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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends. - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Wout van Aert is recovering slowly from Tour crash

Here's the update from van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

The recovery of Wout van Aert is progressing in small steps. “At the moment there is a slow, favorable evolution”, treating orthopedist Dr. Toon Claes says.

As a result of his crash during the individual time trial of the Tour de France in Pau, on Friday 19 July, the Belgian time trial champion suffered serious injuries in the right buttock area. In France, the wound was surgically purified and sutured, after which the damaged structures were reconstructed in AZ Herentals. The Albi stage winner is expected to remain in hospital for a few days.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert after winning stage 10 of this year's Tour. Sirotti photo

Van Aert is not yet self-sufficient. Dr. Claes and the medical staff of Team Jumbo-Visma expect a full recovery. However, it is not yet clear when and to what extent the 24-year-old Fleming will be competitive again. “There are no signs of any infections and the wounds are healing nicely”, says Dr. Claes, who remains optimistic but cautious. “The extent and complexity of the injury call for a slow, meticulous rehabilitation. Intensive rehabilitation is only started after two months, when the injury has healed sufficiently.”

A few days ago, van Aert said: “At home, we have a hospital bed ready, but there’s no point going there if I can’t leave my bed. The crash has had a bigger impact than I initially thought.”

Lotto-Soudal will be Lotto-Fix All for Tour of Poland

Here's the update the team sent me:

Lotto Soudal will be riding the 76th Tour de Pologne as Lotto Fix ALL, with an adapted shirt. It is already the fourth time that this temporary change will take place. Name sponsor Soudal – who recently extended its contract until the end of 2022 – and producer of Fix ALL made the change for the Tour de Pologne after earlier similar campaigns in Paris-Nice and the Giro d’Italia.

Lotto Fix all

Here's the team as Lotto-Fix ALL at the start of the 2018 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Dirk Coorevits, CEO Soudal: “This year, we chose for the Tour de Pologne since this country is one of the most important markets for Soudal. We also have a production facility there and Fix ALL is globally one of our strongest brands. During the past Fix ALL editions, the team won a stage each time and we hope for the same result of course. We wish the team best of luck!”

And here's Mitchelton-Scott's Tour of Poland news:

The stage racing continues for Mitchelton-SCOTT as a strong and varied squad head to Eastern Europe for the week-long the Tour of Poland.

Slovenian Luka Mezgec will be back in action after claiming a stage win and the sprints classification at the Tour of Slovenia back in June, while Basque rider Mikel Nieve will line-up for his first race since his strong showing at the Giro d’Italia.

Mikel Nieve

Mikel Nieve winning stage 20 of the 2018 Giro. Sirotti photo

Australian Damien Howson will start his eighth stage race of the season with fellow countryman Alex Edmonson and Kiwi Sam Bewley continuing their return to racing fitness after injuries during the spring.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
Sam Bewley (NZL, 31)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 25)
Tsbagu Grmay (ETH, 27)
Damien Howson (AUS, 36)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 31)
Mikel Nieve (SPA, 35)
Nick Schultz (AUS, 24)

The Course:
The seven-day race packs in a variety of parcours with the majority of the stages contested over circuits. The opening three days of action should see the sprinters contesting the victory, with just category-four climbs to contend with for the peloton on each day.

The race then heads into the hills on stage four, with a number of category-one climbs spread throughout the remaining four stages. The bunch will tackle the same climbs numerous times with the stages contested over a series of loops.

The Past:
The team won the overall back in 2013 with former rider Pieter Weening who claimed the victory thanks to a strong time trial on the final day in Krakow.

Caleb Ewan and Jack Haig gave the squad two stage wins in the 2017 edition of the race while Adam Yates raced to fifth place in the general classification in the same year. Simon Yates won the final stage in 2018 and claimed second overall before going on to win the Vuelta a Espana a month later.

Luka Mezgec:
“I don’t know what to expect, because I will go there straight from altitude. The first objective is to get my racing rhythm back and to get some fine tuning before Vuelta. I know there will be some bunch sprints, so I will be looking to get involved.”

“The Tour of Slovenia showed me that I can do a good sprint after a hard day, so that’s something I am carrying with me into this second part of the season and it gives me confidence.”

“I have been training well in Livigno, it’s been a nice altitude training camp so hopefully that has put me in good shape ahead of the race.”

Mikel Nieve:
“After the Giro I took a good rest to disconnect from cycling and to recover from all the efforts. Then gradually I started training and focussing on the second half of the season. Recently I've been in a training camp with the team in the Pyrenees and I hope to be ready for the next races.”

“At the Tour of Poland we will start with some ‘easy’ stages for the sprinters and for the final we will have the stages that will decide the GC. The mountains stages are like the Classics, with short climbs, but doing them many times will be pretty hard.”

Gene Bates (Sports Director):
“We’re going to support Luka in the sprints as there looks to be a few good opportunities at going for a sprint in the early stages. I think he’s in good shape, he’s coming off a small training camp and he finished the Tour of Slovenia very well, so hopefully he’s in good form like he was there. We’ve also got a good group of climbers here, we’ve got riders who can go after opportunities and stages, plus we’ll be looking after Mikel for the GC.”

“The race has got a bit of everything. The first few days look to be sprinter friendly and then we head into the hills. There’s nothing really long here, they’re all reasonably shorter climbs but the stages are mainly on circuits so the riders will be doing the climbs multiple times, which really makes the race selective in the end.”

“The other aspect of the Tour of Poland is that it’s a real tune-up event for the Vuelta, it’s one of the last stage races we’ll do leading into there so the guys will be thinking about that and using it as motivation.”

Team UAE Emirates gears up for the Clasica San Sebastian

The team sent me this note:

UAE Team Emirates will take part in the Clasica San Sebastian (WT), which takes place on Saturday, August 3, with a good mix of riders from all over the world.

Sport directors Joxean Matxin (Esp) and Neil Stephens (Aus) will manage seven cyclists from six different countries:
– Rui Costa (Por)
– Daniel Martin (Irl)
– Sebastian Molano (Col)
– Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
– Jan Polanc (Slo)
– Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)

The route of the Basque race will run over 227,3 km, featuring no less than seven categorised climbs on a notoriously strenuous course which concludes in the heart of the city of San Sebastian.

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland will be racing on the streets of San Sebastian. Sirotti photo

Tadej Pogačar: “San Sebastian will be my first race after a training block, I’m coming back to racing feeling confident and ready to test myself against top competition, which we will no doubt be up against. I have worked hard over the past weeks, and I’m eager to see if this race will suit me well“.

Shimano records small net sales growth in first half year

Bike Europe sent me this report:

OSAKA, Japan – In its report on the financial results made in the first half year of 2019 Shimano names specifically its STEPS e-bike drive system as one of the growth drivers, next to disc brake components for high-end road bikes. However, despite e-bikes’ double digit sales growth in many European countries in 2018, which most likely continued in the first half of this year, this trend did not push up Shimano’s results with big percentages.

Shimano saw its net sales in bicycle components increase by 4.1 percent in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period of the previous year. Sales totaled JPY 143,599 million (1,187m euro) while the company’s operating income decreased 3.0 percent to JPY 28,613m (236.5m euro).

What Shimano’s first half year results make abundantly clear is that the world’s biggest bicycle components maker is confronted with not only many more competitors but also stronger competitors within the market for e-bike parts compared to that for regular bicycle components. This is evidenced for instance by the results of Europe’s biggest e-bike maker Accell Group. In the first half of this year this company sold 16 percent more e-bikes compared to the year before which pushed up its turnover in e-bikes by 47 percent. Accell’s overall net sales upped 8.8 percent in the first half of 2019. This was pushed in particular by growing e-bike sales in various other European countries, apart from in the Benelux and DACH countries.

All this raises the question how much the STEPS e-bike parts contribute to the total turnover in bicycle components from Shimano Inc. Unfortunately, the overview of the financial results booked in the first half year does not provide the answer to that question.

You can read the entire story here.

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