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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 8, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. - Albert Einstein

Tour de France: 2019

Current racing:

Upcoming racing, according to UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

French reports: Mavic put into receivership

As a former Mavic distributer, I find this report stunning. In the early 1990s Mavic wheelgoods were the products nearly all serious riders demanded. At one point the were doing so well they fired all their U.S. distributors (me included) and set up their own warehouse and US distribution network. Their components were beautifully made and showed imaginative design. Their success was well earned.

Here's the report from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News about this sad development:

ANNECY, France (BRAIN) — The French news agency AFP is reporting that Mavic has been put into receivership at a commercial court in Grenoble, France. AFP cites a company labor committee press release for the news, which the agency said was also confirmed by company management.

Representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries from BRAIN at Regent LP, the California investment company that announced last March that it had purchased Mavic from Amer Sports. A representative from Alta Cycling Group, which also is owned by Regent, referred questions about Mavic to Regent.

The AFP report suggests that Regent no longer owns Mavic, if it ever did. The article quotes a representative from the labor committee who said he had learned that Mavic was sold to M Sports, a Delaware-registered company with no financial link to Regent. The Regent website lists Mavic as part of its portfolio, saying the purchase was completed in July 2019.

Amer, which still owns Enve, was purchased by a Chinese consortium last year.

You can read the entire story here.

Mitchelton-Scott men's team reaction to the revised UCI WorldTour calendar

The team sent me this after the new racing schedule was released.

After much speculation, the official, revised UCI WorldTour calendar was released by the UCI yesterday revealing a heavy three-month racing period for the men’s peloton.

As per the women’s, the unknowns of the COVID-19 situation mean that nothing is guaranteed, but teams and riders will now work towards its possibility whilst keeping health and safety as their priority.

Reflecting on the news, we spoke to head sport director Matt White and Luke Durbridge about their thoughts on the newly proposed 2020 season.

Strade Bianche

The season's proposed restart will begin with the gravel roads of the Strade Bianche race in August. Sirotti photo

A general overview:
The revised men’s calendar sees the bookends of WorldTour racing mirror that of their female counterparts – starting with Strade Bianche on August 1 and finishing with the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana on November 8.

The 121 race days are made up of 25 different events, including each of the three Grand Tours (slightly shortened Vuelta) and all five one-day monuments.

Matt White:
“It’s something to plan for. It’s hope. We’re hoping to start in this period and although it’s almost three months away, it’s something to work towards to be ready to go come August 1.

“In a normal season there’s so many ups and downs, but now you’re probably going to see every guy trying to hit form at the same time.  You will be able to hold form, pretty much from when the season starts to when it ends.

“Guys who were focussing on the Olympics and Giro, that will likely shift. I can’t see teams ‘waiting’ for the Giro, I think that the Tour de France will be where every team puts their first focus and after that they will work around filling spots around it.”

Luke Durbridge:
“It means a lot to have something in front of us. I think it’s great for our sport in terms of having something to look forward to. Everyone goes from race to race and needs goals and objectives. We’ve had so much indecision in this past period that everyone has been in limbo.

“I hope that the program they’ve release will go ahead, we don’t 100% know, but at this stage we can only go off the information we’ve got.

"It’s definitely going to be a logistical nightmare for a lot of teams to run triple programs for a lot of the season, but all we can do is be happy that the sport is hopefully going to have a season. For me I wouldn’t know what the sport would look like if we didn’t have that.”

Preparations and Workloads:
The current calendar only represents the WorldTour level of racing with the remainder of racing still to be determined. Despite this, the density of race days is already high with several triple-program periods.

“When you haven’t had racing for such a long period of time, you can commit and be ready for whatever.

“Going between Grand Tours and one-day races with such a rapid turnaround will be interesting. Sport scientists and coaches are going to have a field day trying to work out how to gauge form.

“I think that in a three month block, you can maintain form for at least two months. It’ll be about getting as fit and strong as possible for when racing comes around and then race, recover, race, recover, race, recover.”

“In terms of numbers, riders won’t be a problem. It’s more of a staffing and logistical challenge with vehicles etc.

“In a normal season you don’t have access to every rider at the same time because there’s guys coming off a peak and in break periods, but because the season is so compact, everyone will be available for those three months.

“The preparation period for racing is quite light on. Even if there’s some smaller races in July, there’s no long stage races before the Tour de France.  It’ll be five months no racing and then you will be starting with 5-7days of competition before the Tour, it’s not much but it is what it is.”

Tour de France / World Championship double:
The 2020 Tour de France is set to take place from August 29 to September 20 with a one day overlap with the UCI World Championships which also begin on September 20.

“It will definitely have an impact on the worlds.

“It’ll be a very individual thing. Some guys don’t react well the weekend after a Grand Tour so it will effect some of their preparation for the worlds and it doesn’t necessarily favour the guys who are trying to win the Tour. But some of the older guys, for example, that have a lot of Grand Tours in their legs , they can use that Grand Tour to keep building momentum whereas some guys struggle to bounce back so quickly after a Grand Tour.”

“It could potentially work really well for some riders, but it depends on what you’re ambitions are for the world championships.

“The world championships is a flat time trial but a very hilly road race, so if you have an objective to go to the road race then the Tour de France works really well because there’s so many climbs.

“But in terms of the time trial specialists, I feel it could be a bit of a risk with how close it is and it will be difficult with no major time trials in the Tour de France so you wouldn’t have ridden your time trial bike in a month.”

October Classics:
The ‘Spring Classics’ will become the ‘Autumn Classics’ in 2020, with the Ardennes and Cobbled one-day races switching order and taking place largely in October.

La Fleche Wallonne will kick start this section of the campaign on September 30, followed by the Liege-Bastogne-Liege (2 Oct) and Amstel Gold Race (8 Oct), before the cobbled classics come to the fore and conclude with Tour of Flanders (16 Oct) and Paris-Roubaix (23rd Oct). Most will overlap with the Giro d’Italia.

“I feel that maybe there will be a more universal build up for the Classics; everyone will have had exposure to sun, exposure to long distances, plenty of time to prepare.

“I expect fast, crazy racing because people are going to be motivated and strong and ready. It’s probably going to be one of more challenging Classics seasons you’ll see.”

“Weather wise, you can get some beautiful weather at that time of year in Belgium, but you can also get average weather so it will be quite similar in that it could be anything.

“The biggest difference will be in the preparation. Normally it’s a real winter preparation, so the guys who are in Europe are training in bad conditions and are ready for the weather on race day. Whereas this year, guys will be coming off a summer preparation, so they will use the Tour de France to prepare and have as their foundation for the Classics.

“It probably suits guys like our guys from Australia. It’s a big benefit for Europeans to have trained in the cold conditions over the winter, whereas our guys are trying to adapt in February off the back of the Australian summer and they do suffer sometimes.

“You’ll still see the same usual suspects.”

Doping credibility, pre-lockdown

Roger Legeay of the Movement for Credible Cycling sent me this news release:

Over the first three months of the year, only three doping procedures have been revealed in cycling. An encouraging figure in light of the 32 cases revealed in 2019?

Cycling was spared from doping revelations in the first quarter of 2020. As far as cycling is concerned, and aside from 2018 (only two procedures were revealed in the first quarter of the year), those are some of the most encouraging figures ever since we first established this barometer in 2014 — which is far from being the case in athletics, a field still troubled by the ever-increasing number of doping procedures (32 cases in a month, in addition to a case of corruption!)

As for the three cases in cycling, two come from women’s MTB. The third case concerns a former professional road cycling rider turned sporting director and whose revelation originates in the confession he made as part of Operation Aderlass (a case revealed last year in Austria involving athletes from various disciplines).

However, caution must be used in making definitive statements about both these figures and the “good practices” of the peloton as the riders have been forced out of work since mid-March — at the latest.

Several of them seized the opportunity to express their concerns about the careful observance of the antidoping rules, having noted that they hadn’t been tested as often as in the past over the same period of time; during the winter period as well as during lockdown the last two months.

The many riders contesting in the UAE Tour were first placed under a lockdown order in late February, an order that was extended to the majority of Europe shortly after. Those health constraints not only led to the interruption — or the cancelation — of all scheduled races, but they also clearly had an impact on antidoping tests outside of competition. It is worth noting, though, that the last race before global lockdown, Paris-Nice, had allowed Dr. Pierre Lebreton, our referring doctor, to carry out cortisol tests on MPCC member teams, and that all tests had returned negative in accordance with our movement’s rules.

Since we know deviant practices are not limited to periods of competition, the prospect of competition returning in the second half of the year (UCI released a revised calendar for 2020) leads MPCC to believe there is a call for a quick reestablishment of antidoping tests outside of competition in order to ensure their credibility.

MPCC welcomes the gradual return of training (in compliance with social distancing requirements) as well as the agreement between the different parties on a heavily revised UCI calendar due to the health crisis, with the hope that each country’s public authorities will allow their respective races to take place in the light of the disease evolution.

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