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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Milan-San Remo re-routed because mayors of coastal towns won't allow the race in their cities

What follows is the race organizer's latest post, explaining the new route. But unspoken in the release is the fact the the cities along the Ligurian coast won't close the main coastal road to traffic at the height of the tourist season.

So here's the organizer's update and the new map and profile:
Milan-Sanremo by Vittoria changes its path. Saturday 8 August the protagonists of the Classicissima will face an unprecedented track that will move from Milan, Km 0 is set on the Nuova Vigevanese in the municipality of Trezzano sul Naviglio, to continue towards Lomellina, Alessandria, Monferrato and the Langhe before tackling the climb of Colle Nava 70 kilometers from the finish line in Sanremo. In Imperia we return to the classic route to face the Cipressa from San Lorenzo al Mare and shortly after the Poggio di Sanremo.

The Milan-Sanremo by Vittoria after 110 years changes route and meets the sea only in Imperia after crossing the Po Valley and the Apennines further west than usual. After leaving from Milan, cross the Lomellina on flat, wide and straight roads. After Alessandria, the race crosses the Monferrato and then passes through the Langhe and faces the first long asperity of the day, the ascent of Niella Belbo. The slopes are gentle, but they are present, especially in the initial part steep sections and the climb is almost 20 km long (average 3%). After Ceva begins the long and easy ascent to Colle di Nava (3.9 km at 3% in the final). Follows the fast dive on Pieve di Teco followed by the slight slope to go down to Imperia. Ascent and descent take place on wide roads. The crossing of Langhe and Monferrato has narrow sections. In Imperia we return to the classic route to face the Cipressa (faced for the first time in 1982) from San Lorenzo al Mare and shortly after the Poggio di Sanremo (tackled for the first time in 1961).

La Cipressa (5.6 km at 4.1%) introduces the race in the very fast and demanding descent that takes you back to the ss.1 Aurelia. At 9 km from the finish, the ascent of Poggio di Sanremo begins (3.7 km less than 4% on average with peaks of 8% in the stretch preceding the descent). The climb has a slightly narrow track and 4 hairpin bends in the first 2 km. The descent is very demanding, restricted in some passages, and with a succession of hairpin bends and curves and counter-curves up to the entrance to the Aurelia state road. The last part of the descent takes place in the town of Sanremo. To be pointed out at 750 m from the finish the last curve that leads to the final straight line of via Roma.

Milan-San Remo map

Here's the new map...

Mlan San Remo map

...compared with the old map with it's trip down the Ligurian coast.

New Milan-San Remo profile

Here's the new race profile

Greg Van Avermaet restarts season eyeing return to Strade Bianche podium

Van Avermaet's CCC team sent me this:

28 July 2020: Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line at Strade Bianche this Saturday, 1 August, where he is hoping to restart the season with success on Italian soil.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the team is motivated and confident ahead of the Italian racing block.

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet at the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“Greg Van Avermaet is our undisputed leader for Strade Bianche, where he has previously finished in the top ten on seven occasions, two of which were on the podium. Strade Bianche is a tough race in the normal racing calendar but this year, I think we’re in for a big shock with the heat and after so many months without racing. It’s hard to predict what will happen when this will be the first race back for all of our riders, but we are going into the race confident. Greg and the Classics team have just completed a block at altitude and their shape is good. Ultimately, we are just happy to be back racing and thankful to be able to do so,” Baldato said.

“Later in the week we will line up at Milano - Torino which, unlike last year, has a flat parcours. For this reason, we are lining up with Jakub Mareczko as our leader for what we predict will be a sprint finish. For half of the team, this will be a good last test before Milano - San Remo.”

In between Strade Bianche and Milano - Torino in the calendar is the inaugural edition of Gran Trittico Lombardo where Van Avermaet will co-lead with Alessandro De Marchi, Sports Director Valerio Piva explained.

“We are looking forward to lining up at the inaugural edition of Gran Trittico Lombardo. It’s going to be a difficult race so early in this revised season but it will be a good test of the legs. The punchy second half of the race should be good for Greg and we also have Alessandro De Marchi there should it become more of a race for the pure climbers. I think it will be a beautiful race to watch and one we are looking to animate as much as possible.”

Van Avermaet is eager to get back to racing and is looking to repeat his previous success at Strade Bianche.

“Strade Bianche is one of my favorite races so it is special to have this as my first race back. I’ve normally always raced well there so I am hoping to do the same again. I was able to stay motivated throughout lockdown and now after our training camp in Livigno, I feel like my shape is where it needs to be. Of course, the circumstances will be a little different than normal and the heat will be a big factor so I hope I am ready for that. Then I am excited to race Gran Trittico Lombardo. It will be interesting to discover a new race and I think it will suit me well. I’ll enjoy every moment regardless because I can’t wait to race again,” Van Avermaet said.

For De Marchi, the revamped season starting with Strade Bianche is a chance to bounce back after missing half of the 2019 season.

“I had two really good weeks at altitude and now I feel focused and prepared for the races. This first week of racing has a special meaning for me because I didn’t really re-start the season at the beginning of the year after my injuries last year. So to start with Strade Bianche next Saturday is something really special and emotional for me. I’m really looking forward to this because I know I can train as much as I want, but nothing is like racing and I really miss this; the bunch, the atmosphere, everything. I’m motivated to show that I am back with the same shape and mentality of 2019 so it will be important for me to start well,” De Marchi added.

Strade Bianche - 01 August:
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Geschke (GER), Jonas Koch (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL)

Gran Trittico Lombardo - 03 August
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jonas Koch (GER), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)

Milano - Torino - 05 August
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Team Sunweb extend contracts with Pfeiffer Georgi and Coryn Rivera

Sunweb sent me this update:

Team Sunweb are delighted to extend contracts with Pfeiffer Georgi and Coryn Rivera, with both talented riders staying with Team Sunweb until the end of 2021.

After joining the team in 2019 and making the step up from juniors where she claimed several titles, Georgi impressed with strong performances across a multitude of terrain – helping the team to impressive results throughout the season. Her personal highlight came with a bronze medal in the British U23 national time trial championships and a top ten at the European championships. Georgi began her 2020 campaign in Australia and was an important member of the team’s successful start to the year. Still in her late teens, age is very much on Georgi’s side and she is looking forward to continuing her journey with the team.

Coryn Rivera

Coryn Rivera

Rivera made the move across the pond in 2017, joining Team Sunweb to make an immediate impact with wins at Trofeo Binda and the Tour of Flanders – becoming the first ever US rider to win the latter. Since 2017 she’s taken a total of 11 victories alongside numerous podiums and top tens at WorldTour level, cementing her place as one of the most consistent riders in the women’s peloton. A punchy and versatile rider, Rivera can compete in the sprints, hilly terrain and her favoured spring classics races.

Oliver Naesen to race Strade Bianche for the first time

Naesen's Ag2r-La Mondiale team sent me this:

Oliver Naesen: "I am very happy to race Stade Bianche for the first time. This is the perfect opportunity. Usually the race takes place the day before Paris-Nice and I just watch it on TV. I have incredible memories of the 2018 edition, when Tiejs Benoot won ahead of Romain Bardet. Sitting in front of my TV, I was super excited, and I would have liked to have been in the race. I’m happy with the way I was able to handle this long break. I was lucky, I was able to train on the roads normally, which means I have 20,000 kilometers on the clock since the beginning of January. With the health crisis in mind, I prepared conscientiously, without the string of races. I have good feelings but there are a lot of uncertainties. For example, I do not know how fit my opponents are, in particular. The racing calendar as it is constructed suits me perfectly even though I know that the coming months will be special and that the situation can still evolve."

Oliver Naesen

Oliver Naesen winning a stage in the 2019 BinckBank Tour


Contract extensions for Chérel, Gastauer, and Warbasse:
Mikael Chérel, Ben Gastauer and Larry Warbasse have all extended their contracts with the AG2R LA MONDIALE team. Mikaël Chérel has signed for 2 years. He has been wearing our colors since 2011. Ben Gastauer extends for a season. He became a professional with our team in 2010 after being a member of the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation. Larry Warbasse joined the squad in 2019 and has signed for two more seasons.
"We are delighted to continue the adventure with Mikaël, Ben, and Larry, three important riders in our squad who are all excellent at giving everything they can for the collective success of the team. Mikaël is a talented rider, especially in the mountains, and a respected road captain. Ben has been wearing our colors for 10 years and is one of our most valued team members. Larry, since joining the team, has proven his personal and athletic qualities," said Vincent Lavenu, General Manager of the AG2R LA MONDIALE team.

Silvan Dillier is the only rider on the team to have raced since March 16th. He finished second in the Swiss Time Trial Championship on July 12th.

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