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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 11, 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

Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we must all take. - John Lewis, American hero

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Our photographer, Stefano Sirotti, has a new book out on the Tour de France

Sirotti book

Romain Bardet signs with Team Sunweb for two years

Here's the press release Team Sunweb sent me:

An incredible climber, Bardet has tasted success at the most prodigious race in the world – the Tour de France – where he has won three stages, finished both second and third on GC alongside two sixth place finishes, and has claimed the famous polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains.

Despite such palmarès, Bardet can’t be pigeonholed as only a pure climber; the Frenchman has also excelled in challenging one-day races. Most notably, his silver medal at the World Championships in Innsbruck, third place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and second place in brutal conditions at Strade Bianche highlight his versatility and tactical awareness to compete on a variety of terrain. Still only 29-years-old, Bardet has been a professional since 2012 and brings a wealth of experience of competing at the highest level in the biggest races to the team’s blossoming pool of promising riders.

Roman Bardet

Romain Bardet at the 2019 Dauphine. Sirotti photo

Romain Bardet: “I am very happy to have signed for Team Sunweb. When considering options outside my current team, it was really important for me to find a team that works progressively, involving the latest technology in equipment and other domains. I also wanted a team with a clear vision on the sport and one that is a member of MPCC. At Team Sunweb I have the opportunity to start with no specific expectations or a specific race to target. Instead we will focus first on the basics and the fundamentals, working hard and with dedication to improve on all different areas as an athlete – after this we will look to race schedules and goals. This opportunity comes at the right moment in my career and I am very motivated to start working with the team and its group of very promising riders. I want to express my thanks to my current team AG2R La Mondiale, who helped me to develop until now, my time with them will always have a special place in my memories.”

Iwan Spekenbrink: “We are very excited that Romain joins the team. He is a great rider who brings many possibilities, versatile qualities and a very respective palmarès. Our talks together have shown that he is very dedicated to give it his all and get the most out of his potential, and he is eager for our specialists to work with him to focus on improvements so that he can reach that.
“He will be a great addition for the team in a multitude of races; with him we strengthen our block of current options in the finales and tactically have multiple scenarios to try to win. It will be hard work, with some classics in the first part of the season and then we’ll assess and plan the next block, including deciding which grand tour to tackle, with which goals.

“He comes from a respectable, professional environment at AG2R La Mondiale, who have done a very good job with Romain and we hope and believe to keep building on that.”

Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär sign with Ag2r La Mondiale for three years

Ag2r sent me this:

10 August 2020: The Belgian Greg Van Avermaet, 35, reigning Olympic Champion, and the Swiss Michaël Schär, 33, both currently riding for the CCC team, have committed beginning 1 January 2021 for three years with the AG2R LA MONDIALE team, which will become on that date the AG2R CITROËN TEAM.

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet wins the 2017 Paris-Roubaix

GREG VAN AVERMAET: “I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure. I have just spent ten beautiful years in the structures of Jim Ochowicz and I am embarking on a new challenge. I am happy that Vincent Lavenu has shown such confidence in me, and I intend to give my best in order to achieve great results. The prospect of working with Oliver Naesen, with the goal of winning classics, is particularly exciting. My goal is always the same: to win races like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, stages of the Tour de France or wear the yellow jersey for as long as possible.”

Born 15/05/1985
Professional since 2007
41 victoires
Olympic Road Race Champion 2016
Winner Paris-Roubaix 2017, Het Nieuwsblad 2016 and 2017, Tirreno-Adriatico 2016, GP de Montréal 2016 and 2019.

MICHAËL SCHÄR: “I’m very excited to begin writing a new chapter in my career. I was won over by the sports project presented by Vincent Lavenu, who is a true cycling enthusiast. I live in the same village as Mathias Frank and he has always talked to me about the AG2R LA MONDIALE team in glowing terms. We can achieve good performances, especially in the classics with the duo Greg Van Avermaet, with whom I have been riding since 2011, and Oliver Naesen.I will be very happy to help them achieve big goals.”

Born 29/09/1986
Professional since 2006.

VINCENT LAVENU: “It is a great satisfaction to have secured the signings of Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär. Greg is a great champion, showing incredible consistency at the highest level. His experience, his rigor, his hard work will be important in our development project. He will be an example for all our young riders. His bond with his friend Oliver Naesen, with whom he sometimes trains with, will be an added advantage. Michaël is one of the best teammates in the world. He will be invaluable in protecting our leaders, whether in stage races or in the classics. He is also a very good time trialist. He will be a pilot fish whose experience will contribute a great deal.”


After Pascal Richard in 1997, this is the second time that the reigning Olympic Champion has signed with the team led by Vincent Lavenu.
Note that our team has had another Olympic Champion in its ranks with Arturas Kasputis, who won a gold medal in the team pursuit with the Soviet Union at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

No relief in sight as bike imports can't match U.S. demand

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Bike imports are up significantly in recent months, according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures released Wednesday. But importers are still struggling to make up for reduced shipments earlier in the year combined with unprecedented demand from retailers and consumers.

The upshot is that suppliers and retailers are living shipment-to-shipment; even as bikes arrive at levels a bit higher than in recent years, no one has real inventory to pull from.

"Now it's once a week — or sometimes, if we get lucky, twice a week — it's like Christmas. The truck pulls up and we're like, 'OK, it's going to be a good day, or a good weekend,'" said Michael Gacki, manager of the Bicycle Plus location in Coppell, Texas. "If I get 24 or 25 bikes, 21 of them are already spoken for. The others have a life expectancy of maybe three hours," he said.

Gacki said the four-store chain began ordering aggressively early this year, and at one point his location had over 100 bikes in boxes, as well as a packed showroom with about 50 bikes on the ceiling. But most of the store's inventory has been depleted since early May. The store is now taking $50 refundable deposits on bikes on order. "I'm telling people it will be 2-14 weeks, but it won't be any quicker. That's all we can say."

The import figures released Wednesday show year-to-date imports through June, the latest figures available, were up just 3.1% over the same period last year, in units.

You can read the entire story here.

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