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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 11, 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.

Good artists copy, great artists steal. - Pablo Picasso

TDF volume 1

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Fabio Aru & Nicholas Dlamini to spearhead Qhubeka-Assos at Tour de la Provence

The team sent me this release:

Team Qhubeka Assos is excited to announce that Fabio Aru will be one of six debutants in our seven rider line-up for Tour de la Provence, starting on Thursday.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru climbing in stage nine of the 2019 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

The four-day stage race opens up with an undulating 173km from Aubagne to Six-Fours-les-Plages, but all eyes will likely already be cast to stage three and the mountain-top finish at Mont Ventoux.

Aru, the 2015 Vuelta a España champion, expressed his anticipation in finally getting his road-racing season underway for his new team, and he’ll be joined by an exciting selection, of varying experience, out on the roads of southern France.

South Africa’s Nicholas Dlamini opens his season at the race having not been in action since October 2020. The 25-year-old, who recently became a father for the first time, showed some good form at the recent training camp held in Spain and will now be looking to bring that sharpness straight into his first race.

The highly-experienced duo of Sander Armeé and Kilian Frankiny will both relish the opportunity to test themselves early in the season with the climbing on offer, and both have experience of scoring good personal results in the past too.

Our line-up is completed by a very exciting young trio: Frankiny’s Swiss compatriot Mauro Schmid, exciting Czech youngster Karel Vacek and Connor Brown who has made the exciting step up from our Continental team in 2021. These three are certainly exciting prospects to watch throughout the season.

As our team did with it’s line-up for our opening race of the season at Etoile de Besseges, we’ve asked one of our ardent fans to officially name the team for the Tour de la Provence. It something that’s a new innovation for our team, and one which we know will draw our fans even closer.

For this race we want to say a big “thank you” to Marco Overbeeke for your incredible support of Team Qhubeka ASSOS.

Fabio Aru
I’m really happy and I can’t wait now to start my road season with my new team. For sure I’ve worked really hard over the winter including participating in some cyclocross – which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’m very happy overall (with my condition) and I now just want to start my road season. I will do my best for my team and teammates, and we will see how the race unfolds.

Nic Dlamini
I’m really quite excited to start racing again. I’ve never raced in February in Europe as I always start Down Under, so it’s quite early (for me) but I’m super- excited.

I’m happy with my form; the body’s showing some good signs from the camp and I’ve been maintaining that shape so I’m excited to put it to the test. For the team going in there it’s going to be something new for us all: new riders in the team, first time working together and so on, but I think we’re all super-motivated to the highest level after seeing how our team performed in Etoile de Besseges. We want to continue with that momentum and hopefully do better and get closer and closer to the podium overall.

I think with the dynamics of the whole team everyone is motivated and in a good space; and I think we’re looking forward to a great start.

Gabriele Missaglia – Sports Director
The main goals for the Tour de la Provence will be to feature well across the race; definitely trying to win a stage and consequently aiming for a strong general classification from Aru and Armeé.

The team is competitive, although we still have to consider that for this group it’s the first race of the season and despite having worked well with targeted training we do not know our real racing condition, yet.

In what promises to be a very interesting race, the third stage is going to be by all accounts the most important, it is the stage that will likely define the general classification. I very much hope for a good result, and I am sure that is within our reach.

Ivan García Cortina & Alejandro Valverde to lead Team Movistar at Clásica de Almería

Here’s the team’s release:

The men’s Movistar Team’s first week of 2021 racing, which kicks off Thursday with the Tour de La Provence, will come to its close with another UCI ProSeries event: the 36th Clásica de Almería (Sunday 14th February), over 183km between Puebla de Vícar and Roquetas de Mar and four categorized climbs, before a finish fully suited to the sprinters.

The Telefónica-backed squad, led by Chente García Acosta on Andalusian soil, will feature its two main sprinters, with Briton Gabriel Cullaigh and Iván García Cortina, who will make his first appearance in Blue colours at the opening Spanish race for WorldTour teams this year.

Ivan Garcia

Ivan García Cortina wins the third stage of 2020 Paris-Nice.

Alongside the Gijón native will be, in his first 2021 outing, no less than former World Champion Alejandro Valverde, ‘beacon’ of a Blue lineup featuring many classics specialists: Johan Jacobs, Mathias Norsgaard, Juri Hollmann and another addition to the Movistar Team roster this year, Spaniard Gonzalo Serrano.

Trek-Segafredo men's team returns to France for its second race, Tour de la Provence

Here’s the team’s announcement:

After Trek-Segafredo’s debut at Étoile de Bessèges, where the team got two podiums with Mads Pedersen (3rd, Stage 3) and Edward Theuns (2nd, Stage 4), the spotlight will now be on the sixth edition of the Tour de la Provence.

The four stages – scheduled from Thursday, Feb. 11 to Sunday, Feb. 14 – will be the hunting grounds for a squad of seven, led by Bauke Mollema and Giulio Ciccone. The experienced Dutchman has already kicked off his season in Bessèges, while the young Italian will pin a race number for the first time this year.

Giulio Ciccone

Giulio Ciccone in yellow, about to start stage 7 of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“The mood I feel for this first race is similar to what I feel for the biggest race days. I have a lot of enthusiasm and desire to compete, also to definitely put behind me the difficulties of 2020,” said Ciccone. “After the withdrawal at the Giro I reset everything – mind and body – and I left aside the discouragement and anger for the season.

“I had an operation on my nasal septum to solve a breathing problem that I had been carrying around for ages and I spent many days off the bike, something I’ve rarely done in the past. I’ve recovered very well and in January I put a lot of kilometers into my legs with two training camps, one with the team and one alone. I don’t know how much I can be competitive at the moment, since I have no benchmark so far, but for sure, I’m ready to do my job,” he added.

“Tour de la Provence is the beginning of a very important season for me, perhaps the most significant since I’ve been a pro. The team has given me great confidence: We have defined an important calendar in which I will have a leading role. It’s an honor for me, but I also feel the burden to bring out my very best.

“The Giro and Vuelta will be the two key events of my season, but my focus will not only be there. On a technical level, I have a calendar built according to my characteristics. I will have several chances to do well and this is very motivating,” explained Ciccone.

For Mollema and Ciccone the most important day will be Saturday, the queen stage, when the race climbs Mont Ventoux to Chalet Reynard (6kms from the top).  For this crucial stage, Danish climber Niklas Eg will provide key support.

The other stages present mixed routes that are not too demanding in altitude, but their outcomes will be anything but predictable.

Matteo Moschetti and Emils Liepins will be the fast wheels for the sprints, while domestiques Koen de Kort and Kiel Reijnen will provide reliable support in all stages. The technical guidance will be entrusted to team directors Grégory Rast and Adriano Baffi.

Trek-Segafredo lineup for Tour de la Provence:
Giulio Ciccone (ITA)
Koen de Kort (NED)
Niklas Eg (DEN)
Emils Liepins (LAT)
Bauke Mollema (NED)
Matteo Moschetti (ITA)
Kiel Reijnen (USA)

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