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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy. - Joseph Campbell

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Specialized agrees to pay $700k for Roubaix trademark in the US;
ASE bid deadline pushed back

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update:

DURHAM, N.C. (BRAIN) — Specialized Bicycle has agreed to pay bankrupt Advanced Sports Enterprises $700,000 for rights to the Roubaix bicycle trademark in the U.S.

ASE, which has been licensing the trademark to Specialized since 2003, has agreed to remove the trademark from the portfolio of assets that are set to be auctioned this month. ASE also agreed to withdraw a motion it had made with the bankruptcy court to cancel the licensing contract. Canceling the license and then auctioning the trademark would have jeopardized Specialized‘s use of the trademark on one of its best-selling bike lines.

A bankruptcy judge this week agreed to schedule a hearing for Jan. 22 where he will consider whether the asset purchase agreement between ASE and Specialized should be accepted. A sales hearing is already scheduled for that day regarding other assets that are being sold this month.

Under the tentative agreement, the trademark will not be subject to competing bids. The official committee of ASE's unsecured creditors supports the sale; Wells Fargo, an ASE creditor that holds the Roubaix trademark as collateral, also supports it.

You can read the entire story here.

Mike Woods to captain EF Education First team at Tour Down Under

Here's the team's news:

January has us in the mindset of ‘out with the old and in with the new,’ and as the 2018 season trickles away out our minds and the festive fog begins to clear, it’s high time to get back to racing.

There’s a new season just about to start, and even in the sweltering 100-plus degree heat that is gracing Adelaide at the moment, there are racers readying themselves and fans at the ready to line the roads and tune into the broadcasts. The six-day Santos Tour Down Under will once again launch us in to the 2019 WorldTour. Mike Woods lets us know what it is about racing in the Southern Hemisphere that he loves so much, whilst DS Tom Southam keys us in on a few race tactics.

Michael Woods

Michael Woods winning stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta.Sirotti photo

The riders who line up for the early season races have to sacrifice taking a longer off-season in order to prepare. For riders who don’t race in January, they will enjoy an off-season spanning from the end of October and most of November. Mike Woods’ last race day in 2018 was the Oct.15, “This is my third time of doing it [Tour Down Under] and what it means is that you have to start putting in some pretty big miles, in mid to late November,” he says.

“You look at the race schedule and you realize that you’ve only got eight weeks before you’re racing again. But last season, I ended the season feeling so fit it felt weird to stop, so I am really looking forward to starting again.

“I was really excited when I was told that I was to race it; my first WorldTour race with this team was Tour Down Under in 2016, and I had a great race. It was a breakthrough performance that enabled me to get a lot more respect within the peloton and within this team when I came fifth,” Woods recalls.

At this time of year, for the Northern Hemisphere riders at least, they have been training over the last three months in temperatures that are in constant freefall as winter sets in. So being plunged into Adelaide’s relentless heat is akin to being taken out of an ice bath and put into a sauna, then having to pedal a bike as hard as you can, “If I’m adapted to it then I’m fine, but if I’m not then I feel like I’m melting. I just feel like I want to rip my helmet off and take off all my clothes. You try and fight it which only makes it worse,” Woods explains.

Acclimatization is key, hence Woods and his teammates, Lachlan Morton and Dan McLay trekking over from their Girona base before the new year rolled in.

Being there early has the added bonus of refreshing the mind of some of the climbs ahead of the race, there’s one in particular that Woods has his eye on, that comes on stage four. “The Corkscrew stage is a stage that I’m really excited about. I came third in it in 2016, it wasn’t there in 2017 when I did it again, but it’s a climb that favors me. It’s steep, and when it’s steep the pace is slower and I can stand and pedal, and when I’m standing I effectively run on the bike. That’s my forte, running on the bike,” notes Woods.

As a lightweight rider, Woods then has the challenge of holding off the heavier riders chasing behind who have the advantage on the descent. Although the climbs can be a make or break for the general classification (GC), the intermediate sprints — two on every stage — play a huge part in tactics between the teams whose GC contender is a climber and the ones whose GC contender is more of a sprinter, “There are three, two and one bonus seconds on each of the intermediate sprints,” Southam explains. “And it becomes tactical around those, on stage three for example, they’ve put two intermediate sprints quite early in the stage, which is obviously an attempt to encourage a team to control it so a break doesn’t go out and soak up the intermediate sprints, so it spices things up a bit.

“This is where it becomes tactical because some teams will be trying to stop guys getting more intermediate time bonuses by sending guys in breakaways, whilst some teams will be trying to make the sprint come together so chasing hard. It can be interesting at the start of stages around those intermediate sprints, they do play a big role in this race, maybe more than any other race that I can think of,” Southam says.

This year’s race remains faithful to its tradition and has the final stage finish atop Willunga Hill, where thousands of exuberant Aussies will hope to roar home one of their own — Richie Porte — to a sixth consecutive win on this climb.

“It’s his jam, it’s Richie-Porte certified, he’s won it every year for the last few years now,” Woods says. “It’s a climb that suits him so well, so that will be the big challenge, not just for me, but anyone going for the general classification.” Often this is the stage that determines who will take the Ochre Jersey for the general classification, so there’s no wonder it’s highly anticipated.

By the end of the week, the climbers will hope to be in a position where they haven’t lost too much time to the sprinters on the intermediate sprints and finishes. Willunga Hill is a relatively short climb, around a six-minute effort, and reclaiming seconds is always tough, “Taking three seconds in an intermediate sprint is quite difficult but it’s a lot easier than trying to take three seconds out of a committed rider on Willunga, because it’s such a fast and short climb,” Southam says.

Woods will have a strong team around him with Lachlan Morton, Mitch Docker, Tom Scully and Alberto Bettiol, who will help position and deliver him onto the key climbs. Dan McLay will be in the mix for the sprints and for neo pro, James Whelan, it will be all about soaking up the race and gaining experience.

As EF Education First Pro Cycling swaps winter for summer, the Santos Tour Down Under brings the WorldTour out of hibernation to kick off 2019.

Team Jumbo-Visma's Tour Down Under preview and line-up

Here's the team's update:

It’s finally happening! The first World Tour race of the season will start soon. After months of preparation, our riders and staff are ready to roll.

George Bennett has already ridden two races during the national championships of New Zealand. His goal in the Tour Down Under is a good position in the general classification.

George Bennett

George Bennett attacking in the 2016 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

Sports Director Frans Maassen: “George is our leader in Tour Down Under. The GC will be determined during the last stage to Willunga Hill. The fourth stage will also prove to be very important. A few kilometres before the finish line there’s a small climb of 2.4 kilometres with an average gradient of 9.1 percent and a maximum gradient of 16 percent.”

“For Danny, there are multiple chances for a sprint finish. It seems that he has the biggest chance on a good result in the second and third stage. These stages include multiple altitude metres and have a tough finish.”

Line-up Tour Down Under:

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