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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri

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Vuelta a España stage ten news

We have to start with the report from stage winner and new GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Primoz Roglic has won the tenth stage in the Vuelta a España. The Slovenian was 25 seconds faster in the 36.2 kilometre time trial to Pau than second place Patrick Bevin. In the general classification, Roglic climbed to first place, meaning that he will start tomorrow's stage in the red leader's jersey.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic on his way to winning the stage. Sirotti photo

The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma took a lot of time on his opponents in the general classification. He now defends a lead of 1'52" on Alejandro Valverde and 2'11" on Miguel Ángel López. Roglic also captured the lead in the points classification.

It is the tenth victory of the season for Roglic. With this victory the Slovenian joins the list of riders that have won a stage victory in all three grand tours. The time trial in the Vuelta is the forty-second victory in 2019 for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Roglic was very happy with his victory afterwards. “I tried to go as fast as possible. It was enough for the win today. For me it was important to stay focused and pedal as hard as possible. That is all I had in my control today. We are still at the start of the Vuelta and we will see in Madrid whether this lead is enough to win the race. We have had some rough days already, but there are also difficult stages to come. Now it is important to stay healthy and then we will look at it day by day. I will have to handle the race together with the team, but we have a strong team."

"This victory is not unexpected, but it feels really good," sports director Grischa Niermann said. “We knew that Primoz was the big favourite and he has achieved it. We didn't expect to take all the time on his opponents, but we hoped. The Vuelta is not finished yet, but it’s looking good at the moment."

Second-place Bevin Powers' CCC Team sent me this:

Patrick Bevin proved to be one of the strongest time trialists of the 2019 Vuelta a España by clocking the second-fastest time in the only individual race against the clock in this year’s edition, having sat on the hot seat for most of the afternoon.

For the New Zealand National Champion, it was the third top-five result in a WorldTour race in the silver fern skinsuit and another confirmation that a WorldTour time trial victory is within his reach.

The 36.2-kilometer time trial ventured to the other side of the Pyrenees in France, with the start in Jurançon and the finish in Pau, and featured a very technical and undulating profile.

On paper, the course didn’t suit pure time trialists but, Bevin showed off his strong form and time trialing prowess by pacing himself well over the first part of the course to leave energy for the final stretch, clocking top five results at both intermediate checkpoints and finishing in 47:30, two seconds faster than the previous leader, Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck - Quick Step).

With half the peloton still to finish, the New Zealand National Champion waited in the hot seat for the arrival of the GC contenders, who were the riders most likely to pose a threat to his time.

Bevin's time held strong and remained at the top of the leaderboard until the second-to-last rider, Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma), the new race leader, crossed the line to finish 25 seconds ahead of Bevin as the only rider capable of going faster.

Bevin’s performance was not the only strong ride by a CCC Team rider with Will Barta recording a top 20 result, taking 17th place, 2’12” behind the stage winner.

Patrick Bevin:
"It's disappointing but Primoz has been the form TT rider all year so, to win here you had to be really good because he's been the benchmark all season. Second is second. I've been here before and sat in a few hot seats and had him come over the top, that's bike racing. I'll be chipping away and I will get one eventually. It's been a rough season for me and I've turned it around in the back end with an eye on the Worlds so, to have strong legs ten days into the Vuelta is good but, obviously you always want a little bit more. We will keep working, go back to the drawing board and keep pushing."

"It was a super hard course. I knew, having ridden it, that it was a tough one to read and that it could go towards the climbers but, Primoz is not a pure climber, he’s been the best all year in time trials. I'm pretty disappointed with second really, as I came here with this one stage marked but, for me, getting this stage out of the way opens up the second part of the race. I've been trying to build my form and get my racing legs back over this first part and now we will look towards the rest of the race and target some more stages."

"You had to have power all day. It was quite hard to start off like that though with the 2.5 kilometer climb so, it was about making sure you had a bit of reserve left and overall, it was about delivering a performance of over 47 minutes. There was no hiding and nowhere to recover.”

Here's the report Alejandro Valverde & Nairo Quintana's Team Movistar:

Primoz Roglic (TJV) inflicted the expected blow to his competition in the 2019 La Vuelta at the demanding ITT -36km with lots of ups and downs from Jurançon to Pau- held in southern France on Tuesday. The Slovenian now dons ‘La Roja’ as first-placed overall with nearly two minutes of advantage over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), who defended himself strongly and now sits in 2nd overall.

‘Bala’, propelled by good early references from Nelson Oliveira (5th today) and Marc Soler (8th), made a very consistent effort and posted the 13th quickest time of the day, 1’38” behind the new race leader. It wasn’t, though, the best day for Nairo Quintana, whose 27th place left him 3’06” behind Roglic and dropped him from first to fourth overall, exactly 3' behind the red jersey; 49" away from Miguel Ángel López’s (AST) third spot; and just 5" ahead of Tadej Pogacar (UAD), now fully into contention after an 11th spot on Tuesday.

La Vuelta will return on Wednesday to Spanish soil with a lumpy stage 11, 180km from Saint-Palais to Urdax, that will feature two rated climbs in the finale -Ispéguy (Cat-2) and Otxondo (Cat-3)- plus a small ascent just under 10km from the end. A good terrain for a breakaway before two demanding mountain stages in Bilbao (Thu) and Los Machucos (Fri).

Nairo Quntana

Nairo Quintana hoped to do better. Sirotti photo

REACTIONS:
Alejandro Valverde: “1’38” against Roglic? Well’, it’s not too bad. It’s within what we expected. He was the strongest favourite for this TT. I felt well, maybe a bit emptier near the end, but it’s normal, it was a long course. I think we made a very decent effort. I took some time yesterday to look thoroughly at what’s left in this Vuelta, and it’s incredible – so many hard mountains still remaining. We’re still in contention, though – we still feel alright and anything can happen. As well as Roglic -who has already shown how strong he also is uphill- and López, Pogacar will also be a rival to take into account. Hadn’t he crashed at the opening TTT, he would be even closer to us. Let’s go day by day, there’s still a lot to happen in this race. It will be another tricky finish tomorrow. A minute ahead or behind Nairo doesn’t mean anything for our plans, to be honest. We’re actually a bit tired about everything the press says about our leadership plans – we’re both here to do our best and seek for a common goal, which is winning a Grand Tour for Movistar, no matter who claims it.”

Nairo Quintana: “It’s clear that while we worked to obtain a better result, it wasn’t my best time trial ever. I hoped to be around two minutes behind Roglic; three is more than I expected. Still, though, we’re into the overall fight. The fact that I didn’t do a good time trial doesn’t mean I’m not feeling strong. There will be chances to attack in the upcoming stages, to seek some good strategies with the team and take advantage from the race situations to make up time against Roglic. We’ve been in similar situations to this in the past and, even though some did go as expected, others turned into massive success. Let’s see how we can do in the next few days. Alejandro is still close in the GC, and with him and myself we’ve got two strong chances. I’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s take advantage and enjoy the race.”

Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

After a well-deserved rest day, it was time to get back to racing with an Individual time trial of 36 hilly kilometres. The start was in Jurancon and took the riders past the vineyards in southern France to the finish in Pau, which already saw this year’s Tour de France TT finish. The first BORA – hansgrohe rider to leave the start ramp was Shane Archbold, followed by stage winner Sam Bennett and birthday boy Jempy Drucker.

Most BORA – hansgrohe riders took it easy today, trying to stay out of trouble on this technical course, saving energy for the upcoming days. Nevertheless, all BORA – hansgrohe riders showed a solid performance and finished the course after around 53 minutes. Only GC contender Rafal Majka had to focus on today’s stage thinking about the GC battle of La Vuelta.

Rafał Majka was able to find his rhythm fast on this technical course. While P. Bevin (CCC Team) held the best time in 47:30 minutes at the finish, Rafał Majka rode through the corners on the narrow roads without any problems and showed a good performance. He crossed the line after 49:31 minutes, which was the 19th fastest time of the day. After the BORA – hansgrohe rider passed the finish, it was P. Roglic who set the fastest time and took the stage win and overall race lead. On the overall classification Rafał Majka moved up to seventh place after today’s race against the clock.

RadalMajka

Rafal Majka is now 7th in the GC. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
“It was a really technical course with all the corners and narrows roads. Also, with all the short climbs and descents, it wasn’t easy to find a rhythm immediately. Our main focus today was Rafał in terms of the GC and he showed a really strong ride. Time trialling isn’t his specialty, but he was good through all the parts and finished in a good time, moving up to 7th overall.” - Patxi Vila, Sports Director

“I am happy with my performance. I was going good through all the corners and downhill sections, but it wasn’t an easy course today, therefore I am happy to finish inside the top 20 and moving up to seventh again on the general classification. The time trial is done, now we have to focus on the upcoming mountain stages, which will decide La Vuelta.” – Rafał Majka

Annemiek van Vleuten blasts to victory in the Boels Ladies Tour prologue

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Double defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten took a commanding win in the Boels Ladies Tour prologue to kick-off the six-day race in style.

Starting on home soil, the world time trial champion was the last rider to take on the technical Tom Dumoulin Bike Park, but it proved to be no problem for the 36-year-old as she took the victory by six-seconds.

Annemiek Van Vleuten

Van Vleuten racing in this year's Giro Rosa

New Zealand time trial champion Georgia Williams was the first rider to take to the course for Mitchelton-SCOTT, with the 26-year-old lapping the tight circuit in a time of 5’32”. Australian Gracie Elvin was the next rider to roll down the start ramp before coming home in 5’29”.

Local rider Moniek Tenniglo then went one-second slower than her teammate, while former Boels Ladies Tour stage winner Sarah Roy navigated the bike park in a time of 5’24”. Triple Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt was the penultimate rider to head down the start ramp for Mitchelton-SCOTT and the 31-year-old set at time of 5’22” around the tight and twisty course.

As the defending champion, Van Vleuten was the last rider away and the world time trial champion set off with a time of 5’10” to beat. The reigning champ stormed off the line and flew around the bends, with gear changes crucial out of the sharp turns and up the short uphill section in the middle of the course.

There was no stopping Van Vleuten as she raced across the line in 5’04” to go six-seconds faster than her nearest rival and take a dominant victory on home soil.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“You don’t really know how you will come back from altitude and especially on this course with so many corners, you need to accelerate a lot and that’s not something I did a lot in the last four-weeks at altitude climbing all the mountains. But I usually have a good feeling when I come back from altitude and also, I could see my numbers at altitude were really good, so I had confidence coming here.”

“But days like that this is not nice to wake up because you feel this pressure, if you know you’re good in something you feel more pressure. On this course if you make one mistake for example before the steep hill, or you make a mistake in the wrong gear, yeah, you lose it, so that makes it more exciting.”

“I’m not here to go for the GC at all. When I saw the course, I was bit disappointed there was no time trial and also no hard, hilly stage. It means I’m not going to defend this jersey with my team, I think we go for stages, have some fun without pressure this year.”

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“It was more or less a perfect ride from Annemiek. She’d done quite a lot of work beforehand and reconned it, so she knew the course perfectly, we did a recon both yesterday and today.”

“There’s always a bit of pressure as well, starting in your home country with the world champions jersey, but she did everything perfect today, so it was good start to the tour for us.”

Boels Ladies Tour 2019 Prologue
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 5:04
2. Lisa Klein (Canyon SRAM Racing) +0:06
3. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) +0:07

Owain Doull pens two-year extension at Team INEOS

Team INEOS sent me this release:

Midway through his first Grand Tour at La Vuelta a Espana, Owain Doull has signed a two-year extension to stay here at Team INEOS.

The Welshman, 26, has enjoyed the strongest road season of his career, riding to his first professional win at the Herald Sun Tour in February, before finishing second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne during the Classics.

Owin Doull

Owain Doull finishing second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Sirotti photo

Those results, along with selection for La Vuelta, represent another year of progression for Doull. “Progression is probably the key word for me,” said Doull. “I want to carry on learning from the best people in the best team in the world.

“My first year with the team was up and down, the second was better, and then this year has surpassed my expectations, to be honest. Starting my first Grand Tour is something I have wanted to do since I joined the team.”

Looking ahead, Doull hopes to benefit from his first Grand Tour and keep moving forwards. “It is a bit of a cliché but I just want to keep progressing and I think that is the best way to go about things,” continued Doull. “2020 will be similar to last year with a big focus on the Classics before switching to that support role in the big stage races. It’s a role that Luke Rowe has performed so well for years and he is someone I massively look up to.”

With La Vuelta in his legs and the confidence gained from his podium finish at Kuurne, Doull will head into 2020 with a spring in his step. “I’d like to kick on from what I did in the Opening Weekend at the Classics this year and try to transfer that into Flanders and Roubaix, then hopefully get another Grand Tour under my belt,” he said.

”Here at the Vuelta, I’ve spoken to a lot of the riders and staff and everyone says that after your first Grand Tour you can physically move on quite a lot. I understand the Vuelta is a good Grand Tour to do first too, because it sets you up well for your off-season, so hopefully I am starting from a higher level next season and that progression will carry on into the Classics.”

Team INEOS coach Conor Taylor said: “Owain has been a highly consistent performer this year, starting with his first professional win in Australia and carrying that form through the Classics, including his podium finish at Kuurne. “He has been a key support rider across several stage races, which has resulted in him being selected for his first Grand Tour. Owain is a highly versatile rider, a true teammate on the road, and in time we hope to see him develop into an important road captain for us.

“Looking forward, Owain has a number of personal targets for next season, particularly around the cobbled Classics. We feel he is in the best environment to help him maximise his potential and achieve his ambitions in the sport.”

Eurobike bicycle trade show to reflect massive market make-over

Bike Europe sent me this preview:

DOETINCHEM, The Netherlands – What will Eurobike 2019 bring? What are the new realities that are to be featured by the world’s biggest bike show that opens its doors tomorrow? Product-wise the show will feature a further stepped-up design transformation of e-bikes with components integration reaching an even higher level. Production-wise there’s also a market makeover taking place. Main trend here is close-to-market; being flexible and faster. But also increasing supply to meet the skyrocketing European wide demand for e-bikes.

That rapidly rising demand for e-bikes causes many new names to emerge during Eurobike 2019. But also renowned ones are taking action to meet that demand. Like Giant and Merida setting up new and/or heavily expanded facilities producing electric bicycles of various categories. The same goes for the production of e-bike components. More, much more is needed when it comes to motors, batteries as well as all other electronics to cater for ‘connected’ bikes.

The (European) bike market is renewing at an unprecedented pace. This is triggered by various circumstances that reinforce each other. Foremost there’s the sale of electric bicycles. In more and more European countries, that sale is breaking record on record. European-wide it is growing to be the largest bicycle category in the foreseeable future.

What’s also pushing the current market changes is online sales and the sector’s switch to omni-channel distribution strategies. That requires foremost speed, flexibility and close to market production; in Europe.

You can read the entire story here.

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