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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 28, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. - Lao Tzu

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Tsgabu Grmay keeps Ethiopian time trial title

Grmay's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Tsgabu Grmay has successfully defended his Ethiopian time trial title with an impressive ride to take his tally to six national titles in the discipline.

Tsgabu-Grmay

Tsgabu Grmay time trialing at this year's Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

The 27-year-old started as the clear favourite for the race and he showed why with a strong performance over a hilly course to comfortably take the win.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s road race as Grmay looks to claim the national jersey for the first time since 2016, with a tough and hilly course set to decide the winner.

Tsgabu Grmay:
“I’m very happy to defend this title and I’m looking forward to the road race now, it’s always nice to win the time trial title but it’s a little easier for me to win with not as many strong riders racing the TT here.”

“The course today was a little bit up and down, and at altitude it’s always a little bit harder to push, but in the end it’s good to finish it off by winning again.”

“I’m looking forward now to the big one, the road race on Saturday. It’s a circuit race, so let’s see what happens, it’s a big goal for me.”

Wout van Aert wins Belgian time trial championship

Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team sent me this:

Wout van Aert has been crowned the new Belgian time trial champion. In Middelkerke, the 24-year-old rider of Team Jumbo-Visma left Yves Lampaert, Remco Evenepoel and the dethroned Victor Campenaerts well behind. It is Van Aert’s third win of the season. He previously won a mass sprint and the time trial in the Dauphiné. Van Aert’s victory is win number thirty-three for Team Jumbo-Visma. This equals the number of wins in 2018 for the team of Richard Plugge.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert time trialing in this year's Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

Along the way, Van Aert was not sure of the victory. “Mathieu Heijboer coached me very well. He said I was in the lead, but it was a game of seconds and I had to keep going. He did not reassure me and I had to fight until the finish. I started to become enthusiastic about the championship in the last few weeks. This jersey has a lot of value now, because there was a strong field of participants. I am very happy that I was able to win today. I now have everything I need to perform at top level: good legs, top material and top guidance.”

“After the classics, we started to train the time trial with Wout”, said Heijboer, head of performance of the Dutch formation. “We knew that he has a lot of potential as a time trial rider. He has been tested extensively to fine-tune his position on the bike, which resulted in a faster time trial. In addition, Wout has trained a lot on the time trial bike. When he won the time trial in the Dauphiné, we knew that he had a good chance to win today. This was his main goal for the month of June and it is great that he succeeded."

"Over the years, we have created a culture within the team in which time trial is very important", Heijboer continued. "Every rider who wants to invest in this discipline can expect the best guidance from us, for example in the field of aerodynamics and nutrition. This victory, just like Jos’s victory of yesterday, is the result of years of investing in the time trial within our team.”

Kasper Asgreen is Danish chrono champ

Here's the report from Asgreen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team

Kasper Asgreen continued his strong season, claiming a maiden gold medal at the Danish National Time Trial Championships, one week before making his Tour de France debut as part of the strong eight-man Deceuninck – Quick-Step squad that will line out in Brussels.

Kaspar Asgreen

Kasper Asgreen time trialing at this year's Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

Fourth last year, Kasper put in a perfect ride in Esbjerg and came close to breaking the sub 46-minute barrier, eventually clocking a winning effort of 46:03, which was more than 20 seconds clear of defending champion Martin Toft Madsen (BHS – Almeborg-Bornholm).

“It was quite a long time trial, but I had a good shape after Suisse and the legs felt good. The first half we had a tailwind and I had to pace myself and not go too hard, before racing full gas in the second part, knowing I could make the difference there. The course was very nice – some big roads where I could lay down the power and some corners that weren’t very technical – and if you knew them, you could take them at full speed”, Kasper explained after notching up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 42nd success of 2019.

Asgreen’s first full pro season hasn’t been anything short of exceptional, with the young Dane taking an unexpected runner-up spot at Ronde van Vlaanderen, before climbing to his first victory and a third place overall at the tough Tour of California – results which handed him a Tour de France debut next month.

“It’s a really awesome feeling and I’m extremely proud. In the last three years I was 3rd, 2nd and 4th at the time trial Nationals, so I have been missing that top step and I’m proud that I’m there now. It is really special to take that jersey to France for my first Tour. It’s been a great period, with a strong nine days in Suisse, getting selected for Le Tour and now becoming national champion. I am taking advantage of a great shape at the moment and I hope it continues through the Tour”, concluded Kasper, the first Danish ITT Champion in six years to be present at the Grande Boucle.

Alejandro Valverde re-ups with Team Movistar

Here's the Movistar release:

The main Movistar Store in downtown Murcia was the venue chosen by Telefónica and the Movistar Team to announce the renewal of of the contract between the squad and Alejandro Valverde, a relationship now officially extended through the end of the 2021 season.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde winning a stage in this year's UAE Tour.

At the event, Valverde and the Blues general manager Eusebio Unzué shared with the media their satisfaction with the Spaniard’s continuation of his sporting career. It was also announced Valverde will remain a part of the Abarca Sports organisation at least through the end of 2024.

Valverde’s extension prolongs the legend of one of the most talented riders in recent decades. Winner of 125 races in the pro scene since his debut in 2002, the current UCI World Road Race Champion has a palmarès only matched by his exceptional human quality, which has granted him respect and admiration from team-mates, rivals and fans alike.

One Vuelta a España overall win (2009), seven medals in the World Championships -including gold in 2018-, four UCI WorldTour individual titles (2006, 2008, 2014 & 2015; leader of the UCI World Ranking at the end of 2018), four Liège-Bastogne-Liège, five Flèches Wallonnes, three Voltas a Catalunya, two Critériums du Dauphiné, four stages in the Tour de France -plus one GC podium finish, 3rd, in 2015-, eleven in the Vuelta and one in the Giro (GC podium, 3rd, in his only appearance, 2016) – these are all figures which still don’t make justice with the talent of the most consistent Spanish cyclist ever.

Alejandro Valverde: “I’m so happy with this extension. Everyone knows the Movistar Team is home to me. I’ve always felt really loved and respected here, and I’m so happy to be able to stay with the team for the next two years. It gives me the calmness and confidence I need to keep working hard and enjoying bike racing. I will fight for new victories, as many as we can, and also help our team-mates to achieve big success wherever possible in the future.”

Eusebio Unzué: “We feel privileged to have enjoyed for so long the sporting and human quality of such a great man as Alejandro. He’s brought us big success, of course, yet he’s offered us many lessons even when he’s not crossed the line first. His recovery in 2017 after such a serious injury in the Tour de France; his resilience to keep seeking for success after nearly two decades in the sport; and his affable character with everyone he’s worked with or come across, make them an essential person for us, a leader in and out of the races. Hopefully he can continue enjoy bike racing in these two years as he’s done during his whole career.”

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