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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. - Muhammad Ali

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Vuelta a San Juan stage two team reports

Here's what Lotto-Soudal had to say about the stage:

Bora-hansgrohe's San Juan report is here

Cycling's World Championships

Last night, Tiesj Benoot claimed the third place on stage two of the Argentine stage race Vuelta a San Juan. The Lotto Soudal rider rode away from the reduced peloton in the last uphill kilometres, together with Román Villalobos and Ricardo Escuela. Villalobos sprinted to victory at Peri Lago Punta Negra.

Tiesj Benoot: “Our team was very active in the finale. With about twenty kilometres to go, Jelle Wallays was part of a break with five others. After they had been caught a few kilometres further, Jelle and Nikolas Maes kept the rest of our team at the front. It was our plan that I would attack at the top of the last hill. Jens Keukeleire and Tosh Van der Sande would wait for the sprint. After my acceleration I never had the feeling to be able to take a breath for a moment and the peloton was not far behind. I started my sprint a bit too early and with a too big gear. My two companions were very strong and so I got third. Still, I have a good feeling.”

“Before the stage I had never thought to be able to set such a result, because in the morning and at the beginning of the stage I didn’t feel well. Probably due to the heat the day before. In the finale I did feel much better and I could set up an attack. I’ll take the rest of the week day by day.”

And here's Movistar's Vuelta a San Juan update:

Costa Rica’s Román Villalobos (CAS) surprised the WorldTour teams at the end of stage two in the Vuelta a San Juan (149km) with a strong finish against the group of favourites following a late move with Escuela (AVF) and Benoot (LTS) into the demanding slopes -1.3km at 8% gradient- of the Alto Punta Negra, climbed four times and crested just 2km from the finish on its final ascent.

The Movistar Team, sheltered inside the bunch until the original, four-man break was caught inside the final 25km, showed active in the finale with Winner Anacona, who went on a late move against the wind and was caught by the bunch into the last 15 kilometers. At the final short climb, Dayer Quintana (15th) and local hero Eduardo Sepúlveda -the Blues’ top finisher in 12th spot- were able to keep the pace of the GC group and keep all their chances alive.

Roman Villalobos

Roman Villalobos delivers a surprising win against the big guys.

The Vuelta a San Juan will start to clock significant differences on Tuesday’s 14.4km individual time trial in and around the province’s capital. The TT, combined with Wednesday’s trek towards San Agustín -featuring one Cat-1 ascent- and most notably Friday’s Alto Colorado finish, should decide the overall outcome.

BMC will be at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

The team sent me this:

23 January, 2017, Geelong (AUS): After a strong performance at the Santos Tour Down Under, the same seven-rider team is set to line up at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this Sunday, 28 January.

"We have multiple cards to play at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Simon Gerrans will be our protected rider for a sprint finish as last year he was right up there and finished second in the group of 20 or so riders. I expect there to be a selection of 20 to 30 riders there at the finish again this year," Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt wins the Cadel Evans race in 2017

"With Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte in great shape, we can also go on the offensive and try something different. We will see how the race unfolds and decide which card we want to play on the day. It is good to have so many options as it is a tough course and anything can happen in a one-day race. To win the road race would be a great way to wrap up our Australian season before we head back to Europe, especially with three of Australia's best riders in our team."

Simon Gerrans finished second last year and is looking to go one better in 2018.

"I really like the course. The first loop we do when we head down towards the Great Ocean Road is quite scenic and a good way to get a few kilometers out of the way. As we get to the finish circuits it becomes a really selective part where we often see a small group come to the finish. I really like the circuit and I think it suits me well," Gerrans said.

For Richie Porte, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is another opportunity to test his form before returning to Europe.

"I can take a lot of confidence out of my performance at the Santos Tour Down Under. I'm climbing just as well now as I was last year so I'm confident that I can race well on Sunday. I was able to try my luck last year in the finale and this year, we'll see how things play out on the day. We have a great team, including Simon Gerrans who came so close last year and who I think will have a good shot this year," Porte explained.

As he did at the Santos Tour Down Under, Rohan Dennis is ready to play his role in supporting the team.

"We'll be lining up on Sunday to support Simon Gerrans so we'll do everything we can to help him get the win. It's a hard race and like any one-day race, it can be unpredictable. It's great to have another race in Australia with WorldTour status and it's an important one for BMC Racing Team," Dennis added.

Miles Scotson will join his Australian counterparts, as well as Patrick Bevin, Tom Bohli, and Danilo Wyss, at the start line.

Before lining up at the road race on Sunday, the team, with the exclusion of Porte, will line up at the Race Melbourne criterium on Thursday evening.

Race Melbourne (25 January) / Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (28 January)

Rider roster:
Patrick Bevin (NZ), Tom Bohli (SUI), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Richie Porte (AUS) - road race only, Miles Scotson (AUS), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA)

Switch to E-Bikes slowly paying off for Giant and Merida

Bike Europe sent me this news piece:

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Giant and Merida posted revenue declines for 2017. As the main reason slow sales in China is named. But the outlook for Taiwan’s two biggest bicycle manufacturers is positive thanks to the growing e-bike demand in Europe, as both companies reported.

Giant Manufacturing Co. Ltd reports in its financial statement a drop in sales of 3.8% year-on-year to TWD 54.83 billion (EUR 1,528m). Merida’s revenue fell 2.08% to TWD 22.35 billion (EUR 623m), according to the report in the ‘Taipei Times’. Though Giant stated that their e-bike export volume to Europe increased by 40% last year, the exact export number to Europe remains unknown. Merida’s e-bike export to Europe increased by 56% to a total of 65,000 units in 2017.

A company study by Citigroup, mentioned in the Taipei Times report, shows that Giant’s high-end e-bike sales in Europe is estimated to have increased by 35% to about 80,000 units in 2017, with an average retail price of more than USD 1,500 against an average retail price of USD 360 for conventional bicycles.
This study is remarkably positive on Giant’s market performance in e-bikes. Sales of this category are estimated to account for 9% of Giant’s revenues in 2017. While others anticipate on a rapidly expanding e-bike market in and outside Europe, also thanks to the growing e-MTB sales, Giant’s expectations in this product category have always been very cautious.

Only last year March Giant forecasted that its e-bike revenue share would increase to some 10% in the following five years. By the way, EU market leader in e-bikes – Accell Group – saw e-bike sales growing to over 40% of their turnover in 2016.

You can read the entire story here.

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