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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 27, 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

Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt. – Herbert Hoover

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Volta a Catalunya stage two reports

We posted the race report from winner Michael Matthews' Team Sunweb with the results.

Here's the organizer's post:

Michael Matthews report stage 2: "Through the race, there was a lot of stress, because there was a lot of wind and a lot of teams were fighting the whole day, trying to stay out of trouble. It was difficult. We knew it was a good day for me and we could put the team on the front and try to protect me. I knew Valverde was going to be the favourite in the end when we passed there the first time, seeing how steep the climb was. I had a bit target to be around him on the finish. I think he started the sprint quite early, so I could pass him with 150 metres to go. Then, I looked under my arm and saw Valverde struggling a little bit, so it gave me more confidence. It’s such a beautiful victory, the first World Tour race for the team and for me this year, after all the bad luck I had in the past two races.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews wins stage two.

"I think there might be two more options for me in this Volta, maybe Friday and Sunday, although I know it’s a hard circuit. We will try to work for the GC with Wilco Kelderman and then see what we have left. I crashed in Paris-Nice and had some fractures, so my plans changed, as I had to be going E3 and Gante-Wevelgem this week. Instead, we choose to go here in Catalunya and it turned to be a good decision, I’m super happy. It’s my first time racing in la Volta, but I always saw it on TV: beautiful weather and good racing. I’ve actually never been to this part of Spain, so it’s being nice."

Here's what second-place Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar had to report:

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) remained into full focus at the 2019 Volta a Catalunya, the World Champion covering stage two with extreme attention and will to gain an edge on his rivals before the decisive days of the race. The Blues’ leader took 2nd place at the uphill finish of a lumpy stage two, over 166km from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols, behind a robust sprinter: Australia’s Michael Matthews (SUN).

Valverde, well supported in the approach to the final circuit by Carlos Verona, Andrey Amador and Imanol Erviti, managed his way through any misfortune -despite suffering a cut to his left hand as a bike from a Bora-Hansgrohe rider hit him into a crash before the first passage to the finish- and was even able to contest the intermediate sprint in Platja d’Aro, 9km from the end, to take another 3" to add to the 2" snatched on Monday.

The torturous, chaotic finale along the coast required an extra effort from both Valverde and Nairo Quintana, who also took a 2″ bonus in the sprint. Fortunately, both were able to get to the front before the last kilometer’s straight, at 5% gradient, where the sprinting power of Matthews took the better from a punchy climber as ‘Bala’, now 2nd overall at 2’47” from Thomas de Gendt -Quintana sits in 6th, +2’56”-.

The rainbow jersey will tackle the first two of two big mountain finishes in the Pyrenees on Wednesday, climbing from sea level -Sant Feliu de Guíxols- to above 2,100m in Vallter 2000 (HC), a 12km climb at 7% preceeded by the ‘cols’ of Oix (Cat-1) and Rocabruna (Cat-1).

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It was a very dangerous, twisty finale. In the first passage through the line, into a small descent before the final kilometer and the last straight, there was a crash with Froome and a Bora rider. I was riding just behind Froome, and even if I didn’t touch either him or the Bora rider, the latter’s bike hit my left hand and caused me a small cut, which hurts quite a bit. But happily, and leaving that incident aside, it’s a day to be happy about. We took bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, both Nairo -second- and myself -first-, then I could contest the finish and take 2nd place. My body is reacting well to the recent efforts and the team is working perfectly, so let’s see what we can do in Vallter tomorrow.”

And here's Bora-hansgrohe's report:

Stage 2 of the Volta a Catalunya took the peloton from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols over 166 fairly kilometres with only three climbs (Cat.3). A trio built today’s breakaway and the peloton gave them an advantage of more than seven minutes. However, the breakaway was caught shortly before the finish when the race heated up on the finishing circuit.

Due to a crash Erik Baska was forced to stop racing at the Volta a Catalunya, but luckily suffered no serious injuries. Jay McCarthy also crashed as the race headed into the final lap. Fortunately, he was able to get back on his bike and catch up with the main bunch, but was forced to put in a huge amount of effort to do so. When Astana took control in the bunch, the race went on fire on the last lap. BORA – hansgrohe wanted to deliver Jay for the sprint, but when he was in trouble due to his crash, Max Schachmann stepped in and attacked with about 3 km to go. This time the bunch reacted immediately, and Max eased off again. On the final uphill stretch Michelton-Scott were in front, but it was M. Matthews, who snatched away the victory, while Max Schachmann took a strong 4thplace. Therefore, the BORA - hansgrohe rider still leads the best young rider classification.

From the Finish Line:
“We went into today’s stage to work for Jay, but after his crashed the plan changed. The final lap was like some Classics race parcours, which normally suits me well. Therefore, I wanted to try something and went on the attack shortly before the finish. But the teams were too strong, so I pulled back. In the finale, I tried it again, however Matthews was the fastest today.” – Maximilian Schachmann

“Our team showed again great teamwork. Our plan was to go for Jay, the slightly uphill finish was surely one for him. But after his crash we had to change the plan and Max had the chance to try something. He came in behind Matthews, Valverde and Impey in a great fourth place and is still leader in the classification best young rider.” – Jens Zemke, Sports Director 

Lotto-Soudal previews Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne

The Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne is the second Belgian WorldTour race of the year. For the first time in their history, the race gets this ranking. The 200.3 kilometres long course includes various cobbled sections, but also the Kemmelberg and the Rodeberg. After two local laps of 25 kilometres through De Panne, we will know who succeeds Elia Viviani. Frederik Willems, sports director and former winner of this race, looks ahead.

Frederik Willems: “The course really resembles the one of Bredene-Koksijde Classic, so I expect the race will unfold similarly and that it will probably end with a bunch sprint. The field however, is stronger now as this is WorldTour level. Jens Keukeleire will be our leader. He is usually one of the leaders in our team during the Classics. His shape is very good, just like in Milan-San Remo where he was well-positioned on the Poggio.”

“After the Kemmelberg, there is also the Rodeberg and the Sulferberg. Maybe the peloton will split there, allowing an interesting group to break clear. It is a long time from there until the finish though, so we will have to wait and see if that really happens. The local course at the end is not very dangerous. They will cross the Moeren three times, a wide and open area where you must always be careful. Also some narrow passage ways are included, but these should not cause any problems. It is now ten years ago that I won the Driedaagse myself. I still look back on it as a very nice victory, especially because it was in my home country and in addition being the start of the Flemish spring races.”

Adam Blythe

Adam Blythe (shown in 2017) will race Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne. Sirotti photo

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Adam Blythe, Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, Rasmus Byriel Iversen, Jens Keukeleire, Lawrence Naesen and Enzo Wouters.

Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.

CCC Team headed to Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne

The squad sent me this:

25 March 2019: CCC Team will return to the start line in Belgium on Wednesday (27 March) with a motivated rider roster lining up at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.

Sports Director Valerio Piva said that CCC Team will be looking to race aggressively with no individual team leader heading to the start line."We won't be lining up with a team leader for this race. Instead, everyone will be able to look for opportunities throughout the day. The weather is always a big factor at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and the wind can decide the race but, for the moment, the forecast looks good. I think on the finishing circuit we will be looking to race aggressively and jump in the various moves. Most of the guys will be coming here after Danilith Nokere Koerse and Bredene Koksijde Classic, and I was encouraged by the team performance at both of those races. If the race comes down to a bunch sprint, we will have both Jakub Mareczko and Szymon Sajnok, who showed that he is racing well and that he can be up there with some of the best at our last two outings in Belgium," Piva explained.

After solid performances in Belgium last week at Danilith Nokere Koerse and Bredene Koksijde Classic, Sajnok is looking forward to seeing what he, and the team, can do at the now UCI WorldTour one-day race.

"I definitely gained more confidence from my last two races and I can see that my shape has improved. I continue to feel very strong on the bike and I would like to do another good race at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne. We will have a strong team so, I think we can fight for a good result again. I didn't know what my form would be like at these semi-Classics in Belgium but, I felt good at Danilith Nokere Koerse and Bredene Koksijde Classic so, I am looking forward to lining up on the start line on Wednesday," Sajnok said.

Serge Pauwels

Serge Pauwels (shown in the 2017 Tour de France) will be racing in Belgium Wednesday. Sirotti photo

Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne:
Rider roster: Paweł Bernas (POL), Kamil Gradek (POL), Jonas Koch (GER), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Szymon Sajnok (POL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Steve Bauer (CAN)

The UAE Team Emirates rosters for the next three Belgian races

The team sent me this update:

Kristoff, Gaviria and Philipsen lead the Emirati team in the north

The UAE Team Emirates faces three WorldTour one-day races this coming week: Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (March 27), E3 BinkBank Classic (March 29) and Gent-Wevelgem (March 31). Sports Director Allan Peiper (Aus) will direct the team over the week’s events.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria (shown in the 2018 Tour de France) will race Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne. Sirotti photo

Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (200.3 km)
– Tom Bohli (Swi)
– Simone Consonni (Ita)
– Roberto Ferrari (Ita)
– Fernando Gaviria (Col)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Ivo Oliveira (Por)
– Oliviero Troia (Ita)

E3 BinkBank Classic (204 km)
– Tom Bohli (Swi)
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Jasper Philipsen (Bel)
– Oliviero Troia (Ita)

Gent-Wevelgem (251.5 km)
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Simone Consonni (Ita)
– Fernando Gaviria (Col)
– Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Ivo Oliveira (Por)

Alexander Kristoff: “With the E3, my northern campaign starts. I’m arriving there with my condition and health better than last year, so I hope to be able to be more competitive. The team is reinforced for these races, so the signs are looking good“.

Fernando Gaviria: “I’m racing in Belgium with enthusiasm and an eye on the races like a student in cycling school with a lot of desire to take it all in. I’d like to gain experience, learn from the directors and my team-mates and get a good idea of what level is in these types of races. In this week I’ll participate in De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.“

Huge growth in E-Bike sales to power Taipei Cycle Show

Bike Europe sent me this industry news

TAIPEI, Taiwan – In just a few hours the 2019 Taipei Cycle Show is to open its doors. It’s already abundantly clear what the biggest Asian B-2-B fair will be all about. Electric bikes in all its forms and shapes as well as e-bike parts will be dominating among the offerings on display. What will be interesting to see is how the numerous Taiwan parts makers are responding to what is now clearly becoming a global trend.

E-bikes have boosted the bicycle markets throughout Europe last year while also Taiwan’s largest bicycle makers are reporting electric bicycle sales that doubles compared to 2017.

Last year an unprecedented e-bike market expansion has taken place in countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Optimal weather conditions that made the cycling season start early and end late, pushed sales to the extreme. In Germany the e-bike sales volume hiked by a staggering 36 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. No less than 980,000 e-bikes were sold last year. Today every one out of four bicycles sold in Germany is an electric one.

In the Netherlands a likewise growth took place. E-bike sales increased here by 38 percent with a total sales volume that stood at 409,400 units.

Giant and Merida are reporting the same for their e-bike sales. Giant shipped about 385,000 e-bikes in 2018; close to doubling the number recorded a year earlier. Merida more than doubled its e-bike shipments to some 143,000.

You can read the entire story here.

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