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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 3, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places. - Henny Youngman


Cycling's World Championships

Les Woodland's book Cycling's World Championships: The Inside Story is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Trofeo Laigeuglia reports

We posted the report from winner Jan Polanc's UAE Team Emirates with the race results.

Here's the report from Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

This Wednesday, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux participated in its first Italian competition of the year on the occasion of the Trofeo Laigueglia (1.pro, 2/03), a classic of 202 kilometers in the province of Savone.

With over 4000 meters of climbing, the parcours took the riders first to Albenga before returning back for four local laps containing the Colla Micheri and the Capo Mele, one of the famous climbs from Milano-San Remo.

It was in the approach to the local circuit that the final of the race was opened by the Belgian World Team. The acceleration resulted in a leading group of around twenty riders with Jan Bakelants, Théo Delacroix, Quinten Hermans, Simone Petilli and Lorenzo Rota.

The leading group had lost half of its members after two laps with lots of climbing and technical descents. Lorenzo Rota admirably fought off the numerical superiority of UAE, Astana and Ineos to start the final kilometer in a winning position.

It was Jan Polanc who won the race. Sirotti photo.

Rota finished fourth after an effort of five hours and took the mountain prize home. His compatriot Domenico Pozzovivo finished in eleventh place in the first chasing group.

"Thanks to the initiative of our road captain Jan Bakelants we managed to explode the peloton and to be present in a leading group of around twenty riders with almost the entire team. Théo Delacroix, Quinten Hermans and Simone Petilli first increased the pace on the Testico climb before the local laps. They continued to put pressure on the other teams downhill and split the peloton. It truly was a team effort and therefore I really want to thank my teammates. They made the race very hard and created the conditions in which I perform best. I’m satisfied that I was in the mix for the podium in my first races of the season, three high-level semi classics, especially knowing that I just got back from an altitude camp in Colombia. I can’t wait for the next races!" - Lorenzo Rota

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Michael Matthews to ride Strade Bianche

Here’s the update from Matthews’ Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Australian Michael Matthews will make his Strade Bianche debut this weekend as the experienced sprinter headlines Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s assault on the gravel roads of Tuscany.

Michael Matthews normally rides Paris-Nice this time of year. Here's he's riding in stage 3 of the 2021 Paris-Nice. Photo: ASO/Boukla

To work around the team’s strategy, there will be a strong variety of riders including Italian trio Matteo Sobrero, Kevin Colleoni and Alexander Konychev. Climbers Tsgabu Grmay and Jan Mass will help the team during the steep and hilly parts of the race, while Sam Bewley will work to protect and support the squad with his added horsepower.

The 184km undulating course in the Tuscan hills will see the peloton face 11 gravel sectors, with the last stretch of white roads coming with 10km to go. The race then finishes with its traditional sting in the tail as riders tackle the steep climb into the iconic Piazza del Campo.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Sam Bewley (NZL)
Kevin Colleoni (ITA)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Jan Maas (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Matteo Sobrero (ITA)

Michael Matthews:
“It’s always been a dream of mine to do Strade Bianche, for a lot of years I have been pushing to be able to start this race. In the past I always ended up training and focusing for Paris-Nice preparation instead, so it wasn’t possible to do Strade.

"It is such an iconic race, here in Tuscany with all the white roads up and down through the Tuscan hills and I am really looking forward to starting the race. I have had really good preparation, everything went to plan, I just had a small break due to Covid when I was in altitude for a training camp, but I now feel good and I am looking forward to getting this next racing block under way.”

Gene Bates (Sport Director):
“We enter Strade Bianche with Michael Matthews as our leader for this edition. It will be his first experience in this unique race, but we are confident that he is well trained for it and with his riding characteristic, we can expect a good performance from him.

"Strade is a tricky race, and we will have to work in the best way possible as a team, always be focused and make sure we are always well positioned throughout the whole race. For us this an important race and we will give it our best to take home the best result possible.”

2022 Strade Bianche – Race Details:
Saturday, 5th March : Siena – Siena : 184km


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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to ride Paris-Nice

Here’s the team’s news:

Created in 1933, Paris-Nice was at that time one of the earliest races of the French calendar. Back then, the leader’s jersey was blue with a gold strip – a nod to the sky, sea and sun that had made the city such a picturesque gem – and the stages used to exceed 300 kilometers. As the years went by, also the race changed: it was called Paris-Côte d’Azur and Paris–Nice–Rome in the ‘50s, the half-stages were introduced, the time trial became a regular feature, bonifications were awarded and the leader’s jersey turned green, then orange, then all-white, before finally becoming yellow in the first years of the 21st century.

This will be the prize for which the riders present in the Yvelines department Sunday morning will fight over the eight days of the 80th edition. The first stages bring opportunities to both the sprinters and the puncheurs, but could turn into a big test for the GC men, as the peloton will take on some windswept roads that are very likely to wreak havoc. In Montluçon, a short but hilly individual time trial with a last stretch featuring 14% ramps promises to create more gaps ahead of a tough weekend that will include a summit finish atop Col de Turini (14.9km, 7.3%) and the iconic Col d’Èze (6km, 7.6%).

Fabio Jakobsen (shown at the 2021 Vuelta) will start Paris-Nice. Sirotti photo

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has always been among the main protagonists at the “Race to the Sun” and will aim to have again a strong showing, as we come to the start in Mantes-la-Ville with a team consisting of Fabio Jakobsen – the most successful rider of the season so far – Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv, Florian Sénéchal, Zdenek Stybar and Mauri Vansevenant.

“Paris-Nice is never an easy race. We can expect bad weather and echelons next week, but that won’t impact our motivation. We have a team capable of controlling on the flat and setting up Fabio for the sprints, and this will be our main goal. Concerning Mauri, he comes here without any kind of pressure; he has a free role and we’ll just see how things turn out for him”, said sports director Tom Steels, himself a former winner of multiple stages at Paris-Nice.


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The UCI takes strong measures in the face of the situation in Ukraine

I'm grateful to renowned cycle photographer John Pierce for pointing out this UCI post to me.

Here’s the UCI’s full post:

The Management Committee of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) met at an extraordinary session today to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the measures that the UCI means to take in this respect.

The UCI again expresses its very great concern over the situation in Ukraine and firmly condemns the aggression of the Russian and Belarusian governments and their non-respect of the Olympic Truce. The UCI wishes to see a return to peace as rapidly as possible and calls for the respect of Olympic values. Indeed, sport in general and cycling in particular are vehicles of peace, friendship, solidarity and tolerance.

First of all, the UCI has decided to offer its support to the Ukrainian cycling community and has committed to welcoming Ukrainian athletes to the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), its education and training centre in Aigle, Switzerland. In this respect, the UCI is in permanent contact with the National Federation of Ukraine. The UCI President David Lappartient, together with the President of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) Enrico Della Casa, will meet the President and representatives of the Ukraine National Federation during the UEC Congress in Denmark this weekend to define the procedures for coming to the aid of Ukraine’s cycling community.

Moreover, the UCI welcomes the strong decisions taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 28 February and has decided to apply them to cycling.

The UCI, which remains a politically neutral organisation, laments that the decisions of their government can impact Russian and Belarusian athletes, but it is necessary to be firm in the defence of the Olympic values.

As pointed out this morning during an emergency meeting of International Federations organised by the IOC and presided over by the President Thomas Bach - with the participation of David Lappartient and UCI Director General Amina Lanaya -, it is a question of taking preventive measures with the objective of ensuring the integrity and security of sporting competitions and the respect of the Olympic values.

In light of the situation, the UCI Management Committee has unanimously taken the following decisions:

1. Russian and Belarusian national teams and / or national selections are not authorised to take part in any events on the UCI International Calendar, with immediate effect.

2. UCI Team status is withdrawn from all teams under Russian or Belarusian nationality and the UCI shall not consider any further applications for UCI status from teams from these two countries. The withdrawal of UCI Team status concerns the following teams:

UCI ProTeam Gazprom – RusVelo (RUS)

UCI Continental Team Vozrozhdenie (RUS)

UCI Track Team Marathon – Tula Cycling Team (RUS)

UCI Continental Team CCN Factory Racing (BLR)

UCI Continental Team Minsk Cycling Club (BLR)

UCI Women’s Continental Team Minsk Cycling Club (BLR).

3. The UCI withdraws all Russian and Belarusian events from the 2022 UCI International Calendar and shall not consider any further registration requests. The following events are concerned by the withdrawal from the UCI International Calendar:

Grand Prix Moscow 1: class 2 track event (20-21 May 2022)

Granfondo Moscow: UCI Granfondo World Series event (21-22 May 2022)

Grand Prix Moscow 2: category 2 track event (22 May 2022)

Grand Prix Saint-Petersburg: category 2 track event (26-29 May 2022)

Five Rings of Moscow: class 2.2 road event (8-12 June 2022).

4. The Russian and Belarusian National Championships are also withdrawn from the UCI International Calendar.

5. The appearance of all emblems, names, acronyms, flags and anthems linked to Russia and Belarus are prohibited at all events on the UCI International Calendar. The Russian and Belarusian National Champions’ jerseys are therefore banned.

6. Any bids from Russian and Belarusian candidates for the organisation of UCI events shall not be considered.

7. The UCI forbids organisers of events on the UCI International Calendar from inviting Russian and Belarusian club, regional or mixed teams.

8. The UCI will not appoint Russian or Belarusian International Commissaires to UCI International Calendar events until further notice.

The UCI wishes to clarify that Russian and Belarusian licence-holders are authorised to take part in events on the UCI International Calendar with their respective teams provided they are registered with a UCI Team that is neither Russian nor Belarusian. Russian and Belarusian riders can also participate in UCI International Calendar events if individual registration is authorised.

Any participation of Russian or Belarusian athletes must be in a neutral capacity, and organisers are requested to withdraw any reference to Russia or Belarus, including the name, emblems, acronyms and flags, and replace them with a neutral reference or denomination on all event-related documents and in line with instructions to be provided by the UCI.

The decision not to impose a blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at all international events is based on obtaining a balance of all interests. In particular, it is a question of taking into account the contractual rights of the riders and teams concerned, and not to unjustly penalise teams that are not Russian or Belarusian.

The UCI asks organisers, spectators and competitors to respect Russian and Belarusian riders at races in which they would be authorised to participate.

Moreover, the UCI Management Committee has decided to introduce a specific regulation enabling Russian and Belarusian licence-holders with multiple nationalities to request a change to their sporting nationality without any restriction. It will be possible to accelerate the procedure concerning this measure, which already exists in the UCI Regulations.

Specific measures will be studied with a view to allowing riders and staff members of Russian and Belarusian teams to register with a UCI Team that is neither Russian nor Belarusian outside of the registration periods.

Concerning the Russian and Belarusian National Federations, and in line with responses given by the IOC this morning during the meeting with International Federation Presidents, it is not necessary to suspend these because they are not implicated in the violation of the Olympic Truce. In the same vein, concerning Russian and Belarusian members of UCI bodies and commissions, the UCI has chosen to act in line with the IOC’s position presented this morning, which means that they may continue to serve as long as they are not directly implicated in the violation of the Olympic Truce; indeed the priority of the measures taken today is to ensure the integrity and security of sporting competitions.

As part of its decisions, the UCI Management Committee has also taken stance on sponsoring by Russian or Belarusian brands and companies. As it considers that this would damage the image of the UCI and cycling in general, such sponsoring will not be authorised. Teams and event organisers have therefore been requested not to grant any visibility to Russian or Belarusian sponsors at events on the UCI International Calendar.

For the sake of clarity, all measures apply with immediate effect regarding both Russia and Belarus and cover all categories and disciplines. They will remain in effect until further notice. In the coming days, the UCI will publish ad hoc rules providing further guidance on the measures adopted today by the UCI Management Committee. Directives will also be communicated to event organisers concerning the ban on displaying references to Russia and Belarus.

The UCI specifies that in the event of a State decreeing stricter measures regarding the participation of Russian or Belarusian riders or teams at competitions on their territory, these measures would take precedence over the decisions taken by the UCI.

The UCI welcomes the courageous stance taken by Russian and Belarusian cyclists and officials in a bid for peace. It calls for restraint from all sides of the conflict as well as for the protection of civilians, and hopes that peace will rapidly be restored.

The UCI’s position could evolve as the situation in Ukraine develops.

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