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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 30, 2016

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

People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me. - Soren Kierkegaard

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Groenewegen wins Yorkshire stage one

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this release:

Dylan Groenewegen rewarded the support of his team-mates with victory in the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter started the bunch sprint in the right position and beat Caleb Ewen (Orica - GreenEDGE) and Nikias Arndt (Team Giant - Alpecin) convincingly.

“The way our riders approached this race was strong,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “I can’t say anything else than that this victory was a beautiful team performance. We took the lead with two kilometres to go. That was a key moment in the stage. The last hundred metres went slightly downhill and were tortuous. Dylan Groenewegen was lead out perfectly and finished it off with a strong sprint.”

Dylan Gorenewegen

Groenewegen wins Yorkshire stage 1

Groenewegen gave his teammates a big compliment, as well. “They all fulfilled their tasks perfectly,” he said. “I didn’t have to fight for my position one single moment. This was a lead-out like it should be. When I started to sprint, I actually knew already that I was going to win. I saw Ewen on my wheel, but he neven came up next to me. I just finished a short period of rest. I’ve trained well and it’s wonderful to start this new period immediately with a victory.”

Zeeman sees that Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprint lead-out is improving. “We were one today,” he concluded. “Everyone did his part of the job. Tomorrow, we’re going for it another time. The second stage seems to be the easiest one, but the weather is going to be bad. We should enjoy this victory first, though.”

Tour de Romandie stage 3 time trial team reports

Here's Etixx-Quick Step's news:

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Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels put on a superb ride in Sion, to record his second World Tour podium of the season.

149 riders started Friday's stage 3 of the Tour de Romandie, for the individual time trial which this year came halfway through the race instead of the last day, as it did at the past editions. The course wasn't long, just 15.1 kilometers, but hard, as it included a 3.7-km long ascent with an average gradient of 5.7% in the first part. Although the second section was on a downhill, this didn't mean it was in any way easier, because the riders had to overcome some technical corners on their way to the finish in Sion.

Racing the Tour de Romandie for the first time in his career, Bob Jungels rolled down the ramp rather early and rode hard, giving his all on the climb, where he set a time just four seconds slower than the one of Chris Froome. On the last part of the parcours, the 23-year-old Luxembourg champion upped the pace and overturned this deficit, crossing the line fractions of seconds faster than Team's Sky British rider and climbing to first place in the provisional rankings.

After edging out Froome, Bob stayed in the hot spot for two hours, before Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) managed to improve his time of 20:30. The Frenchman took the win in Sion, ahead of the Dutch, while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) retained the general classification lead. The Colombian has 23 seconds on Pinot and 26 on Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), with two days to go.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels doing a great ride at Romandie

"I was targeting this time trial, because I wanted to get a good result and also to test my condition ahead of the Giro d'Italia. Yesterday, after helping Carlos Verona until the foot of the last climb, I took it easy and rode my own pace so I could keep my energy for today. I am happy with this result and with the fact that everything is going in the right direction before the Giro. This gives me a lot of confidence", said Bob Jungels at the end of the time trial.

With five categorized climbs on the course, including the one at the finish, stage 4 of Tour de Romandie (Conthay – Villars-sur-Ollon, 173 kilometers) will give the GC contenders another chance to fight for the top positions. The last ascent is 8.9-km long, averages 7.8% and tops out with around four kilometers before the line.

Tinkoff sent this Romandie update:

After yesterday’s tough first mountain stage, riders faced an Individual Time Trial before moving back into the mountains for the race’s Queen Stage. Far from being a chance to rest however, stage 3 took riders over a fast course on smooth roads which, after a short climb, led to a fast descent to the stage finish. Manuele Boaro’s confident ride gained 10th position on the stage, while Rafal Majka climbed into the GC top ten with a strong ride.

The 15.11km individual time trial came in the middle of the race’s two mountain stages. While not a pan flat stage, circling the Mont d’Orge and with a short climb almost two thirds of the way round, the route did give riders the opportunity to build up some speed on the smooth and well-surfaced roads, while the route itself was not so technical that riders would be challenged on the bends. Nine kilometres into the route, riders crested the highest point of the stage and started a long, fast downhill to the finish. The final 3km were the most technically-challenging, coming off the fast downhill there were some twists and turns before the stage’s finish.

The stage started and finished in the town of Sion in south-west Switzerland – a town with a history dating back to prehistoric times. This was a route that had the potential to shake up the GC standings ahead of tomorrow’s final mountain stage, and gave the time trial specialists an opportunity to pull some time back before giving it their all on stage 4. Similarly, the stage’s climb meant the out and out climbers wouldn’t be overly disadvantaged, meaning there was everything to play for.

One of the first Tinkoff riders out, Manuele Boaro set a fast time on his ride, completing the course in 21:46, twenty-five seconds down on the eventual stage winner. Manuele’s time was enough to earn him tenth place by the end of the day.

Rafal Majka was the team’s next-highest-placed finisher, coming in forty-five seconds after the stage winner and taking 23rd position on the stage. This performance moved Rafal into the top ten of the GC, ready to face the mountains again tomorrow.

Looking back at the team’s performance, Sport Director, Patxi Vila was pleased with Manuele and Rafal’s performances. “On one side Manuele did a good time trial to finish 10th today – even though it wasn’t a super course for him he managed to be up there even with the hard climb, and getting a top 10 in a WorldTour TT is always good. Then Rafal did a good race, and the important thing to bear in mind is that he is where he should be. We managed it well, had a good pacing strategy, and overall he is in the shape we thought he would be when we came here. He showed very good power on the flats, then on the climb he was as expected – so we can be happy.“

The course wasn’t without its challenges however, and with some technical elements, combined with the climb and the speed of the descent, there was the potential to lose time, and even crash, as Vila explained. “The stage was quite hard to interpret the timing and pacing, getting a balance of how long you can hold a certain power over a set period of time. The climb wasn’t that steady, then the descent was really fast, I saw we reached 90kmh with Manuele, and then there was a technical last three kilometres still going downhill with road furniture to negotiate. Ivan Rovny crashed but he was fine and nothing damaged.”

Tomorrow, the race encounters its Queen Stage. This will be an exceptionally tough day in the mountains, where the peloton will climb two third category and three testing first category climbs – the Col des Planches once, and the Barboleusaz, which is climbed twice, the second time to the stage’s finish. This 172.7km stage may well be where the GC outcome is decided. Vila knew this was going to be a hard day for the team. “I think tomorrow’s stage will be a big battle and we can still jump over some people in the GC. It’s the Queen Stage and with the climb in the middle, 8km at over 10%, then two other steep climbs – it will for sure be a real hard day and I really hope we can keep moving up the GC.”

Van Avermaet Extends with BMC

BMC sent me this news:

29 April, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team today announced the extension of Greg Van Avermaet's contract beyond the 2016 season.

Van Avermaet, who has been with BMC Racing Team since 2011, has established his position as a key Classics contender both within the team and the peloton, BMC Racing Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

"Greg is a cornerstone of the BMC Racing Team organization and has been developing as a leader over some time now. The 2016 season has been quite remarkable for Greg and for the team, and so we are really happy that he has extended his relationship with us," Ochowicz said.

Greg van aVermaet

Greg van Avermaet at this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

"We still have a lot more to do in 2016, but to know that in 2017 we will have our Classics leader still in the team, made up of riders very capable of supporting him, is certainly something we are looking forward to. I think we can accomplish a lot as a team with Greg being part of the BMC Racing Team family."

Van Avermaet is happy to be staying with BMC Racing Team, a team with which he has recorded impressive results. "In my six years with BMC Racing Team I have always been really happy. I have developed a lot in these six years but I still feel that I have something extra in me and that my work is not finished with the team. I still want to win a big Classic with the BMC Racing Team kit on my back and that remains the big goal beyond 2016," Van Avermaet admitted.

"The support has been really incredible from the team since the beginning and it is because of the team, the staff, and the riders, that I have been able to get better every year and get some good results. I have a lot of fun with the people in the team and in the end it is creating a big friendship and family around me. I have built something special and I'm looking forward to continuing with BMC Racing Team."

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy, no other terms or conditions of the contract were released.

Shimano Starts 2016 With Major Sales Drop

Bike Europe published this surprising news:

OSAKA, Japan – Shimano reported last Tuesday a 20.3% decline in net sales of bicycle components in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period in the previous year.

Between January and March the net sales of bicycle components totalled 65,282 million yen (530 million euro). Shimano’s operating income decreased by more than one third (34.4%) to 14,458 million yen (117 million euro). In its market outlook Shimano describes both the European and North American market as positive with buoyant sales in the first quarter of 2016.

According to Shimano, “Distributor inventories of bicycles in Europe remained at an appropriate level. In North America, distributor inventories, which have been accumulating relatively high, are likely to adjust to appropriate levels within the first half of fiscal year 2016. In China distributor inventories remained high, but adjustment to an appropriate level is gradually underway. As regards to other emerging markets, whereas retail sales in Southeast Asia remained robust, those in South America were lackluster because of the economic slowdown and weak currencies. In these market conditions, segment net sales for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 achieved the initial target.”

You can read the entire story here.

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