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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 12, 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

Why don't they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth. - Will Rogers

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The Story of the 2019 Tour de France is now an audiobook

Friends, the 2019 update to The Story of the Tour de France is complete. It is available both as a Kindle ebook or as an audiobook. Former racer David L. Stanley produced the audiobook version and I must say, it was a joy listening to him read my words. I know you'll feel the same way.

The 2019 Tour de France was certainly three weeks filled with surprises. Please join us on what was a wonderful athletic adventure. I might add a shameless note: the sale of our books largely supports this site.

Just click here or on the cover art below to learn more about both the eBook (just $1.99) or the Audiobook versions.

The Story of the Tour de france

Lotto-Soudal's Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens preview Il Lombardia

The team sent me this:

Coming Saturday, the 113th edition of Il Lombardia - the fifth and final Monument of the cycling season - takes place. Between the start in Bergamo and finish in Como, 243 demanding kilometres await, with iconic ascents along the way such as Madonna del Ghisallo, the feared Muro di Sormano and the climb to Civiglio. Once the riders reach the summit of San Fermo della Battaglia - the final climb of the day - only five kilometres remain to the finish at Lake Como.

The ‘Classic of the Falling Leaves’ will be the final outing in Lotto Soudal shirt for Tiesj Benoot. The 25-year-old Belgian wants to say goodbye with a nice result. Tim Wellens finished fifth last year but a crash during Milano-Torino disrupted his preparation for Il Lombardia. Brent Van Moer suffers too much from his crash at Tre Valli Varesine past Tuesday and will be replaced by the Norwegian Carl Fredrik Hagen.

Tiesj Benoot: “The fourth place at Milano-Torino brought me a lot of confidence as it was an uphill showdown between most of the favourites for Saturday, except from Roglič, who did not participate. I was pleasantly surprised by my performances and it is nice to end the season like this. The main goal of this Italian week remains Il Lombardia, but I also wanted to show myself during the past two races. I mainly expected to be up there at Tre Valli Varesine, but that also succeeded on the tough and steep course of Milano-Torino, which is positive sign.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot winning the first stage of this year's Tour of Denmark.

“I obtained my best result at Il Lombardia so far last year, when I finished 25th. However, I have never been at the start in a better shape than this year. So, I am very curious and I am really looking forward to it. If I want to battle with the best in races like Il Lombardia, I need to be at my very best, and Milano-Torino has learned me that I’m not too far from that level. I have never raced for a top result in Lombardy before, but I hope to be up there this year.”

“In my opinion, the Muro di Surmano won’t be the decisive point of the race, but it will be used to make a first selection. Contrary to my previous participations, I hope to survive that selection. Afterwards, there is a long section alongside Lake Como, where there are some possibilities - if there won’t be many teammates around - to try something myself. Often, the race is decided on the Civiglio. The riders who can follow the pace there, also won’t be dropped later on, I think.  On such a hard course, team tactics won’t be of crucial importance; it is the hardest Classic and most of all, the legs will do the talking.”

“Saturday will be my final race for Lotto Soudal and of course, I am really motivated to close the chapter in a beautiful way, but I am mainly focused on the race itself. Most of all, I’m happy that, during my final race in Lotto Soudal shirt, I will be at the start with good legs. Hopefully, it will also bring a good result.”

Tim Wellens: “I already finished fourth and fifth in the past, but I doubt whether the specific course is the reason for that. During this period of the year, everybody is tired and the difference is made through motivation, and I am always motivated for Il Lombardia. Unfortunately, preparations didn’t go to plan with the crash during Milano-Torino, but I felt good at Tre Valli Varesine. Last year, I fell just short of being able to follow the best riders, but in my opinion, I think I did a good race. So, I hope to, at least, match my performance of last year. Tiesj and I maybe did not quite play out the team advantage really well on Tuesday, but the Giro di Lombardia is so hard that team tactics won’t be crucial.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal Il Lombardia: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Tomasz Marczyński, Rémy Mertz, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Bart Leysen.

UAE Team Emirates confirm line-up for Lombardia and Paris-Tours

The team sent me this update:

UAE Team Emirates is preparing to bring an end to its European calendar, taking part in Il Lombardia (World Tour, Saturday, October 12) and Paris-Tours (1.HC, Sunday, October 13).

For the last of the five Monument races of the season, Il Lombardia, UAE Team Emirates will send seven riders representing five countries.
Sports director Marco Marzano (Ita) will call on:
– Rui Costa (Por)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Daniel Martin (Irl)
– Jan Polanc (Slo)
– Simone Petilli (Ita)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)
– Diego Ulissi (Ita)

Expectations of Rui Costa: “After a very tough World Championship, I’m now gearing up for what will be a very tough and challenging race in Lombardy. This version of the course of the race, with start from Bergamo and arrival in Como, isn’t exactly suited to my characteristics, I prefer the one with finish in Bergamo, but I’ll try and play my cards smartly and put in a good performance“.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa

The race will start from Bergamo and ends in Como after 243 km in a day which features several testing climbs:  Colle del Gallo (55.1 km), the Colle Brianza (114.4 km), the Madonna del Ghisallo (178, 9 km) , Colma di Sormano (192.4 km), the Civiglio (226.2 km) and San Fermo della Battaglia (237.6 km).

At Paris-Tours (217 km), it will be DS Simone Pedrazzini (Sui) to guide the following riders:
– Tom Bohli (Sui)
– Nicolas Dalla Valle (Ita)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Rui Oliveira (Por)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)

Last race of the season for Rui Oliveira: “This is the final hurdle this season in what has been my first year with UAE Team Emirates. As always, I’d love to be competitive and take advantage of my condition which is good at the moment, and Paris-Tours is a course that suits my characteristics. This season I learned a lot, every race was an opportunity to improve and learn something new from my teammates and the staff“.

Roy Curvers retires from professional peloton, makes transition to coaching staff

Curvers' Sunweb team sent me this:

Team Sunweb’s Roy Curvers is to hang up his wheels after this weekend’s Paris-Tours, retiring from the professional peloton after a stellar 12 year career with the team.

Roy Curvers

Roy Curvers. Sirotti photo

The rider from Haelen has been with the team since turning professional back in 2008 and has been part of the team’s many successes throughout the years. Curvers’ took his only career win at a tough edition of Halle-Ingooigem in 2011, where he launched a perfectly timed attack in the finale after being part of a strong group that got clear in the last ten kilometres of the race.

A strong one-day racer and sprinter, Curvers evolved throughout his career into an important lead out rider and one of the best road captains in the peloton; proving himself to be an integral part of the team. Under his tutelage, the team wrote in their history books, taking their first ever Grand Tour stage win at the 2011 Vuelta a España and Monument wins in 2015 at both Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix. Curvers was part of many more successes, contributing to over 70 wins and countless memories with the team throughout his career.

Despite taking a step back from racing, Curvers will stay close to home as he takes up a role within the team as a coach, utilising his years of experience to work with Team Sunweb. Looking ahead, Curvers is excited about the new direction that his career is taking and is happy to stay within the team that he has been with since 2008.

“I’m of course sad that my racing career comes to an end, but I’m really happy that my journey with Team Sunweb does not finish here and that I can remain in the world of cycling,” expressed Curvers. “We’ve had a lot of nice memories together and I was part of the team’s first Grand Tour and Monument wins, which was really special. I’ve stayed with the team my whole career and that’s because we have continuously managed to find new challenges and once I decided I was going to retire, we came up with another nice new challenge. I’m really looking forward to beginning my time as a coach with the team and helping our young guys progress through their careers.”

Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spekenbrink added: “Roy has been with the team since the start of his professional career and together we have shared many good memories, victories and successes. He’s grown into one of the most well-respected men of the peloton and is a real credit to the team. We’re really pleased to continue working with him as he makes the transition to become part of our coaching staff. Roy has been one of the key riders of our sprint train over the years and as we look to be up there with the best once again, his insight and experience will be invaluable in coaching our young riders to become just that. We’re thankful for all of Roy’s hard work and dedication over the years, and really happy to keep him within our family.”

Esteban Chaves commits to Mitchelton-SCOTT until 2021

Chaves' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this release:

Colombian Esteban Chaves has put pen to paper on a new two-year deal that will see the former Il Lombardia winner remain at Mitchelton-SCOTT until the end of 2021.

Chaves enjoyed a return to success in 2019, with his emotional triumph on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia the highlight. After a missing the majority of 2018 campaign through illness, his sixth year with the team also saw him return to the Vuelta a Espana in a leadership role at a Grand Tour.

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves wins 2019 Giro stage 19. Sirotti photo

The two-time Grand Tour podium finisher now has his sights set on returning to his best in 2020, and the 29-year-old is happy to remain with the team he calls a family.

Esteban Chaves:
“I’m really happy, I’ve always felt good with this organisation, with this team, with the boys, with everyone, we’re like a big family, so I’m happy to be staying here for another two-years.”

“I’m happy with my 2019 season, every month and every race we were one step up, so that is super important. The team from the beginning have looked after me really well and have given me confidence. The experience this year was awesome and we’re working step by step to get back to my best level.”

“I want to continue to make a story with the team like we have done in the past, I also want to help the new guys and continue to learn from the older guys. I want to continue my contribution to this organisation.”

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
“There's a lot of positives to take out of this season for Esteban. His health has been really good this year and we know that when he can get back to the level he is capable of competing at, he can win at any race on the calendar.”

“Esteban is really motivated to achieve a lot more goals in different areas as well, and we could see some surprises in his calendar for next year.”

Esteban Chaves
Date of Birth: 17 January 1990 (29)
Nationality: Colombian
Turned Pro: 2014
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2011

2019 Season Highlight:

• 1st 2019 Giro d’Italia – Stage 19

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