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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 19, 2023

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2023 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter. - Denis Diderot

Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Rui Costa signs with EF Education-EasyPost

Here's the team's announcement:

The Portuguese rider is as motivated as ever to race for victories
Former road cycling world champion and winner of the 2023 edition of the Japan Cup, Rui Costa will join EF Education-EasyPost in 2024.

Rui Costa wins the 2023 Japan Cup road race.

Having won one-day races, stages, and general classifications in his 17 professional seasons, the Portuguese rider can adapt to a variety of race situations and terrains. Rui has more than 30 wins to his name, including 16 victories in WorldTour races and four grand tour stage wins. He has had an especially strong 2023, opening the year with a win at Trofeo Calvia back in January and closing it off with a sprint victory at his first appearance at Japan Cup earlier this week.

At 37 years old, Rui will be one of the more experienced riders on the roster. While he is keen to mentor the rookies on the team, he is equally eager to learn himself.

“Everyone, including myself, can grow alongside the younger riders. I am growing every year, learning despite my age. It’s true that I like to help but I also like to learn and improve,” Rui says.

That mindset has helped Rui become the accomplished rider he is today.

“It’s a passion. I’ve been a professional for about 17 years already and I’m still as excited now as I was 15 years ago when cycling was everything to me,” he says. “Motivation is something that grows as you live cycling. I want to get better every year and this year, with EF Education-EasyPost, I’ve heard very good things about the Cannondale bikes so I think I’m going to be on the right bike to improve.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Rui continues, “The goals are to keep adding, to keep winning. To start this season by winning, to finish winning, that brings me extra motivation for next year. I want to keep going in the same direction. That’s my objective.”

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Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters sees Rui’s zeal for winning.

“A rider like Rui, who has been racing in the WorldTour for so many years, knows how to win,” Vaughters says. “What’s more, he knows how to translate near-wins into wins. His experience will be a powerful asset to this team. We have a handful of riders making their WorldTour debut next year, and Rui will be an invaluable mentor to them.”

When choosing to sign with EF Education-EasyPost, Rui considered more than just racing opportunities. He found the team’s international identity, including both riders and staff, immensely appealing.

“This is a very interesting team, a team that I have followed since I was young,” he says. “It has always been a team that has caught my attention. You learn so much from cycling. Above all, you learn about other cultures. You learn from other cultures. That’s very interesting because you go to so many different countries and within the team you have friends and teammates from so many different nationalities. To talk with friends from other cultures, for me, is one of the best parts of cycling. I love getting to know cultures well.”

Though Rui couldn’t imagine any other career for himself today, cycling wasn’t his first sport growing up.

“I started in athletics and I did two years of running but my father was always a cycling fan. He always wanted us to be cyclists, my brother and I. When we were about 11 years old, the opportunity arose to join a team close to home. Once we started cycling, that was it. There was no going back.”

As he progressed through the ranks, his family have always been his biggest fans.

“I have a wife and a son who is going to have his eighth birthday in November. He loves to ride his bike, absolutely loves it. Sometimes I’m feeling tired but my son comes to me and we go ride bikes. I think that’s something very important, for kids to have sports. Whenever I can, I will always go out on the bike with my son.”

Rui will spend the offseason chasing his son on the bike and there may be a family vacation at some point, but his priority is simply to be with his family through the winter.

“When I am at home, my mind is already calm. To rest physically, yes, but also mentally it is very important to unload everything, to have a reset, so that later you can return with enthusiasm,” he notes.

“I’m looking forward to next year and integrating into the team. We’ll go for some good results and start motivated, which is the most important thing.”

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Team Jumbo-Visma signs Bart Lemmen for two years

Here’s the team’s news:

Team Jumbo-Visma has added a 27th rider to its World Tour squad for next year with the signing of Bart Lemmen. The former military officer has signed a two-year contract. Lemmen joins from Human Powered Health and recently celebrated his 28th birthday.

The Dutchman has only spent one season in the professional ranks but has impressed the people at Jumbo-Visma. CEO Richard Plugge's team has good experience with riders who have taken atypical routes to the top level of cycling. Tests and interviews have convinced the team that Lemmen is a strong rider who can hold his own in the WorldTour peloton.

"We are very excited to see how he will develop as he gets to know our training programme", says sportive director Merijn Zeeman, who believes in his compatriot's potential. "Bart has only recently started cycling as an elite sport. Before that, he did intensive military training and combined cycling with a demanding job in defence. That was the trigger for us. Despite little training and coaching, he has shown interesting things in races, and his physical values show tremendous potential."

Lemmen is excited about the opportunity. "I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my atypical cycling career. At the beginning of the year, going from being an Air Force officer to a full-time professional cyclist was quite a change. Over the past few months, I've made great strides physically and in adjusting to life as a professional athlete. It's great that it's paying off and that Team Jumbo-Visma sees my potential. I am proud to have the chance to give it my all over the next two seasons, and I am confident that it will be a success. I look forward to achieving results with the team and developing as much as possible as a rider.

Lemmen has good credentials, especially in time trials and on hilly courses. "The development process with the team will show where I can be of most value. I expect it to be an excellent voyage of discovery. I am looking forward to working with the team in preparation and the races", Lemmen concludes.

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Team dsm-firmenich signs three new riders for its women’s program

Here’s the team’s news:

A mix of youth and experience, Team dsm-firmenich are thrilled to announce that Rachele Barbieri, Josie Nelson and Abi Smith will join their Women’s program as of next season, strengthening their roster across the board. Barbieri and Nelson will wear the team’s jersey through to the 2026 season while Smith has a contract with the team through 2025.

Rachele Barbieri:
Hailing from Pavullo nel Frignano in Italy, Barbieri has had a good career so far on both the road and track, using her fast-finishing abilities to great effect. Back in 2017, she won the Scratch race event at the track World championships in Hong Kong and has since won gold medals at the European championships in both the madison and omnium events, alongside a handful of other medals too.

Rachele Barbieri

Transitioning and focusing more and more on the road in recent years, Barbieri has taken two pro wins so far: a stage at the Fryslân Tour and victory at the one-day race of Omloop der Kempen, producing two strong sprint finishes. This year has seen her pick up more good results, with several top five finishes at races such as Scheldeprijs and Veenendaal-Veenendaal. Utilising her track skills, Barbieri can position and handle herself well at the head of the peloton in those hectic moments; an ability and skill that she will look to bring to the team.

Barbieri expressed: “I’ve really admired the team from the outside for a long time, they all seem confident in each other which is great. Everyone works really hard for one goal and that makes me really excited to become a part of the team as I love helping my teammates to reach their goals and really appreciate it then when they help me. I’m looking forward to joining the sprint group and helping Charlotte in the finales. I’m ready to change a lot on the bike and learn from all of the staff and experts in the team as best as I can so I can improve even more as a rider. I have big dreams and ambitions still and I think that at Team dsm-frimenich all of the support and resources are available for me to help realise them. I’m excited and happy to have the opportunity and can’t wait to meet my teammates.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Rachele brings her years of experience in competing within the sport to our Women’s program. She has shown that she is a good sprinter in her own right and can finish off races, but she also is a very capable lead-out rider too. We see her fitting in very well to the lead-out and sprint group that we have in our Women’s program where she can act as the last rider when we have Charlotte as our finisher, but Rachele will also get some opportunities too. She’s also a really open and honest person, who is pretty straight-up about what she thinks, and she has a character that we think will fit in well with our team.”

Josie Nelson:
Multi-discipline rider Nelson focused mostly on cyclocross during her junior career but has transitioned more and more to road racing since stepping up to the elites. Transferring those good bike handling skills and punchy nature, it is no surprise that Nelson finds herself at home on the short climbs and hectic racing of the classics or similar parcours. 2021 saw some solid results before a stand-out performance at the British national championships road race where she took an impressive second place in Lincoln, behind Pfeiffer Georgi. Last year Nelson continued her development, winning the British national championships criterium, alongside a string of top results in the national series. An under the radar fourth place on the queen stage at the Tour of Scandinavia hints at her uphill potential, and her abilities as a puncheur were further shown this season with a fourth place at the Cadel Road Race.

Nelson said: “I like the way the team takes on young riders and develops them. This was a really important factor for me as I know I still have a lot to learn on and off the bike. I am looking forward to the challenges of stepping up to a WWT team and having the support to grow as a rider. I see myself as a classics rider or a climber but I don’t want to close any doors yet. I still need to find my strengths and race style and the best way this contributes to the team. Over the next few years I want to have helped the team achieve some good results and to have developed myself as a rider. I have already achieved a few good WWT results, but I want to be more consistent in my racing. I bring some flexibility to the team in terms of what type of rider I can be and I have already raced in a lot of WWT races so I come in with a bit of experience too which I aim to build on at Team dsm-firmenich.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna continued: “Josie is a talented rider and has showed she is capable of performing on a variety of terrain; from mountain top finishes at Scandinavia Tour, to winning the British criterium championships, to finishing top five at Cadel Evans race. She is still very young, and we have signed her for several years to allow her the time to grow in a measured way. Looking at her skillset long-term, we believe that she can grow into a rider that can potentially compete in the finals of hilly one day races, but in the immediate future she will also be able to provide strong support in those type of races too; supporting the team’s finishers in a good way.”

Abi Smith:
A former triathlete at a younger age, Abi decided that racing on two-wheels was the discipline that she enjoyed most and switched full time to cycling. Progressing through the sport in the juniors, she made the step up to elite racing in 2021 with some solid results that included a win at the tough Rás na mBan and an impressive third in the U23 time trial at the British Championships. 2022 saw her gain WorldTour level experience, riding in some of the toughest races on the calendar such as Itzulia Women, Women’s Tour and the Giro d’Italia Donne, before going on to take the win at The Ryedale Grand Prix at the end of the year in a solo breakaway. This season has seen illness and injury plight her campaign but a tenth overall at the Tour Down Under and fifth in the national U23 time trial highlight her potential for the future.

Smith expressed: “What attracted me initially to the team was their professionalism and structured approach, which I believe will work well for me as a rider. It is also clear to me that there is a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the squad – in my opinion the best in the peloton – which I can’t wait to be a part of. The goal for the next few years is to continue my learning and development as a rider. By taking full advantage of the facilities and resources here at Team dsm-firmenich I hope to work on both my strengths and my weaknesses to maximise my potential. I really want to be a useful asset to the team and find where I can help our leaders in the best possible way. Of course, the goal with the team for the next few years is to win as many races as we can; I can’t wait to ride with the squad.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna concluded: “Abi has a very big engine but has suffered from setbacks in the previous seasons, such as catching Covid-19 on almost back-to-back occasions which of course hampered her development, or an injury that she has recently recovered from. Aside from her potential against the clock, we think that Abi can develop into an all-round rider with the team. She can use her power to help control and catch the breakaway to set-up a sprint for example, but she also can climb well, so can be an important factor deeper into races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège so that we have more numbers in the finale. Of course, she is still young so we will take things step-by-step but we’re looking forward to working with Abi in the coming years.”

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