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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 22, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality. - John Locke

Plato's Crito

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

British rider Adam Yates signs for the INEOS Grenadiers

Team INEOS sent me this announcement:

INEOS Grenadiers are excited to announce the signing of Adam Yates on a two-year deal.

Yates will ride for the team from January 2021, strengthening the squad’s British Grand Tour contenders.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates winning stage three of the 2020 UAE Tour

One of the leading talents in the sport, the 28-year old has repeatedly demonstrated his considerable talent, both in one-day and stage races, during seven years in the pro ranks.

The INEOS Grenadiers Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “I’m really delighted that Adam is finally joining the team. It feels like the timing is just right as he enters the prime of his career and we embark on a new era as the INEOS Grenadiers.

“As a global team with a British heart, Adam’s no-nonsense British character is a perfect fit. He knows how to win and his gritty, determined and resilient approach are exactly the attributes we are looking to foster as we assemble the new INEOS Grenadiers to be built on purpose.”

Yates began the 2020 season with a commanding victory at the UAE Tour, while fourth place at the Tour de France in 2016 displayed his Grand Tour capabilities at the sport’s highest level.

Adam Yates said: “The prospect of riding for a British team is one that I am extremely excited about. I’ve witnessed the rise of cycling in the UK during my career and I think this has been spurred on by success of British riders and this team.

“It is an exciting opportunity and one that I feel has come at the right time.

“My results in week-long races and one day races have been really solid but I would like to take that consistency to Grand Tour racing with the INEOS Grenadiers and see where it takes me.”

CCC Team taking versatile team to target Tour de France stage wins 

The team sent me this:

21 August 2020: CCC Team will line up at the Tour de France with a strong and versatile roster to target stage wins when the Grand Tour gets underway next Saturday, 29 August.

The experienced team features four Tour de France stage winners in Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin, Ilnur Zakarin, and Simon Geschke, alongside road captain Michael Schär, breakaway specialist Alessandro De Marchi, and Tour de France debutants Jan Hirt and Jonas Koch.

CCC Team President Jim Ochowicz said the team is focused on delivering stage wins as the primary goal.

“It is a great feeling to be heading to the Tour de France again in a year where we didn’t know if it would be possible. It will be a Tour like no other with the lack of racing in the lead up adding an additional element to what we expect will be a great race. Tour de France stage wins are not easy to come by but we have selected our strongest eight riders to line up in Nice, half of whom are past stage winners which gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the race. Ilnur Zakarin will have freedom to see what he can do on the General Classification and we will support him as much as possible but ultimately, our focus is on arriving in Paris with at least one stage win to our name,” Ochowicz said.

Ilnur Zakarin

Ilnur Zakarin racing in the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Head Sports Director Steve Bauer outlined the key responsibilities within the versatile eight-rider roster.

“Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin are multiple Tour de France stage winners and have time and time again demonstrated their ability to win at the highest level of racing so it’s no surprise they are our clear leaders for the Tour de France. Michael Schär is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton and will be lining up for his tenth Tour de France so he will be our road captain. He’s a great all rounder who has the capability to go in breakaways and support our leaders in key moments of the race. Jonas Koch will make his Tour de France debut so it is an exciting time for him. He is another all rounder and a vastly improved rider in the time he has been with us, and someone who can support Greg and Matteo as well as taking a chance for himself if the right opportunity comes his way,” Bauer explained.

“For the mountain stages, we have Ilnur Zakarin, Simon Geschke, Jan Hirt, who is also making his Tour de France debut, and our breakaway specialist, Alessandro De Marchi. These four are our strongest climbers and the riders who really have a chance to be in small breakaways that can go to the finish line. We know that this is a demanding edition of the Tour de France so it was important to choose riders who can be up there and race aggressively on the hilly stages. There will, of course, be some stages that are a pure General Classification battle and are very controlled but we always see a few of those key breakaway stages and it will be important for our riders to be there when it matters and our strength will prevail.”

Alessandro De Marchi (ITA) - Four participations
“I’m happy to be back at the Tour de France. It’s really important for many reasons but especially because everyone knows how I ended my season last year with the crash there. So, it is important to be back to start where I left off. It is the biggest race of the season and with everything that has happened this year, I am really happy we can race. The main goal is, as every year, to try to find a good breakaway and go for the stage win. We have a team that can be strong in different situations so I will be ready to support Greg, Matteo, and Ilnur and also pursue my own opportunities. It is important that we are at the start and feel ready to enjoy the race. We are made for racing so we need to enjoy this chance to be at the Tour de France even more than we normally do.”

Simon Geschke (GER) - Seven participations
“I’m very much looking forward to the Tour de France. My form is good and I’ve been getting better and better with each race since I started on August 1, which is always a good sign. I hope I will peak during the Tour as it is the big goal of my season. Similar to last year, I want to play an important role in the breakaways especially the medium to hard mountain stages in the second and third weeks. I just hope I will get to that point smoothly as it has been a very nervous season so far with a lot of crashes. Of course, I’m excited to be racing there like every year but this year, I am also relieved the Tour will happen because I know how important it is for cycling that it goes ahead so we can have a platform for the sponsors. So I hope everything will go smoothly.”

Jan Hirt (CZE) - First time racing
‘I’m super happy to be on the start of my first Tour de France. I have only three days of racing before the Tour de France because of my crash at Tour del Ain but I feel ready. I may miss a bit of the race rhythm at the beginning but I think I will quickly get it back in the legs in the first stages and after I expect to feel really good, because my training numbers have been very good. I would like to help the team to achieve best results as possible and I will fight also for stage victory. I’m very excited to be at the start of the Tour de France and I’m happy and grateful the team has put this faith in me.”

Jonas Koch (GER) - First time racing
“It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the Tour de France so it is incredible that it is coming true now. I am very grateful that the team has the faith in me and my performances to select me in the squad. My goal will be to give our captains the best possible support. I want to show myself in the breakaways, of course, as well as enjoy the spirit of the Tour de France as much as possible.”

Michael Schär (SUI) - Nine participations
“I am looking forward to the Tour de France. During the lockdown, this was the race that gave me extra motivation to train hard. Every year it feels special to be at the Grand Depart. The Critérium du Dauphiné was the perfect preparation race and my shape is where I want it to be ahead of the Tour. We will have team goals and I also have some individual goals so I am up for any challenge and simply ready to race.”

Matteo Trentin (ITA) - Five participations
“With everything we have been through this year, the biggest race of the year is now on our doorstep. I think we are ready and we will have a strong team. I haven’t studied the route in detail but I know the stages in Nice well, especially the first stage as I train there three times a week. So, the first stage will be interesting but I think the second stage is too hard for me. Then we will see day by day. This year’s Tour de France is the hardest of the three Grand Tours so it’s going to be a tough race. I feel ready and I’m looking forward to start racing.”

Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) - Seven participations
“I’m feeling good and I’m excited to get to Nice and start the Tour de France. We all know it’s going to be a different race and everyone is lining up without many race days in the legs so it’s hard to know what to expect but so far, I’ve been happy with my form. I think every day will be even more of a fight than ever, for both the stage wins and General Classification, so we’re in for a tough race. But that suits me and I think there are a few stages that are good for me. We have a strong team with a lot of experience and I think we can work well together to achieve the team’s goals. This will be my last Tour de France with Continuum Sports so it will be a special one for me and I’m even more motivated to get a good result.”

Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) - Three participations
“It has been an unusual experience and preparation but I have done my best to be in good condition for the Tour de France. My legs are good and I am looking forward to racing. The plan is just to dive into the race and keep going day by day and I think many decisions and goals will form within the first week. I am really happy that the Tour de France is happening. It’s crucial for the sport and all of the teams so I am looking forward to getting to Nice and start racing.”

Sports Directors: Steve Bauer (CAN), Fabio Baldato (ITA), Piotr Wadecki (POL)

Team Jumbo-Visma adds Nathan Van Hooydonck to classics core

The team sent me this release:

Nathan van Hooydonck will strengthen the selection of Team Jumbo-Visma from 2021 onwards. The Belgian joins the Dutch World Tour formation for two seasons and will assist Wout van Aert and Mike Teunissen in the classics.

Nathan Van Hooydonck

Van Hooydonck signs in at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana. Sirotti photo

With Van Hooydonck, sportive director Merijn Zeeman signed a rider who has been followed by Team Jumbo-Visma since the U23 category. “We were looking for a strong rider who could strengthen our team around Wout and Mike in the classics. Nathan, with his talents, is the right rider for that. In addition, his time trial capabilities come in handy in team time trials or in a sprint train. We look forward to seeing him next season.”

The 24-year-old Van Hooydonck takes a new step in his career with his transfer. “I’m happy to get this opportunity from Team Jumbo-Visma. This really feels like a new chapter in my career. I am really looking forward to my first moments with this team. The classic period is a very important period for me. I hope to develop myself in the classical work. I also want to continue to make progress in the time trial discipline. The past few years have shown that Team Jumbo-Visma is developing well on all fronts. Then it’s nice to be part of such a team. For me, this is the team to take further steps as a cyclist.”

Andreas Kron signs with Lotto Soudal

Lotto-Soudal sent me this announcement:

Team Lotto Soudal has reached an agreement with 22-year old Andreas Lorentz Kron and look forward to working with the young Danish cyclist over the next two years. Kron currently rides for UCI ProTeam Riwal Readynez and will step up to the WorldTour in the 2021 cycling season. Andreas Kron, who was, two days ago, in front with Zdeněk Štybar and Stan Dewulf in the final of the queen’s stage of Tour de Wallonie, is still pinching himself.

“The WorldTour has always been the ultimate ambition. I have a foot in the door now and have two years to prove myself. I don’t pretend to think I have made it. The hard work starts now and the challenge is for me to show I can progress as a rider”, said Andreas Kron. “It’s a big step and I’m still young, but I think it’s a good moment in my development after 4 years with Riwal. Lotto Soudal has a big focus on my development as a rider and person as well, which is also the reason why I went in that direction. They seem to have a solid plan for where to go, and it matches very well with where I see myself.”

Kron is a multifunctional rider, performing well on road as well as on the track. The last years he proved to be a specialist on hilly courses. Last year he finished second in Tour of Belgium’s queen’s stage behind Victor Campenaerts and ahead of Remco Evenepoel. In the first part of the 2020 season, the Danish rider won the Young Rider classification in the Saudi Tour. Kron likes the hard work.

“I saw him finishing 5th at last year’s Road World Championship in Harrogate in tough and bad weather circumstances. He showed to be a rider with character”, said Lotto Soudal General Manager John Lelangue.  “We've been watching Andreas for a while. While this is a big step for him now, we as a team will provide him with the best possible support to continue his positive development. Andreas made us clear that he wants to excel in the hilly classics and the week-long stage races. We will give him the necessary time, but we are confident that he will show soon what he is capable of”, concluded John Lelangue.

On Sunday Andreas Kron will start as elite rider in the Danish Road Championships. Four days later he will do the U23 European Championships.

Tanel Kangert to join Mitchelton-SCOTT from 2021

Here's the announcement the team sent me:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has signed experienced domestique Tanel Kangert to support its ongoing general classification ambitions over the next two seasons.

Tanel Kangert

Tanel Kangert racing in the 2019 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Sirotti photo

The 33-year-old Estonian joins the Australian squad in 2021 following the recent contract extension of team leader Simon Yates, with both riders to represent the team until 2022.

Kangert has previously ridden for EF Pro Cycling and Astana Pro Team, where he helped guide Vincenzo Nibali to three Grand Tour victories, including at the Tour de France (2014) and Giro d’Italia (2016 & 2013).

Tanel Kangert:
“I was contacted quite a few years ago by the team and somehow it slipped away, but the project to me has always seemed interesting. It’s one of the teams that has the most fun on the road; professional, but fun at the same time which makes it easier to be very focused and have big goals.

“I really see myself in the same role as I have been for in many years, so I see myself as a support rider in the Grand Tours and why not in the week-long races, going for a result myself.

“I really enjoy Grand Tours. I am not the best climber or time trial specialists but I can do all of those things and I would really like to win a Grand Tour as a team member once again.

“To be a good domestique you have to be a team player, you have to see the big picture. For me, I’ve never been interested in finishing a stage sixth, fifth, or fourth if I know my team leader can win. It’s not a sacrifice for me. I know that if we have a leader it’s because he is stronger and I am always willing to ride for that.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“Tanel has a lot of experience and we’re looking forward to having someone with so much experience around Simon in whatever races we target next year and into the future.

“He has been there and done it. He has been on teams that have won the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. He was there for Vincenzo Nibali, actually, when they rolled us on the last stage of the Giro in 2016. He was up the road, waited for Nibali and drove it for a couple of kilometres to help Nibali gain valuable seconds on Esteban (Chaves).

“When you’re going into any Grand Tour with the ambition of winning, you need that balance of youth and experience and he is far from old, but he certainly has a lot of experience.

“He is a no-frills guy who just gets on with the job and he is very reliable when under pressure. It’s pretty hard to hide who you are in this sport, and he is a nice guy and is going to fit into our team well.”

Tanel Kangert
Date of Birth: 11th March 1987
Nationality: Estonian
Joins Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2021
New Contract: 2021-2022

Top Results:
- 1st 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour – General Classification
- 1st 2016 Giro del Trentino – Stage 3 & 4
- 1st 2012 Tour de Suisse – Stage 8
- 4 x Estonian time trial champion
- 3 x winning Grand Tour teammate

Juliette Labous is French Time Trial Champion

Labous' Team Sunweb sent me this report:

Rolling down the ramp in Locmine, Juliette Labous and her French compatriots were set with a tough and testing 28 kilometre long route through the countryside with several small climbs to contend with throughout the race.

Rain and wind exacerbated the testing course but Labous was undeterred and quickly settled into her rhythm as she left the start house. Passing through the intermediate time check Labous was just 11 seconds down on pre-race favourite Cordon-Ragot. Heading into the second half of the course Labous caught the rider who started one-minute ahead of her, Biannic. The duo would enter a battle on the road as each surged past each other, before Labous eventually got ahead of her compatriot and stayed ahead – with a perfectly paced ride.

Coming into the drag to the line, Labous gave it her all while maintaining her TT tuck, powering across the line, setting the fastest time of the day; finishing the course in 41 minutes and 13 seconds.

A nervous few moments awaited for Labous as Cordon-Ragot was the last rider on the road but much to Labous’ delight, the former winner crossed the line five seconds down, crowning Labous as the elite French TT champion.

“I’m just super happy to take the title,” explained Labous at the finish. “The last few years I was a bit disappointed every time, especially last year when I struggled in the heat. This year I’m just really happy to finally get it. I felt really good today and I just focused on the pacing plan. I didn’t ask for the time at the split because I knew I would focus too much on calculating what needed to be done, so I just kept my head down and gave my all. It was quite hard too because I had to pass a lot of riders, so it wasn’t easy to take the best lines then. I just stayed focused and gave it everything until the finish line. I had to wait a few minutes to know but then people told me I had it; I’m just super happy. I’m also really happy because we worked a lot with the team this year, had a really good material plan and the pacing plan was also on point. So I’m really thankful for the team and the efforts we all put in; it’s really nice for both me and the team.”

Speaking about Labous’ win, Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans said: “It’s a really well deserved win. Juliette’s been close to this title a few times in the past few years and now she’s managed to take it. It’s partly a teamwork job too because she had the best materials possible and a really good pacing plan; as was shown by her taking back 15 seconds in the second half of the course. At our team altitude camp in Kühtai, Juliette also had her TT bike with her and had been training with this effort in mind. All in all, I think everything worked out perfectly and Juliette can be proud of this title.”

Team Sunweb add power to Tour de France lead-out with Casper Pedersen

Team Sunweb sent me this update:

With the Tour de France starting next Saturday in Nice, France, Team Sunweb make a change to their roster, bringing in Casper Pedersen to replace Jasha Sütterlin. Broadening their horizons to the opportunities that the race brings, the team look to strengthen their lead-out train with the addition of Pedersen in support of sprinter Cees Bol.

Cees Bol

Cees Bol (shown winning the 2019 Nokere Koerse) will get help in the sprints from Casper Pedersen in the Tour.

Team Sunweb’s Tour de France coach Matt Winston said: “We have a few races under our belts since the restart and we have seen that there is a lot more control in the peloton, meaning that there look to be slightly less chances for the break. In theory that means that our chances in the sprints increase and we want to adapt to that, bringing specific qualities to our roster based on the development of these chances. We believe that adding Casper’s power, who is in great shape at the moment, to the lead-out increases our chances of bringing home a result from the sprints. Whilst still going for our chances in the breakaways with guys like Tiesj, Søren and Marc, we are confident that this will increase our chances for a stage result.”

Tour de France line-up:

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Cees Bol (NED)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Nicholas Roche (IRL) 

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