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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 22, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Team Sunweb confirms Tour de France line-up

The team sent me this news:

Olympics 50 Craziest Stories

With the Tour de France just over a week away, Team Sunweb are pleased to announce their line-up for the 2017 edition of 'La Grand Boucle'.

This year's Tour de France is a special edition for the German WorldTour team, with the race starting in Düsseldorf, Germany. After 11 stage wins during the previous four editions, Team Sunweb head to the race once again with the ambition of stage success.

"An intricate preparation plan has been created in advance of the race for each rider on the line-up," explained Team Sunweb's trainer Hendrik Werner (GER). "Each plan has been carefully constructed with balanced blocks of altitude training, racing and rest periods. Their progress and power output has been recorded, monitored and analysed by our trainers and experts to ensure that all riders are at optimum performance level."

Team Sunweb's Tour de France coach Aike Visbeek (NED) added: "Our nine-rider line-up has been created with the team's overall goal of stage results at the forefront of our mind. We have selected a strong group of riders to form the lead-out train for Michael [Matthews] on the sprint stages with a difficult finale. The recent racing campaign was a pin-point on our year plan to work on optimising our lead-out."

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews all-out at the 2017 Tour of Switzerland

German Nikias Arndt, the pilot previously confirmed to line-up at the Tour, will be joined by Ramon Sinkeldam, Mike Teunissen, Albert Timmer and Roy Curvers for the sprint stages. Curvers will also take on the role of team captain out on the road. As one of Team Sunweb's core and long-standing members, the depth of his experience and understanding of the team's dynamics will prove essential in leading the team out on the road.

Visbeek explained more about the team's other goals: "Next to our chances in the sprint stages with a difficult finale, we have selected the trio of Warren, Simon and Grand Tour veteran Laurens, who will aim for breakaways. We aim to apply an offensive racing strategy in selected intermediate, hilly and mountain stages."

Katusha-Alpecin has also released its TDF line-up:

Team KATUSHA ALPECIN will take part in the 2017 Tour de France. The Grand Boucle will start on 1st of July in Dusseldorf, Germany and ends as usual on Champs Elysées in Paris on 23rd of July.

Tony Martin

Tony Martin at this year's Dauphiné. Will he be able to exchange his rainbow kit for yellow by winning the first stage time trial?


Tom Skujins returns to racing

Cannondale-Drapac sent me this good news:

As this hits your inbox [Wednesday morning], Toms Skujins will be minutes away from his return to racing in the time trial at the Latvian National Road Championships. The 26-year-old was involved in a high profile crash at Amgen Tour of California last month that left him with a broken collarbone and a concussion. He missed out on the final stages of California and sat out Tour de Suisse as he recovered in his US base of Boulder, Colorado. And now he’s back and as hungry and motivated as ever.

Tom Skujins

Tom Skujins having a good day at this year's Coppi-Bartali

Skujins says that he isn’t as prepared or as focused on nationals as he has been in the past. He has eyes on a steady string of results at Tour of Poland, a month out yet, so he’s building through nationals, patiently progressing towards a target that offers WorldTour points and WorldTour glory.

We spoke with Skujins as he prepared to pin on a number for the first time in five weeks.

Q: How did the crash at California compare to previous crashes in your career?

It’s definitely the biggest crash I’ve had. It was my first broken collarbone and my first concussion. It was also the most visible crash I’ve ever had.

Q: What did the first week post-crash involve?

I was still with the team for half of the first week because I couldn’t fly anywhere because of the concussion.

I had surgery two days post-crash in California. One of the race doctors came in the day after the crash. He was working in a clinic near our hotel and was able to do the surgery. He did an amazing job.

The night after the surgery was really painful. Other than that, it was improvements every day – especially the head.

It got better quickly after the first week. At the tail-end of the second week, I was able to ride again. I did a cognitive test and was given the clearance to ride the trainer.

Q: What did that cognitive test entail?

It’s a series of exercises done online. It probably takes around 30-40 minutes. It’s several tests that focus on memory, concentration, the ability to complete tasks – like pressing a key when the light is green or when the letters are a certain color. It’s six or eight tests that you do in those 30-40 minutes, and it generates a score that you can compare to a baseline you’ve already established. I did them last year when not concussed, without any head trauma, so that if I ended up in this exact situation, I’d have my own individual baseline that I’d need to return to before I can ride.

Q: When were you able to transition from the trainer to the road?

I can’t remember exact days. I think I did four rides on the trainer. That was all it took for me to get comfortable enough to get back on the road.

Q: Are you having any lingering impact from the crash?

There’s definitely less muscle around my shoulder. That’s what I need to start working on now. It’s been four weeks, and I’ve done another x-ray to confirm it’s healed. I pretty much have all the mobility back, maybe I’m missing 5-10%. I’m sure I’ll get that back within another month or so.

Q: How’s the form?

I’ve been riding some longer, steadier rides. I was at altitude in Boulder, and my big focus is Tour of Poland more than Nationals. I want to be ready for that, for the second phase of the year. Knowing that, I didn’t do a lot of intensity. The body feels good, and it’s race ready but it’s not RACE race ready if you know what I mean.

Q: Do you have ambitions for Nationals?

Nationals are always tricky. It’s not an ordinary race, especially in a small field like we usually have. That means it’s not always about the legs. I’m going to try to work more on mental and tactical skills and see where that takes me. It definitely won’t be easy.

After Nationals, I go back to altitude so I can train hard again and get ready for Poland. Poland is the next big one with the team. I’m excited about it, but I’m trying not to get over-excited because it’s still a month away.

Van Vleuten storms to a consecutive national time trial victory

This report came from Orica-Scott:

Annemiek van Vleuten produced a phenomenal ride at the Dutch individual time trial championships today to successfully defend her 2016 title in the event.

As the final rider to start wearing the number one, Van Vleuten rolled down the ramp well prepared for the effort ahead and quickly showed she was on the mark passing the first intermediate time check with the fastest time.

The 34-year-old ORICA-SCOTT rider completed the 25.2kilometre distance with a time of 32minutes 44seconds to take the victory and retain her national stripes by four seconds over second place Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb).

Van Vleuten

Van Vleuten winning the Cadel Evans race earlier this year.

Van Vleuten was overjoyed with her third win in the national event after today’s impressive average speed of 46.3kilometre/per hour over the lumpy course. “I actually felt better last year so I didn’t think I was having a super day,” said van Vleuten. "It was heavy and I had to go deep, but the reward is fantastic."

“At the first time check I was already 15seconds faster than Van Dijk and 10seconds faster than Van der Breggen. I went out really fast and after that I started to believe it was possible.

"I have been working really hard on my time trial position and doing a lot of time trial training at altitude."

Having tough competition in former time trial world champion Van Dijk and Olympic road race champion van der Breggen, van Vleuten knew it would be a tough task but was able to produce a performance required on the day to win once again."I knew it would be really hard and close with the times at the end and I couldn’t believe that I had won so I am really, really happy," van Vleuten continued.

"You must be very good in the Netherlands if you want to be a champion with the competition of Ellen van Dijk and Anna van der Breggen. Last year I was maybe a little stronger when I looked at the wattages, but this title certainly tells me so much.

"It was great to have some support from the team with Pat Ryan here helping me out and I think that really helped me to go for the title."

Van Vleuten is back in action later this week for the Dutch national road race on Saturday 24th June.

Dutch national time trial championship results:

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) 32:44
2. Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +0:04
3. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +0:26

Pirelli to produce new road race tires in France

The news piece came to me from Bike Europe. Back in the 1970s, Pirelli sew-ups were highly regarded and very hard to come by. When an American importer would get a few, they were quickly snapped up.

The report: MILAN, Italy – The announcement of the bicycle market entrance was mad a few weeks ago already but the iconic brand name in Formula 1 and motorsports showed its new PZero Velo tires for the first time last week in Milan.

Why production in France? “The production could have been everywhere,” explains Antonella Lauriola, COO Business Unit Velo Pirelli. “We selected Hutchinson as their standard in production technology matches our requirements. The location of the production was no issue for us. Pirelli is a premium brand and we will always act on the top-level of the market, regardless the product category.” The Italian company enters the market with road race tires but other categories will follow very quickly as was said during the presentation by Pirelli staff.

For the new road race tyre range Pirelli developed a new patented compound called SmartNet silica. It is presented as “The next generation high-tech molecule which delivers maximum performance”. The SmartNet compound has been developed at the company’s Bicocca Technology and Innovation Centre. According to Pirelli the tire's compound is composed of more than seventeen elements.

SmartNet silica’s configuration differs from traditional ones as it has no spherical shape but is an elongated stick. According to Pirelli “This provides numerous benefits in terms of performance. The longitudinal position positively affects the tire's smoothness allowing highly directional performance, thanks also to its high elasticity leading to decreased heat generation and rolling resistance.’

In line with the company’s philosophy and to keep the technology in house, the production of the compound takes place in the company’s own factory in Romania. Subsequently it is taken to the Hutchinson factory in France for the production of the Pirelli PZero Velo tires.

Ypu can read the entire story here.

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