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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 9, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Lotto-Soudal looking for stage wins at Paris-Nice

The team sent me this:

On Sunday 10 March, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of the 77th edition of Paris-Nice, an eight-day WorldTour race in which the peloton rides through the diverse French sceneries. With sprinter Caleb Ewan - who will ride the ‘Race to the Sun’ for the first time - Lotto Soudal is hunting for a sprint victory. The Australian will be well-supported by Jasper De Buyst, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge and Nikolas Maes. During the hillier stages, the team can count on Thomas De Gendt - last year’s winner of the mountain classification - and Maxime Monfort. Herman Frison, sports director at Lotto Soudal - clarifies the team’s ambitions.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (shown winning a stage at this year's UAE Tour) will be riding his first Paris-Nice.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “In the past, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico were only regarded as races to prepare for Milan - San Remo, the first Monument of the season. Nowadays, these first European stage races imply the first clash between the world’s best riders. It will be full gas racing and also within our team - after a solid start to the season - everybody is motivated to give their all.”

“Paris-Nice starts with three - maybe even four - stages that can result in a bunch kick. On day five, there is an individual time trial and that’s where the battle for the general classification begins. Afterwards, three tough stages are scheduled. Especially the penultimate stage - finishing on the fifteen kilometres long Col de Turini - will be decisive for the overall.”

“Tim Wellens - who already rode Paris-Nice several times – now chose for Tirreno-Adriatico because he thinks that the Col de Turini might be a little too hard for him in the pursuit of a good overall result. That way, we deliberately decided to fully go for a stage win - in the first place with our sprinter Caleb Ewan - instead of targeting a nice place on GC. For the Australian, the race means the ultimate preparation towards Milan - San Remo, the first big goal of his season. It will be his debut in the French stage race this year. In the past, he frequently participated in the Tirreno but because there are at least three possible sprint stages, we opted for Paris-Nice. Caleb Ewan is the kind of rider that needs to be brought in a good position in the run-up to the sprint. With Nikolas Maes, Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst, we have the perfect riders to do so.”

“During the final three stages, the more offensive riders within our line -up such as Thomas De Gendt and Maxime Monfort, but also Adam Hansen, will have the opportunity to show themselves. They have to try to join breakaways in order to aim for a stage win. The mountain classification - which he won last year - can again become a goal for Thomas this year, but in the first place, a sprint victory prevails. Afterwards, we will evaluate the possibilities day by day because most mountain points are to be gained the last three days.”


Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge, Nikolas Maes and Maxime Monfort.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Geraint Thomas to ride Strade Bianche

Here's Team Sky's update:

Geraint Thomas is looking forward to getting stuck into Strade Bianche as he continues to build his form in 2019.

Thomas will be tackling Tuscany’s white gravel roads for the first time in Team Sky colours and he’s excited about racing the increasingly iconic Siena Classic. From there the Welshman will move on to Tirreno-Adriatico and he plans to enjoy the block of racing in Italy, on roads he knows well.

“I’m very excited to tackle the famous white gravel roads,” said Thomas. “Strade is obviously a great race - to watch on TV anyway! I’m looking forward to it. It’s already iconic really - it’s only been around 10 years or so but it already has real prestige.

“And of course I’m looking forward to racing in Italy again. It’s where I started my professional career. Just driving down here on Thursday was really nice - I was driving on roads I used to use all the time when I was in Barloworld and heading off to races. So I’m really looking forward to racing here.”

In terms of his shape, Thomas is optimistic: “I’m feeling alright at the moment. I had a good block in Tenerife after Valencia so it feels like I’ve moved on quite a bit. Obviously I’m still a little behind where I would normally be as the last off-season was so long but I’m feeling a lot better and looking forward to racing now.”

What are his aims for Strade? Simple: “To get stuck into the race. I don’t think I’ve got the form to win but you never know with bike racing,” he continued. “I’ll just get stuck in, ride well with the boys and see what we can do. I’m not putting pressure on myself to perform. It’s another good block of racing before another Tenerife camp, and then hopefully I can be in a bit better form to go for podiums etc.

“At this point last year I think I was a little more ready to race. I was back training sooner but I’m not far off. I’ve got a good base now and some foundations to build on. It’s all heading in the right direction.”

Looking ahead to Tirreno, Thomas is keen to support teammate and friend Wout Poels, who has enjoyed a strong start to the campaign. “We’ll have a strong team there - Wout is going really well so I’ll try and help him and hopefully we’ll have a few cards to play after the team time trial. The last time trial will be a nice little target as well.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas winning stage two of the 2017 Tirreno-Adriatico. Sirotti photo

“Personally I might be a bit better at Tirreno. I’m coming in off a big block of training so trying to freshen up before Strade. I’ll be more suited to Tirreno and should build into the race.”

Accell (Raleigh, Diamondback, Redline, etc) reports increase in turn-over excluding North America

Bike Europe sent me this news:

HEERENVEEN, The Netherlands – Accell Group NV saw its net turnover grow by 2.4% in 2018, while its operating result doubled to 20.5 million euro. Just like in the previous year, Accell reports strong sales in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France but a weak performance in North America and the Netherlands.
Accell Group’s publication of the 2018 results came with the announcement that the ‘Lead Global. Win Local’ strategy is starting to pay off in its core markets. North America is no longer regarded as core market. Accell’s core market, which includes the Netherlands, Belgium, DACH and others generated a 6.1% increase in turnover to 1,033 million euro while the EBIT landed at 54.0 million euro.

For Accell Group the North American business declined by 35.6% from 94.8 million euro turn-over in 2017 to 61 million euro in 2018. In December last year Accell Group already announced a strategic review of its North American business. The conclusions on the future of the business are expected in Q3 2019 at the latest

You can read the entire story here.

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