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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, October 23, 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

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy? - Ursula K. Le Guin

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Ben Swift returns to Team Sky

Here's Team Sky's news release:

Having spent the last two years at UAE Team Emirates, Ben Swift is back in Team Sky colours with a key role to play in 2019.

Twice a podium finisher at Milan-San Remo, the 30 year old also finished fifth in the World Championship road race last season in Norway.

Ben Swift

Ben Swift in his 2016 Team Sky kit at the Tour of Romandie. Sirotti photo

With the team set to celebrate its 10th season of racing in 2019, Swift is excited to return to Team Sky, commenting: “It’s a great feeling to be re-joining Team Sky. “Obviously I know the ins and outs of the team. I feel really comfortable here and it’s a place I’ve grown as a rider.

“There will be no teething troubles and I’ll be straight back in. I’m hoping that it will feel like I’ve never been away.”

Swift is well-aware of his responsibilities off the bike, as well as on it, in his second spell with the team, adding: “I’ve still got ambitions and aims for my own career, but I’m also really looking forward to going in and working with the young guys a little bit too. There’s an incredibly talented crop of young riders coming through and I’ve got a lot of experience now that I can lend them.

“On the bike, I feel I’ve also got the ability to put a bit back into the sport as a useful all-rounder for the team. I want to be someone who can do a job and take their opportunity when it comes around.”

Team Sky Performance Manager Rod Ellingworth added: “Ben has got a crucial role to play next season. He’s not only a fine rider in his own right, but he’s also a superb role-model for the younger riders on the team to learn from, as we look to bring through the next generation at Team Sky.

“In performance terms, he sits right in the middle of the team and he’s such a great team player. His attitude and professionalism sits perfectly in our team. He’s easy to work with and we can use him as a good example – he sets high standards and that’s what we’re about.

“He’s at that age now where he can start to pass some of his experience to the younger guys in the team. We’ve invested a lot now in some young guys and we need a few of the core older riders to pass their knowledge on and show them the Team Sky way of racing. We know Ben will do that.

“It’s great to welcome Swifty back to the team going into our tenth year.”

Taylor Phinney extends with EF Pro Cycling for 2019

The team sent me this:

Taylor Phinney has re-signed with EF Pro Cycling for the 2019 season. The American had a great Spring Classics season finishing 8th at Paris-Roubaix, a race he has always had a huge admiration of.

“I think I always had a strong passion towards Paris-Roubaix, there's just something about that race, there's a level of drama it has that doesn't exist in any other race on the calendar. It was always the race that I looked forward to watching before I started racing it.”

This will be Phinney’s third season with EF Pro Cycling having moved from BMC Racing Team at the beginning of 2017, after having raced six seasons with them. When asked about Phinney re-signing with the team for 2019 here’s what EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters had to say:

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney at the 2017 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

"Taylor. I don't even know where to start! Obviously he's a talented bike racer with a depth of ability that's uncommon, even at this level. We saw that at Paris-Roubaix this year. He's clearly capable of great things, and he's a very steady rider to have at a Grand Tour. He comes alive off the bike, too. His art, his point of view, his constant desire to wander. I like that about him, and I think as we expand our vision of what this team is moving forward he certainly fits into that really well."

Phinney is highly motivated about the year ahead and being part of the team: “I mean I love it, there's no other team that I could envision myself racing for in the professional peloton. I feel like I can be honest with everyone around me and myself and there's not a ton of expectations thrown on you, on what you need to be and what you need to look like, and how you need to act. They just let you explore yourself and let you be who you want to be.

“The team obviously want to win races and do well and that's a priority, but there's not this cookie cutter that you need to be a certain way, or ride your bike a certain way to be on the team, which you'll find on a lot of other programs.”

The 28 year old will look forward to the Spring Classics again in 2019, as well as being excited for the alternative race schedule that the team plan to race next year. “I think that it is the greatest thing ever. I mean when we were first hearing little rumours about the change and that Rapha wanted to come on board, it felt like all these different ideas that I had been talking about … all these adventures I had been thinking about, it was like someone had read my mind.”

Pawel Bernas to Target Classics Development With CCC Team

Team BMC (which will become CCC) sent this release:

22 October, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Pawel Bernas will focus on developing as a classics rider when he makes his WorldTour debut with CCC Team in 2019, becoming the latest rider to make the transition from CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

Bernas showed his potential when he was in the breakaway and went on to finish second at the inaugural Great War Remembrance Race in August this year.

"Pawel Bernas is the latest addition to our classics team for 2019, when we become CCC Team, and will play a key role in supporting Greg Van Avermaet in the spring. Pawel already has experience at some of the smaller spring classics and his result at the Great War Remembrance Race was a sign of what he can do, so we are excited to welcome him to the team," General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

"This is a unique opportunity for Pawel to make his debut with a WorldTour team that has a Polish title sponsor and as our main focus of the 2019 season will be the classics, it is a great fit for him. Under our guidance, we hope Pawel will gain more experience and develop further not just in the classics, but also stage races too."

Bernas is thankful for the opportunity to step up to the WorldTour level. "This is absolutely the biggest step in my career so I can't really describe just how excited I am. Joining one of the best teams in the world was always my top goal and achieving this wouldn't be possible without the support of my family and friends, my coach, sport directors, colleagues and staff from CCC Sprandi Polkowice, and also my previous teams, so I'd like to thank them a lot for helping to make this happen," Bernas said.

"I always believed that classics were my type of races but I needed that one good result that would prove this, so my result at the Great War Remembrance Race was definitely that self confidence boost that I needed. I'd love to focus on one-day races next season but I also want to become a solid part of the team during stage races as well. My main goal and ambition is to develop and show my potential during the season and stay racing at the WorldTour level. It would be amazing to do my first Grand Tour and Monument and this will show that everything is going in the right direction. If I can have a chance to take an opportunity, like at the Great War Remembrance Race, then this would be incredibly motivational."

2018 Season Wrap: Mitchelton-Scott women's winning season the best yet

Here's the team's press release:

2018 has proven to be the most successful season for the Mitchelton-SCOTT women's team, claiming no less than 26 UCI victories, four more than their previous season's best in 2012 and seven more wins than last year.

Their consistent results saw the team finish second in the UCI women's team ranking capped off with world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten finishing as UCI Women's WorldTour Individual Classification winner and UCI ranked number-one female rider in the world.

The UCI ranking is the icing on the cake for the team after becoming the first Australian UCI women's team back in 2012 and transitioning into the dominating force that is Mitchelton-SCOTT as we see it today.

We take a look back at some highlights of the 2018 season:

Giro-Rosa: First ever Grand Tour win
After turning their attention to general classification success a couple of years ago, Mitchelton-SCOTT women got things right in 2018 after a steep learning curve in 2017. As their main goal of the season, the riders worked to be in their best shape in July for the Giro-Rosa with 100% commitment and focus on winning the overall.

Exceeding expectations, the team also walked away with six stage wins from three different riders, with Van Vleuten winning three stages on her way to the top step of the podium to give Mitchelton-SCOTT their first ever Grand Tour victory, plus a stage win and third place overall finish by Amanda Spratt and two sprint stage victories by Jolien D’hoore.

World championships
Taking confidence from their successful season, Van Vleuten and Spratt shone at the UCI Road World Championships finishing with a gold and silver medal respectively.

Van Vleuten proved throughout the season why she is a time trial world champion, winning all but one timed event that she started in 2018 and was able to deliver on the main stage once again to defend her world championship title, bringing the rainbow jersey to Mitchelton-SCOTT for the second consecutiver season.

Spratt proved to herself and the rest of the world that she is one of the world’s best climbers with a gutsy ride that gave her the silver medal for Australia in the road race. After seeing the course last year, the 2018 world championships became a clear goal for Spratt and she delivered. Racing on the offensive and taking her chances in a late breakaway, Spratt kept herself on the front foot and came away with a much deserved second place.

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt winning stage 3 of the 2018 Tour Down Under

Rise of the world’s best climbers
With a mindset to focus on general classification success in 2018, Mitchelton-SCOTT claimed four general classification victories, two from Spratt (Tour Down Under, Emakumeen XXXI Bira) and two from Van Vleuten (Giro-Rosa, Boels Ladies Tour).

After a steady development, learning from each other and taking confidence from their results, Van Vleuten and Spratt both stepped up another level this season which was highlighted by their GC success and first and third place in the Giro-Rosa.

With the high level within the team, the riders worked together to push themselves to the next level, often taking others by surprise with who the team was riding for in races.

World rankings
To round out the season, Mitchelton-SCOTT's consistent performances were displayed by the final UCI rankings. The team concluded the season in second place on the UCI team world ranking and the UCI WorldTour rankings.

Van Vleuten took a clean sweep by winning the WorldTour individual classification and finished as ranked number one rider in the world, whilst Spratt finished fourth in both categories.

Gene Bates - Sport director:
"I think this year's success is a culmination of work and culture within the team which has been building for the last few years and seasons. We have had this core group of riders together now for a number of seasons, and throughout this time they have been maturing and working together. I think the results this year is just the result of that progression over time.

"We actively look for riders in the team to be ambitious and really get moments for themselves to seek out a result. Obviously there are many times when the team result must come first, but being able to have your 'leader' work for for the 'worker' from time to time, really provides a great feeling and motivation within the group.

"Again, across the board we have high expectations of our riders. We try hard to make sure nobody becomes complacent or too comfortable in their position. This current group of riders has been developing and maturing together for several seasons, and they are at a point now where they are both confident and capable of going for the best result possible.

"It also shows that our team is not just about one rider, when the team wins, everyone wins. It makes me very proud to see many different riders getting results during the season. When you have depth like that in a team, it starts to get hard for other teams to predict what we will do, and how we will race. I think this fact has been one of our greatest strengths this season."

Amanda Spratt:
"It has definitely been the team's best season this ever, from the start we really stepped up in professionalism and we did a lot of work off the bike in the off-season, learning to work better as a team and I think that has really shown this year. We started out really well, for me personally winning the Tour Down Under was a great way to start the momentum for the team and once we got to Europe the momentum just kept rolling.

"I think the best thing for me to see this season is that it wasn't just one or two riders getting results, we really had a lot of riders getting results and stepping up and even riders who didn't cross the finish line first, like Jess Allen, she made a huge step forward this year and she really contributed to a lot of our results.

"Everything really came together this year and people really saw how strong we are and especially at the Giro-Rosa. That was a big focus and you just saw we were so professional and well-drilled and all the girls really supported Annemiek and I for the GC, they rode so hard the whole time and sacrificed their chances.

"When you are in an environment where people are getting results like that it really motivates and encourages people to lift and I really felt that in the group this year and we really challenged and motivated each other, that has made the difference this year."

Annemiek van Vleuten:
"To see our team so high up in the ranking is something that makes me very very proud, more than the individual ranking.

"For our team in general it shows how we have stepped up and performed with all the girls as a team, it is something to celebrate, it is really awesome. We stepped up as a team last year but even more this year and it shows we are a really top, top level team."

2018 UCI race victories:

National championships ITT New Zealand - Georgia Williams
National championships RR New Zealand - Georgia Williams
Jayco Herald SunTour TT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Santos Women's Tour - Stage 3 - Amanda Spratt
Santos Women's Tour GC - Amanda Spratt
Driedaagse Brugge - De Panne - Jolien D'hoore
Emakumeen XXXI Bira Stage 2 ITT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Emakumeen XXI Bira Stage 4 - Amanda Spratt
Emakumeen XXXI Bira GC - Amanda Spratt
SwissEver GP Cham - Amanda Spratt
Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik - Sarah Roy
OVO Energy Women's Tour - Stage 1 - Jolien D'hoore
OVO Energy Women's Tour - Stage 2 - Sarah Roy
Giro-Rosa - Stage 3 - Jolien D'hoore
Giro-Rosa - Stage 4 - Jolien D'hoore
Giro-Rosa - Stage 6 - Amanda Spratt
Giro-Rosa - Stage 7 ITT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa - Stage 9 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa - Stage 10 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa GC - Annemiek van Vleuten
La Course by Le Tour de France - Annemiek van Vleuten
Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour Prologue - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour - Stage 2 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour - Stage 6 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour GC - Annemiek van Vleuten

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