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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

You don't suffer, kill yourself and take the risks I take just for money. I love bike racing. - Greg LeMond

Grand Tour news, Tour de France for sale?

Milano Finanza has a couple of related reports regarding the Grand Tours. First, RCS Group, owner of the Giro d'Italia, is financially troubled and as we reported November 12, the company could be selling some of its iconic races, including the Giro, Milano-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico. This would relieve RCS of some of its enormous 440-million Euro debt. RCS's stock price has hit a record low on the Milano Stock Exchange. So far RCS has denied that the races are for sale.

Meanwhile, it is also thought RCS could be looking for a strategic partner to invest in the company and such an investor could be China's Wanda Sports Group.

Milano Finanza also reports that the owner of the Wanda Sports group, Wang Jianlin, has big ambitions. He is said to want to buy ASO (owner of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and l'Equipe) and RCS. He has already taken over the Ironman Triathlon company (for more than a half-billion dollars!) and has acquired a twenty-percent interest in the Spanish Atletico Madrid soccer club for 40-million Euros.

Wang Jianlin can probably just write checks for these great cycling businesses, since Forbes estimates his net worth at almost 30 billion dollars. He is the richest man in China.

Henri Desgrange

Henri Desgrange (center), father of the Tour de France, with Tour great André Leducq. I am sure he could never imagine a world so changed that a Chinese billionaire would be considering buying his race.

Lotto-Soudal riders get lab tests

Since November, the new establishment of Energy Lab Ghent is open to the public. In the Ghelamco Arena, Lotto Soudal riders do physical tests to see how good their form is. As usual, the riders do a fitness test on the bicycle but they also get a Dexa scan so their body is mapped completely. Based on these results, the riders get an individual training programme for the upcoming weeks. Wim Van Hoolst, Energy Lab coach and physical coach of Lotto Soudal, led the tests and gave professional comments.

The most important test is the fitness test on the bicycle. During this test the resistance is progressively increased each five minutes. At the end of every effort, a small blood sample is taken so the concentration of lactate can be measured. On the basis of the amount of lactate there is in the blood at a certain effort, the coach can perfectly determine the wattage, rhythm, heart rate, fatigue rate, lactate production, endurance, intensive endurance and maximal wattage during and after this test.

Wim Van Hoolst, Energy Lab: “The riders get to undergo a condition test three times in one season; at the beginning of December, at the beginning of January and once during the season before an important race or period. We do three tests because the condition of the riders improves a lot during December; this can differ 10 to 40 watt. All the riders start at 100 watt and every five minutes we increase the resistance with 40 watt. Each five minutes, a blood sample is taken to measure the amount of lactate. At the end of the test, we have a perfect view of the riders’ form and when they begin to produce lactate. Afterwards, we analyse the results and determine the heart rate zones and wattage zones. The riders can work with these figures during their training rides.”

“A professional athlete has an aerobe threshold, anaerobe threshold and maximal performance wattage of around 4, 5 and 6 watt per kilogram body mass. On the basis of these values, the different heart rate zones can be calculated for all the training types. The results are always discussed with the riders. Also the heart rate and power zones get adjusted in the training schedule. Most Lotto Soudal riders are individually followed by Energy Lab and corrected when necessary. Some riders have their own coach, in such a situation there’s a joint meeting to determine the training schedule so that every rider of the team can be followed daily.”

Tiesj Benoot: “In the past, I didn’t look forward to these tests, but now it’s better. I’m very interested in the scientific explanation behind the test results and spend the necessary attention to it. As a professional rider, you need to know what your body can do. These tests give a good view of that and they are an indicator for the coming season. As a young rider, it’s nice to compare the current tests with those from the past; every year I do better and this proves that the hard work pays off. In cooperation with my personal trainer, Energy Lab follows what I’m doing and together they determine my training schedule for the upcoming weeks. During the training camp in December, we make sure that we train in those wattage and heart rate zones during the training rides. Without these tests, we wouldn’t train perfectly when we have to do power intervals or intensive training rides. The current cycling gets more scientifically and because of this, these tests are crucial.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Bennot

Almost all the Lotto Soudal riders did their test in Energy Lab Paal, Ghent and Eindhoven. With their adjusted training zones, the riders can start working during the training camp in Mallorca. The foreign riders – Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Rafael Valls, Tomasz Marczynski and Tony Gallopin – will be tested during the first day of the training camp.

2014 global cycling market valued at 35.7 billion Euros

This news came from Bike-Eu:

PARIS, France – A recent survey on the global cycling market by the Paris based NPD Group, a provider of consumer and retail market research information for a wide range of industries, revealed the € 35.7 billion size (USD 47.4 billion) of the 2014 worldwide bike market at retail level, after VAT.

The scope of the NPD market research covers bicycles of all categories, including e-bikes as well as kid bikes. Also P&A sales, footwear and cycling apparel is included in the close to € 36 billion value at retail after VAT. Exchange rate USD/€ for the study is 1.33 USD for 1 euro.

The survey estimates that, around the world, 133.1 million bicycles (including e-bikes) were sold last year. The total value of that sale at retail level stood, according to the survey, at € 25.4 billion. Average sales price per bike was calculated at € 191. Sales of P&A as well as repair and rental services are valued at € 10.3 billion. Apparel and footwear sales value stood at € 2.2 billion. according to NPD.

According to the NPD study the bike market in 2014 increased by +1.8% in value compared to 2013 which was estimated at a total value of € 35.1 billion. Europe (including Russia) is not only setting the trends but is also the world’s biggest market. In 2014 all cycling sales in Europe is estimated to account for a total value of € 12.8 billion which is 36% of the estimated value of the global cycling market.

There's more here.

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