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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

History is a set of lies agreed upon. - Napoleon Bonaparte

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Soudal Quick-Step’s Dries Devenyns to retire at end of 2023

The team posted this short note:

One of the best guys in cycling, an invaluable team member and a model for many young riders, Dries Devenyns has decided to call it a day at the end of this year, after 17 seasons in pro cycling, twelve of which he spent with the Wolfpack.

Dries Devenyns wins the 2020 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

A tireless and consistent helper in all these years, capable of instilling a sense of calm even in the most hectic moments of a race, Dries – who will turn 40 in a couple of days – proved on several occasions that he could also go for his own chance and seize the day, as evidenced by his victories, including the memorable one he took at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

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Lotto Dstny’s Maxim Van Gils crashes on rest day training ride but continues in Tour de France

The team posted this:

Lotto Dstny confirms that Maxim Van Gils has crashed during a training ride on the rest day, this Monday. While descending, he hit a small truck. The Belgian was transferred to hospital. “Luckily no fractures were discovered”, says Lotto Dstny’s team doctor Peter Plessers. “Maxim will take the start in Tuesday’s time trial and wants to reach Paris.” Van Gils was joined by his father for a short training ride, which he often does on a rest day. In a descent, the pair rode behind a small truck which suddenly braked because of an oncoming car making its way up. Both Maxim and his father could not avoid the truck and hit the ground. Both men were transferred to hospital.

Maxim Van Gils climbing the Grand Colombier in 2023 Tour de France's stage 13. Sirotti photo

“Maxim suffers from shoulder pain”, says team doctor Peter Plessers, “but luckily there are no fractures. He will be able to start in the time trial but of course this isn’t a nice thing, it’s already his third crash in this Tour de France. But Maxim can ride his bike and wants to push on to reach Paris. This again shows how strong and motivated riders are to keep going.”

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Darren Rafferty joins EF Education-EasyPost, starting in 2024

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Yesterday, Darren Rafferty won the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta-Mont Blanc, one of cycling’s hardest and most prestigious U23 races.

Today, we are proud to announce that the Irish talent has signed his first professional contract with EF Education-EasyPost.

Darren is a strong climber, who is still discovering where his limits lie. Earlier this year, he finished second in the Giro d'Italia Giovani Under 23, affectionately known as the Baby Giro, and fifth in the U23 edition of Liége-Bastogne-Liége. He now has his sights set on the world championship road race and time trial. He can’t wait to get started next season in the WorldTour.

“I can’t really believe it is actually happening,” Darren says. “It is hard to put into words, something that you have worked so hard towards for such a long time. Three years ago, I went to France instead of university with the dream of getting a job as a professional cyclist, and now it is going to happen from next year. It is incredible.”

Darren has made steady progression as a bike racer over the past few seasons. He put himself on our radar last year with strong rides at races like the Strade Bianche di Romagna and Grand Prix de Wallonie and has come into his own this year, as he got chances to ride harder and harder races.

“We started talking to Darren a little bit last year and then really started to focus on him this spring,” says team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “We brought him into our laboratory to test everything from metabolism to Vo2 max to aerodynamic qualities early in the year, and at that point, which was pre-Baby Giro, the decision was pretty much made to take him onboard because he showed incredible metabolic values and incredible oxygen consumption and power values. The only question we still had was that his results in junior and U23 races thus far had not actually been as incredible as his physiological values are. It turns out that the reason for that is that the races just weren’t hard enough. As soon as he went to the Baby Giro and went up the Stelvio, it became very apparent that actually his race results in that hard of a race absolutely match the lab results.”

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There is no doubting Darren’s talent. Looking forward, he doesn’t yet know where it will take him. He has shown that he can fly up mountains and ride a strong time trial against the best U23 riders, but WorldTour racing will be a whole new challenge.

“I want to spend the next couple of years finding where I am going to be best,” he says. “I will take it year by year and learn as much as I can from the riders around me and just hopefully keep progressing. If I can just keep improving year on year, that is the goal. I want to get a little bit better and learn something from every race I do and hopefully the results come from the process of that. I will enjoy everything as it comes, and take it race by race, and learn from all of the staff and riders and see where it takes me. I am not really setting any limit. My development over the past couple of years has been nice to see for me personally, so I think there is a lot of room for improvement, and that is exciting for me.”

It is exciting for our team too. When Darren chose to sign for us, he was inspired by the progress that his fellow Irishman Ben Healy made on our squad. Like Ben, Darren will get the chance to ride a varied program suited to him, that will allow him to compete in smaller races before testing himself in the sport’s biggest classics and grand tours.

“EF is the team I believe will give me the most opportunities,” Darren says. “It is a great team with a nice atmosphere and an attacking team that suits my style of racing and how I want to race. I really like how Ben Healy has always been able to race with the team and that was one of the influences of seeing how I could maybe race a calendar that was more open and show what I can do. It was an easy choice in the end.”

Darren’s choice affirms our team’s vision for developing young riders. Over the past year, we have refocused our efforts on identifying the most talented racers and allowing them to flourish in the right events.

“There will be more announcements like this coming up. I honestly believe that we have recruited the best talent out there for 2024," Vaughters says. "Darren is the headliner on that. He showed a lot of love for what this team stands for, the way we conduct ourselves, and the way we develop young riders and felt that it would be the best home for him. He just genuinely liked the personality of the team and it is super to have him on board.”

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