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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. - Rene Descartes

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The story of the feud between former bike makers
Glenn Curtiss & the Wright Bros

Peter Jofre Nye once again reminds us that there was time when the finest inventive minds were captivated by the bicycle. Surely both Glenn Curtiss and the Wright Brothers were among the greatest of that group. But they feuded for decades over the basic patent for the airplane. It's a bit of a departure from our normal pure bicycle fare, but Nye, as usual, tells the story well. I know you'll enjoy it. Click here for the story.

Glenn curtiss

Glenn Curtiss about to pilot one of his early airplane designs.

Sep Vanmarcke leads new Cannondale-Drapac classics group into opening weekend

The team sent me this:

Cobbles, frites, ‘burgs. Finally, classics season draws near. Cannondale-Drapac hopes to add to the excitement and sends a new-look group to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Sep Vanmarcke, recently returned to Slipstream Sports, leads the squad, which consists of Paddy Bevin, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck, and Dylan Van Baarle. Andreas Klier and Ken Vanmarcke will direct.

Vanmarcke, then riding for Garmin-Barracuda, won the 2012 running, outfoxing Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha in the last kilometer. Saturday marks Vanmarcke’s first foray with the classics group that is readying itself for an intense spring campaign through Paris-Roubaix.

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke racing in last year's Paris-Roubaix

“I'm not nervous,” Vanmarcke said. “I'm really looking forward. The last weeks in Valencia and Algarve were a nice to start racing with the guys. The next period is very important, so I'm really motivated to do well. I already have experience in these races, so no reason to get nervous anymore. Excited is a better word. I am confident that we will perform well in the next weeks.”

Vanmarcke is understated and calm looking ahead. Omloop, while it serves as the opening weekend, is still far enough removed from the Monuments that it’s not always the indicator race people may think.

“I think I'm not at my top level yet. We plan to have a big month, when the biggest classics are on the menu. But my form should be already pretty good, so I will play my role in the final,” Vanmarcke said. “Which result that can be I don't know. My teammates are also in a good shape, so everything is possible for us.”

The cycling-mad country of Belgium is set to come alive as its stars toe the line. It’s an exciting time in the sport and fuels conversation from Flanders outward. Who will win Flanders? Who will win Roubaix?

“The fans and the media are just so happy to get their fix. To get a bit of a cobbles ration. There’s advantages to it. But it’s a long way from that core period of April, late March, when the really big races are decided. Form wise I’m not sure if it teaches you anything,” said the team’s head director, Charly Wegelius.

“On the other hand, even for experienced riders, there’s not that many days in a year where they race on cobbles like that,” Wegelius continued. “Getting a chance to do it once, there’s a real benefit in that. It’s important for us this year because it’s a new group around a new leader. We’ve got a mix of experienced riders like Sep, Sebastian, and to a degree even Dylan in terms of riding on the cobblestones, with very green, inexperienced but nevertheless strong riders like Bevin and Mullen and so on. And they’ve never really raced with a super-strong leader before. And that changes the way you ride the race. That weekend for us is an important step toward April.”

Taylor Phinney will make his Cannondale-Drapac debut on the cobbles. He finished seventh in 2014 at Omloop. “Preparing with a new team is great, actually. It’s refreshing. I’m excited to try out some new equipment. Different wheels, different tires, different bikes. It’s another added layer of stress, but it’s a good level of nervous that’s positive and motivating and not a distraction,” Phinney said. “In all honesty, I’m a little intimidated by our classics team. It’s a strong group of dudes. A motivated group of dudes. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but these guys are here for business.

“Opening weekend is always — keyword — stressful. It’s an anxious group of bicycle riders that amass in Belgium and attempt to get their first classic of the year under their belts,” Phinney said. “I think Sep definitely has the capability to win Het Nieuwsblad again. I think Dylan is strong right now.  Sleeper strong. As for me, I’m just coming off my first race, and it’ll be a test. But the beautiful thing about the classics — if you are smart and good with timing, you can kind of just fall into the front group. And it’s a lot of suffering, but it’s just short amounts. Then some respite. You’ve got to be clever.”

DS Andreas Klier knows the cobbled classics inside and out. He’s raced them (victorious at Gent-Wevelgem in ’03 and second at Flanders in ’05) and has directed riders over this terrain since he retired in 2013. He’ll be watching to see how the team moves together.

“The parcours is difficult. You have to have close to 100 percent of your skills sharp to be able to win that bike race. I would say it’s one of the hardest one day races of the year because it’s so early in the season,” Klier said. “I hope we see a good group effort. That’s the first thing I want to see.”

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Paddy Bevin
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Taylor Phinney
Tom Scully
Sep Vanmarcke
Tom Van Asbroeck
Dylan Van Baarle

Cannondale-Drapac for Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne

Alberto Bettiol
Patrick Bevin
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Ryan Mullen
Tom Scully
Tom Van Asbroeck
Wouter Wippert

Esteban Chaves to make Tour de France debut, Yates brothers set sights on the Giro and Vuelta

Orica-Scott sent me this news:

2016 Il Lombardia winner and two-time Grand Tour podium-placer Esteban Chaves will make his debut at the Tour de France this July.

The confirmation comes as Orica-Scott reveal their Grand Tour plans for 2017, which will also see Adam and Simon Yates start the Giro d’Italia for the first time, and the trio of young climbers to combine together for the final Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana.

Having made no secret of the team’s desire to push for high general classification results across all three Grand Tours, sport director Matt White sees 2017 as a vital year in the continued development of Orica-Scott’s trio of young climbing stars.

Esteban Cahves

Esteban Chaves winning the 2016 La Lombardia

“Despite having three quality young riders to develop programs for, we have come up with a plan that the boys, and the team, are very excited about,” White said.

“They have each pleasantly surprised us with their results over the last year, but we have a long term plan and we are not getting ahead of ourselves. Our priority is still to continue their development at a speed that suits them individually."

White said Chaves, who had a breakthrough 2016 and started his 2017 season with a second place at the Tour Down Under, has earned his right to lead the team in the world’s biggest race.

“Esteban has proved that he is ready, and he deserves this opportunity,” White said. “I think it’s pretty unrealistic to expect anyone to win their first Tour de France but physically, Esteban has shown he can ride general classification at Grand Tours and he can handle the stress involved.”

The Yates brothers will make their debut earlier in the year at the Giro d’Italia but more importantly, according to White, they will greatly benefit from the step up in load, courtesy of two Grand Tour starts in 2017.

“The plan for the Giro d’Italia is to go with a two-pronged attack with the Yates brothers riding for the general classification,” White said. “It's a very special edition of the Giro and maybe the toughest last week of a Grand Tour I have ever seen. The boys are up to the challange and it looks to be the best field ever assembled.”

“People on the outside might think it’s a bit strange that we are not sending a lad that finished fourth last year back to the Tour de France. But it’s simple, we want to give the guys a bigger foundation for the future because that’s where their biggest potential lies.

“Their results have been impressive but we aren’t going to see the very best of them for a few years yet. Instead, we decided we will do two Grand Tours with them. The physical maturity and Grand Tour experience will be of great benefit for them both in the years to come."

The three riders will come together for the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana, and if all goes to plan the team will once again support the Yates brothers for a result.

“We don’t know how Esteban will come out of the Tour,” White said. “He has done two Grand Tours in a year before but not back-to-back so we need to reassess after the Tour.”

“It will be the only Grand Tour this year that we will see them race all together and this is also an exciting prospect for us.”

Quotes – Esteban Chaves: “Sometimes I can’t believe this. It’s beautiful and for me just to be part of the start line is one victory. It’s exciting to try for the first time to arrive to Paris with this team. It’s exciting and it’s one big dream.”

“When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was on the couch with my father watching the Tour de France and this was the first moment I dreamt of this, and now I will start. Everyone says the Tour de France is a really different race, that it’s a lot of pressure and it’s super big, but I want to believe it is just one bicycle race and try to enjoy how much more is possible for me to achieve.”

“I think we chose this year the Tour de France because the time trials aren’t really long. It’s true, there’s not a lot of big mountain days but there is enough. The final climbs are hard and steep like the Vuelta a Espana so if I can find the performance from that race, it’s not bad for me. The Giro and Vuelta is proof I can do really well and I can stay with the best riders in the world.”

Quotes – Simon Yates: “From a purely physical standpoint, I think this year can really benefit me for the future. It’s a big load to do two Grand Tours, and ever since I have been a professional I have only done one Grand Tour per year. I really think it will help massively for the future as I progress as a rider.”

“It will be pretty awesome to experience the 100th edition (of the Giro d’Italia), I’m sure it is going to be something special and I think that’s one of the reasons so many big names are turning up. That will make it a harder challenge, but bring it on. The Tour is the biggest race we race, but we are still young riders. It’s good to experience something else, I experienced the Vuelta last year and it was great, and I want to experience the whole calendar.”

“The team really understand us as riders. They understand that we are young, that it takes time to develop into GC riders and build up that endurance to last for three-weeks. Because of that, the results have been good, but there’s still not a lot of pressure to get results. They understand that we are young and that we want to do well. We don’t need motivation to go for big results and that goes a long way to preparing us as riders.”

Quotes – Adam Yates: "Two Grand Tours is something I have never done and it’s a new challenge. I have ridden the Tour (de France) now for the past couple of years and even my first year as a professional, I rode the Tour program without doing the Tour, so I think a change is good and a new challenge is good."

"Whether we can get the same result and do the same performance across two Grand Tours in a year, that’s what we will find out but we are looking forward to that challenge. Everyone always says when you start doing more volume, especially with two Grand Tours, you get a lot more endurance and fitness and it helps you build for the year after. By doing two (Grand Tours) this year, we can work again getting more experience and go into next year even stronger."

"The 100th edition gives the Giro some big prestige this year. If we can get as close to the podium as possible, that is the aim. There is a lot of time trialling and a lot of big names but we are putting the work in, we are working hard and we will see how it goes."

Look Cycle and SRM to develop joint products

Bike-Europe sent me this interesting piece:

NEVERS, France – Two leading parts and components manufacturers, Look Cycle and SRM announce a strategic partnership. “Look and SRM will cooperate in the creation, developing and marketing innovative products and services, both on composite and electronics,” announced the two companies in a common statement.

Look Cycle, which develops and manufactures its products and frames in its own workshops, will contribute its long-term know-how on composites to further enhance SRM product offering. SRM, inventor of the power meter system for cycling, will contribute its years of experience in electronics systems and data handling to expand Look’s product range in the future.

You can read the entire story here.

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