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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 13, 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

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. - Epictetus

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Paris-Nice stage three team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The third day at Paris – Nice was another stage for the fast men in the peloton. The riders started in the city of Cepoy and a 200 kilometer-long parcours took them to Moulins/Yzeure. It was the first day without rain and heavy crosswinds, and it looked like everybody in the bunch was enjoying the ride after two demanding days. Therefore, it also took some time until two riders attacked from the peloton to stay at the front for most of the stage, while the main field allowed them a gap of up to four minutes. Also, BORA – hansgrohe took it a little easier today, protecting their leaders in a cruising peloton.

With 39 km to go, the break was caught and right before the lead up to the finale, a big crash effected the bunch. Unfortunately, Pawel Poljanski was involved but managed to get back on the bike without any injuries. When Team Sky stared to wind things up before the last intermediate sprint of the day, Felix Großschartner took the opportunity to grab one of the bonus seconds which puts him into 11thplace in the GC after the day.

Even Team Sky tried really hard to force a split on the last six kilometers, a compact bunch entered Moulins/Yzeure. BORA – hansgrohe hit the front late, to lead-out their sprinter Sam Bennett, but it was the perfect moment to deliver Sam in a promising position. After opening his sprint pretty early, the Irish was able to hold off the other fast men today, securing a stunning victory at stage three of Paris – Nice.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett wins Paris-Nice stage three.

From the Finish Line:
“I didn’t train that much in the cold this winter and therefore had some troubles the last two days. But I knew the form is there and today I felt a lot better. Of course, the stage was also easier, but there are a lot of great sprinters here in the peloton this year. Groenewegen was almost unbeatable the last two days, but today everything went perfect for me. The boys did a great job, they knew exactly what to do on the last kilometer and delivered me in a perfect position. I want to thank the whole BORA – hansgrohe squad, I am more than happy with this stage win. I really wanted to pay back the hard work of the guys. It was a long sprint, but I knew I could do it. It seems like Paris – Nice likes me like I like the race.” – Sam Bennett

“After two intense and demanding days in cold and rainy conditions, today’s stage finished with the first real bunch sprint. Sam was up there and once again he showed his extra class. But I want to highlight the great effort of the whole team. Today everything went perfect and we are really happy with this win.” – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Here's the report from GC leader Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Dylan Groenewegen has retained his overall lead in Paris-Nice after today’s third stage. The team Jumbo-Visma sprinter, who won the first two stages, just came short in today’s sprint and finished ninth.

After two fast stages, today’s stage was relatively quiet. Apart from one single breakaway, little happened. Team Jumbo-Visma put Groenewegen in a perfect position for the sprint. “Today I didn’t have the legs and the punch to finish it off”, he said. “Yesterday’s stage has taken its toll. I had to give everything and I felt that in the final today. I really wanted to win today, the team did everything to make it happen, but I just didn’t have the power. I am happy that I have been able to win two stages already and that I can ride in the leader’s jersey for another day. Tomorrow’s stage will be tough. Perhaps a bit too tough for me, but we will see.”

Dylan Groenewegen

GC leader Dylan Groenewegen wins Paris-Nice stage two.

Despite not winning the stage, sports director Sierk Jan de Haan was happy with his team’s performance. “You can’t always win. Today, Dylan didn’t have the legs to sprint for the win. This is partly due to the efforts of the past two days. But we are satisfied with the performance of the team. Especially when you see how they came back to the front when Team Sky tried to split the peloton in the crosswind in the final kilometres. In those kind of situations it is a matter of staying calm and riding as a group and that is what we did. We’ll go into the next stages with George Bennett and we have a lot of confidence. He got well through the first few days and he is in a good shape.”

CCC Team heading to Tirreno-Adriatico with focus on stage wins 

The team sent me this:

Greg Van Avermaet will lead CCC Team at Tirreno-Adriatico, where the team’s primary focus will be on winning a stage at the week-long race.

Joey Rosskopf joins CCC Team’s Classics team at the race, which will act as the final preparation before the team returns to Belgium.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2016. Sirotti photo.

Sports Director Valerio Piva said the first goal of the race will be the team time trial on stage one. “The parcours of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico is a little bit different to the last years. It’s not a really mountainous race with uphill finishes, it’s more of a traditional Tirreno-Adriatico with a lot of up and down undulating terrain. There is one really hard stage with a final circuit and short climb, so I think Greg Van Avermaet can finish with a good result on this parcours. However, the main objective is to try and win a stage and finish the preparation for the Classics.

“A good result on stage one can make a difference on the General Classification, because there is a big chance to take time in the team time trial. Then, we will take things day by day and try to win a stage with Greg. We don’t really need to protect Greg every day, so the other riders will all have a chance to take an opportunity and race aggressively.”

Van Avermaet, who won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2016, is looking to fine-tune his form ahead of the spring Classics season. “I always enjoy racing at Tirreno-Adriatico. I have some really nice memories there with my overall win and stage wins over the years so I would like to add to the tally in the CCC Team jersey. The team time trial on stage one will be the first one for most of us this year and given we have won the last three times, it is always an important stage for the team so I hope we can start the week with a good result. From there, I think I have a chance in a few of the stages so we will see how the race goes.

“A stage race like Tirreno-Adriatico is the best way to get some solid racing kilometers in the legs so if I can finish the race with good sensations then I will head to the rest of the Classics with a lot of confidence.”

Tirreno-Adriatico (13-19 March)
Rider roster: Joey Rosskopf (USA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

GreenEDGE Continental Team continues with Chinese focus in 2019

GreenEDGE sent me this release:

GreenEDGE Cycling will increase its presence in Asia in 2019, with the team’s Chinese-registered UCI Continental Team, Mitchelton-BikeExchange, to race a predominately Asian circuit this season.

The team will once again sit alongside the organisation’s UCI WorldTour men’s and women’s outfits, Mitchelton-SCOTT, and will meet this week for their first camp before kicking off their season at the Le Tour de Langkawi (April 6-13) and Tour de Iskandar Johor (17-21 April).

The Calendar:
Having previously travelled on the under-23 European circuit, with a few Asian appearances, the team will switch focus this year. The 2019 season will remain largely based in China, with the team seeking starts across the full Asian calendar.

The Roster:
GreenEDGE Cycling’s Continental Team will continue to have a large focus on the development of Chinese cycling, and has once again worked with the national federation to sign six Chinese riders for 2019, of which five return from last year.

In addition, the team also has two international riders in Brayan Chaves (Colombia) and James Oram (New Zealand).

BI Wenhui (CHN, 25) – returning rider
BIEKEN Nazhaerbieke (CHN, 24) – returning rider
CHAVES Brayan (COL, 21) – returning rider
HAO Ran (CHN, 21) – new rider
JIANG Zhihui (CHN, 24) – returning rider
LIU Jiankun (CHN, 23) – returning rider
NIU Yikui (CHN, 24) – returning rider
ORAM James (NZL, 25) – new rider

Sport directors:
James Victor (AUS)
Andrew Smith (RSA)
Dave Sanders (AUS)

Shayne Bannan – General Manager:
“We believe a heavier focus on the Asian circuit is a better way forward for all parties at the current time and we’re excited about the plans for this season.

“The team are currently meeting on Hainan Island for their first team camp and it’s really pleasing to see the return of five of our Chinese riders from last year.  We saw their improvement last year, and we think another season of exposure to our international set up will prove really beneficial.”

“Whilst the full racing calendar is yet to be finalised, we’re looking forward to kicking off the year at the Tour of Langkawi next month.”

Victor Campenaerts' World hour Record attempt update

Campenaerts' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

In the run-up to the Hour Record attempt, Lotto Soudal will give twice a week an inside look into the preparation of Victor Campenaerts. On the one hand, Victor will talk about the run-up, on the other hand we will each time highlight a specific topic.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts time-trialing in the 2018 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo.

Part 1: 35 days to go – Between Namibia and Italy

Victor Campenaerts: “Sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 2019”

“On Monday morning last week, I arrived back in Belgium after a 60-day training camp in Namibia. The first day of my return was packed with appointments. I preferred it that way instead of doing something each day. My parents drove me around all day which gave us the time to catch up with each other in the car. Of course, they sympathize with me. Around midday, I stopped at The Foodmaker for lunch and afterwards, I went to Energy Lab for a body composition scan where I was very satisfied with the result. After that, I headed to Brussels to explain the media all about the attempt during a press moment. Then, I had another appointment in Rotselaar and in the evening I was a guest in the ‘Van Gils & gasten’ talk show.”

“At home in Herent, I emptied my suitcase and then I slept for a long time, for the first time since the end of 2018 in my own bed. It felt good to breathe in ‘familiar air’. From Tuesday night till Friday morning, I stayed with my girlfriend Fanny Lecluyse in Dottenijs. Even the rainy weather during my training rides could not keep me out of balance after two months of training in sunny and warm conditions. I was of course very happy to see Fanny again and to be able to spend a couple of days together. Friday night, I slept in an altitude room so that my body won’t get the chance to detox from the altitude effect. On Saturday, I did a training session that I repeat every year which allows me to compare how the shape is. Afterwards, me and Fanny went on a trip. Yesterday, it was her birthday but because I had to leave for Tirreno-Adriatico, we celebrated a bit earlier.”

Kevin De Weert and Valérie D’haeze prospect in Mexico 

Last week, Kevin De Weert (performance manager) and Valérie D’haeze (head of administration and logistics) traveled to Mexico where the necessary preparations were made before Victor takes off to Aguascalientes.

Kevin De Weert: “We went to Mexico with some specific goals in mind. We received the help of a former Mexican pro and a Belgian who both live in Aguascalientes. Victor prefers to stay in a house, so we wanted to have a look at different options. Sufficient space, safety and relatively close to the track were amongst the most important criteria. We found something that met those expectations. Of course, we also went to see the track. We wanted to make appointments concerning training moments, arranging a derny, going through the organizational aspects together with our partner Golazo, signing contracts,… We also looked for hotel accommodation for the UCI, Tissot, the doping inspectors and we also arranged the transport on location.”

“It looks like that everything can be arranged from Belgium but we found out that the visit there was an absolute must. You are able to talk face-to-face to the persons that are responsible, which is a major difference to contacting someone by phone or email. You also get to know a couple of locals. Besides, most houses and hotels often look different in real life than on a computer screen. We took everything into account to give Victor the best possible preparation. If he leaves for Mexico the 27th of March, he will not have to worry about a single thing once he arrives.”  

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