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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, November 11, 2016

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. - Confucius

Latest completed racing:

Lotto-Soudal reviews U23 team's 2016 season

The team sent me this update:

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

The U23 team of Lotto Soudal performed very strongly the past season with some beautiful victories. That this young team, with eleven first-year and seven second-year U23 riders, would do so well was unexpected. Also for sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer. He told this in July:

“We started this season with a lot of new riders in the team and mainly first-years. Our riders really exceeded the expectations. The guys surprised us, and themselves, by performing so strong and by achieving some beautiful victories. When they entered the U23 category they didn’t know what to expect. They are getting better thanks to each other, there is a healthy dose of competition. If your teammates perform well, you want to do that as well.”

There were already some nice victories in the first half of the season. Edward Planckaert won Gent-Staden, Michael Goolaerts finished first in Brussels-Zepperen and on the third stage of the Loir-et-Cher, while Bjorg Lambrecht won a stage and the GC at Ronde de l’Isard. Edward Planckaert got fifth in Paris-Roubaix. James Shaw claimed the same spot in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Later down the year there were even more great results. Joachim Vanreyten won the Belgian Championships, Bjorg Lambrecht won silver at the European Championships and Harm Vanhoucke was the first Belgian ever to win the U23 edition of Il Lombardia. Last weekend Robbe Ghys won the scratch at the Track World Cup in Glasgow.

Kurt Van de Wouwer: “The silver medal of Bjorg Lambrecht at the European Championships and the victory of Harm Vanhoucke at Il Lombardia were the highlights of this season. Top teams and top riders take part in Il Lombardia and when you know that this is the first season of Harm in the U23 category, it’s an even more remarkable performance. Bjorg Lambrecht stood on the podium as well that day as he finished third. Bjorg definitely had a share in the victory of his teammate. Last year Bjorg already showed what he was worth as a junior, also on Eurpean level, but it’s not easy to score immediately as a U23 rider. At the beginning of the season he already won a stage and the GC at Ronde de l’Isard and performed very consistently the entire year.”

“The performances of Bjorg and Harm are remarkable, but we had a strong team in general. That’s also proven by our victory of the Lotto Top Competition. It’s the fifth year in a row that we won the team classification. The Top Competition is always a goal for us. We took the lead in the first race and didn’t give it away anymore. There are nine races in the Top Competition, among those the Belgian Championship team time trial which we won this year. We didn’t win one of the races, although we came close. Enzo Wouters was second in the Memorial of Coningsloo where he got beaten by Timothy Dupont in the sprint. The same scenario was repeated in the Havenpijl.”

“Next year, five of our riders become pro. James Shaw and Enzo Wouters will join our WorldTour team. Kevin Deltombe and Edward Planckaert go to Topsport Vlaanderen and Michael Goolaerts will ride for Veranda’s Willems. As a team we are very proud to see them set this step.”

New CCB Velotooler UCI Continental team announces roster and sponsors

The team sent me this announcement:

Boston, MA, 10-November-2016

CCB Velotooler, the 2017 UCI Continental road cycling team registered in the USA that operates as a part of the larger CCB International Cycling Club, has released its initial roster and sponsors.  The team uses a unique new business model, as it operates as part of the CCB Cycling Education Foundation 501(c)(3) non-profit, with widely diversified sources of income with the aim of increasing the financial stability of the program through these income sources, as well as the support of the long-standing CCB International Cycling Club.  The announcement of the CCB project has been met with a very positive response from the cycling industry, and the team will enjoy great support from a number of industry sponsors. 

The team's main focus is to support developing U23 riders from the United States who are also pursuing a post-secondary education (college, university, trade school, professional certification, etc...).  The post-secondary education component is a requirement for all U23 riders in the program.  The team will structure its race schedule around the academic commitments of the riders, with the majority of the "target races" taking place between May 1 and August 31.

CCB Velotooler's race schedule will focus primarily on one-day racing, with 5-6 stage races on the schedule as well.  The level of racing will be varied, giving the riders the opportunity to experience and learn in professional races, as well as support the local New England racing community through which the majority of the riders developed.  Races will range from the UCI 1.2 and 2.1 level to national/regional USA Cycling sanctioned races.

In its first year at the UCI Continental level for the 2017 season, the CCB Velotooler UCI Continental roster will have eight U23 ridersand two U25 riders.  Three additional U23 riders will be part of the program as trainees at the club development level, grooming them for the 2018 season.  Several experienced elite riders will also join the Continental roster to act in the role of "road captain" to mentor the U23 riders from within the races. 

CCB Velotooler UCI Continental roster (as of 11/10/16):
Ansel Dickey (Woodstock, VT; US)*
Cameron Beard (Bend, OR; USA)*
Spencer Petrov (Mason, OH; USA)*
Cooper Willsey (Hinesburg, VT; USA)*
Noah Granigan (Cape May Courthouse, NJ; USA)*
Jonah Mead-VanCort (Ithica, NY; USA)*
Patrick Collins (Shrewsbury, MA; USA)*
Nate Morse (Cohassett, MA; USA)*
Cory Small (Boxborough, MA; USA)^
John Harris (Ledyard, CT)^
Jake Sitler (Wrightsville, PA)
Antti Sizko (Soderkulla, Finland)

Development riders:
Josh Anderson (Topsfield, MA; USA)*
Ian Clarke (Killington, VT; USA)*
Wyatt Goral (Andover, NJ; USA)*

* denotes U23 rider
^ denotes U25 rider

Halfords UK sees strong increase in cycling sales

This news came to me from

REDDITCH, UK – Despite a troubling start in the early part of 2016 with high stock levels in the market, poor weather and earlier discounting by competitors Halfords Group Plc saw its cycling revenues grow by 4.6%. This is reported today by UK’s biggest in bikes in its interim results for the 26 weeks to 30 September 2016 period.

According to Halfords Group the UK cycling market declined in 2015 and, whilst gradually stabilizing, remained fragile in the early part of 2016. But, “the peak summer period benefited from warmer weather and also the success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics, which helped to clear much of the stock that had been building up in the market.”

The retailers’ cycling like-for-like revenues increased by 4.6% for the 26 weeks period. The Group’s total cycling revenues however were up by a big of 15.4%. This is including the results of Tredz and Wheelies; the two online retail companies  acquired by Halfords in May 2016. The 15.4% increase in sales also includes revenues of Cycle Republic stores and online sales that followed after the launch of the Cycle Republic transactional website in August as well as two new stores.

Halfords notes that its, “Strong performance during the peak Summer trading period more than offsetting the weather-impacted soft market conditions in April to June. The sales performance was driven by new ranges across kids and mainstream bikes, continued strong growth in premium bikes, and our competitive “20% off all bikes” promotion. Whilst we have been comfortable with our stock levels throughout the Summer, our promotion was in response to discounting observed in the market. The buoyant cycling sales momentum continued beyond the end of the promotion and into the Autumn, with 16.0% like-for-like growth in the final six weeks of the half.”

You can read the entire story here.

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