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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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

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

One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others. - Robert A. Heinlein


Upcoming racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:


Ag2r Citroën to ride Etoile de Bessèges

Here's the team's update:

Scheduled to start the race:

Greg Van avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet in the 2021 Ag2r kit

"I did a really good load of training this winter and wearing a new jersey for the first time in a race is extra motivation. My season should have started at la Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Instead, I will be racing l’Etoile de Béssèges, which I have raced only once before, back in 2009. Of course, the current situation requires us to be able to adapt. My goal is to get into a rhythm with the guys, to do some quality work, and to see ‘what we have in the legs’. It will be a good test ahead of the first goal of the season, which is the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 27), and I have won that twice (2016 and 2017). The training camp in Spain in January allowed me to get to know the team and the staff. The ambiance is good. Make way for the racing now.” - Greg Van Avermaet

The number: 181

Marc Sarreau is back in competition 181 days after his crash at the Tour of Poland (August 6), where he broke his right collarbone. This will be his debut with AG2R CITROËN TEAM. “I can't wait to get back into competition. It feels like a long time, especially since I got back on the bike just as the season was ending. Bessèges has been a good race for me in the past (three wins in 2018 and 2019), so I hope that will be the case again this year. With the postponements of the various races, it will be a very high quality field. This will give us the chance to dive in directly at the deep end!”

The news: New program for Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen

Following the various postponements / cancellations of certain events, here is the new program for the start of the season for Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen after the Etoile de Bessèges:
- Tour du Haut-Var et des Alpes-Maritimes (19-21 February)
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 27)

Team DSM extend contract with Casper Pedersen

The team sent me this press release:

Team DSM are pleased to announce that Casper Pedersen has extended his contract with his team through to the end of the 2022 season.

Casper Pedersen

Casper Pedersen wins the first stage of the 2017 Tour of Denmark

Having joined the team in 2019, Pedersen quickly settled in and showed promising performances in his opening year, helping the team to wins throughout the season before making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España. In 2020, he was part of the team’s sprint block and really shone through in a team that harked back to the halcyon days of sprint trains, with Pedersen transitioning and developing into an important part of that group. After being part of the team’s incredibly successful 2020 Tour de France on his race debut, Pedersen rounded off his season with a fantastic win in a two-up sprint finish at Paris-Tours; highlighting his strength and speed on the bike, but also his ability to read races – a skill that he has transferred over excellently to his role as part of the team’s burgeoning sprint group.

On extending his contract with Team DSM, Pedersen said: “I’m really happy to extend my contract with Team DSM for another year. A big part of the reason of why I first joined the team was my trust in the way Team DSM worked with its young riders and the professional approach to every aspect of becoming a good bike rider – whether that was nutrition, optimised training plans or tactical planning for the races. My goal was, and still is, to develop myself to become the best rider I possibly can and in the last two years my development has been going well with the team. I believe we can continue this trend and I feel really comfortable with the riders and staff, so extending was an easy decision for me to make. I believe I can continue to get better and better over the next years and achieve great things together with the team.”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “We’re pleased to have Casper with us for another year in 2022. Since he’s been with us, he’s really developed well as a rider and we’re really happy with how we work together. He’s shown to be very strong as part of our sprint group and that’s where we see him developing in the future. It’s not only his ability on the bike that we’re impressed with, but his ability to read a race is very good and he offers experience and the tactical nous to make a quick and well-informed decision on the bike; something that is really important in hectic sprint finishes. We’re looking forward to continuing to work together with Casper, to help him improve even more as a rider and achieve some more good results.”

Giacomo Nizzolo leads Team Qhubeka ASSOS at Etoile de Bessèges

The team sent me this announcement:

NIMES, France: The selection for the Etoile de Bessèges race sees a raft of new faces, spearheaded by Nizzolo, who recently his 32nd birthday. Among his support will be long-term friend Matteo Pelucchi, who makes his first start for Team Qhubeka ASSOS (TeamQhubeka.com).

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo wins the second stage of 2020 Paris-Nice

Lukasz Wisniowski has impressed during the team’s recent training camp in Spain and his experience will be invaluable alongside the likes of Andreas Stokbro and Sean Bennett, the American also making his debut for the team.

The impressive Michael Gogl will likely take on the shared role of road captain where he will be leaning heavily on new recruit Simon Clarke for support. The Australian has merged seamlessly into Team Qhubeka ASSOS and promises to be a major asset for the team this season.

Meanwhile, we have sought the assistance of our ardent fans to formally announce our team for this race and will look to continue doing that throughout the season. This is something new and we are very excited about it.

Our team’s supporters, particularly in light of our recent challenges and in line with our drive for success into the future, are key for us to continue to create meaningful change with the Qhubeka Charity in changing lives with bicycles.

The five-day race gets underway on Wednesday, 3 February with a 141km stage starting and finishing in Bellegarde, and concludes with an 11km individual time trial in Alès.

Giacomo Nizzolo:
As always for the first race of the season I’m very excited and it will be interesting what is our current level. We had a good camp but I don’t feel at my absolute optimum as I have had an issue with my knee. I feel that it’s been getting better and better every day at the camp, even when I wasn’t able to train exactly how I’d wanted to.

So I think we go there without pressure but obviously if there is an opportunity to score a result we will try every day where there is a chance. I think that we also have some good guys for the overall too in Michael Gogl and Simon Clarke and it will be interesting to see how we can go in the sprint with the new guys. Obviously with Pelucchi there is a long history but we have to, as a team, find our place in the bunch.

Simon Clarke:
After a really good block of training over the off-season, including my own mini training camp with Michael Gogl, it was good to finally meet everyone at our camp in Spain.

It was a really good camp and now I can’t wait to get started with my new team here in France. We’ll be looking to take what we worked on there straight into our racing, so I’m looking forward to the season ahead with confidence.

Gino Van Oudenhove - Sports Director:
It has been a hectic run in the last two months for riders, staff and management to put things together. To get to this point everyone has done an amazing job and now we can start our first race well prepared and with confidence.

Etoile de Bessèges will be an exciting race with some sprint possibilities. So, from the first race, we can put all hands on deck in support of Giacomo.

Trek buys Mike Olson's retail empire, with stores in California, Oregon and New Mexico

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Several industry sources have confirmed that Trek has agreed to buy at least a dozen of Mike Olson's bike shops, including the six Trek Bicycle Superstore locations in the San Diego area and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one Nytro Multisport store in Encinitas, California, and the six-store Bike Gallery chain in the Portland area. Olson is believed to be Trek's largest retailer and one of the largest bike retailers in the country.

Olson told BRAIN Tuesday afternoon that he couldn't confirm or talk about any sale. However, multiple sources confirm that Olson told store employees about the sale on Monday. Watch for a more in-depth article on the sale later this week on BRAIN.

Olson, who was a member of BRAIN's State of Retail panel in 2020, bought the two original Trek Bicycle Superstores in 2003, a year after Trek opened them as concept stores. Olson has a licensing agreement with Trek to use the name, which also sell Cannondale and other bike brands. He bought the Bike Gallery chain from Jay Graves in 2012. Bike Gallery primarily sells Trek bikes, although it also carries Haro, Orbea and Co-Motion.

In an interview with BRAIN's Ray Keener in January 2019, Olson said 2018 was his business's highest-grossing year ever.

You can read the entire story here.

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