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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 23, 2016

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

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. - John Lennon

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Sport Chalet closing all stores as owner declares chapter 11

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News posted this unhappy news:

MERIDEN, Conn. (BRAIN) — Vestis Retail Group, the owner of Sport Chalet, Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Stores, filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Monday, saying it has liabilities of more than $100 million. Vestis hopes to separate Sport Chalet from the other two chains, and sell EMS and Bob’s to funds advised by Versa Capital Management.

Vestis began store-closing sales at all 47 Sport Chalet locations on Saturday, while EMS will close eight of its 61 locations and Bob’s will close one of its 36 stores.

Vestis’ largest creditor is Nike, owed $7.3 million. Among its top 40 creditors are Accell North America (owed $1.37 million), Advanced Sports International ($600,000), Vans ($400,000), Osprey ($380,000), Trek-owned Electra Bicycle Co. ($375,000) and Woodman Labs/GoPro ($370,000).

The Sport Chalet website is no longer accepting orders. All the Sport Chalet locations will remain open as they run closing sales “for the next several weeks,” the company said.

EMS will close its locations in Christiana, Delaware; Dulles, Virginia; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Moorestown and North Brunswick, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Warwick, Rhode Island; and West Hartford, Connecticut.

Vestis bought Bob’s Stores in 2008, EMS in 2012, and Sport Chalet in 2014. EMS has historically carried such bike brands as Kona, Felt, Marin, Orbea, Masi, Bianchi and Jamis at select stores, but its website currently lists Strider as its only bike brand. It also sells components, apparel and accessories from brands including Shimano, SRAM, Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Louis Garneau, Thule, Blackburn, Topeak and Kryptonite.

Sport Chalet carries Diamondback and Haro and P&A from brands including Bell, Giro, Nutcase, Pearl Izumi, Dakine, Fox, Topeak, CatEye and Serfas. Its stores also provide bicycle service and car rack installation.

There's more. You can read the entire story here.

Lotto-Soudal for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Here's the team's update:

On Sunday 24 April 2016 it’s time for the last of the Belgian spring races. The course of the 102nd edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège is almost the same as previous years, although the organization decided to add a new hill at the end of the race (Côte de la Rue Naniot – 600 metres – average gradient 10.5%, LTS). The peloton needs to cover ten climbs in total, among them Col du Rosier, Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas. After almost 253 kilometres the riders need to give their all a final time on the uphill finish in Ans.

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the five monuments in cycling and you can’t compare it with the other ‘Ardennes Classics’. This race is longer and has another profile, the finish can’t be compared to the Mur de Huy or the finish in Valkenburg. Tim Wellens showed in the previous races that he has the best legs. Sunday, he can have a go again. Besides Tim, we have riders such as Tony Gallopin and Jelle Vanendert who can ride a good finale too.

Today the Lotto Soudal team for Sunday did a recon of a part of the course of ‘La Doyenne’. Tim Wellens, Tony Gallopin and Jelle Vanendert will be the leaders for the Belgian team just like the past few races. They will compete against riders such as Daniel Martin and Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodríguez, Vincenzo Nibali and Simon Gerrans.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens in this year's Amstel Gold Race

Marc Sergeant: “We start again with a strong team, I hope that the weather conditions will be the same as forecasted (cold weather and rain on Sunday, LTS). If that’s the case, there will be a natural selection in the peloton. Our riders already proved that they can deal with such circumstances. The race that Tim won in Montréal was a very hard race, mainly due to the rain. In my opinion, Movistar will be the main team together with their leader Alejandro Valverde. Wednesday, they already showed that there are able to control the race and that they make the right tactical decisions. Valverde is someone who can finish off the work of his team, he already showed that several times, also here in La Doyenne.”

Tim Wellens: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the race I look forward to the most and it's also the Ardennes Classic that suits me best. It pleases me a lot that the team has so much confidence in me, I hope that I’ll be able to obtain a nice result so I can thank them. Sunday, it will be important to save your strength as long as possible. This race is very hard because of the distance, the sequence of the hills and hopefully also because of bad weather conditions. Therefore we’ll enter the finale with a small group. La Redoute will be too early to try something, but from the Roche-aux-Faucons there are some opportunities to attack. The new hill with cobbles will reduce the group of favourites even more because it's situated at the end of the race. After that, the rider with the best legs will obtain the victory. The past few races already showed the candidates for the victory in La Doyenne, but it also depends on the form of the day. I hope to obtain a nice result on Sunday, with the condition I have that should be possible. I’ll do my very best just like always.”

Lotto Soudal tried to attack early during the past few races and decided not to sit back and wait till the final climbs. Unfortunately that didn’t always led to a result.

Marc Sergeant: “Wednesday we said to our leaders that they had the permission to wait until the final climb of the Mur de Huy. Tim was a bit disappointed after the race because he attacked too soon. We talked about that and we decided that next year he needs to wait till the final climb.”

Tim Wellens: “In the Amstel Gold Race I finished tenth, I wasn’t entirely pleased with that result but I really gave my all. Now I’m happy that I raced that way. Wednesday is a different story. I can only confirm the words from Marc Sergeant. We were allowed to wait till the final climb in Huy indeed. Yet I decided to attack earlier; on the one hand that’s part of my way of racing and on the other riders from Etixx and Movistar were riding in front. I was disappointed after the finish, but I think we can only learn from this.”

Roster Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, Tomasz Marczynski, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.

Of course Etixx-Quick Step will be at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Here's the team's L-B-L news:

After doing the recon, our riders talked on Friday about the course and their expectations for the Spring's final classic.

Liège–Bastogne–Liège, cycling's oldest Monument, is ready for another episode, its 102nd, which is due to take place on Sunday, April 24th, on a course regarded by many as one of the toughest in recent memory. First held in 1892, the 253-km long "La Doyenne" will start from Liège and will see the riders travel to Bastogne, before hitting its second section, a more nuanced and extremely difficult one, as it includes a total of ten categorized climbs. The race is expected to turn nervous on Côte de Wanne, which precedes Côte de la Haute-Levée (3.6 km-long, 5.6%), but it won't be only until the emblematic Côte de La Redoute that the real action will begin.

The 2-km long climb averages 8.9% and many riders will try to make their move there, especially as another landmark of the event – Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons – comes not far off. Roche-aux-Faucons (1300 meters, 11% average gradient) will play host to other long range attacks and a serious trimming of the peloton, before the final 8 kilometers, where two more ascents will come in the way of the riders: Côte de Saint-Nicolas and Côte de la Rue Naniot (600 meters), a cobbled and narrow hill which has a relentless average gradient of 10.5%, just 2500 meters from the line. The finish in Ans is in a slight uphill and will give one more opportunity for those with an extra kick, who will go for a solo victory.

Etixx – Quick-Step will line up a strong and motivated team for the Spring's final Monument, the outfit being spearheaded by 2013 winner Daniel Martin and 2015 runner-up Julian Alaphilippe. Joining them will be Maxime Bouet, David De La Cruz, neo-pro Laurens De Plus, Pieter Serry, Brabantse Pijl champion Petr Vakoč and Julien Vermote.

Daniel Martin

Dan Martin checking out the course on Friday, the 22nd.

On Friday, the riders attended the traditional pre-race press conference, where Dan Martin shared his thoughts on Liège–Bastogne–Liège, which he'll ride for the ninth time in his career: "The climbs are long and straight, and that will make up for a tough race. Usually, it's a long game of poker, and this year the wind could play a very important role. Things can explode on that new climb, but having it on the menu can also mean that the race could be much calmer before that point, because people will be scared of it. Liège–Bastogne–Liège is less predictable than Flèche Wallonne and it's very important to be flexible, because many things are happening during the race. I come here after a good Flèche Wallonne, where I felt strong, and this gives me a lot of confidence. It's great to be part of such a team, me and Julian are getting along very well and I'll be happy if one of us ends up winning the race."

Last season, Julian Alaphilippe turned heads during the Ardennes, with his strong performances and results. This year, the young Frenchman put on two other solid displays in the events he rode in the past two weeks and is now ready to bring down the curtain on his Spring Campaign with another significant result: "It was nice to go on the course on Friday and check it out. The new climb, Côte de la Rue Naniot, is difficult, with steep gradients and cobbles, and it will make things hard. Being so tough, it could lead to fewer attacks during the race, as some will try to conserve their energy. It won't be easy with this new ascent and that's why I don't think we will have a sprint at the end. We go into the event with a solid team and we will try to do everything we can. Liège–Bastogne–Liège is a race I love, I love the adrenaline it gives me and I have nice memories from last year. The forecast says bad weather, with strong winds and low temperatures, but I don't think about it, because everybody will have bad weather. I will just stay focused on the race and be ready for anything."

Lampre-Merida's L-B-L news:

By tradition, on Friday Lampre-Merida trained on the course of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

The eight riders who'll partecipate on Sunday in the Doyenne (253 km) are Bono, Conti, Mario Costa, Rui Costa, Meintjes, Mori, Polanc and Ulissi.


Lampre-Merida training on the Redoute ascent on Friday before the race

They started the recon from the Cote de la Haute-Levée and reached the arrival in Ans. In the 74 km of training, they covered the Col du Rosier, the Col du Maquisard, the Redoute, the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons, the Col de Saint Nicolas and the new hill which will be introduced in the 2016 course, which is the Cote de la Rue Naniot, 600 meters on cobblestones with a gradient of 10.5% and summit 2.500 km from the finish line.

Some facts and figures about the blue-fuchsia-green line-up which will take part in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege:

Kelderman leads Team LottoNL-Jumbo in the Tour de Romandie

The team sent me this news:

Wilco Kelderman will lead Team LottoNL-Jumbo in its general classification fight in the Tour de Romandie next week in Switzerland. Besides Kelderman, the Dutch team has Moreno Hofland for the bunch sprints.

“We have something special to look forward to every day in the Tour de Romandie,” Sports Director Frans Maassen explained. “We’re starting with a prologue, where we have Wilco Kelderman, Jos van Emden, Victor Campenaerts, Martijn Keizer and Steven Lammertink who are eager to deliver a good result. The other men are able to save their energy for the stages that are possibly going to end up in a bunch sprint. We have Moreno Hofland for those days.

“Wilco is our front man for the general classification. He has to be able to deliver a strong prologue and grab a spot with the top favourites in the mountain stages.”

Kelderman is going to Switzerland confidently. “It went well during the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and the Tour de Romandie is one of my targets this year,” he said. “The stage schedule suits me, with two time trials in it. The prologue is important immediately. I’m satisfied with my time trials this year, so I want to score on those days in the Tour de Romandie.

“I have a strong team around me, as well. Martijn Keizer and Jos van Emden are experienced riders who are able to support me.”

Line-up: Victor Campenaerts, Jos van Emden, Steven Lammertink, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Alexey Vermeulen and Dennis van Winden.

Sports Directors: Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven.

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