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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 22, 2022

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter. - Blaise Pascal


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Kurt Van de Wouwer becomes sports manager at Lotto Soudal

The team sent me this announcement:

Kurt Van de Wouwer (51) will be Lotto Soudal’s sports manager as of today. The experienced former rider of the team has proven himself for years as manager of the Development Team and Ladies Team.

Kurt Van de Wouwer raced for the Lotto cycling teams for many years during his career as a rider and took up the role of sports director at the same team afterwards. He knows the team inside out. For many years he has successfully managed the Development Team and Ladies Team. Talents like Arnaud De Lie, Florian Vermeersch and Maxim Van Gils were recruited by Kurt Van de Wouwer and made their way up to the professional ranks under his guidance.

Kurt Van de Wouwer

With the appointment of Kurt Van de Wouwer as sports manager, the continuity of the professional cycling team is guaranteed. He will be responsible for all sports decisions, allowing the team to focus on the preparations towards the 2023 season. “I am very proud to be able to take this step”, comments Kurt Van de Wouwer. “This team means everything to me, after all those years as a rider, sports director and manager of the Development Team and Ladies Team. The Lotto cycling teams play a crucial role in cycling in Belgium and the rest of the world. This team holds a lot of young talent, combined with some ambitious international top-level riders. I am full of confidence in the future of what will be named Lotto Dstny from next season on and am looking forward to help shape that future in my new role.”

As communicated earlier, CEO John Lelangue will leave the team after the 31st of December. The recruitment process of a new CEO will continue with the greatest care.

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Rigoberto Urán extends with EF Education-EasyPost

The team sent me this:

EF Education-EasyPost is thrilled to announce that the Colombian veteran has decided to postpone retirement and continue racing with the team.

For Rigo, the decision was simple.

“I decided to keep racing because I like it. I have a lot of passion for what I do. My life is on the bike,” Rigo said.

He had, in fact, considered calling time on his storied career at the end of this season. Rigo wrapped up the year with a suite of top ten results at the Italian fall classics, an undeniable exclamation mark on any rider’s palmarès. But when he examined his life and spoke with his family, he concluded there was no reason to retire just yet.

Rigoberto Uran after winning stage 17 of the 2022 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

“The most important thing is family support,” Rigo said. “My family likes being here in Europe. They spend a lot of time away from Colombia so if they like it here, that’s important. Me, I love it here, I love riding, so I want to keep going for a few more years. I get to combine my life in Colombia with sports here in Europe and I have my family’s support, so I decided to continue racing for a few more years.”

Despite leaving his native Colombia for Europe as a teenager, Rigo has always been exceptionally close with his family. Over the decades that followed, his concept of family has expanded.

“I’ve been racing for many years. You don’t always find a team like this. EF Education-EasyPost is like a family. I really get on well with the team. Everyone is very professional. It’s a team that gives you a lot of opportunities. It’s a team that allows you to try a lot of things. You have opportunities to show your talent in grand tours and in other races. You don’t find this with a lot of teams so I knew I wanted to continue with the team. It’s a team that I love.”

Over the seven seasons Rigo has already spent with the squad, team CEO Jonathan Vaughters has come to rely on Rigo not just for his race results.

"Rigo helped save this organization on more than one occasion. He’s a leader, by example. Not by force. He’ll be invaluable in guiding the younger riders on this team. To me, Rigo isn’t just a team member, he’s a true partner and member of our family," Vaughters said.

As he wraps up his 17th season racing in Europe, Rigo has been a professional racer for nearly as long as his youngest teammate, Georg Steinhauser, has been alive, a testament to the longevity of his career. The years have not diminished his competitive drive one bit, particularly when it comes to the grand tours, which are something special to Rigo. He has finished in the top ten of a grand tour every year since 2012 with the singular exception of 2015. At the Tour de France, he has won a stage and been second on general classification. He has collected a pair of stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and has twice finished second overall. This season he won a stage at the Vuelta a España, completing his hat trick of grand tour stage wins, and finished in the top ten overall at the Spanish grand tour. As he approaches his 36th birthday, Rigo recognizes that he has limited time left in the peloton and he knows exactly what his goals are.

“These are my last years to be on the podium. I want to keep giving my all for the podium. We’ll see what we can do for the grand tour podiums. That is what we keep working for. That’s why we keep racing for each other. For me what’s most important is sending riders and teams to races that we can win and supporting each other to get those wins. Victory for our team.”

With his lengthy results sheet and a wealth of experience to share, Rigo has assumed something of a mentorship role within the team.

“Now we have a lot of young riders so I try to support the young ones and share what I’ve learned over the years. I try to be a great friend to everyone because sometimes that’s what you need.”

The gregarious Colombian is a living example not only to his teammates and his legion of animated fans but to the world at large about the value of balancing a successful career with a satisfying life.

“I’m proud not just that I’ve ridden for so long but that cycling has taught me so much,” Rigo said. “More than anything, cycling has taught me that it’s important to enjoy what you do. That’s the best thing. Find work that you enjoy. I like to ride. I like to train. I like it all.”

And we like seeing you out on the road, Rigo. Thanks for sticking around a little longer.


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Luis Leon Sanchez returns to Astana Qazaqstan

Here’s the team’s announcement:

A very experienced Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez is going to make his comeback to Astana Qazaqstan Team.

After a season spent in another project [Ed: Team Bahrain Victorious], Sanchez signed a new one-year contract (2023) with Kazakh WorldTour team.

Sanchez after finishing the 19th stage of the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“I am incredibly happy to return to the Astana team, in fact, to return home. I have great feelings, having signed a contract with the team again, for me it is a great joy and a huge motivation. I want to thank Alexandr Vinokurov and the entire management for this opportunity. It happened that at the end of the last year we had to part ways, but I used this season as productively as possible, I worked hard, gained new experience, tried to improve professionally. Of course, I am grateful to my current team for the great opportunity to spend the 2022 season together, but now I am looking forward to reuniting with Astana Qazaqstan Team to continue moving towards new goals together”, – said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Luis Leon Sanchez spent seven seasons in the Astana project (from 2015 to 2021), during these years he managed to deliver a series of victories, including Itzulia Basque Country and Volta ao Algarve stages in 2016, Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli in 2017, Tour of the Alps and Tour of Almaty stages as well as Vuelta a Murcia in 2018, Tour de Suisse stage in 2019, road race of the Spanish National Championships in 2020 and Ordiziako Klasikoa in 2021.

During the 2022 season, Sanchez scored such results as 13th place in the overall standings of the Tour de France and 16th place in the General Classification of the Vuelta a España.

“We all know Luis Leon Sanchez very well; we know his strengths and capabilities. He is a great team rider, a great assistant and a true professional. It was a pity to lose such a reliable rider last year, but that’s how the circumstances turned out. And now, I am very happy that there is an opportunity to invite him back to the team, to sign a contract with him. You can rely on Sanchez in any race, you can be sure that he will give 100% for the sake of achieving team goals. Therefore, I can only add “welcome home, Luis Leon”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.


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Team DSM recruit Matthew Dinham, Alex Edmondson and Sean Flynn

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Team DSM are thrilled to announce the signings of Matthew Dinham, Alex Edmondson and Sean Flynn to their Men’s program next season. Edmondson is contracted for the 2023 season, Flynn through 2024 while Dinham will wear the distinctive two-striped jersey until the end of 2025.

Matthew Dinham (AUS)
A talented rider, Dinham has tasted success in cross-country mountain bike events where he was U23 Australian and Oceanian champion in 2019 and took the Elite Australian title earlier this year. Looking to the future, Dinham will focus on the road with the team where he has also tasted victory and achieved impressive results throughout his career in the U23 ranks. 2021 saw him take an impressive 12th place on GC at the Tour de l’Avenir on debut which he followed up with eighth on GC at the Tour de Bretagne. This season started off strongly with a double second place at the Australian national championships before a series of impressive results in Europe; fifth on GC at Tour de la Mirabelle, seventh overall at Tour du Pays de Montbéliard, ninth at Tour Alsace – all of which culminated in a brilliant solo win over challenging mountain parcours at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc. Dinham then repeated another good performance at the Tour de l’Avenir where he went one place better than 2021, with an 11th place finish; and followed that up with seventh at a home World Championships.

Dinham said: “I’m looking forward to joining Team DSM. There is a good track record of Aussie MTB riders coming to the team and doing well like Chris [Hamilton], and I also raced against Kevin [Vermaerke] too in the past. I’ve seen from afar how the team has done a really good job at taking those guys on and improving them as riders. Next year I just want to learn as much as possible and be the best help I can for the team’s finishers so we can get the best results. On a personal level, I see myself more as a climber and GC rider, who has a bit of punch, but I just want to grow as a rider overall with the team and get some nice results.”

Team DSM coach Rudi Kemna added: “Matthew has had a good year in the U23 category, winning races and finishing second in both the road and time trial national championships. His Australian mountain bike title shows his versatility as a rider and someone that has good skills on the bike. In the future with our guidance, we think he can become a strong rider in the mountains but also possibly in the hilly one-day races too. This year at Tour de l’Avenir he had some bad luck but showed a resilient character to keep fighting and finish in 11th place there. We’re looking forward to working with Matthew and help him realise his potential.”

Alex Edmondson
A professional for seven years, Edmondson combined track and road racing in his youth, picking up multiple Australian and World titles on the boards alongside an impressive win at the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften, the U23 edition of the famous monument. Making the transition full-time to road racing in 2016, Edmondson has shown his strength riding in support of his teammates, whether that be as part of a strong sprint train or putting his power to use in the time trials; and he was part of his team’s winning performance at the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico TTT. His crowning glory on the road was a national title winning performance at the 2018 Australian road race championships after just holding off a charging pack from a mid-race breakaway. This year has seen Edmondson faced with several setbacks due to illness and crashes, but it has only made the Australian even more motivated for the coming seasons.

Alex Edmondson racing in stage six of the 2019 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

Edmondson said: “I am really looking forward to joining Team DSM. The team has a lot of young but very talented guys and being able to help and spur them on is something that really motivates me. I also like how the team approaches things and they think outside the box, going down different pathways and avenues. They are a very successful team and I want to be part of that success going forward. I know a few of the guys already on the team and am eager to hit the ground running come January.”

Team DSM head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Alex is an experienced rider in the peloton and has been a part of a lot of successes at his previous team; particularly as a member of the sprint block where he played an important role. It’s in that similar role where we think Alex can bring a lot of experience to our team, as well as his in-race tactical awareness and quick-thinking in stressful moments during races. He is also someone that holds himself and others to a high standard and that accountability is something which is valuable as we look to progress our sprint block to the next level.”

Sean Flynn (GBR)
Coming from a multi-discipline background, Flynn has held British titles in the junior ranks for the road circuit championships but also over the rougher and muddier terrain taking both the cyclocross and cross-country mountain bike national titles too. Making the transition full-time to road racing at the start of 2021 in the U23 category, Flynn picked up several solid results in one-day races and took his first podium finish with second on a stage at the Circuit des Ardennes. This year saw him start with a bang, taking his first UCI level win at the Istrian Spring Trophy, a race where he finished third overall. A consistent string of performances has followed with several top tens throughout the season: a sprint jersey win at the Giro Valle d’Aosta, tenth place at the Commonwealth Games where he helped his Scottish teammate to a bronze medal, and a recent fourth places at the Tour of South Bohemia and Paris Tours U23.

Flynn expressed: “I’m really looking forward to joining Team DSM; it’s a dream for me to be part of one of the biggest teams in the world. I also know that it’s only the beginning and that the hard work has only just started. I’m excited to step into that higher level of racing and ride some races that I’ve watched on TV for several years which is really nice. I have a bit of a nervous excitement about it all, but I’m ready to work hard and prove myself with the team and become the best rider I can.”

Team DSM head coach Rudi Kemna continued: “Sean is someone that we’ve had contact with for some time as he has made his way through the ranks. We see him as quite an all-round talent who can get over the hills and packs a good sprint – something that we have seen in his U23 campaign this season. He’s still relatively young so we want to bring him to a higher level overall with the help of our coaches and experts, and we think in the future he will be suited to the hilly classics.”

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