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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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

I've always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation. - Will Smith

Current Racing:

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Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren still not ready to race.

Johan Vansummeren, winner of the 2011 Paris-Roubaix, was pulled from competition during the 2016 Tour of Oman because of heart problems first discovered at Ag2r's Spanish training camp earlier this year.

While he's back on his bike, tooling around easily, he has not yet been given approval to race. The team wants to make sure he's well and able to withstand the rigors of competition before allowing him to start racing again.

Johan Vansummren

Johan Vansummeren winning 2011 Paris-Roubaix

LottoNL-Jumbo for Belgian races

This update was in my inbox:

After races in Australia, Qatar, Oman and the South of Europe, cyclists face the first classics of the 2016 season in Belgian. Team LottoNL-Jumbo will use a mix of experience and young, eager riders in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this Saturday and Sunday.

The forecast shows no heavy wind and no rain, but cold temperatures. As a result, the winning group could be bigger than otherwise. “The course profile will make a difference,” Nico Verhoeven, sports director during the opening weekend, said. “The riders will make this race a tough one.”

“The weather forecast is perfect to me,” sprinter Moreno Hofland added. “It increases the chance that the race will end up in a sprint with a bigger group of riders. I have to make sure that I’m as front as possible when the race reaches its tough part. Maybe, I’ll be able to grab the victory.”

“We don’t have one specific leader,” Verhoeven continued. “Several riders are able to compete in the race’s final and have a strong finish, as well. When the race explodes, we have to be in front with as many riders as possible. It’s all about reading the race afterwards. We have a nice mix of experienced riders and young men who are eager to prove themselves. They will get enough space to show off. We are going to race with conviction.”

One of those young men is Mike Teunissen, who will debut in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. “I’ve been watching the finals of the last years and previewed the course,” Teunissen says. “I’m someone who races on intuition and likes to ride aggressively, though. These races are perfect for cyclists like me. It’ll be beautiful because I know that aggressiveness may be rewarded. I want our team to light up the final.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will have a specific plan in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the day after. “Sometimes the race’s history tells us how to plan," Verhoeven explained. “Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne has always been a race for the sprinters. It will knock out many in the hill section midway in, expect more than 100 of the 200 riders to be dropped. Afterwards, it will probably end up in a bunch sprint. We plan to support Dylan Groenewegen, who already proved to be a winner in the first month of the season.”

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegan in his 2015 Roompot colors

“This is my first real target of the season,” Groenewegen said. “I’m looking forward to it with a lot of confidence. My victory in Valencia gave me some confidence. To have one victory already feels good for the team and me. I’m expecting to be able to fight for the win on Sunday. It would be perfect for me if we reach the line with a big group of riders. This race can be controlled easily, but if it ends up being an open race, I don’t mind either. Our team is strong enough to fix that.”

Line-up Omloop het Nieuwsblad: Tom van Asbroeck, Jos van Emden, Moreno Hofland, Timo Roosen, Bram Tankink, Mike Teunissen, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.

Line-up Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Twan Castelijns, Dylan Groenewegen, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Robert Wagner, Dennis van Winden and Maarten Wynants.

Sports Directors: Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven.

Direct Energie for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen

Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen podium history. The race will be run March 4 - 6

The team sent me their roster:

Directeur Sportif: Dominique ARNOULD

Coureurs : Ryan ANDERSON, Romain CARDIS, Jérémy CORNU, Yohann GENE, Fabien GRELLIER, Tony HUREL, Julien MORICE, Alexandre PICHOT

Assistants : Blaise CHAUVIERE, Mathieu CLAUDE, Rony MARTIAS

tony Hurel

Tony Hurel (shown in the 2015 Vuelta) is headed to West Flanders

Giant-Alpecin's & Liv-Plantur's upcoming racing

I got this schedule and list of line-ups from the teams:



Team Giant-Alpecin will line up this weekend for its first race of the season on French soil with the 16th edition of the one-day race Classic Sud Ardèche. This year, the Classic Sud Ardèche offers a different course in comparison to recent editions, including some tough climbs and technical descents overlooking the Rhône Valley.

Coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "We have selected an opportunistic team with an offensive focus here in France, which will be led by the experienced road captain Johannes. It will be a tough race but I expect Tobias to play his part in the finale. Especially with Sindre and Sam we also have two talented climbers, with the potential to perform well in those kinds of races."


The women's Team Liv-Plantur will be in action this weekend with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which will be the first race for the team on European roads. It represents a very difficult race potentially influenced by the weather conditions, especially the crosswinds.

Coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We are looking forward to getting the women's European season underway this weekend. After finishing a good training camp last week following a good start to the season in Qatar, the team's spirit is very good among the riders and everyone is full of confidence.

"This is one of the most challenging and difficult races of the season. We are hoping to have a strong ride with Leah and Floortje. They are both capable of overcoming the steep climbs and they will be well supported by the team."


The men's team head into Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne with a wealth of experience in Flemish classic races and capable of fighting for a good result. This classic of 200km with several hills will be a challenging race that often ends up in a bunch sprint, which has been the case for the past editions.

Coach Aike Visbeek (NED) gave his thoughts on the race: "The team is progressing well and bouncing back from a difficult period following the training accident, but the riders are very eager to kick off the classics season. The race will be an exciting one with the influence of crosswinds, so we will have to stay concentrated all the time. The objective is to support Zico and Søren and to bring them as fresh as possible to the finale." 


The second of the two races in France this weekend is La Drôme Classic. The race will be another one to suit the all-rounders, with a course very similar to the 'classic races', with roads exposed to crosswinds and short sharp climbs, including the famous 'Mur d'Alex'."

Coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said looking ahead to the race: "For La Drôme Classic we continue with the objective of racing aggressively, but also to work on getting into the mindset and rhythm of racing as a team. Our strategy will be in accordance to Saturday's Classic Sud Ardèche as Tobias is normally capable of competing in the finale."


The women's team return to action on Sunday with the Omloop van het Hageland in Belgium. The race runs in one line of 53,1km, followed by 5 local laps of 15.2 km each, making a total distance of 129,1km.

"We expect a much more open race for Hageland with a climb on the local laps that has the potential to split the peloton into pieces," explained coach Hans Timmermans (NED). "With this line-up we expect to be involved in the decisive phase of the race with a few of our riders and we will be aiming for a top 10 finish."

Xu Gang returns to Europe

Lampre-Merida sent me this news:

Xu Gang has reached Europe in order to start his third season (in addition to the experience as trainee in 2006) with Lampre-Merida.

The Chinese cyclist, five time national champion, will debut on Sunday in the Gp Lugano.

Xu Gang

Xu Gang

Xu Gang is one of the three Asian riders in the blue-fuchsia-green roster: with the Chinese rider, there are also the Taiwanese champion Chun Kai Feng and the Japanese star Yukiya Arashiro.

In Morocco, Africa, another one Lampre-Merida's cyclists will try to achieve the first seasonal victory.

After having helped the Ethiopian national team to obtain the 4th place in the continental team time trial competition, on Wednesday 24th of February Tsgabu Grmay will try to confirm his title as time trial African champion which he had won in the 2015.

The time trial will be raced on the distance of 32.6 km in Benslimane.

Moreover, on Friday 26th February the Ethiopian champion will take part in the African road championship.