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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 15, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

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Paris-Nice stage five team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates has claimed his first ever victory in an individual time trial today on stage five of Paris-Nice.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates on his stage-winning ride.

As one of the earlier starters, the Brit blasted around the 25.5km fairly flat course, setting the fastest time and with no riders able to better him he held on for an unexpected victory, his second of the 2019 season.

The 25.5-kilometre route followed a straight-forward and mostly-flat parcourse, interrupted only by a small climb in the middle before a final drag up to the finish line.

In the early stages it was New Zealander rider Tom Scully (EF-Education First) to set the first bench mark, with a time of 31minutes 53seconds, followed shortly after by fellow countryman Jack Bauer, who crossed the line with the second fastest time of 31minutes 11seconds.

As riders completed the distance, Scully remained in the lead until Yates, starting mid-event, finished with a blistering time of 30minutes 26seconds to move into the stage lead.

Yates watched on patiently from the hot seat as many of the race favourites crossed the line. It seemed as if no riders were able to better the time with Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) getting the closest but still seven-seconds a drift.

Yates anxiously waited for the final rider, race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), to set off down the ramp. In the end Yates’ time proved unbeatable with Kwiatkowski settling for third place.

Simon Yates:
“I am really happy with my performance, I have been working on my time trial quite a lot the last few years but I didn’t really expect to be fastest today. At the start of the day I thought it was for the TT specialists. So especially with how this course was I am very happy.

“It was really straight forward, there weren’t any corners you really needed to brake for, it was just in the skis, so a pretty filthy time trial for a guy of my size.The climb in the middle wasn’t real hard, the climb up to the finish line was probably harder so I am really happy with what I did today.

“The sensations are good for the next days, I knew I had good form, well decent form coming into the race and just got caught out in the crosswinds, it wasn’t from a lack of form or anything.

Felix Großschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this update:

Today’s stage 5 at Paris – Nice was a 25.5-kilometer race against the clock, on a flat course with only some tricky corners and one short hilly section. With the start and finish in the city of Barbentane, the day was dedicated to the TT specialists. BORA – hansgrohe went into the day with the primary goal to move up in the GC with Felix Großschartner, who took fourth in last years’ time trial at Paris – Nice, and Patrick Konrad.

First BORA – hansgrohe rider to leave the start ramp was Michael Schwarzmann, who finished the course in a time of 33:49 minutes. Pfingsten, Bennett, Poljanski and Drucker followed, and all took it relatively easy today to save as much energy for the upcoming days as possible. Second last BORA – hansgrohe rider to start was Patrick Konrad, he left the start ramp at 15:25. Unfortunately Patrick didn’t have his best day. Never finding his rhythm, he stopped the clock at 32:09, which put him into 50th place at the end of the day.

Felix Großschartner followed just a few minutes later. As expected, Felix judged his pace very well right from the beginning. He clocked a solid time at the intermediate split, 1:04 down on the leader, and was able to gain some seconds on the second part of the course. In the end he finished in a time of 31:24 after a solid performance, 58 seconds behind the stage winner Simon Yates. With this result Felix moved into 7th place in the general classification.

From the Finish Line:
“The course didn’t really suit me, I prefer more hilly sections and undulated courses, today was simply too flat for me. Anyway, I am satisfied with my performance and the watts I was able to deliver. Maybe I started a little bit too slow, however, I am seventh in the GC after today’s stage and of course I want to still progress here at Paris-Nice.” – Felix Großschartner

“Felix’ seventh place in the overall reflects his great performance from last year’s edition at Paris -Nice. We are now in a promising position ahead of the upcoming stages. Fourth place is just 8 seconds away and there is still some time until Nice, but there are also some other big names around us in the overall as well.” – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Tirreno-Adriatico stage two team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team.

Julian Alaphilippe carried the same good legs that propelled him to victory in Strade Bianche last week at the start of Tirreno-Adriatico and didn’t have to wait too long before claiming another victory on Italian soil, one that brought him back into contention in the general classification and which allowed Deceuninck – Quick-Step to taste success for the 16th time this season.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe enjoys his stage win. Sirotti photo

“My team did a tremendous job today, controlling the breakaway, protecting me and keeping an eye on all the attacks in the final. Styby covered the moves, and that helped me remain calm and patiently wait for the sprint, which I opened with 150 meters to go, going full gas to the line. I had good legs, but was also very strong also mentally, and that made the difference today”, explained Julian, who became the second Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to win a stage of the Italian race at Pomarance, after Stybar in 2016.

On Pi Day, the Tirreno-Adriatico organisers put on the table an 8km-long final climb which posed a different type of a dilemma to some of the riders: when was the best moment to attack and go for the win? First accelerations came with six kilometres to go, but didn’t spread any panic in the bunch, who at that point was seriously strung out following an impressive tempo set by the entire Deceuninck – Quick-Step team in the run-in to the ascent.

Kasper Asgreen fired off the front and managed to split the peloton, a small group immediately forming. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Zdenek Stybar jumped from the field and joined the party, but the bunch regrouped as they approached the closing kilometer and bridged across with 400 meters remaining. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) was the first to kick out when they passed the 200 meters-to-go mark, but Julian Alaphilippe’s sharp sprint turned out to be more powerful on the uphill finish, allowing the Strade Bianche champion to sail to a comfortable win, which saw him move up to eighth overall.

“This victory makes me very happy, but I’m not thinking about the blue jersey, as I prefer to take it day by day and see what happens. Yesterday we lost time in the TTT and we were very motivated for this stage, so I’m happy I could finish it off with the help of my teammates. Tomorrow we will ride for Elia, because it’s a good opportunity for him. We continue to remain the same strong and united Wolfpack, always ready to work hard in order to achieve our goals”, said Julian, the first Frenchman since 2009 to pick up a win at Tirreno-Adriatico, who now leads two classifications (points and KOM).

Second-place Greg van Avermaet's CCC Team sent me this:

Greg Van Avermaet showed his consistency and solid form on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico by sprinting to second place on the uphill run into the finish in Pomarance, behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

Julian Aalphilippe

Greg Van Avermaet (orange jersey, on left) is beaten by a jubilant Julian Alaphilippe. Sirotti photo

Van Avermaet, who finished in fourth place on the same finish in 2017, launched his sprint in the final few hundred meters but could not hold Alaphilippe off and settled for second place on the first road stage of the race.

Earlier, the day’s breakaway was able to form without a fight and after 20 kilometers, five riders had established a four-minute advantage while behind, CCC Team’s riders remained in the peloton.

The breakaway’s advantage reached a maximum of 4’20” and for the majority of the 195-kilometer stage, the breakaway hovered around 3’30” in front of the peloton, led by race leader Michael Hepburn’s Mitchelton-SCOTT team.

As more teams came to the front to assist with the chase in the final 30 kilometers, the breakaway’s advantage quickly decreased until the catch was made with 13 kilometers to go.

Van Avermaet was positioned well at the front of the bunch, surrounded by his CCC Team teammates, as the fast pace and undulating terrain caused riders to drop from the group.

The orange CCC Team train was visible in the center of the peloton at the point when riders started attacking from the bunch, which put Van Avermaet in the perfect position to respond to attacks from riders trying to avoid a sprint finish.

Van Avermaet was forced to chase a small group, that opened up a gap approaching three-kilometers to go, and made the catch just before the flamme rouge, which set the stage for the reduced bunch sprint to the line.

With 500-meters to go, Van Avermaet was perfectly positioned in third wheel and was the first rider to launch his sprint but was overtaken by Alaphilippe in the last hundred meters and settled for second place.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was quite a good pace the whole day long. Mitchelton-SCOTT was controlling and Gijs and Guillaume set me up really well for the last climb. Actually, everything went perfectly for me. Michi did a good job closing some gaps and I just tried to stay as long as possible out of the wind and then came in the front in the last two kilometers. For me, the stage couldn’t have gone better and we executed our plan exactly as we said we would in the meeting. When you get second place it’s sad, but it’s the way it is and I was pretty happy with how the team and I performed today.”

“The finale was super hard but I said to myself from the beginning that I wouldn’t move with anybody unless it was a group of 20 guys. You have to choose the sprint and hope that everything comes back. It was good to have Michi there still to close some gaps and the group that went clear only took five or ten seconds so you knew with the final coming closer that they would be caught back. It was good for me like this.”

“Tomorrow is quite flat so I hope to survive as good as possible. We will see what happens in the final. We always have to be there to make sure there are no gaps in the final, and then we’ll see the next day. I think the day after is another good stage for me and hopefully, I can be up there again.”

Valerio Piva, Sports Director:
“This was a stage that we signaled as an objective for us to try to win with Greg. We tried to stay calm until the final kilometers. We knew the finish as Greg was already fourth there two years ago. The plan was to be up there with him and try to control the race and bring him there in a good position. Greg was calm, the team was perfect, but unfortunately today, we found a very strong Alaphilippe again. Greg did the maximum but Alaphilippe was stronger. You can’t have any regrets when you are beaten by a stronger rider. I am happy with the performance I saw today.”

Here's the stage two report from Bora-hansgrohe:

The first road stage of the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico saw riders make their way south down the coast from Camaiore on a 195km parcours that took in two categorised climbs ahead of a final categorised ascent to Pomarance. With both Rafał Majka and Oscar Gatto starting the stage after their collision with a pedestrian on yesterday’s TTT, the BORA-hansgrohe team was still at full strength on the second day of racing.

After 10km, a group of five made their way up the road, building up a lead of four minutes that stood for most of the day. It wasn’t until the closing 30km that the peloton started to reduce the gap, the catch being made 13km from the finish, however, the Slovak National Champion, Peter Sagan, was caught out here by a puncture and was unable to get back in the bunch.

The day’s final climb had its steepest slopes at the bottom – a gradient of 16% ready to put riders into the red before a gentler ascent to the line. With just under 6km to go, Daniel Oss stretched his legs, going on the attack, and while he was swiftly brought back, the Italian rider set the tone for the fast-paced finale that followed. A reduced group contested the finale, with BORA-hansgrohe’s Davide Formolo coming in just outside of the top ten in twelfth spot after fighting hard on the final climb. 

From the Finish Line:
"It was a fast climb and since our chances for a GC position were dashed with the crash yesterday, Daniel tried to attack at the bottom of the last climb and then controlled. When Lutsenko gave it a go, to anticipate the sprint, I tried to follow but it didn't work out and there nothing more we could in order to force an early sprint." – Davide Formolo

"After yesterday's bad crash we wanted to see how Rafał and Oscar would feel in the stage. In addition, with Peter still recovering from his sickness we didn't know how it would play out. Overall, the guys felt OK but then we had more bad luck. Peter had a puncture going downhill, about 15km to the finish, and it wasn't possible for him to get back to the main group. The rest of the guys took their chances, Davide tried as well in the final kilometres but it didn't work out. I could say it was a normal racing day for us and we look forward to the upcoming stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Mike Woods renews with EF Education First

The sent me this release:

EF Education First Pro Cycling is proud to announce the re-signing of Mike Woods to a multi-year deal. The Canadian enjoyed a break-out season last year, finishing second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, winning his first Grand Tour stage at the Vuelta a España and taking the bronze medal at the 2018 Road World Championships in Austria.

Mike Woods

Mike Woods wins 2018 Vuelta stage 17. Sirotti photo.

“The direction of the team, the idea of exploring the world — it all really meshes with what I believe in,” said Woods. “I feel very fortunate to be on a team that values what I naturally value – education, exploration, community.

“I came to the team not knowing who I was as a cyclist and what I was capable of,” Woods added. “I didn’t fit the typical neo-pro role. I’m lucky to have had the directors and team managers believe in me. I had no experience in the WorldTour when I joined the team, but JV said I could win an Ardennes Classic. Knowing what I know now, that was a bold prediction for him to make about me at the time. I had not shown anything that truly indicated I could win a Classic – but he was right. I haven’t won one yet, but with the results I got last year, these are races we know I can win.”

Standing on the top step of the podium at one of the Ardennes races is high among Woods’ future ambitions. He hopes to start the 2019 Tour de France, and he’s excited about the opportunities on offer at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I really want to try to win some big races now,” said Woods. “I’m starting to figure out how to win in the WorldTour. That doesn’t mean I’m going to win every race, have success in every race. I know I will have some big failures [...] but I’m much more consistent now. I have a better understanding of my fitness and can better predict how I will perform.”

Since joining the team in 2016, sport director Juan Manual Garate has worked closely with Woods.

“I have to laugh when you ask me about Mike’s future because I have said the same sentence to him over and over since his first month with the team,” said Garate. “I always repeat to him ‘You don’t know what your limit is.’ It was true then, and it’s still true now. He doesn’t know. We don’t know. He’s kind of a new rider with the maturity of a 31-year-old. He’s progressing all the time.”

Woods is a latecomer to professional cycling. He played hockey growing up before finding success in running. He set the Canadian junior record in the mile (3:57:48) and the 3km (7:58:55). Both records still stand today. Woods earned a track scholarship to the University of Michigan, competed for the Canadian national team and harbored ambitions of becoming one of the best milers until overtraining injuries derailed his career.

He was working at a running-shoes store in Ottawa when he began to borrow his dad’s bike. The riding proved cathartic. When friends convinced him to try his hand at racing, Woods soon discovered an innate talent. Local race wins earned him a spot on Canada’s national team for Tour de Beauce. His performance at Canada’s oldest stage race garnered him a UCI continental team contract two years after he first picked up a bike.

Three years later he was pulling on argyle.

“We had our eyes on Mike for a long time before we actually signed him. His talent was clear based on his running, but it’s a rare runner who can figure out the bike handling and nuance of bike racing,” said EF Education First CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “But at Tour of Utah in 2015, I felt he had a certain extra determination to get over those hurdles. He was a gut feeling signing. I’m so happy to see him progress so far.”

“Performance wise, the sky is the limit for Mike,” Vaughters added. “That’s exciting for the team. But beyond that, he’s just a fantastic person to have on the team. Mike Woods is all heart. He gives all he’s got to his teammates. And I couldn’t be happier to have him on the team.”

Both the team and Woods are growing together.

“I’m really pleased with the progression of the team since I joined it,” said Woods. “I had a lot of fun the first year, but it’s nothing compared to the kind of fun I’m having now. As an organization, the team is far more organized, far more focused, far more clear in its goals. I’m really proud to be a part of this team, especially now with the partnership with EF.”

The community Woods has found within the team further buoyed his resolve to renew his contract with EF Education First.

“Riders can be themselves on this team,” said Woods. “They can be individuals. They can speak their minds. It makes for a fun environment, an interesting environment. I have good friends on this team because of how JV has chosen to build the roster. It’s an interesting group of guys not just on the bike but off the bike as well.

“I could go on for ages about how great this team is, how great the guys are,” said Woods. “I’m really happy here, and I’m super stoked to stay.”

Dorel reports 200 million loss in bike operations

Bike Europe sent me this news:

MONTREAL, Canada – Today Dorel Industries Inc. announces drastic deteriorated results for its Sports division (including Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, Mongoose, Pacific Cycles and Caloi) in 2018 and in the fourth quarter in particular. For the year, Dorel Sports’ revenue increased by USD 17.6 million, or 2.0 percent, to USD 883 million. However, the company’s operating loss came in at a big USD 232.1 million compared to an operating profit of USD 6.5 million in 2017.

According to the statement Dorel Industries issued today, “The miss in the fourth quarter was primarily due to the slowdown in bicycle sales across the board at Pacific Cycle as well as by the unexpected fourth quarter impairment loss on trade accounts receivable of USD 2.1 million as Evans Cycles entered administration in the UK.”

Dorel’s Cycling Sports Group (CSG) performed well in 2018. “CSG posted double-digit organic revenue growth and significant operating profit improvement, mainly from growth in Europe and in the U.S. sporting goods channel due to innovation in model-year 2019 products. In Brazil, Caloi also delivered double-digit sales and operating profit growth in Brazilian Reals, driven by a stronger mix of products, success with their 29-inch mountain bikes as well as with the Cannondale line”, is reported.

Dorel Sports expects to see a “Rebound in profits for 2019. The segment revenue is forecasted to grow in the mid-single digits driven by price increases related to tariffs passed on to consumers at Pacific Cycle and volume and market share growth in CSG and Caloi. Also the operating profit at CSG and Caloi is expected to increase throughout 2019. CSG growth will be the results of recent restructuring efforts and product innovations particularly in the expanding e-bike category.”

Also at Caloi, Dorel expects increased sales with its expansion into the OPP segment and OEM manufacturing for retail and bike share programs. Revenue and adjusted operating profit improvement at Pacific Cycle is expected mostly in the second half, based on the rapidly growing e-commerce channel, new customer distribution points and an expanded product line. This includes a broadened line of electric ride-ons and entering adjacent categories, such as scooters.

You can read the entire story here.

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