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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package. - John Ruskin

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Lotto Soudal reinforces its Performance Department

The team sent me this:

A few changes within the management of the Belgian World Tour team Lotto Soudal should lead to an even stronger development of the Performance Department. A department in which has been invested substantially during the past years and which has already paid off. From 2021 Maxime Monfort will be the Performance Manager of the team. He succeeds Kevin De Weert who has decided not to extend his current agreement.

“In 2019 Lotto Soudal has already proved to be a world leader in the field of material innovation and training. Our ambition keeps on growing,” Lotto Soudal General Manager John Lelangue says. “The best illustration is the world hour record of Victor Campenaerts. Victor’s talent, professionalism, and drive was essential but the support from our team’s Performance Department was as crucial. Meanwhile we have seen how important the role of a Performance Manager is in the entire team. Our team management is a blend of experience and youth, a combination that works. Our scientist is the ideal connection between them. The riders just have to think about cycling.

"The balance of last season says it all: 23 UCI victories including 4 Tour stages. The only team with real Belgian roots is thus doing very well. The implemented changes towards a more professional structure in the team yield results. That is why we will not change our course, on the contrary. Performance is and remains of great importance within our team. We would have liked to develop this further with Kevin, but we were unable to reach a constructive agreement for both parties. To underline the importance of our Performance Department we recruited Maxime Monfort, a strong successor who will continue to build on the solid foundation.”

Since the start of this season, Maxime Monfort (37) is team director at Lotto Soudal where he ended his 16-year professional career. During his career he was a loyal team player. He became Belgian time trial champion, won a few stage races, and finished fifth in the Vuelta. At the end of his career he got his trainer’s diploma.

Maxime Monfort

Maxime Monfort leading the pack in 2018. Sirotti photo

“Maxime knows our house through and through already for the seventh season in a row, which is a huge bonus. He also brings experience from his previous teams such as HTC-Columbia and Leopard-Trek, teams where performance was of great importance. Maxime will work closely together with our medical staff led by Jens De Decker and with Energy Lab. Nutrition and mental coaching are increasingly important in top sport. Every detail counts. We have high international ambitions and our riders walk through fire for each other. The future is looking pretty good.” John Lelangue concludes.

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

National Time Trial Championships, AUG 21-22

Line-up Men:

Austria - 22nd August
Felix Gall

Line-up Women:

France - 21st August
Juliette Labous

National Road Race Championships, AUG 21-23

Line-up Men:

Austria - 23nd August
Felix Gall

Belgium - 22nd August
Ilan Van Wilder

Denmark - 23rd August
Asbjørn Kragh Andersen

Germany - 23rd August
Martin Salmon

Italy - 23rd August
Alberto Dainese

Netherlands - 23rd August
Nils Eekhoff

Line-up Women:

Denmark - 23rd August
Pernille Mathiesen

France - 22nd August
Juliette Labous

Netherlands - 22nd August
Floortje Mackaij
Julia Soek
Lorena Wiebes

Line-up Development:

Denmark - 23rd August
Ludvig Anton Wacker

Germany - 23rd August
Leon Heinschke
Niklas Märkl
Marius Mayrhofer
Hannes Wilksch

Netherlands - 21st August
Enzo Leijnse
Tim Naberman
Nils Sinschek
Casper van Uden

Bretagne Classic - Ouest - France, AUG 25

Sebastian Deckert - Team Sunweb coach:
"We start at Bretagne Classic with a strong team, that's ready and motivated to race. With a lot of climbing and narrow roads throughout the area it will no doubt be another tough race like in previous editions with a lot of attacks throughout the day. It's a race that can be won by a late attack or from a reduced bunch sprint; we bring a team to cover a lot of scenarios. The guys will work to set up Michael for the finale, who has shown good form with his third place at Milano-Sanremo. His recovery from his crash there is going well and we are expecting him to be back fit to start at Bretagne Classic."

Nico Denz

Nico Denz (shown at the 2018 Tour of Romandie) will be on the start line for the Bretagne Classic. Sirotti photo

Nico Denz (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Max Kanter (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

GP de Plouay, AUG 25

Hans Timmermans - Team Sunweb coach:
"The parcours of the race has changed compared to what it has been like in recent years. The top of the final climb is a lot closer to the finish now and the following climbs are a lot closer together on the circuit too. This could lead to be more aggressive and attacking racing so we will need to be attentive and aware at the front of the race throughout the day, and we have a strong group of riders to do just that. Liane arrives at the race as the leader of the Women's WorldTour standings and even though it will be a challenge, we'll fight hard as a team to try and keep the jersey. The team are just coming back from altitude camp in Kühtai, so we are all motivated to put on a good show."

Anna Henderson (GBR)
Alison Jackson (CAN)
Leah Kichmann (CAN)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

Bob Jungels joins Ag2r La Mondiale [Citroën] with a two-year contract

The team sent me this release:

“My first contact with Vincent Lavenu dates back to before the start of my professional career. I am happy to be able to join AG2R CITROËN TEAM on January 1st. I bought into the team's project pretty quickly, especially everything that has been put into place for performance, but also for equipment. With riders like Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet, the team will be very ambitious in the Classics, and it’s very motivating to be part of this group. And of course, we will still be looking at the stage races, since I know that this team has had a strong history in this area. I definitely want to achieve great things, initially in the one week races, but then also in the Grand Tours, even if I am already well versed in what it takes to perform over three weeks.”

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels racing in the 2019 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

From Luxembourg
Born 22 September 1992, 27 years old
Professional since 2012
22 victories including Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2018); 12 times Champion of Luxembourg (road race and ITT); winner of a stage at the Giro d’Italia (2017)

“I’ve been following Bob's career since he was an amateur. I had already tried to sign him in the past, and now I am happy that he will join the AG2R CITROËN TEAM from January 1st. He has shown the breadth of his abilities during the early years of his career, notably winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but also having won a cobbled event like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. He will be one of the leaders of our team, in the classics, but also in stage races. Bob has already finished twice in the top ten of the Giro d’Italia (6th and 8th in 2016 and 2017), so we will assist him with our experience in this area and he will be supported by young climbers.”

In addition to Greg Van Avermaet (Paris-Roubaix 2017), the AG2R CITROËN Team will have another rider who has won a Monument in its squad. Bob Jungels impressively won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2018.

Bob Jungels, Luxembourg Road Race Champion since 2015, has twelve national
titles in road racing and time trials.

NTT Pro Cycling names its Tour de France squad

The team sent me this release:

NTT Pro Cycling is delighted to confirm the eight riders that will represent us at the 2020 Tour de France, our team’s sixth appearance at the sport’s biggest race.

The Grand Depart is set for Nice, France on 29 August with our line-up featuring an exciting array of experience, coupled with youth.

Ryan Gibbons, the South Africa road race champion, will be one of two Tour de France debutants who are set to be on the start line for NTT Pro Cycling.

Ryan Gibbons

Ryan Gibbons wins stage five of the 2017 Tour de Langkawi

Gibbons (26), will sport his national colours in cycling’s biggest race and he will be looking to build on what’s been a strong 2020, including six-top 10 finishes to go with the national title he won in Mpumalanga in February. It’s a selection that he’s described as “truly special” and one in which he “hopes to do the jersey proud”.

His power will be a key asset to the group of fast men that make up the NTT Pro Cycling selection for the race, as also making his Tour debut is the big German sprinter Max Walscheid.

The 26-year-old secured wins early in the season at the Tour de Langkawi, and has crucially struck up an excellent partnership with fellow sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo.

The Italian rode his first Tour de France for our team in 2019, and is confident ahead of the 2020 depart. He’s yet to win a career Grand Tour stage but has been in excellent form this year, taking WorldTour wins at the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice as well as finishing an excellent 5th at Milano-Sanremo in early August.

Tour de France veterans Edvald Boasson Hagen and Roman Kreuziger both appear at the race for a tenth time, with the Norwegian having ridden all of the previous editions for our team.

The 33-year-old triple stage-winner, in particular, will be hoping to go one better on the Champs Elysée, having finished six times in the top-5 on the iconic final sprint stage in Paris.

Meanwhile for the Czech Republic’s Kreuziger, who first rode the Tour in 2008, he has notched up four top-10 finishes overall in his nine previous appearances but has yet to claim a stage victory, a goal that he has set himself to add to his impressive palmares.

28-year-old Dane Michael Valgren will start his sixth Tour de France in fairly familiar surroundings, with the race’s opening stages taking place on some of his home training roads in and around Monaco. Valgren made his debut at the event in 2015 under current team manager Bjarne Riis. The former Amstel Gold Race and Omloop Het Niuewsblad winner is keen to add a stage win at the Tour to his list of achievements.

Domenico Pozzovivo had two strong days at the recently completed Criterium du Dauphine before the heat and difficulty of the parcours took its toll but he showed very encouraging signs for the coming race. His selection comes, remarkably, just a year after his horror crash while training and saw him undergo multiple surgeries on his arm and leg. This will be the diminutive Italian’s third appearance at the race where previously he’s taken two top-10 stage positions, as well as finishing inside the top-20 overall in 2018.

Completing the selection is the 26-year-old Austrian Michael Gogl who will play a crucial leadership role across the race for our team. He’s takes to the start line for a first time for NTT Pro Cycling, having ridden the race twice before and comes into the race off an excellent top-10 finish at Strade Bianche.

The 2020 edition of the Tour de France is set to pose a unique set of challenges across the peloton in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as such NTT Pro Cycling has explored innovative ways of engaging our partners in even deeper meaningful ways. Throughout the race, exclusive insights will be shared on what life is like “inside the bubble” as we offer our partners unprecedented access while proudly riding in support of the Qhubeka charity.

2020 marks the 10th year that our organisation has ridden in support of Qhubeka and seen us fund over 30 000 bicycles to people in disadvantaged communities. The power to create positive change through cycling is a cornerstone of our team’s purpose and once again we look forward to being ambassadors for the power that sport has to effect positive change, on the biggest stage of all.


Ryan Gibbons:
I’m absolutely overwhelmed and thrilled to be selected for the Tour de France. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, and for any pro rider it’s a dream of theirs to get that notch on their belt. For it to become a reality is truly special.

I have taken part in the Giro and the Vuelta multiple times but the Tour will be very, very special especially being in the colours as the national champion. I hope to do the jersey proud, and play my part in what will hopefully be a very successful race for NTT Pro Cycling.

Giacomo Nizzolo:
I’m happy to announce that I’ve been selected for the 2020 Tour de France for my team. It’s been a really good year so far, and I’m looking forward to being on the start line in Nice, and having some great results.

Edvald Boasson Hagen:
It’s a huge honour to make the team again and to be able to go to the Tour. It is one of the biggest dreams for any cyclist so to be able to do it once again is a privilege – I can’t wait. I like the pressure (of being a stage winner) but I think that the team is aiming for stages, which includes me of course, so hopefully we can work together towards that which would be really great.

Michael Valgren:
One word on being selected again – awesome. The Tour’s the biggest race of the season and that’s what we’re all aiming for and I’m lucky to be selected again for now my sixth Tour and hopefully this year I can take a stage win. Bjarne's going to put some pressure on us, he’s a man that likes to make some crazy tactics once in a while and to go and take a risk and that’s what we need so it’s definitely going to be 21 interesting stages to see.

Roman Kreuziger:
It’s the biggest race in the world and it’s always a great privilege to take part in it. Even now as we’re coming from a difficult Dauphine we will work hard, and as we recover will step up. I’m really looking forward to being back at the race as I’m convinced that we have a good team and I’ve never won a stage there so I hope that I can finally realise that dream there.

Michael Gogl:
Of course I am super happy to be selected for this year’s Tour de France. It’s going to be my third Tour, and with a new team it’s going to be something special. I’m extremely motivated and looking forward to it and that’s how we are going to approach the race as well.

Max Walscheid:
I’d been waiting for the last couple of weeks for this moment but I’m super happy to announce that NTT Pro Cycling selected me for the Tour de France. It will be my first ever Tour de France and I’m extremely happy and thrilled to line up in Nice. I hope to see you there, I’m really excited.

Domenico Pozzovivo:
I am extremely excited to be selected. If I think that just a year ago I had such a terrible accident where I risked my life, I thought it would be impossible to start the Tour again, and to just simply be back racing is a great result for me. The goal for the race will be for me to be a protagonist on the mountain stages because there are a lot of chances/possibilities for climbers. After the Dauphine I think that my shape will be improving and I’m spending some time at altitude on Stelivo to be in the best possible shape at the Grand Depart in Nice.

Bjarne Riis – Team Manager:
It’s very exciting (to select the team) but also a tough job, it’s tough to select and especially for those that miss out. But that’s what it is, and it’s a part of the job.

It’s obvious when you look at our roster that we’re going for stages, that’s going to be our main focus. And then our only guy can be Pozzovivo (in the GC), I know that Roman was 16th last year but we have to see as many things can happen ahead of the race. But from the start we won’t have a big focus on the GC but rather for stages, and all kinds of them as we have a team that can feature on the sprints, massif sprints, the middle stages and hopefully also some mountain stages.

Everything is up for grabs in this race. Dauphine was very, very hard and some will pay for that, and some will come out better. There is a huge fight between Jumbo-Visma and Ineos – absolutely – but it’s going to be interesting. Many riders went very deep here and will pay for that in the coming days but that’s for them to decide, what’s important is that we take care of our team, do the right things and race intelligently at the Tour because for a team like ours that’s important and somehow save a little bit for the last week because I believe that week will be very difficult – many will suffer and hopefully we can save something for that.

I’m excited to be back at the Tour again, it’s been a while, too long I would say but I’m excited to see if we can deliver some nice results for the team.

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal:
This is our sixth Tour de France and in our previous five appearances we’ve won seven stages which is pretty incredible. This is also a very special Tour de France for us in that we’re representing Qhubeka as the official charity of our team and also the purpose that drives us and gets us going every single day. The fact that we can use our success to enable and give hope, independence and opportunity to people across South Africa and Africa through the Qhubeka charity is something that is really dear to us and to be supporting Qhubeka for the past 10 years and them supporting us has been pretty cool, and is something that we’re really proud of.

As always, as a team we focus on our own strengths and during the Tour de France we select our riders based on what we feel suits us in terms of the success that we can derive from it.

If you look at the 2020 Tour de France it’s 3470 km in 21 days – 9 flat stages and three hilly stages – so there will be 12 opportunities for a team like ours, with the riders that we’ve chosen. And a number in the first week: stage 1, 3, 5 and stage 7 are big opportunities for us and those are the stages that we will focus on in that first week.

Of course winning on stage one with a rider like Giacomo Nizzolo would give us the yellow jersey, so in support of him we have Max Walscheid, Ryan Gibbons, Michael Valgren and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Those are the riders that will go after the punchy stages and tough finishes particulary into Privas on stage five and there’s also a tough stage to La Vois that could be on stage 7.

And then to think that we’ve got Roman Kreuziger, Michael Gogl, Domenico Pozzovivo – those riders can focus on the hillier days and mountain stages – it is going to be a very tough Tour!

We feel that we’ve got a very balanced team, and focus on stage wins and try and raise as much awareness for our team and it’s the first time that we’re racing as NTT Pro Cycling having previously been Dimension Data so it’s an exciting time for us, to show our new colours at the Tour de France, and to show the depth and the quality that we have in this great team.

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