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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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

Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it. - Harry S Truman


Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour of the Benelux stage one reports

We posted the report from third-place Alvaro Hodeg's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from Mike Teunissen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Mike Teunissen has saved the day for Team Jumbo-Visma in the first stage of the Benelux Tour. In the stage through Friesland, Teunissen was the only rider of the team who was part of the first peloton in the echelons. In Dokkum he sprinted to ninth place. The Dutchman is fourth in the overall standings after collecting bonification seconds in the ‘golden kilometre’.

In the stage through the Dutch polder, the pace was high from the start. Due to the wind, the peloton broke into several groups a little over half way.

Echelons

The wind broke the peloton into echelons.

In the final, Teunissen tried to break away with four others but did not get away. The second peloton, including Tom Dumoulin and Dylan Groenewegen, finished the stage just under a minute behind the first group.

“Obviously it’s far from good that I was the only rider of the team in the first group”, Teunissen said. “Of course you can’t be with everyone in the front, but this is not what we came for. Speaking for myself, I was in a good position all day and I didn’t get surprised once. The peloton had split a few times before, so you knew it could happen anywhere. After that we mainly had tailwind. The pace was very high and didn’t drop anymore. It was a struggle to stay in the front all by myself. I’m not really satisfied with my sprint, but it was difficult to position myself without teammates. It’s a nice bonus that I gained some boni seconds. I hope to do a good time trial tomorrow. After that we’ll see day by day if it is possible to do a good GC.”

Here's the report from Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The 2021 Benelux Tour gave riders a taste of racing in Belgium and the Netherlands with this week-long stage race starting with a flat 169.6km parcours from Surhuisterveen to Dokkum. While the day was predicted to end in a sprint, the coastal roads near the finale would see echelons form due to winds – something that could give the breakaway an advantage.

A fight for position at the start saw the day’s break quickly form, a group of seven riders making the most of the flat roads to build their lead. After 25km of racing, this lead was 2:30 and quickly went out to more than four minutes, but with the sprint teams controlling the pace, this was brought back to 3:20 with 80km remaining. Daniel Oss and Wilco Kelderman took to the front to reduce the gap to the break and the advantage fell to a little more than a minute, but the coastal winds saw splits form at the head of the race and while Lukas Pöstlberger and Wilco Kelderman were among the riders to make it into the lead chase group for BORA - hansgrohe, Peter Sagan was brought down with 24km to go, the Slovak national champion climbing back on his bike before returning to this second group, which was now 1:30 behind the leaders.

Many of the big-name riders were with Peter in this group, as they strived to close the gap on the leaders, who had now caught the break. The ‘Golden Kilometre’ gave riders a chance to pick up points in two consecutive sprints, with Lukas taking the first here, and as the peloton looked ahead to the finale, the threat of crosswinds was ready to catch out the unwary.

Entering the race’s final kilometres, the gap to Peter’s group was sitting just above a minute, but while the Slovak rider wouldn’t be in a position to contest the win, Lukas gave it a try and went on the attack with 2km to go, the Austrian rider caught and passed on the finishing straight with just a couple of hundred metres to go. Both Wilco and Lukas finished in the lead group, with the rest of the BORA - hansgrohe riders coming in safe and ready to take on tomorrow’s time trial.

Tim Merlier

It was Tim Merlier who won the first stage.

From the Finish Line:
"I would say it was a good day for the team, excluding, of course, the unfortunate crash of Peter. Lukas and I made it to the first group, thanks to Daniel's great work. We had a good race, I don't think there was anything more that we could have done in the sprint finish. We finished in the small leading group and that was important." Wilco Kelderman

"It was a very good start to the race for me. It was stressful all day with a big fight for positioning right from the start. You also needed a bit of luck, there was a lot of gambling to be at the front in the right position at the right moment. Wilco was with me, we had great support from the team and made it to the first echelon. I gave it a try in the golden kilometre and took the first intermediate sprint. In the finale, I attacked from the leading group, I built a gap but was then caught 250-300m before the line. Overall, my form is good, my legs feel good and I look forward to tomorrow's time trial." – Lukas Pöstlberger

"It was a flat stage but really tense because of the wind. We knew before the start that the wind would play a role in today's race, so we were ready to work for all possible scenarios. Erik Baska and Juraj Sagan did a good job in the start, controlling the breakaway. When we reached the area with strong winds, about 60km from the finish, the peloton really blew up in pieces. There were three-four different groups on the road but we had Wilco Kelderman and Lukas Pöstlberger, our GC leaders, together with Erik in the leading group. Peter was in the second group and, unfortunately, suffered a crash. It doesn't seem to be serious but his chances of fighting for the sprint disappeared. Wilco and Lukas finished safely within that leading group, so that's a good start. We'll see tomorrow how the ITT goes." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Team DSM's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, SEP 2-5

Huub Duijn - Team DSM coach:
"The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta takes place over four days this year and has a bit of everything. The opening stage has a tough 15 kilometre climb in the middle of the stage, before the riders take on a mountain time trial on the second day. The final two stages could offer the attackers a chance of success, but they might also come down to reduced sprint finales. We have a strong team with multiple different cards to play throughout the four days of racing. We will take stock of where we are on GC after the opening two stages, and the style of racing we expect, before either targeting the breakaways or looking to set up Coryn as our finisher in the final stages."

Coryn Rivera

Coryn Rivera will be racing the Ceratizit Challenge.

Line-up
Megan Jastrab (USA)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)

A Travers les Hauts de France, SEP 3-5

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach
"Taking place over three days, A Travers les Hauts de France offers our Development program a good chance to hone their general racing skills, alongside working together as a team and on tactics. The three stages could possibly end in sprint finishes, but with several short and sharp hills, we need to be attentive as we expect some hard and aggressive racing. We will look to set up Casper and Pavel for the finales, where we will aim for good stage results, then seeing where that takes us in the GC."

Line-up
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Pavel Bittner (CZE)
Oscar Onley (GBR)
Vegard Stokke (NOR)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Hannes Wilksch (GER)

Tour of Britain, SEP 5-12

Phil West - Team DSM coach
"This year's parcours has a nice mix of stages, with several sprint opportunities for the fast men and some real tough days for the all rounders and climbers. This combination along with the Team Time Trial on stage three sets the stage for some great racing. We'll take on the race each day and look for day results on the sprint stages with Nils, but we will also make the most of our opportunities for the other stages too. With six man teams for this race we can anticipate some open and unpredictable racing and we look forward to being in action each day."

Nicholas Roche

Nicholas Roche (shown at the 2019 Vuelta) will ride the Tour of Britain. Sirotti photo

Line-up
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Max Kanter (GER)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)

Chris Froome invests in Factor Bikes

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

LINCOLN, Neb. (BRAIN) — Factor Bikes and its parts and accessories subsidiary Black Inc. announced a round of funding from an investment group that includes professional cyclist Chris Froome. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

Froome, who will serve on the Factor/Black Inc.'s Board of Directors, is joined by Sam McKay, co-founder of Point King Capital, and Scott Farquhar, co-founder of Skip Capital. McKay also will be part of the board.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the Dauphiné earlier this year. Sirotti photo

Factor Bikes founder and CEO Rob Gitelis will retain his position as majority shareholder.

According to a news release, the investment will support Factor's growth strategy, including a focus on product, innovation and talent, and global channel expansion. Factor/Black Inc. recently announced it's shopping for a new retail facility in Melbourne to enhance its direct-to-consumer strategy and committed to another year as Israel Start-up Nation cycling team sponsor.

This is Froome's first investment in a bike company. According to Factor, the seven-time Grand Tour winner and four-time winner of the Tour de France will help with strategic direction, primarily in product development and marketing/sponsorship.

You can read the entire story here.

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