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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. - Lewis Carroll

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

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Ag2r La Mondiale extends its team sponsorship until 2023

The team sent me this good news:

25 June 2019: AG2R LA MONDIALE extends its sponsorship, which began in 1997, with the eponymous cycling team led by Vincent Lavenu until 2023.


We'll be seeing Ag2r on the road for a few years to come. Sirotti ohoto

André Renaudin, Chief Executive Officer:
"A few days before the start of the Tour de France 2019, we once again testify to our unwavering support for Vincent Lavenu and his cycling team. Our riders and their sports directors perfectly embody the values of solidarity and performance that animate AG2R LA MONDIALE every day. And just like with the cycling team, it is the strength of the collective that makes us better. Now we meet in Brussels for the start of this year’s Grande Boucle to continue this wonderful adventure together. We are of course hoping that their success in this legendary race is commensurate with their commitment and determination!”

Vincent Lavenu, General Manager of the AG2R LA MONDIALE cycling team:
"We are proud and very touched by the confidence shown by AG2R LA MONDIALE in extending our contract from 2021 to 2023. This endeavor that has united us since 1997 around our favorite sport is both beautiful and intense. It has brought us a lot of joy, success, and has also strengthened us in the most difficult times. The quality of our relationship is irrefutable, and I warmly thank the AG2R LA MONDIALE General Management, the directors and employees for always believing in our team. This fidelity will allow us to write new pages of our history, with new challenges, and a pool of ambitious young riders who are our trademark,”

Lotto-Soudal manager Marc Sergeant discusses Tour de France rider selection

The team sent me this:

On Saturday 6 July, the 106th edition of the Tour de France will start in Brussels. Lotto Soudal will go to the Tour with these eight riders: Tiesj Benoot (25), Jasper De Buyst (25), Thomas De Gendt (32), Caleb Ewan (24, turns 25 on 11 July), Jens Keukeleire (30), Roger Kluge (33), Maxime Monfort (36) and Tim Wellens (28). Sports manager Marc Sergeant talks about the Tour de France line-up of Lotto Soudal.

Marc Sergeant: “It was not that difficult to get our Tour de France selection on paper. I think we chose the strongest possible team. The Tour is about three topics: sprint stages, days for escapees and mountain stages. Only during the days in the mountains, it won’t be easy for us to take a stage win and attacking will be the mindset of Lotto Soudal during those stages. Even though some riders already announced they won’t participate, we don’t have any real ambitions for the general classification. We are fully aiming for a stage victory.”

“Caleb Ewan will be at the start of the Tour for the first time in his career, but he will put the necessary pressure on himself. With already three stage wins in the Giro and one in the Vuelta, I think the ambition to also win a Tour stage, will come automatically. During the sprint preparation, Caleb will be perfectly supported by amongst others Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge but by the other Lotto Soudal riders as well.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (shown at the 2019 Giro d'Italia) will be on the Tour de France start line. Sirotti photo

“At a certain moment in the race, the sprint teams need to take responsibility and that is why we selected Maxime Monfort. He will need to lead the peloton during the sprint stages. Of course, Maxime is also free to do his own thing in the other stages, but he will have to spend some more energy during the sprint stages, contrary to our other riders with a free role.”

“Jens Keukeleire can - just like Benoot and Wellens - contribute to the sprint preparation. It is clear to me that during a sprint stage, the other seven Lotto Soudal riders will support Ewan. But in the other stages, Caleb can also help our attackers like Benoot, De Gendt and Wellens. In that sense, everybody works for everyone during the Tour de France.”

“Let us begin to say that it is our ambition to win one stage. However, my experience has taught me that once the first stage victory arrives, a second one follows a bit easier. So, the faster we could win a first one, the better for us. The opening stage immediately is an opportunity to do so and we will try to use it. And if not, we will shift focus towards the following stages.”

Tour de France line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Maxime Monfort and Tim Wellens.

Regulations trigger massive production relocation to Cambodia

Bike Europe sent me this report:

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The bicycle industry in the South East Asian nation Cambodia is on the brink of a major hike in production volumes. Preparations have been taking place for a while, but might get a push depending on the outcome of the G20 meeting later this week in Japan.

At Taipei Cycle show 2019, it was already obvious that production relocation was triggered by EU dumping actions and U.S. tariffs, as Bike Europe reported.

But the outcome of a meeting, if any, between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the G20 in Japan will be decisive how quickly the relocation takes place. In the Strait Times, chairman of US bicycle company Kent International Inc. Arnold Kamler explained the considerations taken by his Chinese bicycle supplier Shanghai General Sports Co Ltd., “If the meeting goes very well, they will go ahead at one pace. If not, they will go into warp speed.” Shanghai General Sports Co Ltd is currently building a new factory in Phnom Penh as a part of a plan to shift the production of millions of bicycles from China to Cambodia.

You can read the entire story here.

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