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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

Next race will be the Belgian one-day competition De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne on Wednesday, the 15th.

French Railway Wants to Prosecute Paris-Roubaix Riders

During Sunday's Paris-Roubaix the riders had to cross a set of train tracks just as the barriers were coming down with the approach of a TGV train (the race did have 10 track crossings). A tailwind caused the peloton to arrive at the crossing about 10 minutes ahead of the most optimistic schedule. This in spite of official's delaying the the race start 10 minutes because of that wind.

The front riders said it was impossible to stop given their speed of abut 37 km/hr and the closely packed fast-moving racers behind them. Not all riders went through, some were stopped. Later, the leaders were held up to allow the delayed riders to get back on.

"The riders in front could not stop in safe conditions. The second part of the peloton stopped," organisers said in a statement, explaining that the leaders had been just 10 meters away from the barriers when they started to go down. "Consequently, the commissaires and the organisers neutralised the first part of the peloton to facilitate a regroupment with the second part of the peloton."

Rider wait at level crossing

Riders wait at the level crossing while others head down the road. The delayed riders were allowed to rejoin the pack.

Cycling rules state that racers who go through a closing level crossing are to be penalized, but so far officials have declined to do so, in part because the names of all the riders who went through aren't known.

But that doesn't satisfy the French railway company SNCF. They have asked that the riders who went under the barrier "against all safety rules" to be prosecuted. "Millions of television viewers saw live this extremely serious and irresponsible action which could have been tragic," said the SNCF. "A few seconds later, a TGV ran on this line and could have hit the peloton."

Christian Prudhomme, director of both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France said he thought SNCF's request to be legitimate because the rules are clear, the crossing of a closed level railroad crossing is prohibited.

A Last Piece of News about Paris-Roubaix

The ongoing mondialization of the sport is an interesting and wonderful aspect of modern pro cycling. Professional racing used to be the sole property of western Europeans. The entry of North Americans was a slow, painful process. Now, Asian riders are beginning to be participants. This can only improve the sport by bringing in more high-quality riders fighting for victory.

Regarding the trend, this email came from Lampre-Merida:

The weekend of the Paris-Roubaix was not particulary profitable for the Team Lampre-Merida (61st place for Oliveira and 65th place for Pozzato, who also faced two punctures), but Chun Kai Feng gave pride to the blue-fuchsia-green team.

Lampre-Merida made history at the Hell of the North: Feng (photo Bettini) was the first Taiwanese cyclist to be at the start of the race at Compiegne. This was not merely a statistic data, since the interest from the media and the fans was really great: so many fans asked Feng to sign an autograph or to take a picture.

The exposure for the rider, the team and its sponsors was very high and in Asia the topic was very central: from Thursday to Sunday, two Taiwanese reporters, with the support of Zhao Haoyang (Lampre-Merida's Asia media manager) followed all the actions of Feng and the media replies were amazing.

Chun Kai Feng

Chun Kai Fen on Paris-Roubaix's cobbles

Feng had an article dedicated to him in the first page of the Chinese newspaper United Daily News whose circulation is 1,650,000 copies.

"This has been an outstanding experience for me and I'm very honoured to had received the opportunity to race the Paris-Roubaix - Feng explained - I learnt that in this race the most important things are the experience, the form and a little bit of luck: I'm not in the top condition because of a contusion on my knee that I suffered in a crash in Tour of Taiwan, I approached the early cobbled sectors in the rear part of the bunch and so I had to stop or to run in the fields in order to overtake the crashed riders.

I could not achieve the goal of reaching Roubaix, but I'd like to take part to the race again in the future in better form in order to try do obtain a better result: I learnt a lot from my team mates and the sport directors of the team".

Team reports ahead of Brabantse Pijl

This from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Next Wednesday’s La Flèche Brabançonne (French name for Brabantse Pijl) is the first real test for the Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders who want to perform during the Ardennes Classics over the upcoming weeks. Sports Director Merijn Zeeman wants his riders to be attentive in Belgian Brabant. “The riders who will start on Wednesday, have had different spring programs and this great race is a good opportunity for the group to get used to each other again,” Zeeman said.

“The course of La Flèche Brabançonne is never flat and with all the twisting and turning the race is quite explosive,” Zeeman continued. “We have to be really attentive and we have to do it as a team. Teamwork is what we’re going to need in the real Ardennes classics.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the race without a real leader. Zeeman expects a good performance by Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens and Wilco Kelderman though. The latter will be the card to play by the team in hilly classics.

Paul Martens, who finished fourth in the 2010 La Flèche Brabançonne, was ill last week. The German hopes to appear fully healthy at the start on Wednesday. “I was really sick. I could only lie on the couch and even that was very hard. I’m a little better now and I’ve been able to train properly on Tuesday, but I mustn’t make the mistake of trying to repair the damage too fast.”

Paul Martens

Paul Martens

The Ardennes Classics are the first main goal of the year for Martens. “Before I got sick, my condition was as expected. I will find out what it costs me on Wednesday. My ambition goes beyond finishing, but I know I cannot expect too much too soon.”

Team line-up: Brian Bulgac, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Nick van der Lijke, Paul Martens, Mike Teunissen & Kevin De Weert.

Sports Director: Merijn Zeeman.

Cult Energy sent this note about Brabantse Pijl:

Wednesday 15th of April, Cult Energy Pro Cycling take part of the 206 kilometer long, Flemish one-day race, Brabantse Pijl. The race is characterized by a severely hilly course where home turf favorites most often have prevailed. Last year’s winner, Philippe Gilbert is just the latest Belgian to win the race, which has been been on the calendar since 1961.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be making their fine tuning of form before the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday and Liege-Bastogne-Liege the following Sunday with this line-up: Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Martin Mortensen, Christian Mager, Karel Hnik, Alex Kirsch, Michael Reihs and Joel Zangerle.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

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