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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 24, 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 most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. - Michel de Montaigne

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UAE Tour stage three reports

We posted the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers team:

Adam Yates put in a strong ride on the first summit finish of the UAE Tour, moving up to second place overall.

The Brit is a previous winner on the Jebel Hafeet summit and launched his move with four kilometres to go, distancing a number of contenders on the steep slopes.

A number of accelerations were unable to dislodge overnight leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), with the pair heading into the final kilometre together.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates leads Tadej Pogacar up the climb. Getty Sport Images.

At the finish the Tour de France winner edged ahead to take the win, extending his advantage to 43 seconds over Yates.

The Grenadiers pushed the pace into the foot of the climb, before Brandon Rivera took it up impressively. Daniel Martinez took a turn before Yates launched a move that blew the race apart.

Here's the UAE Tour report from Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Stage three of the UAE Tour took the riders for the first time in the mountains. The 166 kilometers finished on the summit of Jebel Hafeet, a 10-kilometer-long climb that also decided the GC in previous years. A break of two riders went away early, but despite carving out an advantage of more than six minutes, they had no chance in the end.

Already 20km before the final climb the race favorites and their teams formed at the head of the peloton. Especially UAE-Emirates drove the bunch at the beginning of the climb and BORA – hansgrohe was represented with Buchmann, Konrad and Zwiehoff in a first select group. But when A. Yates attacked, this group fell to pieces while Emanuel Buchmann presented himself in good shape, always being part of the first chasing group. At the end he took fourth place, T. Pogacar won the stage ahead of A. Yates.

Sergio Higuit and Emanuel Buchmann

Sergio Higuita and Emanuel Buchmann finish third and fourth. Bettini photo

From the Finish Line:
"I had good legs and I am happy. Of course, I am not at my top level yet and it was my first race since month, therefore, the race rhythm isn’t really there yet, and it is hard when the pace is super high. I struggled a little at some point but recovered quite well and felt strong again at the end. It’s a pity we lost the race already at day one, but at least now we know that our winter preparation was good." – Emanuel Buchmann

"We can be absolutely happy today. Emu was up there with the best, which isn’t easy with all the big names riding here. Then, I think teams that prepared here or in South America have a slight advantage as they are better used to these temperatures. Also, Ben did a good race. It’s a new level for him but he managed to stay with Emu quite long and supported him well. In general, the team did a great job today." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this race report:

For the third consecutive year, Jebel Hafeet featured at Middle East’s only World Tour race and it again delivered, creating significant gaps between the GC men. Best placed Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in the standings following Monday’s flat individual time trial, João Almeida lived up to the expectations and superbly defended his place on the podium, measuring his effort perfectly and showing the same never-say-die attitude that he put on display countless times at last year’s Giro d’Italia.

Joao Almieda

Joao Almeida keeping his place in the GC. Bettini photo

João fought against a blitz of attacks that came with five kilometers to go on the tough 10.8km ascent and led the chase behind the front duo, eventually managing to limit the damage on the brutal gradients that inflicted many losses and a lot of pain to the UAE Tour riders. Despite losing contact with the leaders, from where Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) took the victory, the 22-year-old from Caldas da Rainha continued undeterred, marching through the searing temperatures and coming over the line in sixth place.

It was enough for Almeida to remain in the top 3 overall, with a comfortable margin over his closest rival as the race returns on the flat for stage 4. At the same time, he remained in possession of the black jersey, which rewards the leader of the intermediate sprints classification, while Deceuninck – Quick-Step continues to be the only team with three riders in the top 10, where João is joined by Mattia Cattaneo and Fausto Masnada.

Here's the report from Anthony Roux's Groupama-FDJ team:

In the first mountain stage of the UAE Tour, with a finish atop of Jebel Hafeet, the Groupama-FDJ gave its full support to Anthony Roux, 7th overall on Tuesday morning. The former French champion indeed benefited from the help of the team’s climbers and tried to limit his losses. However, he slips to 11th overall after stage 3.

Antyony Roux

This wasn't Anthony Roux's best day. Groupama-FDJ photo

On Tuesday, the peloton headed towards the usual climb of Jebel Hafeet. Located on the border of the United Arab Emirates and Oman, this mountain has been done every year since the creation of the event in 2015. “We knew a good part of today’s stage because we did it last year”, said Jussi Veikkanen. “We also knew what were the strategic areas. With the wind, there was notably a risk of echelons after about 70 kilometers. However, the peloton eventually let the two-rider breakaway go”. Attacking from the very start of the stage, Tony Gallopin (AG2R-Citroën) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) got more than six minutes on the bunch, where the tension rose just for a moment during the first part of the race. In the second part, the duo’s gap gradually went down and barely was of a minute approaching the final climb (10.6 km at 6.8%).

“The guys tried to place Anthony as well as possible at the bottom,” Jussi explained. “First, William and Lada did a good job and then Olivier took over. Anthony was one step ahead of many climbers who got caught in the echelons on day one. For that reason, we wanted to try today. The goal was to keep Anthony in the top 10 overall, so we did everything we could to achieve that and gave him two teammates for the last climb.” However, due to a frantic pace from the first slopes, the former French champion was dropped quite far from the top and then tried to hold on in his teammates’ wheels. “It was a straight climb for pure climbers,” Jussi said. “Matteo, Attila and even Olivier were there to help him but the climb was covered at a very fast pace. Furthermore, with the tailwind, there was little hope of staying with the favourites for long. We wanted to limit our losses but Antho did not have a great day today. That’s a pity”.

At the finish, the 33-year-old Frenchman crossed the line just in front of his teammates, more than seven minutes from the winner and race leader Tadej Pogacar. On Tuesday evening, Anthony Roux slips to eleventh place overall while a second mountain top finish is due on Thursday. “First, we need to get through a long stage with a possibility of echelons tomorrow,” concluded Jussi. “As for what will happen next, we will take stock tomorrow evening”.

And here's the report from Florian Stork's Team DSM:

With a sprint stage and a time trial behind them, today the climbers got a chance to test themselves on the now traditional finish climb of Jebel Hafeet and its 10 kilometre long slope with seven percent gradients. There was an air of trepidation though as the bunch left the start line and rolled out for the stage, with another day of potential crosswind threats out in the desert.

The opening 70 kilometres were into a headwind, with a two-rider breakaway soldiering on and building up an advantage that reached almost seven minutes at one point. The gap soon started to fall as the peloton entered the second half of the stage and a change of direction that loomed in the distance, with riders fighting for position before the potential crosswinds. Yet, nothing materialised and the bunch remained together as they approached Jebel Hafeet, eventually catching the breakaway on its lower slopes. The team’s sprint group did a good job of protecting the team’s trio of climbers – Florian Stork, Mark Donovan and Thymen Arensman – keeping them safe and positioning them well going onto the climb.

Florian Stork

Florian Stork. Cor Vos photo

An infernal pace was set at the head of the race and riders dropped from the peloton in their droves as the searing UAE heat took its toll on many. Stork was the last Team DSM rider in the bunch, impressing many as he dug deep and moved past those going backwards. Producing a stellar ride, Stork fought all the way to the line with some elite climbers, claiming a brilliant seventh place for the team at the finish; his first ever World Tour top ten.

“The guys did a good job for Thymen, Mark and I all day long,” explained Stork at the finish. “They kept us out of the wind, got bottles for us and protected us so we all started the climb in a good position. I just had super good legs today to hang on for as long as possible and I’m really proud of my first WorldTour top ten finish, and to get a nice result for the guys.”

Team DSM coach Luke Roberts added: “Today we had the first mountain top finish of the race with the climb of Jebel Hafeet. It’s a climb that’s familiar to us having done it in previous editions of the UAE Tour. Our goal was to protect our climbers; Thymen, Mark and Florian, and get them into a good position for the climb so they could test their legs today. Mark and Thymen suffered a bit, it was quite a warm day, but it was really nice to see Florian had a great effort up there. He’s familiar with the climb from last year and it was great to see him fighting up there with the top ten with a nice seventh place; it’s a credit to him and the level that he’s come with to this race.”

SRAM buys Time's pedal business from Rossignol Group

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

CHICAGO (BRAIN) — SRAM has completed the purchase of the Time Sport pedal business from Rossignol Group. The acquisition adds another brand to SRAM's portfolio of RockShox, Avid, Quarq, Zipp, and Truvativ and gives it a distinct pedal brand and technology should it choose to re-enter the growing market for pedal-based power meters.

Other than some Truvativ flat pedals and PowerTap power meter pedals — which it recently stopped selling — SRAM has not previously been in the pedal business, although the Chicago company offers virtually every other component for road and mountain bikes.

The companies did not release the purchase price. Earlier this month BRAIN reported that Rossignol Group had sold its frame and bike business, including its TVM carbon factory in Gajary, Slovakia, to Cardinal Cycling Group.

Cardinal and SRAM will operate separate businesses for the products — Cardinal's bike and frame business will use the "Time Bikes" brand and SRAM will use the "Time Sport" brand.

“I’m thrilled that we have found two exceptional buyers for Time," said Scott Rittschof, the senior vice president of Rossignol's bike division. "Each brings unique strengths to drive the great Time brand forward.”

Rossignol bought Time in 2016, soon after the death of its founder, Rolan Cattin. With concerns about climate change affecting its winter sports business, Rossi’ was making a push into summer sports and fashion to diversify. It later bought Felt Bicycle in 2017 and has expanded its Rossignol-branded bike business, especially in Europe.

SRAM's move comes at a time of great activity around power meter pedals. Road power pedals from Garmin and Favero Assioma have become steady sellers, and Wahoo's purchase of Speedplay is widely seen as a prelude to a power pedal entry from the Georgia brand. Several companies are said to have dual-sided mountain bike/gravel power pedals in the works. SRAM brings power meter knowledge and intellectual property from both Quarq and PowerTap, which it acquired in 2019.

SRAM bought Time's "entire range of road and mountain pedals, cleats, and all related patents" from Rossignol; the company did not say if it had bought any manufacturing assets.

SRAM's president, Ken Lousberg, said that like its previous acquisitions, SRAM will retain the Time brand as a distinct offering.

“Time is a legendary brand and was the first to focus on ergonomics through the pedal stroke," Lousberg said. "We will work to preserve Time's history and heritage, and continue their legacy of innovation and quality.”

Not all the brands that SRAM has acquired have remained distinct. It acquired Fichtel & Sachs in 1997 and soon shelved the Sachs brand, although it continues to benefit from Sachs' engineering and manufacturing assets.

According to SRAM, customers in need of service and support for pedals can contact their usual Time office during a transition period that will extend to mid-2021. Cardinal has already begun shipping Time frames and bikes in Europe and the U.S.

You can read the entire story here.

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