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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. - Henry David Thoreau

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Today's Racing :

Cannondale-Drapac riders reflect on 2016 Vuelta a España

This is the short version. You can read the entire story here.

THE LAST GRAND TOUR of the season came and went. It’s the last, best chance for everyone. Andrew Talansky went in our leader. Sure, you can have plans, but grand tours throw those out the window. This Vuelta was hilly and hot. There were “flat” stages with mountain finishes. In short, it was … the Vuelta. Below, our guys who made it to Madrid reflect on the voyage.

DAVIDE VILLELLA: “I can’t name one moment only. A grand tour is about all the moments together."

BEN KING: "It’s one of the most functional and cohesive teams I’ve been a part of. We raised the bar for each other, set the standard high, and rose to the occasion.”

DAVIDE FORMOLO: "It was nice because with Andrew as the leader, I had no pressure. It was, stay with him, help him when I could.”

JOE DOMBROWSKI: "The Vuelta is hot and you sweat a ton and you drink lots of sugary drinks. When the Vuelta is done, you want something salty, something savory. These beers were only the start of post-Vuelta indulgences.”

MORENO MOSER: “Personally for me, the best moment was when I was third. Maybe that day, with a little more courage, I could have won."

ANDREW TALANSKY: "My teammates stayed completely committed to me when it would have been easy to say in the first half of the race it would be a tough ask to arrive in the top five in Madrid. But bit by bit we worked our way up there."

PIERRE ROLLAND: “My goal in the Vuelta is completely different than in the Tour. I arrive here to help Andrew, first, and I chase a victory to win a stage, second. I tried in small ways for a personal result, and I helped sometimes Andrew, and I think my help is very important for him and the team." 

Pierre Rolland

Pierre Rolland at the start of Vuelta stage 2

Orica-BikeExchange's Damien Howson grows into his job

The team sent me this piece:

South Australian Damien Howson has established himself as super domestique for ORICA-BikeExchange throughout 2016.

His commitment and focus to this cause, including a stand out performance at the Giro d’Italia earlier this season and most recently on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a Espana, has seen the 24-year-old secure a two-year contract extension with the Australian outfit.

After a Grand Tour debut at the Tour of Spain last year, Howson, who joined the team in 2014 as an under 23 world time trial champion, discovered his calling as a key support rider for the general classification ambitions of ORICA-BikeExchange.

“After the Vuelta last year I have really focused on becoming an asset in the mountains, trying to help our leaders achieve their goals,” Howson said. “I feel like I’ve taken a large step forward in my development and I really want to continue that path with the team.”

“I want to use the experience I already have as a stepping stone to become even better at helping out in the finals of the Grand Tours and I really appreciate the support the team has given me to be where I am now as a rider.”

Howson, who will ride with the team through to 2018, will play a key role alongside new signings Roman Krueziger and Carlos Verona in assisting the ambitions of young leaders Esteban Chaves and Adam and Simon Yates.

Damien Howson

Damien Howson finishing 2016 Tour of Romandie stage 4.

Sport director Matt White is pleased to see the strong development of Howson and credited his commitment and work rate for a standout season. “Damien has taken a huge step up since last year and what he has been able to achieve in the Grand Tours is certainly a credit to his hard work and dedication,” White said. “He has become a very valuable and consistent rider in mountain stages and has developed into a super domestique who can also achieve results on his own.

“It’s very rare that you see riders climbing as well as him who can also produce world class time trials. He will definitely be a big part of our Grand Tour plans for the coming years.”

Damien Howson
Age: 24
From: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Turned Professional:  2014

Major results:

-1st 2013 UCI Road Cycling World Championships Under 23 – Time Trial
-2nd 2016 Herald Sun Tour - Stage 4
-2nd 2014 UCI Road Cycling World Championships – TTT
-3rd 2016 Herald Sun Tour - General Classification
-3rd 2015 Vuelta a Espana – Stage 1 (TTT)

Sean De Bie looks ahead to Koolskamp and GP Impanis-Van Petegem

This update came from Lotto-Soudal:

This week there are three one-day races scheduled in Flanders and Wallonia. The first one is the Grand Prix de Wallonie on Wednesday September 14 with the finish at the top of the Citadelle de Namur. Next in line is the Championship of Flanders in Koolskamp on Friday September 16 and the day after the riders are heading to the GP Impanis – Van Petegem.

In the GP de Wallonie, the peloton rides from Beaufays to Namur, that’s a total distance of 205.5 kilometres. During the race, the riders pass through Ardenne landscapes and they have to overcome seven climbs. In the first sixty kilometres there are three climbs close after each other: Côte de Saint-Hubert, Côte de Saint-Remacle and Côte de Werbomont. After these climbs there are no flat roads and the riders continue on to smaller hills. In the finale there are three more climbs to overcome before the peloton is heading to the Côte de la Citadelle de Namur: the Côte d’Ermeton, Côte de Lustin and Tienne aux Pierres. The finish is located at the top of the Citadelle de Namur. Last year Jens Debusschere was the first to reach the top. This year he won’t participate, but maybe Tiesj Benoot or Tim Wellens can take their first victory in Namur.

The Championship of Flanders in Koolskamp on Friday consists of sixteen laps of 12.29 kilometres. On the flat circuit there is only one difficulty: a short passage on a cobblestone section. The cobbles are at the start of every lap and don’t influence the race a lot. It’s been three years since a Lotto Soudal rider took the victory in Koolskamp. It was Jens Debusschere that won in 2013. Can a Lotto Soudal rider win again this year?

The last race in this triptych is the GP Impanis – Van Petegem. The start of the race is in Brakel and the finish is 200.4 kilometres further in Boortmeerbeek-Haacht. During the race the peloton passes fifteen hills in various Belgian regions. The last climb of the day, the Everbergsesteenweg, is situated at 22 kilometres from the finish. The downhill and flat roads in the end suggest a sprint, but last year Sean De Bie surprised the peloton with a late attack. Even though the peloton tried to catch him back in the sprint, he rode solo to the victory.

Sean De Bie: “I just came back from Canada. It was the first time that I had to race so far away so I’m curious how my body will react to both the races and the jetlag. I still have a few days to recover before the races in Belgium, but Friday is just around the corner. The races in Québec and Montréal have given me courage for the last part of the season. I rode really well and I’m happy with my results.”

“Like every other rider, I like to go back to the races that I’ve won, so I’m really looking forward to go back to GP Impanis – Van Petegem. In addition to that, the finish is only a few kilometres away from where I grew up so I’ll have a lot of fans along the road to support me and that makes it even more fun. Of course I hope I can bring home a second victory in the Grand Prix but my condition last year was outstanding. And unfortunately I don’t think they’ll let me attack again that far in the race! I’m sure the other teams will watch the finale of last year. If a rider attacks where I attacked last year, I’m pretty sure the peloton won’t let him go. But you never know, right? I’ll just see how the race evolves but I do think we should have a plan B in the back of our mind.”

Sean de Bie

Sean de Bie

“On Friday it will be my first participation in Koolskamp. Lotto Soudal is one of the teams with a good sprint train, so that should be an advantage. However, in the finale of this kind of races there’s usually not a lot of space to set up the train and the speed is very high. We also have to watch out for the cobblestone section because that’s always dangerous.”

Line-up GP de Wallonie: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Kevin Deltombe, Fredrik Frison, Tony Gallopin, Greg Henderson, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Line-up Koolskamp (provisional): Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jasper de Buyst, Kevin Deltombe, Frederik Frison, Michael Goolaerts, Greg Henderson and Pim Ligthart.

Sports director: Mario Aerts

Line-up GP Impanis – Van Petegem (provisional): Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Kevin Deltombe, Gert Dockx, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays.

Sports director: Mario Aerts.

Roy Curvers & Laurens ten Dam extend with Giant-Alpecin

Here's the release the team sent me:

Experienced road captain and core member of the team since the beginning of its existence, Curvers, has signed a new agreement that commits him for a further year. "I’m very happy to have been with the team for a decade and I’m satisfied with my contract extension," said Curvers. "The team has always shown confidence in me and still does, which is confirmed with this new contract. We are in a phase of development within the team in terms of both top riders and talents coming through over the next few years, and I am looking forward to contributing to their development and creating some great results with them." 

Coach Rudi Kemna (NED) elaborated on the extension: "For us it wasn’t a difficult choice to continue to work with Roy and we’re delighted to have him onboard for another season. He’s a great person and a superb athlete, who breathes our philosophy. Since the beginning he has been one of our core members, and his experience and route knowledge is critical in both the classics and Grand Tours. For the upcoming season he will continue to be one of our main road captains who will guide the young guys in the team."

Ten Dam, 35 years old, made his debut for Team Giant-Alpecin at the beginning of 2016. He had a very good first season with the team, which convinced him that bike racing is still what he loves best. He commented: "During the Tour I realized I wanted to continue racing. I felt the youngsters could still benefit from my legs and my experience. I am really motivated to work with my teammates and staff for another challenging season. The signing of Wilco [Kelderman] has also given me motivation to continue and we have got a stellar GC team next year and I hope to play a big role in it!" 

Laurens ten Dam

Laurens ten Dam in 2015

"This season Laurens has shown that he can offer a lot of value to the team both on and off the bike," explained Kemna. "He has adapted perfectly to our way of working, which is remarkable, considering he has been in other pro teams for a decade. This year we saw that spending part of the season in the US can be combined successfully with a steady road season in Europe, and that will be the plan for next season, too. He'll continue to be important to support our young GC guys in the stage races and Grand Tours. On top of that, we saw at the Tour of California that he is able to compete for a top ten place in the shorter stage races, which is an achievable objective for the next season, too." 

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