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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 9, 2016

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

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. - A. A. Milne

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Gilbert Suffers Fractured Finger in Training Altercation

This note came from BMC:

08 April, 2016, Liège (BEL): Philippe Gilbert has undergone surgery on a fractured finger sustained during training on Friday, BMC Racing Team announced today.

Gilbert was training with Loïc Vliegen in Belgium when the two riders were targeted by two intoxicated men in a car. One of the men stepped out of the car and acted aggressively towards Vliegen and Gilbert, fracturing Gilbert's middle finger on his left hand in the process.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert winning in Murcia earlier this year

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Doctor Max Testa gave the following update. "Philippe was taken to hospital and underwent surgery to have five pins inserted to secure three small fractures in his middle finger. He is otherwise fine but will need to take a day or two off the bike," Dr Testa said.

"After the weekend we should have a better idea of the impact this will have on his Ardennes Classics campaign, but at this stage he should be fine to race. Luckily Loïc was not injured in the altercation."

"I'm not feeling too bad at all. More than anything I am shocked that this happened as you don't expect anything like this to take place when you head out for a training ride," Gilbert explained.

It is understood that the two men were arrested by Belgian police at the time of the incident.

Shimano and Velonews in fight over product news

The good guys at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News posted this wonderfully insightful article by Marc Sani about the disagreement:

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (BRAIN) — It's been quite a clash pitting the industry's most powerful company, Shimano, against what is arguably the best competitive cycling magazine and website in the U.S. market, VeloNews.

That clash stems from an article written several days ago by Dan Cavallari outlining what VeloNews readers could expect from Shimano's newest upgrades for Dura-Ace. And those upgrades are substantial.

But for those of us in the media — whether consumer or trade — dealing with Shimano is a challenge.

Shimano's most frequent comment to almost all questions or issues of substance is "no comment." Or it's a carefully crafted statement generally devoid of substantive information that would directly address a question of substance.

And so when Cavallari asked Shimano to comment about his research on the changes in Dura-Ace, he was essentially told: "Do not publish that." Not surprisingly, it escalated from there.

The velvet glove came off when John Bradley, the magazine's editor in chief, refused to block publication of the article on VeloNews' website. Shimano told Bradley that if he did not kill the article Shimano would kill its advertising schedule in all Competitor Group publications, which also includes Triathlete.

Before issuing its ultimatum, I am certain that Shimano's public relations staff tried cajoling Bradley, telling him that a premature release of the information could harm the industry; that it could impede current sales of Dura-Ace equipped models; that portions of the article were inaccurate; and that it was an unethical violation by an editor who may have gotten his information from sources who had signed nondisclosure agreements.

To be fair, Shimano, as a publicly traded company, does have some legitimate concerns about how and when information should be made public. But this, in my opinion, isn't one of them.

When I talked with Bradley, after he had endured a tedious overnight flight and multi-hour taxi ride to Ghent, Belgium, he didn't know what the dollar impact of his decision could be, but it would be substantial. And he was worried about the magazine, his staff and his job.

You can read the entire article (which is substantial and well worth the time) here.

Zico Waeytens extends contract fot two more years

Giant-Alpecin sent me this news:

At today's cobblestones classics press meeting at the international headquarters of one of the team's key loyal partner, Renson, Team Giant-Alpecin announced the contract renewal of Zico Waeytens (BEL).

Waeytens has agreed to a two-year extension, until the end of 2018. The Belgian is currently in his second season with the team and so far he has achieved consistent results. Last year Waeytens' highlights included third place at the Garmin Velothon Berlin and second place at stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California. At the Vuelta a España Waeytens made his first Grand Tour appearance.

On signing the contract extension Waeytens said: "I am happy to extend my contract with the team. It's a sign of trust for me that we can show our commitment for two more years. I feel the team has confidence in me and it was a straightforward decision. We are on the same level regarding ambition and expectations and I will get the opportunity to grow in the classics and further develop my sprint."

"We are delighted that Zico has signed a contract extension with the team," explained coach Rudi Kemna (NED). "Over the past year, he has developed very well as a rider. We appreciate that he has recognized the value of our team and understands our top sports vision. We work according to the Keep Challenging approach and the contract extension reflects our objective to develop young riders and help them fulfil their maximum potential."

Sagan will be racing to win at Paris-Roubaix

This update came from Tinkoff:

Following on from his momentous win at the 100th Ronde van Vlaanderen, UCI World Champion Peter Sagan will lead Tinkoff at this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix. The 114th edition of the ‘Hell of the North’ will roll out on Sunday morning from Compiègne, covering 257.5km and 27 cobblestone sections before finishing in the iconic Roubaix velodrome.

Peter, fresh from a double victory following Gent – Wevelgem and Flanders, has only once finished in the top 10 of this historic classic, with his sixth place in 2014. However, with his current form, and the progress he has made in the classics this season, Peter goes into the race as one of the favourites.

"The Paris-Roubaix is a very hard race whose outcome is again an unpredictable one,” explained Peter about Sunday’s race. “I will try to ride at the front and save my energy for the finale, and without doubt I will count on the help of all my teammates. In the last few weeks, I have showed that I am well prepared but every race is different. It will be very difficult to surprise my opponents the way I did at the Tour of Flanders. We will see how the race pans out and I believe that I will make the right decisions out on the road."

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan heads to the start of the Tour of Flanders

Joining Peter on the start line in Compiègne at the third monument of the season will be the same seven riders that helped towards victory at Ronde van Vlaanderen: Adam Blythe, Pavel Brutt, Oscar Gatto, Michael Gogl, Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan and Nikolay Trusov.

Sport Director at the race, Tristan Hoffman has been alongside Peter at his victories in both Gent – Wevelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen, and he gave his thoughts on the race ahead of the weekend. "We come into this race with Peter Sagan as our absolute leader, with the goal of delivering him to the final under the support of the other guys. Peter’s history in the race has not been that successful, with a sixth place in 2014, and an untimely mechanical last year, but he has shown this spring that he can win these races."

"We have a strong support team that showed last weekend that they are effective in helping Peter in the way that he needs, and guys like Oscar Gatto have good experience in this race which is important. Again they will have their roles of keeping him out of trouble and in position ahead of the cobblestone sectors. We can consider putting someone up the road again to help later on but this is hard and often the energy is better spent looking after Peter."

Much like Sunday’s race, the route encounters a succession of punishing difficulties, but all of the pavé sectors at Paris-Roubaix come on the flat lands. The first sector comes after 98.5km, at which point an early breakaway can be expected to have established itself at the head of affairs. From this point on, the sectors come one after another with little respite, and each with varying degrees of difficulty, totalling 52.8km of the arm-rattling stones that cover the roads.

The most challenging sectors are those ranked as five star, including Trouée d’Arenberg (2.4km at km 162), Mons-en-Pévèle (3km at km 209) and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (2.1km at 240.5km). This year’s route does include one uphill sector, the Capelle-Ruesnes (1.7km at km 127).

Hoffman continued, explaining what impact the cobblestone sectors should have on the race. “The first sectors shouldn’t cause too much stress but you still have to be near the front. Then the first real splits usually come on the Arenberg sector, and from here the race is really on. Then the final decisive sector is usually the Carrefour de l’Arbre as the legs are tired by this point and gaps can be made. We have our plan ready for the support out on the course with wheels so everything is ready behind the scenes.”

The Route: With the opening cobblestone sector coming after nearly 100km, the first part of the race on paper offers the peloton the chance to find its legs, but with the predicted bad weather anything could happen. Positioning as a team is vital to stay out of trouble and to keep Peter out of the wind in the wheels, and as the race approaches the first sector this will become even more apparent.

At the entrance to every sector is a numbered sign, counting down from 27, the first sector, to 1, the last. The shortest sector of cobblestones is actually the final one, on the run in to the Roubaix velodrome after 252km, stretching just 300m. In contrast, the longest covers 3.7km, seen at both sector 25, at km 108, and 16, after 170.5km of racing.

To handle the increased strain that both rider and machine are subject to at Paris-Roubaix, the Tinkoff riders will be racing on tailored Specialized Roubaix S-Works’ bikes. Hoffman explains: “The guys tested their Paris-Roubaix bikes at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday and the feelings were good. The bikes have some added suspension as well as wider tyres with less pressure – they will test out the set-up on the route on Friday when we do our final course recon. Then on Sunday we will be ready for battle.”

Etixx-Quick Step's Vuelta al Pais Vasco update:

The team posted this news:

No less than 32 riders abandoned on the penultimate day of the World Tour event.

Alto de Itziar, Alto de Calvario, Alto de Karabieta, Alto de Kanpazar, Alto de Asentsio, Alto de Ixua, Alto de San Miguel and Alto de Usartza were the eight categorized climbs which awaited the riders on Friday (Orio – Arrate, 159 kilometers), when not only the course, but also the difficult weather conditions (rain and cold) played an important role in the outcome. As a result, many riders called it a day during the stage, include three men of Etixx – Quick-Step: Rodrigo Contreras, Daniel Martin and Julien Vermote.

At the end of the day, Diego Rosa (Astana) took the win from a solo breakaway, while Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) rounded out the podium. As race leader Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) couldn't stay in touch with the two who attacked from the peloton on the final ascent, Henao took the yellow jersey. From the Etixx – Quick-Step camp, the top finisher was Gianluca Brambilla, who finished 23rd, while Carlos Verona went into the breakaway for the second day in a row and stayed there until the last climb. In the general classification, neo-pro Laurens De Plus is the best placed rider of the team, in 27th.

Diego Rosa

Diego Rosa wins the stage his way

The 56th Vuelta al Pais Vasco will conclude on Saturday with a 16.5-km long individual time trial around Eibar, on a hilly course.

Lampre-Merida does Paris-Roubaix recon

Here's the team's release:

Eighty-five kilometers of training on the course of the Paris-Roubaix, with 15 cobblestones sectors covered, for the cyclists from Lampre-Merida who'll participate in the French iconic classic race.

The recon of the blue-fuchsia-green team started from the most famous sector of the Paris-Roubaix, that is the Arenberg Forest: at the start of the training, blue-fuchsia-green athletes had as mates more than 50 guests of Merida who had come from all over the world in order to test live the new Scultura bike with disc brakes, which will be ridden on Sunday by all the 8 members of Lampre-Merida team.

First time on the cobblestones for the Chinese Xu Gang, who'll be with Mario Costa (he'll reach the team at the eve of the race) the only one rookie of the pavè in the team of the sports director Mario Scirea.

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