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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 2, 2016

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

Not much was really invented during the Renaissance, if you don't count modern civilization. - P. J. O'Rourke

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Ronde van Vlaanderen is Sunday!

We do have complete results for every edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen

This note came from Lotto-Soudal:

This Sunday the 100th Ronde van Vlaanderen will take place. Such an anniversary is the perfect moment to look back on all those previous editions. At Lotto Soudal that can’t be done by anyone else than sports manager Marc Sergeant and sports director Herman Frison, who both finished on the podium of the Ronde. Marc Sergeant finished third in the Ronde of 1983, when Jan Raas won the race for the second time. Herman Frison was second in 1989, in the edition with the iconic image of an emotional winner Edwig Van Hooydonck on the podium.

Jan Raas

Jan Raas (in the lead) on his way to winning the 1983 Ronde van Vlaanderen

This week Marc and Herman reminisced about those two editions. In the Ronde of 1989 they even rode the finale together.

1983 – Third place for Marc Sergeant

Back to 1983. On the Koppenberg, 120 kilometres before the finish in Meerbeke, a first selection was made. After the Taaienberg, five kilometres further, ten riders got in front and one of them was Marc Sergeant. This group remained together until the Muur. The final decision was made afterwards when Jan Raas decided to go solo with twenty kilometres to go. Nobody could stop him from winning the Ronde for the second time. In the last kilometres Marc Sergeant jumped away from his companions. Ludo Peeters, teammate of Raas, joined him. Peeters sprinted to the second place, while Marc got third.

Marc Sergeant: “I have lots of beautiful memories of the Ronde. I finished on the podium once and that performance is the one I cherish the most. Jan Raas, the winner that day, was part of the Raleigh team of Peter Post, that team was too strong. When I attacked his teammate Peeters got in my wheel. He claimed the second place and I was third. I wasn’t 24 yet, had started cycling quite late and still I could battle for the victory, so that was a real honour. That moment I thought maybe I can win here someday.”

1983 was the second Ronde van Vlaanderen for Marc Sergeant. At his début the year before he was already ninth. After his third place he finished five times more in top ten (5th in 1987, 6th in 1988, 6th in 1989, 10th in 1991 and 4th in 1993).

1989 – Second place for Herman Frison

Marc Sergeant achieved one of his seven top ten places in 1989, the year that current Lotto Soudal sports director Herman Frison was second. With thirty kilometres to go a group of seven with Herman Frison and Marc Sergeant had gone clear. Unfortunately Marc Sergeant had problems with his gear on the Muur. On that legendary climb Lauritzen and Van Hooydonck left the others behind. At the moment that their former companions would join them again on the Bosberg, Van Hooydonck accelerated. He arrived solo at the finish. Herman Frison secured the second place, Marc Sergeant was sixth.

Herman Frison: “This week I saw images of the Ronde of 1989 on TV and I got goose bumps. I will remember that second place for the rest of my life. I didn’t ride the finale of the Ronde each year. When you finish second in a race you often think you could have won, but the best rider in the race won that day. It’s extra special that Marc and I were both part of the same group. When I watched the images this week I noticed I didn’t react when he accelerated. As riders we already had a good bond.”

Marc Sergeant: “I’ll never forget the Ronde of 1989. That day I thought this will be my Ronde, until we turned up the Muur. At that point my gear blocked. There was nothing I could do about it. Still, I was third at the top, but I was so tired. Nonetheless, I was in the running for the podium till fifty metres from the finish. I had mixed feelings after the race.”

In the meantime Marc Sergeant and Herman Frison have several years of experience in the team car. Marc Sergeant became sports director of the Lotto team in 2003 and afterwards he became manager of the team. Herman Frison is sports director in the team since 2005. How do they experience the Ronde from that position and which tips do they pass on to their riders?

Herman Frison: “It’s still a special feeling at the start in Bruges, but it’s a huge difference being there as a rider or as sports director. As a rider other people do so much for you and you don’t realize it. As a rider you have to eat, train and set results. As a sports director you have more responsibility, you have to arrange practical issues and make sure the organisation runs smoothly. But that’s part of the job, I don’t feel more pressure for the Ronde. I got used to these circumstances in my first years as sports director. I prepare every race in the same way, but for the Ronde and Roubaix you notice that the riders are more nervous. But for a sports director it’s more hectic the days before the Tour de France.”

Marc Sergeant: “In the team car it’s mentally harder than as a rider. You want to inform your riders as much as you can. As a former rider you can share your experience with your riders. Of course that is the usual route information or guidance about where to position themselves, but according to me the most important advice is that a rider has to make sure he doesn’t end up on cloud nine during the race. Some riders become too keen in the finale and want to perform better than ever, encouraged by the crowd and the specific atmosphere along the roads of the Ronde. My advice to the riders is that they have to make sure to stay alert during the race.”

Herman Frison: “It’s of course important to let the riders now what they can improve. We are here to teach them something, that’s why we do recons and we have a team meeting before the race. At the end the riders are in the race of course. Sometimes it’s frustrating when we watch TV in the team car, but it can also happen that riders tell us things after the finish that we had missed.”

In all those years in the team car there must have been several unforgettable moments. What are those for Marc Sergeant and Herman Frison?

Marc Sergeant: “The most beautiful Ronde van Vlaanderen as sports director or manager was in 2003, when Peter Van Petegem won. It was a privilege to be his sports director at that time. Afterwards there were several other unforgettable moments. Leif Hoste who finished second twice, that’s a disappointment for rider and team at that moment of course when you’re so close. Philippe Gilbert got third in 2009 and 2010 and Jürgen Roelandts was third in 2013. The Ronde van Vlaanderen is emotion, especially because I loved to ride it myself. I will always be connected to the Ronde.” 

Herman Frison: “My most beautiful moment in the Ronde van Vlaanderen is the third place of Jürgen Roelandts. That was really intense and rewarding, him being so close to a victory in one of the monuments. It’s a dream to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen with the team. I believe that’s possible in the near future. For Tiesj Benoot this Ronde comes too soon, but I am convinced he is able to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen in his career. Hopefully with Marc and I in the team car.”

Here's Tinkoff's take on the Tour of Flanders:

This Sunday sees the second of cycling’s Monuments – Ronde van Vlaanderen, a race that signifies all that Flanders has to offer, including 18 Hellingen – the cobblestone climbs that characterise this race. Having finished fourth last year, Peter Sagan leads Tinkoff at this infamous one-day race and will be targeting the top step of the podium following a strong classics campaign so far including victory at last Sunday’s Gent – Wevelgem.

Also known as the Tour of Flanders, Sunday’s race will celebrate its 100th edition since its creation in 1913 by the co-founder of sports newspaper Sportwereld, Karel Van Wijnendaele. The 2016 edition will cover no less than 255.9km between the start in Brugge and the finish in Oudenaarde.

Peter spoke of the importance of the race to both himself and the team when looking ahead to Sunday. “The Tour of Flanders is a really important race for me – I confirmed last weekend that I am on the right track and therefore I am satisfied with my current form. This day is also important for the whole team and I know that I can trust my teammates in supporting me.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan

“I am looking forward to this race, but you also have to stay concentrated. On the road I’ll monitor the progress of the race because this one is unpredictable and every small mistake could be decisive. All of my opponents are strong, but there will only be one winner.”

Lining up alongside Peter Sagan is a core that has ridden alongside him through the classics so far this season including Maciej Bodnar, Adam Blythe and Oscar Gatto. The young duo of Michael Gogl and Juraj Sagan join Nikolay Trusov and Pavel Brutt, who continues his strong return to racing, to complete the roster.

“Peter is of course our absolute leader here and we’ve built a team around him to try and support him as far as possible into the race,” explained Sport Director for Sunday, Tristan Hoffman. “You can split the race into three sections – the first 100km, the second 100km and then the final 50km – and we need riders to be able to support and look after Peter in each section.”

Juraj Sagan will line up alongside his brother at his first Tour of Flanders and, together with all the other riders, he has worked hard to prove his place on the team here. With Oscar Gatto having proved he’s got what it takes to be there late in the day with Peter, the Tinkoff line-up is ready for action.

“From the start on, depending on the wind situation it can be fast and a bigger group can go up the road so we will need to pay attention there. When you look at the classics so far, there are still some of the big teams that are missing a big win and we can expect them to try and dictate the race. As always at Flanders it’s a tough race, but for Peter’s chances we hope that it’s hard and man against man at the end.”

With so many important and key parts of the race it is easier to pick out places where the race is likely not to be decided rather than where it could be. Last year’s decisive move came after the Kruisberg but any of the climbs in the final 50km could see the winning move go clear if it hasn’t already.

Peter’s consistency has been unrelenting so far this season, with podium places at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico and E3 Harelbeke, followed by a huge win at Gent – Wevelgem. This gives both himself and the team confidence heading into Sunday’s race, one of the most historic in the racing calendar.

Hoffman continued, saying: “The race is often decided on the Kwaremont and the Paterberg but you need to be well positioned ahead of every difficulty and to be ready for anything on this course. The weather is looking good at the moment so that should make things a bit easier to manage, but you need some good luck in the classics and we hope to avoid any crashes or mechanical problems. Then at the end it’s up to Peter having the legs that can make the difference.”

The first 80km of the Ronde van Vlaanderen offers the riders a chance to work their way into the race, but being in Flanders there’s always the threat of crosswinds and rain affecting the situation on the road. The first technical section comes after 82km, the first cobblestone sector, before the race tackles its first climb in the Oude Kwaremont after 103km – the first of three times up this infamous cobblestone ascent.

In total there are seven cobblestone sections, all falling between 82km and 215km of racing.

The cobblestone sectors mean that positioning and teamwork is important throughout, but the real action arguably comes on the climbs in the race, of which there are 18. The race tackles the Oude Kwaremont three times, as well as the Paterberg twice, the second of which being the final difficulty of the race, with just 13km between the top and the finish line in Oudenaarde. Who will be left at the front as the race crests this final climb?

Hawley-Lambert buys Seattle Bike Supply

This came from Bicycle Retailer and industry News:

LEVIS, Quebec (BRAIN) — Hawley-Lambert North America has bought the inventory, including proprietary brands, once distributed by Seattle Bike Supply. The purchase of SBS’ inventory from Accell North America adds 14 new brands to the distributor’s portfolio and points to the ongoing consolidation of various segments of the industry.

Sylvain Caya, Hawley-Lambert’s president, said in an interview that market consolidation is a growing factor in the industry. “We’ve seen, especially in distribution, that the volume (of SKUs) matters, that the strategy of managing more exclusive brands, and expanding the number of distribution centers is driving it.”

Caya declined to put a price tag on the sale, but said he and Accell executives had been in discussions since last fall over the sale. “It’s been a long discussion, but we finally got there. It’s been a very friendly discussion so now we can move on to execution,” Caya added.

Hawley-Lambert currently has three distribution centers — Lexington, South Carolina; Reno, Nevada; and Levis, Quebec — and will soon open a fourth center, in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The company currently has 30 sales reps in Canada and 40 in the U.S. Overall the company employs about 250 people.

The four centers will provide next-day delivery to retailers in most regions of North America. Dealers who stock Accell-distributed brands like XLC, Tioga, Pryme, Basil, Alienation as well as Torker parts and accessories can order them from Hawley-Lambert starting May 1.

The distributor also picks up distribution of Box, Chromag, Clement, CST, Renthal, Skyway, Spank and Strider as part of the deal. In the meantime, SBS will continue to sell through its stock of national brands that both carry, like SRAM parts, before officially closing its doors.

Click here for the complete story.

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