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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, November 11, 2023

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2023 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Team Jayco AlUla signs Italian Sport Director Valerio Piva for the 2024 season

Here's the team's announcement:

Team Jayco AlUla is pleased to expand its sport director team for the 2024 season, confirming the addition of former professional rider, Valerio Piva.

Piva enjoyed a successful 10-year professional road cycling career during the 80’s, following which he transitioned over to the other side to begin his career as a Sport Director.

Valerio Piva (far left) managed Team BMC 2014 - 2020. This photo is of the team at the end of the 2016 Vuelta a España when BMC won the team prize. Sirotti photo.

After a few years working with the youth cycling category, Piva entered the WorldTour as director in 2002, working in various teams and collaborated with many champions including Mark Cavendish and Greg Van Avermaet. Born in Itay, Piva then moved over to the other ‘home of cycling’ - Flanders, near the border with the Netherlands.

With an abundance of knowledge and a wealth of experience having been a professional rider to working as a director in the highest level of races, Team Jayco AlUla is thrilled to have Piva onboard and believe the Italian has a lot to offer and will enhance the squad even further.

Brent Copeland – Team Jayco AlUla General Manager:
“It is always special to have a former rider join the team in a Sport Director role. Their understanding for the sport is invaluable and for somebody like Valerio, he has that experience and has built up a lot of knowledge having worked as a Sport Director now for so many years. He has worked with a lot of different riders, he knows the ins and outs of cycling and we are excited to see what he can bring to the team as we continue to work to improve in all areas, from riders to staff.”

Valerio Piva:
“I’m very happy to join Team Jayco AlUla - one of the most prestigious teams in the WorldTour! I have been a Sport Director for a long time and this team has always attracted me both for the high level of the riders and the great organisation. I have worked with many young people and several great champions, and I am ready to bring my experience to help Team Jayco AlUla. My goal is to contribute to making the team grow even further both in terms of victories and to return to the top of the world rankings”.

Piva Biography:
Born in Northern Italy in 1958. Piva raced professionally from 1982 to 1991. He won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 1983. In 2002 he started working as a Sport Director in various teams including T-Mobile, HTC Columbia (2005-2011), Katusha (2012-2013) and BMC (2014-2020). In recent years, he has worked with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.

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Michele Gazzoli signs with Astana Qazaqstan

Here’s the team’s news:

After three months spent with the continental team Astana Qazaqstan Development and after several races done with the WorldTour team, Michele Gazzoli (24) is going to come back to Astana Qazaqstan Team for the next two seasons (2024 and 2025).

Michele Gazzoli wins stage two of the 2023 Arctic Race of Norway.

“I am very happy to re-sign a contract with Astana Qazaqstan Team. This team gave me an opportunity to revive after a difficult period, and for me this project is like a family that believed in me and did a lot to ensure that I was able to return to high results. In the next two years I will try to do everything possible to repay the team with victories and podiums for believing in me and the chance I got. As a part of Astana and in the jersey of this team, I feel great motivation and desire to work for the sake of our success together”, – said Michele Gazzoli.

Between August and October 2023 Michele Gazzoli won a stage and finished third in another stage in the Arctic Race of Norway and became second in a stage of the Tour of Slovakia with Astana Qazaqstan Team.

Besides, he won two stages and became second in the overall in the Tour of Bulgaria with the development team.

Alongside to this, Gazzoli made part of Astana Qazaqstan Team in the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, where he supported the race winner Alexey Lutsenko.

“In the second half of the season, we gave Michele the opportunity to prove himself, to prove that he deserves another chance. And the rider proved himself from the best side, showed personal results, and also proved himself as a good team player, as, for example, at the Tour of Turkey, where excellent work was done. Michele has potential both in one–day races and in short stage races, he can also be an excellent assistant for the team leaders, both in sprints and on hilly stages”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.


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BORA - hansgrohe extends contract with Anton Palzer

The team sent me this:

Anton Palzer has extended his contract with BORA - hansgrohe. After his first three seasons, the former ski mountaineer has firmly established himself within the WorldTour. Following a successful season, Toni Palzer is highly motivated going into the new year and is even considering his gravel premiere.

This season, Toni Palzer achieved further milestones in his "new" career as a professional cyclist. The Giro d'Italia was already his second Grand Tour in the books, the TTT at the Vuelta a Burgos was his first time on the podium, and the last race of the season ended with the 30-year-old's first top 10 finish in the GC at a stage race.

Toni Palzer: "My journey in cycling continues. I am more than happy that it will continue in this team and in the highest league of the sport. I have by no means reached the peak of my sporting development. I am highly motivated to be a reliable helper for our leaders next season, but I will also be looking for my own opportunities. As I am still open to new adventures, I would also find it exciting to take part in a gravel race one day."


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Team dsm-firmenich signs Emils Liepiņš and Julius van den Berg

The team sent me this news:

Team dsm-firmenich are delighted to reveal two more recruits to their Men’s program for the 2024 campaign with Emils Liepiņš and Julius van den Berg set to wear the team’s colours for next season.

Emils Liepiņš:
The experienced Liepiņš has made his way through the cycling world, progressing steadily from the Continental ranks with teams from his native Latvia, before making the step-up to the Pro Continental circuit. A hard-working and determined individual, Liepiņš got his breakthrough in the WorldTour in 2020 and has since developed into a reliable rider which his team can count on; whether that’s setting up his finishers, or also producing good results himself. A powerful and fast rider, Liepiņš packs a strong punch and that’s evident with his impressive win from a reduced group at Heistse Pijl back in 2018, or his back-to-back victories at the Latvian national championships in the past two seasons. Bringing that speed, resilience and experience to the team, Liepiņš will join Team dsm-firmenich’s burgeoning sprint group; where he will play an important role in the lead-out.

Emils Liepins (on left, with yellow jersey and dark arm warmers) wins stage 1a of the 2019 Settimana Coppi-Bartali. Sirotti photo

Liepiņš said: “I’ve always respected the team as they are a team that are always together with a plan, and I’m someone who likes structure like that. The guys work together like a unit, without one person in isolation doing their own thing. I also see this as a good opportunity for me to grow as a rider and to become better and stronger. I’m super happy to be here and looking forward to bringing some nice results with the team whether that’s helping in the sprint group, or if I get my own chances as finisher. I’m already really impressed with how things have gone from my talks and meetings with them so far, so I’m excited to get on the road with the team next season.”

Team dsm-firmenich coach Rudi Kemna added: “Emils has had a good and successful career so far and brings his experience of riding at the highest level to our sprint group. Yet, we think that he still has a lot of untapped potential in both the lead-outs and as a sprint finisher himself. Working with our group of experts and trainers, we hope to get that next bit out of him where he can then play an important part within our lead-out, utilising his speed and power to deliver our finishers in a great spot. Next to this we will also give him the opportunity to go for results with the team as finisher in some races too.”

Julius van den Berg:
Hailing from Purmerend in the province of North Holland, Van den Berg has been racing in the professional ranks since the middle of the 2018 season; after he made the step up from a strong U23 career which saw him claim the Dutch road race and time trial titles, plus another four UCI level wins. Since making the transition to WorldTour racing Van den Berg has plied himself ably at the service of his teammates, often found working selflessly at the front of the bunch to aid breakaway chases, or positioning others for the finale. Putting his good engine on display, he’s taken places of honour in the elite Dutch time trial championships, but the crowning display of his career so far was a win on the final day at the Tour de Pologne where he was the fastest from a strong breakaway that held off a charging peloton. Moving to Team dsm-firmenich, Van den Berg will aim to put that power to use as a valuable member of the squad.

Van den Berg expressed: “Team dsm-firmenich are a well-structured team, and I’m excited about the new surroundings and new people I’ll be working with, and I’ll also be re-united with some familiar faces. As a cyclist, I enjoy winning – either if that’s by myself crossing the line first or by helping the team to triumph. For me, the best thing is to collaborate with others to achieve a goal; that’s really fulfilling. I can help the younger guys with my own experience in positioning, while I also don’t mind pulling on the front and ensuring the guys arrive at the final as fresh as possible so we can compete for top results. I also like to try and keep the group tight knit, so I also aim to bring some encouragement and enjoyment off the bike to help with that.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna continued: “Julius is a really strong rider who knows what he wants and expects from not only himself, but those around him. He has a strong engine and will add a lot of horsepower to the engine room of our team. Julius will play an important role in support of our finishers and is someone who can help to control the race and create different race scenarios that will be in our favour as we hunt for more success next season.”

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