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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 20, 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.

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. - Muhammad Ali

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Tour de Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Bauke Mollema's Trek-Segafredo team with the results.

Second-place Greg van Avermaet's Ag2r Citroën team sent me this:

Second-place Greg Van Avermaet:
“I’m happy even if it’s always better to win. It was a tough finish that I didn’t know, made for punchers and climbers. The legs are definitely there, and the team did a great job getting me positioned. Mollema started the sprint 600m from the finish, I stayed on Ciccone’s wheel and a gap formed. This kind of race, with a lot of vertical gain, is ideal for perfecting the condition for the classics. Taking some good results along the way is always good for the morale of the team and for my own.”

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet finishes second. Photo: Yves Perret

The number: 3
For his return to racing, Dorian Godon took sixth place on the stage. “It was a great team performance. Since I felt good, I gave my best to help Greg and then to get my own result. It bodes well for the future,” he said.

The news:
Hummel becomes the sportswear textile partner for two years
We are honored to welcome Hummel, a Danish brand of textiles, shoes and sports accessories deeply rooted in football and handball, as the textile and sportswear partner for two years. “This partnership illustrates the brand's desire to diversify by presenting itself as an equipment supplier for all types of teams. We will use our expertise and that of the brand to serve the team with the comfort of the athletes in mind. Hummel is one of the oldest and most dedicated team sports brands in the industry and our iconic chevrons have always represented the way we like to do things a little differently. We love sports and are proud to use it as a way to change the world for the better and make it a more tolerant place for all of us,” explains the spokes person of the brand, which was founded in 1923.

Team Israel Start-Up Nation to ride UAE Tour

Here's the team's update:

February 19th (Tel Aviv, Israel) – One year after its historic inaugural participation in the UAE Tour and a subsequent peace accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Team Israel Start-Up Nation will begin its second UAE Tour on Sunday. With a squad of seven riders, including Israeli champion Omer Goldstein, Andre Greipel and Alex Dowsett, the UAE Tour will see the much-anticipated debut of Chris Froome in Team Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN) uniform.

“It is with much anticipation that I will be kicking off my 2021 season in Dubai at the UAE Tour,” said Chris Froome, who will compete in the race following three months of rehab and training in California. “It will be my first race with Israel Start-Up Nation and the start of a new and exciting adventure for me. I look forward to racing with my new teammates and testing out my legs after a productive winter.”

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will be racing in new kit at the UAE Tour. Sirotti photo

For Team ISN, returning to the UAE Tour after its debut in 2020, has meaning far beyond racing. Just months after last year’s UAE Tour, a peace agreement was signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. “Last year I noted that our Israeli team was warmly welcomed in the UAE,” said the team’s co-owner Sylvan Adams, who was part of an intimate group invited to witness the signing of the Abraham Peace Accords at the White House. “Emiratis stood in line to get our riders’ autographs and souvenir bidons with the word ‘Israel’ emblazoned on them,” he recalled. Adams is accompanying his team again this year at the UAE Tour. He added “I truly believe that sports interactions, such as ISN’s racing in the UAE Tour, were building blocks, bridging these new, very warm relations with our neighbors. Happy to be back.”

Making his second appearance in the race will be Israeli Omer Goldstein, this time as national champion, a title he won for the first time in November. “Racing is one thing,” Omer Goldstein says, “but if we, as a team, can also contribute to the positive relations between people or countries, then it is even better.”

The team’s ambitions for the UAE Tour, which consists of four flat stages, one individual time trial and two mountain stages, are clear. “We aim for the highest results,” said Rik Verbrugghe, the team’s Sports Manager,  “but it is hard to put a number on that. We want to show that [Andre] Greipel is still in the highest ranks amongst sprinters, and that [Ben] Hermans and [Chris] Froome are strong climbers.”

Andre Greipel will be competing in the UAE Tour for the fourth time in his career. He says that the UAE Tour has a lot to offer all types of rider. “Also, for Israel Start-Up Nation, there are multiple opportunities, as we are heading there with a great lead-out train for the flat stages, and with multiple strong climbers. I think we will be able to put out a strong showing at this race.”

For Israeli champion Goldstein, this will be the first opportunity to test his legs after last year’s breakthrough season, which culminated in his impressive performance at the Vuelta a Espana, one of cycling’s three Grand Tours. “I’m looking forward to continuing the progress I made last season and show the team that I can help as we are stepping up.”

Commenting on Chris Froome’s debut, ISN Team Manager Kjell Carlström said, “Being as it’s Chris’s first race following a good and successful period of training and rehab, we expect him to use the UAE Tour as a building block to further develop his shape towards the bigger objectives that are waiting down the line.”

The team’s performance manager, Paulo Saldanha, has been monitoring and directing Froome’s training closely since he joined ISN, with a focus on rebalancing his key cycling muscles. Saldanha, who also used his PowerWatts Online app to monitor and test Froome’s progress, said that “the UAE Tour will be a great opportunity to get Chris back to his race rhythm and speed.  Above and beyond helping and supporting his team through the race, the racer will be a good test of his newly balanced musculature.”

Meanwhile, team rider Alex Dowsett commented, “I am looking forward to racing with Chris Froome. Last time Chris and I rode together was in 2011, when we were both on the Team Sky C-team, so this is surely going to be lots of fun.”


Lotto-Soudal riders Caleb Ewan and Thomas De Gendt kick off season at UAE Tour

Here’s the team’s news:

Lotto Soudal leaders Caleb Ewan and Thomas De Gendt will begin their 2021 cycling season at the UAE Tour. This seven-day stage race in the Middle East will be the first WorldTour event of the season for Lotto Soudal.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (shown winning stage 3 of the 2020 Tour de France) will be at the UAE Tour.

The fast guys will be more than happy with four possible sprint stages. Day two of the UAE Tour features a 13-kilometre individual time trial, which will give the GC its first shape. In both stage three and stage five, the peloton faces a summit finish, which will most likely be decisive for the overall standings. However, the risk of echelons forming is never far away in the desert.

The UAE Tour will be the first race of the season for Caleb Ewan. The 26-year-old Australian has already won three stages in the Middle East and is looking forward to compete against the world’s best sprinters. Ewan will be supported by Roger Kluge, Jasper De Buyst and Tosh Van der Sande, among others.

“Preparations for the new season have been quite good”, says Caleb Ewan. “It is the first time I stayed in Europe for the winter and I really had to get used to the cold. The training camp in January was perfect to lay the foundations for the season ahead. The UAE Tour is generally the first race of the season where all the big sprinters come together. With for example Bennett, Ackermann, Gaviria, Nizzolo, Viviani, Bauhaus and Philipsen, the competition is definitely looking tough. Therefore, the UAE Tour is always a nice opportunity to test yourself against the other guys and see who’s going well and who’s not. Just like previous years, there are quite a few opportunities for the sprinters, so I am definitely looking forward to it.”

Also Thomas De Gendt and Harm Vanhoucke will be racing their first kilometres of the season at the UAE Tour. The 22-year-old Australian Harry Sweeny will make his pro debut for Lotto Soudal in the Middle East.

“The UAE Tour should be a great race to get my first season as a pro started and I am really excited”, begins Harry Sweeny. “There are quite some opportunities for the team. There are several sprint stages for Caleb and Harm Vanhoucke can test himself during the mountain stages. I think that I am versatile enough to help the team on both terrains. My role at the race will be to act as the second last or third last rider in the lead-out for Caleb, but it is only my first race as a pro – and immediately at WorldTour level – so we’ll see how things play out. I definitely can’t wait to race!”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Roger Kluge, Harry Sweeny, Harm Vanhoucke and Tosh Van der Sande.

Bahrain Victorious headed to UAE Tour

Here’s the team’s news:

The Bahrain Victorious line-up will be led by Wout Poels and Jack Haig, off the back of strong performances at Tour de la Provence. They will compete against some of the biggest stars in cycling, such as 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and last year’s winner of the UAE Tour Adam Yates.

Wout Poels

Wout Poels wins stage three of the 2021 Tour de la Provence.

This year’s edition of the race features four flat stages for the sprinters, two climbing stages and a 13km individual time trial, which will be critical at deciding the GC. The race will start in the town of Al Ruwais through Abu Dhabi and move through four more of the seven independent city-states of the UAE before finishing back in Abu Dhabi.

Alongside Wout and Jack, the team is strong, with Damiano Caruso starting his first race after a top ten finish at last year’s Tour de France in support of our GC contenders, and Phil Bauhaus will battle it out for the sprint stages after his impressive win on the final stage of the Tour de la Provence. It will also be Jonathan Milan’s first WorldTour race and an exciting test for the 20-year-old Italian eyeing the ITT on Stage 2.

Sports Director Franco Pellizotti commented on the importance of the race: ” We have a strong team for the first WorldTour race of the season. It’s an important one for Bahrain, being in the Middle East. However, It’s an important race for all the teams being the first WorldTour race, which shows with the team line-ups.”

Regarding the team strategy, Pellizotti said “We’ve structured the team for all types of stages. Bauhaus is showing good form after his win at Tour de la Provence, and there are four stages for him to fight for with the support of Fred Wright and Jonathan Milan. We then have an ITT on Stage 2, an important stage for the GC and a good test for Milan. For our leaders, Wout is in good shape after his fourth place overall at Tour de la Provence and Jack is a great climber who is capable of a good result. We also have Caruso, who is a good climber and time trialist and has had two good training camps at Altea and Teide, and so we can expect a good race from him.”

Team Bahrain Victorious’ line-up for UAE Tour: Phil Bauhaus / Damiano Caruso / Jack Haig / Gino Mäder / Jonathan Milan / Wout Poels / Fred Wright.

Team Qhubeka-Assos to ride UAE Tour

Here's the team's announcement:

The UCI World Tour gets underway this weekend with the UAE Tour taking place between 21-27 February. The Italian duo of Giacomo Nizzolo and Domenico Pozzovivo will lead Team Qhubeka ASSOS at the middle-east’s premier cycling race.

Domenico Pozzovivo

Domenico Pozzovivo (shown at the 2019 Giro d'Italia) will ride the UAE Tour. Sirotti photo

The UAE Tour will consist of 7 stages; four of which suit the sprinters, two summit finishes and an individual time trial. With something for every type of rider, and as the debut UCI World Tour race of the season, the 2021 UAE Tour has attracted arguably it’s strongest peloton ever.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS will have one of the race’s headline sprinters at the start, European and Italian Champion Giacomo Nizzolo, fresh off of his victory at Clasica de Almeria this past weekend. Veteran climber, Domenico Pozzovivo will be taking aim at the two climbing stages and strong overall GC result.

Support for our co-leaders will come in the form Max Walscheid, Lasse Norman Hansen, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Harry Tanfield and Matteo Pelucchi.

Giacomo Nizzolo:
I am really looking forward to the UAE Tour, where the complete World Tour peloton will line up for the first time this year. It is an important race for our team, Team Qhubeka ASSOS, and a great opportunity for us to show our colours and our purpose to a global cycling audience.

We have some good feelings from the first races of the season already and I am feeling confident with the team around me here, so we look forward to some fast and exciting sprints in the desert.

Domenico Pozzovivo:
I am looking forward to starting my season with Team Qhubeka Assos at the UAE Tour, where it will be a nice change to ride in a warm climate once again. The first race is always interesting to see how the legs will respond after a long period of training but for sure we will give 100% everyday.

Aart Vierhouten – Sports Director:
At our first WT race in 2021 the UAE Tour, Team Qhubeka ASSOS has two goals;
To learn from each sprint stage, working on the right setup of our lead-out train for the benefit of our leader and sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo.

Besides the sprint stages we have also two stages which finish up a mountain, therefore we have our climber Domenico Pozzovivo. We will protect him during the flat stages and help him on his way towards the climbs to achieve a good result on the GC as well.

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