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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 23, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Doubt grows with knowledge. - Goethe

Current Racing:

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Astana's video tribute to Michele Scarponi

Michele Scarponi was killed on a training ride Saturday. His Astana team posted this heartfeult tribute to the winner of the 2011 Giro d'Italia.

Uran and Co. look to animate Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Cannondale-Drapac sent me this update:

Bicycle History

Liège-Bastogne-Liège. La Doyenne. The Old Lady. The third of the Monuments. The last Ardennes. The unofficial shift from one-day classics to stage racing.

Cannondale-Drapac hope to surprise in the 103rd running of the Belgian classic. The team of eight will back a single leader despite multiple cards to play.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the best guys appearing early,” said sport director Tom Southam. “If the best guys appear early here, I’m not worried about that. We’ll be there with the right guys. We have a lot of guys in good shape coming out Basque Country, coming out of Trentino, and we plan to back one of them. I don’t want to say any more than that.”

The team is bolstered by the additions of Davide Formolo and Davide Villella. The pair flew in from Italy on Friday to join Simon Clarke, Alex Howes, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Toms Skujins, Mike Woods and Rigoberto Uran in Liège.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran

“It’s always been on the cards for these two to come into the race,” said Southam. “It’s a race we’re taking very seriously. They both have great form before the Giro. Traditionally it’s a race where guys going for the Giro are ready. It suits a stage racer a bit more than the other one-day races. They’re going to be a huge asset in this race.”

The course for the 2017 Liège-Bastogne-Liège has been changed from previous years. Last year’s innovation, the cobbled Côte de la Rue Naniot, has been eliminated as have the traditional mid-race trio of climbs in Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu and Côte de la Haut Levée. They are replaced by Côte du Pont, Côte de Bellevaud and Côte de la Ferme Libert. The last of the three averages 12 percent and although it comes more than 80 kilometers from the finish, it could prove decisive.

La Redoute remains. The caravan-lined climb typically marks a shift into the business end of the race. It’s followed first by Côte de La Rouche-aux-Faucons and then Côte de Saint-Nicolas, the latter which regains its position as the penultimate climb before the uphill drag to Ans.

“Liège is another level hard compared to the other Ardennes races,” said Clarke. “It comes down to brute force in the end. You can either push the pedals or you can’t. There’s not a whole lot of tactics that come down to being at the front of the race compared to the other classics. The climbs are longer compared to Fleche and Amstel, which is why it’s more a question of climbing capacity and not so much positioning and being in the front on narrow roads.”

The nature of the course requires all-hands-on-deck in service of the team leader. Energy conservation matters more than positioning.

“Being such a hard classic, it’s even more paramount to look after your captains and help them arrive in the last 20km with the freshest legs possible,” said Clarke. "Because it’s so hard, any efforts to help them conserve energy helps them in the final. A team is vital in that respect.”

Although Cannondale-Drapac have yet to secure the Ardennes week result they have chased, Southam is encouraged by the preparation and execution from his squad.

“If you look where Mike and Rigo were on that last climb in Flèche, they were in the right place,” said Southam. “It’s not easy to do that, to put them there. In WorldTour races, it’s not easy to be where you want to be in a final. It’s take a lot of effort to do that. We arrived there in the way we wanted – similar to Amstel, the guys were in the right place on the Kruisberg before Amstel. In Amstel we just didn’t quite have the right guy for it in terms of to be in that six-man break. Even if Bettiol hadn’t had problems, he would have waited behind, and Mike didn’t have the legs on Wednesday.

“Liège is a completely different kettle of fish,” Southam noted. “A lot can change in the final in Liège. If we do the right thing, we’ll be in with a chance. We can always do things better but the team has been operating at a really high level. They need to continue to do that and then finish things off.”

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Liège-Bastonge-Liège:

Simon Clarke (AUS)
Davide Formolo (ITL)
Alex Howes (USA)
Tom-Jelte Slagter (NDL)
Toms Skujins (LVA)
Davide Villella (ITL)
Mike Woods (CAN)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)

Porte Set to Lead Motivated BMC Racing Team at Tour de Romandie

BMC sent this update to me:

21 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte has his sights set on the General Classification in Switzerland next week when he leads BMC Racing Team's eight-rider roster at the Tour de Romandie.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said that the Tour de Romandie is an important race for BMC Racing Team.

"We are heading to Tour de Romandie with Richie Porte as our leader and with a strong and determined team around him. Richie is now beginning the final phase of work before the Tour de France, and this is a real building block ahead of July. Tejay van Garderen will also be able to test himself here before the Giro d'Italia. For both riders, this is an important race for their Grand Tour ambitions this year."

"With BMC Switzerland our title sponsor, this is a home race for us, and we have the added motivation of having four Swiss riders on our team. It is always good to race on home soil especially for young riders like Tom Bohli. Plus with the experience and knowledge of Danilo Wyss, I'm confident that we can get a good result."

For Richie Porte, the Tour de Romandie is another important step towards the Tour de France. "After Paris-Nice, I have had a good block of training at home in Monaco, so now it is important to test my legs in race conditions. The competition is always strong at the Tour of Romandie, so a good result is important."

"We open with the prologue and end with a time trial that is well-suited to me, and I hope to be up there on every climb as I look towards my big goal this year, the Tour de France. When we get to this point in the season every race day counts," Porte explained.

Paris Nice

Richie Porte having a good day at this year's Paris-Nice

Tour de Romandie (April 25 - 30)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Richie Porte (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

Supplier bike shipments fall 15 percent over first quarter

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this news piece:

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Suppliers selling e-bikes saw an increase in business over the first quarter as shipments grew 88 percent, but that is about the only good news in Q1. Suppliers shipped 80,303 fewer bikes to shops through March, a loss of $32.6 million in business, according to a Bicycle Product Suppliers Association report. In the first three months, bike shipments were down 13 percent in dollars and 15 percent in units.

Shipments in March tumbled significantly, down 27 percent in units from March 2016, which may suggest retailers do not have a bullish take on the upcoming sales season, or they still have unsold inventory they want to move first. Either way, supplier business is short of last year's numbers.

You can read the entire story here.

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