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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 25, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

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Surgery forces Fabio Aru out of competition

Aru's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this sad news:

The Sardinian cyclist forced to renounce the Volta a Catalunya & the Giro d'Italia.

Recent thorough examinations showed Fabio Aru has a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg that prevents an adequate blood supply during when trying to make a maximum effort. This problem and resulting drop in power during the Sardinian’s most intense efforts limited his performances.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru (shown in the 2018 Giro d'Italia) will be out of action for a while. Sirotti photo

“After the start of the season, Aru again encountered difficulties in getting up to that normal level that he and the team had hoped for,” Dr. Jeroen Swart, head of the medical staff of UAE Team Emirates, explained. “Recently, Fabio developed more specific symptoms related to his left leg: he felt feelings of weakness in the limb after intense training and in race efforts.

“In view of these symptoms, further medical tests have shown a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg. This relatively rare condition is found in professional cyclists given the position adopted on their bikes and can develop progressively over a period of several years.

“In the coming days, with a date to be determined based on the availability of the hospital, Aru will undergo angioplasty surgery at the Nuovo Ospedale di Prato, after which he will have to observe an absolute rest period of one month. For something like this, the return time is estimated at three or four months.”

“It is a feeling that I feel when I have to go all-out, while the symptom disappears at a medium pace, so much so that in training I get the basic numbers,” said Fabio Aru.

“From a certain point of view, I can only be relieved to have found the problem; on the other hand, I am angry about the bad luck that has fallen on me for the umpteenth time and that will force me to miss the Giro d’Italia again. I will work to try to put an end to this dark period as soon as possible.

“I thank the team for the closeness shown this year and a half and for working with me to find the solution to the problems that have plagued me. We really hope this is the final chapter.”

Lotto-Soudal previews Volta a Catalunya

The team sent me this:

The Volta a Catalunya will take place for the 99th time from Monday 25 March until Sunday 31 March included.  The course, spread over seven stages, is a mix of middle and high mountains. The past two editions, the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde took the victory. In 2018, Thomas De Gendt won the third stage with finish in Camprodón. Sports director Mario Aerts talks about the ambitions and the division of roles within Lotto Soudal.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde (shown in the 2018 edition) has won the last two editions of the Tour of Catalonia.

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “This tour includes some very tough mountain stages and as is most often the case, there is no time trial. Especially the third and the fourth stage are very difficult but also the first stage in Calella cannot be underestimated. The previous years, that stage was decided by a bunch sprint, but it could be too tough for the sprinters now. They certainly have a chance in stage two, five and six although it is never flat in Spain. We end with a beautiful final stage at Montjuïc in Barcelona where the escapees as well as the riders who strive for the classification can take the victory. It is thus a pleasant tour with beautiful roads and usually good weather.”

“Lotto Soudal is participating without a real leader or ambitions for the general classification. The riders can take their own chances in each stage. Our goal is to win a stage. We may not have a sprinter on the team but with Thomas De Gendt you never know. He can surprise us every day in the breakaway. Bjorg Lambrecht will test his condition in the run-up to the Tour of the Basque Country next month. Also, Harm Vanhoucke is working towards his best level. He is especially aiming for the Tour of Turkey. In Catalonia, these two young riders can test themselves against some great climbers. It would be nice if they can obtain a good result in one or more stages.”

“Sander Armée likes to ride in an offensive way so he can certainly join a breakaway during a tough stage. Rémy Mertz often has a serving role, but he will also have more freedom. Finally, we have Jelle Vanendert who focuses on the Walloon classics. He is working on his condition and maybe he can try to win a stage.”

Stages:
Stage 1 Monday 25 March: Calella – Calella (164 km)
Stage 2 Tuesday 26 March: Mataró – Sant Feliu de Guíxols (166.7 km)
Stage 3 Wednesday 27 March: Sant Feliu de Guíxols – Vallter 2000 (179 km)
Stage 4 Tuesday 28 March: Llanars – La Molina (150.3 km)
Stage 5 Friday 29 March: Puigcerdà – Sant Cugat del Vallès (188 km)
Stage 6 Saturday 30 March: Valls – Vila-Seca (169.1 km)
Stage 7 Sunday 31 March: Barcelona – Barcelona (143.1 km)

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Bjorg Lambrecht, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Jelle Vanendert and Harm Vanhoucke.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Kevin De Weert.

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