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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 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

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. - Marie Curie

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Bill McGann tells the history of cycling's Giro d'Italia from 1971 to 2011

Volta a Catalunya stage 3 team reports

BikeRaceInfo's 2017 Tour of Catalonia page

Of course, we have to start with Movistar:

First, the team's reaction to being penalized in stage 2:

After the events that happened following the team time trial of the Volta a Catalunya, with a one-minute penalty being eventually imposed over the eight riders that claimed victory on the stage yesterday, the Movistar Team wants to express its complete disagreement towards the sanction received.

It's a penalty due to an infringement which we consider absolutely non-existent. The rider performing the action does not "push" his team-mates, but touches the back of them with his right hand to warn them that they must take his position into the team row, a fact that doesn't influence the race's outcome at all.

We deeply regret that a sporting event sees its results distorted by the application of a rule which punishes pushing between team-mates, something which, as shown by the images, was not the case yesterday. We consider this sets a dangerous precedent for the future, since any touch between riders from now on will have to be punished.

And here's Movistar's stage 3 report:

After a controversial decision detracted the Movistar Team their victory on Tuesday, the telephone squad stroke back in the best way possible, claiming a fantastic win with Alejandro Valverde on stage three of the Volta a Catalunya, finishing atop the Cat-1 climb of La Molina. The Spanish rider took his 101st pro success ahead of Dan Martin (QST), who anticipated the man from Murcia's acceleration with an attack 300m from the line, one that 'Bala' overtook without major problems to secure his success.

The Blues' leader on Catalan soil crowned a nice piece of work from his week, mostly protagonized by Marc Soler. The 23-year-old local launched one of the final attacks that set up the finish for his leader, who now sits back in full contention after the one-minute penalty the race jury put on all his team-mates this very morning.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde wins the stage

Thanks to the 10-second bonus and small splits in the finale, Valverde now ranks 4th overall, 45" behind race leader Tejay Van Garderen and only four and one, respectively, from second and third-placed Samuel Sanchez and Geraint Thomas, which complete the provisional podium. Marc Soler retains a magnificent 6th spot and will wear the best young rider's jersey on stage four, Thursday, a 194km journey down from the Pyrenees, between Llívia and Igualada, with the Cat-2 Turó del Puig ascent just 13 kilometers from the end.

Alejandro Valverde: "It was a very fast start before the break went finally away. The last 50km were also really hard, too. Sky made it harder with a strong pace through the entire finale, but the team kept me protected perfectly and Soler was excellent controlling all moves into the last kilometers. Part of this victory is his, too. To be honest, I just had to make sure I sprinted properly. When Daniel Martin attacked, I went on his wheel quickly - I knew it would be difficult for him to beat me, because such uphill finishes really suit me well.

"We must continue to ride focusing on one stage at a time - get through Thursday first and then see how we're feeling for Lo Port, which will be a really stepp finish. I prefer not to further opine on what happened yesterday, everyone could see the images. Inwardly, we know we won that stage and we did it fairly. For the time being, our Volta can only be qualified as phenomenal.”

Here's Team Quick-Step Floors' Catalonia Tour stage 3 report

Volta a Catalunya continued today with stage 3, which included three first-category climbs, with the 8.6km-long ascent of La Molina – averaging 5.6% – the cherry on the cake. It took around 40 kilometers for a break to form, and when it did, Quick-Step Floors' Pieter Serry was there, together with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) and Dylan Page (Caja Rural), helping the escape put more than seven minutes between them and the bunch led by Team Sky.

Despite the huge margin, the group started to splinter and the gap to melt on the penultimate ascent of the day, so by the foot of La Molina the three riders left at the front held around 1:20 minute over the bunch. One by one, the escapees were caught and the reduced peloton counting 20 riders was left to fight for victory and the bonus seconds.

The high pace and strong headwind preempted any attacks until the last 200 meters, when Dan Martin – the 2016 winner on La Molina – surged clear and was followed only by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Quick-Step Floors' Irish rider led as they went into the final hairpin, but the Spaniard came past him with 50 meters to go and took the victory. For Dan, this was his third World Tour podium of the season, one which brings him back into contention for a solid GC result in Spain.

"We had a good tactic today, sending Pieter in the break and then waiting to see how the race unfolds. On the final kilometers of La Molina there was a powerful headwind, so it was pretty difficult to make a move. Still, I was confident I could take the victory, and that's why I attacked 200 meters from the finish, but Alejandro was very strong. I wanted to repeat last year's win, and even though I didn't do it, I remain upbeat, as I am sure other opportunities will come this week", said Dan Martin, who made a huge jump in the general classification after this first test on the mountains at the Volta a Catalunya.

Team UAE-Abu Dhabi sent me this:

Immediately after the team time trial, the riders in Volta a Catalunya faced a demanding stage which started from Matarò and finished in La Molina, 188 km of distance with three 1st category climbs in the final 75 km (Alt de Toses, 7% average degree, and the two passages on the ascent of La Molina, 11,6 km at4,3%).

UAE Team Emirates was at the start without Manuele Mori, whose withdrawal is explained by the physician of the team, Dr Antonio Angelucci: "At the end of the team time trial, Mori reported a pain at the right knee. The clinical evaluation found a strain which will force the athlete to observe a short stop in order to avoid complications for the rest of the season. Mori will fly back to Italy, where he'll undergo the necessary therapy with the support of the team's medical staff".

A breakaway of four riders (Serry, Berhane, Ackermann and Rubio) led the race since the early kilometers, with a maximum advantage of 7'. The breakaway was neutralized on the final ascent by the main group of 40 riders, whose members were all the best climbers participating in the race, Meintjes and Atapuma included.

The very high speed did not allow attacks and the final 3 km were covered as the riders were fighting in a long sprint: Atapuma was brilliant and, after having tried an attack at -500 meters, he was 17th at 15" to the winner Valverde; Meintjes was close to be able to exploit a perfect form, he obtained the 32nd place at 1'27".

After the arrival, Atapuma explained that: "Today performance makes me happy because, despite the fact that today was only my fourth day in a month in a race, my legs gave me good feedbacks. The pace of the best climbers group was very high, it was almost impossible to attack, so I waited for the last 500 meters to make an attempt: I hoped the opponents controlled each other for general classification reasons, unfortunately they did not hesitates and my action was soon neutralized. Today's stage gave me morale, I'll try to exploit the chances which the next stages will offer to climbers".

Lotto-Soudal's Dwars Door Vlaanderen report

Dwars door Vlaanderen started in Roeselare and finished after 203.4 kilometres in Waregem. Jelle Wallays was the first to attack on the Kattenberg at 90 kilometres from the finish. On the Berendries, with a bit more than 75 kilometres to go, it was Gilbert who placed an enormous acceleration and caught the six early escapees at the front of the race. A group of twenty riders was formed and Jelle Wallays represented Lotto Soudal in that group. The bunch was up for a long chase to the head of the race.

Gilbert fiercely attacked on the Paterberg at 35 kilometres from the finish. Only Lampaert, Durbridge and Lutsenko could follow. Lampaert attacked just after Nokereberg, Gilbert left a gap for his teammate and Durbride just couldn’t make it to the wheel of Lampaert. Yves Lampaert rode solo to the finish line in Waregem. Philippe Gilbert won the sprint for the second place, Luke Durbridge became third. Tiesj Benoot was the first Lotto Soudal rider on a seventh place. He crossed the finish line 1’03” after Lampaert in a group with Tony Gallopin, who finished eleventh.

Yves Lampaert

Yves Lampaert wins the race

Jelle Wallays: “I’m disappointed. On the Kattenberg I attacked for the first time and not much later I managed to close the gap to the group Gilbert. I hoped that someone would join me, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. There was a small gap, two riders in front of me, just at the decisive moment. I could have reacted more quickly but it happened all so fast. I just expected more. It’s a race I like to ride and I also think it’s a shame that we weren’t able to show what we can do as a team. Friday is a new opportunity for us in the E3 Harelbeke and hopefully we can react as a team.”

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “We can’t be satisfied with how we raced. The attractive racing from Lotto Soudal was nowhere to be found. We asked to race aggressively and to not be pushed into the defensive. Only Jelle Wallays, who attacked as planned, and Jasper De Buyst rode a good race. Unfortunately, Jasper was pushed back due to bad luck. Gilbert and Lampaert showed us how it is done. After Gilbert's attack on the Berendries we were chasing a dead-end. It was impossible to return. I hope this was a lesson learned and that we straighten our backs this Friday at E3 Harelbeke.”

Today’s stage at Volta a Catalunya was a mountain stage to La Molina. Four escapees got a maximum advantage of seven minutes. This was never a real threat for the peloton. On the last climb Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo dictated a ferocious pace. The riders had to sprint for the victory and Alejandro Valverde won a two-man sprint from Daniel Martin. Adam Yates became third. Tejay Van Garderen is the new leader in the GC. Rafael Valls had to pass at seven kilometres from the finish line. Louis Vervaeke held on to the first group just until the ultimate kilometre. Louis finished on the 24th place at 42 seconds from Valverde. Tomorrow there is a chance for breakers

Greg Van Avermaet Looking for Success on Home Soil

BMC sent me this update:

21 March, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Greg Van Avermaet will continue his lead-up to the next Monument, Ronde van Vlaanderen, by racing at Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields this week. A win on home soil would give Van Avermaet an advantage for the next Monuments, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet wins 2017 Het Nieuwsblad

"Greg has been on the podium at both E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the past, and we know he is in even better shape this year. To win one of these races is a big confidence boost ahead of Ronde van Vlaanderen, and as Greg knows the roads so well, we know he has a good chance," Baldato explained.

"The riders lining up at the two races change slightly, but both make up very strong teams that are ready to work in support of Greg. The experienced riders like Martin Elmiger, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Francisco Ventoso are crucial when it comes to these Classics. It's also a great opportunity for our younger riders to gain more experience."

After a successful start to the season Van Avermaet is confident in his form ahead of the two UCI WorldTour races. "I'm looking forward to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem as I hope to come away with a win. I'm really confident with my form as I was feeling good at Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, and if everything goes well I'm ready to do a good result in preparation for Ronde van Vlaanderen," Van Avermaet said. "These are the last races that I will do before Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix so it's important to give it everything, and work well together as a team."

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (24 March)

Rider Roster: Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Gent-Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields (26 March)

Rider Roster: Silvan Dillier (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS)

E-bikes, lighting systems bright spots in Taiwan exports for 2016

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, reporting from the Taipei Cycle Show sent me this news:

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) – There is little doubt that 2016 was a rough year for Taiwan's cycling industry. Complete bike exports decreased just over 26 percent by volume, from 3.9 million units in 2015 to 2.94 million in 2016, and fell nearly 22 percent by value last year compared with 2015.

According to export data compiled by the Taiwan Bicycle Association, complete bike export volume to most foreign markets fell, including to Japan, one of Taiwan's largest market in Asia, decreasing 31 percent to 187,000 units in 2016. Exports to China fell from 100,000 units in 2015 to 74,000 in 2011 — a decrease of just over 26 percent.

But it's not all doom and gloom here. There are still some bright spots for the island's manufacturers, including e-bike exports, which are by far Taiwan's most robust category with a growth of nearly 57 percent from 83,000 units in 2015 to 132,000 units last year.

Taiwan's average unit selling price continues to creep up each year, with a 5.99 percent growth to $502 from $473.98 in 2015.

While bicycle parts exports slipped slightly from 1.09 billion units in 2015 to 1.07 billion in 2016, bicycle derailleur exports saw a bump, totaling $33.64 million in 2016 — up nearly 35 percent over 2015. Lighting equipment was another growth category for Taiwan, with total export volume reaching 132,000 units, a 58.6 percent increase over exports in 2015.

You can read the entire story here.

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