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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, October 9, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Thursday there were two one-day races: Paris-Bourges and Coppa Sabatini. Also a new stage race, the Abu Dhabi Tour, began yesterday and runs through Sunday, the 11th.

After that, on Saturday the 10th, the venerable and important Giro dell'Emilia will be held

Tom Boonen crashes out of Abu Dhabi Tour

Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) was taken by ambulance from the scene of a crash in the second stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Theo Bos was also involved in the crash.

The hospital examination showed he had a 15mm fracture of the left temporal bone, that part of the skull around the ear.

Update from Etixx-Quick Step: Immediate hospital examination of Tom Boonen underlined a left temporal bone fracture. Boonen, who lost consciousness for a short moment immediately after the crash, is now conscious and lucid. He will remain in the hospital overnight under observation. Further examinations will be performed tomorrow, and an update will be released after these are performed. Etixx - Quick-Step would like to thank the medical staff of RCS Sport, as well as Sheikh Khalifa hospital, for their collaboration and professionalism.

Boonen was second in yesterday's first stage and was wearing the green jersey.

Making Bicycle Frames Like a Car Chassis

This intriguing news was in

AGUEDA, Portugal – The supply chain of the bicycle industry is about to change drastically. An alloy frame production project in Portugal introducing German car chassis production technology in the bicycle industry could make European frame manufacturing incomparable to that in Asia and commercially viable.

The completion of a European based and fully robotized frame production came a big step closer with a € 14 million investment in Triangles, a company founded by Portuguese Rodi, Miranda and Ciclo-Fapril.

“We are working closely with a leading expert in the automotive industry for robotized welding. It took us a long time to find this expert company for our frame project that started two years ago,” said Rodi and Triangles President Armando Levi Silva at Eurobike last August.

In fact the construction of the frame factory has started already in Agueda, Portugal, the same region where most of the country’s bike companies are located. The facility will have 2 production lines; each with 10 robots. Such a production line has also been set-up at Triangles’ technology partner in Germany. The first robot-produced alloy bike frames were made in Germany and sent to Portugal for testing. In December 2015 250 MTB and 250 e-bike frames are being produced in Germany.

“These will be tested by us again and also by our customers. When all is OK the production machinery will be moved from Germany to our new facility in Portugal while the other robots will also be coming in. That robotized production makes it possible to turn the frame-facility into a commercially viable project. And it makes our frames stand out from all those that are now being made in Asia,” explained Triangles president Armando Levi.

When all is going according to the plan and more importantly, when the 250 MTB and 250 e-bike frames are approved after testing by Triangles and its customers, then pre-series production is to start in Portugal. This is planned for May 2016.

Rodi, Miranda, and Ciclo-Fapril are investing € 14 million in the frame facility, which will have an initial capacity of 450,000 aluminium frames. For phase 2 another investment of € 5 million is planned, to raise capacity further.

Investing and setting-up aluminium frame production in Portugal is a major move towards adding flexibility to the supply chain of the bike industry in Europe. Currently Triangles is also developing a project with one of the biggest producers of suspension forks. Production is to expected to start in the first quarter of 2017.

For more cycling industry news, here's the Bike-eu web site.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Abu Dhabi report:

A swap of roles was carried out on the opening stage of Abu Dhabi Tour, as Peter Sagan chose to play the part as team domestique and lead-out for Daniele Bennati after two, hectic weeks of public events following his World Championship win. Bennati ultimately finished 3rd behind winner Andrea Guardini after a shortened stage in hot conditions.

Reacting to his third place in the final sprint and the change of in-race duties, Daniele Bennati says: "Normally, I should be working for Peter Sagan and not the other way around.  It was an unusual day but we also know that Peter, despite being the World Champion, is a generous person and a great team member. With 50km to go, he told me he wouldn't do the sprint but instead, the team would work for me. I told him we would all sacrifice ourselves to help him but he didn't feel in good shape and decided I would be doing the sprint”, comments Daniele Bennati.

“I assumed the fact I would be doing the sprint and I pushed as hard as I could in the final kilometers with the rest of the squad doing a great job to support me. It was an incredible sprint but it suited Guardini, who was faster today. I could have gotten second place but I think I relaxed a split second and Boonen grabbed the opportunity right on the finish line. It was an emotional finish for me because it is not often I have the brand new World Champion working for me!", adds Bennati, while teammate Peter Sagan elaborates on the weeks after his Richmond victory.

"The World Championships and the obligations I had in the period afterwards took their toll on my form. It was nearly two intensive weeks of public and media events during which I didn't have the sufficient time to rest and recover. I simply didn't feel in shape today and the heat didn't make things easier. We will see how I feel in the coming days and we will adapt our strategy”, tells Sagan after the race finale, where the World Champion put in a long lead-out.

“The squad worked so hard this year for me, so it was only natural for me to work for them today. If I don't feel in great shape and I can help Bennati or any other rider, then I will do it in the benefit of the team. This is a team and we all work for each other”, adds Peter Sagan.

After a sudden change of pace within the main bunch, the final escapee was caught with one kilometer to go, followed by a 600m finishing straight, where Andrea Guardini proved the fastest.

Andrea Guardni winning Abu Dahbi stage 1

Here's Andrea Guardini winning Abu Dhabi stage 1

Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Tristan Hoffman notes about the 159.5km stage from Qasr Al Sarab to Madina Zayed: “Peter said that after the World Championships he had a lot of obligations, so he didn’t sleep a lot, he didn’t train a lot and he told that he wasn’t at his best. I explained the guys that they had to talk to each other and coordinate because Bennati could also do the sprint. That’s what happened and I’m happy with the third place. The boys did really well in assisting each other here in the heat. They stayed hydrated and didn’t struggle too much. It wasn’t super crazy in this heat, nothing that our riders couldn’t handle and they went down to the team car many times to get bottles”, comments Tristan Hoffman before adding:

“I think it was a good idea to remove the last lap. In the end, I think the winner would have been the same, so it didn’t change that much. We will have to see how Peter develops during the race. Naturally, with him being in the World Champion’s jersey, it would be nice if he could do the sprint one time. If he doesn’t feel good, that’s how it is and then he’ll help Bennati, who we saw also has good speed in the legs”.

BMC for Paris-Tours:

Santa Rosa, California - Past Paris-Tours winner Greg Van Avermaet will lead the BMC Racing Team Sunday in its final race of the season on the European continent.

Van Avermaet soloed to win the 2011 edition of the autumn classic. Among the six riders joining him on the roster for the 231-kilometer race is past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär and past Slovakian national time trial champion Peter Velits.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet at this year's Eneco Tour

Riders: Tom Bohli (SUI), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sport Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

Lampre-Merida's Coppa Sabatini report:

The emotions of the 2015 edition of the Gp Città di Peccioli-Coppa Sabatini were all in the final part of the race and Lampre-Merida succeded in being among the protagonists who battled for the victory.

The cyclists approached the early kilometers riding at a low pace, allowing 3 attackers (Zilioli, Van Overberghe and Cam) to escape from the bunch and to get to a maximum advantage of 7', before that the peloton began the chase, which was completed 25 km from the finish.

The speed became higher and consequently the bunch was reduced to no more than 70 riders and the sport director Daniele Righi could still rely on Conti, Bono, Ferrari, Koshevoy, Polanc and Niemiec.

In the exciting final kilometers, Conti tried to complete the winning action: Bono and Ferrari launched him at 300 meters to go and the young climber could obtain some meters of advantage on the group, before Bakelants joined him, followed by the rest of the chasers for a restricted sprint which was won by Prades on Lammertink and Finetto. Conti obtained the 10th place.

Eduard Prades win Coppa Sabatini

Eduard Prades wins Coppa Sabatini

"We can be happy for the good performance of the team even if the could not get to the result we could obtain thanks to our qualities - sport director Righi explained - We raced in a good way in the final part of the course, Conti could exploit the perfect support he recieved from two experienced riders such as Bono and Ferrari and he had a good timing in attacking at 300 meters.

Rider team contract news

Here's Orica-GreenEdge's release:

2015 Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana stage winner Ruben Plaza will add valuable experience and depth to the exciting young climbing group at ORICA-GreenEDGE next season.

Plaza, who joins the Australian outfit after seasons with Lampre-Merida and Movistar, took both of his 2015 major victories from a break away; the latter on the monumental 20th stage of the Vuelta a Espana that saw Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) drop out of overall contention.

The Spaniard joins compatriot Amets Txurruka who has also been confirmed to join ORICA-GreenEDGE’s climbing group in 2016. The 35-year-old is eager for a new start and focus in his 15-year career, one that will see him become crucial support for the likes of Colombian Esteban Chaves and British twins Adam and Simon Yates.

Ruben Plaza

Ruben Plaza wins 2015 Vuelta stage 20

“I'm really proud that a team such as ORICA-GreenEDGE is giving me this chance be part of something special,” Plaza said. “I was looking for a new direction for my career, so when this possibility came up, it was an easy choice for me to make."

“I'm at a point where I'm ready to give 100% to a team with some amazing young talent for the Grand Tours and I'm convinced we can take those guys very far. There is so much potential on this team and I'm ready to give it my very best. I can't wait to start this new adventure with one the most international teams in the world.”

Sport director Neil Stephens said Ruben would give ORICA-GreenEDGE ‘a range of experiences and abilities we are missing at the moment’. “The main thing we want out of Ruben is his experience, his capacity to guide our young guys, but also his ability to be there in the key moments,” Stephens explained.

“Similar to how Mat Hayman came into our team to help in the Classics, Ruben will help in the mountains. He is a guy that can be there in the last 20-odd riders. He was top ten on Alpe d’Huez this year, which is great, but what excites him more is to be around guys like the Yates boys or Chaves and to be able to guide them through the major races.

“Ruben is a guy that is always very motivated. He is motivated to join our team, he is motivated in every race he starts and he is motivated to do his job well. But if the opportunity presents itself he is also very capable of pulling off a result himself, like we saw at this year’s Tour de France.”

Ruben Plaza
Date of Birth: 29th February 1980 (35)
Nationality: Spanish
Turned Pro: 2001

-  1st 2015 Tour de France – Stage 16
-  Two-time stage winner at Vuelta a Espana (’15 & ’05)
-  Two-time Spanish road champion (’09 & ’03)
-  Overall victories at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (’13), Vuelta Ciclista a
la Rioja (’07) & Vuelta a Aragon (’05)
-  5th 2005 Vuelta a Espana – Overall

Liv-Plantur had these signings to report:

Team Liv-Plantur is pleased to announce that riders Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Riejanne Markus (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED) and Carlee Taylor (AUS) have signed contracts to join the team in 2016. All four are one-year contracts.

“We are happy to add these four riders to our team,” said Team Liv-Plantur coach Hans Timmermans (NED). “With these riders, development will play a central role. We offer them a leading support structure, fully integrated into the advanced Keep Challenging approach that also supports the men’s program of Team Giant-Alpecin, to optimally develop their abilities and together reach a higher level. We have followed them for quite a while, made extensive analyses and have had multiple conversations to get a clear profile of the persons and the personalities behind the riders. They have also shown their capacities in the races, of course, but an important factor in making such decisions is that a potential new rider meets all the – for our team – relevant criteria: physical talent, background, work ethic and personality.

Leah Kirchman

Leah Kirchman winning a stage at the Amgen Tour

“Leah is a talented all-round rider who is good in the classics and capable of doing a good GC but also has a strong sprint, which she showed by finishing third at La Course by Le Tour last year.

“Riejanne is a young all-rounder who has already shown strong test values with a large margin for growth, and we will support her development toward the future. She will be of value in different types of terrain, including hilly courses.

“Rozanne started as a mountain biker, where she competed at international races until four years ago, when she made the decision to fully focus on road racing. She can be described as an all-rounder with strong climbing skills, which she showed by winning a difficult stage at the Auensteiner Radsporttage this season. In difficult races she often finishes just below the top level, and she isn’t afraid to attack.

“Carlee is a climber, and she and Sabrina Stultiens will become our important riders for the difficult classics and climbing stages. She also has shown her ability to perform well in races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen, for example, and she will be valuable to the team at those races.”

CEO Iwan Spekenbrink (NED) added: “We want to become an important player in professional women’s cycling. We work according to the Keep Challenging approach, with the same standards and top sports vision as the men’s program, and we can build on the same solid, professional structure. Our aim is to develop talented riders, give them opportunities and help them reach their maximum potential, and these four signings are an important step in that effort.”

Kirchmann commented on her contract signing: “I’m very excited to join Team Liv-Plantur for the 2016 season. This will be my sixth year racing as a pro and my first season racing full time in Europe. I share the same ‘Keep Challenging’ values as the team, and I’m looking for ways to be a better person and a better athlete every day. I’m confident that working with the experienced staff, riders and partners of the Team Giant-Alpecin program will help me to continue challenging myself in different ways to reach my full potential as a rider, with the Rio Olympics quickly approaching.”

Markus said: “I am very happy with my transfer to Team Liv-Plantur, where I hope to make further progress in my development. After three years of education at Parkhotel, this will be a huge step forward in my career. I am looking forward to working with the team and staff.”

“I am looking forward to racing for Team Liv-Plantur in 2016,” said Slik. “I see this as a step forward and a new challenge after four years racing for Parkhotel. The professionalism and the vision of the team are very attractive. I really want to learn at the team and move forward in my career.”

“I want to continue my progression with Team Liv-Plantur and I want to be a rider who is consistently at the pointy end of races when it matters,” said Taylor. “I believe that Team Liv-Plantur, with its structure, support, belief and professionalism, is the best team for me to achieve this, as well as my goals in going to the Olympics. I am really looking forward to coming to the team.”

The contracts of Lucy Garner (GBR), Willeke Knol (NED), Claudia Lichtenberg (GER) and Amy Pieters (NED) have not been renewed. The team thanks them for their efforts and wishes them the best of luck with their futures.

Cult Energy signs Michael Reihs

Cult Energy-Stölting Group has signed a one-year contract with the 36 year-old Danish veteran, Michael Reihs. The experienced and highly skilled road captain started at Phonak Hearing Systems in 2001 before moving home to continue his professional career at Team Fakta in 2003.

This year, he completed a total of 58 international races and sports director, André Steensen is relieved that Reihs decided to embark another season on he road:

“Including Michael in the 2016 roster was very important to us because he possesses a vast experience while his serenity helps wiping out the natural tension amongst the young riders before and during the races. This year we have used him with great success as road captain because his social skills combined with his good positioning capability in the field enables him to assemble the team near the front and make the the sound tactical decisions when necessary. Even though he’s usually not topping the results, I think that he has had one of his best seasons. This year, he has been able to hit the morning breakaways during the spring campaign and in other races, he has been delivering the captains at the forefront of the peloton going into the finale. Obviously, we are happy to sign him for the team next year and he will be crucial in the development of our talents as well as being our right-hand man on the road,” says DS, André Steensen.

Breakawy at De Panne

Michael Reihs (left, front) in a breakaway at De Panne earlier this year.

Michael Reihs is proud to be offered a new contract: “Cult Energy-Stölting Group was the obvious choice for me. Naturally, riding at this level requires a lot of days on the road and without solid support from the family you can not succeed and they were all for the decision. I’m actually a bit proud having received the offer as I don’t get as many results anymore.  But I still believe that I can help and give something to the team, I'm still top motivated and I train as hard as it takes to remain competitive,” says Michael Reihs and continues:

“It has been a demanding year physically and mentally as we all knew it was going to be. We had a tough spring during the cobblestone campaign and finishing the classic season with Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege where we flashed the jersey on a number of occasions. I’m really looking forward to continuing my partnership with Skelde and I’m excited about getting to work with a new bunch of talents in 2016,” concludes Reihs.

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