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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 18, 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

I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move. - Georgia O'Keeffe

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Team Sunweb's upcoming races

The team sent me this update:

Volta ao Algarve: FEB 19-23

Matt Winston - Team Sunweb coach:
"We head to Algarve with a squad that are capable of good results in the sprint stages so we will look to bring Cees into position on those days, and go all in for a solid time trial on the final day. We've also got a few debutants with Ilan and Jasha racing for the first time with us as well as Nils, who starts his first race with the pros after being promoted from the Development program. With it being the first race of the season for most of the guys we are looking forward to making it a good one and starting strongly."

Nico Denz

Nico Denz (shown at the 2018 Tour de Romandie) will be on the start line for Sunweb at the Volta ao Algarve. Sirotti photo

Nikias Arndt (GER)
Cees Bol (NED)
Nico Denz (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var: FEB 21-23

Arjan Ribbers - Team Sunweb coach:
"After our European season got underway at the Tour de La Provence last week, we continue our time in France with the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. Once again we want to race aggressively and be on the front foot throughout the race, chasing stage success. Marc arrives as our main card to play, with the rest of the guys protecting him and looking to set him up for the stage finales. Felix makes his debut for us after being promoted from the Development program, Mark also starts in the team's colours for the first time and it is nice to have Chris back after his early season injury."

Mark Donovan (GBR)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)
Michael Storer (AUS)

UAE Tour: FEB 23-29

Luke Roberts - Team Sunweb coach:
“The UAE Tour offers a mixed parcours and opportunities throughout the week. There are four stages which should be for the pure sprinters, two mountain-top finishes on Jebel Hafeet and the punchy Hatta Dam finish on stage two. We have Wilco here as our leader for the GC and we will target a good result with him for the overall. The other six guys are all back from Australia where we put some good work in and made progress. We saw the result of that good work at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour where we took three stages and the overall win with Jai. Jai is still in good shape to help support Wilco deep into the mountain stages, with Rob and Florian riding in support too. After his first win for us in Australia, Alberto will look to continue his good form and go for his first WorldTour podium, with Asbjørn and Max setting him up for the finales."

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Alberto Dainese (ITA)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Max Kanter (GER)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Robert Power (AUS)
Florian Stork (GER)

Jack Haig hunting for a high GC placing in Ruta del Sol

Haig's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this race preview:

Recent runner-up at Volta Valencia, Australian climber Jack Haig, will lead a strong Mitchelton-SCOTT squad next week at the five-day Ruta del Sol.

Jack Haig

Jack Haig leads Tosh Van der Sande at the 2018 Brabantse Pijl. Sirotti photo

After showing promising form in his first race of the season, Haig heads to Spanish tour hoping to carry some momentum, continuing in the role as general classification leader in these first early season stage races.

The 26-year-old will have good climbers for company in Giro d'Italia stage winner Mikel Nieve and Kazakhstani rider Andrey Zeits, who makes his debut in Mitchelton-SCOTT colours.

The seven-rider team has a good balance with plenty of horsepower for the flatter sections, with former Australian champion Alex Edmondson, American Brent Bookwalter and two young Italians, Edoardo Affini and Alexander Konychev.

Mitchelton-SCOTT at Ruta del Sol (19-23rd Feb):
Edoardo Affini - (ITA 23)
Brent Bookwalter - (USA 36)
Alexander Edmondson - (AUS, 26)
Jack Haig - (AUS, 26)
Alexander Konychev - (ITA 21)
Mikel Nieve - (SPA 35)
Andrey Zeits - (KAZ 33)

The Course:
The race begins with a fairly hard stage that features a tough, first category climb of 12.7km averaging 6.5% in the final 10kilometres. Therefore, there should already be a firm idea of who are the GC contenders after day one.

The second stage is one for the sprinters with an undulating parcours before a flat finish. Stages three and four again test the legs of the climbers with first category climbs, with the Alto del Purche, a nine kilometre climb with gradients averaging 7.5% towards the end of the fourth stage.

The overall classification should be some what sorted out after these four stages, but the final test comes on the last day, where it can all still be to play for with a short, mostly flat, but fairly technical 13km individual time trial.

The Past:
In 2019 the team tasted success in the five-day event, claiming three stage victories from two different riders. Former rider Matteo Trentin began the winning ways with a sprint victory on day two, followed by his second sprint stage win on the final stage.

British climber Simon Yates then took an impressive solo victory on the fourth stage with his twin brother, Adam, the highest finisher overall for the team win fifth place and Haig in sixth.

Jack Haig:
"I am obviously coming into Ruta with quite a lot of confidence after how I raced in Valencia and it is nice to start the season off well and to have some momentum behind you going into these few races in Spain.

"The course is quite a bit harder than Valencia, every single day is quite tricky even the first day, it is a downhill finish but you have to get over quite a big mountain before the final downhill, so there are many options for it to be much more selective than in Valencia.

"The time trial on the final day looks very technical on the map, so I am curious to see it in person. It looks interesting, it is definitely not a straight forward TT.

"The number one goal is to have a good performance both personally and with the team. The team performed incredibly well in Valencia so if we keep working this way then it would be great.

"For myself, a top five would be a really really good result for me going into the next stage races in March, but I definitely would be happy with a top ten and finishing safely, getting another race under the belt for the start of the season."

Laurenzo Lapage -  Sport Director:
"If you see the course for Ruta del Sol and what Haig showed in Valencia, then for the overall, it is all around him. Already from the first stages it is hard, there are a lot of hilly stages with uphill finishes, so he will be our protected guy.

"It is a good race to work together, we have some new guys in the team like Zeits, so it is a good to show them how we work in the team and is good preparation for the races to come.

"We have to see what the situation is after the first stage, probably there will be some time gaps already and we can see the general classification a little after the hard final climb. We also have strong riders for and guys like Edmondson if there is a sprint finish possibly on the second stage."

Shimano 2019 sales up 4.6%, profits up 1%

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

OSAKA, Japan (BRAIN) — In its bicycle-related business Shimano Inc. saw a 4.6% increase in sales in 2019 compared to 2018 and a 1% increase in operating income in the year.

The company said sales were solid in Europe and North America and even the years'-long downward trend in China has stopped.

Annual sales in the bike division were 290,038 million yen ($2.64 billion); operating income was 57,850 million yen.

Across all its divisions, including bike, fishing and other, Shimano's sales were up 4.4% to 363,230 million yen.

For 2020, Shimano forecast a 2.4% increase in sales across its divisions, to 372,000 million yen. In the bike division, it's forecasting sales of 296,500 million yen, up 2.2% from 2019.

"There are concerns that the U.S.-China trade issues and heightened geopolitical risks in the Middle East will impact the global economy," Shimano said about its 2020 forecast.

You can read the entire story here.

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