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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, November 14, 2019

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Love does not consists in gazing at each other, but in looking outwards together in the same direction. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Cycling legend Raymond Poulidor dies

We have a Raymond Poulidor photo gallery.

The Guardian posted this lovely remembrance:

Raymond Poulidor, who has died aged 83, became France’s most popular cycle racer – and arguably its most best-loved sportsman – through his valiant, near-perennial failure to win the country’s national Tour over 15 years between 1962 and 1976, and in spite of the fact that he never wore the race leader’s yellow jersey.

Raymond poulidor

Raymond Poulidor (in yellow!) at the 2013 Tour de France with Federico Bahamontes. Sirotti photo

As late as summer 2019, he was still travelling on the Tour, more warmly applauded than any of the current stars, and for the French at least, Poulidor became synonymous even outside cycling with any brave yet unrewarded effort to reach the highest honour.

“There is a Poulidor of everything, as soon as anyone comes second in anything,” he joked. For example, the former French prime minister Michel Rocard, who never made it to president, was eventually termed the “Poulidor of politics”. But Poulidor was capable of achieving major victories, such as the Tour of Spain in 1964, and he notched up a total of 189 race wins.

Poulidor built his cycling career – and his subsequent post-racing life – on a single antithesis. He was everything that the five-times Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil, his sworn rival through the 1960s, was not. Where Anquetil set his Tour record in a clinical style that appealed to the urban side of France, “Poupou” presented a far more cuddly image, winning the love of the rural public in the sport’s heartlands.

He was born at Masbaraud-Mérignat in the Creuse département, where his parents, Martial and Maria (nee Montlaron), were tenant farmers, paying half their produce in rent to a landlord. After being given copies of the sports magazine Miroir-Sprint by a school teacher, he took up racing at 16 along with two of his three brothers, initially concealing his new passion from his mother, who was fearful of the dangers.

Poulidor turned professional in 1960 with the team sponsored by the Mercier cycle company; he would remain with the squad in its various incarnations until his retirement in 1977. In 1961 he took the French national championship and the Milan-San Remo; a year later he finished third to Anquetil in the Tour de France. The rivalry reached its climax in the 1964 Tour, where the pair’s elbow-to-elbow duel on the extinct volcano of the Pûy de Dôme created a single iconic image that sums up cycling’s golden age.

Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor

Jacques Anquetil (left) and Raymond Poulidor racing up Puy de Dome in the 1964 Tour de France.

You can read the Guardian's entire Raymond Poulidor obituary here.

Gerben Thijssen in stable condition after six-day crash

Here's the report from Thijssen's Lotto-Soudal team:

Gerben Thijssen will spend the coming days at Intensive Care of UZ Hospital in Ghent after a CT scan revealed three small intracranial bleeds. Gerben is now in stable condition, but he needs further monitoring the coming days by the treating and team doctors.

On the opening night of the Gent Lotto Six Day Thijssen suffered a high-speed crash, together with Danish rider Oliver Wulff Frederiksen. Gerben Thijssen broke a collarbone and three ribs as well. The race was stopped immediately.

Deceunick-Quick Step posted this report on trouble at the Gent six-day:

Made up of defending champion Iljo Keisse and sprint legend Mark Cavendish, Maes 0.0% - The Wolfpack team got off to a perfect start, winning the evening’s first race and going at the top of the leaderboard, but was soon after hit by bad luck. A crash in the one-lap time trial forced the Brit to sit out of the remaining races, as a result Keisse pairing with Jonas Rickaert, whose partner couldn’t ride anymore due to illness.

Despite this setback, things still looked good for the Maes 0.0% – The Wolfpack team, who were among the five squads to gain one lap in the first Madison race of the week, but one hour later, the event was stopped for good at the request of the riders, following a high speed crash of Gerben Thyssen in the super sprint.

The Six Days of Gent will continue on Wednesday evening, when more than ten races are scheduled in the legendary 't Kuipke.

Gent Six-Day video

We had the good fortune to see the Gent Six-Day in 2011. Here's a video we took of a Madison race. You can see why people love watching racing on this tight, steep track.

Laurens De Vreese re-ups with Astana

Here's the team's news release

Astana Pro Team officially confirms a new one-year deal for 2020 with the Belgian rider Laurens De Vreese.

- After 5 years in the team I am still enjoying staying in Astana and working for our leaders. I feel here like in a big family, I have really good relations with everybody in the team as we have a great group of riders, but also an amazing group of staff and sports directors. I am a team player and I am proud to be part of this team, especially, after such a successful season we had in 2019! I am fully motivated to continue in the best possible way in the upcoming season. The preparation to the next year is in full progress and I am looking forward to meet all team at the training camp in December. I hope we can get even better results in 2020! – said Laurens De Vreese.

Laruens De Vreese

Laruens De Vreese at the 2015 Amstel Gold Race. Sirotti photo

Laurens De Vreese (31 years old) joined Astana Pro Team in 2015, becoming one of the most important team riders, supporting the leaders both in the classics and stage races.

This season he helped Gorka Izagirre to win the Tour de la Provence and supported Jakob Fuglsang on winning the Vuelta a Andalucia.

- Laurens spent in Astana five seasons and we all know him as a 100% loyal team player. We can always count on him in every race he is riding with the team as he is fully dedicated to team strategy and our common goals. This year we saw Laurens helping our leaders to win races, but also in many other races he was always next to the leader, helping him to achieve as high result as possible. Besides this, Laurens is a very open and creative person who brings a really warm and friendly atmosphere in the team, - said Alexandr Vinokurov, general manager of Astana Pro Team.

Bahrain-Merida signs two neo-pros

Here's the team's press release:

Wednesday, November 13th – We are delighted to announce that two neo-pros, Santiago Buitrago Sanchez and Fred Wright, have joined Bahrain-Merida for the upcoming season.

“We are thrilled these young riders have joined the team and are now part of its future direction with Rod Ellingworth and McLaren. They will play an instrumental role in shaping the team’s future, and we look forward to providing them with the right environment to thrive” – Team Bahrain Merida, Operations Director Brent Copeland says.

Santiago Buitrago Sanchez is a 20-year-old talented Colombian climber who spent last season riding with the Italian Elite-U23 Team. His climbing skills caught the eye of our technical staff and team management along with his strong results at the Giro della Valle d’Aosta and win at Lamporecchio.

The 20-year-old British rider Fred Wright has already experienced the pro peloton after joining a WorldTour team as a stagiaire in August 2019. Fred has a track background but firmly announced his transition to road racing having won a stage at Giro Ciclistico d’Italia and the Tour de l’Avenir. In the junior and U23 categories Fred achieved victories at the Junior Tour of Wales and Ronde de l’Oise where he also won a stage and the young rider classification.

Bahrain-Merida is proud to welcome these two young riders to the team and we look forward to their contribution in shaping its next chapter.

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