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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 25, 2016

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Most of the major cycling countries are having their national championships through June 26. Here's where I'm posting the results. If you are interested in historical national champ info, here's a lot of data.

Carter Jones quits pro cycling

This came from Giant-Alpecin:

Carter Jones (USA) has chosen to leave professional cycling in order to focus on a different career path. Jones had been considering his future for some time, and the recent crashes influenced his decision to quit professional cycling sooner rather than later. Team Giant-Alpecin respects this decision and offers its full support and cooperation. Jones and the team have agreed to terminate his contract as of July.

Jones explained: “It is a personal decision related to two accidents, one last year and one recently, and I am now ready to move on to the next step in my life. I have spent two great seasons at Team Giant-Alpecin, and they have provided me the opportunity to compete in many races at the WorldTour level.

“I have to thank my family for expecting me to complete my college education before fully pursuing a cycling career. Now I will use my degrees in integrative physiology and sociology from the University of Colorado, as well as the experience I have gained as a cyclist, to transition to a career off the bike. Through my experience as a cyclist I have developed an interest in sports marketing and event production, which I hope to pursue further.”

“Carter has been a valuable member of the team, and we respect his decision,” said coach Rudi Kemna (NED). “Carter’s dedication and professionalism cannot be faulted, and it has been a pleasure to have worked with him. We want to thank Carter for his commitment to the team, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

Daniel Oss re-ups with BMC

The team sent me this note:

24 June 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Italian powerhouse Daniel Oss has joined the growing list of riders to re-sign with BMC Racing Team beyond the 2016 season.

Oss' strength and capabilities as a rider are on par with any of the top riders in the peloton, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

Daniel oss

Daniel Oss after the first stage of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

"Daniel Oss is a rider who is extremely versatile, which is something we have already seen this year. He had a great Classics season, not only helping our leaders, but also taking his own opportunities. 2017 will be Daniel's fifth year with BMC Racing Team and I'm looking forward to seeing Daniel continue to grow as a rider and play an important role in our victories," Ochowicz explained.

BMC Racing Team is the ideal team, Oss admitted. "I really love BMC Racing Team. The atmosphere, the people, and the BMC Switzerland bikes, these are the reasons why I want to stay. I feel that I have more to give the team, which the team also deserves, so I'm looking forward to making that happen this season and beyond," Oss said.

Lotto-Soudal previews Belgian road championships

It’s the time of the National Championships. This year the battle for the Belgian road title will take place at the Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure, in the southern part of Belgium, known from stages of the Belgium Tour. Lotto Soudal will start with a strong team of seventeen riders.

The organisation has created a course of 15.4 kilometres that the men need to cover fifteen times, which means a total distance of 231 kilometres. The Petit Poggio, a hill at five kilometres from the finish, could become decisive. It has an average gradient of 6.4% and peaks up to 11%. The rest of the course isn’t flat at all either, there will be a total of 4140 altitude metres.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “At the Belgium Tour large groups have already sprinted for the victory at the Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure, but there are several short laps this time with lots of uphill parts. I can’t predict what will happen. It could be that the pack will really fall apart, like many people think, but it could be as well that a large group gets to the finish. Like I always say, the riders make the race and if there is one race that is hard to predict, it is the Belgian Championships road race. Last year the right break already took off in the first lap, on a course that was less hard, it all depends on who is represented.”

“We start with many riders and have different options. We can make different decisions according to the situation. Our goal is to lead a Lotto Soudal rider to the title, it doesn’t matter which one. There is only one place that counts. Of course other teams will look at us because we have such a large team, but we only focus on ourselves. Gilbert, Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke will be important opponents, just like the Etixx – QuickStep team. But as turned out last year, it can also be a rider we don’t expect.”

The ‘Lotto’ team conquered the Belgian title for the last time in 2014, when Debusschere won in Wielsbeke. His brother-in-law and teammate Jürgen Roelandts almost succeeded him last year, but got beaten by Preben Van Hecke. Roelandts did win the title in 2008, as neo-pro.

Jürgen Roelandts: “I will be good on Sunday, I don’t doubt that, but at the Belgian Championships you also need to have some luck. Hopefully it ends better for me than last year. That I missed out on the title last year is the biggest disappointment in my career. It doesn’t mean I start this time with a different mind-set than other years though, I never dare to expect anything at the Championships because it is so unpredictable. Of course I would love to conquer a second Belgian title. It’s fantastic to ride in that jersey. In 2009 I got injured and couldn’t race the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and I would love to race there once with the national jersey. And it would be wonderful to ride the Tour as Belgian champion.”

Jurgen Roelandts

Jürgen Roelandts

“I always use my intuition when I race, I don’t start with a major plan. Last year I joined a breakaway in the first lap, and such a move was already successful a few times at the Championships. Also Sunday that could be the scenario. It’s a course that suits different types of riders: from climbers to Classics riders. You can compare the course a bit to the Canadian races in Montréal and Québec, but of course it’s so different because it’s a race with only Belgian riders. It’s a fact that the strongest riders will battle for the victory at the end. I am pleased the Championship is organised on this course.”

The Lotto Soudal team: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, Frederik Frison, Maxime Monfort, Jürgen Roelandts, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke, Jelle Wallays and Tim Wellens.

Sunday at half past eight the women will already start their road race at the Belgian National Championships near the Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure. They have to cover seven laps of 15.4 kilometres, so at the end they will have raced 107.8 kilometres. These riders will take the start for the Lotto Soudal Ladies team: Isabelle Beckers, Sofie De Vuyst, Lieselot Decroix, Lotte Kopecky and Anisha Vekemans.

Dany Schoonbaert, sports director: “We should have the strongest team, but that doesn’t mean the victory is certain. In international races riders from other countries often raise the pace, now we have to make the race hard. Sofie De Vuyst, Lotte Kopecky and Anisha Vekemans all have a chance to win. Our entire team will do all they can to make sure we can successfully finish it off at the end. Everyone is in good condition and I don’t doubt they will all perform well. Jolien D’hoore is always a dangerous opponent, she’s also fast. Also the riders preparing for the cyclo-cross season could be strong. But the course is perfect for a hard race and that’s an advantage for us.”

Anisha Vekemans: “This race is a big goal for me, the course really suits me. Each lap we have to climb three hills. The Petit Poggio is the last hill on the course, but I don’t think it’s the hardest one. It gradually goes uphill, while the other two climbs are much steeper. The first one is actually a large road, the second one is a hill in the wood. Also the finish area is uphill, only the last one hundred metres are flat. When you start your final sprint too early, you risk of losing your speed. I find it a beautiful course. No doubt, it will be a tough race, I expect there will already be a serious reduction of the pack in the third lap.”

“We have a strong team with the Lotto Soudal Ladies. Also for Sofie De Vuyst and Lotte Kopecky this is a good course. For us it’s an advantage if it’s a hard race. Three years ago I finished sixth at the Championships in La Roche. It was a hard race then as well, with Liesbet De Vocht who won. I’m a few years older now, have grown and I hope to set a better result at this Championships. I have had the perfect preparation. It’s been a few weeks now that I get up at six in the morning and go to bed at nine in the evening, because of the early start on Sunday. I know I did all I could to be ready.”

Recent bike industry layoffs reveal shifting priorities as well as cost cutting

This excellent analysis posted by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News is by Stephen Frothingham, one of the most knowledgable people writing about the industry today:

A winter without snow doesn't normally affect the bike market negatively, but it does when some in the industry were betting on growth of fat bike sales. However, wholesale sales of fat bikes were down nearly 30 percent in the first five months this year, while wholesale inventory doubled. Sales of fat bikes and related equipment were a boost to retailers in some regions, including the Rockies, but the Northeast had a low-snow winter, followed by a cool, wet spring, and many retailers reported dismal sales. Some Northeast retailers who rely on the ski business to pay the bills in winter have struggled, which indirectly affects their ability to buy and pay for bike inventory.

At the end of May, supplier bike inventory was up 20 percent over a year earlier; bike sales to retailers through May were down almost 6 percent.

According to numbers released last week, at the end of May U.S. suppliers still had 20 percent more bike inventory, in dollars, than they had on hand a year earlier. Supplier bike sales to retailers for the year through May were down almost 6 percent.

Early in the season, several major suppliers pointed to Specialized as carrying much of the excess inventory, and the company announced in February that it had laid off nearly 50 people, although the company told BRAIN its inventory was under control. No matter who has the extra bikes, all major brands have had to heavily discount and tighten budgets to react. That has led to layoffs and reduced spending on marketing and advertising.

While bike sales were a relatively small part of their businesses, the closure of major sporting goods chains this year had repercussions in the bike world. Sport Chalet closed 47 locations in the West, and Sports Authority has begun closing more than 460 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Late last year, Boston-based chain City Sports declared bankruptcy and closed 26 locations.

Several of the bankruptcies left bike industry suppliers hanging. Sport Chalet owed Accell North America $1.4 million and Fuji parent Advanced Sports International $600,000, for example.

The going-out-of-business sales also affect local retail markets. Sports Authority has just begun its sales in earnest, with discounts starting at 30 percent on bikes and accessories, which will increase as the sales continue.

The closures also contributed to a difficult job market for those working in the sports industry. Sports Authority laid off 770 workers just at its corporate headquarters near Denver; the chain employed more than 14,000 people nationally. Sport Chalet had nearly 2,000 employees nationally.

You can read the entire article here.

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