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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, September 29, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins Elite Women's World Championship Road Race

We posted the race report from van Vleuten's Mtichelton-Scott team with the results.

Here's the organizer's race summary:

Annemiek van Vleuten not only produced one of the rides of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, but of any Championships ever, as she sealed a stunning solo triumph in the Elite Women’s Road Race.

Annemiek van Vleuten

This is how to win a bike race!

Van Vleuten launched her race-winning attack with over 100km to go on the Lofthouse climb and never looked back as she evaded her pursuers for over three hours of action. At times the 36 year old’s lead had looked bridgeable, but she pressed on bravely and achieved an incredible victory that will live long in the history books. 

Once van Vleuten had crossed the finish line, her team-mate Anna van der Breggen arrived 2min 15sec later to wrap up a Dutch one-two, with Australia’s Amanda Spratt rounding off the podium a further 13 seconds behind.

The weather gods had looked down kindly on Saturday’s racing as all of the 149.4km trek from Bradford to Harrogate was bathed in early autumn sunshine. Vociferous fans cheered the peloton off in City Park and the crowds that greeted them on the Norwood Edge and Lofthouse ascents were comparable with those of the Tour de France which came to Yorkshire in 2014.

The county put on a real show once again, with magnificent land art being beamed to viewers right around the world and at one point even a herd of sheep near Masham were spotted donning rainbow jerseys.

The racing was equally spectacular, with Yorkshire’s own Lizzie Deignan producing a courageous ride to try and reel van Vleuten back in before eventually being swept up as she began the final lap of a packed Harrogate circuit.

The day belonged to the Netherlands however, whose medal tally at the Championships now stands at eight with only the Elite Men’s Road Race remaining on Sunday.

Netherlands rider Annemiek van Vleuten said: “That was crazy. I knew the climb was really far from the finish but once I’d attacked my coach told me to keep riding hard and I was lucky I had really good legs. It was definitely not planned but I’d trained so hard for this – put in so many hours on the bike – and I thought ‘if anyone can do this, it’s you’. As I was riding I was thinking ‘maybe I could make history today’, and if it didn’t work out I knew Anna [van der Breggen] was in a great position behind.

“It was only towards the end that I dared to believe, and I was being cheered on by so many fans. The crowds in Bradford were huge at the start and I had so much encouragement out on the course as well. British fans are amazing and I want to thank them all for helping make this win so amazing.”

Great Britain rider Lizzie Deignan said: “Today was absolutely phenomenal and a massive privilege to be able to experience. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to ride a home World Championships and I just want to say thank you to all those people who supported me. It’s a day I’ll never forget and I’m so proud of Yorkshire. Congratulations to Annemiek too, she was in a class of her own today.”

Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley said: “As Annemiek went on the attack people were telling me ‘you can’t win from that far out’, but she proved them all wrong with an outstanding performance. It was an amazing effort to stay out in front for as long as she did with no help whatsoever, and it’s just a shame Lizzie wasn’t able to go with her when she made her race-winning move.

“We’ve got another Yorkshire star in the form of Ben Swift riding tomorrow, and he’ll definitely be in with a shout of the rainbow jersey. Of course, he’ll be going up against the very best in the business, and I’m very excited to see who’ll come out on top.”  

Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd said: “We were treated to another amazing start in Bradford and the land art on the route today was truly world class. Yorkshire’s known for its creativity, as well as its passion and pride, and all those things were in evidence today. It was so nice to see Lizzie on the front of the peloton as she rode through her home town of Otley as well, with her family on the roadside to see her. Congratulations to Annemiek as well for that amazing performance, and all eye turn to the Elite Men’s Road Race now which is sure to be a cracker.”

Greg van Avermaet looks to the Elite Men's Road Race Championship

Here's the post from van Avermaet's CCC Team:

Greg Van Avermaet has found himself in the top ten on three occasions but has never cracked the podium at the World Championships, a statistic somewhat surprising when you look at the Olympic champion’s palmarès. Is Yorkshire 2019 his year? We sat down with Van Avermaet on the eve of the road race to hear what he had to say ahead of Sunday’ road race.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet wins the 2016 Olympic road race. Sirotti photo.

“The first part of the race before the circuit is quite nice. It’s a really hard first part of the race with longer climbs but still technical descents, and smaller roads so I think it can really be part of the race. We have to be careful not to lose the race there. With the weather they expect and the wind, it will be important to ride in the front and not make any mistakes in the first 180 kilometers.

"I think the bigger teams will control the breakaway and it will only be smaller teams out there at the front. Hopefully, the group is not too big so we’re not losing the race there either. But, I don’t think it’s going to be such a big fight with such a long race ahead. 280 kilometers, plus the neutral, means it’s a long day for the breakaway.

"The biggest factor of the Harrogate circuit will be the rain. The course will already be hard in dry conditions but if it’s raining, I think it makes a big difference and will be even harder, more technical, and more dangerous. The weather can dictate the result.”

“It’s quite strange at the Worlds riding with the national teams because on Sunday, you’re on the same team, but normally you’re opponents. It’s also quite a strange feeling to race against your normal teammates. The Belgian team is well prepared and we have a strong team with two leaders, but also some strong guys underneath us and we’re ready to race in these kinds of conditions. I think having so many options can help me too as I will have less pressure just on myself, so this can help me to have a better result.”

“A World Championship would mean a lot to me. I was not that close to the win many times which is a bit strange because I’ve been on the podium of most one-day Classics-style races, but it’s never really worked out for me at the Worlds. You also have to look at the parcours and this year, it’s finally a good parcours for me again. I think I have a big chance. As a Classics one-day rider, it’s the highest achievement you can have in the season, apart from the Monuments. The nicest thing about winning the World Championships is you wear the jersey for the whole year. That’s what makes it even more special than the other races, I think.

"You can’t compare the World Championships with the Olympics. For me, the Olympics will always be a special race in my career as it finally launched me to the level I wanted to be at. To wear the rainbow jersey would be really incredible, but my gold medal from Rio will always be more special. I would like to have both!”

“I’m the kind of rider who if I start winning, the wins come easier to me. So, winning GP Cycliste de Montreal was a big confidence boost. I’m not the kind of guy who wins a lot of races in the year. I’m really consistent but winning is not my strongest point so having that nice win from Montreal in my mind can definitely help me in the race on Sunday. It gives me a confidence boost knowing my form is exactly where it needs to be."

I don’t think this will be my last chance to win a World Championship. This is probably my best chance with the combination of the parcours, my current shape, my age, and the experience I have. But, I think Leuven in 2021 could still be a chance for me.”

Yukiya Arashiro, Chun Kai Feng, Luka Pibernik, and Domen Novak extend contracts with Bahrain Merida

Here's the team's press release:

Saturday, 28 September 2019 – Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team is delighted to announce that Yukiya Arashiro, Chun Kai Feng, Luka Pibernik, and Domen Novak have extended their contracts.

“All four riders have been with our team since its launch, and we’re thrilled that they will continue to be part of its future direction with Rod Ellingworth and McLaren.” – Team Bahrain Merida, General Manager Brent Copeland.

“They are a mix of young and experienced riders, that have shown their dedication to teamwork. We will continue to help them thrive in the sport as we have seen how much sacrifice they put into training and racing.” – Copeland added.

Japanese star Yukiya Arashiro, who suffered a training accident early this season, has recovered and is now back in the peloton, which is a testament to his perseverance and professionalism. Next year will be Yukiya’s fourth season with the team.

Yukiya Arashiro

Yukiya Arashiro at the 2015 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

The Taiwanese rider Chun Kai Feng had a strong start to this season with two more medals in Asian Championships: Silver in TT and bronze in the road race. Despite a crash at the Tour de Romandie, he secured another title as the National TT champion in June. Feng is looking forward to his 6th season in the WorldTour and above all to his first Grand Tour, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

The other National Champion to extended his contract is Domen Novak, who won Slovenian road race title. The 23-year-old rider claimed his first National title in June, after a silver medal in 2018. Domen has signed a two-year extension with the team and aims to be amongst the best young riders in the peloton. He took the white jersey at the Tour of Japan in 2017 and the Tour of Croatia 2016.

Fellow Slovenian Luka Pibernik will also ride with the team in 2020, supporting the team captains and working to build on his results. The 25-year-old has significant potential, winning Slovenian National title in 2013 and 2015. In 2018 he took the bronze medal at the Slovenian Championships with Bahrain Merida.

Team Bahrain Merida is thrilled to have all four riders continue with the team, and we look forward to embarking on the next phase.

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