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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. - Henry Ward Beecher

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour Down Under stage one team reports

We'll start with André Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team news:

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

The first victory of 2018 for Lotto Soudal is a fact. André Greipel has won the first stage at Tour Down under, the first WorldTour race of the year. It’s his seventeenth stage win in Australia.

The stage between Port Adelaide and Lyndoch was a traditional sprint stage. After two kilometres three riders escaped the bunch and they got a maximum advantage of five minutes. With temperatures above 30°C the riders took it easy the first two hours. The sprint teams controlled the gap. William Clarke managed to stay in front until eight kilometres to go. Jens Debusschere then dropped off André Greipel perfectly for the sprint. The German rode an impressive sprint, beating Caleb Ewan and world champion Peter Sagan. Elia Viviani got fourth. Thanks to his stage win André Greipel is the first overall leader Down Under.

André Greipel: “I am very happy with this victory. This was the first official UCI race of the year and the first WorldTour race too. That I take the win here, feels really great. Not all top sprinters are here, but I do beat guys like Ewan, Sagan and Viviani.”

“Jens Debusschere dropped me off with 350 metres to go, in the last corner. Instinctively I chose a wheel and that turned out to be the perfect position to start the sprint. I got out of the wheel of Caleb Ewan pretty smoothly and won quite easily. It’s wonderful for the team and me to start 2018 with a victory. I’m also very happy with today’s power data.”

Andre greipel

André Greipel bags his first win of the season at almost the first possible moment.

“In the past I often set good results at Tour Down Under and that was the start of a good season; I hope that is the case this year too. I was disappointed after my second place at People’s Choice Classic, but on the other hand it also gave me the feeling that it would be possible to win a stage this week. Tomorrow the stage finishes in Stirling where I got second in 2011. With riders such as Ulissi and Sagan it won’t be easy to set a high result though, but never say ‘never’.”

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

For 135km of the 145km first stage of the Tour Down Under, the breakaway took centre stage, leading the peloton from the start of the day. The peloton wasn’t to be denied though, and timing the catch to perfection, BORA-hansgrohe’s time trial specialist, Maciej Bodnar, was instrumental in driving the pace hard to make sure the predicted sprint finish in Lyndoch took place. Fighting hard for position and picking off his rivals, UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, took third, coming from ten riders back and narrowly missing the win.

Starting in Port Adelaide, the parcours rose gently for the first section of the stage’s 145km length, taking in the first King of the Mountains points on Humbug Scrub before looping through Lyndoch, where riders would get their first glimpse of the finish on the first of three laps of a finishing circuit. Intermediate sprint points available on two of these laps would inject pace and excitement into the racing, while the sprinters would have a chance to do their research on the finish before trying to claim the win on the opening stage of this UCI WorldTour race.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan heads to the second stage's start line

With UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, having taken the win in the sprint in the Adelaide People’s Choice Classic, the flat finish meant another fast finale was likely. Warm weather throughout the day would see riders in a good condition to contest a bunch sprint and while the stage did see riders take on a categorised climb, the remainder of the day was flat and would promote some fast speeds for the sprint trains in the closing kilometres.

An early break created some distance on the peloton, with three men making their way up the road. While the gap was fairly large, the chasing bunch wasn’t worried about making up any time gaps. As the day went on, the break shed riders until only one was remaining, but with BORA-hansgrohe’s Maciej Bodnar driving the pace, a solo win from the lone escapee was unlikely. With exactly 10km remaining, it was all back together and teams began preparing for a bunch sprint, ramping up the speed to more than 60km/h. In a messy sprint that saw a crash on the final bend, Peter Sagan pushed through the bunch, squeezing through to take third position on the line.

01       A.Greipel         3h50’21”
02       C.Ewan           + 0:00
03       P.Sagan           + 0:00
04       E.Viviani         + 0:00
05       S.Consonni     + 0:00

"Although it wasn't as hot as last year, we raced in a very warm Australian summer day. The race played out as expected with a big sprint finish and the team followed the plan the sport directors had set in the morning. I finished third in the sprint, probably not the result we would have liked, but still good for the start of the season. I feel in good form and I will give my best during the rest of the week." – Peter Sagan

"The first stage of the Tour Down Under was kept under control and in the end, Peter took third place in the bunch sprint. It was another good result for the team. All riders are in good form and I feel positive about the rest of the week. We will talk with the guys on our strategies for the sprint and take it one day at a time." – Steffen Radochla 

Chris Froome’s failed test will be the end of Team Sky, warns Floyd Landis

The Guardian newspaper posted this story:

Floyd Landis has launched a stinging attack on Team Sky, claiming the idea of marginal gains and a zero tolerance policy is a facade and “just great PR”. The American, who turned informant after testing positive for drugs, scoffed at possible explanations for Chris Froome’s failed test and expects the fallout to be a death knell for Team Sky after eight years at the top.

Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis racing in the 2006 Tour de France

The former US Postal Service rider won the Tour de France in 2006 before being told of a positive test for testosterone 72 hours later. He contributed to the downfall of Lance Armstrong with his testimony of widespread doping in cycling.

Landis fears history is repeating itself in the peloton, a theory he claims is supported by Froome’s adverse test. Froome and Team Sky deny breaking anti-doping rules and are seeking to explain why the four-times Tour de France winner had twice the legal level of the asthma drug salbutamol in a urine test during his Vuelta a España victory last September.

The appeal process is expected to take at least a few more months. One possible explanation Team Sky may seek to support is that Froome’s adverse test was the result of too many puffs on his inhaler after the race. Another is that a kidney malfunction meant the 32-year-old secreted large quantities of salbutamol immediately before the drugs test.

Landis has no doubt it will eventually lead to a ban. “There is evidence that salbutamol can be performance enhancing if it’s used orally or intramuscularly,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get to the level Chris Froome showed by using an inhaler. If that will form his excuse I think it’s nonsense and I don’t think many buy it. He’s trying to defend himself because he has everything to lose. I feel sympathy for him but if he doesn’t face it now he will have to later.”

You can read the entire story here.

European Union Court: Coty verdict strengthens brands’ position against online platforms

Bike Europe sent me this important essay:

LUXEMBOURG – Bike Europe asked Dr. Jochen M. Schaefer, an attorney specialising in (among other legal issues) international distribution topics, to explain the relevance for the bicycle sector of the ‘Coty’ case. Last December the European Court of Justice published its verdict in this case of authorised distributors selling premium branded products to Internet platforms like Amazon.
On 6 December, 2017 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) published its long-awaited judgment in the Coty cosmetics case (read the full text).

The Court held that a supplier of luxury goods can lawfully prevent its authorized distributors (including retailers) from selling those products on third-party Internet platforms such as Amazon.

The verdict made clear that such restriction does in general not constitute a hard-core competition law violation under EU laws, always provided that the following conditions are met:

(1) the resellers are chosen on the basis of objective criteria of a qualitative nature laid down uniformly for all potential resellers and are not applied in a discriminatory fashion; and

(2) the criteria laid down must not go beyond what is necessary.

It goes without saying that the above prerequisites and criteria provide ample space for interpretation. Yet it is a fact that the ECJ does not view third-party platform bans in selective distribution agreements per se as a hard-core competition law infringement, which otherwise could e.g. trigger fines amounting to up to 10% of the worldwide turnover of the brand owner.

As soon such judgment became public, industry and retail federations, cartel offices and other stakeholders and lobbyists popped up with most diverse statements how they interpret it. Definitely, it came as no surprise that e.g. the aggressive German Federation of online traders – BVOH – indicated that for them it’s clear that all contractual bans of third-party platforms are illegal now save for the sellers of luxury goods under certain restricted circumstances.

The President of the German Cartel Office, Alexander Mundt (who is in Europe to my best knowledge the most rigid authority when it comes to their review of selective distribution arrangements) quickly stated that one has still to review and analyze the contents of the Coty judgment, but that his authority sees little reason to change its practice, since the ECJ has in his opinion made substantial efforts to limit its deliberations and findings to the luxury products sector.
Contrary hereto, e.g. quite a number of leading newspapers and trade magazines same as legal experts stressed that this verdict is strengthening the European sales policies of branded products and that it is of relevance beyond the category of luxury products.

You can read the entire story here.

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