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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 14, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

War does not determine who is right - only who is left. - Bertrand Russell

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Vuelta a España stage 18 reports

We posted the race organzer's stage summary with the results.

Stage winner Jelle Wallays' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

Jelle Wallays has won the 18th stage of the Vuelta after a thrilling finale. After being part of a three-rider breakaway for 183 kilometres long, Wallays managed to hold off one of the remaining escapees and a chasing peloton by only a few seconds!

As soon as the flag dropped, Jelle Wallays attacked and got company from Sven Eryk Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH). The three escapees were allowed to go clear and quickly established a gap, which peaked at around three minutes. The flat stage was controlled by the sprinters’ teams from the start, which kept the advantage of the leading trio at around 2’30” for the entire stage. In the final 25 kilometres, the peloton started to pick up the pace, but also Jelle Wallays put in strong turns at the front. At seven kilometres from the finish, Wallays accelerated, which saw his breakaway companion Bol being dropped. In the final kilometre, Jelle Wallays played it smart and remained in Bystrom’s wheel. The 29-year-old Belgian timed his sprint to perfection and was the first to cross the line, ahead of Bystrom and Sagan.

Jelle Wallys

Jelle Wallays wins Vuelta stage eighteen. Sirotti photo

Jelle Wallays: “I came to Spain with the ambition to win a stage and today I took one! Ahead of this Grand Tour, I had one to four stages in my mind, in which I could take my chance. However, my crash after the rest day interfered with my plans, leaving me with only one opportunity. I’m so happy to have taken my chance today and realize my dream!”

“When I heard we still had an advantage of 30 seconds over the peloton, I decided to stay behind Bystrom and to no longer focus on the peloton behind us. I knew he was the fastest on paper, but I also knew that the final kilometre was uphill, with gradients of 2 to 3%. I decided to stay in his wheel and to start my sprint from there. I’ve been in similar situations before and I can keep my cool. I took a shot, but the  gamble helped me to this victory, so I’m very happy I stayed in Bystrom’s wheel.”

“It wasn’t easy to escape the bunch at first. My legs didn’t feel superb, but I’m a diesel and the more kilometres we covered, the better I felt. I did’t have the feeling to be the strongest in the breakaway neither, but I know I can finish strong after a long day in the breakaway, which I proved again today. The wind was also in our advantage, so we were able to ride at a significant high pace. Yesterday, I changed from gear as well, enabling me to ride even faster at this course. I think we maintained an average speed of 50 km/h during the final fifteen kilometres, which is quite fast.”

“I recovered well from the previous mountain stages. I was already in great shape ahead of the Tour de France and as soon as I heard I wasn’t part of the Tour’s selection, I focussed myself on this Vuelta, so I started this Vuelta in a perfect shape. We came to Spain with the team to take a stage win back home and today we succeeded in our mission. After the finish it felt like justice had been done as sports director Van Slycke (QS) called me some names earlier on the stage. That also explains my strong reaction. Then, of course, it feels good that they were not able to catch you before the finish line. Bu no offence to the blue squad.”

“We currently are in the possession of the polka dot jersey with Thomas De Gendt as well. Saturday will be another important day for him, but he’s really strong and motivated to defend his jersey. It would be nice to go home with a stage win and the polka dot jersey, of course. Either way, we already have our desired stage win and that’s something nobody can take from us!”

GC leader Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team had this to say about the stage:

Three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Simon Yates has been safely guided through stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana thanks to his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates.

The flat stage, with no categorised climbs, looked set as one for the sprinters but despite controlling the race all day, they failed to catch the breakaway from which Jelle Wallays (Team Lotto-Soudal) won just ahead of the bunch sprint.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates remains in red.

A respite from the mountains had the sprint outfits motivated for stage 18 as they moved to the front of the bunch immediately to control a move of three riders. From the opening kilometres it looked clear that the efforts of Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sven Eryk Bytrom (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) would result in little as they were kept within three minutes of the peloton thanks to Quickstep Floors, Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe.

Despite the small advantage all day, the trio of leaders maintained a 90-second gap with 20km to go and 30seconds with 3.5km remaining.

The technical roads of the city finish in Lleida assisted Wallays and Sven Erik Bystrom (UAE Team Emirates) finish the stage in the top two just centimetres ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who won the sprint from the bunch for third.

Yates was kept right towards the front of the bunch all day, particularly in the closing kilometres, and maintains his 25-second lead to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) as the race heads to Andorra tomorrow.

Simon Yates:
“It was ok today until the final, it was very fast because of the wind and that made it hard, but for the rest it was a nice day and probably the easiest of the race so far. I am looking forward to tomorrow now.”

“I was just trying to safe with my positioning in the final, there was quite a lot of roundabouts coming into town and up near the front is the safest place to be. I wasn’t thinking of bonus seconds.

“It’s going to be very difficult over the next couple of days, but we will try. I know the roads, so maybe that will help a little a bit, but it is going to be very difficult and I will give it my best shot.”

Greg Van Avermaet to race Primus Classic

Van Avermaet's BMC team sent me this:

13 September, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After a successful hit out in Canada, Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line this Saturday at the one-day Primus Classic race in Belgium. Van Avermaet will be joined by Jempy Drucker and Jürgen Roelandts to give the team multiple options, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

"We know that Greg Van Avermaet is in top shape after racing in Canada so he will go in as one of the favorites and our primary leader for Primus Classic. We also have Jempy Drucker, who was second last year, and Jürgen Roelandts so we can race aggressively on Saturday. Tactically, we can be strong as we have riders to cover difference race scenarios," Piva explained.

"The course is the same as last year with the start in Brakel and the finish in Haacht. Although the final kilometers are flat, there are quite a few climbs in the race so anything can happen. We have a strong team to support Greg, Jempy and Jürgen so we hope for a good result on Saturday."

Greg van aVermaet

Greg van Avermaet will be racing in Belgium Saturday.

Van Avermaet, who won in 2014, is looking forward to racing on home soil for the last time this season. "I was feeling good in Canada and I have recovered well so I'm glad to race again this Saturday at Primus Classic. This will be my last race before I head to Austria for the World Championships so it will be a good opportunity to get another race day in my legs," Van Avermaet said.

"We have a strong team and I hope to be up there in the finale. I think we have a few options so between the seven of us, we can be in the right moves depending on how the race goes. It is always nice to race on home roads in Belgium so it will be nice to race there one more time this season."

Primus Classic (15 September)

Rider roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

Will EU intervene in Amer Sports takeover by Chinese companies?

Bike Europe sent me this news:

HELSINKI, Finland – After Amer Sports announced one week ago that it wants to sell its activities in the cycling market with Mavic and Enve, the Finnish holding got a takeover bid for all Amer shares by the Chinese companies ANTA Sports Products and FountainVest Partners. Apart from the principal issue of how Amer’s Board and shareholders will react to the bid, it also raises the question of how the EU will deal with this planned takeover.

Will EU Intervene in Amer Sports Takeover by Chinese companies?

The question of how Brussels envisages acquisitions such as the proposed one of Amer Sports by Chinese companies stems from recent publications on EU policy and that of individual member states regarding Chinese investments in European companies. That policy is all about tackling trade distortions by China. Will Amer Sports as a medium-sized listed company in this context be an example for others operating within the European sport and bicycle markets that are attracting attention from Chinese companies which could result in takeover attempts?

Fact is that it has become abundantly clear in Berlin, Paris, London and Brussels that China has drastically increased its takeovers in Europe, following restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States. A recent online report by renowned ‘Politico’ states “Berlin is preparing a reform of its investment screening law in order to give the government “wider screening possibilities,” in an apparent move to better defend itself against state-led takeovers from China.” This reform will allow the German ministry to check any purchase giving a non-EU investor a 15-percent holding or more voting rights — lower than the existing 25-percent threshold.

Moreover, Europe, the United States and Japan have joined forces to tackle subsidized and state-owned enterprises, as Politico reported. It is said that they “Aim to tackle systemic distortions in global trade mostly created by China’s massive interventions in the economy.” Last May the three already agreed on developing stricter rules on subsidies and state-owned companies.”
By the way; it’s not said here that the companies that want to takeover Amer Sports are subsidized and/or state-owned enterprises.

You can read the entire story here.

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