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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, November 14, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. - Benjamin Franklin

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Michael Valgren to join EF Pro Cycling

EF Pro Cycling sent me this release

EF Pro Cycling is proud to welcome its newest member – Michael Valgren. The Danish Classics man and all-rounder will be joining the team in 2021.

“I'm most excited about moving to EF to start working with all the people there. Obviously, I've been talking to Matti Breschel and Magnus Cort as fellow Danes,” said Valgren. “They both said it was an awesome team and I look forward to being a part of that. From the outside, EF looks like a super fun team. And I really can't wait to be a part of it. I think I will fit right in.”

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren winning the 2018 Amstel Gold Race. Sirotti photo

Valgren has been turning heads ever since he signed his first professional contract in Denmark at age 19. Since then he’s won the Danish national championships, the Amstel Gold Race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, completed six Tours de France and won two editions of the Danish stage race Danmark Rundt.

“My main strength as a rider, I believe, is my endurance and that I'm really able to read the race pretty well. So I think that's a very good combination, especially in the one-day races. The longer the race gets, the better I get and I read the riders in the race. That's one of my greatest qualities on the bike,” Valgren said.

The reliability of Valgren didn’t go unnoticed by EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters.

“Michael has a big motor and is a true talent. He is exceptional at the Classics and very valuable to his team in stage races. I am excited to see what he brings to our crew,” Vaughters noted. “He gives us another card to play in the cobbles when things get crazy — which they always do.”

The 28-year old said there is one race that he dreams of winning one day – the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).

“It's a special race. It's so intense, it's long and hard, but somehow it just goes by so fast. I've always been pretty good there. So that's also why I like it,” explained Valgren who finished fourth there in 2018. “But the combination of the course, the atmosphere, the history around it, I think it just creates these really great battles in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and that's why I really love it.”

When he’s not racing his bike, Michael has taken to learning all there is to know about coffee. “I think that's normal for every cyclist, you know, you grind your own beans and bring them to the races, have your own aeropress. That has become a normal thing now,” explained Valgren.

Michael grew up in the northern regions of Denmark, a region rich in national parks and sandy beaches. He has spent the last few years living and training on the sunny shores of Monaco with his wife and son.

“I moved to Monaco in November 2016, so I've already been here four years and I really really like it. We have a really good network of friends down here that we built up with my wife and son,” said Valgren. But at the end of the day, there is nothing quite like riding at home. “My favorite area to ride my bike in Denmark has to be where I am from. I'm from the West Coast and we have some amazing roads over there and the scenery is beautiful. And, if you want to ride your gravel bike there are so many good roads to ride out on.”

Welcome aboard, Michael.

Australian core to remain at Mitchelton-SCOTT women

The team sent me this update:

Mitchelton-SCOTT women will maintain its Australian core with the renewal of four key contracts for the 2021 season.

Fresh off breakthrough Classics seasons, Grace Brown and Sarah Roy join compatriots Jess Allen and Lucy Kennedy in committing to another season with the team.  The quartet join leader Amanda Spratt as the five Australian representatives in the women’s outfit.

Jess Allen:
Date of Birth: 17 April 1993 (27)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2016
New Contract: 2021

One of the key personalities that hold the team together, Allen’s contributions on-and-off the bike cannot be underestimated. The 27-year-old is selfless in support of her leaders and a key player in team moral.

“I am super excited, I have spent the last four seasons with Mitchelton-SCOTT so I am more than happy here. I feel like I am developing well here and am looking forward to next year.

“We’re going to have quite a different group of people, a few different cultures and nationalities which will make it quite exciting. I’m looking forward to meeting these new girls and winning a lot of bike races with the team.”

Sport Director Martin Vestby on Allen:
“Jess is a real team player and the glue in our team. Her strength is in helping to position the team and she also has a lot of experience now in different races so she is somebody that assists the team with team goals across the whole season.”

Grace Brown
Date of Birth: 7th July 1992 (28)
Nationality: Australia
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019
New Contract: 2021

Despite showing her strength from debut, with a time trial national title and stage win at the Tour Down Under in her first month with the team, the restart to this year’s season made 2020 Brown’s biggest breakthrough.

Grace Brown

Grace Brown wins a stage in the 2018 Tour Down Under.

The 28-year-old rode to a classy top-five in the time trial at the world championships before going on to finish second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and take her debut European victory at Brabantse Pijl three days later.

“I am really excited for next year, with a few results under my belt towards the end of this season, it’s shaping next year up to be pretty exciting. I can see myself being a leader in a few races and that’s going to be cool.

“It’s been really fun stepping up this year and with the change in our team dynamic moving forward it’s going to be really open. We will see a lot of us stepping up and I’m looking forward to that environment.”

Vestby on Brown:
“We knew Grace’s strength and qualities as a rider and last year we put her on a pretty deep program just to let her gain some experience with that and tried to build her into a more confident rider and learn where she can use her strengths, and this is what we are seeing the results from.

“It’s not a surprise for us to see that she has performed in the last races. We have seen her strength both as a time trial rider and as a Classics rider but with some more experience and some more opportunities, she has grabbed that with both hands. When you start to perform well, you crack the code of how to race these races and how to use your strengths and experiences in the best way.

“For sure I see her in a lead role for quite some races next year but she also has the strength in races that maybe don’t 100% suit her to then go in and be a really strong support rider as well.”

Lucy Kennedy:
Date of Birth: 11 July 1988 (32)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2018
New Contract: 2021

A late comer to the sport of cycling, Kennedy continues to grow each season regardless of the challenges thrown her way. The 32-year-old successfully defended her Jayco Herald Sun Tour title in February and with the departure of current leader Annemiek van Vleuten, is expected to take an even bigger step up, in line with the availability of extra opportunities in 2021.

“It certainly has been an interrupted year, but we ended up racing more than I actually expected to after the restart. My resumed season was solid, while not spectacular, which left me with strong motivation to get more out of myself next season. It's nice to have had a win at Sun Tour in a year with such a reduced calendar.

“Mitchelton-SCOTT feels like the right place for me, now more than ever, as the challenges of 2020 have brought us closer together. Particularly for the Aussie riders, we understand the difficulties we've each faced and supported each other through them. There's also a sense of pride in the way the team overcame its difficulties earlier in the year. The team fought hard to continue and I'm glad to return this loyalty.

“2021 brings the biggest changes within the team since I've been a part of it. I think the dynamic at races will be quite different and present more chances for more riders. I look forward to supporting many of my teammates to chase their opportunities as well as capitalising on my own. It feels quite liberating.

Vestby on Kennedy:
“It’s not been the year Lucy wanted for a lot of reasons but Lucy is a really strong climber so she fits well in that climbing group; as a support rider on some occasions but also as someone who can and will take her own opportunities when they arise too.”

Sarah Roy:
Date of Birth: 27 February 1986 (34)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2015
New Contract: 2021

Despite an interrupted 2019 season due to injury and 2020 calendar due to COVID-19, Roy has bounced back following the season re-start to show the cycling world exactly what she is capable of.

The 34-year-old concluded the Classics season with three top-five performances, fourth at Gent Wevelgem and De Panne and fifth at the Tour of Flanders, and a promising of even more to come.

“I am very grateful that I have another year with the team and I think the team is changing a lot next year, which will keep us all on our toes. It’ll make sure that we’re not complacent and with the changes with riders and a few bits and pieces, I think it’s a good thing so I am really looking forward to it.

“Over the years I have really proven myself as a solid teammate, I have always given 100% to my team and my leaders and I think it’s really nice to look into the future a little bit and see more opportunities for myself.

“I have almost identified myself as a worker, but now I think it’s a good time for my career to take a bit of a step up and reward myself, and the people who have helped me get to where I am now, with some different types of results.”

Vestby on Roy:
“Sarah is a really strong rider with a lot of experience and knows the team very well.

“She is one of our leaders for the Classics races and she has taken she big steps this year that early on didn’t always show with results but we’re still seeing her developing and we’re confident that will produce even more results next year - that’s something we really believe in.”

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