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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 23, 2020

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Team Deceuninck-Quick Step headed to UAE Tour

Here's the team's news:

One of the six different Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders to put their name on the winners’ list this year, Sam Bennett will be gunning for more victories at the third World Tour stop of the season, the UAE Tour, which runs its second edition between 23-29 February.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett finishing stage two of the 2020 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

Wins at the Tour Down Under and Race Torquay served as confirmation of the Irish Champion’s solid form in the beginning of the season, who will be part of a star-studded field at the seven-day race, where the sprinters will have four opportunities to shine. With the time trial missing this year, the general classification will be decided by the two stages finishing atop Jebel Haffet, the 12.5km-long climb averaging 6.1% which will make the gaps on the punchy finish to Hatta Dam completely irrelevant by the end of the week.

Also traveling to the Middle East for Deceuninck – Quick-Step will be Shane Archbold – who gets to sport for the first time his New Zealand national champion jersey won last Sunday in truly spectacular fashion – Mattia Cattaneo, James Knox (a top 10 finisher at the 2019 edition of the race), Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv, Pieter Serry and Stijn Steels.

“The number one goal is to win a stage and in Sam we have one of the favourites. He showed in Australia that he is in shape and we are really looking forward to the bunch gallops and our colourful lead-out train featuring Shane and Michael, while at the same time being aware it won’t be easy, as many top sprinters are at the start.”

“James has had a good start to the season in Valencia and we all remember his solid and impressive ride that helped him crack the top 10 overall last year at the UAE Tour, which would be nice if it were to happen again. The Jebel Hafeet climb suits him, but we’re not putting any pressure, we’ll just see how it goes. Mattia can also do a good race, while Pieter and Stijn will be there to help the team control the race”, concluded sports director Geert Van Bondt.

Belgian champion Jesse Vandenbulcke out with broken cervical vertebra

Here's the bad news from Vandenbulcke's Lotto-Soudal team:

Due to a crash during the final phase of the first stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, Belgian champion Jesse Vandenbulcke broke her cervical vertebra C6. Jesse will be out for an indefinite time. The new addition to the Lotto Soudal Ladies team will not be able to participate in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next Saturday.

Jesse Vandenbulcke: “We knew it would be a dangerous final. Therefore, I was riding in the front with Arianna Fidanza en Abby-Mea Parkinson. During the last kilometres, the road went downhill and we got ahead with a small group. The most dangerous part was already behind us. Four kilometres before the finish, a cyclist fell and I could not avoid her. I crashed and hit my neck on a curb, but I was still able to cross the finish line.”

Medical examination at the Valencia hospital showed that Jesse suffered a fracture of the cervical vertebra C6. It is a steady fracture. At the moment, it is difficult to predict when Jesse will be able to return to competition. Jesse could leave the hospital on Friday evening and on Saturday she will fly home. The medical staff of Lotto Soudal will follow her situation very closely.

Jesse Vandenbulcke: “It is a great pity to start the season in that way. During the winter I was really looking forward to this spring, especially because I could ride in the Belgian tricolour. Nevertheless, as a young mother, I can put this into perspective. I know I will be back. The most important now is to listen to my body, to rest and to slowly resume training.”

Arianne Fidanza was also involved in the crash. She only suffered some abrasions and was able to be at the start of the second stage on Friday.

BLM removes Slickrock Trail parcels from oil and gas lease sale proposal

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update:

MOAB, Utah (BRAIN) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Friday announced that two parcels of land, one of which includes part of Moab's famous Slickrock Trail, will not be in an upcoming oil and gas lease sale.

Last year a company in the oil and gas industry filed an expression of interest in leasing the BLM-managed parcels for underground oil and gas extraction. The mountain bike industry, local and state elected officials —  including Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert — and others opposed the plan. A public comment period opened Thursday. 

"We understand that the public has concerns about two of the parcels that were considered during the internal review period," Moab Field Manager Nicollee Gaddis-Wyatt said in a BLM press release. "After careful consideration and analysis over the last two months, those parcels will not be included in the proposed June oil and gas lease sale."

You can read the entire story here.

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