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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. – Isaac Asimov

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Rider signing news

Cannondale-Drapac sent me this about Taylor Phinney's joining the team:

American Taylor Phinney will join Cannondale-Drapac next season. The move will mark a homecoming for Boulder, Colorado’s Phinney, who got his start as a cyclist with Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters at Vaughters’ development team, then known as Team 5280 Magazine.

Phinney will focus on the northern classics and time trials. The 26-year-old has worn the maglia rosa and finished fourth at the Olympics in both the road race and time trial (2012). He’s won stages at the Eneco Tour, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Tour of Poland, and the overall at the Dubai Tour (2014). Phinney has also finished runner-up at the world championships in the time trial (2012).

“I have some close friends that race for the team. And it just generally seems like the team itself has a good vibe. I also met with [Vaughters] earlier this year and really connected,” Phinney said. “One of the major reasons is to work with Cannondale, as an American bike sponsor. My first bike I got was a blue Cannondale that I got from my parents. My family, we used to have closer ties to Cannondale — when I was a kid, those were the bikes that we rode as a family. So it’s cool to return to that.”

Phinney has been haunted by the effects of a crash at US nationals in 2014, where he braked to avoid a motorbike and badly broke his leg. It has taken him years to recover, and at times he’s thought about leaving cycling. All told, the move to Cannondale-Drapac is a chance to remain in the sport he loves with a fresh start.

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney signing in at this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

“This opportunity presented itself to bring my career into a full circle in one way. It definitely feels like a fresh new start, which I’m excited about,” Phinney said. “The last few years have been pretty trying, though super rewarding. But at the same time, I’ve been putting a lot of energy into recovering from this ultra-broken leg that I had in 2014. And BMC supported me through that whole process, and I’m really grateful to them for that … But I’ve changed the way I see things, the way that I approach things, the way that I appreciate things. Once the idea came into my mind of making a big change in my career, trying something new, trying a different environment, it was just something that felt really right to me.”

Vaughters saw how Phinney responded to his broken leg and decided to pursue his former rider. “I’ve always believed he was an absolutely unbelievable talent. My concern for him was that it came too easily for him. That he was so talented that he never really had to learn from the school of hard knocks of bike racing. And I always felt like that was going to limit his career,” Vaughters said. “So the crash in 2014, the massive injury that occurred after that, was to me the sort of testing point to see if Taylor really wanted to be a professional cyclist or whether or not he was content with his first glory years in the sport — he could step away from the sport having done more in three or four years than most people do in 15 years … And all of a sudden, it became this question of whether he really wanted it. Whether he truly, really, wanted it. Not, ‘I want to do this because of my family’s heritage,’ or ‘I want to do this because I don’t have anything better to do,’ or ‘I want to do this because I get paid a lot.’”

Ultimately, Vaughters got his answer. “In speaking with him over the summer, I got the impression that he did want to be a bike racer. His injury was severe and very difficult to come back from. He’s worked incredibly hard to get his leg to function again. At this point, there’s no reason he’s not going to be able to realize his full potential. The last eight months hasn’t been so much being held back by the injury itself, it’s been the two years of not having consistent racing and training because he had to be rehabbing this injury,” Vaughters said. “Little by little, he’s putting that back together. For me, next year, his health should be 100 percent. His motivation should be 100 percent. Now, it’s just a matter of putting that all together. Now he’s got to prove whether all the hype when he was young was valid or not. I hope we’re the team to put our backs into it and prove he was worth the hype.”

Phinney’s addition to the team bolsters the Cannondale-Drapac classics squad. He’ll join new signing Sep Vanmarcke and up-and-comer Dylan van Baarle (sixth at Flanders in 2016) in Belgium and France.

“Taylor brings horsepower. A lot of horsepower,” said sport director Andreas Klier. “Besides that, I think he is a very good team player with nearly unlimited possibilities when we consider the three weeks of northern classics. Taylor has shown plenty of times that he is high value for a real leader, and Sep is definitely one of them. I’m looking forward to working with them. I think if you add Dylan [van Baarle] to the two names we already mentioned, then we have enough people to cover those northern races. And all of them are able to perform outside those three weeks on a high level, we shouldn't forget that.”

Vaughters said Phinney slots in as a support/wildcard rider at the classics, but pointed toward the Tour de France as an important target. “As far as the northern classics, Sep is our number one guy," said Vaughters. "Dylan Van Baarle is the chief lieutenant. So Taylor fits into a little bit more of a support rider, wildcard role in the classics. He’s a little less proven — 260k races, it takes a little longer to fully adapt to those until you’ve done multiple grand tours and have more of a foundation, which he doesn’t really have right now because of his injury. I fully expect him to be in the final 20, 25 rider selection in the classics. Without a doubt. That’s the number goal for the first part of the year.

"And then the big goal for the second part of the season is the 13 kilometer opening time trial in Dusseldorf at the Tour de France," Vaughters continued. "We’re working with Cannondale on the fastest possible bike for him. We’re working with Mavic on new tires and wheel technology. And we’re trying to develop something that’s super fast for him. He’s going to do his half of the equation, and we’re going to try to pull it all together and see if we can garner a yellow jersey in Dusseldorf.”

Even getting to the point where Phinney can talk about goals again has been a process that’s taken time. He’s gotten here in his own, unique way.

“I just want to win. Because that’s what it’s all about. I feel like I’m to an age where I’m more comfortable with myself and who I am," said Phinney. "I really feel like recently I’m coming into this vast, general acceptance of exactly who I am. And not feeling self-conscious about embracing who I am. I find that by sharing that and just being true to yourself you can inspire other people and unite a group around a certain cause. I love the idea of being able to step into that role a bit more also and let my personality shine through in a new, fresh way. I’m doing it already, I’ve been doing it my whole career, but I’m more mindful about it now."

"I feel like I just got back to a point with my body that I’m able to think about goals and not just think about surviving these races. And that’s powerful," Phinney added. "It’s easy to set goals. Yeah, Roubaix, Tour de France. Because everybody says that. But I want to get that hunger back, that fire, that real commitment to what I’m doing — that fully engaged, intentional, every-second-of-the-race, you’re in it. But if I think about the coolest thing I could do next year it would be to win the opening time trial at the Tour de France. To race the Tour de France. Because I’ve never done it.”

BMC sent me this note about recruiting Francisco Ventoso:

27 September, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Former Spanish national road race champion Francisco Ventoso will join BMC Racing Team in 2017, General Manager Jim Ochowicz confirmed today.

Ventoso, 34, is the third addition to BMC Racing Team's 2017 roster and strengthens both the grand tour and classics' teams, Ochowicz said.

"Francisco Ventoso is a very versatile rider who will fit well with BMC Racing Team's objectives. He is not only a strong classics rider, but also a great support rider for the grand tours. Francisco has been on the professional circuit for a long time so he is experienced in the peloton and understands what needs to be done in different race scenarios, which ticks a lot of boxes for us. Francisco is also a multiple grand tour stage winner so when given the opportunity he also knows how to win. We look forward to seeing him in the BMC Racing Team kit in 2017," Ochowicz explained.

Francisco Ventoso

Francisco Ventoso at the 2012 Giro d'Italia after stage 9

Ventoso appreciates the opportunity to join BMC Racing Team. "For me it is a great motivation to go to one of the best teams in the world and it is an honor for me to join the group of riders who will attack the spring classics with Greg Van Avermaet as captain," Ventoso said.

"My main goal for 2017 is to put all of my experience and my strength into the team to make BMC Racing Team even stronger. I greatly appreciate the confidence placed in me and I will give the best version of myself as a rider."

Ventoso, who claimed the Spanish road race title in 2012, is a two-time Giro d'Italia stage winner, Vuelta a Espana stage winner and has competed in 11 grand tours throughout his career.

Gesink and Kelderman lead team LottoNL-Jumbo in Lombardia

The team sent me this report:

Robert Gesink and Wilco Kelderman will lead Team LottoNL-Jumbo this Saturday in the last, and perhaps toughest, WorldTour event of 2017, Il Lombardia.

"It's one of the most honest classics of the season,” Sports Director Addy Engels said. “The course is so difficult that only the best men survive. That makes the Tour of Lombardy such a beautiful race.

"We have a good team for this Italian classic. With Gesink and Kelderman, we have two guys who can play a role in the final. With Martens, Lindeman and Tankink, we have some experienced men. Enrico Battaglin will return for the first time after he abandoned the Vuelta due a crash. Given its his home race, he will be motivated. Koen Bouwman and Alexey Vermeulen are the young riders of the squad." ‎Gesink should be the team’s star, but Kelderman could also surprise in the race to Bergamo.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink

"Robert Gesink showed in the past that he can participate in the final. He finished the Vuelta well and is fresh enough now to do it.‎"

"Wilco showed in the Eneco Tour that he's in shape, too. Kelderman has the advantage of going deep a week before this race. With a good rest, he can be in a good shape for the start Saturday."‎

Gesink has not raced since the Vuelta ended on September 11.‎‎"I am motivated to show something beautiful in my last race this season. Lombardia is a marvellous race where I often score a good result,” said Gesink.

“I wonder how my legs are going. The Vuelta was great, but then I have not raced for a long time. I trained hard to hold my level, though. Together with Alexey Vermeulen, we leave early for Italy to explore the final. It has changed, so it cannot hurt to preview it. "

Wilco Kelderman has just returned from the Eneco Tour, where he placed sixth overall. "I hope to be able to compete in the final,” added Kelderman. “I want to help Robert as long as possible in the final. Together with Gesink, we definitely can show something.

"It's wait and see how my shape is coming along for Saturday. Normally, the weekend after a big event, I'm going well. It's going to be different with the many and different climbs. The course is obviously not comparable to that of the Eneco Tour."

Line up: Enrico Battaglin, Koen Bouwman, Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink and Alexey Vermeulen

Sports Director: Addy Engels

Interbike cycle show visitor and exhibitor numbers drop

This came from Bike-eu:

LAS VEGAS, USA – Last Friday Interbike 2016, that took place from September 19 to 23 including its Outdoor Demo Days, closed its doors at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Show director Pat Hus and his team clearly showed to be relieved as this year’s show could have been much worse. In particular when taking into account the current state of the US market.

Interbike 2016 has been better than expected. But the fact remains that, according to first forecasts, visitor numbers dropped by 10 to 12 percent compared to last year. Occupied exhibition space was down by 8 percent. But one has to take into account that last year’s Interbike was space-wise the largest ever.

“Are we are happy with this year’s show? No. But if you ask me if it could be worse I say, definitely yes,” stated Pat Hus right after Interbike 2016 closed its doors. According to the show director, “Interbike reflects the negative factors the whole country and the industry is faced with now.”

On the one hand these factors are rooted in a deep overall uncertainty and no positive feeling all over the country. According to several Interbike visitors this is a result of the current political situation with the upcoming presidential election. Generally it is said that the country is ‘missing leadership’. And that this loss is not only politically but also business-wise, including in the US bicycle business where nowadays everybody is doing its own thing.

This last also impacts Interbike, as more and more companies are doing their own show. Again a number of big brands dropped Interbike this year like Felt and Giant, but also renowned US premium brands Intense Cycles, Rocky Mountain and Santa Cruz. They made their space available for smaller exhibitors.

These smaller exhibitors eagerly stepped in. Pivot Cycles founder and GM Chris Cocalis said for example that his company reached its best-ever Outdoor Demo Days and Interbike exhibition results ever. But when talking about Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Days; they showed a frightening drop in exhibitor and visitor numbers setting question marks for the future of this part of the Las Vegas show.

Your can read the entire story here.

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