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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, July 31, 2015

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

Today's Racing

The 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal is on and continues through August 9th.

Today is the single-day 1.1-ranked Spanish race Circuito de Getxo.

The big dog looming on the calender is the Clasica San Sebastian, a World Tour ranked classic that will be run on Saturday, August 1st. And Sunday is the RideLondon & Surrey Classic.

Contador ends racing season

Alberto Contador had originally planned to make Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian his final race of the 2015 racing season, but illness forced him to cancel his appearance in the race.

The Spanish racer is not even going to rider late season criteriums. The team says his season is done. He is exhausted from his unsuccessful attempt to win the Giro d'Italia (which he won) and the Tour de France (where his was fifth) in the same season.

Alberto Contador

An exhausted Alberto Contador crashed in stage 17 of this year's Tour de France.

Contador is already planning on making another run at winning the Tour de France. He has also said he expects 2016 to be his last year as a bicycle racing professional.

Credit Suisse says world bike markets expanding

This report was from

ZURICH, Switzerland – The Credit Suisse Group, a renowned name in the financial sector, recently published reports on several companies operating in the bike industry. The reports point to an up-market shift as well as an expanding market.

One of the Credit Suisse reports says, “Bicycles are the most energy-efficient mode of transport. Global demand continues to grow as people become more concerned about health and the environment. The market is expanding in Europe, where many governments actively promote bicycle use for better health and to ease traffic congestion, and where cycling is a highly popular sport.”

On specific markets and regions the Credit Suisse reports speaks of, “Similar trends are supporting growth in bicycle demand in the US, Japan, other developed markets and emerging markets. The fact that bicycle ownership is strongly correlated with GDP also suggests that demand should rise over the medium and long term with the growth of emerging economies and the expansion of the middle class in countries worldwide.”

One of the Credit Suisse reports also notes that cycling is becoming a lifestyle which has a favourable impact on the industry. The financial specialist says, “Cycling is also an essentially individual pursuit. We believe this probably supports the ongoing shift up-market as well, since people can use cycling as a way of expressing individuality. This contrasts with automobiles designed for multiple people (families), which detract from such freedom of expression, and instead seem more like just a mode of transport.”

Furthermore Credit Suisse notes, “Unit prices for sports bikes exported from Taiwan are in an uptrend across all countries and regions. Taiwan commands roughly 70% of the market for sports bikes. Merida is guiding for 10-15% shipment growth to the US/EU this year. Giant is also projecting double-digit shipment growth for the US/EU like Shimano that sees a stronger than-expected demand recovery in Europe.”

For more bike industry news from

New drug hits cycling

This was in the July 30 New York Times:

Recent positive drug tests by two cyclists suggest there is a new, cutting-edge substance making its way to athletes looking for performance-enhancement: FG-4592, an experimental drug that increases production of red blood cells but has not yet been approved for human consumption.

Athletes have long found surreptitious means of obtaining banned performance-enhancing drugs, but with FG-4592, there actually may be a far more straightforward way — simply by ordering it from chemical-supply companies online.

And that, said Don Catlin, an expert on testing for banned substances, is something new to him. Athletes have gotten banned drugs from websites in China, he said, but what they receive is not always what they tried to order. The companies selling FG-4592 are not marketing it to athletes or individuals who want to take it; they emphasize that what they are selling is a chemical that is intended only for researchers.

But according to Catlin, a consultant on drug testing and former director of the U.C.L.A. lab that performs drug tests for the Olympics, that may not stop a determined athlete.

“What’s amazing to me is that it is out there for sale on the Internet,” Catlin said. This is in contrast with similar performance-enhancers such as erythropoietin, which likewise increases red cell production.

One of the cyclists accused of taking FG-4592, Fabio Taborre of Italy, was provisionally suspended on Monday after testing positive. The other, Carlos Oyarzun of Chile, was expelled from this month’s Pan American Games for the same reason.

Fabio Taborre

Fabio Taborre racing in the 2013 Giro d'Italia

Both cyclists’ suspensions were based on a single test; they are awaiting the results of a backup sample. Oyarzun has denied taking FG-4592.

In theory, FG-4592 is available only to participants in clinical trials being conducted by AstraZeneca and FibroGen. The drug is in the final stage of testing, but not approved for sale.

But at least three chemical-supply companies sell FG-4592. A person can simply go to a website, click on FG-4592, add it to a cart, pay with a credit card, and even get it sent via overnight delivery. The hitch, though, is that the buyer has to be a researcher.

Here's the entire article.

Van Garderen to ride Vuelta

This came from BMC:

Santa Rosa, California - Tejay van Garderen and Samuel Sánchez headline the BMC Racing Team's roster for the Vuelta a España, President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced Wednesday.

Van Garderen will make his first appearance in the Vuelta since 2010. He withdrew from the Tour de France last week due to illness while sitting third overall. Sánchez, runner-up at the Vuelta in 2009 and third in 2007, was the BMC Racing Team's top finisher at the Tour de France, in 12th place.

"Due to his illness and withdrawal from this year's Tour de France, we had an opportunity to reconsider what was best for Tejay in the coming months," Ochowicz said. "The management team supports Tejay's decision to participate in this year's Vuelta."

The three-week race begins August 22 with a 7.4-kilometer team time trial in Porto Banus. Van Garderen said he was initially hesitant about competing in the Vuelta, because it conflicts with the USA Pro Challenge, the race in Colorado he has won the past two years.

Tejay van Garderem

Van Garderen finishes stage 5 of this year's Dauphiné

"But after looking at the route and considering what happened at the Tour, all things just seemed to point in the direction that the Vuelta was the path to take," he said. "The more I have thought about it, the more excited I am about doing it. It is a great new challenge.

"This is 100 percent my decision. It would be nice to go out and try to win the USA Pro Challenge again. But after what happened at the Tour, I need to prove myself on a bigger scale."

Sánchez finished a BMC Racing Team-best sixth at last year's Vuelta. He announced last week that he signed a contract extension with the BMC Racing Team for the 2016 season.

"I think Samuel is going to be motivated to do his own GC (general classification) there," van Garderen said. "I definitely do not have time to prepare for it the same way I did for the Tour de france, doing the reconnaissance, etc. But I am absolutely going to show up motivated. I am not going to give anything away.

Among those joining Sánchez and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team's roster is Peter Velits, runner-up at the Vuelta a España in 2010, and 2014 Tour de France "most aggressive rider" Alessandro De Marchi.

Roster: Darwin Atapuma (COL), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sport Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Max Sciandri (ITA).

Tour of Poland Starts Sunday

This note about the Tour of Poland came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo embarks on the seven-stage Tour de Pologne as defending champions. For the 2015 edition, the squad eyes opportunities in the medium mountains of the second half of the World Tour race. Robert Kiserlovski and native talent Pawel Poljanski lead the team into action.

“Tour de Pologne is an unpredictable race, however we have to play our cards in the second part, where the road kicks up again and again”. Such is the assessment from Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Bruno Cenghialta, who will direct the squad during the 1,076 km race.

“It’s a good possibility for the guys to claim results, especially on stage 4, 5 and 6 after three days that will suit the sprinters. These stages feature many climbs of around five kilometers each, but if you add them up, we actually face 15-20 kilometers of climbing over the course of a short distance. We line up with Kiserlovski as our team captain flanked by Poljanski and also Jesper Hansen, who is very strong at the moment. We believe that it’s possible for them to do a good GC result”, adds Bruno Cenghialta.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Robert Kiserlovski, Pawel Poljanski, Jesper Hansen, Chris Anker Sørensen, Ivan Rovny, Evgeny Petrov and three-time Polish TT champion Maceij Bodnar, who returns to racing after his serious crash in California.

“We want to aim for a stage win in the later part of the race and our newly crowned Danish champion Chris Anker is also very motivated riding in his national colors for the first time. We will work out the final strategy for the very hilly stages, when we’ve passed the first three days according to who is going well and who holds the biggest chance in the classification keeping in mind the 25k TT on the final day”, tells Cenghialta before adding:

“In any case, we need to stay attentive, we will see a lot of attacks and it’s important to stay at the front to seize the opportunities as this is a race, where an aggressive approach can pay off. It will be a fast and unpredictable race and we enter it with a dedicated group, where many of them come fresh out of our Livigno altitude training camp”.

Chris Anker Sorensen

Chris Anker Sørensen (shown winning the 2015 Danish road champs) will be at the Tour of Poland

Co-captain Pawel Poljanski lines up at the start in Warsaw to ride the biggest race of his home country for the second time after having supported Rafal Majka to win the race in 2014.

“I also did Tour de Pologne last year, when my good friend and teammate Rafal Majka won the race. It’s the race of my country and that motivates me. I’m driven in all races but I can feel that I’m in good shape so I hope that I can do a top result or help my team to achieve one. After Tour of Austria in July, where I crashed before the deciding stage, I traveled directly to our altitude training camp and now I feel well rested and ready to continue a good streak that we started last year”, says Pawel Poljanski, who adds about the race:

“I remember last year, when we won the race and I have some great memories. We might not have Rafal in the squad this year, as he will be doing the Vuelta, but we have the same objectives. We have two initial leaders in Kiserlovski and me – and we will target the hard stages. We have the same tough terrain as last year and the TT will be decisive in the fight for the GC. If we want to win the race, we must take seconds on stage 4, 5 and 6 to have a margin before the TT in Krakow. We will see during the days, who of us has the biggest chance and then we will give our full support, while others might be able to go for a stage win”, concludes Pawel Poljanski.

And here are LottoNL-Jumbo's Tour of Poland plans:

Balanced LottoNL-Jumbo team for Tour de Pologne: LottoNL-Jumbo takes a team with several options to the Tour de Pologne on August 8. Sports Director Jan Boven sees chances for Tom Van Asbroeck, Robert Gesink, Martijn Keizer and Bert-Jan Lindeman in the first stage race after the Tour de France.

“It’s the first WorldTour race after the Tour de France,” Boven said. “That makes it difficult to predict the outcome. “Bram Tankink and Robert Gesink came out of the Tour de France team, and the other six trained in other ways. Bert-Jan Lindeman, Martijn Keizer, George Bennett and Dennis van Winden have been at altitude, while Rick Flens and Tom Van Asbroeck competed in small Belgian races.

“What’s possible? We’ll have to see it day by day in Poland.”

“The first three stages are quite flat,” Boven continued. “We have to be alert in those days. We have a fast man with Tom Van Asbroeck. He might be able to show off in the first stages. Dennis van Winden will be able to help him with his experience.

“Afterwards, there are some tough days. Bert-Jan Lindeman likes to race offensively and he will get enough space to do that. The general classification will be decided in those days, too. Robert Gesink is an important contender for the overall. The closing stage of the race is an individual time trial of 25 kilometres, a possible stage for Martijn Keizer.”

“That time trial is my main target,” Keizer said. “The distance is perfect for me and the profile of the stage isn’t very difficult. I already proved to be strong in individual time trials this season. It always depends on the day’s situation, but I delivered a good result in all of the time trials this season. I want to finish in the top fifteen.”

Martijn Keizer

Martijn Keizer will be at the Tour of Poland.

Line-up: Tom van Asbroeck, George Bennett, Rick Flens, Robert Gesink, Martijn Keizer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Bram Tankink and Dennis van Winden.

Sports directors: Jan Boven and Mathieu Heijboer

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