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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 14, 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

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. - H. L. Mencken

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Team Jumbo-Visma reports on Tour de la Provence stage one

Here's the team's update:

Team Jumbo-Visma has come through the fast first stage of the Tour de la Provence unscathed. The team directed by sports directors Jan Boven and Sierk-Jan de Haan finished the flat stage from Châteaurenard to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the peloton.

Nacer Bouhanni

Nacer Bouhanni wins the first stage. Sirotti photo

The stage was animated by a breakaway of four riders who created a maximum lead of almost three minutes. It was a race against the clock for the peloton to catch them, but they succeeded in the last three kilometres. Maarten Wynants tried to bring Pascal Eenkhoorn into position for the sprint, but in the end, the young Dutchman came up short.

“Our plan was to get through the first stage without any problems”, Sports director Jan Boven explained. “That worked out. It was a really fast stage. We knew that in the last sixty kilometres the race was going through terrain that could yield echelons and that we had to be prepared. In the end, there wasn’t enough wind to pull it apart. We then tried to get through the stage as economically as possible with an eye on the next three tough mountain stages.”

World Road Champion Annemiek van Vleuten about to start her season

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this:

World road race champion Annemiek van Vleuten will make her race debut in the rainbow jersey later this month, as she strives to start her 2020 season with a strong Classics campaign.

The Dutch star will begin the year with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, before returning to Italy as the defending champion in Strade Bianche. The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider will then line-up at Dwars door Vlaanderen, Ronde van Vlaanderen and the trio of Ardennes races; Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and with number one pinned on her back for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten winning the 2019 Strade Bianche.

The 2019 Classics campaign was bittersweet for Van Vleuten who claimed great solo victories in both Strade Bianche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and came agonizingly close on three occasions, with second place finishes in the iconic races, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.

These impressively consistent results give the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider a lot of confidence and she returns with extra fire in her belly in 2020, to turn those near misses into wins.

"I really like the Classics, they are a good style of racing and always hard," Van Vleuten admitted. "Usually I am a slow starter in the Spring Classics but this time I expect to be ready for Nieuwsblad and carry that forward, so this is pretty exciting for me.

"They're all races that really suit me, I don't particularly like the weather but I can deal with it.

"I'm not racing a lot, but the races I am doing, I am really targeting. After coming so close a few times last year I am really looking forward to racing them again this year. If you come second then there is the possibility to win.

"I will be proud to wear the rainbow jersey in races, as a champion, and of course if I can win in the jersey it would be very special, but winning is always special, whether you're wearing the jersey or not."

The 37-year-old has enjoyed an unhindered pre-season, including multiple altitude camps in Colombia and joining the Mitchelton-SCOTT men’s January camp, with the intention of starting the 2020 season in the best shape possible.

"I think this pre-season has been my best preparation so far from the last five or six years," Van Vleuten indicated. "I have had no setbacks."

"I started with a really good off-season; happy, relaxed, going on a holiday and then the training has been going really well since then, especially going to Colombia twice, so I am really looking forward to the Spring.

"Knowing how my preparation was last year, with the big setback and injury from the 2019 world champs and still doing so well in the Classics campaign, it really gives me a bit more confidence and belief that I will be a contender in every race at the start of the season."

Nowadays Van Vleuten is seen as a climber, understandably after her unstoppable performances in the Italian mountains, which gave her back-to-back Giro-Rosa title victories. However, the Mitchelton-SCOTT leader is much more diverse than that and is also familiar with cobbled classic success, winning Ronde van Vlaanderen back in 2011.

"I’ve won before, I know the parcours quite well and these Classics races are also special for me because they're close to my home and my mother will be there to watch and also some of my Belgian fans," Van Vleuten continued.

"It is always nice to race close to your home country and people can also now watch these races on TV. They are big impact races so I am really looking forward to starting this season well and being able to debut the jersey at the Classics."

Annemiek van Vleuten - 2020 Classics Program:
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 29th February
Strade Bianche - 7th March
Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1st April
Ronde van Vlaanderen - 5th April
Amstel Gold Race - 19th April
Flèche Wallonne - 22nd April
Liège-Bastogne-Liège - 26th April

Coronavirus disrupts bike industry’s supply chain

Bike Europe sent me this news:

BAD SODEN, Germany – The implications of the Coronavirus in China for the bicycle and e-bike industry is becoming more clear. Temporary factory closures and quarantine measures are causing supply chain disruptions, or even cause a complete standstill. This is indicated by a survey of the German industry association Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV) among its members. It concludes that over 80 percent of the respondents reported delivery delays resulting in reduced economic activity.

Today’s ZIV statement on the outcome of the survey says “From today’s perspective, it is problematic to estimate how long this situation will continue. The ZIV survey also found out that about 30 percent of the respondents expect delivery delays between 1 to 3 weeks and more than 60 percent of 4 to 6 weeks.”
According to the survey conclusions there are some companies that expect even more delays. After all, China plays a critical role in the bike industry for its manufacturing capabilities of frames, components, and accessories. Delays at this early stage in the supply chain could result in disruptions in the production outside China as well. Vietnam and Cambodia are currently increasing their production, but for that these countries still depend on raw materials and parts coming from China.

“While longer lead-times can be expected at the beginning of the season, subsequent deliveries could also be affected in the middle of the year,” states ZIV. “Nevertheless, the respondents expect that delays will be made up over the course of the season.”

You can read the entire story here.

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