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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 25, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ryan Gibbons remains Tour de Langkawi leader

Here's the report from Team Dimension Data:

The 3rd stage of the Tour de Langkawi was a short 118km sprint from Serdand to Pantai Remis and Jakub Mareczko (Willier) was the day’s winner, sprinting to victory ahead of Scott Sunderland (United Healthcare) and Zamri Saleh (Terengganu). Ryan Gibbons from Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka held on to overall race lead after rolling across the line in 15th place.

It was a late afternoon stage in Langkawi as riders set off just past 15:00 local time. While it was a rather short stage at just 118km in length and relatively flat too, the 38 degree heat still made for a challenging day of racing. Our African Team was out to defend the overall lead of Gibbons by bringing the stage down to yet another sprint finale.

Three riders made an early move to form the break of the day and they were able to reach a lead of 5-minutes. Jacques Janse van Rensburg then went to the front of the peloton to control the gap on behalf of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Janse van Rensburg did a phenomenal job to bring the gap down to under 2’00” with less than 20km to go before any real assistance was offered by other teams.

The escape was caught with 6km to go and it was now up to the sprinters to have their say in the stage. Our African Team were once again looking after the interests of Gibbons but the fight for position was intense as the short stage allowed for more riders with fresher legs to be in contention. In the end it was Mareczko who came out on top. Mekseb Debesay was first across the line for us in 12th and Gibbons had to be content with sitting up over the final 100 meters to safely keep his yellow jersey for another stage.

Jakub Mareczko

Jakub Mareczko wins stage 3

Ryan Gibbons – Rider: We controlled the race all day and the team were incredible. Jacques did a phenominal job, I think he sat on the front by himself for over 90km. Coming into the final I think everyone was caught fresh so a few teams who have been nothing the past few days were able to come to the front and it was madness. I think almost went down 3 times so I just rolled in around 15th. Happy to have kept yellow but nowhere on the stage unfortunately. We are quite relaxed going into tomorrow’s stage, we have Ben and Mekseb who are both looking really strong. I will see what I can do but I think overall the team will be quite good tomorrow.

Cannondale-Drapac is ready to race the Classics

Here's the team's update:

February 22, 2017: Finally. The classics are here.

This weekend brings us Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the opening act in the theater of the classics season. For many of us, it’s our favorite racing of the year. The crowds are immense. The stakes are huge. Monument wins define careers for riders. Mornings watching these races often define pro cycling for fans. We talked a bit with some of the guys this week about Omloop and the classics in general, and we’ll get you up to speed with each member of our cobbled classics group in the coming weeks. Here are a few snippets from our conversations this week looking forward to Omloop.

“The classics races, in many ways, are one of the few disciplines within road cycling that still escape from real control. You can’t put these races in box, either, in a strategic point of view. You can’t drown these races in science. You’ve got to know the races and you’ve got to feel the way the peloton moves. There’s a lot of stuff that you just have to learn. How the roads are.  How the wind blows on certain roads. I discovered this last year even as a director. You just have to approach these races differently. Even as a sports director. They’re unique. There’s a big difference having a team there as outsiders and having a team that’s built around strong leaders. So that’s a different way of riding. In terms of the results we’re trying to get, bearing in mind one of the big things we’re trying to do is develop talent in house, it’s going to really accelerate the learning process for our up-and-coming riders. In the same way that Formolo and co. get real benefit from riding with Uran, I think the same can go for the classics riders.” —Charly Wegelius, director sportif

“I’m not nervous, but I’m really looking forward. Last weeks in Valencia and Algarve were 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’m confident that we will perform well in the next weeks.” —Sep Vanmarcke, winner of OHN in 2012, then with Garmin-Barracuda

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke in the 2016 Paris-Roubaix

Taylor Phinney was set to make his classics debut with the team on Saturday. Unfortunately, he is out due to a small injury to his knee and will be replaced by Ryan Mullen. This is what Phinney said about the team and the cobble classics:

“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. In all honesty, I’m a little intimidated by our classics team, actually. 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. And I respect that.

"Obviously the squad is bolstered by the addition of Sep and his brother, Ken, as a director. The Vanmarcke brothers are hilarious to imagine as children, with Ken telling Sep what to do all the time because he’s older. And now Ken is actually in a car, on a one-way radio to his younger brother, still telling him what to do. Which I feel like is awesome.

"The squad, on top of that is stout. A lot of us were in Algarve together. We rode really well together. I’m still trying to figure out my place. Where I fit in. And I hope to perform at a level at which I can be respected as much as I desire to be respected by my teammates.” —Taylor Phinney

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:

Patrick Bevin
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Ryan Mullen
Tom Scully
Sep Vanmarcke
Tom Van Asbroeck
Dylan Van Baarle

Lotto-Soudal's weekend racing plans

The team sent me this update:

Traditionally, the Belgian cycling season starts with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Yesterday, Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts talked about their expectations for the Omloop, today sports director Herman Frison and Jens Debusschere give their vision on the opening weekend.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We have a strong team for both races. Marcel Sieberg is the missing link in our team and that’s a pity. Due to illness, he didn’t get fit in time for the opening weekend. But we have enough riders to fill that gap. In the previous races everyone showed they are in a good shape. On top of that we have already won six races. We did a recon of the Omloop and Kuurne a few weeks ago. We didn’t want to risk having to cancel the recon due to bad weather. And that turned out to be a good choice. Also, the riders were only back from the Ruta del Sol and Volta ao Algarve on Monday. Now they could take the necessary rest to be fresh for the Omloop and Kuurne. The opening weekend is always important for us as Belgian team. Like always, we will ride our own race and won’t look at other teams.”

Jen Debusschere

Jens Debusschere at last year's Dwars door Vlaanderen

Jens Debusschere: “Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is one of the spring races that suits me best, just like Dwars door Vlaanderen and Ghent-Wevelgem. At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts have a bigger chance of success than I. Altough I can definitely play my role in the Omloop. I’m at my best when there is a sprint at the end of a hard race, with a finale that’s not too tough. Look at my victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen last year. At Kuurne I haven’t been able to set a high result yet, I hope to change that on Sunday. Hopefully it will be an open race with a smaller group that reaches the finish. After a hard race I have more chance of winning.”

“Two years ago, I set a step forward with several top ten places in the classics and last year I won Dwars door Vlaanderen. When I had reached my best level I crashed at Ghent-Wevelgem. Let’s hope that the team and I are spared from bad luck now. Last week, I crashed at Volta ao Algarve and hurt my hand, but that won’t bother me this weekend. I hope I can play my role for the team at the Omloop and in Kuurne I will aim for the victory.”

Sunday around noon the riders will start in Kuurne for a two hundred kilometres long race. From West-Flanders they are heading towards the Flemish Ardennes. The course runs across the Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont and Tiegemberg. After the ascent of Nokereberg, the twelfth and last hill, the peloton returns to West-Flanders. The race ends with two local laps of 15.3 kilometres in and around Kuurne.

Continental Tires hires Oris Intel to monitor MAP policy

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this interesting update:

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Continental Tires has hired Oris Intel to monitor its minimum advertised pricing and sales policies, using the MAP monitoring service provider's Prol software.

"As a global tire supplier of premium bicycle tires, we have been challenged by the online pricing landscape for some time. Oris Intel offers a robust solution for monitoring our entire product offering across the vast array of online resellers," said Brett Hahn, Continental's North American brand manager. "Prowl allows us to quickly assess the market and take immediate action to correct any pricing irregularities in an effort to support and protect our valued dealer base."

The Prowl software was designed to monitor online pricing and reduce the time it takes to enforce pricing policy infringements. The software also works to identify online discounters and unauthorized dealers. Additionally, it also helps identify anonymous sellers and determine who discounted first, as well as automating the MAP monitoring process.

You can read the entire story here.

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