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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, March 19, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We're covering one race today, the Italian HC ranked GP Nobili Rubinetterie.

Battery Technology Breathrough Works for eBikes

I believe every car kilometer (or mile) not driven is a victory for not only the human race, but also for the entire planet. Every person on a bike or eBike does his planet much good. So, when I read that a battery technology breakthrough will make eBikes not only lighter, but able to travel much farther on a charge, I had to share the news with you, my readers.

The story was in and you can read the entire story by clicking on the link. But here is the short version and I quote shamelessly from the article.

The British company Oxis Energy Ltd. is developing an innovative Lithium Sulfur battery chemistry which is to revolutionize the rechargeable battery market.
‘Lithium Sulfur cells are the next generation of battery technology, surpassing Lithium-ion which is reaching the limit of its potential. The major gain with Lithium Sulfur (Li-S) batteries would be the energy density. Oxis patented Li-S technology has, as the company claims, "A theoretical energy density 5 times greater than Li-ion. The Oxis patented Li-S technology is lighter, safer and maintenance free, and ready to meet the demands of tomorrow." The fact that Li-S batteries are lighter and possibly cheaper than the lithium batteries used now makes them a perfect fit for e-bikes. But they have more very interesting features for electric bicycles.

Current technology gives Lithium batteries about 165 watt-hours per kilogram. By 2016, the firm believes it will be able to put a 400 watt/kg battery into production. In other words, a lighter and vastly more powerful battery would be available, making eBikes far more useful.

A lower battery weight is obviously an advantage for any electric bikes. But there's more as sulfur is a by-product of oil refining. This could make Li-S battery types less expensive than batteries that have rare metals like cobalt. Another promise is in the Oxis claim that the Li-S battery can be fully discharged without damage. This is not possible with conventional lithium batteries, which have to be stored with a 30 to 80% charge. Otherwise their storage capacity quickly diminishes.

Oxis says further, "Lithium Sulfur cells are the next generation of battery technology, surpassing Lithium-ion which is reaching the limit of its potential."

Lance Armstrong Meets with USADA

Lance Armstrong met with Travis Tygart, the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency last week, according to the Associated Press. The meeting was said to have been six hours long.

The AP reports: "The meeting was the first between Armstrong and Tygart since late 2012. The two have publicly sparred since the agency's investigation into doping by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team led to Armstrong's ban and his being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

"Tygart has said that despite Armstrong's public confessions to performance-enhancing drugs use, he had to meet with USADA to have any chance of reducing his ban, which also covers sanctioned triathlons, marathons and other sports Armstrong enjoys. Tygart did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment. Armstrong's attorney, Elliot Peters, declined comment.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong at the 2010 Tour of Flanders

"Armstrong previously met twice with European officials investigating doping in cycling. The meeting with Tygart came after the March 8 release of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission report that seemed to question Armstrong's lifetime ban but stopped short of recommending it be reduced.

"The CIRC report noted the ''striking difference'' between the lifetime ban on Armstrong and punishments of six months handed to other riders who were also caught cheating. But it also noted that Armstrong deserved a ''harsh sanction'' and that some reduced penalties could be justified for riders who cooperated with USADA's initial investigation, which Armstrong did not."

Armstrong faces other challenges. In the federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by Floyd Landis and later joined by the US Government, the US Government is trying to recover the $40 million it paid to Armstrong and his team. It is said total damages could be as high as $100 million. Whooweee!

The AP also notes that Armstrong has gone back to referring to himself as 7-time Tour de France winner. Am I the only one that really, really bothers?

Lotto-Soudal Happy With Nokere Koerse

Last year’s edition of Nokere Koerse was won by Kenny Dehaes. Today, Kris Boeckmans won the 70th edition. He sprinted rather easily to his third victory of the season.

It lasted two hours before there was a breakaway. It consisted of five Belgians. The escapees had a maximum gap of five minutes. They couldn’t stand a chance against the chasing peloton. The breakaway got caught in the eight local laps. Also a new attempt of four riders to form a breakaway couldn’t prevent a bunch sprint. Very strong preparation work of the Lotto Soudal team was finished perfectly by leading man Kris Boeckmans. Justin Jules and Scott Thwaites finished second and third at several yards. This is already the third win for Boeckmans this season.

Kris Boeckmans: “As a WorldTour team it was our plan to take control of the race and strive for the victory. We kept control during the race and the team kept me in the front of the peloton. Tiesj Benoot and Kenny Dehaes rode a perfect lead out in the final kilometre. Thanks to them I could win my third one of the season. This win is good for my confidence. I hope to keep this shape until Sunday and be good in La Primavera. The days before the race my role in the team will become clear. But I will be satisfied if I can I ride on the same level like to today.”

Nokere Koerse Race Notes from Cult Energy

Today, a Cult Energy Pro Cycling delegation was in action in the 197.7 kilometer long Belgium one-day race, Nokere Koerse, where several breakaway attempts were threatening the sprinters throughout the race. Including CULT Energy's Alex Kirsch. However, the race was concluded in a frantic bunch sprint on a cobbled finish line where Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) drew the longest straw and where Mads Pedersen took the role as captain.

Kris Boeckmans wins Nokere Koerse

Kris Boeckmans wins this year's Nokere Koerse

The initial breakaway consisting of Alphonse Vermote (Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), David Boucher (FDJ), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), and Dieter Bouvry (Roubaix Lille Metropole) was caught with 50 kilometers remaining. The sprinter teams were then forced to react on a series of counter-attacks and one of the most fierce moves was launched by Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Alex Kirsch. The final escapee was swept up on the very final of 8 laps on the local circuit in Nokere.

From then on, the pace was increased and on the final 15 kilometers, the bunch was stretched out and significantly slimmed down due to the intense battle for position on the front. Entering the cobbled uphill finish, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s 19-year-old Mads Pedersen lost an otherwise solid position and had to re-gain contact with the front of the bunch but never made it in the top-10.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling DS, Luke Roberts comments: “As expected, it was a fast race but a pretty big bunch took on the final lap on the local circuit. As the bunch rocketed under the final kilometer kite, the road became narrow and gaps were made, which lead to Mads’ loss of position and he never had a clear run towards the finish line. Overall I’m happy about the effort but naturally disappointed about the result as our goal was the podium,” says Roberts after the race.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Mads Pedersen states: "I broke my bike during the race close to the finish so I spent en entire lap bridging the gap to the front and when I finally made it back up to the tail of the peloton, the bunch exploded and I had to spent another lap bridging to the front group. It's not an excuse, it's just the way it was. I'm feeling strong and this really gives me an appetite for more so I'm looking forward to the races this weekend, says Pedersen.

Last Thoughts About Tirreno-Adriatico

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Maciej Bodnar finishes Tirreno-Adriatico off with a 5th place in the final time trial behind winner Fabian Cancellara. After a week of racing and a consistent team effort, the GC was concluded with Alberto Contador taking 5th behind overall winner Quintana, while Roman Kreuziger rode his way into the top ten. Peter Sagan was awarded the red jersey as the winner of the point’s classification.

Tuesday, the “Race of the Two Seas” had forced its way across the Italian peninsula and was set for a final showdown between the GC riders and the time trialists respectively. The 10k pancake flat TT was dominated by the powerful riders with Maciej Bodnar clocking in the fifth fastest time. Following the stage, the strong Pole noted that he was happy with his performance at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I finished off well today with a fifth place, which is a good result for me, since I’m normally better in time trials a bit longer than we had today. Overall, I feel that I’ve worked well for the team this week at Tirreno-Adriatico”, says Maciej Bodnar and elaborates: “I feel confident about my current shape and it will be exciting to start looking ahead to the next important races, such as the Classics. I have seen some good teamwork and I’m also confident that the team will perform well in the next races”.

Maciej Bodnar had the best time for a while during Tuesday’s TT before Adriano Malori and ultimately Fabian Cancellara overtook him by 16 seconds, with Kiryienka and Castroviejo squeezing themselves in between. Among the GC riders, Alberto Contador rode the second fastest time crossing the finish line in San Benedetto del Tronto in 16th place. Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Steven de Jongh was pleased with the performance.

Maciej Bodnar

Maciej Bodnar leads the pack in the 2013 Milano-San Remo

“Today was a good performance by the team. Alberto retained his 5th place and did a good time trial compared to his GC rivals. I think he can be happy with how he finished off. Also, Roman rode well and made his way into the top ten, which is especially important in a World Tour race. The TT was flat but intense and not ideal for GC guys, but luckily they all rode under the same circumstances. Bodnar and Chris Juul-Jensen did a strong ride and clocked in some good times”, comments Steven de Jongh, who adds: “Now it’s all about recovery. Some of the guys are heading to Milano-San Remo and Alberto will start looking ahead to Volta a Catalunya, which is his next goal”.

The fluorescent yellow of Tinkoff-Saxo was more often than not visible at the front of the field during the Italian stage race. Steven de Jongh notes that the team took responsibility in an effort to set up Peter Sagan or Alberto Contador.

“We have had a strong team riding for both Alberto in the GC and for Peter’s chances on the flatter stages. So we had to take control at the front like we did on stage 6, where we put the hammer down. Peter wins the point’s classification, which is, for us, not the same as the overall victory, but it is of course nice and it shows that he was the most consistent of the sprinters”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

Milano-San Remo Is Coming

Milano-San Remo will be held this year on Sunday, March 22. This came in from Orica-GreenEdge:

Multiple grand tour stage winner Michael Matthews will lead Orica-GreenEdge at the Milano-Sanremo, the first Classic of 2015, this Sunday. Matthews announced his early season form at the Paris-Nice last week, his first race for the season, winning stage three and claiming the point’s classification.

The 24-year-old is again looking to be amongst the action at the pointy end of the day in Sanremo, Italy. “We are definitely aiming for the podium here with Michael Matthews,” sport director Matt White said. “He has had very good preparation over the last couple of months and he has shown the fruits of his preparation at Paris-Nice, his first race of the year.

Michael Matthews wins Paris-Nice sage 3

Michael Matthews wins this year's Paris-Nice stage 3.

“He has also done the race a couple of times before now, once a few years ago and once last year, where the weather conditions didn’t suit him much, but it’s definitely a race that suits Michael’s characteristics.”

The Milano-Sanremo, the longest race on the calendar at 293km, is one of the oldest and most prestigious cycling races and is considered one of the five ‘monuments’ of world cycling. White predicts, despite the distance, the race will likely come down to a sprint. But the size of the group contesting for honours will be largely dependent on Mother Nature.

“It’s the longest race on the calendar and when you include neutral kilometres it's 300km, so it’s a long day in the office,” White said. “It should be a sprint, I don’t know how reduced it will be. It could be a 100-up sprint or it could be 30 to 40, it’s really weather dependent.

“I think if we get a wet day or final it should be a smaller group but if we get dry, nice conditions it could potentially be a big group.”

Matthews will have the full support of a committed eight-man Orica-GreenEdge outfit, hoping to repeat the winning effort of teammate Simon Gerrans in 2012. Captained by experienced campaigner Mathew Hayman, the duo are joined by former Australian time trial champions Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge and Dutch engine Jens Mouris.

2014 Tour of Alberta winner Daryl Impey and Simon Clarke, the 2012 Vuelta a Espana king of the mountain, will provide invaluable guidance in the latter stages of the race whilst British climber Simon Yates wraps up the squad.

“The other seven riders are all there in support of Michael over various sections of the day,” White said. “Some guys have got a role to look after him early in the day, some are looking after him in the final but everyone has a very important role to play on Sunday.”

Orica-GreenEdge at the Milano–Sanremo (Sunday, 22 March): Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Daryl Impey, Michael Matthews, Jens Mouris, Simon Yates

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