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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 7, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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

The earth laughs in flowers. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:


Lotto and Soudal to split at the end of 2022

Soudal will begin sponsoring the Quick Step team in 2023

The Lotto Soudal team sent me this news:

Lotto and Soudal, the inseparable tandem of the eponymous Belgian WorldTour team, will continue their cooperation for another year, until the end of 2022. At the end of the 2022 season, both sponsors will be steering their own course after a successful eight-season partnership. Lotto can ascertain that it will continue to invest in the cycling team as head sponsor.

Lotto Soudal

The Lotto Soudal team at the the start of this year's Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

The Belgian National Lottery, with its strong Lotto brand, is a loyal partner of Belgian cycling and is considered a driving force within the world of cycling. Earlier this year, on March 2nd 2021, it was exactly 37 years ago that the National Lottery celebrated its first victory as a shirt sponsor in cycling. Since then, its involvement in cycling has only grown, making Lotto a proud partner of numerous cycling-related projects and several famous cycling races on Belgian soil. Besides a Belgian WorldTour team, the Nationale Loterij/Loterie Nationale also invests in a Ladies and U23 team, in numerous youth development programs and in cycling events, that bring the fans closer to their favourite sport.

When you say Lotto, you inevitably say Soudal. The Belgian family business is an international player and expert in chemical construction specialties, but has, as loyal name sponsor, also acquired brand awareness in cycling over the past few years. Since 2015, the two authentically Belgian companies have formed one of the longest-running partnerships within the international cycling peloton. Lotto Soudal has become an established name in cycling, which stands for sustainability, fortitude and long-term vision.

Lotto and Soudal have always had a clear project in mind and have focused on a mix of Belgian talents, such as Tim Wellens, Jens Debusschere, Tiesj Benoot or Brent Van Moer and international top riders like André Greipel and Caleb Ewan. And successfully. Since the start of the collaboration in 2015, 157 victories have been celebrated.

After the current cycling season, Lotto and Soudal will continue their successful partnership for one more year, until the end of the 2022 season. That will be the eighth season in which the Lotto Soudal WorldTour team will be aiming for successes, on home roads and abroad. Both parties hope for a grand cru year, in which the rewards of their hard work and their investments in recent years in talented, young riders will be reaped. As of 2023, Soudal will step down as the team’s sponsor, while Lotto remains on board as main sponsor of the team.

Quote Dirk Coorevits – CEO Soudal Group
Cycling is the glue that brought both companies together in 2015. Soudal and the National Lottery are two strong Belgian companies that have captured their shared values in a wonderful cycling project. The core values of Soudal are: Dreaming, Thinking, Daring, Doing and Persevering. Even in difficult times, always to keep believing in your strengths, always to strive for improvement and to also push through. Together, we developed a clear vision in which we have given young talents every opportunity to step up towards the highest level and we have never abandoned this mission over the past seven years. The Lotto Soudal project has helped us build national and international brand awareness. We hope that the collaboration will keep leading to beautiful results until the end of 2022.

Quote Jannie Haek – CEO Nationale Loterij/Loterie Nationale
The names of Lotto-Adecco, Silence-Lotto or Davitamon-Lotto ring a bell with every cycling fan. Lotto has been a constant factor for 37 years, but one name that will also remain linked with Lotto is that of Soudal. It is the longest-running partnership in the history of the Lotto team and the successes we have achieved together will always be remembered. We are happy that we can continue this until the end of 2022. Afterwards, the National Lottery will continue to invest in a cycling team and by extension, in the Belgian cycling scene.

Tour de France stage ten reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Mark Cavendish's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Deceuninck – Quick-Step produced another masterpiece, this time in the form of an out of this world lead-out, powering through in the finale of the nervous stage 10 for Mark Cavendish, who kicked out with 100 meters to go and sailed to his 33rd stage win at the Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish get his third stage win this Tour. Sirotti photo

Tim Declercq and Dries Devenyns were again the ones to lay down the watts early, controlling the escapees and protecting Cavendish on a short unclassified climb with 35 kilometers to go and also later, when the race hit some exposed and potentially dangerous roads. Then, with the business end of the stage approaching fast, the well-drilled Deceuninck – Quick-Step train hit the front of the peloton and steamrolled the opposition.

Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo and Michael Mørkøv devoted all their energies to keeping the Manx Missile at the front in Valence, delivering a phenomenal lead-out and dropping him off just 100 meters from the line. Another top sprint netted an electrifying victory, as Cavendish howled his way over the line with his arms raised high and a large smile on his face.

“I remember buying cycling magazines when I was younger and you could find there articles on the art of sprinting stuff and how a lead-out works, and this was what we had today.”

"We just got the boys on the front and they pulled as fast as they could so no one could come up and try to come past in the finish. We knew the final kilometers and were confident we had the team for the sprint. I was kept fresh throughout the entire day by the guys, who worked non-stop for me, showed an incredible commitment and made sure I was where I needed to be. All these things make me super proud to be part of this team”, an elated Mark Cavendish said at the press conference.

The 36-year-old, who extended his advantage in the points classification after becoming the oldest rider to win three stages at a single edition of the Tour de France, continued: “I’m so humbled by my teammates’ sublime effort and the lead-out train they provided to me. The winner of Flanders, the World Champion, who has also worn the yellow jersey here, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner and Michael, who’s the World Madison Champion and is going to the Olympic Games to try to win there – they all left everything on the road for me. I just had to finish it off today. I didn’t really do anything, it was the team I have to thank for everything.”

Second-place Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Wout van Aert has sprinted to second place in stage ten of the Tour de France in Valence. The Belgian of Team Jumbo-Visma rode a strong sprint, but could not prevent Mark Cavendish from taking his third stage victory.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish got the jump on everyone, including Wout van Aert (far right). Sirotti photo

From the start in Albertville, several riders wanted to be in the breakaway of the day. Eventually two riders succeeded and were able to ride in front for a long time. In the Rhône valley, the peloton prepared for a final with a chance of echelons. Team Jumbo-Visma rode attentively in front all day to keep Vingegaard and Van Aert out of the wind.

In the last twenty kilometres echelons were set up, partly due to the initiative of the yellow-black formation. The peloton tore into pieces, but that could not prevent a bunch sprint. Thanks to Mike Teunissen, Van Aert was perfectly positioned and subsequently rode a strong sprint. Only Cavendish turned out to be a fraction faster.

“It was a hectic, but fun final”, said Van Aert. “I could come from the slipstream of Cavendish, but when I came into the wind I couldn’t make up the difference. I don’t have any excuses: he was just faster today. I was in the place where every sprinter wants to be in this Tour and I have to thank Mike for that. He did a great job in dropping me off. This is motivating to make something of it in the coming stages. Tomorrow I will help Jonas again and I hope to see a lot of Belgian supporters on the Mont Ventoux.”

The Belgian champion also looked back on the formation of echelons in the final. “It was announced, but the wind blew a little differently in the end. Normally any calamities would mainly occur in the last ten kilometres, but now it went really fast in the peloton. Mike, Jonas, Tony and I were well in front. I had hoped there would have been a little more havoc with the wind, then maybe a few more fast guys would have been released. Still, I look back on a good and entertaining day.”

Vingegaard goes into stage 11 as number four in the general classification, with the double ascent of Mont Ventoux. “It was a hectic final, but the team supported me very well. I never really got into trouble and that really does me good. I like to fight for the classification. That suits me. I am looking forward to the Ventoux. Hopefully I have good climbing legs.”

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Coming back from the race’s first rest day, riders would be making their way through the mountains but only ascending one categorised climb. The 190.7km parcours meant a long day in the saddle, but with only the fourth category Col de Couz to contend with, its 2.8% gradient would be dealt with swiftly, allowing the sprinters to set their sights on the predicted fast finale.

As always though, the breakaway would be aiming to frustrate the fast men, and with the rest day reinvigorating the bunch and dry weather to start the day, it took a while for an escape to go out, the first 40km making it hard for anything to stick. When the time came, a duo set about building a lead that reached five minutes at its peak, but the peloton was confident they would be able to make the catch when the time was right, shrinking this lead as the intermediate sprint drew near.

With support from Daniel Oss, Peter Sagan picked up some points here, before the bunch looked ahead to the finish, slowly scaling back the escape’s advantage. With 80km left, this lead was below a minute, and the peloton had to slow to avoid an early catch and another break going out. As the finish line was drawing closer, the bunch ramped up the pace, hitting speeds of almost 70km/h in their drive to reel in the break before bringing everything back together with 35km to go.

The last kilometres swept by at an incredible pace, as these speeds stretched out the peloton and created splits, Daniel Oss heading the bunch and making it almost impossible for many riders to stay in touch, with a select group of sprinters – Peter Sagan among them – leaving the peloton behind. Echelons formed as crosswinds created more splits, and with less than 10km left, Daniel, Peter and Wilco Kelderman were representing BORA-hansgrohe in this lead group as the fast riders geared up for the sprint. Trying to pick his way through the lead-out men dropping off the front, Peter was blocked and boxed-in at every step, but this didn’t stop the Slovak national champion from fighting his way through. Coming out of the last turn further back, Peter was unable to launch his final attack.  Taking eighth on the line, Peter was followed by Wilco, who took twentieth with the GC favourites.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan heads to the start of stage seven. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line
"It was another fast stage and the team focused on making sure Wilco was always in a good position and protected in case of echelons and splits in the peloton. In the closing kilometres I was in the front but in the final approach, before the last turn, I was a bit further back, not in an ideal position. As a result, I wasn't able to launch my sprint when I would have liked. My knee is getting better and I'll keep fighting." – Peter Sagan

"Once again, the team did a very good job to stay in front when we expected echelons. It was a big fight without any real split in the end, but it was important to be up there at the front. In the finale, Peter got boxed in a few times in the last 1.5km and as a result, he was also too far back after the last roundabout and at that point, there wasn't any chance anymore." – Enrico Poitschke - Sports Director

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