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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Is it even possible to believe in destiny? Wouldn't a predetermined existence cancel out the idea, or at least the point, of belief? – Caulfield, the brilliant 8-year old in Jef Mallett's Frazz comic strip

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Laurens de Plus update

De Plus' Team Quick-Step Floors posted this news:

The 22-year-old Belgian will have to postpone his season debut.

Yesterday, January 29th, Laurens De Plus underwent further tests at the Mediclinic hospital in Nelspruit, where he was admitted after he and Quick-Step Floors teammate Petr Vakoč were both clipped by a truck during their training camp in South Africa, last week.

The exams revealed a non-displaced fracture to the acetabulum on the right side of his pelvis and a microfracture to his sacrum. De Plus – who will fly home tomorrow evening – will have to undergo conservative therapy and he will need at least three weeks of recovery before resuming training.

Alejandro Valverde will start his first multi-day event at the Volta a Valenciana Wednesday after crashing out of the 2017 Tour de France

Here's the team's update:

After putting end to a 208-day period away from racing last week at three of the Challenge Mallorca’s trophies, following his crash on stage one of the Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde will be covering his first stagerace in seven months as he takes the start of the 69th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, from Wednesday through Sunday. As he moved from Alicante – where the Movistar Team has checked the course of Friday’s team time trial – to Oropesa del Mar for the start of the event, he reflected on the road ahead and behind:

DEBUT IN MALLORCA “It went really, really well. I was feeling nervous before the first trophy, though. It wasn’t the kind of nervous you’re before the first race of the season in any other previous year, it was different. Everyone who has gone through injuries similar to mine or even more serious will understand what I say. The two trophies after the debut on Friday and Saturday were demanding ones, in cold, wet conditions and over dangerous roads. It was a real stress test on how my knee could do, on how strong my confidence was. Happily, I found myself riding with the strongest on the climbs. I didn’t want to take more risks than needed on the downhill sectoins, though, and that’s why I couldn’t really contest the victories last week. The most important thing for me, though, was to see how I fared, and it went great.”

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde early in the 2017 racing season

VALENCIA: HIS FIRST STAGE RACE THIS SEASON “It’s a longer competition, five days, with a team time trial midway through… We’ll really go for it because we feel we’ve got the form it takes to chase good results, but winning the overall will not be an obsession for us. The race contenders should not really be stronger than what Wellens or Moscon showed in Mallorca, but there will be plenty of them, and that changes a lot. While it was down to three or four of us in the hardest parts of the Mallorca races, the group will shrink to maybe 10, 15 riders when it’s time in Valencia.”

VOLTA ROUTE “I think the team time trial will really leave its mark on the final outcome. We’ve checked the course several times and I think it’s a dangerous route, especially the second half with lots of turns together – it’s hard for everyone, though. We’ve got a strong, balanced block, but maybe some teams like Sky or BMC have an edge at this moment on squads like ours, since they’ve got pure specialists and they’re also aiming to put their GC riders into good position for Saturday’s finish. The Alto de las Canteras? It’s tough, I like it, but I don’t think it will set really big gaps. I hope to be up there with the top guns at the finish.”

THANKFUL “The support by the fans has been really rewarding and comforting through all this recovery process. I’m so thankful to them for all the cheer I got, also in Mallorca. Lots of people around cycling continue to root for me everywhere I go, especially after all I’ve gone through lately, so I want to say thanks to them all, and let them know I’l continue to work and fight as hard as I did before my injury.”

Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana: First race of the season for Oliver Naesen

Here's the Ag2r-La Mondiale update:

La Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will start tomorrow (Wednesday). As last year, Oliver Naesen will start his season in Spain and he’s ready to compete:

"Just like last year, I have decided to return to the competition at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. I’m happy to pin on a bib. It’s a difficult race, but that won’t be a problem for me.

Oliver Naesen

Oliver Naesen at the 2017 Tour de France

"My winter has been good, I have not been slowed down by health problems, and I feel like I’m a little stronger than last year. In the offseason, I spent six weeks in Spain to train under ideal conditions. And then during the training camps with the team, I saw that the group has melded together, with everyone motivated and ready to fight.

"After Valenciana, I will move onto the Ruta Del Sol (February 14-18), then it will be time to think of the Classics with the opening of the Belgian calendar at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 24)."

THE NUMBER: 88 Oliver Naesen had 88 days of racing in 2017. Of all the riders on the AG2R LA MONDIALE team last year, he was most often at the start line of an event.

Bicycle industry supplier shipments to shops fell 4% last year, but dollar sales held tough

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this trade update:

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Supplier shipments of e-bikes to retailers increased by 16,757 units last year, only slightly more than the 15,883 increase in BMX shipments, but both categories were beaten by gravel bike shipments that grew by 19,268 units. Still this reshuffling of what bike shops were ordering was not enough to overcome falling shipments of road and mountain bikes — categories that traditionally drive the industry — down 28,060 and 10,991 units, respectively.

According to a Bicycle Product Suppliers Association report, the overall value of bikes shipped last year fell by $15 million, a 1 percent drop in business compared with 2016. Unit shipments fell by 4 percent, a shortfall of 90,875 units. Only six categories posted growth: BMX, 29er front-suspension, 27.5 full-suspension, e-bikes, gravel and 24-inch. All other categories declined.

You can read the entire story here.

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