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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, August 6, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

When all is said and done, more is said than done. - Lou Holtz

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

New cycling book from Les Woodland

Les Woodland's latest book about the Tour de France, Dirty Feet: How the great unwashed created the Tour de France is now available in print, Kindle eBook and as an audiobook. The audiobook version is voiced by ex-racer David Stanley.

Ditry feet book cover

Dirty Feet is a fresh look at the now more than 100-year-old Tour de France. Les Woodland goes back to the blue-collar origins of the race when the father of the Tour, Henri Desgrange, was so bothered by the hygiene of his tough, beloved racers that at the end of each stage he would publish the names of the riders who did not wash after a day of racing on France’s mostly dirt and often muddy roads.

If you are a fan of Les', you know the book will be filled with his wonderful mix of obscure, unknown race lore and clear tellings of racing's important stories. If you haven't given yourself this pleasure, you owe it to yourself to give Les a try. Here's a link to the Amazon Dirty Feet listing with all three formats.

Plus, it is the sale of books we publish, in addition to Dirty Feet, that supports BikeRaceInfo. Here are the other books we publish.

John Degenkolb returns to Team DSM

The team sent me this announcement:

Having spent five successful seasons with the team from 2012 to 2016, John Degenkolb is set to return home to Team DSM, signing a contract that will see him ride in the team’s distinctive two keep challenging striped jersey once again until at least the end of 2024.

The team had some of their great highlights in their Degenkolb era, taking two incredible Monument victories in 2015 at Milano – Sanremo and Paris – Roubaix, alongside ten Vuelta a España stage wins, the points jersey at the same race and stage success at the Giro d’Italia; just to name a few of his 36 victories with the team. Returning to Team DSM in 2022, Degenkolb aims to put his wealth of experience into effect as part of the team’s sprint train and classics block, while also being part of the group that hunts stage success in Grand Tours.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb on his way to winning 2015 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

On joining Team DSM Degenkolb expressed: “I had a great time with the team previously and we have always remained good friends as I made my journey through the peloton. Their development over the years is impressive. The team is about honesty; they deliver everything they promise and they expect the same the other way around, which makes them unique. They are driven, forward thinking and wholeheartedly focused on the commitment of doing things together – with colleagues on and off the bike. I really believe that this is the perfect approach to get the best out of our potential and bring home results in a sustainable way. I’m really looking forward to re-immersing myself back into this culture, integrating into the sprint train and the classics block, and being part of the group that hunts stage results in a Grand Tour. Personally, I also have the ambition to grow into the role as a road captain and the team is the perfect place for me to do that.”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “We’re delighted to have John back in the team with us. We really enjoyed our time together before and we’re looking forward to building on that in the coming years. Someone of John’s experience is crucial for both the hectic moments in a race, but also to help to push each other to be better outside of the race. As part of our sprint train and classics block, John will strengthen our capacity, guiding the team as we fight for results throughout the season. We believe he can also share his knowledge from his years in performing at the highest level of cycling with our talented young riders, helping to set a strong example for them and be an important culture carrier.”

Premier Tech to withdraw as co-title sponsor at end of 2021

Here’s the team’s announcement

Canadian company Premier Tech will leave Astana – Premier Tech at the conclusion of the 2021 season, stepping away as the team’s co-owner and co-title sponsor after a five-year partnership. The Kazakh shareholders will continue as the sole owner and title sponsor of the team.

Jakob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang wins the 2020 Tour of Lombardy. The team's jerseys won't have "Premier Tech" on them in 2022. Sirotti photo

Acknowledging the significant investment and contribution from Premier Tech as a partner and more recently, co-owner, over the past five years, Astana – Premier Tech Managing Director Yana Seel said:

“We have been very fortunate to have Premier Tech with us since the beginning of the partnership in 2017. Premier Tech’s support has been instrumental, and we were proud to have them with us for some of the team’s most important moments including multiple Tour de France stage wins and Monument victories. Although we envisaged a long-term collaboration between Premier Tech and our Kazakh shareholders as co-owners, unfortunately it has not been possible to align the respective visions for the team’s future. As such, Premier Tech will conclude their investment at the end of this season. I want to thank Jean Belanger and the Premier Tech community for their support and passion for the team, particularly for their unwavering commitment in the last two seasons amidst the covid-19 pandemic. We look forward to ending the season together on a high and achieving the best results possible.

“Planning is underway for next season, and we expect to communicate further on the team’s future in the coming weeks.”

Premier Tech President and CEO Jean Belanger said:
“Although it is disappointing for Premier Tech to end its collaboration with Kazakhstan, it has been fantastic to be involved in the project since 2017. We were excited to step up as co-owner and co-title sponsor of Astana – Premier Tech at the start of the season and forge a new direction for the team alongside the Kazakh shareholders. Unfortunately, it has become clear in our ongoing discussions and planning for the future that we do not share the same vision and we have been unable to come to an agreement that works for both parties. Premier Tech is committed to the sport of cycling and will announce in the near future the next phase of its presence in the peloton and WorldTour scene”.

Ben Gastauer to retire at the end of the 2021 season

Team Ag2r-Citroën sent me this announcement:

After 12 years with the AG2R CITROËN TEAM, Ben Gastauer, 33, will end his career at the end of the 2021 season due to a pelvic floor (muscles located between the tailbone and the pubic bone within the pelvis) problem which is hampering his ability to compete at the top level.

Ben Gastauer

Ben Gastauer at the 2015 Tour du Haut Var.

Vincent Lavenu, manager général de l’équipe AG2R CITROËN says:
"Ben Gastauer came from our training center and has spent his entire career with the team. He is a rider who is appreciated by everyone and who has been an essential element in many great team successes such as our Tour de France 2014 team classification victory. His excellent fitness level, his loyalty, and his kindness will leave a lasting impression of his time in the team. I wish him a successful post-cycling career and that he will take as much pleasure in his family life as he did in his professional career".

Ben Gastauer:
My pelvic floor problem has handicapped me since mid-April. I couldn’t sit on a bike for two months and still have pain today. I spoke to Vincent about my willingness to hang up the bike. He is giving me the gift of letting me finish my career at the Tour du Luxembourg (September 14-18), in front of my family and friends. It will be a great way for me to end my career. It is rare to have a whole career riding on the same team and I am very happy to have had this opportunity. We accomplished great things together, notably the podiums for Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet at the Tour de France, which will remain my fondest memories."

Ben Gastauer spent 12 years, from 2010 to 2021, with the team. He completed the 2009 season at Chambéry Cyclisme Formation. He has won 3 professional victories (Luxembourg national champion for individual time trial in 2012, and the winner of a stage and the general classification of the Tour du Haut Var in 2015).

Last race in the Tour du Luxembourg
Ben Gastauer will complete his last days as a professional cyclist at the Tour du Luxembourg (September 14-18).

Team BikeExchange hunting stage wins at Tour de Pologne

Here's the update the team sent me:

Team BikeExchange will line-up for the 78th Tour de Pologne with a powerful team ready to fight on all fronts as they go hunting for stage wins.

Australian criterium champion Kaden Groves and the fast-finishing Dion Smith give the squad options in the sprints, while Estonian Tanel Kangert will lead the GC charge across the seven days of racing.

Tanel Kangert

Tanel Kangert racing in the 2018 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Michael Hepburn, Alexander Konychev and Barnabás Peák will give the team powerful support alongside Tsgabu Grmay who will look to assist Kangert on the hilly stages throughout the week.

Team BikeExchange at Tour de Pologne
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Kaden Groves (AUS)
Michael Hepburn (AUS)
Tanel Kangert (EST)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Barnabás Peák(HUN)
Dion Smith (NZL)

Tanel Kangert:
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ racing again. The Japanese experience was so unique that I only accepted it because it was a one-time unique occasion. I expected to perform better, but my legs just did not respond in the heat.

"Poland is such a beautiful country and racing there feels almost like racing home to me coming from the Baltics. I think this race will be decided with the time trial, so I will have to find my TT legs to do well here.”

Gene Bates - Sport Director:
“The race profile on paper looks to be easier than we have seen in the past, so we are expecting to see more stages arrive in a sprint.

"In terms of the GC though, it puts more pressure on the fourth stage (hill-top finish) and the time trial. We still expect to see some very hard racing, and it could be a case that the time bonuses in each stage become very important.

"We have a well-rounded team, with some fast guys in Groves and Smith, and also Kangert for the overall. We will look for stage results, and support Tanel for the best GC result we can deliver.

"We will approach the race to support the sprints and more selective stages, we will have clear roles around these stages for everyone. But, there are also some stages that could easily arrive in a breakaway, and we have the riders here to be aggressive and ready to take advantage on these stages. It looks like there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone this week."

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