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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody had decided not to see. - Ayn Rand

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

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Mitchelton-Scott renews the contracts for seven Australian racers

The team sent me this update:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has renewed the contracts of seven Australian riders for the next two seasons, including inaugural member Luke Durbridge, who will ride his 10th year with the team next season, and current Australian champion Cameron Meyer.

Young guns and recent Grand Tour debutants Robert Stannard and Callum Scotson join the duo, alongside Alex Edmondson, Damien Howson and Nick Schultz.

The seven riders join their four compatriots Kaden Groves, Lucas Hamilton, Michael Hepburn and 2021 recruit Michael Matthews as the eleven Australian representatives on the 2021 squad.

Luke Durbridge:
Date of Birth: 9 April 1991 (29)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2012
New Contract: 2021-2022

An inaugural member of GreenEDGE Cycling, Durbridge has proven to be a vital member of the men’s outfit, reliable and consistent across the 10-month calendar.

Luke Durbridge

Luke Durbridge racing on the 2017 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The 29-year-old is the current and four-time Australian time trial champion and former national road race champion and whilst one of the first selected for key races such as the Tour de France, Durbridge comes into his element individually during the cobbled classics season.

“Next year will be my 10 years as a professional and I just can’t believe it. It’s gone by so quick and I couldn’t have been happier to have made it on this team. When I first became pro it was the first year of GreenEDGE Cycling and I’ve seen this team grow and evolve over these past 10 years and it’s been a really amazing journey for me to see the team become what it is today.

“This team is the perfect fit because it has that Australian identity and not just because it’s Australian, it’s because of that cultural attitude and how we go about our business where we sacrifice ourselves for the greater good of the result. You’ve seen with the big results in this team, it’s when the team really gels and lays it on the line for each other that the big results come.

“I would like to continue on the same trajectory in the next two years, but I would definitely like to improve my time trial. I’ve seen a lot of improvements this year and I’d like to continue that so I can crack into the top-five in a consistent manner. For the Classics, I have had a few interrupted seasons, I just want to get that consistency and that level back at the Classics that I know I’m capable of.

“We have some great young guys and also Simon Yates. I’d really like to go back to the Tour de France and help the team get a great result there. I really enjoy the Grand Tour role of helping our leaders, and that’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Head Sport Director Matt White on Durbridge:
“We know what we get with Durbo. He has been here since the start, he certainly hasn’t finished developing, he is a go-to guy for us across 10 months of the season so it’s great to have him commit to a couple more years with the team.

“This year was a different year, we had an agreement with him that he would miss this year’s Tour to concentrate on the world championships time trial and the Classics, but Durbo is always a guy I would want to take to the Tour de France.

“With his versatility you can take him to a lot of races on the calendar, and he is always committed to whatever plan we have. He has his specialities, which we want to keep developing, but he is also a very loyal teammate and to win Grand Tours and big stage races you need guys like that in your roster.”

Alex Edmondson:
Date of Birth: 22 December 1993 (26)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2016
New Contract: 2021-2022

Edmondson joined Mitchelton-SCOTT in 2016 and having previously starred on the track, has since transitioned into a full-time road rider.

The 2018 Australian champion was part of the team’s 2018 Vuelta a España victory but has his eyes set on the Classics as his future speciality.

“It’s amazing how fast the time has gone. For me, Mitchelton-SCOTT isn’t a team but a family. It’s not very often you get such an amazing group of athletes but also staff that you get to work with on a daily basis.

“Obviously the first couple of years were a really big change but I feel now I have managed to find my feet and be able to help my teammates and take some opportunities when they come.

“I’m looking forward to the next two years with the team. The Classics are obviously a huge goal of mine, so I want to keep a big focus on them while working for my teammates in other races and putting my hand up for opportunities when the opportunity arises.”

White on Edmondson:
“Edmo’s transition from being an Olympic medallist on the track to a road rider has taken time and I still think he is finding his niche on the road. He is a guy we have nurtured through our development team and I think his development is far from finished.

“He has already been part of a team that won the Tour of Spain and he is a rider that likes the Classics and he has potential there. He is versatile; you can take him to Grand Tours, he is not an outright sprinter but he is fast and we know he has the ability to win bike races.”

Damien Howson:
Date of Birth: 13 August 1992 (28)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2014
New Contract: 2021-2022

A former under-23 time trial world champion, Howson has developed into a valued domestique during his seven years with Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Having made his way through the organisation’s development team, the 28-year-old has tasted his own success with victories at the 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and this year’s Czech Tour despite dedicating the large portion of his season to teammates.

“I was super excited back in 2014 to start my professional career with an Australian WorldTour team and I still have the same excitement today as I did back then, to re-sign with the team for another two years is fantastic.

'I’m teammates with guys I have grown up with, friends that share the same passion along with a culture I’m proud to be part of and have been able to share special moments with the riders and staff over the years and I look forward to creating many more memories.

“I have developed into a different rider than I was in my early career, focusing on an area within the organisation that I can make the biggest difference. I love to dedicate what I have to my leaders and hope to continue to play a role in the future successes of the team.”

White on Howson:
“Damien is a versatile domestique, he knows his role and thrives on delivering it.

“He is a guy we had in our development team, a world champion in the under-23 time trial and someone that the guys can rely on to be there for them. That’s a role he enjoys and we want to continue with his development. He is not old, he is still developing as an athlete and we’re glad he can continue that development with us.”

Cameron Meyer:
Date of Birth: 11 January 1988 (32)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2012 – 2015, Oct 2017 - now
New Contract: 2021-2022

Current Australian champion Meyer has a long history with Mitchelton-SCOTT and despite a brief hiatus in 2016 and early 2017, the 32-year-old is a critical component of the Australian squad, on-and-off the bike.

Cameron meyer

Cameron Meyer winning the second stage of the 2018 Tour of Britain.

The multiple track world champion, who has won stage races such as the Tour Down Under and Jayco Herald Sun Tour, still has one eye on the Tokyo Olympics, an ambition which Mitchelton-SCOTT supports, whilst making his mark on the road as a road captain and mentor for the team’s young up-and-coming stars.

“It has certainly been a strange year, but I can take some positives out of it having won a dream race of mine, the Australian Road Championship, back in January. It got the season off to a great start and continued through the Australian Summer of racing with some fantastic team results.

“I really enjoyed returning to some of the biggest races in the world this year especially the Giro d’Italia. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to complete the entire Tour but I know over the next two years these types of races, including the Grand Tours, is where I want to be.

“My goals for 2021 are somewhat similar to 2020 with the addition of hopefully the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I really enjoy my role within the team and racing with our younger riders. We have some fantastic leaders for the big races and exciting young talents which I love to support and use my experience to help the team achieve success.”

White on Meyer:
“We’re supporting Cam in his goals of becoming Olympic champion on the track, but wherever that takes him in the next 12 months, as COVID-19 has effected not only his plans but a lot of peoples plans for the Olympics, Cam is very committed to finishing his career as a road rider.

“He plays a really important role for us as a leader. He is a very cool character, very analytical and I think he can teach the younger guys a lot about being professional, what it takes to be the best in the world and you need guys like that in the team.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Cam over a decade and it’s great that we’ve got Cam’s ability on-and-off the bike in this team to help continue the growth of our younger crew and our next generation of Australians.”

Nick Schultz:
Date of Birth: 13 September 1994 (26)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019
New Contract: 2021-2022

After joining the team in 2019 Schultz has settled into the Mitchelton-SCOTT make-up over the past two years, with a particular step-up evident following the season re-start in 2020.

The 26-year-old is a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the team and after a strong showing at the recent Vuelta a España in support of leaders Mikel Nieve and Esteban Chaves, the future is bright for Schultz.

“This team is really starting to feel like home. They have created a great atmosphere where it’s easy for everyone to be themselves. I think that the professionalism of the team has really helped me to improve on the bike and I hope that can continue.

“There’s a lot of positives to the pathway I took through France and then Spain with Caja Rural and I think that there was also a fair amount of challenges throughout that time which really makes me appreciate how good we have it at this team. It’s really easy to get complacent but I certainly haven’t forgotten about the harder days and it makes me very grateful for what we have here.

“The next step is to keep progressing. I’ve shown some potential in the Ardennes Classics and that’s something I’d like to pursue. I’d love to get some exposure to different Grand Tours in the coming years and really help our big leaders to achieve some special results there. Overall though, the focus is to always keep improving little details and having fun along the way.”

White on Schultz:
“Nick is eager, committed, reliable and has shown some really good progression this year even with the very, very adjusted race program people have had to adapt to.  He is independent, his route to our team wasn’t a normal one. He is a very intelligent, individual guy and those people handle a very difficult year better than others.

“I think we’re all excited to see what we’re going to get out of Schultzy in the future.

“He is a rider we can take to Grand Tours, one-day hilly races, he can handle his bike and he knows where to be. Everyone knows he is a worker, he is tough and is a reliable teammate - those are the guys that might not win the big races, but without those guys, we don’t win as a team.”

Callum Scotson:
Date of Birth: 10 August 1996 (24)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019
New contract: 2021-2022

A quiet achiever, Scotson has steadily made the transition to elite racing throughout his past two seasons with Mitchelton-SCOTT.

The 24-year-old just concluded his debut Grand Tour at the recent Vuelta a España, making several breakaways and maturely guiding his teammates and leaders around the bunch.

“It’s really nice for me to stay with the team. They’ve have really helped me along these last two years, put a lot of time and effort into helping me improve and been quite patient with my progression, which I’m really happy about. I’d like to stay with the team and keep improving and pay that help back.

“It’s a really good team for me as a bit of an all-rounder, there’s a lot of opportunities for me to help the team but also go for my own results and I think I fit in well with the way our team races. For next year, personally I am just hoping to step up again, one step at a time, and maybe be a bit more in the action at the pointy end of some bigger races.”

White on Scotson:
“It’s been a difficult year for everyone but the positive for Callum is that he has made strong progression throughout the session, culminating at La Vuelta a España, which he handled extremely well as his first Grand Tour. It’s a good sign of things to come.”

Robert Stannard:
Date of Birth: 16 September 1998 (22)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: October 2018
New Contract: 2021-2022

Concluding the season with a Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España, 2020 has been a standout season for Stannard who showed he is finding his way at the WorldTour level.

Still just 22 years of age Stannard took three top-10 placings and three top-five placings throughout 2020, including podium results at Giro della Toscana (second) and Giro dell’Appennino (third), this season, with his first victory surely just around the corner.

“This year I’ve been in so many finales, been in the front of the race, had the team support me, and even been on the podium a few times. This gives me a lot of confidence and even closer goals to set and focus on.

“There’s still plenty of room to grow and I think I’m heading down the right path. For me the biggest learning curves have been in race nutrition, race tactics, bunch positioning, and getting to understand myself better as a racer. But also challenges have been living in Europe independently and creating a great environment for myself to live and train.

“The next step is the top of the podium. I want to really show what I am capable of and become a key rider in the team. Here I have the support, the belief and the resources to do that.”

Matt White on Stannard:
“Even in the disruptive year COVID-19 has given us, Rob is starting to really find his feet at the WorldTour level. He has had some really solid results and the only thing we’re waiting for now is his elusive first win, he has come very close.

“He might have been around for a couple of years but he is just 22 and we obviously see a big future in Rob and we’re pleased he can continue his development with us. He still has a lot of development to go but he has certainly shown some glimpses of the future that is ahead of him.

“Rob can ride well in the Classics, he can climb on shorter climbs, he is fast and he can time trial well. Because he is so versatile, we still haven’t worked out exactly where his future is and I think there is no rush. At 22 he is still learning about different styles of racing and that’s the idea with all of our young guys, give them exposure in Belgium, give them exposure in Italy and Spain, it’s all different styles of racing.

“Some guys take a while to work out where there real niche is but the most important thing is we’ve seem big progression in Rob in 12 months and as long as he keeps progressing I think both parties are going to be happy and we’ve got some big things to come out of Rob in the coming years.”

Elise Vander Sande and Silke Smulders sign with Lotto Soudal Ladies

The team sent me this release:

Lotto Soudal likes to give youngsters the opportunity to develop themselves and to grow within the team. Belgian rider Elise Vander Sande (almost 23) and Dutch rider Silke Smulders (19) both get this chance next year. Together with Anna Plichta and Hanna Nilsson they are the newcomers in our women’s team.

Elise Vander Sande became fourth at the Belgian Championship in Anzegem in September, a very nice result. She beat Annelies Dom, who will become sports director at Lotto Soudal Ladies, in a group sprint for that fourth place. Elise conquered the Belgian jersey for club riders. The past five seasons she rode for Keukens Redant.

“I combined cycling with my studies Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy”, tells Elise Vander Sande. "I graduated at the end of June. It was a choice to first finish my studies. Now, I want to see what I can achieve in cycling. I am also working halftime as a physio in a group practice in my neighbourhood.”

“I had five beautiful years at Keukens Redant and the team supported me during my studies, but to be able to take my cycling career to the next level I chose for Lotto Soudal. I am good at riding uphill. I prefer longer climbs. But I don’t have any experience yet with races abroad and therefore I decided to join Lotto Soudal. The team always rides a nice programme. I want to discover what I am capable of. I am also explosive. I can stand my ground in a sprint with a small group and I dare to position myself in the peloton. I am looking forward to learning at Lotto Soudal, to further developing myself as a rider and to being a support for my teammates.”

19-year-old Silke Smulders is a first-year in the U23 category and she still studies. She is now in the second year of the bachelor Sustainable Innovation at the university of Eindhoven. This year she was part of the Dutch U23 selection at the European Championships in Plouay. They won the silver medal with Lonneke Uneken, while Silke got eighth herself. In September she finished 19th at Trophée des Grimpeuses, a Belgian climbing race.

“I am good at hilly courses, like in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands or the Ardennes in Belgium”, says Silke Smulders. “I am looking forward to discovering what I can do in the mountains. I am still young and I still have exciting things ahead of me. I was very happy that I could go to the European Championships as a first-year U23 rider. Everyone was satisfied with my work for the team. I dropped off Lonneke Uneken for the sprint and could still get a nice result myself. It felt good to be able to perform well at such an important moment.”

“I am competing in races since I was twelve. Before I started cycling, I ice skated. In summer we cycled and I was good at it. I joined a cycling club and after a while I quit ice skating. Gradually, cycling became more serious. As a junior I got selected for the Worlds twice and that was a boost for my confidence. And now that beautiful European Championship as a first-year U23 rider. I want to see how far I can get in cycling. The step to Lotto Soudal Ladies is a step to become better.”

Patent Watch: Two companies offer wireless shifter adapters as SRAM application touts similar technology

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

By Alan Coté
SRAM’s recent patent application for an “Electronic Cable Puller” points to the increased integration of e-bikes. But it also might lead to some conflict between SRAM and two U.S. companies that already offer products using technologies similar to what SRAM describes in the application.

With e-bikes surging in popularity both in the U.S. and globally, manufacturers have been considering what else a large-capacity e-bike battery could power in addition to propelling a bike. Headlights, taillights, and integrated computer displays are obvious accessories to draw juice from an e-bike battery. Magura has shown heated grips that use e-bike battery power, and Fox’s E-Live Valve uses the bike battery to control suspension.

But SRAM has its eyes on derailleurs. SRAM’s U.S. patent application for an “Electronic Cable Puller” was published on Sept 10, with Geoff Nichols as the sole inventor. It describes a wireless shifting system that’s centered around an electronic cable puller, which mounts to the frame. The cable puller is powered by an e-bike’s battery.

With SRAM’s existing eTap electronic shifting system, a handlebar-mounted switch communicates wirelessly with a bike’s derailleurs. An eTap derailleur has no cable, and uses an internal motor to actuate shifts, powered by a small removable rechargeable battery. With all that technology bundled into a small package, an eTap rear derailleur is among the priciest rear derailleurs sold, starting at $490 MSRP for the Force model. The battery lasts for about 60 hours of riding between charges.

This design in the application borrows the concept of a handlebar switch that transmits a wireless signal to initiate a shift. But instead of that signal being received by an electronic rear derailleur, it’s received by a frame-mounted box attached to the right chainstay (or another place on the frame). The box includes a wireless receiver, of course, along with a motorized cable-pulling apparatus. The arrangement therefore allows use of a conventional cable-actuated rear derailleur – it’s like a robotic hand that operates a traditional derailleur.

The patent application describes an electric cable puller that “… may be powered by the centralized battery of an electric power-assist bike (“e-bike”) and may not be internally powered.” (emphasis on "not" added). Why not include a removable battery with the cable puller? There are numerous reasons why SRAM may have narrowed the patent application to exclude that arrangement, though as is common practice SRAM declined to comment on this patent application.

One reason may be that SRAM does not want to develop products that risk cannibalizing its own eTap product line – though a chainstay-mounted box is far less sleek than a rear derailleur with integrated electronics.

You can read the entire story with illustrations here.

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