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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, November 19, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. - Robert Louis Stevenson

Latest completed racing:

Kaden Groves wins Fuzhou Tour final stage

Groves' Mitchelton-Scott/BikeExchange team sent me this report:

In form Australian sprinter Kaden Groves closed out the season in style with victory on the fifth and final stage at the Tour of Fuzhou today as Mitchelton-BikeExchange played it perfectly to set the 19-year-old up for the win.

Kaden Groves

Kaden Groves takes the final stage.

The route of today’s closing stage was the same as in recent years with six laps of a fast, downtown circuit in Yong Tai and a tightly marked affair unfolding.

Plenty of attacks shot off the front over the opening two laps, but never gained more than 200metres until the third time around when a group of nine riders managed to break free.

Holding just over one minute over the bunch at the halfway point, the nine included Zhi Hui Jiang for Mitchelton-BikeExchange and worked well together, stretching their lead to two minutes with 45kilometres to go.

After a brief solo effort by Zhi Hui Jiang the group came back together but struggled to inject fresh impetus to counter the intensified chase of the peloton and the race came back together on the final lap with the focus now shifting to Groves and the sprint.

And that focus proved to be sharp and decisive as Groves sealed the victory with an explosive sprint after holding position at the front and managing to avoid the crash that disrupted the field with four kilometres to go.

The Tour began well for the Chinese outfit with Liu Jiankun part of the leading GC group and placing in the top ten on the opening stage, before a chance for the sprinters arrived on stage two with Groves managing to avoid the chaos to finish second, coming super close to his third win of the season.

That win would eventually come on today’s final stage after a challenging couple of GC days that saw Liu Jiankun slip down the rankings to 18th overall and third in the Greater China classification, but with the team coming together delightfully to finish on a positive note.

Kaden Groves:
“We knew that today would come down to a bunch sprint, so there wouldn’t be a change on the GC and as expected the team’s leading the general classification controlled the stage.”

“The boys did a great job all day keeping me in the best possible position and riding hard in the final 20kilometres.  It was a fast, downhill run to the line and I had to go quite early, but I had good enough legs to get past the German lead out train.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more from the team to finish the season this way.  It was nice to improve on my second place on stage two and go out with a win.”

Sport director James Victor:
“A stage win was the big goal for us coming into this race and it took until the last day of racing to get there, but we did it. I congratulate all the boys on their perseverance, they all rode well today.”

“Kaden’s confidence is growing all the time, but for me he was the fastest guy in this race. He’s had a great back end to the season with the win last week in Quanzhou Bay and now he’s capped it off in style here.

“Liu got caught in the crash with four kilometres to go and despite riding well over the early stages, he started to suffer from end of season fatigue the last couple of days.

“I am really pleased with how we’ve concluded the year. We won the last European race with Rob Stannard at Piccolo Lombardia and we’ve won the last stage of the last Chinese race today. Fantastic.”

Tour of Fuzhou stage five results:
1. Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) 02:47:55
2. Zheng Zhang (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) ST
3. Jasper Frahm (German-National-Team) ST

Final general classification:
1. Ilya Davidenok (Beijing-XDS-Innova) 13:17:56
2. Ben Dyball (St.George-Continental-Team) +0:12
3. Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) +0:21
18. Liu Jiankun (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +3:35

John Lelangue starts as Lotto-Soudal general manager

Lotto-Soudal sent me this release:

On Thursday 15 November, John Lelangue officially started as Lotto Soudal’s new General Manager. By means of introduction the 48-year-old Belgian shares his vision for the first time. Once he has got to know every team member, his idea of how he wants to manage the Lotto Soudal team will become more and more clear. In the first place John Lelangue emphasises four important pillars.

John Lelangue: “First there are the sporting aspects which are already and will obviously remain the heart of the team. I have never worked together with Marc Sergeant before, but we have known each other already for several years. I am thus very satisfied I can work together with such a personality with an impressive record.  It goes without saying that Marc will be the one who takes the sportive decisions. Of course, we will consult with each other but within Lotto Soudal Marc is best placed to decide on that topic . Marc has a team of directors sportive around him who each have their own responsibilities. In addition, Kevin De Weert will join that team. As a performance manager, he will have some specific tasks. With his background, he will certainly be a major asset to Lotto Soudal.”

“The structural and organisational aspect is the second pillar. There is obviously already a solid structure within Lotto Soudal since it is an organisation that has been competing at WorldTour level for several years now. But I want, together with all the people within Lotto Soudal, to strive to take a closer look at each aspect of the team (training, medical supervision, nutrition, material, …). In that way we can determine where there is still margin for improvement with the existing resources. In that sense we can, obviously through dialogue, optimise the structure.”

“A third pillar is the hallmark of Lotto Soudal, namely the Belgian identity. This does not only concern the WorldTour team, who is to the outside world mostly in the spotlight, but also the U23 team and the ladies team. Half of the Belgian cyclists within the Lotto Soudal line-up have been trained via the U23 team. Women’s cycling is also booming. Therefore, we will continue to commit to those two entities in the years to come. Our team already exists for 35 years and after all Belgium is the cradle of cycling. For me it marks a return to Belgium after some foreign adventures. But if the main Belgian WorldTour team asks you to become their General Manager, you are certainly flattered.”

“The last pillar is the already very strong relationship with the partners. But also, in this field we want to check how we can unite and promote the interests in both sporting and commercial terms to their maximum. Our sponsors have already expressed their long-time commitment. At the time, Soudal signed an agreement for six years, Lotto has been participating for dozens of years in the sport and Ridley has also been connected to the team for quite a while. We therefore must examine how we can consolidate these partnerships and how we can attract new partners. In current cycling it is not obvious to find new budgets but with our specific characteristics I am convinced that we will succeed to make progress in that area too.”

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