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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 10, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Team Katusha-Alpecin and Marcel Kittel have agreed to early contract termination

Here's the team's press release:

Marcel Kittel: "On my request Team KATUSHA ALPECIN (TKA) and I have mutually decided to an early termination of my current contract.

"It was for me a long decision process where I raised a lot of questions about how and where I want to go as a person and athlete and what is really important to me. I love cycling and my passion for this beautiful sport is never gone, but I also know what it requires from me and what I need to do to be successful. I believe that everyone has his strengths and weaknesses and that it is an ongoing process to deal with them within a team to be strong and successful. In the last two months I have had the feeling of being exhausted. At this moment, I am not able to train and race at the highest level. For this reason, I have decided to take a break and take time for myself, think about my goals and make a plan for my future.

"At this point I'd like to thank the team for the last 1.5 years and their support. Especially I'd like to thank the team staff. From the bottom of my heart I can say that they are the best and hardest working people that I've ever seen. I'm sorry that I couldn't fuel your passion with more wins and results. I'd like to thank the sponsors and partners as well that keep believing in the team with their support and knowledge.

"I've taken this decision based on my experience that changes lead you to new paths and opportunities. Despite all the insecurities I've got confidence that I ultimately will find new chances and challenges. From now on I will put my happiness and joy above everything and seek ways to find this also in my future. I'm very excited about what is going to come. I would like to ride and race again in the future and I have to work out a plan to be able to reach this goal.

"This is the biggest challenge of my career and I'm accepting it."

Marcel Kittel

When things were working: Marcel Kittel wins stage two of the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

José Azevedo, General Manager TKA: "It is with sadness that we have agreed with Marcel’s request to step away from the team and from racing. We understand the situation in which Marcel is and we fully support him in this difficult time. All the team members will continue supporting Marcel in the future and we hope that he will soon get back to racing as the champion he is.

"On behalf of Team KATUSHA ALPECIN and all its sponsors and partners we wish Marcel all the best for the future."

Victor Campenaerts looks at the 2019 Giro d'Italia

Campenaerts' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

The course of the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia includes three hilly individual time trials. Lotto Soudal rider Victor Campenaerts, the reigning European champion against the clock, looks ahead and analyzes his chances of success.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts racing in the 2018 Vuelta a España

Victor Campenaerts: “This year’s Giro d’Italia includes quite some kilometres against the clock. There are three tough individual time trials in which there is each time some kind of obstacle but also with enough flat parts where the real specialists will come to the fore. Of course, Dumoulin and Roglič are tough opponents on hilly time trial courses but hopefully those riders will be fatigued by the battle for the general classification towards the end and that’s when I could strike, so mainly at the closing time trial in Verona. I was able to survive the mountain stages in Romandie quite well and with the same feeling I reckon that I can maybe waste less energy in the high mountains to for example Dumoulin and Roglič, who will need to defend a possible leader’s jersey.”

“During the opening time trial in Bologna, a good time trialist can – due to the initial six flat kilometres – create a nice advantage at the foot of the two kilometres long climb. I’m pretty good at riding uphill on the TT bike but there are several other riders at the start who can do so as well.”

EF Education first previews the 2019 Tour of California

The team sent me this:

“Cycling is a young and exciting sport in the USA. It’s not about tradition. It’s about having a good time.” - Lachlan Morton

We’re in a Golden State of mind.

It’s time to race on home roads with a strong squad in one of the iconic states of the Union. Palm trees, the return of Rigo, and Sergio Higuita’s debut with us — what could be better?

The Amgen Tour of California begins on Sunday with the first of seven stages, gradually making its way from the start in Sacramento to the finish in Pasadena. A world-class field will take to the California roads, treating spectators to a show usually only seen on the old roads of Europe.

The Amgen Tour of California marks Urán’s return to racing, following his recovery from a fractured collarbone sustained at Paris-Nice in March. Urán’s return also coincides with Higuita’s first race in argyle. The newest Colombian on the WorldTour block officially joined the EF Education First roster earlier this week.

The differences between European racing and racing in the United States are plentiful. Perhaps most obvious is the contrast in the roads themselves. In Europe, the peloton races along narrow, twisting thoroughfares. Positioning is a well-honed art form, sometimes the difference between 30th and third. The Tour of California features wide open roads, leaving many stages wide-open drag races.

“For the majority of the time there is a lot less stress for the guys in the bunch because of the wider roads in the US,” sport director Tom Southam said. “This also means that a lot of riders can get much further into the race and there can be unfamiliar names or guys who can’t get the best out of their ability in European racing.”

The enthusiasm for the race runs deep, as it comes but once a season in the U.S, and for good reason: It’s the single WorldTour event on the calendar in the States.

“The crowds are always amazing. Better than the majority of races we do in Europe,” says Lachlan Morton. The Australian has ridden for several North American teams and has spent a fair number of race days in the United States. “Cycling is a young and exciting sport in the USA,” he notes. “It’s not about tradition. It’s about having a good time.”

LAchlan Morton

Lachlan Morton winning stage 7 of the 2016 Tour of Utah

The 14th edition of the Amgen Tour of California is the longest yet. The race will cover 777.6 miles as it winds its way down from north to south. This year, the race lacks a time trial. The race against the clock is often one of the race’s decisive elements.

“We go to the race with a team that should be competitive for the overall race win,” said Southam. “Without a TT this year, the race will most likely come down to the Mt Baldy stage. However, there is a lot of racing to be done before then and the guys need to be awake from the first day. We have some great climbers in our team, and they are supported by the guys we consider best through the rest of the stages.”

Morton is ready to do whatever is needed.

“With the caliber of the team we’re bringing to California, I’ll be working for the big boys,” said Morton. “I’ve never raced with Rigo, and I’m excited to work for a champion of his caliber.”

2013 Amgen Tour of California overall winner Tejay van Garderen will share a leadership role with Urán. The pair are expected to make a formidable pairing.

“Mt. Baldy will provide the most fireworks,” van Garderen said. “The day before we race Baldy, stage five going into Ventura passes right by my second home in Los Olivos, and it’s always exciting to be on home roads. It too bad on that stage that we aren’t making a left turn up Mt. Figueroa as well.”

Higuita, a newcomer to the top tier of cycling, has shown immense promise in the early season. While he starts The Amgen Tour of California shouldering minimal expectations, he has his own hopes — to help the riders he’s long looked up to.

“I’m so excited to debut at the Tour of California. I look forward to working for guys like Rigo and Tejay,” he said. “I looked up to them when I was younger, so to be able to ride alongside them is a big motivation for me to give my best.”

As for the team’s expectations for the young rider?

“Higuita has had some excellent results through the spring, and now he steps up into his first race with the team,” Southam said. “It’s his first WorldTour race, so it will be a steep learning curve for him, and we’re keeping the pressure off him. It will be interesting to see how he can adapt to this level of racing.”

Helping him adapt to the team and to the best of US racing will be his new American teammates. Van Garderen is one of our Americans on the roster alongside Lawson Craddock, Alex Howes, and Taylor Phinney. With EF Education First Pro Cycling one of only three US-registered WorldTour teams, fans eagerly embrace the squad as their own. 

“It’s not often you get such a competitive field of world-class cyclists without having to travel overseas,” van Garderen said. “When you have this kind of competition so close to home, you won’t want to miss out. The best part of racing ATOC is the home-court advantage. The crowds are so supportive of the American riders and teams.” 

Van Garderen’s biggest fans are a part of those crowds — and a part of his Amgen Tour of California best memories.

“Six weeks after my daughter was born, I was able to hoist her onto the podium at the Morgan Hill TT in 2013,” van Garderen. “Five years later, I got to bring her and her sister up after another time trial victory. It’s always a special feeling to have family be a big part of the race.”

Our Team:
Lawson Craddock
Sergio Higuita
Alex Howes
Lachlan Morton
Taylor Phinney
Rigoberto Urán
Tejay van Garderen

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