victories with the Abarca Sports organisation, since they took up building pro teams in 1980.

Alejandro Valverde

Valverde gets his first win in the rainbow jersey.

The work by Castrillo, Oliveira, Sütterlin, Amador and – inside the final 10km ascent – Lluís Mas and Rubén Fernández kept Valverde always calm, tucked inside an ever-shrinking peloton against the strong winds and following the insistent pacing from Jumbo-Visma. Alejandro did not react to the first big acceleration from race leader Primoz Roglic (TJV), 3.5km from the line, rather than letting the race come to him, measure his efforts and launch an attack with 2.5km to go, to reach down Daniel Martin (UAD) who was dropped from the Slovenian’s wheel, and a second move with just over 1km to go, to reach the front and lead the sprint out with no opposition.

Valverde sits now in 2nd place overall -14″ behind Roglic, whom he took four seconds back from after his bonus compared to the Slovenian’s second-place finish- with four days remaining in Dubai, including two uphill finishes. Wednesday will bring another flat route with a sting at the tail, the sprint to be held on the slopes of the Hatta dam, up to 17% into the final 300 meters.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“I wanted to get this first victory so badly. I knew that it would be hard because of the strong field racing here, but I felt well and, above all, measured my efforts well. There was so much wind, more than what’s normal here, and I knew that those who launched their attacks too early could pay in the end. That’s why I knew Roglic’s initial acceleratino was a bit too early. You had to be really cautious, remain inside the group and jump closer to the finish, not earlier than the spot where I went for it last year.

“I waited for that straight, just next to the climb’s hotel, and I went on full steam to catch Daniel Martin. I caught some air and then I went for the rest. I knew Roglic was so strong, and even if I was confident about my chances, felt well during the climb, even better with the attack – I didn’t really know after all if I could make it back to them. If they weren’t cooperating so well, then I stood a chance – and that’s what happened.

“It’s incredible, I’m so proud to be able to take this first victory in the rainbow jersey, even more so in a WorldTour race like the UAE Tour, against big competitors. And it is mainly because of my team, because they worked so hard during the last three days. This victory is also a tribute to my uncle Diego, who passed away a few days ago – I always held him dear and I hope that, wherever he is, this means something big to him. For the time being, we’ve already got a victory, we’ve fulfilled a big goal here. The GC? It’s difficult. If we end up having a chance, great; if not, it’s not such a big deal. Of course we’ll fight for it, but we must tackle things one day at a time, starting with tomorrow’s uphill finish.”

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this stage three report:

The start flag that signalled the commencement of the 179km-long third stage of the UAE Tour fell in Al Ain today. After a flat race, at the end of the stage, the riders had to contend with the Jebel Hafeel climb, an ascent of almost 11km, with an average gradient of 5.4 per cent. Four escapees led the race for much of the day, and the race situation remained relatively unchanged for quite some time. However the efforts of the quartet were ultimately left unrewarded, and they were caught 80km ahead of the finish. From that point onwards, the peloton proceeded in a fairly relaxed manner until it hit 25km to go to the finish. At that point, the race came further to life again, and the speed picked up considerably. BORA – hansgrohe was visible numerous times at the head of the main field, hammering out the tempo.

On the only climb of the day, the Jebel Hafeet ascent, the battle for the victory was ultimately played out. The last few kilometres were characterised by several attacks, and increasingly more riders were forced to concede defeat on the steepest part of the ascent, having to fall back from the remaining group. However, Emanuel Buchmann and Davide Formolo were still present on the climb. With 3km remaining, Emanuel was able to bridge the gap to a small leading group, but after A. Valverde launched his sprint from this group, the German climber was unable to keep up and ultimately crossed the line in fourth position. His teammate Davide ended up taking out sixth place, giving BORA – hansgrohe two top ten finishes on what turned out to be an extremely testing stage. After their performances today, Emanuel climbs into fourth place in the overall classification, while Davide Formolo currently sits in tenth position.

From the Finish Line:
“Today I felt like I was in good form. The team brought me into a good position at the base of the climb. The tempo on the ascent was very high, and after Roglic launched an attack, I was able to bridge the gap to him. In the end, I crossed the finish line in fourth place, and now sit in fourth position in the overall standings. We have two hard stages ahead of us yet, however the team that we have here is very strong.” – Emanuel Buchmann

“Emanuel, with his fourth place, and Davide, with his sixth position, produced very good results. The peloton at the UAE Tour contains some talented riders, and so we are extremely satisfied with today’s performance. In the coming days, we’ll now also have some more options, and we are of course still looking to concentrate on achieving a good place in the general classification.” – Enrico Poitscke, Sport Director  

And Dan Martin's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

Daniel Martin finishes fifth on the feared Jebel Hafeet climb after a long move at the front with race leader Primoz Roglic, David Gaudu and Emanuel Buchmann.
The Irishman ends the day 12 seconds behind winner Alejandro Valverde and sits sixth overall at 54 seconds.

He lost a few seconds at three kilometres to race when Roglic accelerated. World champion Valverde (Movistar) joined him, they worked together to return to the front with a big push. Valverde once with the front runners at 800 metres out, took control of the climb he knows very well thanks to last year’s win here.

Slovenian Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) placed second and maintained his lead. Frenchman Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) finished third.

“The climb was very fast,” said Martin. “There was a tail-wind and we had a strong push thanks to it. We wanted to win here today, like in every stage this week in our team’s home race, but I couldn’t give any more. It’s not what I wanted, clearly, but I’m happy all the same with my performance.

My team-mates worked incredibly well for me and we are showing a true group spirit. Fernando won yesterday and today he was at the front in the wind for us, this shows that we are fighting together to get the best possible result for the team.

Regarding the overall classification, there are still some complicated days ahead to race, especially with the wind, and for this reason we are going to take it day by day.”

The fourth stage tomorrow travels from Dubai to Hatta Dam, the longest day of this race at 197km. In the last 200 metres, the road ramps upwards at 12 to 17%.

Victor Campenaerts to attempt new World Hour Record

Campenaerts' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is delighted to announce that Belgian rider Victor Campenaerts, of UCI WorldTeam Lotto Soudal, will attempt to set a new UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot on 16 or 17 April this year at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts has proven his ability against the clock. Here he is time-trialing at the 2018 Binckbank Tour. Sirotti photo.

Campenaerts is aiming to beat the 54.526 kilometres covered by Great Britain’s Bradley Wiggins at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London (UK) on 7 June 2015.

The 27-year-old Flemish rider has established himself as one of the world’s leading specialists in timed events. A bronze medallist in the Men Elite individual time trial – behind Rohan Dennis (AUS) and Tom Dumoulin (NED) – at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, Campenaerts won back-to-back European titles in the event in 2017 and 2018.

Following the 2018 Worlds, the reigning Belgian champion completed an encouraging trial run at the Vélodrome Suisse in Granges and then travelled to Namibia for two months of altitude training. Campenaerts is due to ride at the Tirreno-Adriatico (13-19 March), a UCI WorldTour event comprising a team time trial on the opening day and an individual time trial on the last. The Lotto Soudal rider will then make the trip to Mexico, three weeks before his record attempt, for which his team is partnering with Golazo – specialist in sports marketing and organiser of hundredths of sports events in Europe - who will bring their expertise and the funding to bear in helping to set the event up.

An indoor arena situated 1,800 metres above sea level, the Velodromo Bicentenario has hosted several previous attempts, the most recent of them coming last year, when Martin Toft Madsen (Denmark) and Dion Beukeboom (Netherlands) took on the men’s record and Italy’s Vittoria Bussi set the existing women’s world best of 48.007 km. Aguascalientes also hosted major events on the UCI International Track Cycling Calendar, including several rounds of the UCI Track World Cup and the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.

Discussing his attempt, Campenaerts said: “The world hour record is a unique part of cycling and beating the record would be a way for me to write a little piece of cycling history. In our sport, we are battling for victories but - contrary to for example swimming or athletics - there is no hour record culture, except in this specific event.”

“I respect Bradley Wiggins - the current owner of the world hour record - a lot and I do not consider myself as a better athlete than the former Tour de France winner and five-time Olympic champion. However, by making progress and taking into account every possible detail, I hope to have a chance to take over the hour record. Personally, the world hour record, the world time trial title and the Olympic time trial title are the three dreams I want to pursue the coming years, starting with the world hour record.”

“I am currently on a training camp in Namibia, where I am able to prepare for the world hour record attempt in the best possible conditions. I am very happy that the attempt can take place, that my team Lotto Soudal gave me the chance to take on this project and I want to thank Bob Verbeeck from Golazo for making this possible.”

Vittoria launches 2nd generation Graphene tires

Bike Europe sent me this news:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Vittoria announces the introduction of its 2nd generation Graphene tires. “With the aim to push the boundaries continuously, we succeeded in the development of a new generation of Graphene tires,” said President and founder of Vittoria Industries Rudie Campagne yesterday at the company’s compound factory in Rayong nearby Bangkok, Thailand.

Vittoria launched its first generation tires with Graphene in 2015 after the company stepped into this wonder material, named Graphene. A lot has happened since. “Unlike the first-generation, the new 2.0 Graphene is functionalized to enhance specific tire performances,” explains Rudie Campagne. “Where the first Graphene compound generation raised the bar evenly, Graphene 2.0 pin-points each tire performance metric, and increases it disproportionally to the rest.”

“We are now able to apply Graphene in such a way that it can achieve a performance boost specifically for speed, or wet grip, or durability or puncture resistance. For Vittoria it is of the utmost importance to continue to develop high quality products in order to distinguish ourselves in the very competitive tire market, otherwise we will lose. The e-bike is the biggest growth market in the industry and we focus on this segment as well with Graphene bringing important performance increases. Our next challenge is the urban category”.

You can read the entire story here.

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