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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 31, 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.

Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive. - Cicero


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Team Deceuninck-Quick Step reports on Tour de l'Ain stage two

Here's the team's post about rider Andrea Bagioli and the race:

Andrea Bagioli: “I’m super happy after the Tour de Wallonie, because my level was pretty high after five months without any racing. It wasn’t easy to come back in the bunch, but I think I did a good race. Everyone had a lot of emotions with Fabio, who won again after almost one year since the Tour de Pologne. That was such an incredible moment and I’m happy I could be there. The team worked hard, gave everything in the lead-out and we were all happy we could help him take two victories”, Andrea said of his first outing since the month of March.

Andrea Bagioli

Andrea Bagioli wins stage one of the 2020 Tour de l'Ain

A long recovery
After a great start to the season, which saw him take a beautiful solo victory at the Drôme Classic, the Italian was ruled out of competition for almost half a year following a crash in Trofeo Laigueglia.

“I had some pain in my knee and the doctors told me that I couldn’t ride my bike for ten days, then I tried again to go on the bike but I still felt the pain and they decided to do a small operation. After that I had to stay off the bike for four weeks, then I could start on the rollers again. Mentally it was super hard, especially after the first two weeks. I watched a lot of Netflix and played on the PlayStation, because I couldn’t do much more. I also watched my teammates on TV, and when they were racing in Romandie at the time I was recovering, I knew just how much I wanted to race again.”

“My family and my girlfriend kept me motivated and helped me throughout that period, they kept me calm and told me I would be able to come back, as well as the team. My father rides his bike and my brother Nicola is a professional cyclist as well so everyone in my family loves the sport. My girlfriend too. Everyone watches it.”

Beautiful memories from France
The team is in action this week at the Tour de l’Ain, where they took a win as early as the opening day, after Colombian Alvaro Hodeg capitalized on his teammates’ excellent work in Bourg-en-Bresse.

“I still remember it well, I passed Primoz Roglic in the last 50 meters, that was an incredible feeling. After the finish they all congratulated me, it was super special. Only five months before I watched Roglic on television, and then I raced against him and won. The most important goal during the Tour de l’Ain for me is to improve my form again towards the next races. If there’s an opportunity to win a stage, I’ll do my best.”

Being only 22 years old and having already won three races, Andrea still has a lot of other dreams. “I won smaller races until now, not World Tour. My goal is to win a World Tour race and my biggest dream is to win a Monument. I’ve already learned a lot of things since I came into the team, I’m young and I still have a lot of things to get more experienced in. In just one year I’ve learned a lot, this is the perfect team for a young rider to improve, step by step. There are still a couple of months left until the end of the season and I’m determined to help the Wolfpack and make the most out of every opportunity I’ll get.”

BORA - hansgrohe retains Jordi Meeus for the long term

The team sent me this release:

The Belgian rider Jordi Meeus has extended his contract early until the end of 2024. Patrick Gamper and Martin Laas have also extended their contracts by one year each.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to extend our contract with Jordi early on. He has developed exceedingly well in his first year as a professional and has had an important role in lead-outs. However, he has also won races himself. We see a lot of potential in him, and are aiming to build him up as a sprinter over the coming years. So he will be racing more often for results as of next season.

"We’d also like to give Patrick Gamper the opportunity to race for results himself. Up until now, he has predominantly been a helper, and he will continue in this role in the future, but not only that. We’re also aiming to support him in taking the reins himself.

"As for Martin Laas, I can say that he has become a very reliable rider and an important support in lead-outs. He will maintain this role and bring his experience to different sprint trains. There will be races in which Martin will also be our sprinter at times, but his focus is predominantly on lead-outs." - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

"It's really great to see how much confidence the team has in me and I'd particularly like to thank Ralph Denk for that. I am very happy that I’ll be able to continue my development together with BORA - hansgrohe. The environment here is ideal for me. One could already see that this year, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to manage my step up to the WorldTour so well. I am really keen to improve and I know that BORA - hansgrohe is the right team for me. We'll see where the journey goes, as a sprinter, one always has lofty goals, but I'm still young and I'll be taking it one step at a time." - Jordi Meeus

"Making the step to the professional ranks in 2020 was certainly not easy because of the Covid situation. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to develop well and was very well received at BORA - hansgrohe. I think that I fit with the team quite well and I'm really looking forward to developing as a rider. The support that I’ve received is perfect and the upcoming years will demonstrate to what extent I’ll be able to keep improving." - Patrick Gamper

"My first two years at BORA - hansgrohe have been a great experience for me, so I'm very happy to be able to ride as part of this team for at least another year. I would like to thank Ralph Denk for his support, but also the entire team. It seems like a lot will be changing in 2022 and it's nice to see that the team continues to have confidence in me. I’m sure that I’ll be able to support the guys well in the coming season. Riding for BORA – hansgrohe is a really great experience." - Martin Laas

INEOS Grenadiers signs Luke Plapp

The team sent me this announcement:

The Australian national time trial (TT) champion, whose time trialling prowess has already captured the interest of many WorldTour teams, joins INEOS Grenadiers as a stagiaire from the 1st August.

Plapp in his short career has already made a mark in the time trialling world, taking second in the junior time trial World Championships in 2018, he backed up that performance by taking the Australian national time trial title last year in the U23 race, and then again this year when he stepped up to race at elite level.

Luke Plapp

Luke Plapp wins stage two of this year's Tour Down Under. Photo: Sarah Reed

Currently about to compete in Tokyo on the track for his national team, his sights are set on going for gold before he makes the transition over to his new European base, to start the next chapter in his fledgling cycling career with the INEOS Grenadiers. 

“It’s the team [INEOS Grenadiers] that everyone dreams of going to, it’s one I especially dreamt of going to, then when everything was signed it felt kinda crazy that it’s all going ahead,” Plapp says.

For young Australians the track is the most trodden pathway to becoming a supported cyclist and moving up the ranks to professional, and for Plapp it’s been no different.  

“I look at other cyclists who have had great success and transitioned from track to road,” Plapp says. “You look at how G [Geraint Thomas] went from track to being a Grand Tour winner, and this is what gave me the encouragement to stick at the track seeing how that can then translate into success on the road.”

The Australian is a self-confessed ‘sports nut’, and has received guiding influence from the likes of swimming multi-gold medallist Libby Trickett, and was lucky enough to be in a sports focussed school where a number of his classmates are also forging their own paths within professional sport. But instead of swimming or Australian Football, it was the aerodynamics of the TT that lured him in. 

“I love the aerodynamic stuff on the road. I've got really stuck into the TTs and the way the sport is going at the moment. I enjoy going for that extra 1%, and watching the numbers it generates.” The road is where his passion truly lies, and the move to Europe is going to be a learning curve for him, not only in the style of racer he’ll become, but also the different terrains racing in Europe involves.

Director of Racing, Rod Ellingworth, believes that Luke Plapp will be a great fit to the team and is on a voyage of discovery as to where his strengths will complement the team dynamic: “We’re delighted to have Luke join us for 2022. It’s been a tough period over the last 18 months for promising young riders to really be able to demonstrate their potential, due to the lack of racing available across the U23 category, especially riders from the Oceania region.

"But, we’ve been impressed with what we have seen so far. Here at the team we have a history of developing track riders into world class road racers, like what we have done with Bradley and Geraint. We look forward to Luke coming on board after the Olympics to start his time with the team in preparation for the 2022 season.”   

Plapp will have the chance to race some of the European races left this season, although exactly which races are yet to be confirmed. “I haven’t done a whole lot of racing over in Europe, so for example I haven’t raced the cobbled races, but based off what I know about myself as a rider so far, the medium punchy climbs, up to about 20 minutes long, and the TTs are what suit me, I think I’ll be an all-rounder,” Plapp explains. “But that’s what the first few years are all about, getting to know what you’re going to be good at, and what suits me and the kind of role I can play in the team.”

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