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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. - Gandhi

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Egan Bernal wins La Route d'Occitanie

Here's the repot from Bernal's Team INEOS:

Egan Bernal led home a Team INEOS 1-2 overall victory at La Route d’Occitanie, with Pavel Sivakov second following a tough finale on an emotional final stage.

Bernal finished fourth on the stage, with Sivakov seventh as Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) won on a punchy final climb.

Benoit Cosnefroy

Benoît Cosnefroy wins stage four.

The result secured Team INEOS' first stage race victory of the season, with Bernal and Sivakov finishing ahead of Astana's Aleksandr Vlasov.

The day started with a beautiful tribute to Nicolas Portal in Lectoure, with Team INEOS riders and Sir Dave Brailsford being joined joined by Nico's family for a minute's applause before the start.

The early breakaway was a 12-strong unit which forced the leaders' teams into action to bring them back into contention, with Team INEOS duo Tao Geoghegan Hart and Dylan van Baarle working hard to reduce the gap.

Fausto Masnada was the biggest threat overall, and was the last rider left infront, until he was caught with 10 kilometres remaining which kickstarted a series of moves, with only Cosnefroy able to go clear. However, Bernal and Sivakov were alive to the danger and finished close behind to round off a dominant race victory.

Egan Bernal:
“I was really happy with the result, I think it’s important to win the race, for the team and the morale after the lockdown. The main thing is that I’m feeling really good. I think my preparation is going well and that is the most important thing for me at this race.

“The finish was really hard, nobody expected a final as tricky as that, but I felt really good and I just tried to do a good effort, the most important thing is to train hard for the Tour so I just tried to go and do my effort and I was with the best riders until the finish line so that is the important thing for me.

“This morning it was nice to share some time with Nico Portal's family, they are part of our family and it is nice to see them again and share some time with them. They are like our family and I think Nico is still with us.”

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal wins stage three.

Chris Froome:
“I was really really happy to get another race in the legs this season, it was the first time for me doing real work in the climbs, so it was nice to have a little hit out, a nice little test and good to be in and amongst the team this week and come away with a fantastic result as well, first and second with Egan and Pavel.

“It’s great to see after a long break from racing to come back and to have done that. I’m happy to have this race finished and I feel this racing will really help bring my level up as we head towards the Tour de France.

“It was quite an emotional day remembering Nico, and it’s been an emotional week remembering him, riding on old roads where I would join him quite often on recons and spending time with him and brought back a lot of memories.

“It was great to see his family this morning and to see how the race paid tribute to him with a minute’s applause with his family."

Deceuninck-Quick Step to ride Tour de l’Ain

Here's the team's update:

This month’s calendar is packed with races and will see our team try to increase its victory tally on several fronts – Classics, stage races and National Championships – before the big rendez-vous of the season, the Tour de France. But until then, the Wolfpack will make a return to the Hexagon for the 32nd edition of the Tour de l’Ain, which puts on the table a very demanding parcours.

Stage 1, taking place between Montréal-la-Cluse and Ceyzeria, is a rolling one and should come down to a mass gallop, but the up-and-down terrain in the closing kilometers could very well work in the favour of those hoping to give the sprinters the slip. Col de Montgriffon (12.5km, 4.1%), Col des Pezières (3.9km, 6.5%), Col de Cuvillat (3.4km, 7.4%), Côte de Giro (7.6km, 6.2%), and Col de Menthières (9.1km, 6.3%) will shake up the general classification one day later, before a final stage that will hit the climax on the daunting Grand Colombier, which averages 7.1% over 17.3 kilometers.

The revelation of last week’s Vuelta a Burgos, which he finished on the overall podium, João Almeida will be on the start line as part of a very young Deceuninck – Quick-Step team, which will also include Grand Tour stage winner Rémi Cavagna, Colombian speedster Alvaro Hodeg, lead-out man Bert Van Lerberghe and neo-pros Andrea Bagioli and Mauri Vansevenant, the 21-year-old Belgian who will make his debut for our squad.

Alvaro Hodeg

Alvaro Hodeg (on the right, winning a stage in the 2019 Tour of Norway) will be on the start line of the Tour de l'Ain

“We are happy to be racing again, every race we do now after this long break is a bonus considering all that’s happening. Tour de l’Ain has short stages but a hard course and it will be a good opportunity to see João again in the mix; he had a very impressive ride at the Vuelta a Burgos last week and can now go for another strong result. The team comprises many young guys, but we are motivated and will try to make the most out of it as we always do”, explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Rik Van Slycke.

Team Sunweb staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Here's the team's press release:

One of our staff members, who was due to be heading to Tour de l’Ain later this week has tested positive for COVID-19. The results of this test come from his first PCR swab, taken at six days before the race start.

It is important for us to directly highlight that he has not been in contact with any other team members in recent months and is now isolating at his home. Although he was ill, he showed no COVID-specific symptoms and did not qualify for regular testing outside of these cycling-specific protocols. Our medical team will continue to monitor the situation and determine when he can return to competitions or team camps.

As a sport, cycling is putting so much time, energy and money into creating a safe bubble. The pre-testing’s primary function is to keep the bubble “clean”, and that has already proved itself here so early on in the season.

Although the UCI call for one test, three days ahead of non-WorldTour and non-ProSeries races, we are in favour of maintaining the same testing requirements that are in place for WorldTour races. We have and will continue to operate with two PCR tests – at six days and three days before the race start – to keep our bubble safe.

With this intensive testing, we are doing all that we can to keep the peloton bubble as free as possible from COVID-19. We share this information externally to avoid inaccurate stories and maintain transparency in relation to the sensitivity of the subject in the current climate. All content within this message has been approved by the colleague in question and we wish him the best as he recovers.

Mitchelton-SCOTT to ride Czech Tour

Here's the team's announcement:

Tue 4 Aug 2020: The stage racing continues as defending champions Mitchelton-SCOTT head to Eastern Europe for the four-day Czech Tour.

Australian Lucas Hamilton returns to the race after a successful outing last season when the 24-year-old won a stage and finished second overall behind teammate Daryl Impey. Countryman and climber Damien Howson will also get his first outing since February’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

Neo-pro Kaden Groves will provide the team with sprinting options, while Jack Bauer, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn and Edoardo Affini make up a powerful line-up for the opening stage team time trial.

Kaden Groves

Kaden Groves winning a stage at the 2020 Herald Sun Tour

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
Edoardo Affini - (ITA, 24)
Jack Bauer - (NZL, 35)
Luke Durbridge - (AUS, 29)
Kaden Groves - (AUS, 21)
Lucas Hamilton - (AUS, 24)
Michael Hepburn - (AUS, 28)
Damien Howson - (AUS,27)

The Course
The 2020 race features many of the same routes and climbs as the previous edition and starts with a TTT again. The second stage begins with rolling hills and four categorised climbs before a flat run to the finish that should see the day end in a bunch sprint.

Stage three will see the race head into the mountains with the peloton climbing as soon as they roll out of Olomouc. Five categorised climbs then follow before reaching the day’s finishing circuit.

The final stage is likely to be the decisive one, with another day in the mountains, including five categorised peaks before the bunch race downhill towards the finishing circuit. The loop features a categorised climb on each lap which should thin the peloton out further before they cross the line.

2019 was the team’s first appearance at the Czech Tour and it was a fruitful one as the team took the overall victory and two stage wins. Following the opening stage TTT victory, Hamilton pipped Impey to the line on the final stage to cap off a successful four days of racing.

Lucas Hamilton:
"After Burgos I have pulled up well. It was great to back racing and get back to some sort of 'normal' in these tough times.

"I’m looking forward to going back to the Czech Tour. We went well there last year and with the team we are bringing this year we want to back it up. I think the emphasis will be on the opening TTT and we have all the right boys for that so I think we will assess from there onwards."

Kaden Groves:
“Training has been really good, I put in some good blocks back home in Australia and I’ve been Spain doing some final preparations and acclimatising to the heat.”

“I’m keen to start the second part of the season in Czech, I think we have a very strong team for the sprints and GC, and it’ll be really good to get back together as a team again.”

"Obviously, I’d like to start again with the momentum of the start of the year, but with a lot of time away from racing I’ll have to wait and see how my condition is.”

Dave McPartland (Sports Director):
“We have a two-pronged approach; we have Lucas for the GC and we have Kaden for the stages that finish in a sprint. It’s a really good race for the guys to go in there and straight away be racing for some big goals.

“For some of the guys it’s their first race back and for the others it’s still only their second race back. For sure it’s out of the limelight of the other big races that are happening, but for us we have a super team and it starts off with the TTT on the first stage and that’s a goal of ours as well. Perhaps it’s a smaller race, but our expectations are very high.

“There will be a lot more competition than what we had last year, for sure. The race runs on almost the exact same course as last year, there’s some slight modifications in the order of the stages, but more or less it’s the same template, so we know roughly what we’re going to encounter.”

Czech Tour 2020 Race Details:
Thursday, 6th August: Stage 1, Unicov - Unicov (TTT), 18.1km
Friday, 7th August: Stage 2, Prostejov - Unicov, 193.7km
Saturday, 8th August: Stage 3, Olomouc - Frydek-Mistek, 206.1km
Sunday, 9th August: Stage 4, Mohelnice - Sternberk, 172.6km

Patent Watch: Yamaha applies for patent on dedicated e-bike frame

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

The Japanese industrial giant Yamaha may not yet be a prominent name in U.S. retail shops, but the company’s patent filings suggest strong interest in the e-bike market here. Yamaha ranked fifth for bicycle industry patent grants in the U.S. in 2019 with 15 total, ahead of leading brands like Giant (10 patents) and Trek (5 patents).

Yamaha Motor Company is best known for its motorcycles, along with boats, ATVs, and more, with 2019 revenue over $15 billion USD. But the company has also been a pioneer in e-bikes, starting in 1992, with 4 million units sold to date worldwide — about half of that in the Japanese market.

A patent application published March 12 shows that Yamaha is looking beyond its core strength of motors and batteries, and re-thinking the bicycle frame when it comes to e-bike design. From the Dashboard feature in our February 2020 BRAIN issue.

Where and how to mount batteries to an e-bike is a significant hurdle in frame configuration, with a long list of patents focused on just that. The constraints are that the battery needs to be accessible for service – or easily removable for swapping-out, as with some fleet bikes – while being unobtrusive and secure.

You can read the entire story here.

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