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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 9, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. - Seneca

Tour de France: the Inside Story

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Bjarne Riis is new team manager of NTT Pro Cycling

Here is the team's news release:

NTT Pro Cycling and Virtu Cycling have signed a letter of intent that sees the Danish business immediately acquire a minority share of the operational company of the South African cycling team.

Bjarne Riis

Bjarne Riis (shown at the 2018 People's Choice Classic) will manage the NTT Pro Cycling Team. Sirotti photo

The partnership is built on a shared vision to continue the development of the team along with its commitment to showcase the impact that bicycles have in changing people’s lives. It will also enable Virtu Cycling to further strengthen and develop its brand promise; to create unique cycling experiences.

NTT Pro Cycling has today announced that it has joined forces with Virtu Cycling, a Danish group of cycling-related activities, in a newly established partnership, effective immediately.

The parties have agreed a deal which sees Virtu Cycling invest in one third of the shares of the operational company behind NTT Pro Cycling. Together, the partners will seek to continue the development of the team from both a sporting and an organizational perspective, with a view to long term sustainability and success into the future.

This partnership naturally sees the continued commitment and support of the Qhubeka Charity, which incredibly distributed its 100,000th bicycle in 2019.

Virtu Cycling is co-owned by former Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis, and businessmen and entrepreneurs, Lars Seier Christensen and Jan Bech Andersen.

Riis will take on the role as Team Manager of NTT Pro Cycling and will build on its sporting development, together with its sporting staff and the technology-driven approach to performance.

Bjarne Riis, Virtu Cycling co-owner and Team Manager, NTT Pro Cycling:
“This is a proud moment for our organization, Virtu Cycling, and I’m really excited by this partnership and its potential. Together, I believe we can develop one of the world’s best cycling teams built on being performance and technology-driven, combined with our many years of experience from the World Tour.

“We have had some thorough and fruitful talks and meetings with Doug Ryder on the team’s future and potential. I’m really looking forward to our collaboration and to take on the sporting leadership of the team in this new setup. I have nothing but admiration for what Doug has built and achieved with this team starting on continental level onwards to become a WorldTour-team, for his contribution to cycling and his work and support for the Qhubeka Charity. Together, I believe we can take the team to the next level and make it a team that everybody – riders and staff – want to be a part of.”

Mitchelton-Scott reports on Australian Time Trial Championships

The team sent me this update:

West Australian Luke Durbridge has successfully defended his time trial title at the Australian Championships, overcoming world champion Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) for the second consecutive year.

Luke Durbridge

Luke Durbridge time-trialing at the 2017 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

On a new course in Mount Helen, Durbridge and Dennis were all-but locked together at the intermediate checkpoint, with the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider holding the narrowest of margins, less than half a second, to the rainbow jersey.

It was a strong finish that made the difference for the now four-time national time trial champion, with ‘Turbo Durbo’ powering home to win by an impressive 17seconds.

Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson and Callum Scotson finished fourth, sixth and 12th respectively.

Luke Durbridge – 2020 Australian time trial champion:
“It was a really good day and I’m a proud man to be riding back to Europe wearing the Australian colours for another year. It’s always a big benchmark when the world champion rocks up for the national titles and it makes me lift my level.

“I did it again and I really really happy. A lot of work goes into this in December; a lot of support from back home, family, my wife Lara, coach Ben and the team. We all put a lot of effort in to train hard in the off season, but this is why you do it.

“To win the national title is really special to me and I think that going into the Olympics this year that it’s a really good indicator that maybe there’s two spots up for grabs, and that both Rohan and I can take them which would be fantastic.”

Australian Time Trial Championship - Men's Results:
1. Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 46:18.8
2. Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) +17.5
3. Chris Harper (Team Jumbo-Visma) +1:52.3

Grace Brown settles for silver:

Having won the title in 2019, her debut season with Mitchelton-SCOTT, Grace Brown was eager for a title defence on the new course in Mt Helen.

The 27-year-old had to settle for second place after a monster second-half effort from Sarah Gigante (TIBCO), who added a 2020 Australian time trial title to the road race title she won in 2019.

Brown finished just nine seconds down on Gigante, the closest finish in the event since 2011.  Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy settled for fourth and sixth respectively.

Grace Brown – Silver medal:
"I think given my form this year I paced the course pretty well. I chose to just ride by feel and not focus on power, which has worked well for me in the past.

"Finishing second by nine seconds is hard to take because I feel like I could have dug deeper and gained that time, but really I think it was a solid ride.

"All up, the result fits in well with where I want to be at this time of the season. I’m aiming to peak for the Cobbled Classics and that seems to be on track."

Deceuninck-Quick Step to ride Tour Down Under

Here's the team's news:

The 22nd edition of the Tour Down Under will be the first race of the year for the Wolfpack, who’ll travel to the Southern Hemisphere with a versatile seven-man squad featuring Irish Champion Sam Bennett, who is set to make his debut for the team whose supporter he has been long before turning pro.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett (shown at the 2019 Vuelta) will be wearing Deceuninck-Quick Step colors at the Tour down under. Sirotti photo.

The 29-year-old will look to be in the spotlight, especially as – on paper, at least – three of the six stages should come down to a bunch sprint. Trusted lead-out man Shane Archbold, Iljo Keisse and Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv will form a solid and experienced train for Bennett, with João Almeida, Mattia Cattaneo and Dries Devenyns – twice a top 10 overall finisher at the Tour Down Under (2018, 2019) – rounding out the team for the race taking place between 21-26 January.

For the first time in the history of the event, Adelaide won’t feature as start or finish of a stage, but the race is still based around the capital of the South Australia state, which gets to host the traditional criterium on January 19th. The sprinters will have again their opportunities to shine, but the GC fight should be more intense this year, with the stage to Stirling and the one to Murray Bridge (where crosswinds are expected) promising to deliver plenty of action before the big showdown on Willunga Hill (3.6km, 7.1%).

“We are looking forward to starting the new season again at the Tour Down Under, where is always a pleasure to be present, as it’s such a well-organised race with amazing fans. We go there with a strong team and a motivated Sam Bennett, who will try to get his first victory in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey. He’ll have experienced men around him, so we are confident he can achieve this goal. We can also think about getting a good GC result, but we’ll take it day by day, see how things go and how our riders cope with the heat”, said sports director Rik Van Slycke.

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