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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, November 27, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide

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Nicholas Dlamini and Carlos Barbero re-sign with Team Qhubeka ASSOS

The team sent me this release:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 26, 2020/ -- Team Qhubeka ASSOS is delighted to announce contract renewals for Nicholas Dlamini and Carlos Barbero.

Dlamini, 25, continues his journey with our organisation having made the step up from our Lucca-based Continental team into Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour outfit in 2018, and subsequently firmly establishing himself as a household name.

Nicholas Dlamini

Nicholas Dlamini after stage three of the 2018 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

A previous King of the Mountains classification winner at the Tour Down Under as well as the Tour of Britain, the South African’s 2020 season got off to the worst possible start as he spent time recovering from a broken arm, which ruled him out of all competition prior to the season being halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic­­.

Following the season’s restart, Dlamini’s focus was on the build-up to his second grand tour appearance at the Vuelta a Espana and included the World Championships in Imola. He unfortunately was forced to withdraw from the former due to illness, and will consolidate a comprehensive off-season programme in full preparation for 2021 which includes a major goal of representing Team South Africa at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Barbero, 29, has made an incredibly positive impact on the team since joining at the start of 2020. An effervescent character, he had a very good start to the year at the Saudi Tour finishing sixth on the general classification.

The Spaniard unfortunately crashed while training in late July and his resultant preparations for the Vuelta a Espana were impacted, although he did manage excellent top-10 finishes at the Memorial Marco Pantani and Coppa Sabatini-Gran Premio citta di Peccioli.

These renewals follow-on from the confirmation earlier in the week that European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo remains with the team, together with new signings in Simon Clarke, Dimitri Claeys and Kilian Frankiny.

That’s in addition to Victor Campenaerts, Domenico Pozzovivo, Michael Gogl, Andreas Stokbro, Max Walscheid and Dylan Sunderland who were all already under contract for 2021.

Nicholas Dlamini:
"To re-sign with the team, now as Team Qhubeka ASSOS, is a big relief as it means that the African dream stays alive. Having Qhubeka back as part of our name is very special and I’m really looking forward to seeing the kit design with the Qhubeka hand on our back, they have always been part of our DNA and very close to our hearts. The focus is of course on winning but also importantly on putting children on bicycles, so I know that my teammates and I are suffering out there for a great purpose.

"I really look forward to getting the season underway and I’ve already started my planning for it including training camps and looking at some of the races that I really want to focus on. 2021 is a big year for me and the team, and I really want to showcase my talent and show the team colours prominently in races, so I really look forward to getting the season underway.

"Doug has worked really hard to keep the team alive and we all appreciate his incredible efforts. We now need to give the absolute maximum back to the team; to try and score the best possible results for next year and hopefully we can keep the dream alive for another couple of years."

Carlos Barbero:
"I am delighted to continue in this great family. I have felt very comfortable during this strange year in the team and my desire was always to renew.

"I’d like to extend my thanks to the incredible work Doug has done to keep the team alive in 2021, as riders this provides us the platform to continue to educate the world that "bicycles change lives" and so I cannot wait to ride next season as Team Qhubeka ASSOS."

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal:
"In Nic and Carlos you couldn’t have two more different stories in terms of their background but who epitomise exactly the power that our team, and sport has, in bringing people together. Both are exceptional individuals and core to the fabric of our team going into next season.

"Nic’s continued development is something that we are very proud of. He’s someone that we’ve supported ever since he first dreamed of becoming a professional rider. To come through our Continental team, and then to establish himself at WorldTour level, speaks to exactly what we are as an organisation.

"2020 though has been a very difficult year for everyone, and Nic had additional challenges in that he was injured for the first quarter of it. At 25 he is now in a crucial part of his career as a rider and knows that he now needs to kick on as part of that, not just for himself but also for the team.

"Carlos came in at the start of the season and immediately made such a big impact. His personality away from the bike makes him an incredible team man and he’s ambitious on it too, so he’s the perfect mix. He also had some misfortune this year getting injured just prior to his “home race” – the Vuelta a Burgos – but we know that he will take on the challenge that next season will bring head-on."

Record year for Italian bicycle sales, 20% growth expected

Bike Europe sent me this industry update:

MILAN, Italy - 2020 will be a record year for the Italian bicycle industry and for the national bike economy in general. The pandemic in the first place and the mobility bonus in second instance have given a huge boost to the market; so much that today, finding a bicycle in the shops has become impossible.

The boom in Italy’s bicycle sales has been so big that Confindustria ANCMA estimates a growth of over 20% on 2019 figures. Therefore, the Italian national bicycle association forecasts that by the end of 2020, Italy will exceed 2 million bicycles sold, with around 2,100,000- 2,150,000 units. In 2019, 1,713,000 units were sold.

These 400,000 additional bicycles were sold between June and November. Regarding the type of bicycles, 30-35,000 units are e-bikes: this means that in 2020 this type of vehicles reached about 230,000 units in total, compared to 195,000 in 2019. Among the best-selling models, e-mtbs held the first place but the real boom was made by city and trekking e-bikes which accounted for 50% of the new purchases.

Credits for the huge success of bicycle sales in Italy goes to the ‘mobility bonus’ allocated by the Italian Ministry for the Environment. But not only this, since Covid has affected the day-to-day life, Italians have taken a more sustainable approach and a different awareness of the bike. On top of that there’s an (increasing) extensive network of bicycle paths and lanes. In short, Italians are probably changing their habits and rethinking the bicycle as a means of transportation.

But how long will this trend last? “There is a lot of enthusiasm in the Italian industry at the moment, but also a lot of caution,” explains Piero Nigrelli of Confindustria ANCMA who questions whether these figures will consolidate in the years to come or even decrease. “Certainly, the incentives will no longer exist next year even, but we, as ANCMA, are working on other types of incentives aimed at increasing mobility by bike in the cities. The change in attitude of Italians towards the use of bicycles and the proliferation of bicycle lanes in the main Italian cities give us hope that this trend will not reverse.

You can read the entire story here.

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