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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

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

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. - Richard P. Feynman


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Lotto Soudal headed to Etoile de Bessèges

Here’s the team’s announcement:

The Etoile de Bessèges is the first stage race of the year for Lotto Soudal. The 51st edition of this race in southern France consists of five stages, including a short but crucial individual time trial on the final day of racing.

Lotto Soudal heads to Etoile de Bessèges with the same seven riders who participated in Sunday’s GP La Marseillaise. The experienced Degenkolb, Gilbert and Wellens will be supported by youngsters Andreas Kron, Stefano Oldani, Gerben Thijssen and Brent Van Moer.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb (shown at the 2020 Tour of Luxembourg) will be at the start line of the Etoile de Bessèges. Sirotti photo

“The opening stage will immediately be a first important appointment with the uphill finish at the end. John Degenkolb and Gerben Thijssen will be our guys for the sprint stages. Tim Wellens aims for the general classification, in which the concluding time trial will be crucial. This test against the clock has been a part of the course since a very long time and is with its short climb at the end definitely something for Wellens. Andreas Kron showed really good form during the GP La Marseillaise and he will have to assist our leaders as long as possible. He can also go for it himself if possible”, says Lotto Soudal sports director Marc Wauters.

Line-up Lotto Soudal Etoile de Bessèges: John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Andreas Kron, Stefano Oldani, Gerben Thijssen, Brent Van Moer and Tim Wellens.

Israel Start-Up Nation is racing the Etoile de Besseges

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Directeur Sportif Claudio Cozzi says it is a privilege to be able to race, especially given the situation with the virus. “We must take every single race day even more seriously than we use to. Every result counts, and that’s the attitude I expect from the team in Etoile de Besseges,” emphasized Cozzi.

French sprinter Rudy Barbier agrees with the Directeur Sportif. “I am stoked about the opportunity to race again,” says the man who took the team’s first victory in 2020.

Rudy Barbier

Rudy Barbier winning the first stage of the Vuelta a San Juan.

He was able to keep in shape even though it has been a cold winter at home, has been waiting to get back into the pack for a long time. “I trained more and harder and I feel very strong for this time of year. Racing in my home country is always special. The team hopes to start the season the same way as I did last year – with a victory.”

His fellow-countryman Alexis Renard is also eager to restart. He prepared well for the new season saying, “It hasn’t been a long time since we finished last season, however it does feel like it has been a long period without racing. I’m looking forward to helping my teammates get good results in Etoile de Besseges.”

Cozzi: “It’s an understatement to say that Israel Start-Up Nation has been looking forward to this particular moment for a long time. We hope to kick off the season as well as we did last year, by winning a stage, for instance, in the sprints. But, also, for the GC we are lining up a team that can perform.”

ISRAEL START-UP NATION’S LINE UP FOR ETOILE DE BESSEGES (03-02 – 07-02):
Rudy Barbier
Jenthe Biermans
Ben Hermans
Guillaume Bovin
Alexis Renard
Alex Dowsett
Mads Würtz

Luke Durbridge and Cameron Meyer set to defend titles at Australian championships

Team Bike Exchange sent me this:

Team BikeExchange roll into Buninyong for the Australian Championships this week looking to retain the coveted green and gold jersey for another year.

The squad walked away with both the time trial and road race titles in 2020 as Luke Durbridge went back-to-back in the TT and Cameron Meyer ended his 12-year quest for the road race crown. The duo will be back in 2021, with Durbridge fresh off a stage win and the overall victory at the Santos Festival of Cycling.

Luke durbridge

Luke Durbridge (shown winning the first stage of the 2021 Santos Festival of Cycling) will race all the championship races: TT, criterium & road race.

Last year’s road race runner-up Lucas Hamilton will be in action in all three events, while former national road champion Alex Edmondson will ride the criterium and in Sunday’s ‘main event’. Czech Tour winner Damien Howson will also be in the hunt for a jersey, another former second place finisher in the Team BikeExchange ranks.

Fast finisher Kaden Groves takes on Friday night’s criterium as he looks to go one better than his silver medal finish in last year’s event and the 21-year-old will have a strong team alongside him on Sturt Street.

Team BikeExchange:
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 29) (TT, Criterium & Road Race)
Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 24) (TT, Criterium & Road Race)
Damien Howson (AUS, 28) (Criterium & Road Race)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 27) (Criterium & Road Race)
Kaden Groves (AUS, 21) (Criterium & Road Race)
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 33) (Road Race)

Luke Durbridge (2020 Time Trial Champion):
“I don’t take it on as pressure [being defending champion], obviously you can’t underestimate it, you can’t go in thinking it is a given win. If I think of the years before when you hadn’t won, you were really hungry, really, really desperate, pushed yourself to the absolute limit to get that victory. That is how you won, so I can’t just go there and expect that it is going to happen like that, that is just not the way it is going to be.

“When you are the defending champion, everybody wants to take it off you, so I think you have to be, not nervous but just respect that people do want to beat you and that you are the benchmark, so make sure you go out there and give it everything because if you don’t you will definitely get it taken away.”

“You can’t beat a bit of confidence going into a race, once you have a victory early on you can sometimes roll with it and go from one victory for the next, so I am really looking forward to just taking the confidence and form into next week.”

Cameron Meyer (2020 Road Race Champion):
“It’s been an honour to wear the green and gold this past 12 months. Obviously due to the Covid pandemic I didn’t get as many race days to show it off as I would have liked, but the memory of last year’s win will always be special.

“My form is pretty good heading into the Championships. I think it will be hard to replicate what I was able to do last year but like most years I should be up amongst the front group and with a strong team I’m sure we can produce a good result for Team BikeExchange.

“I think there is always pressure at the National Championships and I always put pressure on myself for the event. I am very passionate about the race and always want to perform to my best so being the defending champion and having some consistent performances on this course over many years I have the expectation of being at the front of the race when it matters.”

Australian Championships 2021 Race Details:
Wednesday, 3rd Feb: Federation University, 37.5km (Time Trial)
Friday, 5th Feb: Ballarat, 44km/40 Laps (Criterium)
Sunday, 7th Feb: Buninyong – Buninyong, 185.6km (Road Race)

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