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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 21, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. - George Eliot

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Luke Rowe signs four-year contract extension with Team INEOS

The team sent me this release:

Team INEOS are delighted to confirm that Luke Rowe has extended his contract with the Team for the next four seasons.

Luke Rowe

Luke Rowe checking out the 2019 Paris-Roubaix cobbles. Sirotti photo

Rowe joins Tour de France winner Egan Bernal in signing until the end of 2023.

He said: “Obviously this new contract extension shows a lot of commitment from myself and the Team. I turned pro here; I’ve been here from day one – and now I’m as excited as ever to be part of this new chapter with INEOS.

“For me, this Team is the number one in the world for looking after their riders and that is a big factor in me committing my future to Team INEOS. It’s a special environment to win bike races, which is something we’re constantly striving for.”

Rowe is uniquely positioned to help the young riders on the Team’s roster, having grown up with the Team over the last eight years.

The 29 year old added: “I think working with the young guys is a big part of why the Team has committed to me for another four years. If you look through the riders we’ve got in the Team, there’s a long list of young guys who are growing and developing into riders at the very top of their game. To work with these young guys is something I really enjoy – trying to pass on what I can to help guide them on their way up in the sport.

“We’re a British Team, we’ve got a British backer, a British boss, and a strong core of British riders. Two of our leaders in the Team – Froomey and G – are British, but now we’ve taken on a strong South American contingent. For me, it’s a case of bouncing off everyone and being that middleman between all of them. I think us Brits and South Americans have quite a similar mentality, which a lot of people might not realise. We’re a humble group of riders, there’s no big egos, and I think that’s a big reason why we work so well together. That was another big factor for me in signing this extension.”

Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “Luke embodies what this Team is all about – grit, hard work, learning from setbacks and coming back stronger, racing at the front and always putting the Team first. He is a true racer, a hugely talented bike rider in his own right and someone totally committed to helping the Team. He has been a big part of our past and will have an important role to play in our future.”

Ilnur Zakarin to make CCC Team debut at UAE Tour  

CCC Team sent me this:

20 February 2020: Ilnur Zakarin will race in CCC Team colors for the first time this season at the upcoming UAE Tour (23-29 February), where he will be supported by a well-rounded team for the General Classification while Jakub Mareczko will provide an option for the sprint stages.

Ilnur Zakarin

Ilnur Zakarin at the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Zakarin will be vying for a top five on the General Classification while gauging his early season form, General Manager and Sports Director Piotr Wadecki said.

“We are looking forward to seeing Ilnur Zakarin race for CCC Team for the first time at UAE Tour. He has raced well in the past when it was Abu Dhabi Tour and last year, he finished seventh on the Jebel Hafeet stage. Ilnur will be focused on finishing in the top five on the General classification, especially with the two uphill finishes which are suited to him,” Wadecki explained.

“Jakub Mareczko will be our card to play on the flat stages and after his performance in Provence, his morale is high and he is ready to make the most of the sprint opportunities. With Jan Hirt and Víctor de la Parte for the climbs, and Kamil Gradek, Pavel Kochetkov, and Francisco Ventoso for the flat terrain, we are bringing a diverse team in support of our leaders and I think we can expect some nice results.”

Zakarin climbed to second place on Jebel Hafeet in 2017 at the Abu Dhabi Tour, which again features on stage five of UAE Tour, and secured second overall.

After an extended off season and recent altitude training block in Teide, Zakarin is looking forward to making his debut with CCC Team.

“This season in general consists of mixed emotions. On one hand, everything is the same, I am still doing what I love and what I've been doing for all my life. On the other hand, everything is new. The off season was nice, I spent pretty much all of the off season with my family and with my kids, but it was also very productive on the road. I arrived in Teide, 2200 meters above sea level, with Pavel Kochetkov one month before UAE Tour and after 16 days there, I am ready and motivated to race. So, I am both excited and really calm at the same time ahead of my first race, I just want to show what I can do. I know the Jebel Hafeet climb well and I’ll do my best to ride aggressively,” Zakarin said.

Mareczko is looking to build on his form after narrowly missing the win on stage one of Tour de la Provence.

“I’m excited to race at UAE Tour because there are quite a few opportunities for sprinters. I have taken a lot of confidence from my second place in Provence as I know my legs are good so it was nice to see that reflected in the race. UAE Tour always attracts a strong field of sprinters but I hope I can get a good result,” Mareczko added.

UAE Tour (23-26 February)

Rider roster: Víctor de la Parte (ESP), Kamil Gradek (POL), Jan Hirt (CZE), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Ilnur Zakarin (RUS)

Sports Directors: Piotr Wadecki, Marco Pinotti

Team Deceuninck-Quick Step reports on Remco Evenepoel's Algarve stage win

We posted the report from second-place Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team with the stage results.

Here's the team's update:

Remco Evenepoel continued his exceptional start to the season Thursday afternoon, when he capitalised on João Almeida’s tremendous work and stunned his rivals on Alto da Foía, where he surged to victory in spectacular fashion and took not just the stage (making it two in a row for Deceuninck – Quick-Step in Algarve), but also the yellow jersey.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel finishes ahead of Max Schachmann to win the Algarve's second stage.

As expected, despite some skirmishes on the penultimate ascent, stage 2 came down to the final kilometer, where Evenepoel launched a perfectly timed and perfectly executed attack at 500 meters to go, a fantastic acceleration which saw him zip clear of the reduced bunch that up until that point had been kept together by Almeida. The Portuguese’s superb effort was instrumental, the fierce tempo he laid down preventing attacks and allowing Remco to dose his effort carefully on the 7.5km climb before emerging from the group at a speed that would have made the famous Road Runner envious.

In an instant, a gap opened and the 20-year-old Belgian put his climbing prowess on display, with the finish line getting closer and closer as he stomped on the pedals. Not even a late acceleration of Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe) or the strong headwind in the closing 100 meters could stop Remco, who pumped the air as he became one of the youngest ever stage winners in the history of the Volta ao Algarve.

This spectacular victory moved Evenepoel into the yellow jersey, which was sported Thursday by teammate Fabio Jakobsen (who’ll now sport the points jersey), and served as proof that he kept the momentum going after his overall triumph at the Vuelta a San Juan: “Yesterday, when we discussed the tactics, we agreed that we should remain attentive and do our race, and the team did an extraordinary job the entire day, working for me and keeping me out of the wind. During the stage I had good sensations in the legs and I said to myself that I would try something in the final kilometer.”

“For that reason, when one guy attacked, I asked João to bring him back and keep the pace high. Then, with 500 meters to go, I went full gas and managed to keep the chasers at bay despite the strong headwind in the final 100 meters. I surprised myself today, because I worked a lot on my acceleration, and to see the progress I’ve made with the help of the team is really great. I’m happy the yellow jersey remained in the team and we’ll try to keep it here, although we know many challenges still lie ahead”, added the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, who holds the lead also in the mountain classification.

But it was more than just celebrating this unforgettable moment for Remco Evenepoel, as he dedicated the win to countryman Nikolas Maes, who is going through a difficult moment “There are more important things in life than winning a bike race and that’s why my thoughts are with him and his family. My victory is for them, and also for my family and girlfriend, who are always there for me and show me how important is to have your loved ones by your side.”

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