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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 1, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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Tour de France organizers attempt to keep Chris Froome from signing in for this year's race

Here's the story from The Guardian

Organisers of the Tour de France have formally forbidden Chris Froome from signing in for this year’s race, which starts on Saturday, in a last-ditch attempt to stop him competing, according to a report in Le Monde.

The race’s owner Amaury Sport Organisation, have made the move in order to protect the image of the race because Froome’s appeal against his drugs test from last September has not been resolved. The cyclist has always maintained he never broke the rules.

Chris Froome

The cloud hanging over Chris Froome regarding his 2017 Vuelta unresolved drug test questions looks to continue for some time to come.

However Team Sky are appealing against the decision to the court of arbitration of the French Olympic Committee, who will consider the case on Tuesday and make their decision known on the following day according to Le Monde.

Whatever they decide, the decision could be appealed to the court of arbitration for sport, but they will probably not have a chance to rule on the case before the beginning of the Tour.

A Team Sky spokesman told the Guardian: “We are confident that Chris will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong.”

On Friday the race organiser Christophe Prudhomme admitted the lack of a verdict on Froome was far from ideal. “It’s terrible that the sporting authorities have not managed to solve this problem before the start of the world’s biggest race,” he added. “I won’t say anything more but of course, rules have to be modified.

“An abnormal control doesn’t mean anything to a large public. It has to be black or white, positive or negative.”

Aso’s case is based on not wanting to find itself in the same situation as organisers of the Giro D’Italia, who saw Froome win the maglia rosa despite the lack of a verdict on Froome’s appeal over the adverse analytical finding at last year’s Vuelta a España – where double the permitted dose of salbutamol was found in his system after a urine test after stage 18 of the race.

You can the entire story here.

BMC's Jim Ochowicz: "The Tour de France is the Priority"

BMC sent me this:

30 June, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): We are one week out from the biggest race of the year so I would like to confirm that BMC Racing Team's primary objective at the moment is to help Richie Porte reach the podium at the Tour de France. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that the continuation of the team beyond 2018 is of equal importance and a major focus.

We are excited about our chances of finding a new title sponsor. Within the last several days a range of highly credible opportunities have presented themselves and we are in discussions with these potential sponsors as we speak, as well as others currently still in the pipeline. We can feel the energy building as we discuss the exciting opportunities that they will find with us as their partners in the sport of cycling.

We plan to maintain our UCI WorldTour license in 2019 and a roster of 24 or 25 riders. We have incredibly capable staff who cover all the bases in support of our athletes on every occasion. It is understandable that everyone is sensitive about their futures as time goes by so quickly, but we are optimistic about our chances of keeping this organization in business and we hope to have more clarity very soon.

Richie Porte

We'll see Richie Porte racing at the Tour in just a few days.

We have had great support from all our current sponsors, race organizers, and the loyal fans who follow our exploits week after week throughout the season. They have all encouraged us to stay the course and we will.

Jim Ochowicz
BMC Racing Team General Manager

UAE-Team Emirates for the Tour de France

The team sent me their Tour roster:

The Emirates team will be at the Grand Boucle, starting July 7 in Vendée, with a team led by Daniel Martin for the overall classification. The Irish cyclist, already a stage winner in the Tour, placed sixth in the 2017 edition even while racing 12 stages with a broken vertebra.

Da Martin

Dan Martin will lead his team at the Tour de France.

The European champion Alexander Kristoff will lead UAE Team Emirates’s sprint charge.

The team will therefore be competitive on more than one front and will be supported by riders with major experience like Marco Mercato, Rory Sutherland and Roberto Ferrari, and a young rouleur Oliviero Troia and two climbers Darwin Atapuma and Kristijan Durasek.

Team Manager Matxin Joxean Fernandez will manage the team with help from directors Philippe Mauduit and Simone Pedrazzini.

“Since I signed for Team UAE the big goal has been the Tour de France.” Martin said. “I plan to take the race day by day, stage by stage and try to achieve the best results possible. It’s really a race of 2 halves and the first 9 days will be very tricky bringing different challenges each day, but I’m confident we have a great team that can get me to the mountains in a good position to have a bit of fun. Everything has gone well since the Dauphine and I’m just looking forward to getting started.“

“This is the biggest race in the world.” Kristoff said. “The event where you get all the best cyclists, the best sprinters. I am going to France determined to get the best result possible and, if possible, a stage victory.”

EF Education First - Drapac signs neo-pro Julius van den Berg

The team sent me this update:

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale is excited to announce the mid-season signing of Julius van den Berg. The 21-year-old’s two-year neo-pro contract begins with immediate effect as he makes the leap up to the WorldTour with #PinkArgyle.

“Julius is one of the top U23 riders in the world,” said team co-founder and CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s won a few impressive races and finished second at the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. As we look forward to reinforcing our cobbles squad and strengthening our TTT operation, Julius is a natural pick.

“We expect Julian to be most useful this summer at the Binck Bank Tour and Worlds TTT,” Vaughters added. “We anticipate successfully racing him in those two events. If he were a stagiaire with us first, we wouldn’t be able to have him in either race, so this is a better way for us to approach his contract.”

Van den Berg comes to the American-registered squad from the Dutch development program SEG Racing Academy. Asked what he considers his specialty, Van der Berg simply notes: “Attacking!” He came to cycling due to his father’s love for riding.

“I’m really excited to race with such a great team,” said Van den Berg. “It’s crazy how fast it all went. It's a dream come true, and it is really special for me. I strongly believe this is the best step I can do in my cycling career right now. The team environment is great, so it will be easy to fit in and be useful on the road, especially in the classics.”

Notable results for the young rider include a victory in the U23 Dutch national time trial championships, a stage win at Tour de Normandie, along with best young rider and fourth overall, and wins at lesser-known one-day classics, including Ronde van Noord-Holland and Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop.

Van den Berg dreams of winning Omloop het Nieuwsblad.

“He seems to have a really good nose for getting into breaks,” said Vaughters. “He’s not a pure time triallist. He’s a good one, but he’s also a great attacker. There was a stage of the Tour de Bretagne where he single-handedly disassembled a bunch of French Pro Conti teams that were trying to bring him back. It was really impressive.”

“I consider myself really lucky to have close to four years within the SEG Racing Academy’s development program,” said Van den Berg. “That allowed me to grow as a rider and keep improving each year. This season has been the confirmation of all the hard work.

“Now it is time to move on, and I’m really looking forward to starting my run with the team,” Van den Berg continued. “With high profile riders like Sep Vanmarcke and Sebastian Langeveld in the classics team, it will be nothing but helpful for me. I want to learn a lot from them and be a better rider in the future, so I can target goals like Flanders or Roubaix for myself.”

Van den Berg joins Kim Magnusson and Logan Owen on #PinkArgyle’s 2018 neo-pro roster and Cyrus Monk and Jimmy Whelan, both from Drapac-EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team, as late-season additions. While it’s unusual for a U23 rider to jump straight into the WorldTour deep end mid-season, Van den Berg has what it takes to swim.

“He’s ready,” said Vaughters. “A lot of U23 kids, you have to bring them along slowly, but we expect Van den Berg to make quick work of the acclimatizing to the WorldTour.”

“I can’t wait to get started with EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale,” said Van den Berg. “It is a very unique opportunity to start in this way, and I will work really hard in order to make the most of it.”

A race against suicide: Why former Olympian Juliana Furtado is opening up

The Mercury News published this very moving story about one of the finest racers America ever produced:

LOS GATOS — Earlier this month, fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, 61, both took their own lives.

Juliana Furtado, against all odds, is still here.

One of the most celebrated mountain bike racers in the sport’s history is sipping on an Americano at a downtown coffee shop and finally ready to speak about her understanding of the profound torment that can lurk below the surface.

“Just to have gotten to this point alive,” she said, “is just really kind of a miracle.”

Furtado, 51, is a three-time World Cup champion and member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. She is the founder and namesake of the Juliana Bicycles brand and was such a charismatic and pioneering champion in the 1990s that she still gets recognized when she tools around her home territory of the Santa Cruz mountains.

Quietly, she’s spent most of her life grappling with suicide in its various terrifying forms. Furtado is speaking out now, for the first time in detail, because the recent high-profile deaths put the epidemic in the news again.

She hopes that sharing her own harrowing story — and how she finally sought the help she needed — can offer others a path to help.

After years of taking great pains to keep her suffering a secret, this week she called the athletic department of her alma mater, the University of Colorado, to offer to come speak to students.

Her message is personal. And Furtado is careful to avoid blanket statements, noting that the causes of suicide are wide-ranging and complex. The main thing she wants people to know is that your run-of-the-mill pep talk isn’t helping.

“People will say, ‘You’re a fighter! You’re a winner! You’ll get through this!’ ” the U.S. Cycling Hall of Famer said. “And of course they mean no harm. But all of those cliches are so deflating because things don’t always get better. Things don’t always happen for a reason.

“The depth of pain, of emotional pain, has nothing to do with athletic success. I don’t think anyone who has suicide in their family would say any of those things.”

You can read the entire story here.

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