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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. - Albert Einstein

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Final La Flèche Wallonne pre-race team updates

Alejandro Valverde has won the last four editions of this race. Here's what his Movistar team posted:

Alejandro Valverde will be surely looking forward to a race he’s dominated lately, the Spanish superstar from the Movistar Team having won the last four editions of the Flèche Wallonne. There will be no big changes -the ones happening, though, will bring the event closer to her ‘sister’, Liège-Bastogne-Liège- on a 2018 route which maintains the Mur de Huy as center of all attentions

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde wins in 2017.

La Vecquée (65km) and La Redoute (82km) are new to this year’s course from Seraing, anticipating -together with the climbs of Mont (100km) and Amay (126km)- the first ascent to Huy, completed with 58km from the finish line.

There, a circuit will start with two passages through the ‘côtes’ of Ereffe (2km, 5%) and, most importantly, Cherave (1,300m, 8.1%), a very long straight whose position inside the final 6km offers the most courageous ones a long shot before the inevitable sprint finish through the climb also known as Chemin des Chapelles (1.3km, 9,6%).

Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

Tomorrow the second race of the Ardennes triptych is scheduled. The Flèche Wallonne, that’s the Mur de Huy. This steep hill needs to be climbed three times, the last time the victory is at stake.

Tim Wellens and Jelle Vanendert, who both finished on top ten of Amstel Gold Race past Sunday, will also be riding Flèche Wallonne. Tim Wellens achieved his best result last year, when he participated for the fifth time: he got eighteenth at thirteen seconds of four-time winner Alejandro Valverde. Jelle Vanendert already finished three times on top ten: he was sixth in 2011 and 2014 and fourth in 2012. Tiesj Benoot abandoned the race on Sunday, but he will ride Flèche Wallonne as was planned.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Tiesj Benoot felt good during the Amstel Gold Race, but he didn’t have the power in his legs to ride the finale. It’s not unusual to have an off-day as a rider, unfortunately it happened on the day of the Amstel Gold Race. There is no reason to change his programme.”

“Alejandro Valverde will be the man to beat tomorrow, as four-time winner of Flèche Wallonne. No doubt Movistar will try everything to keep the pack together. There are few riders who are keen on going to the finish with Valverde though. The Mur de Huy is a very typical finish and not many riders are as explosive as him.”

“We have three cards to play at Flèche Wallonne: Tiesj Benoot, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. We won’t just wait to let all three of them ride up the Mur de Huy the last time. When there are breakaways in the finale at least one of them should be in it. There are other teams and riders who will benefit from an attack before the Mur de Huy too. Bahrain-Merida for example has several leaders with the Izagirre brothers, Gasparotto and Nibali in their line-up. Quick-Step starts with Alaphilippe, Jungels and Mas. They won’t all be waiting till the Mur de Huy and can cooperate to make the race hard before the final ascent.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot (shown winning this year's Strade Bianche) will be on the line for the Flèche Wallonne

Tim Wellens: “I am very motivated for Flèche Wallonne. It’s always nice to ride on that course, so close to where I grew up. I am also confident thanks to my performances in Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race. My legs felt good on both days. We also start with a strong team. The past races we have shown that we are all in an excellent shape and that we dare to take control of the race. I think it will be necessary to anticipate. Few will be confident to ride to the finish together with Alejandro Valverde. My exact tactics will depend on how the race develops, that will determine how I have most chance of setting a top result.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Mario Aerts.

Robotized alloy E-bike frame production in Europe has started

Bike Europe sent me this story that shows how the bicycle industry is changing very fast.

BORRALHA, Portugal – Triangles Cycling Equipment has taken the next major step in its launch of aluminum frame production in Europe. After the initial start of the production in October 2016 with a small batch of test frames, the manufacturer gradually increased volumes as well as the complexity of frames produced, including e-bikes.

Right from the start it was one of the main goals of Triangles to combine the e-bike frame production with hi-end frames for conventional bicycles. “But we expect that e-bike frames will take up 70% of our total annual production of 500,000 units,” said Triangles General Manager Luis Pedro during Bike Europe’s visit last week . “We assume to reach full capacity by 2020.”

According to the initial planning of the three Portuguese Triangles investors; Ciclo Fapril, Rodi and Miranda the aluminum frame factory would be fully operational this spring. However, that goal has not been reached. GM Luis Pedro explains “This is the start of a new era. There was hardly any know-how available in Europe on how to produce aluminum bike frames. Everybody at Triangles had to learn how to do it on the job. And we still have to train each new employee that comes in ourselves. So we started with small series and relatively simple frames.”

You can read the entire story here.

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