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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

July 3rd sees the start of the Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy).

On July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin.

Sky to end cycling sponsorship in 2016

LONDON, July 1 (Reuters) - British Cycling's partnership with broadcaster Sky will end in 2016 after eight extraordinary years which led to a golden run of Olympic success, two Tour de France champions and put a cynical public back on two wheels.

The split, confirmed on Wednesday, will have no impact on pro cycling outfit Team Sky, which hopes to be celebrating another Tour win for Briton Chris Froome in Paris later this month.

"British Cycling and Sky will remain firm friends and part with great mutual affection, having achieved amazing things together," British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said in a statement.

"The last 10 years have been brilliant for our sport -- our membership and participation in cycle sport continues to grow, we've encouraged over 1.7 million people to cycle regularly with even more starting all the time and we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of cycling heroes."

Team Sky at the Dauphine

Team Sky at the Dauphiné

Sky's sponsorship of British Cycling began just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was renewed in 2012 for a further four years amid a surge in popularity for the sport.

Team Sky has become one of the heavyweights of world cycling with its budget and infrastructure the envy of many, yet when it began as Sky ProCycling in 2009 and team principal Dave Brailsford promised a first British Tour de France champion, few believed it would actually happen.

The doubters were quickly silenced when Bradley Wiggins wore the yellow jersey through to Paris in 2012 and Froome followed a year later.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Britain dominated in the velodrome and on the road, winning eight cycling golds, two silvers and two bronzes.

However, it is the impact of British Cycling's relationship with the broadcaster on recreational and club cycling that has proved most spectacular.

According to British Cycling, 1.7 million more people than in 2008 are now cycling regularly, while 1.2 million have taken part in mass participation events called Sky Rides, Sky Ride Locals or Breeze rides since 2009.

Membership of British Cycling has expanded from 21,000 in January 2008 to more than 111,000 in June 2015 and 2,034 clubs are now affiliated to the national governing body.

"The partnership with Sky since 2008 is an important part of that story. Sky gave British Cycling the platform from which to communicate the best of the sport and, through British Cycling, Sky has delivered lasting and positive change," Drake added.

Sky said it would help the governing body find a new partner from 2017 and would continue to run Team Sky

Appollonio positive for EPO

AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) The International Cycling Union says Italian rider Davide Appollonio has tested positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO.

The UCI says Appollonio is provisionally suspended pending a disciplinary case.
Appollonio rides for the second-tier Androni Giocattoli team which is not entered in the Tour de France that starts on Saturday.

The team announced last year that riders signed contracts agreeing to pay fines of 100,000 euros ($110,000) plus compensation if they were caught doping.

The UCI says the 26-year-old Appollonio tested positive in a sample taken during training on June 14.

He previously rode for the top-tier Sky and Ag2r-La Mondiale teams.

Davide Appollonio

Davide Appollonio in 2013 at the Giro d'Italia

Bicycle manufacturer Minerva bankrupt

This unfortunate news was posted on

PAAL-BERINGEN, Belgium – Bicycle manufacturer Minerva was declared bankrupt on June 25, 2015 by the Commercial Court in Limburg (Belgium). CEO Peter Bruggeman filed for bankruptcy. The cause is an accumulation of setbacks after high investments in new premises in 2013. 16 people were employed by Minerva.

Three years ago Minerva invested in a new building with a large warehouse near the E313 highway. “We have invested in our new headquarters and warehouse to be ready for the future,” said CEO Peter Bruggeman. “But at the same time it brought a substantial increase in costs. This, along with a disappointing season in 2013 in terms of sales results due to a cold spring, is the basis of the bankruptcy.”

After that it became a downward spiral with setback after setback. Bruggeman explains, “Unfortunately we had to deliver the 2014 model year of Minerva bikes a few months late because of problems with the paint supplier. As a result we had a lot of stock in the winter of 2014-2015. The consequence is that all your money is in stock, which withholds you from investing in other brands and products, which your customers need. What you see happening then is that customers’ confidence is lost.”

Minerva NV produced a range of city/trekking bikes under the brand name Minerva, and had introduced in early 2014 its own brand Scoppio for race bikes. The Belgian producer/importer had also e-bikes in their range; Minerva was the exclusive distributor of E Move. “With E Move we had already stopped in November 2014, in consultation with the FDC Invest/EBD, the provider of E Move,” says Bruggeman.

The rest of the story is posted on

Orica-GreenEdge Tour de France plans

I got this note from the team today:

ORICA-GreenEDGE will start Le Tour de France this Saturday with a nine-man squad full of winning prospects across the three-week race.Starting in Utrecht, the peloton will race two days in Holland and two in Belgium before crossing over to France to complete the 21stage, 3360km Grand Tour that concludes with the traditional final stage on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday, 26 July.

In its fourth Tour de France, sport director Matt White said the Australian outfit has more cards to play than ever before.

“This is the most well rounded and balanced team we have ever sent to a Grand Tour,” White said. “We have a lot of opportunities right throughout the three weeks, where as at Tour’s in the past we haven’t had guys who can win high mountain stages.”

“The goal for us is stage victories and because of the quality of this team, everyone will be given a chance to win a stage. With so many options right across the board, the month ahead is a pretty exciting prospect.”

Two-time Tour de France stage winner Simon Gerrans and two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Michael Matthews will provide options for ORICA-GreenEDGE on the various punchy stages.

Simon Gerrans

Simon Gerrans in pink after stage 1 of this year's giro d'Italia

After a tough start to the season, Gerrans will line up in his tenth Tour de France in peak form, whilst Matthews is chomping at the bit to make his debut having been forced to withdraw in the days leading up to last year’s race due to injuries sustained in a training crash.

“Even though it has been an unfortunate year injury wise for Simon, the build up he has had over these last two months has been pretty ideal,” White said. “He is ready to roll and since this teams inception has been one of our most reliable athletes, we have our eyes on some suitable targets for him.”

“And Michael is certainly ready for the Tour de France after last year’s false start. The goal for him is to win a stage and there are good opportunities right throughout the Tour for him. The green jersey, despite much hype, is not on our agenda this year.”

Critical support for the duo and winners in their own right, two-time 2015 Tour de Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini and 2013 Maillot Jaune wearer Daryl Impey complete a dynamic quartet.

“Michael and Daryl are two guys that are very similar in character and ability,” White said. “Both are guys who can take opportunities to win for themselves but they also are very crucial for the team, especially for the likes of Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans.”

The inclusion of British twins Adam and Simon Yates is what gives ORICA-GreenEDGE a new edge to their sword. In just their second year as professionals Adam, the 2014 Tour of Turkey champion, and Simon, recent winner of the white young rider’s jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine, have proven they can mixed it with the world’s best climbers.

Despite general classification targets in week-long Tours, the pair will focus purely on stage wins at this year’s Tour de France.

“I think it would be pretty irresponsible for us to put pressure on 22-year-olds, as second year pros, to ride general classification at the Tour de France,” White said. “For both of them, it’s the first Tour de France they are aiming on finishing and so the plan is to gain more experience at the highest level in our sport.”

“What they have proven this year is that they have the ability to be very competitive on a lot of varied terrains and against the best riders in the world. We are aiming to win a stage with them. If they can hunt out the right move, then on any given day they certainly have the ability to win.”

A knowledgeable head in 2005 Tour de France stage winner Pieter Weening will provide support to the duo, and the entire team. “What Pieter gives us is a lot of experience,” White said. “He is a very versatile athlete, he has won at the Tour de France ten years ago so he knows what it’s like to taste success here and has more recent wins at the Giro d’Italia over the last couple of years.”

“He is a winner in his own right, but he gives us an older head around our two young Yates brothers.

Wrapping up the nine-rider squad are two powerhouse riders in Canadian Svein Tuft and Australian Luke Durbridge, who will put in an incredible workload for the team.

“If someone had told me in the last week of April that Svein would be ready for the Tour de France I would have been surprised,” White said. His has been a very different preparation than in previous years, but hats off to him, the way he has gone about his comeback from a pretty traumatic injury, to even be on the start line and ready to race the Tour is a big achievement.“

“Like Svein, Luke plays a big role in a lot of what we do. He is a big workhorse and we will be relying on him throughout the Tour to help others get the job done. He will also get opportunities to get down the road himself.”

Christa Skelde resigns as manager of Cult Energy Pro Cycling

The team sent me this report:

The Danish Pro Continental team, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Christa Skelde has resigned as manager after seven years as the leading figure of the Danish squad. Christa Skelde has been the driving force in various work fields within the team and she has been working tirelessly to create the best conditions possible for young Danish talents in every aspect of life. The resignation comes after a year of hard work finding the financial capital needed in order to keep running a Pro Continental team.

Christa Skelde says: “Besides coordinating my usual managerial responsibilities, I have been working very hard on co-sponsor solutions for our team. So hard that my body has been sending clearer and clearer warning signs. After a medical examination last week, the doctor advised me to let go of all work-related responsibilities to prevent further stress and to allow body and mind to recover. Naturally, it’s emotionally frustrating to let go of my team responsibilities leaving the team and people who have been a big part of my life in the past decade. But after a discussion with Michael, I have made the only sound decision there is to follow the doctor’s orders.”

The Cult Energy Pro Cycling administration will join forces and will try to lift the workload that Christa so effectively has managed in the past seven years until a solid and permanent successor is found. The biggest challenge now is to find the co-sponsor the team depends on in order to be able to continue as a professional cycling team this year and in the years to come.

Founder and owner of Cult, Brian Sørensen says: "I'm deeply sorry about Christa's resignation. She has been our close partner for several years now and I for one know how much she loves the sport, cares about team and the well-being of every single of her riders over the years. At the same time, she has always been a trustworthy and loyal partner with a respectful decency in all aspects and in all decisions we have made together. In my eyes, she is one of the unsung heroes in Danish cycling and it's going to be some pretty big shoes to fill for her successor. We will keep working hard to find a co-sponsor solution and we will remain open for all opportunities in order to keep the strongest Danish cycling team on the road for the years to come," concludes Brian Sørensen.

The Danish squad fell short of finances after losing its co-sponsor just before the start of the season and now pleads outside sponsors for donations to complete the 2015 season.

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